Neil Island

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Bharatpur
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Laxmanpur

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An overdose of the sea below and the sky above and I came back an aquaholic:)

Andaman diaries .

 

 

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Wooden toys

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They are different from the fancy toys she’s got and she’s fascinated with the set for now . Rolling imaginary chapatis , insisting I eat them ‘garam garam’ , she sometimes struggles to work the atta chakki cause her fingers cannot seem to get a grip . My little one reminds me of my own childhood , I had a red set back then and they always sold wooden toys at little stalls in Bandra Fair . For the last few years , these have disappeared from the fair . Not many takers I was told .

I remember my maternal grandma , about 13 years ago when she was bed ridden and writhing in pain .I went to meet her before a trip to Goa. I asked her if she’d like me to get her anything and she said ‘ wooden toys from Sawantwadi’ . I was surprised but assured her I’d try my best . We stopped by at Sawantwadi which is about two hours away from my home in Goa and that was the first time I got a closer look at what was once my mum’s native town . Wooden fruits , veggies , vehicles and all sorts of wooden show pieces adorned the market place . We picked granny’s toys and once we were back , hurried to give them to her . Her face lit up .Godma , granny and I played like we were little girls and granny forgot her pain for sometime . In a few months , she passed away . The wooden toys are safely kept , memories of granny’s second childhood in little wooden cups of joy !

 

 

 

Rabdentse Ruins , Pelling

As I was reading a list of lesser known destinations to visit in India , a picture of  Rabdentse ruins brought back some wonderful memories of my last day in Pelling , Sikkm. It has been two years since my visit to the ruins of the former capital of the kingdom of Sikkim .Most of the people we spoke to said there wasn’t much to see , but I had made up my mind and nothing could dampen my spirits . I remember the drizzle in the forest , the mushrooms , the fronds , ferns , muddy puddles and the exhaustion as we walked towards the ruins.

I have posted a few pictures of the wondrous forest trail earlier , but never quite got to posting about the ruins. So I thought it best to do it today. Better late than never. The walk through the magical forest was the highlight for me , even better than walking around the ruins

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I wish the ones who told me there wasn’t much to see , knew what they were missing.

Rabdentse tells the story of Sikkim’s glory during the Chogyal rule . Hidden inside a dense forest , overshadowed by the beauty of the majestic Kanchenjunga which attracts most people to Pelling ,the walls of Rabdenstse are more than just stubs . Rabdenstse remained the capital of Sikkim for 123 years and saw six Kings rule the kingdom.

The first structure that welcomes visitors is a Chorten – a stupa .DSC_0892DSC_0895.JPG

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Ruins of the palace , not much remains of what once must have been a grand residence of the king . The ruins are divided into the Northern and Southern wings , one used to be the living quarters of the royal family and the other was where the King met with commoners.

The Southern wing , the stone throne and perhaps the place where  people would have an audience with the king  . It didn’t  look like a throne from a distance , but one of the workers there pointed it out to me. The Marble stone you see is believed to be carried to the site by a single person.

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Remains of the living quarters . They sure knew how to find ‘ a room with a view’.

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Three stone chortens looked fairly preserved . This is the place where the highest officials would pass important judgments . Am not sure what the significance of the stone slab is , but a closer look revealed this .

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It is also believed that prayers were offered by the royal family at this site everyday. These three stones looked like stoic testimonies to all the grandeur , faith and fervour that this palace and its residents embodied.

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A final look at the ruins , before I left .

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Some ruins proclaim the building was beautiful. These do , no ?

Misal Pav : Maharashtra’s spicy snack

5032E020-EB46-449A-8161-FC30F974AD8A.jpegBorn and bred in Mumbai , vada pav has always been my snack of preference over misal Pav . Vada pav , or the Indian burger , is an ‘ on the go’ snack , whereas misal Pav needs you to sit , soak in the spicy lentil curry and then proceed. It has been my dad’s favourite and the ones I have seen being served in Mumbai are less elaborate than the one in the picture above .

Misal in Marathi means ‘ mixture’ and the dish is just that. A mixture of lentils ( sprouted mothbeans mostly ) curry , spices( Goda masala is used for the curry , a local blend of spices)  , topped with farsan ( fried salted snack ) or sev and chopped onions . It’s best to squeeze in a little lime juice to bring out all the favours .

What you see in the picture is what I ordered recently at a dhaba on my way to Malshej Ghat.  The man at the counter suggested I try it and I didn’t want to disappoint him , so I agreed . What was suppposed to be breakfast , looked more like lunch !

What you see is the bread ( Pav) , the misal ( spicy curry with lentils ) , some curd ( in this case it plays the fire extinguisher ) , chopped onion and lime , curd , a small bowl of extra curry ( incase you need to dunk your bread in ) and sev ( yellow salty noodle like snack ) .

It was hot but delicious . Nothing like the milder versions I have tasted here in the city ( I haven’t tasted a lot ) . I managed to finish it all and skipped lunch as a result !

I wonder why misal is under rated . It’s healthier than deep fried vadas and packs a punch in terms of proteins . Anyway , am glad I had my first whole meal of misal finally and I know this is the first of many 🙂

Thotrin Cafe – Northeastern food in Mumbai

72C10B4E-F337-4D8E-995F-18DD62658F8C68362F28-8A81-48EA-B0FC-C4FA3B8A5175It’s unbelievable how I had never heard of this place until a week ago . This one is in Kalina , Santacruz East , a place I go to so often , but Thotrin cafe , tucked in the Koleveri village of Kalina ,remained a well kept secret . My sister’s colleague mentioned it to her and she was so intrigued , she went straight to the place to check it out .

I got a few pictures , a few tips on what to order ( dishes that are on the menu and those that aren’t ) and in about three days after the temptation , I gave in .

A hole in the wall , Thotrin cafe , is a simple place , three tables and a seating capacity of twelve at a time . The service is slow , but it’s worth the wait .

The beef salad , pork momos and snail curry in a potato base are dishes that you must try , none of these feature on their menu , so you’ve just got to let them know that you’ve come for those . Am not sure why they don’t have these delicacies mentioned , but word of mouth publicity has got them famous for the right dishes !

We ordered a Thotrin banana juice ( fermented ) which tasted in between vinegar and toddy ! The husband found it absolutely repulsive and one sip was all he had . I had more than half of the quantity , funnily I was enjoying the mild kick ! The term for virgin drinks in their local language is  ‘chirchomri’ .

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It was time for the beef salad . The beef is the dried salted version , similar to what I have had in Darjeeling , it tasted like a rubbery version of dried Bombay duck ( A Goan staple ) and I didn’t quite enjoy the texture , but the beans in the salad were yum !

9EF5BDD2-613E-4B72-82FC-84336AB99AE5Pork momos in Mumbai ! Yummy pork momos in Mumbai ! Super yummy pork momos in Mumbai ! Voices in my head shouting as I devoured them . The best I’ve had till date . They call momos – kothe 🙂 326F5783-531D-4318-B98A-BDEAC7DAECD5

Finally , the light snail curry cooked with potatoes, mint , ginger etc and sticky rice. Two ways to get the meat out of those shells , suck or use a tooth pick . This dish and the rain outside , perfect 🙂 I didn’t think I’d enjoy snails as much as I did . This is a must try . The snail curry is called ‘ korpungla’.

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The pork curry with bamboo shoot is supposed to be a star dish , but we were too full and I was dizzy with that fermented banana juice  , so may be next time .

Thotrin cafe definitely packs a punch and is value for money .

Thread Garden , Ooty

The dimly lit room, which has exhibits of Anthony Joseph’s labour of love, is a treat for those who love art , craft and stories . “No machinery , no needles” , he says proudly . I was lucky to meet the man behind the unique technique that he calls four dimensional hand wound embroidery.

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A journey that began in 1988 continues with as much zest and his nimble fingers have found help over the years in 50 pairs of gifted hands that have supported him and matched his passion and perfection in creating each piece .Each artisan goes through three years of training in the time consuming technique .

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Lots of research , canvas , threads , glue and wires have gone into making this garden what it is today. More than a hundred varieties of flowers are on display here at the thread garden and one can take home a keepsake from the little store outside .

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Located near Ooty lake , this one is an absolute delight .

Emerald lake , Ooty

The closest I might ever get to the Emerald city in the Wizard of OZ – the emerald lake , Ooty !

In the silent valley surrounded by tea gardens , emerald lake is another pristine place in the Nilgiris. It is an extension  of the Avalanche lake , I was told .

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This is as close as we could get. The access to the lake had been shut for a few days owing to some maintenance work near the dam.

Rose garden , Ooty

I never promised you a rose garden ….

I can never think of a rose without this song playing on loop in my head. He never promised me a rose garden , but if he did , it would have to be as pretty as this one.

The rose garden in Ooty is arranged  in terraces on the slopes of the Elk hill and boasts of having one of the largest collection of roses in India. It is no wonder then , that it won the garden of excellence award for being the best rose garden in South Asia in 2006 . Surprisingly , there weren’t many people in the garden at the time I visited. I was there about an hour before closing time and that’s probably how I managed to dodge the crowd.

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As you enter
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Just before the drizzle began
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A look at the lower level of the terrace

They save the best for last , I guess , which explains why all the pretty roses are to be found in the lowest level of the garden 🙂

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Love !
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In my favourite colour
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Lady in red

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Two tones

…And then the rain drops began to kiss those rosy lips . I put the camera in , soaked in the atmosphere and kept wondering , how nice it would have been if he had promised me just a rose !