Missing Mcleod Ganj

Hello everyone! Mcleod Ganj is definitely one of my favorite hill stations in the country and I really, really miss it right now. Delhi’s summer’s back and nothing seems more inviting than a short trip to the hills. I wrote this teavelogue a while back and it was published in Emaho Magazine. Hope you enjoy it ūüôā mcleod5 Think Tibet, think dimsums, think McLeod Ganj. There was something about McLeod Ganj that put me into a state of blissful inertia and I felt as if I had entered a time capsule I didn‚Äôt want to leave. Dharamsala, a mere 11kms away seemed absolutely alien to McLeod Ganj in terms of the lifestyle, the people and the food amongst other things. ¬† The drastic change in everything I observed made me ask myself if I was an outsider in my own country. McLeod Ganj was like a cocoon, with its own inhabitants- food, religion and culture. Maybe this why even those who aren‚Äôt from India fit in just as well if not better. ¬† McLeod Ganj is the perfect hill station for any foodie and that‚Äôs why it suited me perfectly. One will find little cafes hidden in niches and by-lanes with cuisines from all around the world. This is probably due to the large number of travelers from around the world who settle here for months on an end. There are several options: from an authentic Canadian breakfast at the Green Hotel to Tibetan Thukpa for Lunch at the Lhasa Restaurant to mouth-watering Italian at Jimmy‚Äôs Italian Kitchen. McLeod Ganj felt like a gracious food genie. Caf√©s like Moonpeak Espresso and The French Caf√© made me feel like I had been transported to another country all together. ¬† Another thing that really intrigued me about McLeod Ganj was its fascinating religious aura. McLeod Ganj was offered to the Dalai Lama as his official residence, making it a refuge for several Tibetans. There is the Tsuglagkhang complex, which is the residence of HH the Dalai Lama. The complex contains a monastery, stupas and even a museum. Then there is the St. John‚Äôs Church located amidst the dense Deodar trees away from the bustling town. Visiting this unique town is not all about its eclectic bohemian vibe that draws so many of us in, it‚Äôs equally about its importance as a destination of refuge, pilgrimage and solace to several individuals. ¬† Another thing that constantly caught my eye in McLeod Ganj was the abundance of flyers everywhere. On offer were courses in papermaking, yoga, cookery, writing, carpentry, handicraft making and probably anything else you could think of. One day I‚Äôd love to visit it again, maybe take up a month long course and actually try to be a part of this quaint town I was almost starting to fit into. mcleod1

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Exploring Delhi with National Geographic Channel India: A Photo Diary

Hello Everyone!

I was selected as one of the 20 people to be a part of National Geographic Channel’s (India) Insta-Walk 2014. The walk took place in Delhi’s Mehrauli’s Archeological Park – 200 acres of history and memory.

Mehrauli is the site of plethora of monuments, where the first legends, history and myths associate Mehrauli with the descendents of the Pandavas. Later it saw the building of Lal Kot, a bastion of the first real city of Delhi. Next,it became the dominion of legendary Rajput warrior prince Pritviraj Chauhan where the  Qila Rai Pithora was witness to the deafeat of his glory in the Second Battle of Tarain by Ghauri. Upon his death, his slave,  Qutubdin Aibak made Mehrauli his capital and the Sultans and emperors who followed him ruled from there.

The Qutub Minar was the crowning glory of Mamluks. Then Khiljis took over and build monuments such as Alai Darwaza, Madarsa and also laid foundation to the audacious Alai Minar which was supposed to be twice the size of Qutub Minar.

The Tughlaqs built their own capital in the vicinity and the Sayyids and Lodis also left behind their modest creations which are now nestled inside the sprawling Lodi Garden.

The Mughals too liked this place and built several monuments. They were great devotees of the saint Qutubdin Bakhtiar Kaki and build many structures to show their respect and reverence.

Finally, Mehrauli was also seen as a  picnic spot of the royal families residing in the Red Fort. Later with the arrival of British, things changed but the allure of Mehrauli remained strong and Metcalf’s Follies and Dil-Kusha are prime example of that British penchant with then scenic Mehrauli.

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IMG_3823 Grave of Khan Shaheed

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photo 3 (1)View of the Qutub Minar

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Harry’s : An Impromptu Review

Hello everyone!

I had a very exciting day today. I went for the National Geographic Channel Insta Walk today morning after which I went to Harry’s (Khan Market) for lunch. I wanted to share my experience with you all so I decided to write this short impromptu review for the this popular pub from Singapore.

Harry‚Äôs has two outlets- One in Select City Walk, Saket and the other in Khan Market. Once we you enter this pub, you notice that even though it’s ambience and decor is simplistic, it is extremely inviting and comfortable. They have an outdoor seating section as well which is pretty till the whether is on our side.

Since we weren’t in the mood to drink we ordered a Pi√Īa Colada (without alcohol)and a Diet Coke along with the food. On the table lay a bowl of peanuts with their shells! This was a really interesting twist the usual bowl of peanuts given at bars while one sips on their drinks.

For starters we decided to go entirely by the server’s recommendation and that was such a good idea! We ordered a portion of the Singapore Chicken Lollipops, BBQ Jerk Chicken Bruschetta and finally the Chilly Chees Fries. We were absolutely pleased with all the dishes! The chicken lollipops definitely took the cake for their perfect balance of spices and flavours. I also loved the twist to the bruschetta with the diced pineapple pieces that added to an amazing pinch of sweetness to the chicken strips on the bruschetta.

By the time we finished the starters we realised we are too full to order a main dish each and decided to go on to try the famous Jazz Burger which basically consists of lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, egg, bacon, saut√©ed onions, mushrooms, a meat patty and bread. It was absolutely to die for! It was cooked to perfection! The meat was juicy, the bacon was crispy and the other items didn’t make the burger limpy or tough to eat at all.

The pricing is towards the steeper side where a meal for two will cost Rs.1600 without alcohol but the food is totally worth it. The service is very, very good and our server was extremely helpful and polite! The food came in really soon was served hot so that was a plus point as well.¬†They also have television screens for all those who may want to enjoy a match while sipping on some beer or cocktails/mocktails. had a wonderful experience here and would definitely recommend it this pub to the dilliwalas. Harry’s has definitely lived up to its name!

For dessert we went on to Big Chill which definitely needs no introduction. We ordered a portion of Waffles, Bananas, Vanilla Ice cream, Chocolate sauce and Maple syrup and it was heaven on a plate. Couldn’t think of ending the meal in any other way.

photo 4Harry’s Jazz Burger

photo 2        BBQ Jerk Chicken Bruschetta

photo 3          Singapore Chicken Lollipops and Chilli Cheese Fries

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Waffles at The Big Chill Cafe

The photograph of the Jazz Burger is clicked by Seehan Parihar. The photographs at Harry’s are taken using an Iphone.

See you soon with an exciting post of my Nat Geo Insta Walk!

Kabul- Delhi

Lajpat Nagar has always been a favorite for fabric, jewelry, shoes and everything colorful and sequined. However, what’s interesting about this area is that a ¬†few streets in the neighborhood are the epicenter of Afghan life in Delhi.Through the years made strangers feel at home whether it may be starting off as a refugee colony or turning to a ¬†melting pot of Afghans, Turks, Italians, French, Swiss and Russians. For most expatriates, Lajpat Nagar’s attractions are the affordable rents whereas for others, its just a neighborhood where they feel the closest to home.

IMG_3687 Years of war and instability in Afghanistan have forced many of its citizens to migrate to other countries. In India, many Afghans live as refugees and are registered with the UNHCR (United Nation High Commission of Refugees). Since 2005, India offers special medical visas to Afghans for free and do not require applicants to provide financial statements or proof of medical insurance. Lajpat Nagar is  interspersed with numerous pharmacies, travel agents, barbershops and moneychangers and of course restaurants all advertising in Dari, Afghanistan’s lingua franca.

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Whenever I visit the Lajpat Nagar Central Market, I usually stick to Chaat , Momos or sometimes enjoy a quick meal at Beliram Degchiwala during the brief shopping breaks. This time, as I headed towards E block in Lajpat Nagar 2 to find these Afgani Restaurants that I had heard so much about-  Kabul Delhi and Aghan Darbar Restaurant.

photo 4We decided to eat at the Kabul Delhi Restaurant which rests on two levels (Ground floor and basement). The ground floor has a simple yet modern seating style where as the basement comprises of carpeted raised platforms with numerous cushions where the regular restaurant patrons enjoy the dastar-khwan. 

When we sat for the meal in the basement to truly enjoy the traditional meal and ordered Qabuli Uzbegi, Mutton Qorma and Ghost tikka kababs. Along with all of this, the restaurant also served unlimited portions of wheat naans– free of cost. The Qabuli Uzbeki is an extremely light pulao with minimal spices,¬†raisins, and skewered lamb that is so soft and¬†succulent¬†that it melts¬†away. Personally, my palate yearns for something more spicy and so the ¬†Qabuli Uzbeki, being a little sweet was not on top of my ‘ will eat again’ list. However, I would recommend it for how the rice grains are so soft and perfectly ¬†separated and for its signature sweetness cause of the raisins. The Kababs on the other hand were really well prepared and were very tender. The Mutton Qorma was a really good accompaniment for the rice. It had really understated spices and the mutton was well cooked and wasn’t chewy at all. The meal was also served with a portion of Rajma which was yummy and a cucumber and tomato salad.

My overall verdict would be that the food was extremely light as compared to other Mughlai food. It was not too oily and is low on spices. It’s definitely worth trying for the experience itself.¬†Another interesting thing I noticed was that both the restaurants were entirely dominated by men whether it may be at the billing desk or the servers. The men were extremely polite and inspite of the language barrier were very helpful when it come to explaining us each of dishes.

Note: Majority of the dishes are non vegetarian and there are barely any options for vegetarians. Also,¬†f you aren’t a fan of Aghani cuisine, then this place is not for you!

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Restaurant: Kabul Delhi   |  Price: Rs.300/head

E 104, Ground Floor, Near Central Market, Lajpat Nagar 2, New Delhi

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Cooking with Cookfresh

Hello!

Recently, I had posted a short review about Cookfresh¬†on my Facebook page¬†when I ordered from them for the first time.¬†I have been cooking quite a bit lately and hence I decided to call them again for another meal! (I just couldn’t resist). I was extremely content about my experience this time as well and decided to blog it ūüôā

Before I move onto my experience, this is how it works – Go on to the Cookfresh Website and choose a recipe you’d like to get delivered to your doorstep! While choosing the recipe, you do get to see the Calorie count for the meal along with seeing how many people it will serve. Once you place your order you can pay using Cash on delivery or use their payment gateway. When I placed my order, I also received a phone call asking me for a confirmation of time of delivery making it really easy for all you working folks.

This time I ordered the Penang Fish Curry as opposed to the last time’s Pasta!¬†Panang curry takes it name from the city island off the West coast of peninsular Malaysia,¬†Penang, or¬†Pulau Pinang¬†in Malay. This type of curry is richer, and creamer than than a Thai Red Curry.

When I received my Cookfresh box, along with a really pretty recipe card I received box all ingredients measured, chopped, sliced or simply prepped up for me. The recipe was to the point and really easy to follow. Having tried the Penang Curry before, I did come to the conclusion that the recipe was upto the mark and pretty authentic! Though this this recipe didn’t have Peanuts which is usually a crucial element of the Penang Curry, I really didn’t miss them much. I was happy with the fact that along with the ingredients for the fish curry they also sent one cup of uncooked white rice as an accompaniment. The fish was really fresh and neatly packed in a clean box. The smallest of smallest ingredients were also put in little zip lock pouches and labelled well. Since, all I had to do was follow to the recipe to the T, I didn’t have to break my head over constantly ensuring the balance of flavors for the Penang curry paste and the brown sugar were already measured out to reach a desired optimum.

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Here’s the recipe that’s available on the Cookfresh Website as well!

  1. Place a large non-stick wok or wide frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the oil and stir-fry the sliced onions for a few minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  2. Return the pan to a low heat, add the coconut cream and the curry paste and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Pour over the coconut milk and stir in 50 ml water. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Put the lemongrass on a board and cut in half. Bash with a rolling pin to bruise and flatten the stalks ‚Äď this will allow their flavour to escape more easily into your curry. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, and sugar to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes more, or until the sugar dissolves, stirring.
  4. Add the green beans and simmer gently for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally until almost tender. Stir in the peppers and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring regularly. The coconut curry sauce needs to be bubbling gently but constantly to cook the vegetables.
  5. When the green beans are tender, taste the curry sauce and add more fish sauce if necessary. At this point you may turn the heat off and let the curry sauce stand until the fish is ready to be cooked.
  6. Season the fish with ground black pepper. Stir the fish into the curry and cook for a further 5 minutes. Turn the fish in the sauce every now and then, but stop as soon as you see it beginning to flake.
  7. Scatter the crisp onions, coriander leaves and roughly torn basil on the curry and serve.

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This is the box that I ordered last time РPenne Alla Vodka! I have written about this particular box here. I HIGHLY recommend this pasta.

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As I mentioned in my previous review, there are a couple things I would want to point out. Firstly, even though the website gives you a calorie count of the meal, I would love to see many more healthier quick meal options. Secondly, I did feel that it is a tad bit expensive for the simple reason that in the end of the day a person as to cook the meal on their own. The good part is rather than serving a single person, the the meal is  good enough to serve 2-3 people depending on how hungry they are! It also saves you the troubles of going to the grocery store and buying full packets of ingredients you may not ever use again.

If you live in Delhi or Gurgaon and want to try it out, here’s an ¬†20% discount on¬†Cookfresh, here’s a ¬†coupon code that you can use from my side ¬†– MMHEALTHY

Ill see you soon! Another post this week itself ūüôā

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Synesthesia: Experiencing Amritsar in a day & a half.

Hello everyone,

This travelogue recently got published at Tripoto.com. Tripoto is an amazing platform to discover destinations, read about them and even book your own trip!¬†Once I posted this¬†article¬†there, I¬†couldn’t¬†help but planning another trip¬†to Amritsar.

I wanted to share my previous experience with you all, so here’s the post ūüôā

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My grandmother, while narrating her stories of Amritsar to me exuberated with emotions and memories about this golden city, which she used to visit as a child every weekend from Lahore. Amritsar to her, is more than just the city of Harmindar Sahib or Jalianwalah Bagh. It is the city where her numerous childhood memories are attached before and after partition. When she was my age, she traveled yet another time to Amritsar, this time from Jalandhar because of the Partition. Her experience this time was definitely different as compared to the earlier ones. This story gave me the goose bumps as I listened to her patiently telling me about the partition, the Golden Temple, Hall Bazaar, Lawrence Road and the food, which cannot be sidelined. Listening to these memoirs, I couldn’t help my self booking a ticket for the early morning flight to Amritsar that lands straight at the Sri Guru Ram Daas Jee Airport.

Amritsar, approximately 460 kms away is easily commutable by the Amritsar Shatabdi as well. However, if you are looking at spending just one night, taking a flight saves a lot of time in hand to explore the city.

As soon as we touched ground, I knew the first thing I had to do was visit the Golden Temple or popularly called¬†Darbar Sahib.¬†I had pre-booked a taxi from Delhi itself, but to get a pre-paid taxi from the airport is also another great option. As I sat in the cab with my small bag, Itinder Singh (the taxi driver) symbolized all what is ‚ÄėAmritsari‚Äô. He had so much of pride for the city and started telling me a number of interesting facts about this old walled city that is encompassed within 12 gates. It was then, that I realized I have the perfect guide for the day. We reached the Golden Temple in about 20 minutes and the taxi had to be parked, since no cars are allowed in the narrow gullies leading to the Gurudwara. The rickshaw to the Darbar Sahib, from the Parking area took Rs.10 where he rickshaw puller insisted that he waited for me till I return.

As I entered this spectacular spiritual shimmering temple, I somehow felt at peace. I washed my feet at the climbed up a couple of steps, excited to catch a glimpse of it. I walked closer, and had to climb down a couple of steps, slowly, this magnificent façade came in to my sight. I was truly left stunned as I saw it sit up beautifully on the Sarovar (lake), while thousands of followers, all with devotion in their eyes either took a bath in the Sarovar with their sons, knelt on the floor to pay it respect, enjoyed the Langar which is available all day round or just stared at in awe. As the pilgrims, first pay their respect to the number of small shrines while they walk around the parkirama and the Harmindar Sahib , it is only after they complete this round, they do genuflection before the Akal Takth and que up in hundreds to enter the main shrine. With devotees from various backgrounds, engaging them selves in the Kar Sewa together, I couldn’t help but point out the sense of equality I experienced during this visit.

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If you were to visit the Golden temple at night, just like I did after ending my day in Amritsar, there would still be thousands of pilgrims paying their respects. At night, with the temple lit up , it’s an experience that one cannot let go of. It is one of those sights that you would cherish forever, as this the Darbar Sahib at night offers nothing less than a phantasmamagoria.IMG_2181

Post this spiritual visit, I decided to grab a big glass of lassi with a samosa as I was famished since the morning. Lassi, which is available in almost every nook and corner around the Harmidar Sahib is a must try with an inch of Malai on top and beautifully whipped ,cool ,sweet yogurt below. One can also try the varieties of Kulchas for a quick snack yet sumptuous before heading to the Jalianwalah Bagh.IMG_2277

The Bagh is a 5 minutes walk from the Golden Temple itself. As I entered the narrow hallway from opening up to this huge garden, the first thing I noticed was a marking stating “This is the place where the bullets were fired from’. It was then, when I could entirely visualize the gruesome event that  took place on April 13, 1929. As I approached the bullet marks on the walls, this eeriness surrounded me. It is hard to think how, from a lane, where even three people can walk next to each other comfortably, one man managed to perpetrate a massacre, leaving a reported hundreds dead and thousands injured. As hoards of tourists surrounded the martyrs well, this space still had it’s own sense of silence that lets you recapture your thoughts and pay your respect to all those who lost their lives.

Having completed my morning to-do list, I decided to check-in in to the hotel and start by day exploring the city as it was still in the fine hours of the morning. I stayed at Hotel Golden Tulip which was extremely comfortable and probably the best option in Amritsar if you’re looking at a tariff of INR3,203 Р5,158 per night.

Incase, you want a true 5 star, top of the line experience, Hotel Ista is where you must check in with tariffs ranging from INR 4500 ‚Äď 7,700 per night. Various¬†other options, which are worth looking up, are Hotel Country Inn, Best Western Merrion and HKClarks inn.

After having a quick shower, my stomach growling with hunger, I went for a hearty meal at Makhan Restaurant. Truly living up to it’s name and Amritsar’s pride, this small AC restaurant offered the best Amritsari fish I have ever tried with butter naan. For vegetarians, the best option would be to try the tomato paneer with any bread that they offer.The list of items on their menu weren’t many, but it absolutely aced when it came to parameters of taste and authenticity.IMG_2187

Now that I was satiated and refreshed, I decided to visit the Attari station, Kanjiri Pull and the Wahga Border. Attari station is about 30 minutes from the old city and only abour 3.5 kms from the Wahga Border .The Samjhauta Express or the Attari Express leaves Old Delhi railway station, and then travels to Attari, where the Attari Express changes formally into the Samjhauta Express. After the customs and immigration clearances at Attari, the passengers start their journey to Lahore in Pakistan through the Wagah border. This quaint station is a must visit ,being oldest train link between India and Pakistan since partition in 1947.IMG_2212

From the Attari Station, before visiting the Wagah border, I visited Pul Kanjiri ;a historical site that hasn’t been given it’s due share of publicity that it deserves. This fascinating and charming site is a based on one of the numerous legends from Mahraja Ranjit Singh’s time. The legend states that a young muslim dancer (Punjabi word Kanjiri for concubine) Moran, hailing from Lahore, once was on her way to dance at the Maharaja’s Baradari, her sandal fell into the water channel on the way. The piqued dancer refused to dance until a pul (bridge) was built hence the place became popular as Pul Kanjri. In fact, what is interesting about this site is that the Pakistan border is less than 2 acres away, with absolutely no hoards of people swarming the area, unlike the Wagah Border , which is where I went next.

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Wagah Border , the only open border crossing India and Pakistan and which is officially accessible by both the nations hosts a closing ceremony as ‘lowering of the flags’ ceremony. It is a daily martial custom that the security forces of India (Border Security Force) and Pakistan (Sutlej Rangers) have mutually followed since 1959. This interesting ceremony takes place every evening before sunset around 5:30 pm. I had a VIP pass and hence access to the gates was much faster where I also got seated to the area closest to the ceremony.¬†If you are not planning to acquire a VIP pass, then you must make sure you reach way ahead of time by at least 3:30 pm to grab a seat and stand in the long, almost never ending ques.

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As I sat at the stands, I could hear thousands of people screaming and cheering right before during the beating the retreat ceremony. Crowds screamed ‚ÄėJai Hind‚Äô and Vandematram with an incredible energy and a nationalist fervor. On the other side, there were hoards of Pakistani nationals screaming ‚Äė Pakistan Zindabad‚Äô with as much energy and zeal. It was here , at I realized that these lines are political because there was absolutely no difference between the people on either sides. This 45 minutes ceremony ends with a aura of celebrations along with loud shouts of patriotism. During the ceremony however, one could sense silence as the soldiers marched, so clinically that I could hear their boots tap on the ground with each step they took.

Post the ceremony, I decided have an early at the famous Surjit Chicken House at the very elite area, Lawrence Road. As Amritsar is a land of foodies , it was very pleasant to see all kinds of people, coming together and enjoying the heavenly food at this humble restaurant.

I woke up in the morning and went for an Amritsari breakfast to the famous Bharawan Da Dhaba , est. in 1912. This restaurant offers top of the line north Indian cuisine. I tried the stuffed paranthas glistening with desi ghee, offered here.They were of course were out of this world and I felt I was already ready for a siesta.Other places that you must try as Kesar Dhaba (Highly Recommended), Beera Chicken Corner, Brijwasi, MK Hotel and All India Famous Kulchas.

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Amritsar is known for its Jutis, Phulkaari work, Papad’s and Wadiya’s, which I personally had all intentions of picking up .An advice would be to definitely carry a bigger suitcase even you are traveling for a day as there as no way one can resist the temptation of the abundance of items available in this shopper’s paradise. I went to Raunaq Jutis in Hall Gate, which was recommended to me Mr. Itinder Singh. From here, I took a rickshaw to Hall Bazaar where I went to Raja Exclusive to shop for Phulkaari Chunnis. Other markets that I glanced through and that one should definitely visit as the various Katras. Katra Jaimal Singh and Katra Aluhwalia for their clothes, Katra Sher Singh and Guru Bazaar for the numerous gold smiths and food items such as papads, wadiyas and pickles.3

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IMG_2281When my shopping spree ended, I was loaded up to the brim with numerous types of shopping items and completely satiated with my wonderful Amritsar experience. When I reached the airport and boarded the flight back for Delhi, I realized that how this ‚ÄėGolden City¬†is truly timeless.

(Note: I wrote this travelogue of the Golden City for GoNow Magazine (April 2013) before submitting it on Tripoto and posting it here).

“Valentines Month” at Mehrauli Phool Mandi

Hello Everyone!

February, often called the “month of love ” has begun and keeping that in mind, I wanted to write about something different. I was really interested ¬†to explore the roots from where the flowers are procured in Delhi by various florists. Valentines Day, over the past few years has been known for a tremendous boom in the floriculture industry of India where sale of flowers have multiplied by the year.¬†It’s interesting to note that Valentines day sales increase not only during “Valentines Week” which begins on February 7th, but in fact from the beginning of the month itself.

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I decided to visit the The Mehurali Phool Mandi (“Phool” – Flower, “Mandi” – Market) , also known as the Chattarpur Phool Mandi (located very close to the Chhattarpur Temple ) a couple of days ago. This mandi is a smaller counter part of the Ghazipur Pool Mandi¬†(close to Anand Vihar ISBT) which is the biggest whole sale flower market in the city. The Mehrauli Phool Mandi opens up by 5 am and for the next five hours or so ¬†florists from all across the city are taking part in the¬†‘Boli’ or bidding process. This is when vendors buy flowers at whole sale prices. One does see some ¬†enthusiasts and customers wading their way through but nothing before 9 am. The mandi, post 11 am changes it’s self as small non-farmer vendors start putting up their stalls opening up to a whole new cliental.

I reached ¬†the Mandi at 6 am and it was really dark but that didn’t stop any one from getting to work and starting the sales of the day. Lit with numerous tungsten bulbs hanging in every nook and corner, the little market was bright and buzzing. On one side lay some bedding and sweaters kept away on a make shift shelf below which lay bed of flowers – red, yellow and white. The two walls on the side creating an enclosed space were rusty and yellow with numbers scribbled all over. The walls also had an eclectic display of a number of religious calendars which added to the dynamics of the place.¬†

As soon as one enters the Mandi, the first thing that strikes one’s eyes is the absolute lack of women anywhere in and around the area. It’s a completely male dominated market from beginning to end. Whether it may be the men weaving flower garlands or little boys weighing rose petals in huge sacks. What’s interesting to note is that the flowers come from not only across the Country (Himachal Pradesh, Nasik, Bangalore) but also from some South East Asian Countries ¬†such as Thaliand and China. The mandi is an absolute visual delight with lilies, orchids, chrysanthemums, gerberas and endless other variety of flowers put up on display.¬†When asked, I was told that February is one of the busiest months in the year! The prices in this mandi are a true bargain where Roses (gulaab) for example can be bought at Rs.5 per piece and lilies for just Rs. 25 a piece (versus Rs. 150/piece anywhere else). The sale of Marigolds (Gende ka phool) are always in demand all year round whether it may be people procuring them for temples, weddings or festivals, this flower is an all time favorite.

The Mandi also has it’s resident chai wala who’s masala chai with rusk and bread pakodas one just cant say no to while taking a break from the flower shopping. If you’re looking for extreme bargains for bulk orders ¬†and a larger collection of flowers from all across the I’d suggest visiting the ¬†Ghazipur Phool Mandi (opens up at 3 30 am). The Mehruali Phool Mandi, on the other hand, with its quirks ¬†should be on your must visit list irrespective if you wanting to indulge in a flower shopping spree.

Hope you enjoy the pictures ūüôā¬†

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At the Hub

Hello!

Cyber Hub in Gurgaon has become an instant favorite for not only for those working in Cyber City but also for people living in and around Gurgaon. This ‘hub’ has numerous restaurants, cafes, pubs/bars to choose from and is the ideal place to hang out for a long laid back evening or even a quick meal. Since, it’s an open air complex and most restaurants have outdoor and indoor seating, it’s absolutely perfect during Delhi Winter. Some of the places that I cannot help but repeating in are¬†Dhaba by Claridges¬†(Love their innovative cocktails or¬†tharras),¬†Wine Company¬†(more for the wines than the food)¬†Soi7¬†(they have GREAT beer!) ¬†and¬†Sodabottleopenerwala¬†(A Mumbai & Parsi food restaurant). I have talked about it here –

Post by Melange of Musings.

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Since I live pretty close by, I decided to try out the Olive Bistro which opened up on the 26th January and hence is only 5 days old. Keeping up to it’s name, Olive Bistro (OB) is gorgeous with it’s vintage yet casual decor. The food menu is definitely is limited sticking to a section of eggs, appetizers, mains, desserts and non alcohol drinks. In terms of it’s pricing, it’s much cheaper as compared to it’s counterparts in Mehrauli and Chanakya Puri. A meal for two will cost no more than Rs.1500.

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Revolving around the garden theme, there are tons and tons of flowers at every nook and corner of this bistro giving a very pleasant and romantic vibe.
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I absolutely loved the quirky accents in the indoor sitting area that made your use pastel colours sticking to white, blues or florals. Whether it may the chandelier of plates, the little hot air balloon decor pieces or the vintage bath tub with a shower watering plants, this little cafe is extremely charming at it’s first site.

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Coming to the food ; we ordered the classic Chicken Caesar’s Salad, crispy fried prawns (appetizers) and the OB special Pepperoni Pizza. I had no complaints from any of their dishes other than the fact that serving size could have been a bit bigger. The food was served at the perfect temperature and was yummy too. All the dishes were just right but not spectacular. The service was good as well! Sadly, we wanted to have the chocolate fondant for dessert but they weren’t serving it then.

Two things to keep in mind : 1. Olive Bistro doesn’t have a liquor license yet and should be getting it in about 2-3 months.¬†2. They day I visited the Bistro (28th Jan’14), they were facing issues with their credit card terminal and hence were accepting Cash only. 3. They don’t take any reservations.

Overall Verdict : You must try it out! Olive Bistro is not disappointing for the price you’re paying for the meal. It definitely not as great as the Olive Bar and Kitchen at the Style Mile but it’s ambience gives it very high points!

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Two more places the same evening were Soi7 and the Wine Company. Soi 7 is typically a bar which catches your eye for it’s beautiful wooden rustic ambience and dim lighting. During the day it’s perfect for a few beers before you head out for a meal at CPK or Sodabottleopenerwala. Soi7 is known for it’s self-brewed beer, lovely cocktails, good music and occasional boxing matches which are really fun to watch! This bar is a favorite amongst the Cyber Hub frequent visitors and hence most likely you’re going to find it full! They do take reservations so it’s best to book your self a table especially during peak hours (Wednesday/Friday/Saturday evenings). The service depends on how full it is and hence that may be a downside to the experience. I am not particularly a fan of the food there, but their Slow cooked chicken is definitely their best dish! It’s decently priced ¬†costing about Rs.1500 for two (for alcohol and appetizers). They also have corporate discounts during the day where their Lunch Buffet is Rs.550+ taxes.IMG_3533

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Slow Cooked Chicken –¬†photo 5

The last place we visited was The Wine Company which is known for it’s good collection of wines and ¬†inviting ambience. ¬†I didn’t get try out the food here that night but we did ¬†have a glass of Sangria each. Both, the red and white wine sangrias were lovely and ¬†were priced at Rs.280/glass. A regular White/Red wine glass would cost you around Rs.180 which is not bad either. Ordering Wine by the bottle (Indian/Imported) would be a smart thing to do here as it’s pretty cheap compared to a lot of places in Delhi. I did want to try out the ‘pizza by the slice’, however it was unavailable.¬†Unlike Soi7 they open up at 7 pm which may be a disadvantage for those working in and around the area and may want to go directly after office.

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They also have an Unlimited Sunday Brunch which offers Unlimited Prosecco or Martinis for 1500/head.
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Sorry for the poor quality photographs at The Wine Company. My camera didn’t cooperate much and hence the photographs were taken using my phone.
Hope you enjoyed the post!
If you want me to review any cafes/bars/restaurants be sure to drop in a comment ūüôā
Till we meet again,
Sara

Life Hacks you simply can’t ignore.

Hello! I wanted to share some of my favorite life hacks which solved so many petty problems which I’m sure we all face! Some of them might already be well known but they definitely do work and couldn’t stop my self from including them from this full proof list! If you all like this post, I’ll go ahead and makes this a series and do regular posts like these.

For all those who¬†didn’t¬†know- Life hack – “Together the words ‚Äúlife‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúhack‚ÄĚ create a phrase that describe any hacks, tips and¬†tricks that get things done quickly by automating, increase productivity and organizing.”

So here I go,

1) ¬†Organize Necklaces in straws.¬†This tip is really helpful while traveling. Necklaces getting tangled very easily and it can be extremely annoying to detangle them when you’re in a hurry. ¬†Incase the necklace is too short – the straw can be cut into half! IMG_0496

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2) Screw earrings onto buttons. This hack is perfect for you if you keep losing one earring out of a pair. What could be better than having your studs pinned down to one place saving you time.IMG_0483

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3. Loop your rings on a bracelet while traveling.¬†This is one travel hack that I swear by while traveling! This hack is definitely helpful to those who really love their rings( statement and midi) but don’t have the patience to look around for them in a jewelry pouch before getting ready. Looping all my rings into one bracelet makes it much easier to choose what to wear as well. The day I intend to wear the bracelet, I simply loop them onto another one. A ribbon can also be used for the same.

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4. Break into your shoes in no time! I’m sure we all have at least one pair of shoes that we couldn’t stop our selves from buying and convinced our selves that fit perfectly even though they dont. We all have have that one pair which we outgrew long , long ago but cant seem to part with it. If that’s so, then this life hack is very helpful! All you need to do is stuff your shoes with atleast two pairs of socks (each) and blow dry ¬†the area where you want them to expand. Since I have a broad foot, I like to blowdry all across the front so that they open up a bit!

Another way to do this is to wear a thick pair of socks , slip for foot inside the shoe and blowdry them to know the next amount you’d want to expand the shoe!

(This works really well for men shoes too, all the boys out there!)

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5. Organize your sunglasses to save space. I keep buying sunglasses and often lose their cases and so this tip really works well for me. ¬†I like this in my closet which has my coats or soft sweaters so that they don’t end up getting scratched. Hanging them also keeps them all stored in one place making them readily available while picking out an outfit.

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6. Separate the egg white from the yolk perfectly.

Step One : Break an egg onto a plate.

Step Two : Take an empty bottle with a wider mouth. I used an empty Heinz Ketchup bottle for this DIY. Hold it a few inches over the plate.

Step Three : Squeeze the bottle and immediately bring it downwards right at the yolk. The yolk will be sucked into the bottle. It can then be transferred perfectly onto another plate and you will be left with the egg white.

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7. Use old cassette cases for your phone stand. This life hack is definetly the simplest yet very useful. If you have any old cassette cases then why not put them to use. I personally use this as a stand while I’m reading or listening to music!

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8. Store all your wires in a shoe box and avoid tangling. This life hack is much simpler than it looks! I hate having all the wires for various gadgets lying all over the place and hence stacking them in shoe box makes for easy storage but also helps in them not getting mysteriously tangled.

All you need to do is , get an old shoe box/ small carton (depending on the number of wires you want to store). You will also need some thin cardboard sheets that are easy to roll! I used the lining which comes in whiskey bottle tins! I rolled up the sheets and stapled them to each other so that they are fixed in one place! I also left some empty space for my camera charger which couldn’t fit into the little compartments.

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Hope you find any of these useful! ūüôā

Thank you Madhavi & Somya for helping out with all the hacks!

Till we meet again!

Sara

(All photographs are owned by Sara Suri)

The Comfy Night-In : Film Guide

Hello!

With the week having just started , there’s nothing more that I’m looking forward to than a ‘night-in’. Due to our stressful work or study schedules, we barely get time for our selves to simply lie down at home in our comfy beds and enjoy a movie marathon or even enjoy reading a book . I do know that sometimes even though we have an inclination to watch a good film, we spend more time in thinking what to watch rather than actually going ahead and watching it. In this post, I wanted to share some of my personal favorites that one must watch , (incase you haven’t already) along with sharing a little section of my collection for some film-spiration for your next buy!

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My comfy night-in is not complete without some jasmine tea and a soothing candle burning! I must admit, I do keep little jars of goodies for nights like these incase I get sudden pangs of hunger. I have been reading Midnight’s Children and hence that is also usually placed on my bedside table. On certain nights when I don’t feel like reading or straining my eyes, I go on to www.audible.com¬† and listen to any of the books that I’ve downloaded!

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Here are some Indian classics that should be on your priority watch list ūüôā

Mandi , Ankur , Nishant , Suraj ka Sathva Godha by Shyam Benegal

Pather Panchali , Aparajito , Apur Sansar , Shatranj ke khiladi by Satyajit Ray

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About a year ago, I decided to buy the Absolute 40 films collection from www.flipkart.com which was a great deal! It’s not sale on Flipkart as of now but if you do have any discount coupons make sure you use this. The films listed in bold are my personal favorites and must buys if you can get hold of them individually! The synoposis’ of the films are from Flipkart.

1. Bicycle thieves.  

A 1948 Italian neorealist film directed by Vittorio De Sica. It tells the story of a poor man searching the streets of Rome for his stolen bicycle, which he needs to be able to work.

 2.The Birth of a nation.

Set during and after the American Civil War, the film was based on Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, a novel and play.

 3.King Kong.

¬†An expedition exploring a remote island. Capture a gigantic ape & bring him back to New York for exhibition. A beautiful actress who accompanies them is menaced when the monster’s love for her causes him to break out. The original blockbuster in spectacular black and white.

4.The grapes of wrath.

Oklahoma in the Thirties is a dustbowl and dispossessed farmers migrate westward to California. After terrible trials en route they become little more than slave labor. Among the throng are the Joads who refuse to knuckle under. A broken family in the greatest American migration

5.The general

Johnnie loves his train (The General) and Annabelle Lee. When the Civil begins he is turned down for service because he’s more valuable an engineer. Annabelle thinks it’s because he’s a coward. Union spies capture The General with Annabelle on board. Johnny must rescue both his loves. The #1 Silent film of all time

6.The duck soup

The Marx brothers’ duck soup is widely considered as the slapstick team’s masterwork. A madcap script which is mockingly surreal, it is the chronicle of a war fever that swallows up the imaginary nation of Fredonia when Groucho becomes its dictator. The best comedy from Marx brothers

7.Rome open city

The films follow the fate of several Romans during the last days of the German occupation. Rome, Open City is considered as a major turning point in film history and as a testament to the film’s lasting impact. Jean-luc-Godard famously said All roads lead to Rome Open City. A landmark of Italian Neorealism

8.Lady from shanghai

The story is outwardly uncomplicated: a seaman Michael O’Hara (Orson Welles) is hired as a crew member on the yacht of the wealthy banister (Everett Sloane). His beautiful but mysterious wife Elsa (Rita Hayworth) has met O’Hara earlier when he saved her from a mugging.

9.Laura

One of the most famous murder mysteries ever, it is the story of a wealthy journalist who gets captivated by a gorgeous young career women named Laura. One of the top 5 mystery films of all time

10.Battleship potemkin

Regarded as one of the most significant works in the history of silent pictures, as well as possibly Eisenstein’s supreme work, Battleship Potemkin brought his theories of cinema art to the world in a powerful showcase. One of the most influential films of all time

11.Public Enemy

In the 1930’s, The public Enemy crystallized the theme of Little Caesar and delved even more deeply into the making of a gangster. Directed by William Wellman the film follows two young boys and their growth from shoplifters to hardened criminals. A classic gangster film

12.Key Largo

Frank (Humphrey Bogart) visits a rundown hotel run by crippled James Temple (Lionel Barrymore) and his daughter-in-law Nora (Lauren Bacall), widow of Frank’s friend from the war. A great Bogart in a greater Huston classic

13.The lost Weekend

From the director of Sunset boulevard’ and Some like it hot’

14.Mr.smith goes to washington

Naive and idealistic Jefferson Smith, leader of the Boy Rangers, is appointed on a lark by the spineless governor of his state. He is reunited with the state’s senator-presidential hopeful and childhood hero, Senator Joseph Pain. Frank Capra at his greatest.

15.Gaslight

Beautiful and trusting, Paula Anton (Ingrid Bergman) is slowly tormented by mysterious happenings in her luxurious Victorian home. A spine chilling thriller

16.The Last emperor

The film tells us the true story of Aisin-Gioro Pu Yi, the last emperor of the Chinese Ching Dynasty depicted from 1908 to 1967 when China made its transition from feudalism to Republic. It is now widely considered as a modern classic. Winner of 9 Oscar Awards

17.Triumph of the will

Commissioned by Hitler, this is a documentary on 1934 Nazi party convention in Nuremberg which glorified Hitler as the true leader who will bring glory back to the nation and emphasized Germany as a great power. The most powerful propaganda film of all time

18.Children of heaven

Devoid of cynicism of post-modern dramas, this heart-warming film tells the story of nine year old Ali, who loses his sister Zahra’s newly repaired shoes. The ultimate Iranian Classic

19. 12 Angry Men

In New York City, this riveting story begins in the midst of a jury deciding on a first degree murder charge. The twelve men must determine, collectively, whether the accused is innocent or guilty of the charge of murder. One of the best courtroom dramas ever.

20.Brief Encounter

In this classic British drama, Laura Jesson (Celia Johnson) is a housewife whose marriage is not everything she desires it to be. A classic British romance

21.Long voyage

Home After a night of revelry in the West Indies, the crew of the Glencairn return to the tramp steamerand set sail for Baltimore. John Ford’s epic starring John Wayne.

22.Letter from an unknown woman

The film is about Joan Fontaine who is left by pianist Louis Jourdan, then romantically meets him again, but when he receives her last letter years later finds he cannot remember her.

23.Monsieur Verdoux

Chaplin’s classic comedy

24.Camille

Based on Alexandre Dumas Fils’ La Dame aux Camlias, the film depicts a doomed romance of a courtesan in 19th century Paris. One of Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Movies in 2005

25.The cabinet of Dr.Caligari

Dr. Caligari (Werner Krauss) plays the title character, a sinister hypnotist who travels the carnival circuit displaying a somnambulist named Cesare. The most amazing story ever Screened

26.Dodsworth William

Wyler’s Dodsworth was chosen by Sight and Sound magazine as Best Movie of the 1930s. From the director of Ben Hur

27.Paths of glory

In the third yearofWorld War I, the erudite but morally bankrupt French general Broulard orders his troops to seize the heavily fortified “Ant Hill” from the Germans. A Stanley Kubrick Classic

28.Shadow of a doubt

Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Newton is bored with her quiet life at home with her parents and her younger sister. She wishes something exciting would happen and knows exactly what they need. Hitchcock’s Personal favourite

29. 81/2

Guido Anselmi, a director whose new project is collapsing around him, along with his life. One of the greatest films about film ever made, Federico Fellini’s 8 (Otto e mezzo) turns one man’s artistic crisis into a grand epic of cinema. Fellini’s Masterpiece

30.Time

Two years into a steady relationship with Ji-Woo, See-hee is at unrest. Constanly doubtful, she imagines that he may soon abandon her for someone new. From the director of Spring,Summer,Fall,Winter…and Spring

31.Metropolis

Considered as one of the most influential science fiction films ever, it was also the most expensive film from the silent era. Hitler’s Favourite film

32.Seven Samurai

‘The greatest Action movie ever made.’

33.Bob the Gambler

To be the first film of the French New Wave- Chicago Sun-times

34.Diary of A Chambermaid

Diary of A Chambermaid was a crucial turning point in Luis Bunuel’s Career

35.Infernal Affairs

A new era for Hong Kong filmmaking – New York Times

36.The Human Beast

One of Gabin’s greatest performances – TV guide

37.The soft skin

A tale of truly modern Love.

38.Wild strawberries

Bergman’s warmest..finest film..astonishingly moving performance- Time Out 39.

39.Chunking express

Intoxicating and Irresistible – The Washington Post.

40.Crossing the bridge

Fatih Akin’s engaging and lively homage to the spirit of Istanbul is an inspired portrait of Turkish music. A musical Turkish delight!

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Finally, if you’re not in the mood for anything too heavy this list is perfect for you! I’d like to call this my chick flick guide (in no specific order), which is perfect for a girly sleepover/slumber party! All the films are available on DVD in store or on flipkart. They are also available online but pay for cinema, people!

Click on the name of the film to watch the trailer ūüôā

1.Mean Girls 

2. 13 going on 30

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

4. Brides Maids

5. A Cinderella Story

6. Amelie

7. Bridget Jones Diary

8. Clueless

9. Father of the bride

10. The Notebook

11. Legally Blonde

12. Sex and the City

13. The Princess Dairies

14. Grease

15. Wild Child

16. Just Married

17. For the Shahrukh Khan fans РDilwale dulhanya le jaenge (DDLJ) , Kuch kuch hota hai (KKHH) , Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham (K3G) , Kal ho naa ho , Karan Arjun

18. Andaz Apna Apna

Hope you guys ¬†enjoy some of these films over a yummy cup of hot chocolate over the week/weekend . We all deserve a lazy movie night, don’t we? ūüėČ

Ps: What are your favorite films ? Comment below and let me know!

Till we meet again,

Sara