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India

Bang..lured

The city of Bangalore for me !

semi-overcast 24 °C

About 5 years ago, I had no idea about this city. All I knew was that it is a capital of Karnataka with booming software companies laying their base here. Also, at one time, known for its greenery and cleanliness.

About 3 years ago, I got a chance to visit this city when me and my friend went to Pondicherry and on my way back we met some friends in Bangalore. That time, we stayed at M G Road. All we did that time was to drink in the pubs there or go to discs .After that was done, all of us used to have this great urge to eat something sweet after the pubs closed down; we usually headed for coffee day where we ate chocolate brownie with Vanilla ice cream. At such a disc (outside India they call it discotheques, which i guess is the more proper word), we were not allowed entry since we wearing sandals/floaters and not shoes. But seeing our disappointed faces, the 'bouncer' suggested that we go down and buy socks from the street side. That’s what we did. Bought some socks and there... we got the entry.
So.. That was Bangalore for me... then.

Now, that I am almost settled here because of work, I am obviously having the chance to see this city as a first person. Not knowing Kannada, of course categorizes me as a second grade citizen. This is one of the most interesting things in its own way in India. Having an Indian passport does not really make you an Indian. Unless you don’t know the language of the state you are in, you are in some ways still an outsider :-(. Though have a book now which teaches fifteen Indian regional languages through English, I still have to do something about it. Unfortunately, I am more tempted to learn a foreign language than one of the regional languages of my own country. I guess, instead of a foreign language, students must be given a choice of studying another Indian regional language in school. That would make things really more interesting. I would really like to see that happen one day. But of course, there are people I know in Maharashtra who have an Indian passport and can speak the State Language… but they are not at all Indians!!

Yes, so, coming back to Bangalore. The reason I am writing this blog is obviously because I like this city.Ofcourse, I have this habit of deciding to like things beforehand. So... This blog might be totally useless and that why interesting at the same time.
For example, since my sister has married an Irish guy, I liked Guinness even before I tasted it. I like everything that has anything to do with culture. In fact, you can sell me anything in the name of culture. I like Corona because it is Mexican. I like Mexico. It’s almost India ka judwaa bhai (twin brother). Their food is so much like ours in terms of taste. The people are so much like ours. The love to dance, so do we. But I guess, we do it in a more shy timid way. And since, everything is related to culture in some way or the other; I do end up liking most of the things. But later somebody told me that Corona was more of a Girls drink and was not really that pleased! 
I once saw Justine Shapiro (Lonely Planet Host - Discovery) drinking snake blood in China. And since that day I have wanted to drink snake blood. But if you give me Indian snake blood, I might refuse. Ha ha! There are infinite such things. So.. I will again take the detour and hopefully this time stick to it. Bangalore!

Bangalore. Yes Yes. After just shifting to my rented house and on my way to do a chore, I saw a mechanic shop. It said - Royal Enfield specialist. It was love at first sight. What the fook! And after 4 months today, I have seen plenty of such mechanic shops. How cool is that! So... Mechanics right there only to repair your Bullet. Wakao! This was like discovering that you have a specific lovely disease and the city has specialists just for that specific disease. This though put me right at home. I did not really bother about actual medical facilities nearby. I still don’t.

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(My Bullet getting repaired at the Mechanic)

Parks. I don’t know if it’s a rule in Bangalore, that there must be at least a small park for some set of buildings constructed. But it seems to be so. There are well maintained parks all around the city. I was happy to discover that. Now, I have a place to jog and run, secluded from the traffic. I don’t take advantage of it, that’s another thing. But such things at least prove useful for blogs.

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(Cubbon Park - Photo Courtesy: Internet)

It’s the month of Ramzan now. And I have wanted to taste 'Haleem' for so long. All I knew is that you only get it in Hyderabad. But again, surprise surprise. I found it all around Bangalore. And of course, I did not waste a moment to taste the wonderful Haleem. Wiki says - 'although the dish varies from region to region, it always includes wheat, lentils and meat.’ It is nutritional. And it tasted wonderful. These days when I am coming back home late at night I really enjoy those wonderful sights of people coming out from the mosques and all the hustle, bustle and lighting that can be seen at food stalls. Also a good time to try Kheema samosas.

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Ramzan Festivities at Frazer Town Bangalore
Photo Courtesy - 'The Hindu'

Though I intended to write a separate blog to just tell about this experience, I can’t help writing it here. This was when I was travelling to Ooty with my friend. I had booked the ticket online. This was on one of the Karnataka Inter State transport buses. I was under the impression that showing the booking Id from your mobile was enough to get an entry in to the bus during departure.But the rule was, I needed to carry the e-ticket printout. The ticket checker would not allow an entry in any other way, he was adamant about the rule. The Kempegowda bus station was very crowded that time, and it took me a great time to just locate the bus at its platform. And now, I had to take a print out and the bus was about to leave in two minutes. I was really excited about Ooty and could not believe this was happening. But, don’t know how it happened. But the ticket checker got out of the bus. Walked with me from that bus platform to a ticketing window which was pretty far away. Asked KSRTC personnel to get a print out of my ticket. Accompanied me back to the bus. Then he examined the print out, and then allowed me and my friend in the bus. Wow! Now, there must be such people in the world, but what I can do I if had this experience in Bangalore. Now, how can I not like this city? The guy followed the rules and helped me get an entry as well. Thank you Sir! (During the rest of the journey I tried to show my gratitude but he did not even care for that!) A possible example of a self less good deed. :-)

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Kempegowda Bus Station
Photo Courtesy - 'The Hindu'

Magazine shops. Who doesn’t love them! There is something for everybody. For me, lately, travel magazines have been like accessories. I carry them everywhere but I hardly ever read them. But the point is not that. This magazine shop - simply called as 'Magazines' on M.G.Road has got amazing variety of magazines. And the more interesting part is that - the guy owns Persian cats. These are a contended lot. Fluffy hair, very clean and healthy and don’t look like the Indian cats at all. So... Here are cats.. Who are freely roaming in the shop almost as if they own the place? An announcement on the door of the shops exclaims - 'Cats are back!'. +1 for Bangalore again.

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Persian Cats at the 'Magazines' - M. G. Road
Photo Courtesy - http://www.anitabora.com/blog

Now call this luck. But I can’t help if Bangalore, if I may personify the city, decided to settle geographically in a place, which is close from Goa, Kerala and TamilNadu. So... If you are ready to spend six hours in the bus, you can transport yourself to Kerala or Tamilnadu.And for additional six hours... You get Goa!! Let me take the liberty of using that sentence again... But, 'how cool is that!!'

My sister did a 10km Run in Ireland; unfortunately, a 10km run does not qualify as a marathon. I actually consider myself the only sportsman in my family-clan. But since my sister has collaborated with the Irish, she has been into physical fitness and outdoor adventure because of her husband. I guess, for them, outdoor adventure is quite a romantic thing to do; on my sister's last B’day, my brother in law rented bicycles and took my sister for cycling to an Island. And now, this B’day, he did an even more romantic thing. My Sis received an email, the email read - ‘Congratulations! You have successfully registered yourself for a 21 km run in Amsterdam.'Ofcourse, it was more of a shock than a surprise to her, but I know eventually, she will be prepared for the run.Hmmm! Ok... Let me go back to the 10km run. After my sister did a 10km run, I felt jealous and a little ashamed.Ooops... and yes Happy for her. Thought, I should do one too. I got a chance, do such a thing, right here in Bangalore. The World TCS 10k.It is the only run organized in India which has been classified in the gold Category by the International Marathon Federation. And yes, it was pretty hi-tech. Electronic chips fitted to your shoes, records your lap timings and on finishing the race, sends your final timings to four people whose mobile numbers you have shared with them ! And also, later, I was happy to find out that on their web site, on entering my bib/running number, I could have a look at my Marathon pics.Wonderful! The Indian athletics federation for some stupid reason though still refuses to accredit the event.

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The Bangalore TCS 10k
Photo Courtesy - http://www.unep.org/

This takes me to my next point. Weather. That’s the first thing that people who come from other cities notice about Bangalore. It had a wonderful weather and that too throughout the year. This weather actually helped me to make the 10km run more tolerable. It was cloudy and pleasant but it did not rain. The most basic thing for survival. Good weather. It is here!! Though lately, it has been raining more than it should. Else, the Rain Gods would have had a mentioned in the blog too – which is by the way read from 1 to 4 people. Counting myself 
A simple cake. Not too sweet and perfectly goes with Chai! Now, where will you find that? Bangalore Iyengar Bakery. It was founded here of course, and now has its small shops across India. Now that I have mentioned about this, I really need to go and savor more stuff from their bakery rather than just the Cake. But these guys pioneered in innovative bakery products.

Hindu Temples here have a different look. I like the visuals more here than the ones in North. There are a lot of carvings and statues on the top of the temple. Sometimes, you will find statues of deities as huge as the rest of the temple itself sitting on top. It’s a sight. And it’s a common sight, it’s not like only few famous temples have been built like that.

There was a time, when I really wanted to taste the roadside Idli and Dosa in Bangalore. It’s ironical, that, in my area it’s very hard to find such stalls later realized that most of such stalls are in the South of Bangalore. There were other stalls that I did see though during my morning searches. These stalls sold chicken curry/fish curry/Sambar with small tennis sized brown balls and not Rotis. Again... Being a cultural thing, I tried it out.Ofcourse, I liked it, it’s predecided you see. The brown thing is kind of tasteless but the chicken curry was good. But I was certainly intrigued. I later enquired with my kannadiga friend, and he said the brown thing is 'Ragi Mudde'.This is what I found on one of the blogs "This is a food item unique to the state of Karnataka. It is mainly popular with the rural folk of Karnataka. It is made of ragi (finger millet) flour by pouring the flour (with some amount of salt) into boiling water and mixing the two together to make soft dough. The dough is then made into tennis-ball sized balls (which are termed as Ragi mudde) and served hot. Ragi mudde is usually eaten with ghee and sambar.This is a very healthy dish both for the physically hard working as well as those with diabetes. It is indeed very healthy for children. It is high in protein, but very low in carbohydrates. Therefore, unlike rice or wheat, it is best for those with sugar complaints."

There are various other places that I want to talk about. Like Ranga Shankara theatre. Matteo Café…etc.But I don’t want to write any longer.. . This blog has already had the word ‘of course’ 6 times and the word ‘and’ 63 times..., ok 64.

It’s only been 4 months for me here... and still to experience many things in Bangalore. I have not even been on the tourist trail yet.. Lal Bagh or Tipu Sultan’s palace or Cubbon Park to start with.(Pssst… by the way the Pani Puri and Bhel Puri sucks in Bangalore.)

Posted by Abhijit Bhave 02:07 Archived in India Tagged bangalore weather marathon karnataka magazines royal_enfield bullet ragi_mudde iyengar_bakery kempegowda Comments (0)

Palolem

sunny 33 °C

Destination : Palolem , Goa
Journey : Mumbai to Margao , Margao to Palolem
Transport : Volvo Bus
Booking : Red Bus
Duration of Journey : 13 hours
Places of Stay : Sevas ,Papillon

My Take:
Palolem is one of the cleanest and best beaches in Goa to swim into.
This coupled with plenty of activities to do and really good mix of foreign crowds adds to the spice of the destination.

There are shacks all over the beach for beach stay. This means water is just a few steps away from the room.
Then you have the choice to do kayaking, sailing (under an instructor or for rent)
Plenty of choices to eat good food... and then you get these floats and stuff to just have nap
while you float on water.
Dolphin trips - they guarantee that you will see them and i did.
some people kayak to near by islands.

Hotel Stay :
1. Sevas - was a different experience. they have open air bathrooms.
they have planted a lot of trees around to give a jungle kind of look.
i liked the place. though.. one has to walk down to the beach from this place and is not located on the beach..
this does all in all give a different experience
2.Papillon - Its a descent place to stay at one end of the beach. their food was excellent. though the rooms and cleanliness
could have been better.

Since the season was just about to end, both these places were modestly charged.
Sevas - 500 Per hut - double Bed
Papillon - 900 Rs Per Room - Double Bed

If you havent done sailing... here is your chance to do it -> Goa Sailing - Palolem

and here are some of the pics ..

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Palolem Beach - Goa - March 2011

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Hotel Papillon - Palolem Beach - Goa

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Sevas Huts - Palolem Beach - Goa

Posted by Abhijit Bhave 10:41 Archived in India Tagged beach goa palolem Comments (0)

Ooty ... all hype no substance

sunny 17 °C

Yes, sorry to say so.

But i had heard about this place from the time i was a kid.
That was mainly because of a good bollywood movie with the superstar Amitabh in it.
and since then... i had always this urge to visit this place... no matter what the reviews said.

So.. when you got to go... you got to go. :-)

Destination : Ooty/Connoor
Place of Stay : Forgettable
Journey : Bangalore to Ooty
Mode of Transport : AC Volvo
Transport Booking : Karnataka Road Transport

Disappointment :
1. Ooty is too comercial.
2. Too many sight seeing points made up for Indian tourists to visit. Most of them are not wort it.

High Points:
1. Good weather
2. The place is new, doesnt matter if it Ooty... :-)
3. The toy train trip from Ooty to Conoor - its about 1 hr approx and costs less than 200Rs Max
4. Conoor is much better than Ooty - in terms of visual beauty.
but there are far too less places to stay there. :-(

But i met with local people and they say how foreigners did all the fun things.
they camped and trekked and knew all the right places to go to .. :-)
so there i was... alien in my own country.... :-(

So any place can be enjoyed.... you just need to have the eye for it.

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This is a view from an Ooty View Point

Posted by Abhijit Bhave 10:22 Archived in India Tagged india ooty tamil_nadu hill_stations Comments (0)

Mad Wilderness ... Wayanad

rain 26 °C

Destination : Wayanad, Kerala
Journey : Bangalore to Wayanad
Journey Duration : 8 hours
Place of Stay : Frinde Ford - > Fringe Ford
Cost of Stay : Apprx 2000 Rs Per Head Per Night

Well, to sum it up. If you can spare that kind of cash(This might not be expensive at all for some people). This is a place.
Come to this place. Stay here, you dont need to go anywhere else.
It is surrounded by wild forests with Tigers and Wild Animals.
The place is run by people who are passionate about wild life.
They will take you for morning walks into the jungle.
The food served is excellent home cooked meal - Veg/Non-Veg
There is no telephone network at this hotel, no internet.
I have never been to a place like this.

Some pics from the trip

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This is the Fringe Ford

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And when it starts raining in a place like this... its like a wet embrace with God...
this is the time when i used to wonder what the animals must be upto in the jungle.

If you have the eye , you can spot snakes, tiger pug marks , bison hair in the jungle.
and if you are really really quiet during the walk you might actually spot a Tiger.
and Bison.. i am not too sure, if its lucky not to be eaten by the Tiger :-0
atleast they told me so :-)

Posted by Abhijit Bhave 10:07 Archived in India Tagged wildlife kerala wayanad jungles Comments (0)

Goa never fails for me

sunny 31 °C

Destination : Cavelossim,Goa
Journey : Bangalore to Goa
Journey Duration : 12 Hours
Transport : Sleeper Bus
Booking Agent : [[www.redbus.in...] Red Bus]
Place of Stay : Luisa by the Sea

Cavelossim/Mobor is neither here not there. This is why i like it. Its not as famous and crowded like Calunghute - North Goa
or lost its exclusivity like Palolem - South Goa. Geographically too it lies in between.

I went there with my friends not even a month back. Its off season during this period.So rates are low.

Highlights of the trip :

1. Dinner at Fisherman's Wharf -> http://timescity.com/goa/cavelossim/european_restaurant_the_fishermans_wharf/52645
2. Fishing at the place where the river sal meets the arabian sea at Mobor beach
3. Drinking cheap port wine
4. Riding Activa on Goa roads - rent Rs 250 per head per day

Here are a few pics from the trip

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Posted by Abhijit Bhave 09:57 Archived in India Tagged beach goa mobor cavelossim Comments (0)

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