Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mowgli Land - Pench Tiger Reserve - the Afternoon Safari

Details and bookings
After settling down in the resort, a hearty lunch and a refreshing nap, our jeep driver Chandan picked us up from the resort for our pre-booked afternoon Safari.

Safaris begin at 4:00 pm however it is better to report to the main gate a good half and hour before as there is some paperwork apanning three queues which needs to be done. The time for safari varies with season, so prior information must be gathered.Only 50 jeeps are allowed inside the reserve at any given time to protect the sanctity of the forest. It is advisable to book your safari online especially on weekends rather than losing out a slot.

Finally at around 10 past 4:00 pm we entered the reserve.

Feast for the eyes, and ears

The forest was painted in hues of green and browns. The may heat was soaking up life out of the trees.The forest was not heavily dense, or green, rather turning to yellow and brown. There was a slight wind even in the afternoon perhaps carryig the tales of the wild.

We saw very many interesting trees, shrubs and water bodies.There were some excusitive root formations and lush red leaved trees which gave a whole new character to the forest.

The forest was teeming with langoors, peacocks, nil gai, deers and the varied birds. We even spotted the occasional bara singha (twelve horned deer), jackal, wild boar, birds (tiger brush, owls, kingfisher, vulture etc). However the elusive Tiger was yet to be revealed.

Nature and animals each have their own way of communication. We got news from the base camp and from other tourist jeeps in the reserve about the Tiger calls being heard at a water body called Junewani. Like all other jeeps we rushed to the water body and waited patiently listening to the call of the tiger. In peak summers tiger spotting is higher as the forest is drier. Plus, water bodies are a frequented place, hence the logical wait.

However it was nearing 7:00 pm and the calls had not yet stopped. There had been no spotting today at Junewani. We had to leave the Reserve with a heavy heart as the time slot for tourists was over for the day.

However at the Reserve exit we met Dr. Abheek Ghosh. He is a doctor based in Nagpur. In his time off his duty he is an avid wildlife photographer and also runs wildlife photography camps at neary reserves.

It was only Dr. Abheek Ghosh and his team of photographers who spotted a tigeress as she crossed the gravel path right in front of their jeep. Well, I suppose they got lucky by venturing out in a different direction rather than following the other jeeps to Junewani water body.

Even though we did not spot a tiger, we were filled with a sense of peace and a feeling of being such a small speck in this God's universe. There was the Tiger to look forward to at the morning safari. And hope keeps me alive :)

Photographer: Pranay Datar
Trip itinerary/planning: Harshad Datar of Reflections

Read about Getting to Pench and Accomodation here

Mowgli Land - Pench Tiger Reserve - Getting there & our Stay

May 2010
Day 1: Mumbai to Nagpur
I had a first sample of wild life experience and corporate-style travel at Pench, Madhya Pradesh. I left on a jet plane from Mumbai to Nagpur, got a car to pick me up at the airport and drop me off at a lovely Guest House. From there we had a full evening to sample the charm of Nagpur and the food at Haldirams was the highlight of the day.

Day 2: Nagpur to Pench

At 9 am the next day we started upon the 90-odd kilometer drive to Pench Tiger Reserve. We drove along NH7 through which is a two-lane throughout. Pench Tiger Reserve is spread between Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. However all three access points for tourists to the reserve fall in Madhya Pradesh, Turia gate being the most convenient.

(The route we took)

We reached Khawasa at 10.30 am after a comfortable journey. We parked our car at the comppound of Forest Rest House, Turia (is virtually on the main road on left hand side) and went to inspect our rooms that we had booked in advance.

To our dismay the FRH was in a very bad shape.and, had no coolers. Adding to our woes were the recurrent power cuts, no power back-up and a 7 km drive to reach the Pench Reserve Main gate. We decided to scout for an alternate location to stay. I called up Just Dial, but in vain. Ultimately the FRH staff directed us to Kipling’s Court at Turia (A MPSTDC resort) which is a 5-minute drive from the reserve main gate.

Kipling's court is a very well maintained jungle resort. The entrance to the lobby charms the visitors with paintings from Jungle Book. The lobby is warm with wood accents and tones of brown. The staff was friendly and I got a good feelign about the resort.

The resort boosts of A/C  (RS. 4000/-) and non-A/C (Rs. 3000/-) deluxe rooms (extra charge for extra bed) and a decently clean dormatory at Rs. 700 per person. The resort also has a central dining area, well maintained lawn, conference room, indoor games and jeep/guide facility for the safari.

Food is buffet style and except for people staying in dorms, non-veg food is available to each person. However, on request you can enjoy a non-veg delicacy even though you maybe staying n the dorm by payng a nominal charge.

We were five people and hence opted to stay in the dormatory. The Dorms were clean and had a cooler. There are 3-indian style lavatories and three-washrooms in the dormatory common area. Overall the dorms were a great value for money especially since accomodation in most wild life reserves is expensive due to prevelance of seasonal tourists.

There are other staying options/hotels which can be booked from the MP tourism website.

Read about our Afternoon Safari here (photos slideshow included!)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kondana Caves

The idea to go for a trek was a welcome change. I was bored of hanging out in the city and doing the usual movie, lunch or dinner routine with friends. I have no idea how we zeroed in on Kondana Caves. Perhaps it was while I was randomly looking for places to rappel and came across an ad for rappelling down the water falls at Buddhist Caves. I'm glad I did :)

We boarded a Karjat bound local train from Dadar station at 7 am. As we got off at Neral station we were excited to begin the trek until we realised that the Caves are actually accessible from Karjat station. It was a disappointing realisation and somehow our google search hadn't proved effective enough. Anyhow the slight flawed research gave us the chance to have piping hot Karjat vada pav for breakfast, which are quite famous. We quickly bought tickets to Karjat and boarded the next train which set us back by about 45 minutes.

After the confusion about the stations, we had bigger worries or rather adventures ahead. Hardly anyone had hear of Kondana Caves. Luckily, some people at the station gave us precise directions to Kondivde village, the base camp for the trek and after that there was no looking back.

We took an auto to Shriram bridge and from there we took a Tempo, more popularly known as 'tum tum' till Kondivde village. We drove along the Ulhas River, the road and the river meandering in sync. It was a 20 minute ride. The tum tum was jumpy, but the breath-taking views and the cool breeze kept our spirits up.
Our tum tum driver Deshmukh dropped us off and wished us a happy trek. He also gave us his mobile number so that we could call him up while we're heading back to Karjat station after the trek.

We began the trek listening to the Moo-ing of the village cows and drinking water from a hand pump! There was a wide enough mud road that we had to follow, however we decided to steer away from the path and walked on the left side of the path with a presumption that this road may lead us to the caves!

Needless to say that the presumption was wrong. After walking close to 25 minutes in wet mud and grass we reached a roadblock, a high gauze fence, a gate that was locked and a glimpse of an ostrich like bird (though I bet it was am Emu!!). We returned back to the gravel path and decided not to steer again considering the scorching sun that was already getting to us.

There on we walked like disciplined kids on the gravel path. We made a small conversation with the school kids we spotted and asked for directions, even though the same wasn't rocket science. That is precisely the beauty of nature trail, everyone is at peace- you, the nature-and hence the moods are jovial.

We reached a  fork in the gravel path.  The straight road was wider, while the one on the left was narrow. An Indian Archaeological Survey Board guided us to follow the narrow path. Thus began our trek.

As we turned left and started to walk, the gradual ascent began. We came across a small shack selling water, chai, kokam sherbet, chips and water!! So if you're trekking to Kondana, stock up on the water from this shack, else you'll have to drink the water from the water fall, or the small water flows that cris-cross the trek route. Further, as per a website that we researched on said, our only hope to find our way to the Caves without losing our way was to follow white route markers. So if you're doing this trek, keep your eyes open for the markers!

The trek route was wet in parts and quite slippery as well. But the stones wedged strategically by nature help the trekkers get a grip. We perpetually hoped someone would fall and we could freeze it in a photo. Sadly, when a friend fell, the camera man was trekking way ahead!! The climb was fairly easy and the occasional splashing of water from the numerous water flows kept us refreshed. It would have been a more comfortable trek had the sky been overcast or if the rain gods had been liberal. But then again, rains=kichad=slipping. :P

We reached the 20 odd steps that take the trekkers to the mouth of the cave son about 50 minutes. Most of us sprinted up the stairs ecstatically, some out of the excitement of seeing the water fall, others out of relief!

The caves and Buddhist caves, cut in rocks. They have all the Buddhist jazz - stupa, viharas etc - but all in very devastated state courtesy a severe earthquake in 1990's. Nevertheless, whatever remains is beautiful in a haunting way. The caves smell of water and bats. The air inside is heavy. In peak rains the entrance of the caves gets curtained by waterfall. I'm sure that sight would be grand, for even the small waterfall falling over the left-most corner of the caves looked pretty.

The sun had friend and tanned us all. We were fairly dehydrated and enormously hungry! Our came our water bottles and dabbas. We hogged on a sumptuous spread - sandwiches, samosas, thelpas & chunda, idli-chutney, cheese paratha, biscuits, chips, juice etc. While we fed our bodies and enjoyed the shade, some other group of trekkers were enjoying under the waterfall. As soon as they left, we took-over the waterfall, or did we take-under the fall? ;) Either which way, all 10 of us got under the chilling blow of water, almost like a gang who'd conquered the waterfall!

The blows of the water were ruthless in parts. The pebbles under our feet hurt. We all were cramped under the fall. yet it was soothing. The water calmed me, erasing all my thoughts and bringing a smile on my face and peace to my soul. The whole time that I was under the water I was content. I loved how the water felt on my face. I loved the earthy smell that drenched me and stemmed from me. In one word it was rejuvenating. It made me re-iterate my love for water, for despite the woods, the mountains and the views, I was most delighted and moved by water. Perhaps a deep set association with this element of nature.

After bathing and the customary photo session. It was time to leave. Most of us had a spare change of clothes but we decided against it. We began the descent drenched, willing the sun to soak up the water from our clothes and attempt to tire our wills. Ultimately our fondness for nature and a good time won. We descended  safely in record-time. It was a successful trek, apart from a minor dehydration scare by a colleague.

Remember the shack I spoke about earlier? The It turned out that it was an emu farm after all! The Emu's are apparently exported and their eggs are used to make medicines. I do not know how accurate the information  was, but I believe the guy at the shack. Yes, the same shack that I spoke about earlier. We rested at the shack, sipping kokam sherbet and letting the nature and our feelings mingle.

We had a choice to make - a tum-tum ride back to Karjat, or a trek back along River Ulhas. We were leaning towards the latter until a villager told us that the trek back would be a 3-hour walk covering 12-kms. Instantly we changed our minds and called up the tum-tum wala for our comfortable ride back.

As we drove back to Karjat it began to drizzle. The sign of rain gave me a reason to come back, i.e. to see the waterfalls in their full glory as they curtain the caves, enveloping them and raising the spectators' curiosity about what secret lies behind the veil of water, or perhaps their hearts. 


Group: 10 people
Reaching Karjat: Any Karjat or Khopoli bound Fast(preferable)/Slow train from CST/Dadar. Board the earliest train possible. Find the timetable here.
Reading Kondivde Village (base camp for the trek): Take a share auto costing Rs. 5 per person/Rs. 20 for full auto till Shriram bridge (20 minutes drive). Hire a tum-tum/tempo from Shriram bridge to Kondivde Village costing Rs. 200 for the full tum-tum (seating 10 people). Do not forget to take the contact number of your tum-tum wala as you'll need to call him for your return from Kondidve to Karjat.
Trek Intensity: Easy
Trek Time: 1.5 hrs ascend, 30 minutes descent.
What to carry: Water, food, cap(for sun)/wind-cheater(for rain), a shoulder bag, sun-tan (don't forget, i still have tan marks :P), camera and a desire to enjoy!!
Caution: Slippery trails during rains, crossing water flows and avoiding running out of water.
Cost: It cost us approximately Rs. 100 per person incl second-class return ticket to Karjat from Dadar, Two way auto-rickshaw and tum-tum fare and cost of kokam sherbet and mineral water.

Wat - a - Board 3

My cousins came across this board at a shop somewhere in Dharamshala.The beauty about this one being that either the shop was owned by Santa Claus, hence the uncertain leave of absence from 25th December, or the pure laziness of the actual owner to put the doors up and invite the customers :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Harne-Murud - what to do, see, eat and more.

Harne-Murud is a small fishing town. Most of the livelihood comes from fishing, hapoos/alphonso mangoes and offlate, tourism. There isn't much to do here.

My extended family hails from harne-murud as per the last recorded origin in our genealogy book. The temple of 'durga devi', our family deity brought us here. 

Durga Devi temple:

The temple was built way back in 18th century. This was my second visit here and in the span of 3 years I saw ample transformation in the tourist traffic that went from a trickle to a flow, and the change in the temple complex.
The priest here is friendly, just like me; after all we share the same surname: D He along with his wife try and keep the temple spic-and-span.  The temple itself is small and over the years has become more beautiful because of the constant maintenance, especially the paintings on the wall and pillars.

Like most temples, this one is run by its trustees. One story goes like the majority trustees overpowered the trustee belonging to the family who started this temple. The used the funds from donations to build a prayer/function area adjacent to the entrance of the temple. In this pursuit the beauty of the temple structure hides behind the new shoddy prayer hall. Needless to say when I looked at it, I felt sad. For our own selfish reasons like power and money, we spoil God's home.

However, after having said my prayers, sitting in silence in the temple courtyard and enjoying the peace, I was relieved to feel the energy back. Luckily, selfish reasons had not changed the sanctity and purity of this place and the belief my family and many others have in the Durga deity. 

A lot of the activities - both spiritual and cultural- happen around the temple, much like in most small towns in India. It is a landmark and a meeting place for the locals. The beach is a mere 5 minutes walk from here. That's where the real action lies - on the shore, in the air and underwater!

The Beach

The sun rises late on this western sojourn and sets later still. The beach here isn’t the prettiest, but it certainly is one of the less inhabited one’s. It is quite clean and fairly empty except in the mornings and evenings. The mornings are dominated by the hustle of the fishing boats, the occasional local, the interested tourist and the sporadically drawn calm. The evenings are livelier.

Mind you, this is a typical Indian beach where the tourists come prepared with a change of clothes after the morning swim, something the locals are hardly bothered about. Children are woken up before sun rise for the customary family time at beach, photography included! Post bath and breakfast is the apparent quality-family time: local sight-seeing, temple trot, food sampling etc. The evenings bring with them the usual session of playing catch, building sand castle, camel ride (perhaps they took the ship of the dessert to mean a ship!) and eating/drinking the street food. If you thought the beach seemed action-less, concentrate on the shore, the air and underwater!

Some locals have started para-gliding on the beach. Strategically located near the temple, it gives you some airy high for a decent Rs. 500. I had to forcibly give this a miss thanks to my weighty issues while my cousin enjoyed the whole experience. I do not know how safe their gear is, but if you’re ready to take on some risk, I recommend this activity! Be at the beach in the evening, spot the glider in the air, follow the cord tied from the glider to the jeep, approach the jeep-wala, strike the deal and go zooming!

Let me remind you that Murud is a small fishing town. But there are many ‘not so small’ fish in the sea here. Get into one of the many boats parked at the shore at the break of dawn and you can go Dolphin spotting. The temperature and the other geography of this area make the seas here a good breeding ground for grey and black dolphins. The typical boat seats about 10 people and is motor operated. They take the keen tourists around for 45 minutes for dolphin spotting.

I was first a little apprehensive seeing the big waves and the basic boat. Sea sick-ness was another concern. But as our boat zoomed into the sea and we got a glimpse of a dolphin’s snout, all apprehensions were forgotten. We could barely get a glimpse of the nose when we heard a shout from a guy on d other side of a boat ushering us to see the pair of dolphins jumping up and diving back into the water. There was flurry of excitement, shouts, pointing of fingers signaling a spotting. It was a fun experience and the dolphins seemed to have been trained at enthralling a keen audience, especially while we were video-taping it!

Another activity on the beach is bullock cart ride! For 50 bucks, the guy let's you ride the cart, pose on it and get some kicks out of it, like we did!

Traditional Food

If you happen to go to Murud, or any other konkan town, don’t forget to try the speciality food. The drinks like aan panha (drink made from boiled raw mangoes mixed with sugar/jaggery), kokan sherbet (a sweet-sour drink made from a fruit), sol kadi (made from buttermilk and kokam fruit) etc will tickle your taste buds and refresh you instantly. If you’re a non-vegetarrian, don’t forget to try the local fish and prawn dishes apart from a preparation called komdi vade (chicken curry with puri like vadas made from a mixed dough). Also, if you end up there in summers, feast on the Alphonso mangoes, right off the trees, but be careful not to get caught!!


Homestay in Murud is a very economical option. You can get accommodation for as low as Rs. 300 (excl food). But beware the facilities are too basic at times as we discovered in our first and last homestay there. There was no cooler or A/C’s, the bathroom was okay, water had to be drawn from the well, there were too many ants and mosquitoes and the food they offered was dismal. The very next day we found ourselves in a Hotel by the beach, much to everyone’s relief. So if you want to try homestay, be prepared for certain discomforts, and who knows, yours may actually turn out to be fun!

Read about the drive from Mumbai to Harne Murud here

Read more about Silver Sands Beach Resort here

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A review: Lonely Planet Magazine, India Edition

Really a LONELY PLANET??!!

Some pour over it in coffee houses, others have their nose between its pages even while crossing a road in India! This almost-accessory and  firangs go hand in hand, quite literally! It is none other than the ever Loved and informative Lonely Planet Guide to India.

From having unraveled many a clandestine destinations, to being the best trusted guide, lonely planet is not just a book, it is a traveler’s necessity, a fashion statement, a TV channel and now an India specific magazine!

They claim the Planet to be Lonely. I suppose through this venture they’re out to make it little less lonely!

I always thought reading magazines was passé, not anymore!

I set my eyes on this magazine on a hoarding, while waiting at the bus stop. Its launch and promotion was grand. The response I’m assuming was grander still, for every possible magazine-wala I contacted had the same answer, “Out of stock!” Having missed out on the First India Edition, I was desperately waiting for March month to lay my hands on the magazines second edition! Finally, I bought the LP magazine from a humble street vendor outside of Churchgate Station. The minute I saw the stunning cover and the contents, I knew it’d be worth my Rs. 100. LP certainly did not disappoint!

The launch price of the magazine-Rs. 100- is easy on the Indian pocket. My concern is their ability to maintain such a nominal price for a 200 page magazine of this stature. The popularity of LP may depend upon the price, but if the quality and interesting content is maintained the same will not deter most travel-crazy readers.

The editors have maintained an informal tone. This lends a certain friendliness and homely feel to the destination diaries. The mix of local and foreign destinations is skewed slightly towards the latter as the foreign destinations are covered in much more detail as compared their domestic counterparts. The broad theme of the second issue revolves around wildlife travel, with special emphasis on going beyond spotting the big cat and the usual game parks and sanctuaries.

Apart from the usual suspects like write to the editor, ask a travel related query, LP offers the reader a chance to get their memorable travel photos published. A bonus treat is the four stunning bookmarks sporting a spectacular photo and a delectable travel quote along with 6-tear out mini guides which they claim would be free with every forthcoming issue also.

To judge the content, one should have traveled to that particular destination. I leave the judgement to you, the reader because in each one of us there is a traveler!

The magazine is a visual treat. The photos are an appreciators prize and every photographer’s envy! The king size photos are for the keeps though in parts the quality of photos has been compromised for the sheer beauty of the object being covered. Overall the photos are stunning, intriguing and inspiring.
Reading LP may not affect your travel plans. But as their tag-line says, and I quote “Don’t just travel, travel well!” Who knows, you may just end up traveling better than before!

AND if you thought this planet was lonely, think again! Maybe you will find the answer in the 200-odd pages of LP magazine, or better still re-frame the question!

The Verdict: Highly recommended for every traveler, photographer, travel writer or those aspiring to be either of the three! 
Image from here

Harne- Murud - our stay at "Silver Sand, beach resort"

Silver Sand Beach Resort is the second most popular staying option in Murud after Kamath residency which has a tie-up with MTDC. Having stayed once at Kamath, my cousins booked a four-seater room at Silver sand Beach Resort which was closer to our kul-devat apart from having a nice beach access!!The choice was win-win as we discovered later.

The rooms at Silver Sand are built around in a circular shape, a good distance away from each other for maximum privacy and different views.

 There is an open-restaurant and the lounging area viz. reclining chairs, beach umbrellas, hammocks, lounge chairs over-looking the beach!

The thicket of coconut trees shades the resort beautifully hence easing souls like us of the already-blazing March sun! 
All the rooms at Silver Sand were named after flowers. Ours was called Jaswand and it was Pink on the outside and inside! The room was tidy and not necessarily clean. The room was huge and had four full-size beds and a decent bathroom. The ventilation was a problem apart from the mosquitoes. But over-all for Rs. 1000-1200/day, it was a nice bargain.

 At Silver Sand hospitality is priority. Despite of being low on staff due to the long holi-weekend, our welcome drink was served in record time and every meal was made to order to pamperour taste buds. Thee food was typically konkani, yet delicious! We hogged on kanda(onion) and batata(potatao) bhajis, prwans fry, fish curries, sol kadi and lots of kokan sherbet!! We truly stuck by "When in Konkan, eat as the lonkani's do!!" The only small hitch was that we did not get to taste "Komdi wade", the quinteesntial non-vegetarian delicay due to lack of kitchen staff!

Overall, Silver Sands is a chilled out place to be. The food is good, the prices are decent. The staff is accomodating and helpful when it comes to local sight-seeing.

The set-up reminded me of a small beach village where life floats bliss. There isn't much to do here, and that is the beauty of this place! (Coming from someone(me) who loves to jam-pack her itinerary, be assured that this place is truly a lazy-bums bliss!)

(5 being highest and 1 being lowest)
Room: 3.5/5
Tariffs: 4/5
Food: 4/5
Hospitality: 4/5

Read about the drive from Mumbai to Harne Murud here

Harne-Murud - the drive.....

11 March 2009

A dry fruit packs all the goodness in the-sometimes misleading-pint size, just like a good trip that packs all the adventures in 2 days! Our brush with religions, spirituality, tranquility, adventure and discovery was the perfect break from the crazy Mumbai pace!

We originally belong to the Konkan (west coast stretching from Mumbai all the way up to Goa!). Our family is not staunch about religion, but we do believe in prayers and little bit of devotion. Our family deity is in a town callked Harne-Murud and we do go there once in two years to reconnect with our roots and to indulge in bhakti. Hence the trip to Harne-Murud, home to unexplored beaches, dolphin sightings, mango trees, simple way of life and Durga Devi's (our family deity) temple, i.e. our 'Kul Devat' as we locally call it.

On the day of Eid when the prayers could be heard from the mosques, we chanted the name of 'ganesha' and embarked upon the 6-hour drive in our Santro, at sharp 6:30m AM. The sun rays were finding their way through the moon-kissed skies. The traffic was thin, weather refreshing and in no time we were at Pune Expressway, but not without some previews of the adventures to come ahead!

We played radio at full-blast!! Music never sounded this good! We sped at full-speed, captured random buildings and telecom towers in our lens, kept a close watch and cheered on the bunch of professional cyclists who were apparently driving to Pune and stopped at the 'panch mukhi (five headed) maruti mandir'.

Instead of taking the express highway, we took the Karnala ghat route towards Dapoli. The route is mainly ghat/hills. The road winds after every few turn of wheels and the traffic is quite a bit. The road flatens considerably before Mahad and that is where we discovered ancient buddhist caves perched on a hill. WE saw them by sheer accident when we spotted two guys, one in bright yellow and other in red climbing the mountain with sheer ease. That's when we realized that they were climbing stairs and their destination were a cluster of strange looking caves.

The caves were well maintained, with newly laid steps to climb up. The caves are a protected monument, yet there was no sign board of their name, or history. The caves had ancient carvings, writings and partial remains of stairs and figure carvings. The view from the caves was brilliant, with the green and yellow fields ahead, the road cutting through them and mountains on the other three sides! The caves cost us about 30 minutes, and enjoying a cup of tea, on our descent, we drove ahead.

We stopped for a breakfast of idli, dosa, pohe and bata vada at 'Amantran restraunt' at Pen-Wadkhal naka. The food here is simple and the service is quick. In fact, this place is always crowded and that just proves the trust people have in their food. Though, if you ignore the stained mugs and tea overflowing into the saucer, also a chipped edge or two, you may develop a liking for this place! Not me though! After a sumptuous meal and a leak in the smelly toilet, we set off again towrads the final 3 hour journey to Harne-Murud.

By the time we reached dapoli, we were extremely hungry and our legs were eager to stretch. We drove through the narrow lanes and market places of Dapoli looking for saree shop. It is a custom that when we go to the family deity, we take along a saree/blouse piece(cloth), coconut, flowers and rice for the offering. We call this custom as "Ooti" i.e "offering" in english or "Chadhava" in hindi. Sadly, we missed a turn and ended up on the highway again hoping that we'd find a saree shop in Murud.

By 1:00 PM we were at Murud. We checked into our resort - Silver Sand, beach resort and settled into our wooden cottage called "Jaswand". It was great to whiff the salty . It played with our senses and brought with it glimpses of the discovery ahead.

Read about Silver Sand Beach Resort here

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Things!


Notice the new look? Well, it was long overdue. I was sick and tired of looking for templates and requesting people politely (and sometimes not so politely ) to design one for me. Then I took it upon myself, edited a stunning photo taken by Pranay (my brother), added some text, changed the blog colours and Voila! :D


Apart from that I decided to get a little more open with my readers and hence the side bar reading "Me" elsewhere viz twitter, FB, food blog, p4poetry page.I'm hoping the readers now begin to believe that I'm as human as them and actually read my blog ;)Also, you can now get my blog feeds on your RSS.


My blog is now a proud member of IndiBlogger. See the new badge it sports on the side panel :) This membership will not only help in publicizing my blog, it'll also pit me against fellow bloggers to finally culminate into India blog rankings! Let's see where I stand...


Lastly, I was bored of my profile picture on blogger so a new one is up. Funny how we get bored of our online faces, but rarely our offline one....or maybe it boils down to choice :)

Plus, my mini-profile is up. Screw the secrecy!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Gold Souk : All that glitters is GOLD

Souk in arabic means 'market'. Being an Indian i've been exposed to several forms of a market - malls, weekly bazaar, midnight markets, street shops, the quintessential bhaaji aka vegetable market, the smelly and noisy fish market, the crazy whosale markets of crawford and the like - but none compare to the 'souk' in Sharjaha, the GOLD SOUK!

My cousins live on Corniche' in Sharjah. The view from the balcony is stunning - especially the golden arches  across the water. That's the Souk for you; an architectural marvel and lovingly titled 'train building' for its close resemblance to the mode of transport of the masses!

 In the morning light the Souk building looks serene with the blue tiles adoring the curves of the other-wise creamy-colour structure. But when the sun sets, the structure lights up in a shade of yellow so fine, you'd mistake it for being gold-plated!

 We visited the Souk on a working day. It was nearly empty. We were in awe the structure, but our jaws literally dropped looking at the dazzle of gold, silver, platinum and precious gem jewelery!We window-shopped and then shopped some. I'd have enjoyed the shopping a little more had it not been for me, 4 years down the line! 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

DUBAI DIARY - Fly away

Fly away : From UN-eventful to Eventful!

Yes, airports intimidate me. Hence the deep love for the Indian Rail system with all its good, bad and the downright ugly. However when we finally booked our flight for Dubai, the fear of airport was culminated with the whole complex immigration process and a wish to request for a under-water train tunnel from Mumbai to Dubai.

The check-in, the immigration at Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport was comfortable. The take-off and the altitude variations for once did not block my ears thanks to the in-plane head-phones and the giant IC aircraft. Love aaj kal and some english stand-up comedy kept us busy apart from the beverages and the dinner.

The flight time was nearly 3 hours and 15 minutes. We landed at Dubai airport Terminal 1 at 10:28 Dubai time. The glitz and the glamour bedazzled me instantly.

A few memorable moments-

  1. Flight- flight: My uncle had a flight to Dubai at 7Pm IST, my flight was at 8:30PM IST and dad's Air Arabia flight was at 9:30 IST. We all landed nearly at the same time and my relavties had a hard time managing time and shuttling between Dubai Airport and Sharjah Airport as well as different terminals. I'm sure it was a one-off airport-running game for them. :P
  2. The Lights: One-hour before landing at DXB, we spotted random sets of flights from the aircraft window. We were gyuessing what they were. The guesses ranged from the spot on some islands, ships to the bizzare moon rays! We even asked the air-hostesses about the same. Her answer truly anused us. She said, "Ma'am it must be the lights from the aircraft wing, don't worry it is nothing alarming!" "Yeah right" *sarcastically* was what I felt. As the flight neared DXB, the lights grew prettier, grander and more wide-spread. That's when it struck us that we were gazing at the emirates from high-above! How GOD-ly!
  3. Eye spy: My grand-mom had narrated to me a real-story about a lady whose eye balls matched those of a wanted person. She was immediately sent from the eye scan at the airport to the jail! When my eye scan wasn't registering, the guy dressed in the Khandoora (traditional attire of arb men complete with the head gear) threatened me by saying he'd put me in the queue again if i didn't open my eyes wide-enough. Then he flashed a bright torch into my eyes, but to no avail. Finally he lost his cool and told me, "Aakh kholo nahi to main bahar nikalta hu!" At that one instant I imagined myself sitting in a cell in an air-conditioned UAE jail :P Luckily the eye scan registered and the guy sweetly told me to wash my eyes before I went for immigration as they'd begun to water; a culmination of fear, torch-light and my hands stretching my small-almost chinky-eyes!
  4. Passport Control: We kept looking for a board for immigration, finally realising that at DXB it is known as passport control. The guy at the counter looked in his 20-s. He was dressed in a Khandoora and looked a little cute. He asked me where I'd come from, who I was going to stay with and my relavtives phone number. Luckily, mom's cell was operational and I could tell the guy the number. I was hoping and praying that immigration wouldn't take as long as the eye scan. Prayers were answered!


Related Posts with Thumbnails