A Place to Revisit!

This post is written as a part of Indispire Edition # 175 – Share about any place that you would love to revisit. What makes the place special? #TimeToRevisit

From a very young age, I have been passionate about travelling with a list of many dream destinations. The love for travelling comes from my army background and frequent transfers. The place that topped the list of my dream destinations is Paris. So it was a dream come true when in 2008, my dad said that we will go on a holiday to Paris. I was ecstatic and on Cloud Nine. I made all the preparations, we applied for a visa and got it quite easily. My brother was a frequent traveller all over the world for work purposes. We were travelling in April and we checked with him if we need to carry warm clothes. He advised us to carry light woollens. So we were all set and left in April 2008.

On the day that we landed in Paris, it snowed heavily and the temperature dropped drastically to 3 degrees centigrade. I was carrying a very light jacket as were my parents. We all got exposed to the cold but I was the only one who got a terrible viral fever attack. I was sightseeing in Paris with a fever of 103 degrees, sometimes touching 104 degrees. I was at a loss at how to buy medicines as the employees at the pharmacies there only spoke and understood French. We were strolling in Paris one day and we came across an Indian restaurant. I had been dying for some Masala chai(we all know how good that tastes in cold and fever). I walked into the restaurant with mom and we started chatting with the owner. We ordered food and very hestitantly I asked if I could get some adrak chai(Ginger Tea) as I have a cold. He personally made it for me and henceforth, whenever I visited his restaurant, my ginger tea would be ready. I will never forget his kindness and warm hospitality. The restaurant was quite close to our hotel.

Because of my sickness, I could not enjoy my time at Paris at all. It is all a hazy blur. My worst regret is when we went to see the cabaret at Moulin Rouge. I took a heavy dose of medicine so that I could enjoy the show. It had a different adverse effect on me and the medicines made me drowsy and I slept through the show.

So the place that I really want to revisit in good health and good weather is Paris. I really hope I get to see Paris again in my lifetime. Here is a picture of Eiffel Tower at night that i took with my mom standing in front of it. You can gauge the size of Eiffel Tower by comparing it with the size of people standing under and in front of it.

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Datsun redi-GO – Be Ready to take on the World!

Fun. Freedom. Confidence. The ultimate Urban Cross – Datsun redi-GO – the capability of a crossover with the convenience of a hatchback.

The Datsun redi-Go promises us this and more!

 

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Image Courtesy: http://autos.maxabout.com/cars/datsun/redi-go

 

The Datsun redi-GO follows the ‘YUKAN’ (勇敢) design philosophy that seeks to create cars that are Brave and Bold, Compact yet Sleek with crisp and clean lines. India’s first urban-cross, Datsun redi-GO blends the modern styling of an urban hatchback with the spirit of a crossover. Its high, wide stance gives you a commanding feel on the road, while retaining the agility of a compact vehicle – truly the best of both worlds.

With roomy interiors for that sense of space, an amazing mileage of 25.17 kmpl and a commanding seating position to help you enjoy all the sights and sounds of the world around you, long drives will never be the same again. On first glance you’ll notice redi-GO’s sporty good looks and smart dimensions. Inside you’ll find spacious room for all passengers and a high eye-point for the driver, making Datsun redi-GO both smart and stylish.

I was very impressed when I read about this new car that has hit the Indian roads. It has some exceptional features that make it the perfect car for the Indian Roads. There are three features that make it the perfect car for me.

High Ground Clearance 

It has the best in ground clearance of 185 mm which helps in dealing with the low obstacles that we encounter on the street. Having sprained my back many times because of the low obstacles on the road which are not visible sometimes, this feels like the best feature ever in a car.

Cabin Space

I am quite tall and in most of the cars, I feel very cramped in the back seat, especially if the people sitting in the front seat are also tall. The Datsun redi-Go has ample second row knee room for those sitting at the back.

Room for More Storage Space

The Datsun redi-Go  has a 222 litre boot, enough to keep a lot of luggage or other items even when all the seats are occupied. This makes it the perfect car for the long road trips that I love to go on.

Test-Driving the Datsun redi-Go

I stay in Mumbai and most of us know how stressful it is to drive in a big city where people are in a hurry to get to their destination and low on patience. Combine that with the poor quality of roads full of potholes and it becomes a nightmare for the person driving the car. 

I would like to test the Datsun redi-Go on the Mumbai roads as the roads here are very bumpy and full of people driving haphazardly and pedestrians crossing the road from wherever they want to. It has the shortest breaking distance because of its PAB performance augmented brakes due to which the responsive time from brake pedals to wheels is very short. 

The other feature for which I would like to test drive the car in Mumbai is the Tall Boy Stance. I am an animal lover and many times, we have small cats and dogs crossing the roads in Mumbai and it becomes difficult to see them. I would like to see if the Tall Boy Stance helps overcome this hurdle while driving.

With these features, this is one car I would love to own!

 

 

Tribal Museum, Bhopal

Recently, I went on a vacation to Mhow, Indore and Bhopal. I visited many beautiful places there but the highlight of my visit was definitely the Tribal Museum in Bhopal. It is so beautifully made, reflecting the tribal life of olden days with such beautiful structures that I was left awestruck. This place is a must visit for anyone going to Bhopal. Take a look at the pictures. There are a lot of pictures, but trust me, browsing through them will be an experience.

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Narmada Ghat, Omkareshwar

Living in a city takes you away from the beauty and grandeur of nature and makes you long for the serenity and peace that only nature can provide. We were on the way to Omkareshwar to see the Jyotiringa there. Unfortunately, we could not see it due to the Kumbh Mela Rush. However, on the way we stopped at the beautiful Narmada Ghat. A very serene and beautiful spot with clean river water and relatively clean Ghat(river bank). Pictures of the beautiful spot:

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Taj Mahal – a painting in the sky!

We have all heard about the beauty of the Taj Mahal, but we can only understand the perfect beauty when we actually see the Taj Mahal. Such technical excellence in those times is absolutely astounding.
We took a trip to Agra in the month of March. The logical order of starting the Agra trip is to start with a visit to the Agra Fort and Taj Mahal after that.
This is the entrance to the Taj Mahal. IMG_4442

When you come close to the entrance gate, this is the first view of the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is right outside the gate, right?

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Wrong. This is the actual distance of the Taj Mahal from the Gate.

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This is an optical illusion. The Taj Mahal is full of optical illusions like this which were created to make it the a complete marvel.
When you enter the gate, the first view of the Taj Mahal made me feel like I was looking at a painting in the sky. No construction has been allowed behind the Taj Mahal so that the view of the Taj Mahal is not spoilt. This picture doesn’t even do 1/4th justice to the actual beauty of the Taj Mahal. You have to see it in real. It will take your breath away.

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This is the famous bench outside Taj Mahal where so many film shootings have happened.

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The iconic pose

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When you stand facing the gate with your back towards the Taj Mahal, you will see the gate is exactly in the same spot as the Taj Mahal, on the other side. The entire monument is an example of perfect symmetry.

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The four minarets around the Taj Mahal are slightly tiliting outwards. Look at the picture.

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Do you know why this is so? It is because, if there is ever an earthquake, the minarets will fall outwards and not on the main building.

The architecture of Taj Mahal has all the influences of Hindu, Muslim and Persian Architecture.

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A huge kalash engraved into the floor at Taj Mahal.

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A beautiful view of the River Yamuna from behind the Taj Mahal. This place is so serene that I just wanted to sit here and spend the entire day.

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Another view. That’s the Agra Fort on the opposite bank of the river.

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There are 16 gardens in front of the Taj Mahal. There are lot of mysteries and stories surrounding the numbers around Taj Mahal which I am not revealing. That should be heard when you go there. It is absolutely essential to get a Guide for first time visitors.

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There is a Jama Masjid(Mosque) inside the complex. It is on the left side of the Taj Mahal. The sides of the Taj Mahal have this design which is called the Honeycomb design. Through each opening, you can see the entire Jama Masjid. This is an optical illusion again.

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The main bulding is surrounded by this Persian carpet design on all four sides.

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The garden that you see in the picture is Mehtab Bagh which is behind the Taj Mahal.

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Shah Jahan had built the white Taj Mahal as a tomb for his wife Mumtaz Mahal. In the same way, he had planned to built a black Taj Mahal as a tomb for himself opposite the white Taj Mahal near Mehtab Bagh, so that his and Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb could be near each other’s and they would be close even after death.

The marked circular spot that you see is where he had planned to build the Black Taj Mahal.

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However, by then Aurangzeb(Shah Jahan’s son) had usurped power from his father and he disapproved of such extravagance. He had already put Shah Jahan under house arrest. He stopped the construction of the Black Taj Mahal. Imagine what a sight it would have been to see the white and black Taj Mahal on the opposite sides of the river Yamuna. We have been deprived of something so beautiful.

Shah Jahan was buried in the Taj Mahal next to Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb. You can see the two tombs together. Photography is not allowed inside.

Please don’t believe all those stupid stories about how Taj Mahal was a Hindu monument which was usurped by the Mughals. This is sheer nonsense. Shah Jahan had a Hindu mother and a Hindu wife and Mumtaz Mahal was a Persian. That’s where all these varied influences come from.

Tea Center, Mumbai

I am an Indian and I love my tea. My morning starts with tea and sometimes ends with it too. I can have tea at anytime of the day. It is my companion in happiness, sadness, excitement, stress, for cooling off after a fight or after a client has driven me to the edge. My cup of tea is what I can’t do without most.

I have been in Mumbai for many years but had never heard of this place, until one day I was roaming around in Churchgate and saw this sign outside a cafe – the sign said Tea Center.

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Being a tea lover, I was intrigued. But I was running short of time, so I went on without stopping. So this time, when I went to Kalaghoda festival, I knew I would feel incomplete unless I ended my day with a visit to the Tea Center. So here I was exhausted and dusty after roaming around Kalaghoda in the afternoon heat. It was about 6 p.m, the perfect time for a refreshing cuppa tea. I have two friends who absolutely love this place and come here a lot. It is the only tea shop where you will have to wait to get a table and be served tea, it is that popular. But you will find the wait totally worth it.

I had heard a lot of praises for the Hot Buttered Apple Tea at this place and I decided to try it out. And was it simply the most sinfully delicious tea I have ever tasted. It has a lingering rich buttery taste enveloped by the fruity freshness of apple. I am in love with it.

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I paired it with Lemon Tart and this was the most perfect Tea I have ever had. The tangy sweetness of the Lemon Tarts was the perfect accompaniment to the rich flavour of Hot Buttered Apple Tea, This will have your mouth watering. It is even more delicious than it looks.

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Now, I want to try their Banana Caramel Tea, Glasier Mint Tea, Almond Tea, Irish Tea, Rose Tea -ohh the list is endless. I wish I was staying near it. I would be at the Tea Centre everyday. My dream is to spend an entire day there and try all the Tea flavours I want to. I am sure I’ll spend a day like that soon at the Tea Centre. Ohh, did I mention that it is managed by the Government? There are some things that our Government gets right, The Tea Center is one of them.

© Arti Deshpande

KalaGhoda Arts Festival 2015

The beginning of every year would be an incomplete for me if I didn’t go to the Kalaghoda Arts Festival. So, I went to the festival this year too on the first day that it started. Here are excerpts from my day at Kalaghoda.

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Water, Mumbai’s most precious resource

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Shops with Interesting art like this are one of the main reasons for me to go to the festival every year.

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A Tribute to Cinema – both Hollywood and Bollywood

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Ethno Mod – a Tribute to the Spirit of Womanhood by artist Kisalay Vora(my favourite work of art this year)

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The artist himself

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A quaint car

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I love these characters at a stall in Kalaghoda

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With the world increasingly getting full of disconnected people, the artwork on this car talks about the power of the human touch.

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I simply loved this.

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CST Station at Night

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The Treasures that I  brought back from the Festival

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© Arti Deshpande

Ghatkopar’s Khau Galli – A Gastronomer’s Delight


Top post on IndiBlogger.in, the community of Indian Bloggers

I had heard a lot about Ghatkopar’s Khau Galli(Food Street) from my friends and colleagues. Ghatkopar is a suburb of Mumbai. I had heard that you get atleast 25 different types of Dosas there and they are a must try. i had been longing to go since a long time. On Friday, a friend and I made an impromptu plan to go there.

We reached there at about 9 p.m. We were just roaming around and wondering where to start. The food there is all vegetarian street food and it is amazingly clean there and the taste of street food is retained. The dosa seller was right in front of us. However, we wanted to try something also before that. Here are the things that we tried and would completely recommend to everyone.

Hot Spot

We saw this guy who was selling Tikkas. His business name is Hot Spot and he also has his stall in front of Worli Seaface. We had the most amazing Paneer Tikka there. The masala that he uses for marinating the Paneer is something simply different and the Paneer Tikka tastes out of this world.

Sai Swad Dosa

After this, we were ready to try the dosa now at Sai Swad Dosa. We went through the list and actually saw that there are more than 25 varieties of dosas. Experimental that I am with food, I decided to try the Maggi Cheese Dosa. My friend took the Special Schezwan and Manchurian Cheese Dosa. Though all the dosas there are out of this world, nothing can taste better than the Maggi Cheese Dosa – take my word for it. It is simply delicious. That stall is so popular that they have 8 tawas set up and 8 dosas being made at the same time. Still, the waiting time is atleast 20 mins. But, believe me when I say that every minute of wait is worth it. Take a look at this picture of the magic men at work.

Sai Swad Dosa

Naughty Sips and Slices

While we were waiting for the dosas, I saw a small eatery behind Sai Swad Dosa. They had displayed Chocolate Pizza in the menu. I was completely tempted and decided to try it out after the dosa. My friend and I shared the Chocolate Pizza as we were too full after the dosa. But one taste of the pizza and we were hooked completely. It was extraordinary. Take a look at this picture and get ready to drool.

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Me and Chocolate Pizza

After this, we thought we were completely done and then the owner of the eatery came and told us that they had very good Falooda. He told us about the Fusion Falooda – it is a combination of vanilla icecream. rose syrup, dryfruits and fruits. We accepted his suggestion and decided to try it out. It was mindblowing to to say the least. Take a look at the picture and see for yourself.

Fusion Falooda

In the end there were two totally happy faces after stuffing ourselves so much who were not able to even walk at all. A trip to Khau Galli at Ghatkopar is a must and an experience you will never forget.

© Arti Deshpande

Amsterdam – The City of my Dreams

I totally love travelling. It’s like my lifeblood. If I don’t travel to someplace after 6-7 months, I start getting restless, irritated and distracted. If I am strapped for a time, even a weekend trip is enough for the time being. I have visited different countries too. The city I have loved the most and still love the most is Amsterdam. I could happily settle there for a lifetime.

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My fascination with Amsterdam started when I read The Diary of Anne Frank. MY heart went out to her story and I wanted to see the place where she had hidden and spent those torturous years. It was turned into a museum after her father released her diary as a book.

Entrance to the Anne Frank Museum

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The Anne Frank Museum is the Secret Annexe where they hid from the Nazis. Her house where they had lived a beautiful and comfortable life was very close to the annexe.

Anne Frank’s actual House(the green door)

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The main mode of transport in Amsterdam is the river that flows through it. Very few people use the road and that gives us nice empty roads to stroll on.

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The houses and the river are so scenic, you can never tire of the view. This was a view from our hotel.

Herengracht Canal infront of our Restaurant

Statue of Anne Frank outside her house

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Madame Tussaud, Amsterdam

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Anne Frank’s Wax Statue in Madame Tussaud

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Lady Diana

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Mahatma Gandhi

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Lady Diana and I

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The Windmill at Amsterdam

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The river in Amsterdam at night

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For a lot of people, the cycle is also the main mode of transport. There are separate cycle paths in Amsterdam,

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There is a very famous Diamond company in Amsterdam – Coster Diamonds. The tour of their factory is absolutely amazing.

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Amsterdam is very scenic and beautiful. It is a very chilled out place – the perfect place to destress.

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Many people have built their homes right on top of the river. They live in the middle of the river. How awesome. I wish I could do that.

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I really long to go back and I am sure I will one day.

Lufthansa A380 – The dawn of a new era in Indian Aviation

I love the feeling of being in the air, amidst clouds floating around like soft cotton wool, looking at the earth from the sky, seeing huge seas passing by from the top is an experience that should not be missed. I love all of this and even more about flying. I would forget my fear of heights in a plane and look down and around and enjoy the sights like a kid who is seeing different facets of the world for the first time.

But there was always something that lent a slightly bitter touch to my near perfect experience in a plane. You see, I am tall – 5 feet 8 inches. When I would sit in my seat, I would just keep hoping that the passenger in front of me wouldn’t decide to recline his/her seat to the back. I couldn’t do the same because I start feeling nauseous the moment I recline my seat to the back. Hence I have to keep my chair in a straight aligned position. So, what did it mean for me to be seated behind someone who wanted to recline his/her chair back – less leg space. I would be sitting with my knees cramped against the back of the seat and have a totally uncomfortable journey. This would be even worse, if it was a long flight like say 7-8 hours.

Now, there seems to be a relief in store for people like me who face the same problem. A new era has dawned in the world of Indian Aviation with the launch of #LufthansaA380 – the largest commercial aircraft in history.

Many people in India still prefer a train ride over a flight because the former is more comfortable. However, the increasing workload and tight schedules force people to take flights though the lack of space makes them very uncomfortable. #LufthansaA380 has designed the seats keeping this in mind. They have created narrow seat backs which make you feel like you have your own personal sense of space with no intrusions. The narrow back seats definitely don’t mean an uncomfortable seat. Internationally renowned designers and ergonomics experts have joined up with leading manufacturers to create the perfect seat. The optimized seat structure provides a comfortable amount of leg room, a boon for a tall person like me.

The other problems that Indians face while travelling on a plane is a complete lack of entertainment. It can be very boring, especially in long flights. With Lufthansa Media world, you will have access to 50 programs with films available in upto eight language versions, 30 international radio channels and 100 CD’s featuring different types of music. There is entertainment for fidgety kids too with KidsFun, a program created with the young passengers in mind.

Right now, #LufthansaA380 is plying only between Delhi and Frankfurt, but I hope to see it serving all major Indian cities too soon.

Take a look at the excitement on Delhi’s IGI Airport while preparing for the inaugural flight of the Lufthansa A380,

You can visit the Lufthansa India website for more information: http://a380.lufthansa.com/TAKEPART/#/DE/EN/home