Marine Drive on an Early Mumbai Morning

Below are different shots of Marine Drive, Chowpatty area, in early Mumbai mornings. I just love how beautiful the sea is. So beautiful.

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Jonkoping – Stockholm – Alvesta, Sweden

I spent an exchange semester at the Jonkoping International Business School in Jonkoping Sweden in fall last year. It was a quiet beautiful time. Days were longer, the sun shined brighter, the air was colder. I took a flight from Mumbai to Delhi to Arlanda, Stockholm with two other students from IIMA. When we landed these guys ran into another student attending the International Marketing program at the same university. So, that night of 1st September 2017, four of us, boarded the Flixbus from Arlanda to Jonkoping. This was to be the start of my time in Europe.

Jonkoping is quaint. Sometimes it is colorless. At the time when this post is being written, unusually so. I met a 48 year old man on the way back to New Delhi, he lived in Nord, and he tells me that the temperature there is a negative 24 degrees. The woman I shared an apartment with regularly sends me pictures of snowfall. I did see snow in Russia, a first for me, but and thankfully so, I have not yet watched inches of snow. I was asked in a job interview if I would be willing to work in Alaska, I, invariably, laughed. No, I said, not a chance, it is too cold. I don’t like too cold. I think its restrictive. And depressing.

That’s me prepping up for the minus temperatures at the Yashwant Palace Market in New Delhi. Mink is a sin and it looked like sin. I finally settled for a Dolce and Gabbana coat.

The Airbnb that the two guys had booked in Jonkoping was well-equipped – huge TV, playstation etc, a complete kitchen, great balcony, candles and lights, Ikea furniture and sheets. Everything was within walking distance, that is one of the things I liked about my time there – one could walk for commuting purposes, it did spoil your hair and skin, but then it was doable, and sometimes you had to do it since you know, student on a budget. I walked for the first 10-12 days, then when I shifted to a permanent residence which was 6 kms away from college, I got a bus pass made. I would not have had I not got lost in a cemetery one morning when I had a 8 am class. At this point I did not have an active phone connection, free wifi sufficed. In fact, I purchased a call plan only when I started traveling post the completion of my study-term which ended on the 45th day in the country.


Nearby our college, there were lots of cafes. I took a liking to Wayne’s coffee. I spend a couple of evenings here with that stranger we had picked up at the airport. I also spend another evening here with a student-friend who had come visiting.

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Before I write about my time in Stockholm and then the 10 other countries I visited, below are some more pictures of Jonkoping –

Bayview Harbour Cafe – Colaba

Along the sea, in line with Hotel Taj, is the little known Hotel Strand. In the picture below, you see the Taj, the straight horizontal line, right at the end of it, on the left hand side is Hotel Strand and the cafe that I will be talking about in this post. But before that, a word about the Taj – this hotel is full of feels : ancient and royal, the architecture is similarly colonial, the setting is perfect. And they have the only Louis Vuitton shop in Mumbai.

Taj Hotel, Mumbai ( picture link )

Bayview Harbour Cafe, as the name suggests, offers a view of the bay. It is on the top-most floor of Hotel Strand. It is nothing as fancy as the Taj or one of those other places around it. It is a quiet neat place which serves beer and wine and decent food. The coffee is tolerable. It is open air, so that is good news for smokers. If you happen to go there during dusk time, this is what you will see –

View of the Bay from the roof-top cafe

Bayview Cafe is a quiet, little known, reasonably priced place to hang out in the southern part of Mumbai. And the sea looks simply breathtaking in the evenings. Go ahead, if you are in the southern part of the city, give it a try, have a beer, chill and talk about life.

Hit the follow button for more recommendations on little known places in every city I go to.
Thank you for reading.

Ellora Caves, Near Aurangabad, Maharastra

Yesterday afternoon was spend in the cold comfort of these stone caves. Ellora caves.

Ellora is an archaeological site, 29 km North-West of the city of Aurangabad in the Indian state of Maharashtra built by the Rashtrakuta dynasty. It is also known as Elapura(in the Rashtrakuta literature-Kannada). Well known for its monumental caves, Ellora is a World Heritage Site. Ellora represents the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. The 34 “caves” are actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills.


Wiki tells us that there are 34 caves. But our guide said that there were a total of sixty, 30 have been documented. He even showed us a few of the unlisted ones.


The caves have been built by people of the Hindu, Jain and Buddhist religions. The main tourist attraction cave, the one in the picture above is called the Kailash Cave. In this cave, the walls on the eastern side tell the story of Ramyana and those on the Western Side speak of the warriors of the Mahabharata. The one below is from Ramyana –


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These caves are so huge, they are breathtaking. Do you know what I do when I walk down those stone corridors from 900 years ago? I touch the stone walls. And feel the history.


There was this prayer temple with perfect acoustics –


Here are the further details to help plan your travel better –
Charge – Rs. 10 per person (Indians and Citizens of SAARC and BIMSTEC Countries ), Rs. 250 per person (Foreigners) ,free entry for children below 15 years
Free still photography25 per camera video photography
Timings – All days of the week except Tuesday – 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM

Visit duration – 3 to 4 hours

You can request for more photographs by dropping a mail here – – free of charge and minus the watermark.

Ranganathittu Bird Sanctuary, Karnataka

This stop was crazy. There were crocodiles – real big crocs- lazying in the water. It was scary – almost stopped my heart for a bit, for more than a bit. I was tempted, too tempted to touch them.


This one above has a foot missing. Quite sad. Just to let you know I have not zoomed in in the above picture. The boatman took us close enough to take these. He told us they are friendly though not tamed and have not attacked any one till date.

Bird Sanctuary Srirangapatna

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To see a creature so large so close is an experience I would insist on. Besides traveling in South India is a pleasurable privilege. So if you put this on your list here are the further details – Ranganthittu Bird Sanctuary also known as Pakshi Kashi of Karnataka is a Bird Sanctuary in the Mandya District of the state of Karnataka in India.

Address: Mandya, Karnataka 571427, Phone: 082322 24600

Sand Museum, Mysore

I took a crazy trip a few days back – 6 days, 4 airports and 72 hours on the road.In the middle of this trip I stopped at Mysore. Part of the deal was that I visit all the famous tourist attractions here, so after visiting the temples I headed to the Sand Museum. The name is very misleading, it really is not a museum. Just a couple of tents put together holding beautiful magnificent sand sculptures.

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If you are in the southern part of my country and if the weather permits then yes you can put this cute little place on your to-visit places. Here are the further details –

  1. Mysore Sand Sculpture Museum – Directions
  2. Address: Sree Sapthamathrukha Layout, KC Layout, Mysore, Karnataka 570010
  3. Phone:094482 73890
    Hours: Open All days  – 8:00 am – 6:30 pm

Gone Girl – Book Review

Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl…


This quote and the recent Ben Affleck starrer movie trailer made me pick up and read Gone Girl . If you click on the linked text it will re-direct you to the wiki page and the plot will be given away. So don’t. Quite tempting it is I know, so don’t.

Gone Girl is a fast read. It is a New York Times Bestseller (2012). It is Gillian Flynn’s third book. And it is just so damn insanely smartly creepy.

It is a love story and to borrow Flynn’s words – it is a nuclear love story. The plot is fast, racy and saucy when it needs to be. The timing of the turns and twists mostly unpredictable with very strongly predictable characters is more than impeccable, it is honestly a bit insulting. There are shades of Sheldon like narration and just when you think you know where this is going she gets to you right just like that and you are like – ok, what just happened there.

The characters are very real. They can be easily identified with. The first person narration-putting the characters voice in your head, something (probably the only thing) which has worked in great favour for The Fifty Shades and Twilight series – once again works, it makes the reading easy and it makes the reader feel so involved, especially when Flynn chooses to mock the social norms prevalent in Amy’s intelligent disapproving voice.




The social commentary is simply crazy, insane, nuclear. She comments on marriages, love, infidelity, parents, cops, rich people, poor people, New York people, small town people, diseased people, the press, the paparazzi, the judicial system, lawyers, siblings – all of us have been mocked, all the norms have been cut,dissected and put on a display for all us, to see the error of our ways.

Amy’s observations of this less than perfect world are loaded with frank factual conclusions. Amy mocks everyone. And then I guess Flynn has mocked Amy by painting her the way she has – in this crazy nuclear way making her say all those nasty true things. Meta-mockery.

The book is easy to read – alternate he-she narration, almost linear parallel time line, complete characters, a well-researched plot – basically it had all the right ingredients for David Fincher ( yes, yes Fight Club !) to make a movie out of it.

I could tell you all about the book and the plot but I think it would make for a different reading experience. Do read it.

Why is it that serendipity always appears on the unexplored horizon?

Back in college, a few years ago something happened with me. We were out one night, eight or nine of us, at a friend’s house, it was his birthday. The usual inebriation apart, in a state of senselessness a boy made a shrewish comment at me – what if you get a girl as bad as her, and he laughed. It took me time to comprehend how I was bad – was I bad because I did not care for the social differentiation of acceptable experimental habits  was I bad because I did not fit the usually body cloth hair decorative casing of a confident girl – how can she be so comfortable with the herself that everyone sees?

I was hurt and with tears in my eyes and no shoes on my feet I stormed out of the house. The rest of the night was spent in apologies, more tears and me trying to leave the house with whatever little dignity I could salvage.

Thinking about that night usually brings along with it a set of memories I wish was void. But then again, it really does not matter. Like all other things there is a only one way it works for you, retrospection that is – you always a choice even while connecting the dots backwards.

Retrospection the way usually it is done by most has an inherent user bias which is objectively fair – it is your story after all. Hence reflection tells me now in a very discerning voice – the person before the comments.

And, no.

I am not going to speak against this certain person here, I have been raised rather kindly to do better than to black paint someone else – it is a rather unfruitful exercise.

But what reflection does tell me is that the vague algorithms people often employ to be interested in someone are on a default design of strict filtering with baseless hearsay gossip as the prime parameters. Location plays a vital role too, the more you are around people every day who know very little about you; the more the broth will be boiled by the many cooks.  But then again that is how it has always been – familiarity breeds contempt et all so again it really does not count.

What does count though is the way idle talk affects ones behaviour. What does matter is the way the notions of those around you weigh down your own mechanism of judgement. It is an exceptional survival tactic- what works for most should be safe for me but now we know better, now we know that if 600 people say 7 * 7 = 61 then their basis is visibly different than ours.

lovers-in-italyBut when one goes on exploring unknown lands where there are no notions of the society to help you think except perhaps the dreamy sequences of the media bullshit that you have grown up on one is usually more confident, more of oneself, more of any one that one wishes to be. Why is it that we are more comfortable talking to strangers – being ourselves, being nice and being different? Why is it that the same guy is a different man to a girl from far-away and why is that the man from a far-away land intrigues me more than, well really, okay sometimes, he does intrigue me more than the boy-next-door?

Genetics and Psychology offer disturbing answers. Prudence tells me it is all in your head. Relativity decides my happiness and the grass is somehow always greener on the other side. Just the same duality does not escape me too, I am your girl next door and I am also someone’s beautiful stranger.


Originally posted here.

Food for your soul – figuratively and otherwise

Three weeks ago the very beautiful Karishma Walia suggested that I review her blog . I did tell her that I would do this asap but then in my defense for the past three weeks I have been between three cities with a lot of luggage.

Soulfoood is a blog about food, and tidbits for the soul. The landing page has a cute photoshopped blog-cover-art  –


There are two main sections to the blog – Recipes and Soul Search . The food to eat section has very concise recipes for appetizers, quick meals, mains and desserts. Miss Walia writes her recipes in a short crisp easy to understand manner, there is no pointless detailing of the procedure. She makes cooking look very easy.


The Soul Search section explores topics which occupy our mind when we are busy living our daily lives. Quite recently she has written about a topic so common – something which we women are so used to , that we do not even question it any longer, we have accepted it but the question needs to be raised  – why do Indian men stare so much .

Miss Walia talks about food and stuff that matters. She began working on Soulfoood two years ago when in the middle of chaos of a hectic life she re-discovered her passion for cooking. A child, a lovely son brought to her joy untold and happiness is clearly visible in her letters to her son and other posts in which she writes about motherhood – its joys and its not-so-joyous-sides.

I think you should definitely try some of her recipes, they are quite interesting. Soulfoood as a blog is both personal and professional at the same time. It talks about food and then it talks about love and other things will add meaning to life. And it has around 7000 followers, so yes, Soulfoood does strike a chord with everyone and this is great noting that Miss Walia wants the blog to be more than a form of self-expression now. She wants Soulfoood  to extend itself to its local community and be a part of ideas that it’s fundamentally based on – food and positive thoughts. I cannot envision how the local community bit is going to work out but I can certainly suggest something for the virtual community.

Since the idea is so good – about food, love, meaning and life, what follower bloggers and the rest of us virtual denizens can do is contribute to the blog. Contributions could be in the form our own special personal recipes – not the standard ones but the typical ones – is there a food which you and your lover make at two in the night, is there a special recipe you cook with love only for your child , do you have a secret ingredient to be put in all your cooked dishes, is there a particular way that you make your pasta which makes it taste so darn good?

Personal recipes from all over the world in a little section of all this blog with pictures and little personal special stories could be a great addition to this platform. And also a good social experiment to tell us – we are all not so different after all.


Book Ur Dream, Hauz Khas Village

So we are back in delhi and so is Qahwa –



We have a new photographer on board, our previous brilliant photographer has shifted to Bangalore, once she is settled in there we shall be covering cafes of Bangalore too.

So it is raining in the city and me and my new companion headed off to look for a nice place to sit in and work. We had heard about Book Ur Dreams and thought it was time we checked it out ourselves.

Book Ur Dreams is a social networking cafe. The concept is simple – they let you rent the place as your office space. Also you can sit and work there, they serve you free coffee. It has a beautiful lake side view. And they also sell authentic jewelry and some recycled green products and some kickass posters too. The prices of the products are quite affordable. bookurdream bookurdream-cafe2 bookmydream-cafe

If you are interested in them here are their new rules –

bookurdream-cafe4The cafe took off in February this year. It was started by Vikas, Rashi and Anu. Mr. Dinesh works here and takes care of the young entrepreneurs and other creative individuals who visit the place –


At this point I am really impressed with our new photographer, maybe one of these days she could do many of mine too.

The place is open all days from 10:30am to 7:30 pm. Visit here to chill,relax and work. Small space, has a very nice feel to it and we absolutely love their social networking concept.  Here are the other details of the place –

Address – 20, Hauz Khas Village, New Delhi, India 110016.

Phone – +919540690002

Email –

website , their facebook page