5 Red Bagful Moments of 2015

12:00 PM Naina Madan 0 Comments

This year I travelled good, far and wide. I utilized long weekends, too some extra leave and travelled. I travelled to some places because they had been on my list for long. I travelled to some places because I got a good last minute deal on airfare. I travelled to some places because I had nothing much to do over that particular weekend. After all that, now when I look back, it was a good year.

Here are those 5 moments that made me realize how lucky I am to be able to witness all this. 5 moments that defined 2015 for me. 5 moments that just made me feel very very happy.

1. Witnessing the evening aarti at Dashashwamedh Ghat, Banaras

I had seen those evening aarti pictures in so many glossy travel magazines, watched it on countless travel shows. It was on my list. And when I was there, I cannot explain exactly what was going on in my head. I just felt very lucky to be there, watching it live in all its grandeur.

2. Bringing in the birthday with a trip

Now, I have never been out travelling on my birthday. This year, I decided to visit my sister and brother in law in Chennai and then have my birthday road trip to Pondicherry. Cute French styled buildings, posh cafés, quiet roads and lush sea waves. Could I ask for anything else on my birthday?

3. Celebrating Holi in Pushkar

I do not, I repeat, do not celebrate Holi. Nobody does at home. But when I read about a travel group going to Pushkar for Holi weekend, I knew I had to go. Believe me that Holi was nothing like the dirty Holi we play in Delhi. We walked through the streets, there was music, fun, colors. There was an order to madness and people were respectful of each other’s space. I think I might go next year too.

4. Sitting by the Ganga in Rishikesh

I am very scared of water so rafting was not my plan. So, I just parked myself on these rocks by the riverside, watched the rafts cross by, watch the sun go from east to west, listened to strong waves and still water, for hours. I think it was the best de-stressing time of the year. Sigh…

5. Enjoying the beach right from my balcony in Goa

This trip was the last-minute plan and it turned to be the best ending to an amazing year. For 5 days, I had booked myself in a hostel in north Goa. On a whim, for the last 2 days, I decided to stay in a beach hut that I had seen a famous travel blogger, Wandering Earl, stay in. And what a view from the balcony of my hut! So so worth it. Such a fab end to the year long tripping.

I am sure you had your bagful of awesome travel moments too. I wish you many more for 2016.

Have a wonderful 2016, you!





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5 Best Nom Nom Places Of 2015

1:00 PM Naina Madan 0 Comments

Year 2015 was quite a happening year when it comes to dining in some really cool places, from hills to beaches to cities. Delicious chaat of Banaras, soulful chicken curry and rice in Garhwal, kadhi- kachori in Pushkar to Xacuti in Goa. It was indeed a very delectable year. Believe me, doing this post has made me realize I need to do another for street food!

Listed here are top 5 eateries I stumbled upon in 2015 (in no particular order), great if you have been there and if you haven’t yet, make a note of these and visit them. These are delightful, little places serving great food at even great prices (that’s why they are on my list, by the way).

1. Tanto Italian Restaurant, Auroville
On the way to Pondicherry, this place serves the best Italian food I have had in a long long time.

Why?

Simple ingredients, great flavors, good prices

Must try
Risotto, wood-fired pizzas

2. Café Illiterati, McLeod Ganj
Run by a Belgian, this café is a little down the road, a pretty long walk on long winding roads though.

Why?
A sweeping view of mountains, valleys and sunset. No kidding, this is really cool.

Must try
Waffles, homemade ice creams

3. Artjuna, Goa
Very close to Anjuna beach and the famous flea market, this place had me at ‘all day breakfast’!

Why?
Chic and relaxed setting, with wi-fi (you know that’s the first thing I ask, don’t you?!)

Must try
Delicious breakfast menu with sandwich choices and fresh juices. Cold coffee was good too

4. Hide Out Café, Shimla
It was my first trip to Shimla and this was such cute place, I went there twice in two days.

Why?
First floor view of the Mall Road, with FREE wi-fi (this is a big deal in Shimla because some either didn’t have it or some were charging for it) and best of all, a warm, friendly staff

Must try
Mojito, sandwiches, Chinese

5. Vatika Pizzeria, Varanasi
It was recommended by a friend and I was not disappointed. Finding Italian food and that too good Italian in Banaras was a pleasant surprise unto itself.

Why?
Calming view of Ganga from atop Assi Ghat, cordial host who knows each and every little detail about the city, good prices and focused menu

Must try
Mushroom spinach pizza, apple crumble pie

Do drop by at these for a meal and tell me your experience. Anyway, who is starving? *runs to the kitchen for a junk fix*


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6 Kinds Of Fellow Countrymen (and Women) You Will Meet In Goa

1:01 PM Naina Madan 0 Comments

Having just returned from a blissful week in Goa, time divided nicely between north and south of Goa to get the 'feel' of both, believe me this post had to come out of me. It had to happen. You do not see much when you are frolicking with your friends, but if you are traveling solo like myself, you get a little more observant of your surroundings.

But I would be very honest. I did not have to be too observant. These 6 kinds of people were right there, out there, too much there to be ignored. One couldn't just miss them.

So, presenting the 7 kinds of Indians you are SURE to run into in Goa, from beaches to beach shacks to supermarkets to flea market.

1. The 'Hand In Hand' Newly Weds
If you go during the peak wedding season, like I did, safely better part of the aircraft, better part of the beach and better part of your holiday will be full of newly wedded couples. With red and white bangles, still dark in parts mehendi, brand new handbag and suitcases and exchanging smiles and giggles at every chance, you cannot just avoid them. Clicking selfies at every possible opportunity, airport, airplane, beach, shack, inside water or outside, I am sorry but so much love made me dizzy.
Moving on.

2. The 'Hyperactive Gang Of Friends' Ideally In The Age Group Of 22-25
With almost equal number of women and men, this bunch is loud, wants to live the moment, for them it is like 'now or never' kind of trip. The perfect check-ins, the pouting selfies and flowing maxi dresses, this gang is here for a life-altering trip, I concur.

3. The 'Sitting At The Seashore' Wife Admiring The Over-Sized Husband And Kids In The Water
I mean really what's the deal with those middle-aged women sitting at the shore, where waves come and make a whirlpool around them, looking admiringly at their over-sized husbands (wearing Lux Cozi, nothing against the brand though!), with kids also accompanying daddy dear in the waters.

4. The 'Sitting On The Sunbed' Women And A Little Toned Husbands
Basically, Gurgaon or a South Bombay version of the above-mentioned point. Just that these ladies, with mani-pedi done before Goa trip, sit at the sunbed with a tote and everybody's clothes, and the husbands are slightly toned and maybe wearing a swimming trunk instead of well, Lux Cozi!

5. The Boys Who Refuse To Be Acknowledged As Men
They are working in their late 20s or early 30s, taken some paid leave from office, want to smoke up, will always be seen with a beer bottle while walking (be it on the beach or road), mostly wearing bright colored shorts (Chumbak and Happily Unmarried stuff looked like a favorite), partying at Curlies or Club Cubana seems like the most important thing to do every single night. And of course, not going to bed till 5 in the morning is vacation mantra.

6. The One In Goa Mood, Airport To Airport
The shorts, the tees, the Hawaiian print shirts, the hats, the flipflops, everything is worn right from the destination airport to Goa airport and back. I saw one at Delhi airport still wearing the hat with a sweater.

Please tell me you have spotted one of these too!

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