Monday, April 07, 2008
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
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.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Starting with Milan’s cathedral, the city’s centerpiece and the third-largest church in Europe is worth visiting. Next to Cathedral Square “Galleria Vittorio Emanuele” – Milan’s great four-story-high, glass-domed arcade- a place to shop for rich and famous. Milan’s famous opera house was closed for renovation. We skipped Leonardo’s “Last-supper” and his bronze horse which he never built.
Epilogue: Writing travelogue after 3 years was not easy. Had to refer various web site to get the details right. But the only person made it finish is Pamela as she wrote each pages and I just added few lines here and there. Yes, its worth remembering those eight days. This was great to immerse oneself with recollections of those lazy afternoon or vigorous morning for sure as I know I am not going to have this kind of break soon in my present life.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
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.
Friday, November 23, 2007
TIP: European trains are very particular in time not fit for people following Indian stretchable time. It’s always better to have some time in hand as they close the doors of train 5 minutes before departure.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
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
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Tips: Instead of walking you can take a cab or bus from the train station to the lake front if your legs feel weak.
Tips: As summer days are long, afternoon ferry ride is a better option that way you can use the first part for exploring something else. You may enjoy the afternoon sun on the ferry for a sun-tan. But too late in the afternoon means you might not be able to get an “aller-retour” ferry ride.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- 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
- 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
Monday, October 29, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
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.
Friday, September 28, 2007
- 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.
Monday, September 17, 2007
While categorizing our old travelogs I found there was no post on Belgium which values a lot for me. As I go down the memory lane......year 2003, within 2 ½ months of marriage we have to move to Paris from US which was a big change for me. Apart from the cultural shock, language was immense barrier for day today life as well to mingle up with people around. Not only that, in Indian arrange marriage, it takes time to understand each other with each one's weaknesses and failings. So, quite an adjustment in every way. Somehow, in milieu of all this I lost embedded stone from my wedding ring given from Santanu’s family. Because of which I couldn’t wear for long. And everyone use to consider me Mademoiselle even in presence of Santanu (thinking him to be mon ami) which I use to enjoy a lot.
Well, it triggered Santanu and he asked me to wear something in replacement but since I didn’t had any extra ornament with me that time I couldn’t. So, I asked him casually one day why don’t you gift me one diamond ring which he accepted easily. Very surprising to me in contrary to other married people (men) but I never took that very seriously. And it never came in our conversation. But somehow it got rooted in his sweet heart.
In our very first trip to Amsterdam he came up with this topic on diamond ring seeing diamond shops around but somehow we could not make-up our mind. And it became like “raat gayi baat gayi”.
Then one fine morning while checking the accounts I found that some money has been withdrawn for buying rail ticket – bit surprising which I was never told. I gave call to Santanu to figure out for which he hesitated at first. On repenting said “a wife should not be told about bank account no.” and said it was surprise to you for your b’day – a trip to Belgium.
And at same evening after returning from his office he said to do research on Antwerp – for diamond. My GOD I was really taken a back for a minute that he took things so seriously. Thus, we planned for one night, two day stay at Belgium.
Train ticket was too cheap; we left early morning train by Thalys - bullet train and on reaching Brussels checked-in our pre-booked hotel. And immediately after break-fast left for Antwerp which is a hour ride by train. Antwerp’s diamond district is close to the Central Station. It’s said that Antwerp is famous for trading, cutting and polishing diamonds. We strolled from store to store then finally decided to buy one.
Then we walked towards down-town which was quite animated considered as heart of city. Grote Markt is beautifully surrounded by the Town Hall and decorative guild houses dating from the 16th and 17th century. In the middle of the 'Grote Markt' stands the Brabo fountain. One of the most pleasant squares in the city as traffic has been banned in this part. Being small place nothing much to explore. So, by evening we returned to Brussels.
On reaching Brussels, we walked towards magnificent central square, Grand Palace which boasts the country's finest baroque guildhalls, popular pavement cafes and intimate restaurants. Hidden at the core of the old town, it's only revealed as you enter the narrow side alleys surrounding the square. Had dinner in near-by Indian restaurant where food was too blend to make locals happy.
Next day, we were ready to explore Brussels. So first went to Atomium which represents molecules with 9 atoms. This huge 9 balls are interconnected with escalators.
TIP: Worth only if you want a panoramic view of Brussels.
Close to it is Mini Europe with models of main highlights of all European countries like Eiffel tower, acropolis etc which we skipped as we already had a plan to explore other European countries during our stay at Paris.
From here we went to Comic Strip Art museum which houses famous Tintin and Smurfs where we spent quite a time as Santanu being one of the admirer of Tintin. Then we went towards Galeries St Hubert lined with cafes, theatres and luxury stores. It has gorgeous glass roofed arcade worth to see if only this is the first place of trip in Europe. Then we walked towards little boy peeing “Manneken Pis" - one of the Brussels landmark with different stories behind it. It seems it has around 800 costumes displayed at Brussels museum. Town hall (hotel de ville) was our next spot with needle-like crooked spire close to Grand place which is very vibrant.
TIP: If you intend to do any other shopping remember Brussels is known for lace boutiques and chocolates.
For us enough of shopping…now time to pack up. I wish there was some way to show my gratitude to my beloved hubby for this trip and expensive gift on PERFECT event which I cherish even after 4 years.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
- 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
- For Syrup:
- Sugar: 1 cup
- Water: 1 cup
- Oil for frying
Thursday, August 23, 2007
While rain still continues in South Asian countries; People from Karachi to Dhaka are facing this year after monsoon-effects with this heavy downpour. This monsoon is considered to be most well-known and potent. So, I thought to put a picture with blue evening sky to cheer up ;). BTW this is Gammon House situated at Prabhadevi next to Sidhi Vinayak Temple.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
After scorching heat, monsoon has arrived in Mumbai. From last two consecutive weeks particularly weekends (June 23-24 & June 30-July 1) there were disruption of normal life due to heavy shower. Thank God, those were weekends otherwise life of 20 million people would have affected some way or other as many schools and offices are closed. We stayed mostly inside and I only ventured out twice to nearby shops to get some grocery done for forthcoming week.
Almost all modes of transports were affected severely; local trains which symbolizes life-line of Mumbai were stopped. People flying in and out of Mumbai also had great difficulties. But with all that Mumbai was back to business on Monday. This city and its people are doing quite normal but as a first timer to the monsoon we are taking things with surprise. Monsoon of Western India are well known to us as we were taught with importance in our Geography classes about them and how they effect the livelihood of farmers of this sub-continent.
These pictures were taken by one of our Support Engineer at Worli. Due to heavy rain there were around 2000 customers of MTNL (State owned Telco) were effected. One out of those 2000 customers was ours (a big fat multinational bank) whose services were compromised for a week. Counterparts sitting in developed countries don’t understand why it takes seven days to get a link fixed during monsoon. Basically, they don’t have idea of what monsoon is?
I am sure people would appreciate this hard effort put by telephone line-men they had to pump out water from the trench before fixing this mess. Red salute to all those people who get Mumbai going through tough time like this.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Siliguri is gateway to the North East of India. It is commercial city of North Bengal where tea, timber and transport are the main business. It is a base point to head towards Darjeeling, Sikkim, kalimpong, mirik etc. Besides, it is also the transit point for air, road and rail traffic to the neighboring countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Situated at foot of Eastern Himalayas it has very pleasant temperature but weather is very unpredictable as it gets shower any time. Summer is not like other parts of India which burns in hot lava. It hardly exceeds 32 C in day time and after every 3-4 days there is a light rain sometimes short sharp downpour. Winters are really biting cold with mercury level hardly rising to 15 C at day time. During winter, on clear day it gives excellent view of Himalayan peaks with an opportunity to see as backdrop of snow-clad mountains.
In the month of May, we went there for 10 days which was a great escape from Mumbai’s heat and frequent power failure. These pictures are from the terrace of my in-law’s house.
Monday, June 04, 2007
This thali is named after a small town of South western coast of India Udupi near to Mangalore. It is famous for Krishna temple where from udupi (also called udipi) cuisine got originated. It is basically delicious vegetarian cuisine with no onion, garlic as commonly found in rich north Indian cuisine. Udupi cuisine comprises dishes made from grains, beans, vegetables. The variety and range of dishes are wide and a hallmark of this cuisine is the use of locally available ingredients.
Udipi thali is very common in Mumbai where food is mostly served in Steel plate; but at certain resto you have choice of Plantain leave. Eating with bare hand is more fun although spoons are available. Normally, meals you get are with unlimited serving except the Sweet Dish (Only one portion of Sweet Dish is included like kheer or kalajamun). Service is very fast and before you blink your eyes you have the meal in front of you even at peak hours; hardly sometimes one has to wait for 10 min. at max. The menu is not at all spicy nor rich in oil but very close to ghar kaa khana (everyday meal). That is one main reason these places are very crowded during lunch hours.
- Thali consist of small dishes of several curries-
- Chapatti (wheat bread) or Purri,
- Sambhar - a soupy vegetable(pumpkin or gourd) liquid with a sour edge
- Rasam ( spicy pepper water)
- Chutney (mostly of coconut) or Dal (lentil curry unlimited),
- 3 Vegetables (Fixed Qty) - one Dry Vegetable, One with Gravy and one made with freshly grated coconut
- Curd (1 bowl)
- One bowl steamed rice. (If you want to eat less Rice you can take 2 Chapatti or 3 puris or vice-versa).
But in recent times non-vegetarian variation of the same cuisine is making marks not only in India but across the world. Sea food cooked in coconut and whole red-chillies are one of the common one.
Bon Appetite – bien sur, while you tear off a small morsel of Chappati, dip and devour the taste of authenticity.