Travel Diaries – My Experiences – Part I -London

Hi friends! I’ve kept my word and here you go. In my last post, for those of you who have missed it, I had given an introduction to my Travel Diaries. From this post onwards I will write about my Europe Travel Diaries, beginning with London. I’m not going to give a daily account of what we did. If I start, then I am not going to stop. For the next one year, I will go on and on about our trip. I will try to make it short and sweet for you guys.

One good thing about computers and related gadgets is that by sitting in the comfort of your own home you can book anything anywhere in the World; distance doesn’t matter at all. So, the one principle we followed when planning for our holiday was to book everything in advance from home. We would, in the due course, save a lot of time, energy and money (Oh yeah, online bookings are a little cheaper too; wink wink). Starting from the cab which was going to pick us up at the Airport to the various attractions we were gonna visit, we booked everything online and carried a print with us. Believe me, we did not face any issue whatsoever.

20170904_164641Our first day in London was a Monday. We had kept it quite light, as we had anticipated jet lag hitting us a little too hard. By the time we reached the place and freshened up it was about half past two. We decided to leave the house and do whatever was possible. We had to travel by the DLR (District Line Railways). Our first experience of waiting for the train and getting into it was amazing. I still remember the moment as if it was yesterday. We decided to go to Leadenhall Market. Since it was already way past lunch time, we decided to have a bite and then start off.

Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest markets in London. The market dates from the 14th Century. It is a covered market of London, which sells fresh food. It was used to represent the Diagon Alley in the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The architecture of this place is simply amazing. The ornate roof structures are painted green, maroon and cream. The place is such that, once you set your eyes on it, you can’t take off. We spent a good half an hour at this place clicking pictures, shopping and roaming around.

20170904_174408From Leadenhall Market, we walked to the Ruins of St. Dunstan in the East. The Church of St. Dunstan really survived a lot. It survived the Great Fire of London in 1660s and then, The London Blitz in the 1940s.  After the Blitz, the City of London Corporation decided to leave it as it is and make it a public garden. It is in a secluded side street and is filled with greenery and flowers. It is an excellent place to spend an evening writing something you have always wanted to.  You can also pick up a book and enjoy it there. If you are an artist, you can also sketch the place. If not anything, you can simply sit there and enjoy the beauty.

20170904_193152We spent about an hour at St. Dunstan and from there took a bus to Shoreditch. Shoreditch is an arty street in London. The graffiti on the wall was amazing. It is famous for its street art. You can understand what I mean to say when you have a look at the photos. After getting off the bus, we had to walk quite a bit, but it was worth the walk. After Shoreditch we decided to head back home.

In anticipation of a huge crowd at the attractions, we had booked all our tickets online. Our first tourist attraction at London was Madame Tussauds. It was super fun posing with the wax statues of the celebrities. My sister and I had already visited the Madame Tussauds in Singapore. My hubby had already visited the London on an earlier visit. It was completely new only for mom and dad. They really enjoyed it. It was fun to see them act as youngsters while they posed with their favourite celebrities.

After Madame Tussauds, we headed to 221 B, Baker Street. We did not visit the Sherlock Holmes Museum but we went to the Museum Shop. We went crazy at the shop. There were so many awesome things we wanted to buy. We clicked pictures in front of 221  B, Baker Street and then walked around the place. As it was lunch time we had lunch at a Pizzeria.

From there we headed to the famous Tower of London. We were lucky enough to see the Bascules open (the road opening for large ships to cross) at the Tower Bridge from the Tower of London. We wandered around slowly and reached the Tower of London. We saw the famous Koh-i-noor. We couldn’t take our eyes off it. Along with the Koh-i-noor we saw a lot of other precious stones which we had never heard of before. It was amazing. We went at least five rounds to see it.

After the Tower of London, we did a lot of other interesting things about which I will narrate in my next post. For now, this should be good enough. I know, I really talk a lot. My husband laughs at my narrative skills. If I start talking about a thing, I tend to explain so much in detail that the other person is sure to fall asleep.

See you soon..

Cheers!!!

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Travel Diaries – My Experience – Part I -London, Paris and Prague

20170905_185554Hi guys!! Yes, I’m aware. I promise the same thing again and again, but somehow fail in fulfilling it. For those who did not understand what I’m talking about, it’s just that I keep promising my friends that I will blog regularly and then, hit the snooze button after a few posts. I have various reasons for why I haven’t been able to do so, but that is no excuse… How have things been at your end? I am probably writing (I mean to say blogging) after about 2-3 months. Yes, I’m truly ashamed of myself. The other day when I was whining about how irregularly I blog, my hubby did make a good point. He said, ‘If you really want to blog, you will somehow find time for it,’. This motivated me. So, here I am.

The past three months had been too hectic. We were preparing for our first family trip abroad. We chose to have our holiday our way, which meant we were going to have to do everything from scratch ourselves from bookings to getting visas to planning our visits. We didn’t mind doing that, since our greatest advantage would be flexibility, which is what we wanted while travelling with senior citizen parents. It was a real task. All of us occupied in our own work for the trip along with our routine which would stare at us to (probably) say, ‘Hello, you didn’t take care of me today’. Here I go! That is why I could not blog (insert evil laugh).

Jokes and excuses apart, let me get back. After a lot of thought we zeroed in on three places for our holiday – London, Paris and Prague. We decided on the number of days of our stay at each place and then, began the planning for the trip, which was super fun. My sister chalked out an amazing itinerary for our holiday. If not for her, we would have probably not seen some of the secret amazing places (Oh, am I praising you too much? Let me stop it at this).  Our trip started off with a bang and there was no stopping. Mayur had specifically chosen September for our holiday. September is generally less touristy. We got to enjoy the beauty of all the places without any hassles. All the popular tourist places are, generally, a nightmare in tourist season. Mayur has had this experience in the past.

We flew to London from Mumbai. We spent good 5 days there and took the famous Eurostar train to Paris. From Paris we flew to Prague and then back home. Oh yeah, we didn’t get back home straight though. The day we were supposed to land, Mumbai had heavy rains. A Spicejet Plane skid off the runway and about half an hour before we could land our flight was diverted to Hyderabad. After we reached Hyderabad we did not get clearance to land (yes insert evil laugh). We flew to Chennai from Hyderabad. The plane landed, but we were inside the plane on the tarmac for about 6 hours. Yes, you read it right! We were then given accommodation by British Airways for a day at Chennai. Yes, it was a blessing in disguise and most of us had secretly wished for it. It was a truly enjoyable holiday right till the end, I must say.

This reminds me that the start of our journey was also equally thrilling. The cab which we took to the airport could have landed us on a hospital bed instead of the British Airways seat. The guy who was driving us to the airport was sleeping while driving. We (my sister and I were together) realised this and quickly told him to stop on the side, but he refused. He was more concerned about dropping us off fast and probably, winding up his duty for the day. I understand that it is sometimes hard for these cab drivers to manage. They also have a family to take care of, but they do not have any right to play with someone else’s life. So many things could’ve gone wrong that day. Thinking about that even to this day gives a sort of chill down my spine.

You would have got a gist of what my posts would be like in the days to come. It will be Travel Diaries only. This was an introductory post to give a glimpse of what I will be coming up with in the next few months. Yes, believe me. When I say, next few months I mean next few months in the sense that I will put up at least 4 posts a month. I don’t find any reason why you should trust me when I say this, but if you love reading my blog I am sure you’ll drop by to see.

See you soon..

Till then, Cheers!!!

My Review on 1st to Die by James Patterson

1st_to_DieHi Friends!! With the monsoon on its low and my laziness on its high, I hadn’t blogged for a while now. So here I am today with a sudden realisation that – come, what may, my blog post is going to come up. Over the past two years I have been reading at least 20 books in a year. I started going out of my comfort zone (that is basically murder mysteries) and started reading books by Danielle Steel. I loved her books. I would have read at least 10 of her novels. I was glad I did that as I learnt how to describe the characters flawlessly from her books.

Apart from that, I always wanted to read books by James Patterson. For a murder mystery person like me, James Patterson’s books are something which shouldn’t be missed. I randomly picked a book called the 8th Confession. What I didn’t realise when I picked it up was that it was the 8th book in his Women’s Murder Club Series (I know I am stupid to not have realised that). Though the mysteries are completely different in each of his books, the Women’s Murder Club is the linking thread. I realised this after I started reading. I ignored the fact that it is a part of the Series and started off. I request you not to do that because I ruined something which was there in the first book. Regardless of that I enjoyed reading it. So, the next thing I did after finishing that book was to pick up the first book in the series – 1st to Die.

I know, it sounds very scary and believe me, the book will keep you hooked on to it. I am glad I started reading this series. The book is about a serial killer who goes on a killing spree murdering newly- weds. The Case of the first murder is assigned to the only woman homicide inspector Lindsay Boxer. She has had a lot of personal problems in the past. She is trying to get over it with the help of her friends Claire, Jill and Cindy, along with whom she has also started the Women’s Murder Club. They somehow find the link between all murders being committed with their respective skills and arrive at the conclusion that a Serial Killer is on a killing spree.

How Lindsay solves the murder with her partner Chris Raleigh and the help of her Women’s Murder Club is the story. The way it unfolds is mind blowing. The way Patterson explains how the murder is committed is something which will give you a chill; it seems as if you are witnessing one. His writing is unique compared to others. You can see the murder happen in his books, but the icing on the cake is the twist. A twist which you wouldn’t have imagined.

Isn’t it a treat to read such a book? According to me, it is. I know that I’m not going to stop until I finish the entire series now. Why don’t you guys try it? If you are a fan of murder mysteries, then you must go for it.

While you grab this book, I will rush to finish the remaining books in the series.

Cheers!!!

Kadai Vegetable with Chapati

IMG_3651Hi friends! Hasn’t it been a while now since I posted a recipe? So, here you go. On a Sunday, sometimes I try making something different from our routine South Indian food. One of the Sundays I decided to make Chapati and Bhaji. Whenever I make North Indian side dishes for Chapati on Sundays, it is generally Paneer. This time, however, I wanted to try making something else and I found different veggies as well lying in the refrigerator. What more do you need? I decided to make Kadai Vegetable. I browsed on the net for a recipe and found one on Veg Recipes of India. I took the basic recipe from that page, but then, I did variations as per my taste.

Ingredients

For the Dry Masala Powder

1 tbsp. Coriander Seeds

½ tbsp. Jeera

1 inch piece of Cinnamon

3 Cardamoms

2 Cloves

4-5 Black Peppers

 

For the Wet Masala

2-3 Onions -roughly chopped

2-3 garlic Cloves

2-3 Dry Red Chillies

2 Green chillies (slit)

1 tbsp. Kasuri Methi

1 tsp. Turmeric Powder

1 tsp Saunf

Other Ingredients

2 cups of boiled vegetables (carrot, potato, green peas, beans, cauliflower) chopped

1 Capsicum (finely chopped)

½ tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Aamchur (dry mango powder)

1 tsp Garam Masala

Water as per requirement

Salt as per requirement

Oil as per requirement

Finely chopped Coriander Leaves for garnishing

Method

  • Boil the vegetables and keep it aside. You can use whatever vegetable you feel like.
  • Dry roast the various ingredients for the Masala Powder. Do not over roast the same. Grind it.
  • In a Pan, heat 1 tsp Oil and when it heats, add saunf and jeera.
  • Add Garlic and red chillies and fry for a minute
  • Add in the roughly chopped onions and fry until translucent
  • Add the Kasuri Methi and fry for a minute and then add in turmeric and remove from flame
  • Add in little water and let it cool
  • Grind it into a fine paste once it cools down.
  • Roughly chop the tomatoes and grind it into puree
  • In a pan with 1 tsp Oil, fry the chopped capsicum until the colour changes a bit. Empty it into another container and keep it aside
  • Now take a pan with little oil and add in the ground wet masala paste and fry until it starts giving an aroma
  • Add in the tomato puree and fry well
  • Add the chili powder, dry ground masala powder, aamchur and garam masala and bring it to boil. Add water depending on the consistency you want
  • Add salt as per your taste
  • Add in the boiled vegetables and mix well
  • Add in the fried capsicum and mix well
  • Finally garnish it with chopped Coriander Leaves and serve hot with Chapati or rice

I hope you enjoy it. Do let me know how it turns out to be.

See you soon.

Cheers!!!

PC: Mayur Sarma

My Review on “Watermelon” by Marian Keyes

war=termelonHey friends! It feels good to be back blogging after a long time. Finally, I can sit near the window, with the laptop thinking about what to write, with breeze pushing my hair all over my face. It really feels amazing to sit and write on a super breezy monsoon evening. After such a long time, you can enjoy the weather without sweating. With the heat reaching new heights this year, I could do nothing I love, be it reading, be it writing. It took me about 2 months to finish this book, Watermelon. Yeah, it is one of my ways of justifying my laziness… So, this post is about the review of this book.

Watermelon is a funny book. It tickles your bones to the core. This is the first book of the author I ever tried reading, but believe me, I enjoyed it. It is a story about Claire. She has just given birth to the beautiful baby girl and her husband announces that he’s leaving her as he has been having an affair with a lady called Denise from their building. She is all heart broken and she decides to leave London and heads to Dublin where her parents and sisters live. In the beginning, she is all heart broken and depressed. She keeps to herself and her room. She is bribing her sisters to get drinks for her. She is always sprawling on her bed and crying over what happened to her.

Her dad walks into her room one day and advises her to hold herself together and come out of it. That is when she realises how stupid she has been, all the while. She decides to help herself and come out of it. She starts going out. She enjoys shopping with her baby. She starts going out more often, sometimes alone, when her mom minds her child Kate for her.

Enter sister’s classmate Adam!! She fantasizes him, though he is about 5 years younger than her. He also has a soft corner for her. They start meeting at Cafes and the Gym. He feels guilty about it, but then she realises that she is not having any affair but just enjoying, unlike her husband James. When things between her and Adams is turning out to be much more than just fantasies, James comes to Dublin. He wants Claire back in his life.

Does he genuinely want her or is it something more to it? What conditions does he strap her with, to get her back to him!

To know more about it, you must read this book. It is hilarious beyond belief.  I was reading the book for so long that I wanted to quit reading it at one point, but I am glad I did not do that. It is a big book with about 600 odd pages, but if you are free and can afford to read about 2-3 hours daily, you will be able to finish it by 4-5 days.

I hope you guys enjoy reading this funny book.

Cheers!!!