Friday, February 16, 2018

Six latest books by Indian authors you must read ASAP (...I loved them)


#ToTheMoon How I Blogged My Way To Bollywood
Author: Malini Agarwal
Genre: Non-fiction (autobiography)
Published on: 7 January 2018
This is everything you need to read if you’ve been a Miss Malini fan. I’ve been looking forward to the book ever since it was announced and finished it within days of receiving my copy. It’s everything a young entertainment media professional would need to read at the beginning of my career.


The Perils of Being Moderately Famous
Author: Soha Ali Khan
Genre: Non-fiction (autobiography)
Published on: 12 December 2017
I finished reading this engaging book in one sitting. Kunal Kemmu used to be my teenage crush while in school. Remember his look in Kalyug? And the synopsis looked pretty enticing. A glimpse into the family that’s contributed so much to Bollywood.


Dangerous Minds
Authors: Hussain Zaidi and Brijesh Singh
Genre: Non-fiction (crime thriller)
Published on: 20 June 2017
This read was everything I’d hoped and wished it was. I totally love the author – Hussain Zaidi and have pretty much read all his books. He’s a crime journalist turned author and makes books on his experience covering hardcore crime over the decades, which includes narrating life stories of some of the most notorious gangsters India has known, and the lesser known ones too!


Seventy… And Too Hell With It
Author: Shobhaa De
Genre: Non-fiction (memoir)
Published on: 13 December 2017
Shobhaa De, in a voice that’s confident and candid recounts her relationships in the past seventy years of life as a celebrity journalist and author. Like every other book of hers, this is a well written memoir and makes a delightful read for those who love her writing.


The Kiss of Life
Author: Emraan Hashmi and Bilal Siddiqui
Genre: Non-fiction
Published on: 5 April 2016
This book, provides an insight into the life of the actor, right from the time he was a child artiste, to a lead actor to the time he shot to fame to the time his career slowed down. Everything from his relationships to his acting career becomes a part of this book, though the major chunk of it is of course, how he and his son brave the deadly cancer and bounce back.


The Boy With A Broken Heart
Author: Durjoy Datta
Genre: Romance/thriller
Published on: 15 November 2017

This is a sequel to Durjoy’s The Boy Who Loved which released earlier this year and is a gripping and enchanting tale with the desired suspense and drama as the story advances. Though I loved the chick-lits he wrote while I was younger, I love how his books have changed over the years and his writing skills have just advanced to cater to a different audience. You must read this one, also because his author pic is cute! :p  

Monday, January 15, 2018

Perfect Sunday Indulgence at the 11:11 Brunch at Kenilworth Resort & Spa, Utorda, South Goa


Hey guys!

If you’re wondering how to spend the slightly warm and humid Sunday afternoons in Goa without getting baked in the sun, the 11:11 Brunch at The Palms, the Kenilworth Resort & Spa is your answer! What a fun day it was when I made my way down south to soak in some sun and indulge in some good food and quality drinks.

The team at the resort nestled in the white sands of Utorda Beach promises to make your Sundays full of fun, with a scrumptious culinary journey, and you guessed it right, at the stroke of 11:11 am! Their love for the number 11 manifests itself in the 11 live stations, the 11 activities for adults and kids and 11 concoctions that the bar has skilfully mixed for unlimited feasting and a delightful noon, apart from the extravagant spread of international cuisine and live music.



 




Though the temperatures are rising, Kenilworth urges you to get out your swimwear and dip into one of Goa’s biggest swimming pools or if you like the bright day, bask in the sun sipping on your Sunken kiss, Kenilworth sun tan lotion or Green melon fenirita, the tantalizing cocktails. For those of you who would rather prefer a lighter beverage, there are mocktails like Pink flamingo, Aqua no jito and Mystical magic which are sure thirst quenchers.






   

You can indulge in delectable food at the 11 live counters, where you can get your food done fresh, before your eyes, and customized to your tastes. Choose from the farm fresh healthy salads or sink into meat paradise with the grills, Lebanese shawarma and the Muhammad Ali counters. Try some Indian tangy chaats or Italian pizzas made fresh from the wood-fired oven. Get a taste of Thailand with the Thai curry counter, pamper your Goan tastebuds at the Chorizo and pav counter or dig into some south Indian flavours at the Dosa/idli live station.  With all this you will definitely have a great time.

But no brunch is ever complete without dessert and they have a variety here including the Jalebi/malpua counter, the crepe suzette counter and one of the most chased after in haute cuisine the Tepanyaki ice cream counter where you can make your own ice cream, choosing from the mix of flavours and fruits, before your very eyes! It surely is a haven for dessert lovers (like me).







In addition to the interesting food and drinks, they have 11 activities to go with their ‘11’ theme, which includes, water zorbing, paintball, fighter zorb, shooting, archery, foose ball, table tennis, giant outdoor chess, carom, score-a-penalty, cycling and Frisbee. So you can stay back until 4 pm enjoying all of that, like we did! And while the kids could still have a fabulous time at the supervised kids zone watching movies, drawing, making card and craft, the adults can also indulge in some soul soothing spa treatments from 9 am to 6 pm at a whopping 50% discount, by booking a massage a day in advance!

On the day I went, they also had their Christmas cake mixing ceremony and it was a lot fun!








The food is yummy, as I mentioned earlier. And combined with the host of activities they offer, is totally value for money! At Rs. 1111++, the 11:11 Brunch is all you need to have a super Sunday at the Kenilworth Resort & Spa, with food and activities. Children below 12 years, can avail a special 50% discount aswell. For those who want to thrive on some unlimited cocktails and mocktails, pay Rs. 1750++, per adult. You can book your table by calling on +91 8550993289.






The Palms - Kenilworth Resort Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Travel goals and travel bucket list for the New Year || Places in India I want to visit in 2018


Hey guys! I took way too long to figure my bucket list for 2018. I know I had to start earlier, but it's not too late to create one now either, isn't it? So well, here's my travel bucket list for 2018.

My two major travel goals for 2018 are -- travel to 12 places in this year and do at least one solo trip. 12 places because the year has 12 months. Though I hope and wish to do one trip a month, I won't restrict it to that. I may do one or more trips in a month and then probably take a break. Perhaps do more than 12, but will definitely do 12. Secondly, travel solo, because I've wanted to do it ever since I was 19 and never had the guts to. I still am not confident about it. But I will push myself to go to at least one place all by myself. I have figured a few places, but need to do a lot of research and I'm at it!

So well, now that you know my travel goals for 2018, it's time to know my travel bucket list. I don't really have a ton of places on the list yet. But here are a few which seem doable, and I shall add a few later depending on the time of the year. Or probably do some spontaneous trips.

#1 Jaipur, Rajasthan

Because, who doesn't love royalty right? I've always been fascinated by history and architecture. I took a trip to Hampi a couple of years back and loved it, though there were just ruins. But after visiting Bangalore Palace and Chowmahalla Palace in Hyderabad while on my recent trips, I'm even more in love with palaces. While in Jaipur, I would love to visit a bunch of palaces and experience how the royalty lived.

#2 Coorg, Karnataka

A trip to the Scotland of India has been pending since 2015. I've always wanted to go there, but somehow it doesn't work out. While I was in Mangalore, it was like a three and a half hours drive from there. But due to lack of company or some other circumstances, I could never make it. But this time, I'm committed to visiting the land of coffee once - to experience nature at its best, stay amidst coffee plantations, drink the best filter coffee in India, eat Coorgi pork and meet the nicest people in India (I'm told Coorgi's belong to the Aryan race). Secondly, I'm really fascinated with Tibetan colonies. I've been to a smaller one before, but Kushalnagar seems really interesting and I want to go soak in some spirituality and try some yummy Tibetan food including momos (I love momos).



#3 Cola Beach, Goa

This is one of the nicest beaches in Goa and it's a pity I haven't been there yet, despite living in Goa almost all my life. I'm determined to do a little picnic to Cola beach which is in South Goa. I've been to other beaches in the vicinity like Palolem Beach and Agonda beach. But never really reached here yet. The photographs of the pristine beach, swaying palms and sweet water lagoon is really pulling me towards it and I got to make a trip down south really soon!

#4 Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani, Maharashtra

I did a few trips to the hills last year, including Lonavala and Matheran (both in Maharashtra). But Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani seem really interesting places to just chill and soak in the all-year winter. There's one thing I wish to do here - of course, besides visiting the multiple beautiful view points - eat strawberries dipped in whipped cream. It's really tempting for the foodie in me and I'm yearning to do it at the earliest.

#5 Dudhsagar waterfalls, Goa

It's more like the Niagara Falls of Goa (or at least that's how much the hype is). Apparently it's beautiful and getting there is quite challenging. You're either supposed to trek, hop on a train and try to get there (unofficially) or hire a jeep and go there. But either ways, it's quite adventurous. I've seen too many photos to pique my curiosity, seen a bunch of Bollywood movies showcase the falls in all its glory and seen too many tourists obsess over it. So well, adding it to my 2018 travel bucket list.

#6 Ooty and Coonoor, Tamil Nadu

Taking a vacation to Ooty and Coonoor has also been added to the bucket list. I haven't read much about the places, but I have seen a few videos and they seem insanely beautiful. So well, let me go see for myself?

#7 Jaisalmer, Rajasthan

Because I've never been to a dessert and I am not going to the middle east any time soon. So the closest I can come to a dessert experience would be taking a drive to the dessert or going on a dessert safari. I also plan to camp in the open, under the twinkling stars and hope no wild animals eat me up. Seems a little too filmy, but I'm quite determined to do it. Let's see if I get anywhere close to what I imagine it to be.



#8 Mysore, Karnataka

Did I say I'm in love with palaces? So a visit to Mysore and half a day at the Mysore palace seems like the perfect vacation plan for a long weekend this year. Who's in?

#9 Fort Kochi, Kerala

I recently discovered this place when a friend went there and I couldn't go (because of work commitments). And I absolutely regretted not going. It would have been a fantastic experience. I'm quite excited to visit this colonial town and experience the blend of European and Indian cultures at one place. Cutesy cafes, artistic streets and waking up to Jewish fishing nets by the waterfront is my idea of the perfect Fort Kochi holiday.

#10 Galgibag Beach, Goa

Because I really want to watch turtles hatching. So the background story is - I'm a huge Nicholas Sparks fan, and love all of his books, and even make it a point to watch the movies based on those books multiple times. And I've seen The Last Song like seven times already. And the one thing that struck me and is stuck in my head is the turtles hatching by the beach. And ever since, I've been obsessed by the idea of camping by the beach with a loved one and secretly watching turtles hatch while the moon is shining in the sky. I know it sounds like a distant dream, but I wish this dream comes true.

#11 Alibaug, Maharashtra

Because, Shah Rukh Khan's last birthday was in Alibaug. Just kidding! But this beach town is really fascinating. Somehow, I love the beaches along the coastal stretch of Maharashtra. Most of the beaches are ignored and underrated, but I somehow feel the coast has some of the most beautiful beaches. I've been to Malwan and Vengurla in Maharashtra and a vacay to the beach towns is everything you need to forget your worries, rejuvenate and start afresh. So I wouldn't mind a long weekend trip to Alibaug. I also know how I want to do it! I want to hop on a ferry from Gateway of India to get there. Yassssssss! Interesting much?



#12 Hyderabad, Telangana

Though I didn't create the bucket list yet, I already started working on it. I wished to do a trip to Hyderabad for the longest time, so decided to start my new year with a three day trip to the city. While there, I explored the place and the food they had to offer. Tried the yummiest biryani, rich haleem, delicious lukhmi and droolworthy qubani ka meetha. I also had two amazing experiences which I shall never forget - one would be sipping on Irani Chai and nibbling on Hyderabadi cookies at Nimrah Cafe, with a mesmerising view of Charminar, secondly, I fell in love with dosas (I usually hate dosas) after trying the cheese dosas at Ram Ki Bandi. I spent half a day exploring the restored Chowmahalla Palace and what an amazing experience it was!

Though it's just January 9 yet, I've already started prepping on ways to fulfil my bucket list. The nicest tip is to start your flight/train/bus tickets, which ensures you go on the trip come what may. So I have started booking my travel already. While at it, I stumbled up on a cool travel booking website EaseMyTrip and thought I should share it with you guys. And the good news is, right now they have a sale running on their website. You can save upto INR 3000 on domestic flight tickets and upto INR 20000 on international flight tickets. You can even save upto INR 5000 on hotel booking and get flat 10 percent instant discount on bus tickets -- all by using a coupon code WELCOME2018. Additionally, you can get Assured shopping vouchers worth INR 8000 from various brands and some lucky winners will get a chance to win Europe trip, Honda Activa from droom and Jabong vouchers. You can download the app EaseMyTrip and start booking now, because the sale ends on January 11.

I hope you guys liked this post and are inspired to create a travel bucket list for 2018. Let me know in the comments below which places are on your bucket list for 2018. In case you have visited any of these places, tell me about it in the comments below and recommend things to do there. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Three days backpacking trip to Hyderabad || Hyderabad travelogue and 3 day itinerary for travellers


The pearl of the South, the capital city of Telangana – Hyderabad offers the best of both world’s to a traveller. From heritage monuments to historic parks to upmarket shopping malls to delectable food to glistening lakes, the tech hub is a city perfect for a little vacation, a mini getaway or just for a random visit.

I have never been fascinated with South India. Though I find some places in Kerala (like Varkala, Fort Kochi, Munnar and Allepey) and Tamil Nadu (like Pondicherry and Ooty) really interesting, nothing in Telangana or Andhra Pradesh interested me. But when a friend shared photos from a recent roadtrip, I thought I should give this city a try, without wasting a long vacation on it!

So there I was on my three-day Hyderabad visit. And if you aren’t someone who’d want to visit the Ramoji film city, bird sanctuaries and national parks, three days are enough to explore the heritage and culinary offerings of the city! Here’s an insight into my three day trip to Hyderabad with a detailed itinerary which you could use for the next time you plan to visit Hyderabad!

Heritage sites have always been of interest to me. So the Golkonda fort and Charminar topped my list of places to visit in Hyderabad – though they are kind of over rated. But you tend to find your own stories and your own calm in crowded places as well, that is, if you have the right approach towards it and go there with an open mind. And that’s exactly why I absolutely enjoyed my little weekend getaway to Hyderabad!


First things first, I had to treat myself to a South Indian breakfast. Though I am not a fan of South Indian food, I did opt for some onion uttapam – which is a dosa like dish, masala dosa (that’s the only dosa Goan’s get, you see!) and some filter coffee at Kamat in Lakdikapool. I guess Kamat is a chain of restaurants and someone recommended I go here for breakfast. 


After a little rest and trying to figure my way around the place, I headed out! I wasted a ton of time finding an Ola, but couldn’t find one. However, there were ample auto rickshaws around, so just hopped in one and headed to Birla Mandir, only to find it closed. You know, you are supposed to have your research in place and that includes checking opening and closing timings of places.

Though it was disappointing, I headed for lunch, because it was almost lunch time. Lunch happened at a place called Mughal Restaurant because the auto rickshaw driver outside Birla Mandir tricked me into going there. Though CafĂ© Bahar or Bawarchi was on my list, so I could try their biryani for lunch. 


Though I didn’t quite like Mughal Restaurant, I didn’t hate it either. The Hyderabadi chicken dum biryani (because it was Hyderabad!) and the mutton dum biryani were yumm and the Hyderabadi chicken kebabs (again, because it’s Hyderabad) was succulent. I can’t really name the components of the meal, but it was a hearty meal and a value for money one at that.



Since I couldn’t go to Birla Mandir earlier, I headed there next. Well, did I saw I only wanted to see the Golconda Fort and Charminar before I went to Hyderabad. But when I stepped into Birla Mandir, I was glad I came. It was a little too crowded for my taste. There aren’t any entry charges, but you aren’t allowed cameras and phones inside and I am glad they don’t!




The place has its own sense of calm, despite the crowd and a lot of positive vibes. I just climbed up the stairs and everything felt so much at peace. The view from the top is breath taking – a view of the city with white buildings and cottages at the horizon and something like an aerial view of the Hussain Sagar lake, which is considered the pride of Hyderabad.



After spending some time here, I headed to NTR gardens, where I spent some time strolling around and just relaxing at the park. It’s supposed to be a memorial of some prominent personality in Hyderabad and is located right in the heart of the city. NTR garden is located right across the Hussain Sagar lake and is refreshingly beautiful as compared to Lumbini Park where I went to next.





Somehow, I thought I’d like Lumbini Park, because I absolutely loved strolling in Cubbon Park in Bangalore. However, Lumbini Park was nothing like that. It’s walkable from NTR garden and has an entry fee of INR 20. However, it is extremely crowded with nagging kids and parents, probably because they have tons of rides and activities, including boating. Though I thought I’d go sailing, I was a little late and had to skip it.

I found a quiet corner (even that was quite noisy) across the lake and saw the world zoom past me! Everyone was up to something. But, in an unknown land, you appreciate the fact that you aren’t going to run into someone you know and you can totally be yourself. 

The overcrowded Lumbini Park in the evening

The crowded Lumbini Park with Hussain Sagar lake in the background

The only good thing about the park is the Laser show, which happens at 7.15 pm, for which you need to get your tickets and find yourself a seat at 6.30 pm. It’s quite a hit and there are like over a thousand people there, so be nice and early to find a good seat! It’s a 3D show which uses light, sound and water to create some amazing narrations! I have mixed feeling for this, but I’d recommend you give it a try! I went there because I didn’t have anything else to do for the evening. 

A blurry pic of the laser show

Post watching the laser show at Lumbini Park, I took a cab to Eat Street on necklace road on Hussain Sagar lake. The lake reflecting lights in the night is beautiful. The eat street in itself is over rated and the outlets there are kind of strange. They have a Dominoes there, like wtf? They have some random restaurant outlets including everything from North Indian to South Indian to desserts. Though the food was a disappointment, the view made up for it. The experience of eating by the glistening Hussain Sagar lake in the evening is amazing. I ended my day with some cheese popcorn from Babuji Popcorn, which is quite a thing, like the biscuits from Karachi bakery (which I got home).

The glistening Hussain Sagar lake

Look at the view



The next day was a long day! So I started out early, after a hasty breakfast at the hotel. However, I happened to find Ram ki Bandi open. This street food cart was on my list to to-do things in Hyderabad because I was told they serve some nice food. But I realised they only make dosas and idlis. But I also realised these are fancier dosas and got one for myself.



The cheese dosa totally made me change my perception about South Indian food. Personally, I hate dosas, but this yummy wrap that was made fresh, smeared with butter, and topped with cheese before it was rolled out and served on an eco-friendly plate made me fall in love with dosas. Specifically, the bandi ka dosas! Guys, trust me, this is a must-try!

The cheese dosa at Ram ki Bandi

My next stop for the day was Golconda fort. The over rated fort is as touristy as it can be. There’s an entry fee of INR 15 and an INR 25 for camera, and there are tons of tour guides annoying you. I definitely chose to skip the guide and decided to explore the fort on my own. It’s massive! Though it’s crowded at some points, it has its own quaint corners as well. And after a walk through this fort I knew why it is describe as ‘Golconda Fort Hyderabad is an outstanding example of brilliant engineering and magical architecture.’












My next stop for the day was the Chowmahalla Palace. I kind of love palaces for the regal vibes they emanate and I couldn’t help but fall in love with this one. This was the only palace I visited on my entire trip and how I loved it. It was quieter, had lesser crowd and every bit of it was extremely fascinating.

Built over 200 years ago, Chowmahalla Palace is renowned for its unique style and elegance, and is a synthesis of many architectural styles and influences. The highlight of the palace is the Grand Khilwat, the Durbar Hall. The sheer magnificence of the place is breath-taking. The Courtyard, is a vast expanse of lush green lawns and picturesque water tanks and fountains.

The palace is a story in itself with each wall, each door and each corner telling its own tale of the mighty rulers of Hyderabad! There’s a ticket of INR 50 per person and INR 50 as camera charges. This was by far the place that I loved the most and spent the most time at. I strolled around, went through a lot of things there and sat for a while before I headed for lunch. 






















Lunch happened at Shadab, which was planned as per my itinerary. It’s a chain in Hyderabad (I am guessing) and I was told (when I asked for recommendations on Instagram) that it’s ‘the’ place to go for biryani in Hyderabad. And was it awesome? The place was insanely crowded and it took me half an hour to get a table. The food arrived sooner than expected. After relishing their well cooked dum biryani, I devoured a bowl of Qubani ka Meetha, a sweet made of apricots. Yumm!

Auto rides in Hyderabad

How pretty is this market?


Hyderabadi biryani

Qubani ka Meetha


Next I took a walk to Charminar through the Ghansi Bazaar. Honestly, I crossed so many markets in that one day that I lost count and couldn’t remember names. There was a fancy market I crossed on my way to Golkonda which was made of stone. This market had tons of shops and a lot of bangles! Now I know why people got me bangles as souvenirs when they returned from Hyderabad. I got none though!




Charminar was the most crowded place I went to in my three days in Hyderabad. But it didn’t feel strange. I kind of disappeared in the crowd and walked with them. With its minarets and domes, it showcases typical Islamic design. In one corner sits a beautiful mosque where mass prayers take place on Fridays. It’s a beautiful monument and has a great vibe!



I walked to Nimrah CafĂ© (which was again recommend by an Instagrammer). I was told to try the Irani chai and Osmania biscuits while there and I went ahead with the suggestion. I asked for Irani chai and relished some yummy Osmania, oats and coconut biscuits. Though I ain’t a big fan of coconut, the coconut cookie turned out to be my favourite. With the view of the majestic Charminar, it was a wonderful experience.

The view from Nimrah Cafe

Irani chai and biscuits at Nimrah Cafe

To get away from the hustle-bustle of the crowded old city, I headed to Secunderabad for the evening. The drive to the twin city of Hyderabad, through the road across the magnificent Hussain Sagar lake was wonderful. The city – with it’s old world charm, magnificent churches and quiet lanes was a perfect space to spend my evening.

The beautiful churches of Secunderabad

Walking through the streets of Secunderabad

Post that I decided to head to Sindhi Colony for a while, because I was told you can try out some nice street food there. But all I could find was chaat, which I decided to skip and headed to a little café and sipped on a nice blueberry lassi which was delicious.

I ended the day with an ice cream at Famous Ice Cream parlour. Well, I have no idea why it’s called famous, but it’s located along a stretch that has many ice cream parlours is Begum Bazaar. And the Famous Ice cream parlour seems to be the most famous among them all considering how many people actually go there. The ice cream there wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it seems like a value for money place. But at the end of my two days in Hyderabad, I realised that Hyderabad isn’t an expensive city. The autos costed me somewhere between INR 50 to INR 200 and the food wasn’t expensive either.

The Famous special ice cream

The Famous Ice Cream parlour

The third day was more of a chill day. After breakfast (at the hotel), I strolled through the nearby markets and then headed for lunch to Banjara Hills. I went to Banajara Hills for precisely two reason – firstly, because it has more choices in restaurants, secondly, because it was the posh suburb.

I went for lunch to a restaurant called Zaiqa e Hyderabad in Banjara Hills, because it popped on my search when I was searching for haleem in Hyderabad. Not many restaurants serve haleem (haleem is to be had during ramazan), so I was happy to find a place that does. And also, I wanted to go to a restaurant that was a little upmarket, since the little joints I was eating at had gotten on to me.

I ate some haleem (which is made by overcooking meat and some lentils) and lukmi (mince savoury) – both of which are Hyderabadi specialities. How can you leave Hyderabad without trying their biryani and haleem right? So there I was! The evening was spent at the nearby GVK mall – window shopping and munching on frankies, before I headed back home and gorged on a Goan fish thali after loooong (well, it was just three days, but I still missed my food)

Haleem

Lukhmi