10 Things I Miss About Kochi

In my previous post, I was streamlining my messed up thoughts and it was also the beginning of my resolution to blog every week. This post was due yesterday, but I persevered and got it done today. So yay me! If you already read my previous post, I’d like to warn you that this one is a repetition of sorts but better articulated than that one.

Kochi is my home. When I think of Kochi, I remember the buzzing Kaloor area, then the backwaters with the water weeds afloat, the sunset and the silhouette of the Chinese fishing nets, and the road to my home.

I am in this big city now and we are opening up to each other. But for a long time, the longing for Kochi wouldn’t leave right? I like the feeling. It is always good to know that there is home and homeland waiting for you. And this is the best time I could write about the city I grew up in, I grew up with and that has been growing up with me. 🙂

1. The Balance – The best thing about Kochi is that, you just have to step off the main road into an alley or a sub road and you’d find silent, residential areas with lots of greens, clean air and no hint of the disturbances from the busy main road. I have often loved this aspect of the city. Even my apartment is on the side of a very busy road. But once you take a few steps into it, you’d see the canal behind and the woods beyond that. I miss that. And the balance between the city and the nature.

Image credits – @rittujacob (Instagram)

2. Shades of Green – That brings me to the various shades of greens we get to see there. The woods from across my window, turn an emerald shade during the peak of monsoon while not so dark and lush at other times. In certain parts of the city, there are old buildings with overgrowth of creepers and weeds. The shade of green changes from plant to plant, tree to tree and if you love these greens, you can’t keep your eyes off them. Well, I can’t.  

Image courtesy – @the_liberated_spirit (Instagram)

3. The Excitement of Development – The city I am in now, has reached the peak of its development. While in Kochi, during the last few years, we had been basking in the happiness of new infrastructural additions. The Palarivattom and Lulu flyover left me all starry eyed and I rode across them a couple of times just for the heck of it. 

Image courtesy – @amal.the.bear (Instagram)

Then came the metro. I haven’t taken the Kochi metro yet, but every time I passed by each station, I used to look at it in awe. I used to look at the trains pass by as though I were a 4 year old, seeing a mysterious animal at the zoo. I miss this excitement a lot. I cannot begin to explain the intensity of it.

4. The Control – You are in control of the place when you know it in and out. You know what lies where, you know the heart beat of each area, the right time to visit a place, the time taken to reach a place and so on. I miss that control.
I know that this is something every person moving to a new place will face. Yet, as long as I am writing about Kochi, I must add this. The city isn’t as vast as Bangalore and that in itself gives me a better control.

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A view from the Queens Walkway

5. Ease of Getting to Places – A distance of 8 Kms could be covered in 15 minutes in Kochi. It took me about 1.5 hours to cover a distance of 10 Kms in Bangalore. During an earlier visit, it took this time for the bust to move from one to stop to another.

I loathe to see my time being flushed down the toilet due to this traffic. I miss the days when it was simpler. I just had to hop onto my bike, ride through the interior alleyways and reach the destination as calculated. The time taken for travel is almost always predictable in Kochi if you have a bike.

6. The Rain – Having born and brought up in a place with abundance of rainfall throughout the year, in two weeks of moving into Bangalore, I already feel the dearth of it. If you want to know what I mean you must have watched the sun slide behind the clouds turning the sky grey, you must have listened to the approaching rains, heard them from so far off that you wait another couple of minutes before the raindrops hit you and all of this must have brought that whirlwind of joy inside of you.

When I hear the approaching rains, I imagine a battle with a thousand horses galloping towards the battlefield. I also try to discern the direction from which the rain is approaching. If I get it right, my happiness has no bounds. The little joys in life. ❤

7. Reasonable Movie tickets – Watching movies for Rs. 80 and Rs. 100. Need I elaborate? 😛 I already think a hundred times before watching any movie. Here, I think twice as much.

8. Better Road Sense – I used to complain about the bus drivers and some senseless people in Kochi specially after I was almost killed by two buses and spat on by a lorry driver and a bike rider. Issues in Kochi end with that and some major indicator issues.

Come Bangalore and you should beware of vehicles in the air above you. There are separate lanes but nobody gives a damn about them. If you are a pedestrian, you need to have eyes on both sides of your head, exactly where your ears are. Because, people aren’t careful all. If they see a road, they take it even if it’s between two vehicles coming from the opposite direction.

9. Christmas – November is ending? Are the streets gradually lining with shops selling stars? Do they light up these stars of myriad colors, hues and shapes at nights? Has the weather begun to turn cold in the evenings? Have the christmas trees begin to pop up at houses or is it a little too early for that? In a week’s time, you’d see pictures of Santa Claus here and there, sometimes real ones in front of shops and malls.

Christmas is my favorite festival and Kochi begins to dress up for the occasion by November end. I’ll miss those lit up streets, bathing in the cool breeze of the winters in Kochi. A lot.

And Finally,

10. My Grazing Areas – The Kailash chat center at Convent junction and near Durbar Hall Ground, Gokul Oottupura(s), Brindavan, Real Arabia (Shawarma from there), Burger Junction, Chaicofi, Coffee Cube, Bread World, and the huge list of must visit eateries in Kochi that I have tucked away in a corner of my brains.

 

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I am warming up to Bangalore faster than I thought I would and I am sure, I’ll fall in love with this place soon. In fact I already love the weather here and that is just one among the many good things here. This is in fond memory of Kochi. To look back and embrace it. A reminder of how much it means to me and to let people know of this tiny land in the tiny corner of the world where the life is green and merry.

PS – The amazing pictures  in this blogpost was clicked by @rittujacob (The Queen’s Walkway), @the_liberated_spirit (The building covered in greenery) and @amal.the.bear (The Kochi Metro). Thank you so much for readily giving them. 🙂 Do follow them on Instagram for some amazing clicks. 🙂 

Love,

Ranjini

Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)

Narikulam Tharavadu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Read Part I of our trip here: Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

When the previous post ended, we were seated at the Narikulam Tharavadu dining table, with widened eyes, grumbling tummies and ready to pounce on a sumptuous feast. Before I continue, I’d like to rewind a bit here.

We are a part of this amazing community on Facebook called Eat Kochi Eat. Facebook really came in handy with this group, where Cochin Foodies post their reviews about the new eateries, their discoveries and all sorts of dishes from all sorts of food joints. Within the last four months, I realized that I haven’t visited most of the must visit food joints here. And so, I already covered 4 the week after exams! 😛 This is where we got to know about this Homestay. We had added it in a ‘to-attack’ list and suggested this place to the group for our trip. Before going to Narikulam tharavadu, you are supposed to inform them about the visit, give them a list of food you’ll want and the headcount. We had ordered Chicken fry, chicken curry, beef, Fish fry, chappati & Appam. The quantity of each depended upon who likes what.

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Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef
Yummilicious appam, chappati, fish fry, chicken fry, beef

The food was amazing and very much filling. In fact, almost a quarter of it was left after we were done. So, I am talking about high quantity Naadan (Authentic country-side) food, comprising entirely of non-veg at affordable prices! You read that right. The food along with Payasam (Dessert) cost us just Rs. 200 per head. I’d like to add that prices differ with the type of fish you opt for. Even so, the experience was worth much more than this.

We thanked Paul chettan for the food, clicked some more pictures and as per his suggestion, made our way to the Nedungad Boat Jetty nearby. How do I even begin to describe it? As the land tapered to end in the Kollam Kottapuram Waterway, we found ourselves surrounded by water and myriad species of birds. It cannot be compared to a normal beach or a lake view since the landscape was such that, at one point, all we could see was water. I am in loss for words and so, I’ll let my friend’s pictures speak from now on.

The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. :)
There was a tiny hut and some lambs playing around. 🙂
Coconut trees and backwaters - True essence of Kerala
Coconut trees and backwaters – True essence of Kerala

The Boat Jetty was unplanned and the uniqueness of it made the trip all the more memorable. If you plan a visit to Kochi anytime, and if you are looking for a Homestay and authentic Malayali Non-Veg food, Narikulam Tharavadu Homestay is the best choice. I cannot comment on the Vegetarian food since we didn’t have any. Besides, I always have a soft corner for the Tamil Vegetarian dishes. So, I strongly recommend this place for the Non-vegetarians. Also, they have homestay package at Rs. 2000 per night with food for a couple. As promised in the previous post, here are the details:

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Here are the details of the Homestay. Enjoy!

I sign off with a picture of us – The kachara team! The Minions! The Chipmunks! Five extreme people with entirely different characteristics that gel so well with each others’, and ofcourse the Homestay! 😛

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Looks too beautiful right?

Pic Courtesy – All the images here were clicked by these guys ^ 😀

Aangan Downtown Restaurant Review

Let me begin with this: I feel like I have found treasure near my house. Having been a part of a Facebook group ‘Eat Kochi Eat’, I kept seeing great reviews about Aangan Downtown Restaurant and had added it to my must visit eateries list. If you have read my earlier posts, you’ll know that I love making lists!

Last month was Amma’s birthday and since my sister wasn’t in town, we decided to give Amma a surprise dinner whenever my sister got back. We also had fund constraints. So eventually, even if it was late, we arranged for some cash and made a quick plan. I was entrusted with choosing the restaurant since I keep listing the eateries I want to visit. Besides, I am always crying about the mouth-watering posts in the FB group.

We reached Aangan Downtown which is at Palarivattom. It isn’t at the main road and hence not very visible. If you are someone who goes by first impressions, the moment you enter, you’ll love the place. The ambiance and the staff were very welcoming. They showed us to our table and suggested some of their specials.

I am enlisting the dishes we had for the ease of reading them:

  1. Soups – Have you ever felt that soup sort of decides your appetite? It is like a performance. If it starts well, it compensates for tiny flaws later on. But if starts bad, you really don’t look forward to anything that comes later.a) Cream of Vegetable Soup -Before I get onto this, I need to tell you about my Grandmother (Ammamma). She is an amazing cook! She is a tough critic and I rarely find her appreciating restaurant food. I guess you know where this is going. She absolutely loved the soup. Her exact words, if translated, would read, “I don’t think I have had a soup this delicious ever. It wasn’t spicy, but it sure was creamy with the right flavors!”
    There is a saying in Tamil, ‘Vasishtar Vayaala Brahmarishi nu Sonna‘. Vasishta is a sage and it is astounding when he mentions another sage in a good manner. (Dear Tamilians, I am really sorry for screwing up the explanation 😛 But you get it right?)b) Naadan Kozhi Soup –

    Naadan Kozhi Soup from Aangan Downtown Restaurant
    Naadan Kozhi Soup

    Which is Kerala chicken soup as prepared with the countryside flavor. Oh my! It was spicy in a good way with flavors that tickled our taste buds. It was quite watery with ample chunks of chicken. If you are looking for something thick and creamy, this one isn’t for you. But, I’d say the naadan kozhi soup is something you should never miss. 😀 By the end of it, I was eagerly waiting for everything we ordered.

  2. Starters – We ordered Chicken 65 and Gobi 65. Well, the choices were too many, we needed both Veg and Non veg and so settled for these. Again, they were really good. They were the kind of ’65’s you get in any good restaurant. No extra flavors.  Crispy Gobi and well seasoned chicken with lots of crispy curry leaves. I am a fan of curry leaves. When they happen to adorn something really delicious, I ensure that the plate is empty. So we did. 😀
  3. Main course –  Our expectations had reached sky high after the starters and the soup that we took a while to decide the main course. There were so many options, high expectation and too less space. If only we could borrow some tummy space from someone 😛
    After much deliberation, we landed on:a) Paneer Kizhi Biriyani for the beautiful lady aka Grandma :* – I did try a morsel and wasn’t very impressed mainly because I am not a fan of the tinge of sweet in normal dishes. Plus, it was a bit too bland for my taste.

    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani from Aangan Downtown
    Paneer Kizhi Biriyani

    b) American Chopsuey – It was served well with a fried egg on top. It was saucy and crispy and yum in the beginning. But as I mentioned earlier, the tinge of sweet began to over-power with each morsel. On the other hand, Mom just loved it! So, I’d say the dish was perfect, just changes with each person’s taste. 🙂

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    American Chopsuey

    c) Chicken Steak – Ooh lala! It was very soft, rich in flavour, steaming hot and with the right amount of vegetables on the side. It was a sure winner for the remaining three of us.

    Chicken Steak from Aangan Downtown
    Chicken Steak

Once we were done with our meals, when Ammamma was about to get up to wash her hands, the staff enquired if she needs a finger bowl. It was a very nice and thoughtful gesture. Not only were the staff friendly, but the owner too came up and had a little chat with us. Overall, a foodie-friendly place! 🙂

Summary:
Food – Too Good (4.9/5)
Ambience – Excellent (5/5)
Pricing – Our bill was Rs. 1200 for 4 which is very reasonable for Cochin standards, the food, the service and the amount we hogged.
Location – Palarivattom, Kochi (Click for the Location on Map)
Favorites – Both Soups and Steak

Aangan - Downtown Multicuisine Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Trip to Kuzhippilly Beach & Narikulam Tharavadu

100 Happy Days – Day 90

I had made a bucketlist 2016 when this year began and one of the elements in it was to make at least 5 trips this year. I don’t think the number went very well. But as unexpected as life could be, I found myself in a few immensely beautiful places a couple of days back – Kuzhippilly Beach, Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty.

Writing professional exams could just wear you off big time. So, the five of us and a qualified CA decided to meet up, spend a night together and go on a trip the next day. Nothing fancy, somewhere in or around Kochi. After a night full of clicking pictures, non-stop chattering and barely few hours of sleep, we drowsily picked ourselves up and went for breakfast. Nothing else could shun your drowsiness better than food. So after the breakfast, we were on fire! We made our way to our first destination. The Kuzhippilly beach.

Lined with pine trees and rusted benches, this beach is more beautiful than the famous Cherai beach. Situated in the outskirts of Kochi, Kuzhippilly beach is around 4 kms (Source: Google Map) away from Cherai. For those who prefer less crowd and more shade, this place is the best option. With lots of tiny brown crabs (I think they are called Sand Crabs) running around and emerging from the sand, and the thatched roof Umbrellas, this is one of the most picturesque beaches near Kochi.

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Pine trees at the Beach

We spent about 2 hours in the waters, clicking pictures & walking amidst the shady pine trees. We found a beautiful shell and, after ensuring that the owner had deserted his home, my friend pocketed it.

When the thought of food started creeping into our heads, we made our way to destination number two, the highlight of the trip (Food always comes first) – Narikulam Tharavadu.

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A View enroute to Narikulam Tharavadu
Kerala - God's own country
Those white cranes were everywhere!

Tharavadu is generally an ancestral home in Kerala where people lived as a joint family. Nowadays, most of these families have split and live separately, but many of the ancestral homes remain. Situated near St. Augustine Church, Nedungad, Nayarambalam, is the Narikulam Tharavadu. Set amidst the lap of nature, with greenery all around and a canal behind it; they have preserved the house so well that, if you are a Keralite, a wave of nostalgia hits you the moment you enter the premises. Such houses are the true essence of Kerala.

Paul chettan gave us a very warm welcome and patiently explained everything about the place. He answered all our queries, showed us around and made us feel at home. As they went about preparing our food, we were left to explore the place.

One of the things that fascinated me was, the way they had managed waste and artifacts that were no longer in use. They had used dried seeds and parts of the palm tree to decorate the house. We even found two shoes outside with plants in them. They also had grown plants in an old, rusted Kindi (pitcher) and an Aattukallu (Wet Grinder). The base stone, Arakkallu from the grinding Apparatus was used as the base for the pitcher. They gave an aesthetic look, placed around the Nadumuttam (The central area with a meshed ceiling) and never for a second did they seem out of place.

The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.
The plant in the pitcher placed atop the base of the grinder. What you see behind is the Nadumuttam.

My favorite part about these houses is the Nadumuttam. During the day, it is the source of natural light that gives a mellow glow to the surroundings and during the night, you can watch the stars. Don’t get me started on how it looks when it begins to rain. I can’t believe that these houses are dwindling with time!

A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu
A peek at the interiors of a typical tharavadu

We spent a lot of time outside, near the canal awed at the abundance of nature, clicking pictures and wondering why we never got to know about this place earlier. A photographer’s paradise, my friends simply couldn’t stop clicking pictures. Our grumbling tummies showed us the way to the dining table and now I’d call it a Foodie’s paradise too!

So we saw this irresistible spread on the table… Er… Isn’t the post getting a bit too lengthy? Besides, I am reminded of all the food we ate that day and I so need a break. I’ll be back with part 2 of this post; all the yummy food and a surprise thereafter. Heads up: The Food part is focused on the Non-vegetarians & it is going to be a bit heavy. So, ensure that you are filled up. If you wish to visit this Homestay, the details will be given in the next post – Narikulam Tharavadu and Nedungad Boat Jetty (Part II)🙂

Image courtesy for the first 3 pics – My dear friend Hrusheekesh Anilkumar

A Peahen in my Enchanted Woods

100 Happy Days – Day 89
This green patch of woods and the canal behind my apartment have always been close to my heart. They remind me of the Enchanted woods in Enid Blyton’s Faraway tree series. I could sit looking at them for hours, weaving stories in my head.
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They get all the more irresistible when it rains. During the monsoons, the intensity of the green multiplies manifold and the brown of the trees get browner. The contrast of the green against the brown makes the place look magical & the term ‘Emerald woods’ would come to my mind.
I remember making a Haiku inspired by the place.
The place is infested with snakes and sometimes I find tiny turtles in the canal. Birds of various kinds flock in & out – Cranes, kingfishers, Mynah, Pigeons, Parrots, Black fork-tailed birds and much more whose names I don’t know. But today was a first for me as I found this huge, brown bird walking through the woods. My suspicions were confirmed after I stared at it in awe for a long while. The white head crest and the long neck could never be mistaken.
I found a brown Peahen in my Emerald woods, behind my apartment! ❤
PS – I couldn’t take a picture of the Peahen since it was too far away and blended well amidst the greens & browns. This is my very own magical woods as seen from my window 🙂

Chopstix, Thai & Chinese

My mom is very fond of Chinese cuisines. If given a choice, she always opts for Chinese restaurants to dine out; Chiyang, Malaya etc being her favorites. However, I am not very fond of Chinese food and so, like every mother on Earth, she lets me choose.

When my friend came home a few months back, we decided to try Chopstix – a restaurant at Palarivattom, Kochi. We like the place and the food and so I decided to bring Amma here some day. After months & months of waiting, we got the chance to visit Chopstix again.

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As we ascended the stairs to the restaurant on the first floor, a metal embossing of Budhha, placed on the stair walls, caught my eyes.

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The restaurant had one side made of glass, giving a view of the urban streets. Apart from the fact that you could know when the traffic at the signal nearby clears (which is very given the rush), it gave a retro ambience. I have always loved that part of the city. The area of Civil line road stretching from Palarivattom circle to the signal. It is almost always crowded due to the signal, but beautiful due to the abundance of greenery. When it is before or after the days, Man! Isn’t it beautiful? Watching it from the first floor, slurping on hot soup would be perfect!

As the name suggests, chopsticks were placed on every table with directions on how to hold them. Every inquisitive person who walks through that door would read the instructions and try to use them. So did we. Until the waiter arrived to take the order, we mastered the art of holding chopsticks and tried our best to make the two ends of each chopstick meet. That was easy. The tough part was picking things using them. My sister managed to lift a fork off the table using chopsticks. 😀

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Okay. One stick done, next done, Oops! How was the first?
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That’s the way Aha Aha! Or is it?

We ordered Manchow soup, Schezwan chopsuey and crab fried rice. The soup was thick, creamy and rich unlike in most of the places. If you like things spiced up, you must give manchow soup a try.

When we enquired about the chopsueys, they said American was sweet, Chinese was bland and Schezwan was spicy. However when they brought it, Schezwan was spicy but also sweet. It was alright since I liked the flavor. But if you can’t stand sweet in spicy food, you shouldn’t go for it because halfway through the meal, the sweetness begins to overpower everything else.

The crab fried rice tasted similar to normal veg fried rice with chunks of fried crab.  As we finished our food, we were on the lookout for drinks to order and Jasmin tea caught my attention. I wanted to give it a try, but was skeptical about the quantity of tea that would be given. It said a Jasmin tea pot was priced at Rs 90 and we weren’t sure if we would be able to drink it all.

Since they didn’t have much options for drinks, we decided to give it a try. With the first sip, I had mixed feelings. For one, the scent of fresh jasmine flowers was strong and it was queer tasting jasmine flavor after years of smelling it. I liked that part. But the fact that there was no sugar, made me uneasy. With a few more sips of hot jasmine tea, I began to like it and didn’t bother asking for sugar. The liquid was clear and watery with a slight tint of green.

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Jasmin Tea and Tea pot

The pot had tea for six. Since we are generally tea and coffee lovers, having two cups is no biggie. Besides the cups were super-cute and tiny with no handles. I wonder if it’s a Chinese thing. The restaurant closes at 3.30 PM but the staff were patient with us. Once the place was devoid of customers and it was ten to four, we realized that we were holding them back. We drank the tea quickly, apologized, thanked them and took our leave.

PS -If you are wondering where the images of food in the food review post are, we were busy hogging that the dishes were half empty before I realised that I had to take pictures. Hence the compensatory pictures were taken afterwards 😛

Chopstix Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Emerald Tears

 

The skies cried.
The emerald tears
Froze on Earth.

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Note – This is a view from my window this monsoon. The water weeds & the weeds from the woods have merged to give this wondrous spectacle.

Stand Up Comedy Live – Kenny Sebastian

100 Happy Days – Day 85

Happiness is watching Stand up Comedy live

Kenny Sebastian. It hasn’t been too long since I came across the name. I was browsing through FB one day, when I came across an article about his video. It revolved around how Indians had a ‘paavam mode’ that came on at times, specially when abroad. You can watch it here. It is barely 7 mins.

I was on a laughter riot after which I began to dig for more videos. I kept talking to my sister about him and then we watched a couple of videos together. I wanted to watch one of his live performances and even tweeted once saying I wished he would perform in Kochi.

Later some day, I came across his tweet that said he was performing in 8 cities and that Kochi was among them. I immediately checked the site, venue, rates, date and time and realised that the performance would be from 8-10 PM at place quite far away from my house. The place is busy until 9PM, but 10 PM was too late and unsafe for women. Kochi lacks night life. This meant that someone had to accompany me. So, I put off booking the tickets until the last moment.

When the day approached, there was no one who could accompany me and I sort of felt bad. My folks were fine with me going out at any hour provided I had someone to accompany me. I had the freedom, but was unable to exercise it because of the society. I totally understood them.  It was one of those moments when I wished that I were a guy.

The thought made me all the more miserable. I didn’t mind not having any company. I wanted to go alone. I wanted to enjoy stuff by myself. I gave it a lot of thought and then, feeling very dejected, did what most of the people do. Lament on twitter. 😛

I went about my moaning and moping for a while and the next time I checked my mail, I had a reply from Kenneth Sebastian himself. I hurriedly opened my twitter and to my utter disbelief, he said:

Kenneth Sebastian

I sat there smiling broadly for the next ten minutes. I didn’t know what was more overwhelming; that the show ended at 9PM or the fact that Kenny had decided to reply. How could anyone not go for the show after receiving a tweet like that? Pleezzzzzz he had said. 😀 9PM made it easier to convince my folks, book tickets and take off. For the next two hours, I couldn’t wipe that smile off my face.

After an hour of awesomeness, we were told that we could take pictures with Kenny. I was dejected because my phone was ‘hospitalized’ and I didn’t have any with camera. I requested a bunch of girls if they could take my picture and send it to me. They agreed. I had a quick chat with Kenny, took a picture and was on my way home.

Yesterday was special in many ways:

  • That was the First Live Stand up comedy I attended.
  • It was the first time I tried so much to watch a show.
  • I had a celebrity replying to my tweet. (He replies to pretty much everyone.)
  • I ventured out alone for something. I am the kind of person who looks for company whenever I go out. The reason being, when I am alone, I feel like I’m easily spotted while I’m with someone, I sort of feel invisible. Sort of like, getting drowned in a crowd. I should learn to be comfortable alone. It is on my bucket-list 2016.

If you liked the video, do watch rest of his shows and if you want to watch a live performance, you might just get lucky. And so ended a beautiful Saturday for me. How was it for you folks? 🙂

Images from Kenny Sebastian’s twitter handle.

The Seven Faces

100 Happy Days – Day 77

A Trip to Ezhattumugham and Athirappilly waterfalls – Ezhattumugham Episode

I heard of the place Ezhattumugham from my good friend Teny for the first time. I had made a mental note to go to this place when my aunt arrived from US, my cousin suggested this place and all of a sudden I was thrown into a cab and taken here. 🙂

You might have wondered about the title of this post. Ezhattumugham means Seven faces of the river.

The river at one point of time, divides itself into seven parts due to the islets and boulders. Hence the name Ezhattumugham. 🙂

I have divided this post into four parts, half of which I am updating in the next post. I know that long posts could be such a pain. I assure you that there are more of pictures in here and less words.

  1. En route to Ezhattumugham

We took these pictures on our way. To simply put it, this is how most of Kerala looks like. Most of the houses here, have a window that faces trees, shrubs and lots of greenery. I am not referring to the cities, though.

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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Reading between the lines
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A capture by my sister

2. Ezhattumugham

Ezhattumugham is famous for its suspension bridge and the fact that it gives an opportunity to the visitors to actually enjoy in the water. I say this because, generally when we visit water bodies, many women do not enter the water due to many reasons. Fear of slippery rocks, water current etc being few of the reasons. Here, the water is shallow, not so slippery and there are many boulders to hop over or sit down. It is a different place as you will see.

What intrigued me was the fact that the suspension bridge here, connects two districts of Kerala – Ernakulam and Trissur. 🙂

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The water seems more like a sheet of glass
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Nature manages to astound me every single time
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The Suspension Bridge with the Trissur side visible

In the images below, you can see the rocks amidst the water. The water here is very shallow. We walked across this place for a while.

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Hop atop the boulders and splash through the waters

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This is a tree house we found there. Normally, these houses have a rope ladder attached to them. We did not find it here.

The places I went to that day, are beautiful in their own way. No camera can capture the beauty. There is nothing like viewing them in reality. Even though images speak louder than words, I don’t want to cram too many images in one post. Hence, I have compiled rest of them in the next post. To see the mighty waterfalls & the butterfly garden, Read Part II of the post Here

 

Found my Christmas Lights

In the earlier post, I mentioned about how Christmas is important to me. There was a twist in the tale though. On 22nd, I was informed that I should accompany my sister to Bangalore for a training. At first, it sounded like a good option. But gradually, I realised that I will have nothing to do in Bangalore, all my Cochin based Bang settled friends will be coming home for vacation and my sister will have classes all day. Even then, it’s just Bangalore! I could do something, right?

We reached on 24th morning. It was Christmas eve. My sister left for her classes. We got accommodation in the college guest house which looked like a deserted, haunted place. The windows faced an empty basketball court and the all the rooms in the floor were locked except ours.

I spent half the day doing this & that abd after lunch, decided to take a look around the area. It looked nothing like the city. Well, the city is 20kms away. This was one of the rural areas of Bangalore. With time I realised that even some of the residents haven’t heard of the place much. Which also meant that I was far far away from them. My hopes were coming down. I couldn’t think of spending 6 days like this.

I had brought two books and a laptop. It wouldn’t be too bad. Besides, my sister had told me that we could get wifi here. It was still okay. With wifi, books & my blog, I wouldn’t have a problem! I slept during the rest of the afternoon until my sister came back.

“They are asking us to shift to the next block in a room with another girl. We are the only occupants in this entire building. If we want to, we could stay here.”

I didn’t want to share a room. But, it wasn’t safe inside a deserted building. Specially when the room didn’t have an attached bathroom. So we decided to shift. We were taken to the said room and suddenly, it felt better. This room seemed more lively and there were people around. We decided to go out for a walk.

The girl whose room we were sharing had asked me, “Do you celebrate Christmas?”

I said we do.

“There are a lot of Christians in Kerala and Goa right?”

“Yes there are. Do you celebrate?”

“No. We don’t”

I knew the answer already. That is why I did not tell her that not only the Christians, but all of us celebrated. I wanted to tell her how beautiful it is. But I knew that she wouldn’t understand. I’d just be giving her some boring lectures. So I didn’t pursue the conversation.

I settled in the cot next to the window and slept early. I will wake up to Christmas the next day. Christmas with no lights and sound. I missed my Christmas tree.

The streets of Cochin dance with rice lights. All the buildings are decorated like brides. You don’t know where to look these days. Year after year, the decorations keep increasing. The streets look all the more beautiful after the rains. The raindrops shimmer around the lights, the cool breeze tickles your ear and you smell Christmas in the air. Every 10 feet presents you with tiny shops that sell stars. Stars in the shape of stars, in the shape of balls and some in the shape of supernova – pretty much an exploded look. There are also a wide variety of christmas trees for sale – green, gold, silver, green with whites for snow that appear and disappear alternatively.

By 20th of December, almost every commercial building and many of the houses have stars hung before them. Santa Clauses hired by huge companies dance to the tune of drums and attract customers. Some have statues of Santa Claus built. You could also see the trees beautifully decorated outside most of the buildings. Some homes simply decorate a huge plant or a random tree. I find that amusing. I like how they find the same happiness without purchasing a Christmas tree. I used to do that. 🙂

I woke up today, 25th December in Bangalore and forgot that it was Christmas. When I remembered, there was no one to wish. I called up my mother and wished her. I have plans for tomorrow. But today, will be just another day. I had breakfast, received so many wishes and replied to them all. I felt like the room was beginning to stink. Since it was cold, we didn’t bother to open the windows. I cleaned up the room and opened the windows.

I smiled.

I opened the next.

Wow.

There were my Christmas lights.

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My christmas lights

If I were to forget that I was in Bangalore, I’d definitely have thought that this is Kerala. The windows faced few trees of which one had yellow-pink flowers blossoming all over. The sunlight was filtering through the leaves and I could listen to the birds chirping. I switched off all the lights and watched as the window swallowed the entire sunlight.

I didn’t have any christmas trees. I didn’t have the rice lights or decorations. I couldn’t listen to the carols. But it was still okay.

I had many trees with the sunlight adorning them so beautifully. I heard the birds chirping and suddenly I felt like I was close to home. This isn’t what christmas looks like. But it sure looks like home. 🙂 I just had to open the windows.

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You can see those tiny flowers on the left

Anoop tagged me for the #itsStillOkay challenge and this is my post for the same. I’m defying the rules since I’m posting from my phone. Please feel free to take up the challenge on the topic, It’s still okay.

Much Love
Rangelz

Kochi Diaries 3 – Exploring My City

100 Happy Days – Day 69

Exploring My Very Own City

My first trip to Fort Kochi was for a photo shoot. Until then, being a Kochiite, it never occurred to me to pay a visit to Fort Kochi. Somehow, no one ever told me to and the thought never came up. After the first trip, I fell in love with the place and decided to go back. It was after my second visit that I wrote about Fort Kochi, Mattanchery and the Police Museum. I decided that I would visit again.

This time, my cousin was home and after our adventures with Arlo and Spot, we decided to go to Fort Kochi. We had cycling in our mind which did not happen. That could be taken care of in another trip.

We hired an Uber since there were three of us. We wanted to go to Princess Street first. But since none of us (including the driver) knew where it was and I just had a vague idea, we asked him to drop us off nearby. I found this beautiful Bungalow which is a home-stay and took a picture. It was very beautiful off-screen. Trust me!

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Next, we walked some distance to buy slippers for R since hers broke midway. We found some graffiti on the wall nearby. They looked beautiful.

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After my first visit, I began to read more about Kochi and Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica – one of the eight Basilicas in India – was among the many places I wanted to visit. This time, we had other things in mind and hence, I just had a glimpse of it from outside.

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A Picture from outside the gate

Our next stop was The Kashi Art Cafe. It has a room dedicated to art and also a classy cafe attached to it. The Art on display comprised of charcoal drawing and photographs that spoke about the feminine body and how it has been perceived. The author’s description includes, “…my objective has been to trace the origins of societal dichotomy towards the feminine gender. A continued referencing of imageries from various sources like miniature paintings, early prints and archived old photographs allowed me to address the changing notions of feminine identity, empowerment, sexuality and tolerance of the same.”

The cafe isn’t restricted to a single room but is quite expansive, each area looking different from the rest. It was buzzing with people both locals and tourists. My favorite part was the portion that joined the two parts of the cafe. They had placed some classy antique pieces and I couldn’t stop looking at them.

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The Entrance to the Cafe
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The Path that connects both parts of the cafe. Look at the antique pieces.
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Just loved the flooring on the connecting path.

Once outside, I noticed this quote written on the wall. I didn’t know this quote of Mahatma Gandhi’s. Loved it instantly specially because it has been written across a wall. We rarely come across such beautiful quotes on streets.

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I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.

Another beautiful, red building I couldn’t help but capture.

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Our next visit was to the beach. This is the skeleton of the Chinese fishing net; sans the net. Then you could sea the waves and also the horizon after the sun has just set.

On our way back, I couldn’t take my eyes off this white Bungalow with the lights. The cart has been so well placed that, to my eyes, it seems out of the world. There is something eerie about the building and the windows and something elegant about the cart. This is my favorite picture among the lot.

Did I mention that it is the same Bungalow I have put up in the beginning of the post? 😀

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We were waiting for our Uber to arrive when I saw the e-toilets. I wasn’t aware that they were here. I never saw any in Ernakulam and so, I was excited when I saw them there. Oh come on! My sisters teased me too. But this means clean public toilets, clean city, reduction in urinating in public etc. It means someone cares after all.

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What happens next? We are very hungry! I promised my cousin that i’ll take her to Goli – Vada Pav place. So, that is where we are headed next. If you have a Goli outlet nearby, please do visit. The Masala Vada Pav is my favorite.

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One of these pictures depict how we Kochiites could reach Mumbai with just Rs. 25. 😀

It was a very memorable day, well spent and that too in our own home town. I will be going back to Fort Kochi soon. There are many unexplored places to visit.

The Good Dinosaur

100 Happy Days – Day 68

Happiness is a Good Movie.

My cousin, sister and I are animation fans. But I am a more cautious person. I cannot tolerate average movies somehow. And so, I do my homework before booking tickets for movies. After my exams, I watched all the so-called good movies and now, we cousins had to go for one. What was a safer bet than an animation from Pixar? Unlike usual, I did not even look up about the movie. We walked into PVR, bought the tickets, bought some Nachos and waited.

An Indian father was praying, while the son was watching cartoon. The father, after much difficulty, forces his son to pray. While he prays to the idols of Goddess, Lord Hanuman and Lord Vishnu, he is chased by an evil power. I am excited to see an Indian family being depicted and at the same time, I wonder how the Dinosaur comes into the picture. After a few minutes, the movie ends and that is when I realise it was a super cute short film – Sanjay’s Superheroes.

Then, it begins. The movie narrates the story of a Dinosaur Arlo who belongs to a family that farms and produce their own living. Arlo, a tiny dinosaur born out of the biggest egg is scared of everything around him. Knowing him, he is given the tiniest of jobs that he messes up, apart from messing up his siblings’ jobs too.

Say Hello to Spot & Arlo

At a point of time, every family member proves himself worthy of the mark. He/she is taken to the wall where, while the entire family witnesses, he/she makes the mark on the wall as a reminder of their deed. Except, Arlo.

Pursuant to some interesting and heart breaking events, Arlo gets lost in a place very far from his home. Frightened and anxious, he tries to find his way back before winter. But, in vain. This is where he befriends, or rather, he is befriended by a new companion – spot. I must say, this little thing runs the show from then on. I kept wondering how the creators thought of this character and made him so adorable.

“If you ain’t scared of a croc bitin’ you on the face, you ain’t alive. Listen, kid. You can’t get rid of fear. It’s like mother nature. You can’t beat her or outrun her. But you can get through it. You can find out what you’re made of.”

The rest of the story is about how Spot and Arlo go through an adventurous journey and grow close in the process. With moments that tear us, tickle us and leave us wide eyed, The Good Dinosaur was one of the best instinctive movies I have ever watched. Take a look at the trailer:

I was incredibly blown by this movie and I wonder why it wasn’t much of a hit.

♦ Some of the visuals were stunning. A lot of detail has gone into the making of the movie.
♦ The message is loud and clear.
♦ There aren’t many dialogues. You will realize that you don’t need words to feel it. *sigh*
♦ It ends on a note of how you let go of things/people. Some do not belong with you.

If I were to compare this one, Inside Out and Minions, I would definitely rate Good Dinosaur the highest. The only problem with the movie in my opinion is that, they could have chosen a better and a catchier title. 🙂

I loved the Nachos, the movie and my companions. We howled with Spot & Arlo and have adopted it as our new method of communication.

You must watch the movie! *Owwww…* 😀

Home is Where the Heart is

As I swerve and maneuver through the city traffic, I notice all the buildings lighting up. I have way too much time to look at all the decorations since there is a heavy traffic. Though I am not a fan of traffic, I know what this means. It means development. It means in a couple of years, the traffic would reduce. I look at all the pillars constructed and try to imagine how the place would look when the metro is ready and running. I can’t wait. Soon, Kochi known as The Queen of Arabian Sea, will have another name to it, The Metro City.

I have heard my colleagues and friends say that Kochi lacks the kind of coolness and serenity that many other districts in Kerala have. I think they don’t look well enough. I think it is the other way round. Kochi has everything provided you look for them at the right places. We have the rich history and places that narrate them, we have the waves kissing the shore, we have the city lights that dance and twinkle at nights and we have those silent greenery that invites you in. The best part is, no matter what Keralites think about Kochi, they are bound to come here for something or the other. For Kochi, is the center of everything.

The city is designed with a perfect blend of city life, cultural heritage and breathtaking beauty. We have Mahatma Gandhi Road, Convent junction & Broadway where the city life is at its maximum. While you get all the branded stores and a wide range of restaurants in M G Road, Convent junction offers you a combination of rich, sophisticated as well as inexpensive stores. Broadway is the most crowded of all with their wholesale  shops, aroma of spices rending the air and the tag of ‘everything at low prices’. Go a bit further and you will find our very own Marine Drive facing the waters. The Rainbow bridge there is offers one of the most beautiful sunsets. Every time I go anywhere near Marine Drive, I am tempted to go and sit there for a while.

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The Rainbow Bridge at Marine Drive

Then there is Fort Kochi & Mattanchery where the tourists pour in to see the Jewish Synagogue; the oldest active Synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations, Santa Cruz Basilica; one among the eight Basilicas in the country, the Cochin Palace/The Dutch Palace that preserves the story of the Kings of Kochi and the fragments of their lifestyle during those times. Buildings constructed by the British during their rule and the streets named by them, stand out from rest of the city. You know the difference when you see the building or the street. Here is my account of our trip to Fort Kochi & Mattanchery

Interiors of the Jewish Synagogue

Visiting Thripunithura will leave you confused because, it isn’t like anything I just described. It is that part of Kochi brimming with Palaces of Gods. Though there are a lot of famous temples, Thripunithura has lot more around. Chottanikkara, Chakkankulangara, the Poornathrayeesha, Thamaramkulangara Sree Dharma Sastha temple and many more. The Hill Palace which is the Thripunithura Palace is one of the best tourist places here.

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Poornathrayeesha Temple Ulsavam

 

Flanked by Alappuzha & our cultural capital Trichur districts on both sides, Kochi is well connected. Anyone in Kerala would have heard of the North and South railway stations that serve as the common-point for all the malayalees. Isn’t train your favorite mode of transportation? You have our KSRTC bus stand near the South Railway station. And also the Vytila bus Hub.

The pride of Kochi lies in the Cochin International Airport – Nedumbassery that witnesses umpteen happy and sad moments daily. The airport, which is the first entirely solar-powered airport in the world, is what connects us to the entire world.

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Cochin International Airport – Nedumbassery

Kochi hosts India’s first bi-annual art biennale, Muziris Biennale where a number of artists display their experimental arts. I have come across some mind-blowing artwork in the Biennale.  This is an example for our appetite for adventure and that is what drives us.

You will come across a wide variety of people here with different goals, aims, looks and behavior. Ones embracing the culture and traditions and wearing them in their persona, others open to experimenting, who are still as desi as one could be, but also have the thirst for adventure, to try something new. The ones who celebrate all the temple Ulsavam (Festivals in temples) day in and out, who dance for the Panchari melam (Percussion ensemble) in temples and also dance for the DJs. The women who wear all sorts of modern dresses, yet bow their heads when they pass by a temple, church or mosques. The love for our city and culture and the openness to explore the world is what drives us. That is what makes Kochi a potpourri of cultures, traditions and adventure!

A Proud Kochiite reluctantly ends the endless saga of her city – Kochi – which is indeed made of great.

PS – I have to mention that India’s largest mall – Lulu mall – is right here. Barely 3 Kms from my home and people from all over the state come to visit this mall. There is nothing you don’t get at the hypermarket there. 🙂

 

Image courtesy for all images: wikipedia.org

The Chennai Rains – A Positive Note

100 Happy Days – Day 65

Happy to Be a Part of a Dynamic Youth

There has been immense loss of lives and property due to the floods in Chennai. We, being in the neighboring state, could actually understand the gravity of the situation. You begin to understand a situation only when you or someone close to you are affected by it.

The Hands and the Hearts of Youth

While the situation in Chennai worsened, people from different parts of the country came forward to extend their support. All of a sudden, my facebook feeds were flooding with call for help and support. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, in my hometown, Ernakulam, teams such as #anbodukochi and #CochiHelpsChennai had collection locations at different points. People could contribute supplies or cash. These supplies were brought to a single location from where, they were sorted into kits, packed and sent to Chennai. Similarly, many other districts in Kerala and also other states in the country did their best to extend their help.

The Fictional Heroes Became Real Heroes

I came across news where celebrities were contributing fund for the cause. A number of celebrities including AR Rahman, Shah Rukh Khan & Rajnikanth contributed huge amounts. Actor Sidharth kept providing transport services, responded to help requests and was in action throughout. Here are some of his tweets that earned a lot of respect:

He arranged vehicles for delivering food packets.

And water.

He gave them strength and hope.

He encouraged the volunteers, he also inspired the rest to come forward.

He assured them that he will be there and all they had to do was to call him.

I had to pick a few from hundreds of tweets he had shared. You can head over to his twitter account and see for yourselves. The efforts he took.

Our Saviors & Protectors at their Best

The Indian Army was there as always to rescue thousands of people.

Indian Army rescue and relief operations during Chennai floods

Image courtesy: dnaindia.com

While, the Indian Air Force did their fair share too. Here is a footage of the IAF rescuing a pregnant woman.

Courtesy: http://www.hindustantimes.com

When Everyone Became a Hero

The unity of the residents of Chennai, to a large extent, helped each other. I was listening to the radio today and one of the victims said that until the floods hit, he did not know any of the neighbors. But, when the need arose, the entire neighborhood helped each other whether it was for rescue operations, providing food and supplies or for support. Images of muslims helping in temples, other religions taking refuge in mosques, opening up of halls and houses for people who lost their homes became a common sight.

The Game of Self Promotion

While the entire city, state and even the country was in action, the rulers played their part in providing relief and rescue operations. I read many comments slamming them entirely, which I think is sort of prejudiced. It isn’t right to turn a blind eye to the good deeds.

But, I have to mention that using this disaster to promote a certain group symbolizes that humanity is hitting a new low. There was a lot of anger over the fact that goons were forcibly pasting stickers on the relief material supplied and carried by trucks. This was followed by the release of some hilarious sticker memes by the angry crowd. My favorite being this one:

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Image courtesy – Amul.com

 

The Only Flaw in Us

Amidst all this, one thing that caught my eye was that, #Intolerance was still trending during the Chennai rains. The topic had begun days ago and there had been a lot of fuss over it. But this is where we have to prioritize things. Is someone’s opinion more important than dying lives?

You might ask me, how will the change in trend help Chennai. I know it won’t. But when intolerance is trending, it shows that there is a large population either ignorant about the Chennai rains or insensitive about it. And the best way to avoid such situations is not to gobble up whatever the media throws at us. Freedom of expression is given to everyone. It is one thing to express our opinions. But it is an entirely different thing to sleep over and cling to our opinion and forget all else.

The Ray of Hope

At the end of the day, we realized that there is no enmity between the people of different states. When a part of the population was in trouble, the rest dived to their rescue. Many came forward to take this up and they all did a wonderful job. I feel very very proud to have been born in this era and to have been a part of this youth and this is what makes me immensely happy.

Here, in Kochi, in three days’ time a lot of materials were collected and sent to Chennai. The group which included the celebrities worked hand in hand for this endeavor. Every time I went to buy supplies, I noticed someone else buying them too. Thousands of unknown people were working for the same cause. I am sure it must have been the same in other places too. If in such a short span, the youth could do so much, with time and planning, we could run the country.

In short, this meme created by a great anonymous soul, sums it up:

Source – Facebook (I wish I knew the creator, who deserves an applause.)

I end this post with a prayer for those in Chennai. I pray that the clouds do not return, that the water dry up soon, the houses and vehicles get restored, that the people who are ill get well soon, that no infections or diseases spread post-flood and that this fate does not arise elsewhere.

||Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavanthu||

Malls & Friends

100 Happy Days – Day 62

Unlike other post exam days, this time, a lot has been happening. I have already gone out three times to meet friends and it has been crazy. To start with, the next day after exams, we roamed inside a half deserted mall – Gold souk. Somehow, in spite of being on the highway, it is almost always deserted. I’d blame the idea of placing all the Gold shops in a mall where bankrupt youngsters go for hanging out. Why would any school/college students or an unemployed youngsters want to visit a mall full of Gold?

During this week, another group of ours met up in the legendary Lulu mall of Kochi. Finally, I stepped into Costa Coffee (Had been craving to go there). You must be wondering what stopped me until now. When friends are willing to give us treats in expensive places, we barely say ‘No’ ;). Jokes apart, I would have said it was unnecessary, but I was the last one to reach the mall and they had already chosen the place. I had no choice you see? 😉

After a couple of hours filled with laughter, reminiscence, coffees, chilled drinks and pastries, we parted. Only to meet the next day. I was making up for all the lost days, you know!

The next day, we were on an entirely different level and in a different place – The Central Mall. People are flocking into this haven mainly because of their gaming section. Bowling and air hockey is what pulls me, while the metro construction right outside the mall repels me. But that day, I had to go. We clicked umpteen number of selfies in such a manner that, the word selfie was the trigger to click. If anyone said ‘selfie!’, a picture was taken. No matter how scattered we were, all ran and posed before the phone. 😀

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Here We Are!!!

This wasn’t all, we also began our plans for a Bangalore trip scheduled for Jan 2016. If not anything, the New Year will start on a happy note.