Friday 23 February 2018

'Life is beautiful when in Kolkata' : A Photo Essay!

The Grand Howrah Bridge

I don't know where to start this post from because I wanted to write about Kolkata a long ago but somehow never managed to do it.

I had certain doubts in my mind that whether I'd be able to write about my experiences of Kolkata or not. There is a song that I really like from the movie "Kahaani", it's the title song of the movie which was sung by Shreya Ghoshal. I love the song because somewhere it connects me to Kolkata, the city of joy.

I was placed with an IT company in Bangalore and for my first assignment, I was relocated to Kolkata. I never wanted to move to Kolkata because I had my own concerns about the place; food, distance(from my hometown) and friends. It was completely a new place for me and I had no friends/relatives there. During the initial days in Kolkata, I went thru tough times because I didn't know anyone and being a vegetarian, I had some serious problems like finding good vegetarian food and a nice place to stay. No, I'm not saying that Kolkata doesn't have good food joints but the situation made me think in that way.

Also, social media wasn't that useful for bachelors as it is these days. Finding a decent place to live was a big challenge. Somehow, I couldn't find a rented flat accommodation, hence shifted to a PG near to my office. It was a triple sharing room and my roommates were living there for 3-4 months. Since the PG wasn't that good, we stayed there for a month and then planned to leave the PG and moved to a flat. Though we all three were roommates there was hardly any connection among us. We spent around 3-4 months together in the flat before I moved with some of my colleagues at the workplace in a different society. 

As soon as I shifted to a new place with new people, things actually started falling in place and Kolkata wasn't all that bad a place anymore. Well, it was never a bad place. I just made it so in my head. I had some bad experiences in the early stint and that's what made me dislike Kolkata in the first place. To be honest, I never enjoyed exploring any place more than Kolkata. I made some life long friends and enjoyed the life thoroughly. Now, If I say that I miss Kolkata then trust me, am not lying. I do miss, Kolkata! I will also admit that I spent some of the best days of my life there. I cherish those days for all the beautiful experiences that I lived to the fullest.

Here are some of the pictures that I took during my stint in Kolkata. Some long lasting memories and a tale thru pictures-

The Grandeur of Victoria Memorial and Janta-Janardan.
A day at Science City, Kolkata
When monsoon arrived...
My first Diwali away from home...
And when the Eden Gardens happened... :D
When the evening view from the balcony is so serene then just sit back and enjoy.
My first tram ride from Gariahat....
And my love for flowers is like a never ending affair...
And the dark night rises..
When Alipore Zoo welcomed us with colors of nature

And a bit of wildlife to add to the mix....

Dakshineshwar temple - a must visit place when in Kolkata
Concrete Jungle...
Time to board the Kolkata local...
Into the dusk! @ Princep Ghat
Vidyasagar Setu
When the pados waali building ka pigeon gave me an angry look :P

Those memories of pandal hopping during Durga Puja

And then there were lights, ethnicity, and celebration everywhere..

One of the best places in Kolkata- Eco Park, New Town.

It was time to say good bye to Kolkata and 2013. Christmas and New Year Celebrations at Park street, Kolkata.

                              Yes, I was there when IPL happened. Korbo Lorbo Jeetbo Re..

Saturday 3 February 2018

The Gift of Music!

I remember it was Nitin's 16th birthday and he asked me to gift him wireless headphones. I searched everywhere for it, but couldn't find a single shop in Bhopal selling wireless headphones. It was the first time when my grandson asked me for anything and I couldn't manage to get him what he asked me for. It was in early 2000's and I had no idea about the trends and what technology was there in the market. In my time, I used to listen to transistors or cassette tapes. Maybe, that was the reason for lack of market knowledge.

Me and Nitin
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Nitin listening to music on Radha's headphones
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My grandson Nitin came to know about wireless headphones from one of my friend's grand daughter 'Radha', who visited us in Bhopal just a month before Nitin's 16th birthday. She did her graduation from USA and bought the headphones from there. Radha stayed with us for a week and as she knew Nitin had great interest in music, so she lended her headphones to Nitin. Nitin has always been a shy boy who had very few friends and most of the time he used to spend on studies. When I gifted him the wired headphone, he didn't show disappointment and accepted the gift with great happiness. Though he was happy, I knew he wanted something different and far superior and magical than what I presented him with. It wasn't a time when e-commerce sites entered into the Indian market. It was more of a time when we used to ask our friends to send us the branded products from bigger cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata etc.

Time to plan a surprise
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Years went by and many things have changed since those days. I've grown old and my Grandson is a working professional now. He plays guitar well and still have a thing for music. He is the lead guitarist of his office rock band and loves to play rock, but his real love lies in soft music. I always listen to his compositions, whenever he visits me. His music fills great joy in my unhealthy and an old little heart. His 28th birthday is just round the corner and am planning to give him a surprise. What I couldn't do 12 years ago, I want to do it now. I want to make my grandson happy by presenting him with the gift which I promised him 12 years ago but couldn't manage to. I know it's a bit late, but I want to make sure that the gift is worth the wait. Since, I'm just a normal Grand Father and doesn't possess super powers of a computer expert, I mostly refrain myself to take advice from the right person over phone or in person. And I couldn't have asked for a better person than Radha to take help from; who introduced Nitin to wireless headphones. Radha like a wonderfully kind hearted person first gave me the overview of some of the best options available in the market and then helped me with the selection.

BOSE Showroom
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Since, we wanted to choose the best wireless headphones, we didn't go in depth of the search and chose 'BOSE'. Bose being a premium brand of audio equipment, not only offers great value but also offers 'Trust' associated with its name for decades now. When Radha asked me to check the BOSE Quiet comfort 35 wireless headphones II, she suggested me to visit the Bose showroom and experience the magic of sound. Though I had no clue about the technology and specs of the product, I trusted what Radha told me and visited the nearest Bose showroom. Thereafter, what happened at the showroom can't be explained here in words as it was a musical experience, a mesmerizing one! It was beyond my imagination because I wasn't expecting it to be so unreal. How can there be no sound heard other than the music, even when I'm passing by crowded street? How can a person talk and even send and receive text messages through a headphone? Also, how can a person say 'No' to features like Bluetooth and Google Assistant? When I experienced all these features in the BOSE QC35 headphone, there was nothing left in there to contemplate more about. I bought the Silver colored BOSE Quiet comfort 35 wireless headphones II and get it packed.

Finally, I bought the BOSE headphones for Nitin
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Nitin had no idea that what surprise was in store for his 28th birthday. As soon as he blew the candles and cut the cake, I gave him what he asked me 12 years ago. Tears of joy coursed down his cheeks and he hugged me tightly and said "You remembered it Dadu!" and I hugged him back and said "How could I not!".

Big Bear Hug!
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Check Out BOSE Quiet comfort 35 wireless headphones II to know more about the new Headphones from BOSE.


Sunday 7 January 2018

Indore - Not just a paradise for food lovers but more!

Darbar Hall, Rajwada, Indore

How many times does it happen that when you go on a trip to a certain place and want to write about it at the earliest, but then end up getting lost in the mist of procrastination! If you think it happens often in your case, then 'High five!' because we're on the same page. I went on this road trip in December,2016 with my parents and I could only manage to share my travel experiences of Dhar, Mandu, Maheshwar and Omkareshwar on the blog, so far. However, the trip didn't end there. We also spent some time in Indore. Now, almost after a year I'm finally working on the post which was long due. Yes, I'm going to re-live and share the memories of my trip to Indore thru a picture story. Indore, a place that's well known for the mouth watering cuisine, the royal family of Holkars and a place that has given us greats like Lata Mangeshkar, Rahul Dravid, Johny Walker, Rahat Indori and many others (all were born in Indore).

To start the proceedings, one must always start with sweets and when the post is about Indore then there is no hiding from foodie stuff on the blog. So, Beware in Advance!

Kuch meetha ho jaaye!!

Since, I had spent 4 years of my childhood in Indore; some faint memories of Rajwada, Lalbagh Palace, Khajrana Temple, Sarafa and Chappan lingered in my mind. Out of curiosity, I asked my father to take a trip down memory lane and explore those places. He agreed and first place on our agenda was the Lalbagh Palace.

Lalbagh Palace

Lalbagh Palace, as the name suggests it looks like a royal mansion. The Palace was constructed as a small garden house in 1890 under the reign of Shivaji Rao Holkar. However, it took the shape of a Palace in the early 1900's under the reign of Tukoji Rao III. Tukoji Rao III spent the second half of his life at the Lalbagh Palace and extended the palace, decorated and furnished it in Western style architecture. The palace stands on the bank of a tributary of river Khan. The kitchen and outhouse are located on the opposite side of the river. There is an interesting fact about the connectivity of the kitchen to the basement of the palace. The pantry in the basement of the palace was connected by the tunnel with the kitchen on the opposite bank of the river and that's how the food used to be supplied to the pantry and then to the banquet hall by a Dumbwaiter.

Lalbagh Palace

Lalbagh Palace

The Palace was designed with great detail and considering even the minute factors. On the ground floor of the palace, one can see the Library, State office, Lounge, Billiards room, Crown hall, Council and Dining hall, Banquet hall and the Wooden dancing hall. On the first floor, one can see the Study room, King's Bedroom, Queen's Bedroom with attached bathroom. Apart from the architecture, the palace has a wonderful garden as well which used to be the highlight for the variety of flowers and trees planted in Tukoji Rao's period. The design of the palace has the influence of European Architecture. I always enjoy exploring the historical places and Lalbagh Palace is one such place that's wonderfully maintained by the State Archaeology of Madhya Pradesh. However, the worst part is that people mostly come here for a picnic and they hardly spend time and effort in getting to know about this majestic palace.

Rajwada, Indore

Next place on our agenda was Rajwada, a place that reflects the history of Holkars. It's one of the oldest monuments in Indore and worn many stories under its sleeve that are to be told.

Rajwada, Indore

Rajwada, the seven-storey structure was first built by Subedar Malhar Rao Holkar I, about two centuries ago for residential purpose. Later in 1801 it was destroyed by the Commander-in-chief of Scindias and then again was rebuilt by the Holkars in 1818. If we go by history, Rajwada was burnt down thrice in 1801, 1834 and recently in 1984. The palace is located in the heart of the city and is surrounded by the main street market. It has a magnificent 7-storey gateway in front and a park ahead of the structure with Devi Ahiliyabai's statue installed in the middle of it. As we make way through the entrance, the pigeons welcome us with the chirpy sound and to the courtyard that comprises of Ganesha hall on ground floor and Darbar hall (a perfect example of French style architecture) above it on the first floor. The architecture of the monument is of Maratha style. Rajwada is a State Archaeology protected site and the history of Holkars and Indore can be seen through the pictures exhibited in one of the halls located on the first floor of the 7-storey structure.

Ganesh Hall and Darbar Hall, Rajwada

Window (Mughal style architecture)

Rajwada showcases the life of the city that it once was in the era of Holkars. It's for sure a place that is a must-visit when in Indore. Also, on the rear side of the monument, one can also visit the temple and garden located around the Tulsi Kund.

Temple, Tulsi Kund.

Now, my favorite section of the post. I'm going to talk or rather just share pictures of/about food, food and loads of food.When it comes to street food, Indore is a heaven! Though I'm not from Indore but the taste that touched my heart when I was only 4 years old is still intact. I still remember the Shahi samosa, Khopra pattis, Shikanji, Dhokla, Dahi vada, Sweets and what not. So, this time around, I had in my mind from the very first day that I'm not going to miss out on having a street food tour.

Staple food of Malwa region
Poha-Jalebi (a deadly combo)

As there was time crunch and I had to make a decision to choose either Sarafa or Chappan. I contemplated and chose Chappan over Sarafa. Chappan, especially for Khopra pattis, Shikanji, Sweets and Johny Hot Dog.

Khopra Pattis esp. with chutni (World famous hai ji)

And the tour started with Khopra pattis, Samosa chaat, Kachori chaat, Rabri, Ras malai to name a few...

Dahi Samosa Chaat
Dahi Kachori Chaat
Ras malai
Garma garam aloo tikiya

I've several other food pictures as well but I really don't want to torture my readers just by giving them a virtual experience. Though I'd admit that the experience of tasting all these things was far more consuming than posting pictures to re-create the same.

How to reach Indore from Bhopal....

Bhopal → Sehore → Ashta → Dewas → Indore

Previous Posts from this trip:

Hidden Gems of Madhya Pradesh - Dhar

Mandu - A place that resonates with history..

Walk the talk with city of Maheshwar...

Omkareshwar- A sacred land of Shiva..

Note: Few details have been taken as a reference from State Archaeology's monuments guide.

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Jab we met at #BNLF...

First things first, this is my 100th blog post and I'm super glad that I've finally achieved the 3-figure mark, at-least somewhere other than book cricket (Ahh..I miss my childhood!). Now on a serious note, I'm grateful to all the people who inspired me throughout my blogging journey. I'm glad that I made some wonderful friends in the blogosphere and it's one place where I always feel dreamy because the readers are not biased and they understand and appreciate your qualities and criticize your shortcomings in a subtle way. Thanks to you all! :)

There are times when you feel thankful for things that you did correct in your life. Joining the blogging community, i.e. Indiblogger was one such decision that I took after contemplating for long and that has to go down as one of the wisest decisions that I ever made.  I hardly considered myself a blogger until I met some inspiring personalities on Indiblogger platform who started their journey just like I did. It was pretty inspiring indeed! And after hearing so much about the community and especially Indiblogger events/meet-ups, saying 'No' to it was never an option. I learned from people who shared their past experiences in the most insightful and interesting manner possible.

I attended my first Indi meet in February this year in Mumbai and O boy, it was one amazing experience! I don't know that when I'm going to attend the same in my city, Pune (as it seems the city is disowned by Indi team like a long lost child. Grrrr!). But I was still very excited to attend the events wherever and whenever possible. #BNLF came into picture with a grand announcement from the Indi team in the month of July. Blog Now Live Forever, a grand Meet-up of Indian Bloggers was first held at Mumbai (See, Indiblogger's affection for the 'Sapno ka sheher') in 2015. Since then, no other chapter was planned or executed until this year, in the month of November. It was held in Dehradun. Around 70-80 bloggers came from different corners of the country. Such was the zeal and passion! Bloggers developed a relationship with Indiblogger and among themselves over the years. For people who find it difficult to engage and interact with complete strangers, it's always a tough job, but when you meet like minded people it often becomes easy to make strong bonds. And the main motto of the meet-up was to connect and make friends from the virtual world.


A few days before the meet-up, some of the bloggers whom I knew were coming to the event had connected over the Watsapp group for planning what all to do in Doon for 2 days. The feel of #BNLF was well settled in after the Diwali vacations. We all were discussing places to roam around in Doon and also what to eat and where to shop etc. It was like a trip that I was planning with my school/college buddies, but here the case was pretty different. Most of us were meeting for the very first time and had never spoken on the phone either. But the excitement was on another level! I started from Pune late at night around 1am and reached Delhi at 3am. My train from Delhi to Dehradun was at 6am in the morning. So, I took some rest at the Delhi airport and boarded the first metro at 4:30am to New Delhi station. It was my first Metro ride! I met a few friends from our Watsapp group at the station itself. We were traveling together but in different coaches. Later, we found out that even the Indiblogger team was in the same train. We reached Dehradun at 2 pm and registration for BNLF was scheduled to start at 5:30 pm. The excitement was on such level that even after a tiring ride; most of us reached the venue i.e. 'Hotel Madhuban' at 5pm.

Though the registration didn't start on time, we all had a sorted agenda in mind to meet bloggers and get ourselves comfortable. I met a lot of bloggers whose blogs I read and have always admired their work. Also, when bloggers are around, you can never feel bored because everyone makes sense and talk sensibly. Even the age difference never appears to be a hurdle to interact with someone. It's like an ocean where you can reach out to anyone and have a nice little chat.

After the registration, it was time for a musical evening with Bobby Cash where he played the guitar and sang some beautiful English and Hindi songs. As soon as we finished the dinner, next on the agenda was to gather in a common hall for introductions and interaction. Anoop 'Breaker of Ice' (like Khaleesi 'Breaker of Chains') broke the ice in his usual witty style and made the atmosphere lively. For Indiblogger and us as its part, the camaraderie is what matters the most to each other. The love and warmth with which the Indi team treats each blogger is something beyond extraordinary. A lot was said during the event and people were criticized, but the Indi team dealt with everything in such Great Spirit that it left us in awe for their kindness. As soon as the introductions were finished, we left for our respective hotel rooms.

Next day, we started at 6:30 am from our hotels to reach the venue for the next thing on agenda i.e. 'The Ruskin Bond Walk'. Whenever we talk about Dehradun, one name that flashes out straight in the mind is of Sir Ruskin Bond. Ruskin Bond lived in Dehradun for a good period and had mentioned a lot about his childhood memories of Dehradun and related stories in his books. Indiblogger organized a walk for the bloggers with the 'Been There, Doon That' group that guided us to some of the places where Ruskin Bond have spent his childhood days.

After a refreshing early morning walk on the streets of Doon, we joined the Indiblogger team at Bikanerwala for Brunch. O God! We bloggers were hungry! Damn hungry by then! We all ordered almost everything mentioned on the menu to fill our tummies. After the sumptuous meal, we all had free time till evening to explore Dehradun. Our WA group had already planned the itinerary well in advance.

First place on our agenda was to visit the FRI (Forest Reasearch Institute) where many movies are shot. The architecture and unique museum were the highlights of the place. The British Architecture was quite significant and attractive. Because of the time crunch, we skipped a few museum galleries and headed to Mindrolling Monastery.

I had already visited a few monasteries in Gangtok and Darjeeling before, but Mindrolling monastery was quite different than other monasteries. The huge architecture and a picturesque forest in backdrop with Prayer Wheels and Stupa is a perfect location for filming a Bollywood/Hollywood scene. We spent some time at the monastery and had the famous Momo's of Dehradun in lunch. The next and final destination in our day's itinerary was Paltan Bazar for shopping. The bazaar was so crowded as if the whole Dehradun wanted to meet and greet us; instead they chose to push us. After a brief halt at Paltan, we left for our hotels to get freshened up for the evening event.

The #BNLF night officially started, but since there wasn't any set agenda on the chart, we chose to continue with all the networking and chit-chatting with friends we met a night before. Every single person was busy interacting with others and discussing about blogging, personal life, sports, politics and blah blah...It was nothing short of a college farewell setup where people were reminiscing about their good and not-so great days. When people were having serious discussions, I planned to skip the 'Bade logon ki baatein' and preferred to click people around.

As soon as we finished our dinner, we were asked to join other bloggers and Indi team to a hall inside the hotel. The event finally started with an intro to how Indiblogger and BNLF came into existence. A community that has more than 40k bloggers and the number is growing with each passing day. How the idea of building such a community was born and how the Indiblogger team made it BIG? All these facts were shared with the Indi Tribe. Soon after the Introduction, we were engaged in blogging-centric debate and some fun activities. We didn't even notice that when the time had passed and the event came to an end. It was already 2am and everyone was awake. After an enthralling two days in Doon, it was time to bid adieu to everyone. Though we had to leave the memories of those two days had imprinted in our hearts for a lifetime.

Source: Indiblogger

I never thought of making so many wonderful friends and memories for a lifetime; it all actually came as a bonus. Also, the experience of meeting new people and sharing great insights about blogging, life and work filled me with positivity. I will cherish all the memories of this trip forever!