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Pick that Perfect Apartment in Jaipur

Pick that Perfect Apartment in Jaipur

Jaipur, the state capital of Rajasthan, is culturally rich and one of India’s finest cities. With a great heritage, the city attracts millions of tourists every year. Today the pink city is considered as one among the ten mega cities of India. No wonder the real estate market in Jaipur is flourishing, with all the infrastructural development the city is witnessing, and its proximity with the capital city of Delhi. Jaipur is situated on the Delhi- Mumbai Highway, and the city boasts of a well-planned road and railway network. The city is a part of the golden triangle with adequate education, hospitality and healthcare facilities. In this pink city, amidst kings, palaces and ancient forts are residential apartment and flats in Jaipur by FS Realty- a VENTURE OF FIRST STONE.

First stone works on a very unique philosophy, working towards bringing about new beginnings, laying the foundation stone for a good life and a home. According to First Stone,”A new beginning where life travels that extra mile to find newer destinations of a brighter future is what a foundation stone symbolizes”. The interesting luxury flats in Jaipur by FS Realty that are worth considering are as follows.

Project Crest near Marriott Jaipur

Here is a lovely 65,000 sq. ft. project called Crest. It is situated near the Marriott Hotel of Jaipur. The project boasts of a landscape that is surrounded by lush green tropical gardens. It has a central courtyard, where you could find water coming out of large urns. It would also have a roof terrace garden. Just imagine the beauty of intimate water features that come alive at night here. Wouldn’t it be a beautiful sight? There is a very interesting philosophy Crest has adopted in this project which is combining local flora along with exotic trees and plants. The most noteworthy features of this project is the fact that there is no parking on the ground floor. So here is a residential colony with a ground floor that is free from vehicular movement. The project boasts of all modern amenities apart from being ideally located to hospitals, schools and markets.

Project Platinum

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Project Crown- Sharing the common wall with Marriott

Sharing the Common Wall The Under Construction Platinum and Crown

Two projects of FS Realty Platinum and Crown are a class apart and definitely an epitome of urban luxury. And here is why. They share a common wall with the Marriott. Isn’t it wonderful to be a part of this posh enclave that stands tall in one of Jaipur’s prestigious neighborhood? Do you seek a home that is not only amidst nature and beauty, but also connected to the city’s landmarks? Then these two projects are definitely worth considering.

Project Pinnacle

Pinnacle- Ever dreamt of owning a home on a high rise that boasts of 20 storeys? Then Project Pinnacle is just the one for you.  Choose a floor above and get a clear view of the world around. Pinnacle is surely an architectural marvel that would never fail to amaze you. In the lap of luxury, you could get that brilliant panoramic view of the beautiful city of Jaipur. It is surely that perfect home with a view.

Project Coronation

Don’t we all love homes that are planned meticulously in every way? Coronation is one such project. It is a lifestyle home indeed and the interiors speak volumes of the essence of harmony, with a contemporary facade outside. Each apartment in this project is customized to complement your taste and style of living. These homes would surely make that statement.

Each of these projects are a class apart. Take a walk through and you would be left spell bound. That’s a guarantee

Ajanta Caves- Art Beyond Imagination

Ajanta Caves- Art Beyond Imagination

It was the summer of 1819. Captain John Smith, a young Cavalry Officer, along with a party of British hunters, was tracking down a tiger. In the thick forest of Aurangabad in Maharashtra, the animal’s footprints led them straight past a cavity in a rock face. They soon found themselves in front of a manmade façade, cut into the rock face. As the hunting party slowly made its way inside, a burning torch in hand, they were left spellbound. ’Coz what lay in front, was a long hall with octagonal pillars and a circular dome. All over the walls were murals and paintings –art beyond their belief. It was what we know today as the Ajanta Caves. It had been abandoned for centuries!!

Art beyond imagination

The Ajanta Caves, amidst the lush vegetation of Maharashtra, holds within it an experience unimaginable. These Buddhist rock-cut temples, with its Fresco paintings, speak volumes about India’s ancient culture and heritage. Ever since its discovery, considerable effort has been done in trying to restore and recapture these paintings.

A life dedicated to Ajanta

They say early childhood influences have a substantial impact on a person’s life, especially on his passions and career choices. Dinesh Baurkhandi’s early days were spent observing his father Shambhuprasad Baukhandi and his work on the paintings of Ajanta Caves. His father was a senior artist in Archeological Survey of India and also worked in The National Museum at New Delhi, when he was transferred to Ajanta Caves to reproduce the paintings. This reproduction is in display in The National Museum.

Dinesh Baurkhandi would visit the Ajanta Caves with his father every vacation. Observing his style of work, he would paint out lines and fill colors for his father. He learnt the technique and nuances of painting in water color, water paper and oil on canvas. It was after his father passed away, he picked up the brush and canvas to pursue the wonderful work. There has been no looking back since, and for 35 years, he has dedicated his life to Ajanta Caves paintings. Dinesh Baurkhandi’s paintings have been on display at the Ayatan Art Gallery in Pune.

Rock-cut monuments from a bygone era

The Ajanta Caves are about 30 rock-cut Buddhist cave monuments dating from approximately the 2nd century BCE to about 480 or 650 CE. The theme of paintings here is mainly Jataka stories. As the caves were dwelling places of Buddhist monks, these paintings are religious in nature mostly depicting scenes from the life of the Buddha. The walls paintings comprise of murals and frescoes.

There is an extensive use of tempera style, i.e., use of pigments. The uniqueness of the art lies in blending of wet colors, layer by layer, on water paper. The outlines of female figures, the face effect and mood are distinctly portrayed. That’s what gives out the “fresco effect” in the Ajanta paintings. Emotions are expressed through hand postures. Graceful figures and mythical beings have been freely used to fill space. These paintings are a blend of physical beauty and spiritual strength, which is the hallmark of Indian style of painting.

Finest surviving example

The Ajanta Caves is today a protected monument in the care of the Archaeological Survey of India. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Truly, they are the finest surviving example of Indian art.

New Cars in Philippines From Tata Motors

New Cars in Philippines From Tata Motors

Tata Motors’ vehicles have been in great demand in the Philippines since 2014. The low cost of ownership and availability of diesel vehicles makes the cars, utility vehicles and cargo vehicles an integral part of the country’s transport sector.

Philippines- an archipelago in South-East Asia has one of the most beautiful terrains. Wonderful beaches are just part of one of the world’s longest coastlines. Over a hundred ethnic groups, with a mixture of foreign influences, there is a fusion of cultures here. In this beautiful country, Tata Motors offers commercial vehicles and brand new cars in Philippines, at great prices. Users have an option of both petrol as well as diesel cars.

Founded by Jamsetji Tata in 1868, the Tata group is a global enterprise, headquartered in India, comprising over 100 independent operating companies. The group operates in more than 100 countries across six continents, with a mission ‘To improve the quality of life of the communities we serve globally, through long-term stakeholder value creation based on Leadership with Trust’.

There is an option available for various users and requirements. From passenger vehicles, diesel cars, small trucks, to pickups Tata Motors offers it all to the Philippines market.

*These are probably the best fuel efficient cars, and environmentally sound in a variety of ways. Tata Motors work with alternative fuels, and have developed electric and hybrid vehicles for personal and public transport, and use some of the world’s most advanced equipment to check and control emissions.

If you want to buy a car in Philippines, think Tata Motors!!

Source: www.tatamotors.ph

The Road is My Therapist!

The Road is My Therapist!

found the road by mistake. I decided to go out for a brief drive on Sunday morning and suddenly found myself itching for some more alone time, driving on NH-66. I had intended to explore a spice garden I had heard good things about.

Terrain less explored

I sure am lucky to be living in a small town on the Konkan coast of India. A terrain less explored, the district of Uttar Karnataka is lush green, with hills and valleys on one side and the lashing waves of the Arabian Sea on the other. I live inside a beautiful Cantonment, with neatly laid out roads and scenic beauty, which opens out in front of my eyes every single day. I am spoiled indeed now and, can never really settle down in a crowded metro again.

So I drove…and drove, down the national highway, onto rural routes that twisted and bent through forests of Karnataka- for no other reason than that I had an urge to go on. I was on my own, wrapped in solitude, lost in thought, when I missed that crucial turn, finding myself at the head of a blocked-off road. A “kachcha rasta” lay ahead, and beyond it lay a blue stretch of sea, winding and unblemished. I sat still for a few minutes wondering if I must go ahead and just take one little peak of the sea. As I accelerated, the car growled through the muddy road at every arc, and the sun cast a high-speed flicker of shadows from behind the bare trees. It was fun, exhilarating and when I hit the end of the road, the feeling that I got was truly a new high. I wasn’t ready for the adventure to be over.

This is the marvelous thing about driving. You could head off to anyplace, find a diversion and explore.

I seek neither a private racetrack nor a plush vehicle

Yet I am drawn to the road. Many a times a simple cycle does the magic. Whether it is a quick lap around the neighborhood, or out onto the highway away from the maddening crowds, it untangles my mind. A spontaneous hour long trip to “no-where’s land” could get me contemplating over life’s great mysteries.

My car has become my therapist. I play a good playlist and hum away the blues. I just don’t feel like stopping the vehicle until I feel better. I drive, I think, I imagine….What attracts me the most, is being alone in the car and going places, seldom planned for. My drive on NH 66 was hardly the Arabian coast highway. Yet, I found it exciting and invigorating.

A drive is often my meaningful short escape. What’s yours?

*Featured Image Courtesy: pixabay

A Page from Chennai And its Mega Stores

A Page from Chennai And its Mega Stores

It sure does take a great deal of research to make a movie with a realistic story. I recently watched one such Tamil movie called Angadi Theru (Eng: Market Street). This heart wrenching movie revolves around life in a mega-sized store on one of Chennai’s busiest streets-one which is literally home to countless men, women, shops, and businesses.

Life on Ranganathan Street

If you have ever been to Chennai’s Ranganathan Street and shopped at the all famous Saravana Stores, you would understand exactly what I am talking about. Not only in Chennai, but cities across the state of Tamil Nadu are home to some mega-sized stores that sell practically everything under the sun. Apparels for all ages and gender, jewelry, household articles, home appliances, footwear, bed and bath products, cosmetics- just about anything you could dream of.

Way different from the plush retails in malls, these stores cater to all income clientele.

When I first visited one in Chennai, I was left speechless. Products piled one on top of another, with not an inch spared. The ceilings in the home section, hung steel utensils that shimmered in the light around. The 20,000 square feet store employed over a hundred odd staff. Dressed in neat uniforms, they stood at every junction, across counters, ready to help with a smile. Most of them seemed to be in the age bracket between of 20-30(some even younger). Their job involved being at the store from dawn to almost midnight, attending to varied customers and some of their tantrums, running odd errands for the store manager, counting stock, tallying cash and serving tea.

To me, they seemed to be running the show, in some way

As I sifted through the pile of saris, I struck conversation with the young sales girl in front me. She was twenty she said, and had left her village in Thirunelveli district (Naranammalpuram, a village with hardly 800 houses), as there weren’t colleges to pursue higher education, nor were there opportunities to earn an income. The store provided her accommodation and meals, which otherwise would be expensive on her pocket in a metro such as Chennai. With the income she earned, she was able to save a few rupees and also send money to her family back in the village. I asked her if she was happy this way. She just smiled and said, “This is my work, and there’s dignity in it”.

It was noon by then, and the wilting look on each of their faces spoke an untold story. Some seemed desperate to leave the store for the half an hour lunch break. There was a quick swap at the counter to ensure that I was attended to. I looked up to see another smiling boy in front of me. “You would look good in green. Shall I show you some more prints in that colour?” he politely asked me. I quickly made my choice from what lay in front of me, and proceeded to the billing counter.

Somewhere deep down, I had begun to empathize with these young girls and boys.

They were away from home and home sick, with long working hours, and having to stand all day. I made a mental note, that the next time I visited the store; I must look up from my shopping and give them a smile, acknowledging their presence. That’s the least I could do.

Featured Image: A glimpse of Ranganathan Street- Courtesy http://www.wikiwand.com/
Travel to Israel to Experience Happiness, Faith and Life

Travel to Israel to Experience Happiness, Faith and Life

If there is one unique thing that stands out in Israel, it is the diversity the country holds within it. Exuberant in every way, the beautiful people and place seem as though they are all out of a grand epic. Vibrant cultures, traditions, art and culinary that fills your heart with joy. The desert and the sea, together, make it a surreal world for the tourist exploring it.

At the intersection of Asia, Europe and Africa, lies Israel, a congruence of cultures, empires and religions since time immemorial. It bears the cradle of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. One can immerse oneself in the holy land and in its rich religious traditions.

  • Jerusalem- the cradle of the world’s three biggest religions

Truly Jerusalem serves as the landmark for the three biggest religions of the world. It has the great Western Wall. An important shrine, this Jewish site was initially a retaining wall supporting the outer portion of Temple Mount, upon which stood the Second Temple. Although the Temple was destroyed, its retaining structure remained and rabbinical texts maintain that the Shechina (divine presence) never deserted it.

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Jerusalem is also famous for its Byzantine-era synagogues adorned with sumptuous mosaics. Synagogues around the Sea of Galilee attract a lot of tourists. The sites are of importance as they are associated with the birth of Jesus (Bethlehem) and the crucifixion site. Mecca and Medina is Holy for the Muslims. The Dome of the Rock is yet another masterpiece and an enduring symbol of the city. It is covered by a slab of stone sacred to both the Muslim and Jewish Faiths.

That’s how magnificent Jerusalem is!

  • Tel Aviv- The vibrant city with tourists thronging it through the year.

Did you know Tel Aviv is often referred to as the party capital of the Middle East?

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Tel Aviv is a multicultural mix of people, cultures, and cuisines. You would find sky scrapers that adorn the beautiful skyline, neatly laid out bike paths, cafes and bistros with vibrant young and beautiful people. The sultry Mediterranean climate and the sea with its lashing waves make it an ideal place for a happening night life. The shores of the sea are a witness every night to the young and old alike, tourists and locals, who party till the break of dawn. It’s no surprise Tel Aviv is known as the party capital of the Middle East.

Tel Aviv also houses the world’s major centers of high-tech venture capital, the century-old city earned UNESCO World Heritage status by virtue of its 1930s-style Bauhaus architecture.

  • The Dead Sea- Truly one of the wonders of the world

The Dead Sea on the Israeli shore could be considered as the largest spa in the world. It is a must visit, as it lets you soak up the sun while you lie flat and float in the water. The sea is serene surrounded by mountains and hills, adding to its scenic beauty.

Sat Crystals, Floating and spa

The sea water rejuvenates your entire body and mind.  With the Dead Sea mud mask and salts, you could detox the body, increase your circulation, improve the skin texture and cure those aches and pains. Many tourists spend hours on the beach floating on the sea and benefiting from the rich minerals in both the mud and the salts.

  •  Cuisine- Surely you must have them and savor the unique flavors

Israeli food has some really distinct tastes and flavors. They greatly differ from European or Western food, but have a strong resemblance to many Asian and North African cuisine. Yet, with its own distinct signature taste.

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Something, which should definitely not be given a miss. Must tries are surely the Falafel – the king of Israeli food. It is a delicious mix of chickpeas and fava beans, along with the use of some generous spices. The Hummus is a kind of dip or spread made from crushed chickpeas and mixed with tehina sauce, lemon, olive oil, salt and garlic.  The Shakshooka is yet another fantastic Israeli food is a liquid dish made up of tomatoes, onions, plenty of garlic, and spices such as sweet paprika.

Israel – A Great Destination for Indian Tourists? Of course it is….

A country with a modern lifestyle and experiences, Israel is truly a great holiday destination from India. The country offers a lot more and caters to budget travellers, backpackers, and family holidays too. The weather is moderate and definitely enjoyable by Indian travellers. Tel Aviv is the coolest city in the Mediterranean. One can also travel to Gulf Countries, after having a Israel visa stamp on their passport. 

Israel is a perfect blend of faith, of life, of happy people, of a great lifestyle, culinary experiences, and much more. The country is safer than most western countries and a holiday would be worth every bit. From serenity to diversity, from religion and history to architecture, you get it all in one single land which is Israel. So go for it!!!

The Life & Times of a City that was Once Bangalore

The Life & Times of a City that was Once Bangalore

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful city called Bangalore. It was calm, peaceful and boasted of salubrious weather throughout the year. And then the unforeseen happened. The city was struck by bad governance, corruption and an uncontrolled growth of the concrete jungle. What followed is traffic jams, garbage piles at every corner and poor infrastructure support for the common man. Not to forget the dwindling green spaces, that once earned the city the title of “Garden city”.

I still remember the day I left Bangalore in 2005. As my flight took off from the old Bangalore airport, I had tears in my eyes. This was the city I grew up in. I distinctly remember cycling down the by lanes of Indiranagar, without any fear of being hit by a speeding car. Or sitting atop in the double decker bus travelling till Shivaji Nagar, just for the heck of it!!  I would walk to school hand in hand with my buddy Vidya, chatting away about teachers, boys and all other things that concerned our lives. This was the city that gave me my first job, my first salary, my first date, and many other firsts… After eleven years, I went back this summer to what was once my home town. A month later, I had tears yet again in my eyes. But this time around, it wasn’t nostalgia. It was pain- to see that what was once a beautiful city is now nothing but an overcrowded and noisy place.

Way back in the eighties, I lived close to CMH road in Indiranager, in a palatial family bungalow. And the only big store on CMH road then was the MK Ahmed Store, This well-lit store practically supplied all the light to a major portion of the road. And when MK Ahmed would shut by 8pm (yes shops closed by 8 pm then), CMH road would wear a deserted look, except for a few stray vehicles.

Being a product of the prestigious St. Josephs College, which then was on Residency road (the heritage building), I was lucky to be in proximity to some of the best standalone theatres of Bangalore. Rex Theatre on Brigade road – for those latest Hollywood movies.

Plaza- old and quirky looking, I remember watching the Mummy here for Rs. 20.

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Image Source: Flickr

Symphony Theatre (well before it was renamed Shankarnag Chitra Mandira) was for the latest Hindi movies. And ofcourse my all-time favorite Lido theatre(I think it has become a thriving mall now). How could I forget Galaxy theatre and huddled behind it was Corner House which served Death by Chocolate for Rs. 50 then. Galaxy theatre shut down years back , but I still remember the red carpets on the slop that led to the balcony seats.

MG Road began from Cauvery Handicrafts for shoppers, extending till Chinnaswamy stadium.

mgsp2.pngImage Soucrse: Flickr

Technically the road began from Trinity Circle. However, the big stores of MG road began only from Cauvery Handicrafts. I remember Gangaram’s book bureau on MG road that would sell practically any book you could think of. At the junction of Mayo Hall was my favorite heritage hotel called Victoria. You could have the most sumptuous Sunday brunch here. Sadly today, in its place stands Bangalore Central Mall.

Family outings meant, a train ride on Puttani express in Cubbon Park, or a walk in Lalbagh, followed by dinner at MTR and an ice cream from Lake View on MG Road.

Lake view was the first of its kinds to serve Drive-in.

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This was considered a cool outing. Oh not to forget, the butter masala dosa at Airlines hotel near Lavelle road and the annual visit to the HHF fair(Hindustan Handloom Fair) on RBANMS ground to enjoy the Giant wheel and Tora Tora rides.

The old airport served as a sort of marking for the city. Areas beyond this especially were considered outskirts. Marathahalli was in its truest sense a village which many in Bangalore hadn’t even heard off. And Whitefield was only a station that I saw when on my return train journey from Chennai.

Utility building was the only sky scrapper and shopping here was considered splurging.

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Image Source: Wiki

The red colored BTS buses were used by many as a means of transport irrespective of the financial status. The brown Pushpak buses were a luxury. You could travel to any part of the city by reaching Shivajinagar bus terminal or the Bangalore bus station.

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But then all this was way back. Bangalore today is a burgeoning city. In our quest to create a world-class city, we have erected malls, constructed flyovers, and built apartment complexes at every corner. But in the bargain we have actually lost what once was a charming and beautiful city. Bangalore may probably never regain its lost glory. The only thing I could hope for is not push it to a limit where it may just crumble and collapse under the weight of bad governance and poor infrastructure projects.

When in Delhi, Mehendi the Dilli Way

When in Delhi, Mehendi the Dilli Way

There’s something about these Mehendiwalas in Delhi. With a fabulous imagination of dazzling designs, and dexterity in skills, they are surely unmatched. 

WP_20160526_003Generally migrants from nearby places such as Rajasthan, Varanasi or Agra, all that these guys need to invest in are a couple of cones containing the mehendi mixture, two low lying stools/moda and try to manage a bit of space in a bustling market place. And it would be business time for them. However harsh the weather is- well Delhi could touch 45 degrees centigrade in summer and drop as low as 5 degrees centigrade in winters- these guys could always be spotted, calling out to you to get your hands and legs adorned. Arabic, Bombay, South Indian, pots and peacocks, these form the main feature of ethnico designs. You express your desire and in a matter of minutes mehendi designs would be laid out on your palms or feet.

From the plethora of mehendiwalas across the city, I handpicked a few spots that gave me the best feel of the art on my hands. 

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  • Central Market, Lajpat Nagar- This is considered a one-stop shop in Delhi. You could practically get anything under the sun here. From home décor to clothes, to appliances to beauty products. Amidst the chaotic atmosphere of this market, you could spot Mehendiwalas or ‘Henna appliers’ seated along the pathways. Most of them offer a number of exquisite designs. I did a bit of haggling here and managed to get a single floral pattern hand mehendi design for Rs. 50. It was a pretty neatly done job I must say, without any overlapping or smudges.
  • Ajmal Khan Road, Karol Bagh Market- This is a popular destination for very-affordable but high quality garments.  I spotted a couple of mehendiwalas near the Karol Bagh Metro station and asked them what their specialty was. He thrust a few laminated photographs into my hand and told me to choose from the Kundan mehendi design and the Zardozi mehendi. I gave it a shot and ended up spending around a 1000 bucks. If you are in Delhi to attend a wedding, these guys could well do the job of adorning your hands with perfection.
  • Dilli Haat- where the class crowd goes to shop. Lined with cottage emporium natured shops, this is a place where you could find handicrafts, handlooms and art from across every state in India. It surely is a visual delight and a cultural epicenter in Delhi. I found the mehendiwalas in Dilli Haat way too expensive though, thanks to the influx of international tourists here. I haggled a bit but could not come bring it down to a reasonable amount. But if you do want to soak in the cultural atmosphere, and don’t mind spending, do stretch your hand out to him.
  • Rajouri Gardens- Probably one of the most expensive mehendiwalas I encountered. He claimed to be a specialist in Bridal Henna and could adorn two hands till the elbow and your legs till the knees in an hour.
  • Paharganj- The earliest of mehendiwalas exist in this area, probably due to the proximity to the station. I found them to be the most cost effective. Charges were nominal from 100 to 1500 as per the design you choose.

So the next time you are in Delhi, take a pick and do try these out.

Pickles- They Sure Do Tickle!!

Pickles- They Sure Do Tickle!!

It was a sweltering hot afternoon when I reached my mom’s home in Chennai. I was exhausted, my throat parched and my clothes soaking in sweat. In the dead of summer, my appetite almost always seems to diminish. But well you know how moms seldom agree to this. “You’ve got to eat something otherwise you would fall sick”, she said. “At least eat some curd rice. I have made fresh lemon pickle”. Ah! The South Indian in me came out totally.

I was already drooling over the tanginess of the pickle. I agreed to eat curd rice, just for the yellow lemon pickle!

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Aren’t we a pickle nation? I mean just look at the variance in the pickles across the country. Some sour, some sweet, some dry and some others a bit gooey! Yet without this pickle on our table, a meal sure does seem incomplete. I have been fortunate enough to do a bit of traveling across the length and breadth of India. And despite a few commonalities in the ingredients, each and every region carries a uniqueness in its taste. Take for instance the all-time favourite mango pickle. The finely cut “mangai curry” from the Palaghat region of Kerala carries a distinct flavor of roasted fenugreek seeds and til oil. On the other hand is the Haryanvi mango pickle cut in a larger size, a lot drier, with carom seeds and mustard oil. And both are finger licking good!!!!!

The process of pickle making may seem to be a bit tedious and time consuming. But trust me, be patient here and what you get would be simply delicious, lasting for the next couple of seasons. Summer though is the best time to make pickles. It is a sort of ritual in many households. From picking the perfect fruit or vegetable, to sun drying them and then letting it soak in the oil and spices. They are then transferred to air tight jars and stacked away in dark corners of the home. Over the years, this grand ritual seems to have disappeared, with plenty of commercially made pickles available in stores. Pickles are available online too with portals such as “Place of Origin.

As I sat down on the couch post lunch, I asked my mom for her lemon pickle recipe. She grinned- it indicated she was happy that I had intentions of making it, rather than picking up a bottle from the store. The store bought ones surely lack the rustic flavors and characteristics of home-made pickles. She quickly rummaged through an old brown box, and came back with a diary dating back to the year 1974. It had faded pages with curled edges and the ink smudged at places. Yet it held the greatest treasures of life. My grandmother’s recipes passed on by mouth to my mother, who meticulously noted down every bit of it. My mom reminisced her childhood days when her mom would make these tangy pickles and stack them away in dark corners of the kitchen. That is why I love these “vintage” recipes. Tucked away in little scrolls of papers, in old diaries, they are a reminder of the love our ancestors have passed on generation after generation.

So next time that pickle tickles your palette, give it a thought. Whose love lies hidden in that jar?

Adrenaline Rush at Rishikesh

Adrenaline Rush at Rishikesh

For those who seek a bit of adventure in their lives, here is a perfect holiday destination. Take a break from that hectic life of yours and experience white water rafting in the pristine surroundings of Rishikesh. And trust me it would leave you asking for more! Fear not, ‘cause the best part of river rafting is that you don’t have to be an experienced swimmer. Just follow a few safety instructions and you could have the best time of your life.

So wash your fears away and be ready to jump into the strong currents of the Ganges.

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The best time to be there is from February to May (yes even though the mercury may soar to 45 deg centigrade in May), and from September to November. It could be done during the months of December to Jan too, but remember you may just freeze in the icy cold water. Rafting is prohibited during monsoons when the general level of water increases in the river.

Getting there

For those in Delhi, at a distance of 229 kilometers by road, heading to Rishikesh could well be your answer to a last-minute holiday. For others, Haridwar is the closest railway station to Rishikesh, from where you could either hire a cab or take a bus to the main town of Rishikesh. The airport in Dehradun is the nearest airport and various Airlines connect to corners of the country. Check the Flight Schedule that suits you best.

Staying- Camp sites and hotels

Campsites are the best option to enjoy Rishikesh and the calmness of the river Ganga. However, recently a slew of measures to control pollution in the river Ganga have been passed by the National Green Tribunal, which bans camping activity from Kaudiyala to Rishikesh. Rafting has however been permitted by the panel.

I guess I was lucky enough to get to stay in a camping site. Loved the rustic feel. But not to worry. There are a range of hotels and resorts available to suit any budget.

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What you would pay

You pay for what you get. Packages range anywhere between Rs.400 to Rs.1300 per person.  There are various rafting stretches with varied grades of difficulty. And what you pay greatly depends on the rafting stretch and the level of adventure you choose.

Here is a tip, going in a group helps. You get an entire raft for yourself and could strike a good bargain with the raft operator. Besides it is a great deal of fun splashing away with friends.

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Stretch 1- Brahmapuri- Costs around Rs. 400 per person for 9 Kms

Stretch 2- Shivpuri –Costs around Rs. 500 per person for a stretch of 16kms

Stretch 3- Marine Drive- Costs around Rs. 750 per person for 25kms

Stretch 4- The most exciting one in the river Kaudiyala- Costs Rs. 1300 for a stretch of 36 kms

Rafting

The gurgling and splashes of the Ganges make rafting in the rapids a great experience.

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The rapids in the Ganges are graded on the basis of difficulty from grade 1 to grade 5. Grade 1 being for beginners and grade 5 is only recommended for those rafters who are well acquainted with swimming, as this rapid could be accompanied by large whirlpools.

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Activities Galore at Rishikesh

Rishikesh offers various other avenues for adventure such as Body Surfing, Rappelling, Kayaking, and Trekking.

I preferred some quiet time for Yoga and meditation.

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Rishikesh is strewn with such centres. Loved the Ganga Ghat and the calmness it brought within. No wonder it is considered the Gateway to the sacred ‘Char Dham’ destinations- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.

Bear in mind:

  • Abide by all the rules and regulations of the tour operator. They are experienced and know the waters inside out.
  • Before you join a rafting expedition, ensure you are fit. It requires a certain bit of stamina.
  • Paddle with your team in harmony. It is important to prevent a capsize.
  • Never remove your life jacket. Even if you know swimming. Rapids could through surprises and even experienced rafters may sometimes have a tough time tackling them.
  • Wear appropriate clothing.