Saturday, 12 December 2015

Presenting 'Juhu Beach'!

Mention Juhu Beach, and the first reaction is, oh, there is nothing like the beaches in Goa... and the conversation ends right there. While there are thousands thronging the huge stretch of the Juhu Beach everyday, another thousand choose to stay as far away from it as possible, citing the place dirty! Well, if so many felt that it was dirty and definitely not worth going with kids, and absolutely not taking a bunch of them for a playdate... my curiosity only grew...

My daughter's school is opposite the beach, though rows of fancy houses block the view! After school, one day, both of us decided to go and check out the beach. We went to a quieter part of the beach, and Anushka's first reaction was, "who says Juhu Beach is dirty?!" I was shockingly surprised too! It was clean, not just by Indian standards, but by decent global standards.

When we visited Spain and Portugal last July the beaches on the Mediterranean and The Atlantic were definitely prettier, but they were dirty too in some parts. The beach at the centre of Barcelona was full of beer bottles, crowns and cigarette butts, and not to mention topless women everywhere! It was quite a task to make Anushka not see those women, and yet letting her have her share of fun!

A playdate was organised for my daughter and some of her school friends today. Not just the kids, but the mothers had a blast too! The 'haters' and the-only-discouraging-ones may change their minds if they read this post, but I just hope the authorities continue to do the good work of keeping Mumbai clean. Hope the 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan' does not become a part of history as a mere campaign!

Here are some photographs from our playdate today :)

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Street Musicians Across The World

"If music be the food of love (life), play on..." - using a part of the famous lines of Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare... music transcends all boundaries and brings people together.

Here's my tribute to the wonderful street musicians all over the world who perform in public squares, gardens and markets to enthrall different sets of tourists and locals everyday for a paltry reward.

1. At a local market in Bangkok here is a blind guitarist playing his music to the passerby. He has a microphone and an amplifier to be heard around!

2. An elderly couple performs almost non-stop at the Plaza Mayor, Madrid, belting out popular Spanish songs like Besame Mucho.

3. One of my favourites... Sitting on a chair at Miradouro in the Alfama region of Lisbon this old man can give many trained classical guitar professionals a run for their money... his playing was effortless and soulful!

3. An accordian player with hi-tech gadgets plays different genre of music seated under a lamp post outside the Royal Palace of Madrid.

4. At the Kapellbrücke, Lucerne, this old man played his small accordion while people walked on...

5. This performance was one of a kind... alphorn players at a square in Lucerne.

Friday, 2 October 2015

A slice of Picasso!

There is nothing I'd write that the world of art lovers don't know about Pablo Picasso. Just that I'm just lucky to have visited the museum which was his home, where he was born!

Also, the surrounding of the museum is as beautiful as the museum!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Of Beer, Tapas and Paella!

Tapas, red wine and paella are quintessentially Spanish and no tour of Spain would be complete without them. Off Plaza Mayor, on one of the busy streets of Madrid, we (Joy, Aanya and I) went to Corrientes 348 to try some tapas, beer instead of red wine and paella. We will have to pay 10% extra to sit on the terrace, we were told and was ushered towards a table on the street. We thought that we were waiting there to go the terrace, but in a few minutes we realised the street was the terrace! Well, in Europe sitting outside a restaurant on the street and paying more is common after all!

The waiter was a Romanian, and he was bemused that we had come all the way from India. We were pleasantly surprised that he had, in fact, heard of India!

We ordered for beer and were happy to find a brand of beer we knew! While we drank beer, Aanya kept saying cheers and sipping water; she doesn't drink any juice or soft drink! Tapas usually comes for free, and we also got a portion of it, not sure what was in it though. Hence, I repeatedly asked the waiter what meat was in it. He very patiently assured it was chicken! Also, ordered some chicken fries and confirmed if there was any other kind of meat mixed with it. We eat only chicken, lamb, beef and pork and some variety of fish. I had to be absolutely sure of what we were eating!

For dinner, we ordered for Chicken paella; the common paella with rabbit meat is very popular but it is a big no-no for us!

We didn't wait to click a pic as we were too excited to eat paella for the 1st time, but the 1st bite disappointed us. The much talked about paella, often compared to Indian biriyanis, didn't taste so good. In fact, the chicken had the over-frozen smell. Quite a disappointment! The pic happened after a few bites, quite evident in the pic above!

All in all, we had a fabulous evening. Walked through narrow lanes from Paseo del Prado to Plaza Mayor, strolled and sat for a while listening to nice Spanish music being played by an elderly couple at the plaza, and wrapped up eating at a Spanish reastaurant!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

On a Gaudi Trail at Barcelona!

While  in Barcelona I visited some of the buildings that were designed by Gaudi. Here they are through my lenses.

 La Pedrera

Sagrada Família

The 2 champs in front of Sagrada Familia!

Moi and my baby!

 Parc Güell

Disney-Gaudi designs!

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The Spanish Dream!

From Spanish football leagues to bullfighting and matadors to the flamenco dance everyone knows a little of Spain. Spain intrigued me too from my childhood, from books to songs to their rich cultural history. I learnt a little of the language too  to understand and interpret more about Spain. 

I dream of travelling all the time, in fact, I relate travel to almost everything that happens around me! I'm a piscean and a compulsive dreamer (if this means anything!). Deep in my heart I feel like beating the odds and realising these dreams too. When I read Paulo Coelho's 'The Alchemist' many years ago, that one famous line got stuck to my memory and stayed for good, "when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it".
If anyone ever asks me to quote any other line from the book, well, I have no clue! On a serious note, post reading this book I did learn to dare, think big and most of all, dream big! 

The Alchemist had mentions about the Andalusian region of Spain and while reading I had formed a vivid picture on my mind about Tarifa. Little did I know that one day I will travel to Spain with my family! Looking back, I did dream, and kept dreaming, and here we three are, already lived 'my' Spanish dreams! We did not visit Tarifa, instead we went to Malaga, another city in the Andalusian region, though the quest of Santiago was on my mind throughout the journey!

The tour spanned 11 days over Barcelona, Malaga and Madrid in Spain, and Lisbon and Cascais in Portugal. Our travel itinerary had the usual famous sight seeing places apart from a special place that excited Anushka and me the most, our day out at Parque Warner Madrid, the Warner Bros. amusement park! 

Just a few photographs of our trip!

La Rambla

Playa de La Malagueta

Paseo Del Prado

Parque Warner

Praca Martim Moniz

Cascais Beach

Friday, 28 March 2014

Anushka at Euro Kids!

Here are the 3 wonderful ladies who have been very important in my Anushka's world. They taught her, looked after her and most importantly loved her. Anushka dotes on her Lupali (Rupali) Teacher, Bhavya Teacher and Zaitun Aunty! Joy and I are extremely happy that we chose Euro Kids for our daughter and that she found such wonderful teachers; we couldn't have asked for more.

My little darling finished Nursery and will be starting Lower KG at Maneckji from next Tuesday. Wasn't she born just yesterday! Today was the last day at Euro Kids; we were all teary eyed while saying our goodbyes. The first teachers are always very special and I want Anushka to feel that way when she grows up. As for me, all I will say, I wasn't this sad when I finished my school as I was with Anushka leaving Euro Kids... well, that's very typical of a mother. Surprisingly, I found a-very-much-in control-of-emotions Joy looking sad while picking Anushka from Euro Kids for the last time!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Travel smart!

A check list for things to do while planning trips on your own -

1.Search the net (travel portals mainly) and find the cheapest airfare; however, it has to be the best price keeping in mind the hours of the flight. Also, check if there are any deals or offers.

2. Check visa application formalities.

3. Insurance - We always get a travel insurance done every time we travel out of the country.

4. Book a reasonably priced hotel, preferably the ones that offer free breakfast. Will check for deals/offers on the rooms or any service provided by the hotel like airport pick-up and drop etc.

5. Buy calling cards, activate GPS and also carry maps.

6. Carry iPad/Tab to capture every moment and share as I'm in the habit of doing so. We'll also carry a camera, and will definitely remember to carry batteries, chargers, wires etc.

7. Carry a plug converter - don't know what is called exactly. It's very important to have one since all hotels don't provide this and the electrical sockets are designed differently in different countries. We had to keep a pretty high deposit amount for borrowing one at Mercure Paris.

8. Carry dry food and an electric kettle. Many hotels do provide electric kettles, but not economy hotels do. I carry a lot of cheese, biscuits, wafers, chocolates, dry fruits and granola bars when I travel, especially with my daughter. 

9. Now, the most important point - travel light – pick the right kind of clothes, shoes and keep my husband's and my luggage the lightest as no matter how hard I try my daughter's strolley is the heaviest! My husband and I usually stuff everything in into a backpack and carry a small handbag for some essential stuff that we carry around. Since we are going to Seychelles we'll pack very few light clothes. We also carry all the daily accessories, cosmetics, creams, lotions, emergency medicines etc. For the readers, please keep in mind to choose the kind of luggage bag that are most convenient to carry around.

10. Find out and research well about the local sight seeing places and book in advance, of course if that's the best option - check if there's any discount on online bookings - also, check if taxes have to be paid for international transactions, then it needs to be seen whether booking online is worth it. The hotels often provide really good sight-seeing options.

11. Look for options for finding a local guide online. We had hired one when we went to Bangkok. Also, read on the internet about local transport etc. It's important to go and check at the destination location as well; that way one can get the best option. 

12.Currency - It's not always enough to carry the required currency from the source country. One may need some extra cash while overseas. It's very important to check the maximum amount a traveller can carry to a particular country. One should check different currency conversion outlets before exchanging currency; often the airports give the lowest amount.

This pretty much covers the whole planning. But no matter how much one plans well in advance there will always be many last minute things to do. Therefore, I sign out now. Hope this post help some travellers plan better. Do share your advice too :)

Age does matter!

In the past 1 month, on 2 separate occasions, I accidentally referred to myself as 'young' and 'girl'... the latter being the most embarrassing! Thanks to my presence of mind and a decent level of communication skills I managed to divert the topic and save my face! 

Well, no matter how much we want to feel young we need to act and say and do things that are relevant to the age; and that's the beauty of life! It did strike me both times and just made me realise that life isn't the same anymore. Guess I feel a little less odd that I am 39, and that it's ok to be my age because I have a daughter. But, I find many people around me who can't handle the fact that they are getting older! To me it's more important to be physically and mentally fit to stay "young" rather than behave stupid to prove a point (and make a complete fool of oneself!).

By the way, I had a 2-day birthday celebration this time! Anushka blew the candle, cut my cake, fed me some cake and had some herself, went to her favourite play area at a mall and had a blast! I couldn't have asked for more!

Thursday, 15 August 2013

3 year old Anushka's tribute to the nation!

My 3 year old daughter Anushka is definitely one of the very few of her age to be so patriotic! Why not, she was born on August 15! Yesterday, when we went shopping for her birthday she sang "Jana Gana Mana" repeatedly covering almost the entire stretch of Lokhandwala (Mumbai) holding the National Flag in her tiny hand! Her rendition of the National Anthem, in my opinion, is the most heartfelt, though her words are not very clear. Watch the video to figure out for yourself! I don't know who to thank for this, the almighty or her lovely teachers at Eurokids? Whoever it is, I am a happy mother! She doesn't know what a nation is and why is there an anthem; for a child it's not necessary. I just hope she feels the same enthusiasm, and learn to feel the emotion while singing the National Anthem when she grows up. She also loves the fact that her favourite Robi Thakur (Rabindranath Tagore) composed "Jana Gana Mana"!