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.