From Kochi to Bangalore – A New Journey

The last time I opened this page to write was in Kerala. Now, here I am in Bangalore. There has been a lot of change and with the change of place and routine, I, as a person, am changing too.

After all those CA hassles, crying over exams, peeping in others’ lives, seeing their train move forward at a steady pace and crying over my stagnant one, my train has finally moved too. I am no longer in the studying-writing exams-failing-lamenting station anymore. I am more of in between Yay-I-have-a-job and damn-I-want-to-go-home station. 😛

Due to these overwhelming changes, here I am, streamlining my thoughts more for myself than for anyone else. This is also a comeback post of mine and I’ll be trying to blog more frequently from now on. So be prepared for a messy article as I have no clue what I am about to write here.

  1. Why I moved to Bangalore? A job is what brought me here. After a few years of preparing and writing exams, experimenting with jewellery, freelance writing etc, working on a 9 hour job is a bit too strenuous. Definitely better than writing exams after exams with no luck. Even so, suddenly I am unable to find time for doing the things I love to do. For instance, this blog. I am finally able to update this because it is a Sunday. So, I have to accept my work timings whole-heartedly and then work on using the remaining time effectively.
  2. I Miss Home – I have been away from home before. But that was around 8 years back. 8 years got me rooted there, I got too comfortable with all the love and affection that I forgot how it was like to stay away from home. The first 3 days were the worst here. I was like a clingy, cry baby. I was intimidated by the vastness of this city, the lack of sunshine (in my room), lack of network adding to the misery. On top of all this, I work 6 days a week, making visits to Kochi rare and precious.

    ChnPiAbUoAAI1yT
    Kochi – This view from my bedroom window ♥
  3. I Miss Kochi – For me, Kochi is a feeling (The sentence is cliched, the feeling is genuine). I miss the balance between the city life and the nature. You get everything in Kochi and the moment you step out of the central area, you also get the peace, serenity, and the clean air. I miss my friends there. I miss the familiarity. If I begin to write about the things I miss in Kochi, I’d have too long a post. So I’ll save that for another time. I miss maneuvering through the narrow alleys, avoiding the traffic, exploring more tinier alleys, finding paths that I never knew existed. I miss the Malayalam, specially the Kochi accent (Never though I’d say this).

    The path towards the Boat Jetty area is lined with coconut trees which finally tapers into the water

  4. The Inability to Wrap My Head Around Bangalore – All of us have a Google Map in our head. The moment you think of a familiar place, the map pops open in your head showing all the locations, the time taken to each location, the specialties there, the traffic etc. Depending on the activity you want to do, your brain projects the list of places offering the activity with the distance, price range etc. I am too familiar with the Mental Map of Kochi and when I try the same with Bangalore, it is blank obviously. That is deeply unsettling. I need to work on building the map and soon. I hate that blank space. 😀
  5. I need to make a list of things I want to do outside my working hours. I need to find the time, the place and affordable options for the same.
  6. I am beginning to bring about changes in my lifestyle. The first step was going for morning walks. Today is the 4th day of morning walk and I must say, I am enjoying it. Also starting today, I installed a meditation app and meditated for about 10 minutes. It felt much better than the meditations I did alone. I hope to continue these two positive changes in the future.
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Dissing the city was not my intention through this post. Every city has its pros and cons. And most of the people initially feel their hometown is the best as a major portion of their lives was spent there. It is the same for me. This post was just to clear my head, clarify all the messed up knots there, list it down and work on them. In a month or so, my perspectives might have changed. And it will reflect here in my blog. 🙂

Have  a nice day.

Love,
Ranjini

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

Be Your Superhero

It began to drizzle as I waited for the bus. I didn’t have an umbrella because I use a two wheeler and I’m not used to carrying one. As the bus arrived, I made a quick calculation. I would reach my destination in less than 10 minutes. Once I reach the service center, I will get my Lavy (My Hero Pleasure) and then, rain wouldn’t be a problem.

Contrary to my calculations, the drizzle turned into a downpour, the famed Cochin traffic kicked in and I was stuck inside a bus that wouldn’t move. I waited helplessly. Half an hour passed, 45 minutes passed and the bus was moving slower than a snail. If I didn’t reach the service center by 6pm, I won’t get my lavy. I tried calling H to ask him whether he could collect the scooter. He didn’t answer the call.

After around 1.5 hours, I reached my bus stop. It was still raining. I hurriedly walked to the service center to find it closed. That wasn’t surprising since it was already 7 pm. Now, the only thing left for me to do was to return to hostel. By 7.30 pm. That was when the gates closed.

I waited in the shelter of the building thinking about the next step. Walking in the rain wasn’t an option right then. Boarding a bus would be foolish since I had just experienced what it was like. I decided to flag an auto-rikshaw. The first few did not stop. The one who stopped refused to take me to my hostel saying the traffic was too high. After a few more refusals, I began to walk towards the closest rikshaw stand in spite of the rain. To my dismay I found it empty. It was getting late and the rain wasn’t reducing.

I called up H again, several times. I called up his landline number. His mother picked the call and informed me that he was taking a shower. When I said that I was in a tough spot she said that he wouldn’t be able to come because he did not have a raincoat. I walked to the next auto stand which turned out to be empty and on the way, I heard some lewd comments. I mean come on! Isn’t it fun to pass some dirty comments at a girl walking alone in the rain, at night, that too without an umbrella?

That was the end of my composure. I walked faster trying to hide the tears running down my cheeks. I was alone, cold, I had to reach my hostel on time, I had no means of transport and felt helpless. I stood next to a familiar restaurant wondering what to do. That was when H returned my call. My desperation and relief came out together in the form of a gasp, fresh flow of tears and garbled words. He was my closest friend and would surely help me out.

“Could you please drop me at my hostel?” I pleaded amidst my tears.

The concern was evident in his voice, “What happened?”

I narrated my situation all the while crying and finally, “Um… Oh! So auto rikshaws aren’t stopping and bus is obviously not an option. What to do now? I could have come, but I don’t have a raincoat.”

“Uh! Wait, let me see if I can do something else.” I hung up. That turned out very well. There was no point continuing the conversation. There was one other person, N, who could help. I didn’t call him earlier because his house was out of town. There was no chance he could be here. Now that I had no hopes at all, a call wouldn’t hurt.

First and the most important thing, he picked the call.

“Hey! Are you in Cochin?”

“Yes.” *relief*

Don’t get your hopes high

“Do you have a raincoat?”

“Why? What happened?”

The narration.

“Oh! I’ll come get you. But I don’t have a raincoat for you.”

“It’s not for me. I don’t want one. I asked for you. I just want to reach hostel somehow.”

He dropped me at the hostel and luckily the gates weren’t closed. I got to my room and cried my eyes out. I was frightened, I felt alone, I missed my home, I was cold and I don’t know what else caused those tears. People I thought would help me during my rough times weren’t there. That was the biggest wound.

I called up my mother and narrated whatever happened. She was calm and she told me some things that I will never forget;

“Never put your faith in one person and believe that he/she would help you out in any situation. The faith would leave you unprepared. When adversity hits and he/she is unable to help you, you will be all alone with no Plan A, leave alone Plan B. Never expect people to rescue you. Believe that you have the strength to rescue yourself. Soon, you will know that it is true.”

“And remember one more thing. Sometimes, unexpected people help you when you are in a thick spot. So, if you can, help people irrespective of whether they are close to you or not. You might be their ‘unexpected help’ just like he was for you today.”

She was right. From the moment it started drizzling, I believed that if something went wrong, my closest friends would help me. I didn’t think of any other options. If I hadn’t believed in them so much, I might have reached hostel sooner.

I don’t mean to say that you shouldn’t trust your friends. It just means that you should believe in yourself first. Instead of waiting for a Superhero to rescue you, be your own Super hero.

I am participating in the #SachchiAdvice Contest by MaxLife in Association with BlogAdda.

A Boy, a Toy and the Smiles

I can’t get the image out of my head. The boy looked at her, as she extended the bright yellow thing towards him. There was an unsure smile on his lips, a glint in his eyes and disbelief etched all over his face. He looked at the thing in her hand – A brand new truck – and then again, at her. He then looked at the rest of the group.

“This is for you.”, she said lovingly.

He didn’t understand a word.

“Take it! It is for you.”

Two more from the group knelt down and asked him to take it. He must have understood. He turned to look at his mother. She stood a few feet away from him, smiling. She nodded her consent. He looked at the toy and slowly extended his hands. When the toy was entirely in his possession, a brilliant smile bloomed across his face. If he were a star, he would have been the brightest. The exuberance, the gratitude, the excitement were all clear from his face. Only if I could capture that moment with all its glory…

He looked at all those unfamiliar faces smiling down at him, saying things in a tongue he couldn’t understand. The kind lady asked him, “Do you like it?”

He looked at his mother and then back at the lady, smiling all the while. A boy from the group asked, “Can we take your picture?”

“Yes! Let us click a picture together”

“Come on.”

As one of them took his camera out, the child seemed to understand. He stood up and smiled. They all gathered around him and clicked some pictures. The moment the snaps were taken, he stood on his toes trying to peep into the camera.

“He wants to see the picture. ”

“Awww”

“Show him the picture.”, someone piped in.

The boy who took the snap, knelt down and began showing him the pics. The little boy excitedly pointed at his image in the photo.

My sister and I were watching this from a distance. I was touched beyond measure. A bunch of students from overseas had come here, to Cochin. There was a little boy in old clothes and unkempt hair running around. As they walked through marine drive, they must have seen this child. What happened then?

Probably someone said, “Look at that kid. He is so cute.”
And then another must have said, “Why don’t we buy him something?”

Or, he must have been looking longingly at the toys in a stall nearby. And then, one of them must have decided to buy him one.

Probably, one of them had a policy of ‘One good deed every day’ and they just chanced upon this boy.

Whatever the reason, I thank the blessed moment that inspired them.

I found myself walking forward and asking, “Do you mind if I take a picture of you all with the boy?”

“Sure! No problem!”

I took a snap.

The students and the boy
The students and the child

“Thank you so much. Where are you all from?”

“USA”

As I walked away, I couldn’t stop smiling. I am sure that apart from the boy, my sister and myself, there were many others who were equally heartened seeing this. It isn’t a life changing event. I agree. But it is one that brings a smile. After all, isn’t life made of little things and tiny smiles?

On our way back, I went to the boy. He was playing with his truck. I asked him if I could take a photo and showed my phone. He smiled and sat still with the toy ready to be captured. I took the picture and once I lowered the phone, he came running. I showed him the snap and he grabbed the phone. He looked at it for a while and handed the phone back. His mother who was selling something nearby, came to me & smiled. I thanked her and left.

That smile :)
That smile 🙂

I have looked at these snaps a hundred times. But, I still can’t get that image out of my head. The one etched in my memory. The one where his unsure smile, the glint in his eyes and disbelief transformed into pure bliss.

I don’t know those students. I don’t know that boy. But of all the times, of all the days and of all the places, I was at Marine drive, Kochi at 6 PM on that particular day when some students from West came to East and gifted a toy to a child. I wasn’t there by chance. I believe I was there to tell the story. 🙂

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

PS: The image has been shared after obtaining the consent.

Jewellery of My Choice

100 Happy Days – Day 46

Happiness is visiting Jewellery stores 

We visited a friend’s boutique to buy nose-ring for my sister. Along with that, we bought a pair of cute studs. I don’t go for pricey stuff so you can be sure that these are well below INR 100. 😛

image

With an antique gold covering and a white stone in the center, this one was a class apart.

Located at Panampilly Nagar, this boutique named Sukriti has a wide variety of unique designs to offer. My sister rightly said that it is ‘my type’ of boutique. As in, it is a blend of modern designs and ethnicity. That has been my taste for a while and they offer such designs in plenty.

All jewellery lovers in Kochi must visit. 🙂

Some Yummilicious Dishes From Gokul Oottupara

Rocky and Mayur have ventured out to explore food from all parts of India and curate videos on Askme.com  I’m contributing my part by relishing my favorite dishes at Gokul Oottupura and sharing my views with you all!

You can also upload your video review on AskMe and stand a chance to meet Rocky and Mayur.

blog-landing

Located at one of the most busiest streets in Kadavantra, Gokul Oottupura is hard to miss with its straw curtains, brick colored painting and traditional South Indian Kolam designs. The ethnic look and the reputation of serving tasty vegetarian food, has people flocking into the place at all times.

I have had almost all kinds of food from this place since I had my classes and office at Kadavantra. Here are few of their most delicious dishes:

1. CHAAT – If you despise having chaat from the street, you can visit one of the Oottupuras.

Handpicked Specialities in Chaat
: Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Papdi Chaat & Assorted Chaat.

I have been a fan of their assorted chat. I forced some of my friends to try it and trust me, there was a time when my entire officemates were gaga over the place. It is one of the best chat places that I have been to in Kochi. While you are at it, do try their Pav Bhaji too.

2. Paneer Butter Masala – I have a friend who loves this dish and whenever we decide to meet for lunch, it is always Gokul and we always order paneer butter masala. They truly mean what they make by using lots of paneer, lots of butter and masala in the right amount. The place earned me a PBM friend 😀

3. Chilli Gobi dry – Hear this. I always loved their crispy, mouth-watering chilli gobi dry. My friends and I decided to have lunch from here one day. One among us said he didn’t want anything to eat. We persuaded him to have at least a bit. He just refused no matter what. We ordered a Gobi dry fry and visibly, he couldn’t resist the looks and the smell. He went, “That does smell so good. What are you having? Could you get me 2 chappattis?”. The last part of teh sentence was aimed at the waiter.

4. Idiappam and Kadala (Bengal gram) – We had classes from 7 to 9 am and then office at 9.30 am. So invariably, Gokul was our breakfast hangout. Being a Kochiite, I had known the taste of their kadala long before i joined classes. Let us just say that my friends who always had ghee roast began to order Idiappam kadala after tasting some off my plate. The kadala is prepared with the richness of coconut and masala in the typical Kerala style.

5. Sambar Idli  I am from a Tambrahm household and we are proud about our cooking skills. My grandmother’s South Indian dishes are very famous and so, I know the difference between a good sambar and a bad one. Trust me. The Sambhar Idli in Oottupura is a must try. I admit there isn’t anything extra. It is just plain idli and plain sambar. In a bowl of sambar, they soak the idlis and give us. But slicing the idli pieces that are soaking in a bowl of sambar and placing them on your tongue, that feels different and good.

Try out these dishes sometime and you will know why the tables are always full here. Over the years, the rates have been increasing which has affected students like us. But if anyone asks me for a good vegetarian restaurant, this will be my first suggestion. 🙂

Do let me know if you visit and like this dishes.

Gokul Oottupura Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Day 34 – Cafe Mania

100 Happy Days – Day 34

Happiness is finding new cafes.

Coffee at home

Coffee mania runs in our family. Like any typical TamBrahm household, we too wake up to the heady aroma of the extra-ordinary FILTER COFFEE. My grandmother’s coffee is one of its kind. When she prepares the decoction, I feel like I’m living in a huge coffee bean. When I drink her coffee, I believe that is how stars taste.

Coffee at office or restaurants

Once I step out, I don’t order coffee in restaurant or drink any from office. I want my coffee to be perfect and I order one only if I am sure of its reputation. While doing my article-ship, we had a client famous for their coffee. I always opted for that audit because, morning and evening, the coffee they served tasted so good. Not starry, but close enough. (Yeah I am more coffee oriented than carrier oriented :P)

Cafes

I am a cafe maniac due to the coffee varieties and combinations available, the aroma and the ambiance. Plus, I love trying out unique drinks and snacks. Whenever I pass by new places, I note all the cafes on that route. If any of those look appealing, I add them to my list. So far, in Cochin, these are the cafes I have visited:

  1. Coffee Always
  2. CCD Ravipuram
  3. CCD Shenoys
  4. Coffee cube
  5. Coffee bean
  6. Chaicofi
  7. Chillax
  8. Coffeel
  9. Cocoa tree
  10. Canopy
  11. Coffee lounge
  12. Fort Cafe
  13. Kahawa Bistro
  14. Lokah Cafe
  15. French Toast (Bakery & Cafe)

Woah! Trust me! It is now that I truly realize that I am a cafe maniac. Today, I visited a new cafe – Tonico cafe at Kakkanad. The ambiance was good. They had some cute quotes and posters around, a smoking zone which attracts many youngsters and some free WiFi that attracts the rest.

But what caught my attention was the make of their menu. Made of wood, the menu had a unique touch.

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Check this tablet

Looking out for something different, we ordered two chillers – Guava and Black currant.  Both tasted incredible, though I was more attracted to the purple colored black currant.

 

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Guava and Black currant chillers

I had taken UNO cards with me to teach my friend the rules. The waiter came over and told us that cards weren’t allowed there. I was pretty bummed when I learnt that a place that allowed smoking, didn’t allow playing cards.

This gives another point for home coffee. My grandmother doesn’t stop me from playing UNO at the coffee table. 😛 Oh! Who am I kidding, no matter how many cafes I visit, how many coffees I drink, my grandmother’s coffee will be the starriest. :-*

Cheers to all the drinks we have had and all those we will be having! 😀

11 Random Eateries For The Kochiites

Prepare for a tantalizingly delicious ride

A quarter of a year just whooshed by and here we are pensive about what is in store for us in the latter part of 2015. Lots of food I’d say. 😀 I am not much of a foody. But sometimes, I stand in a street filled with cafes, bakers, pizza shops, Chinese, Indian and God knows what restaurants, craving for some food. The weird part is, I don’t want to eat from any of those places.

Why? I want something nice.
Pizza? Umm… No. It must be cheap.
Cutlets? No. It must be filling.
3 cutlets? Er… Right now, they are not the type of nice things I want. I like them. But I want some other kind of nice things. 😛

If you can relate to this, here I summon all the Kochi foodies. This one is for you all! 😀

1. Kailash chaat center – If any of my friends are reading this, they would smile, for I just began the list with a chaat center. 😛 I love chaat and I would say proudly that I am one of the big reasons for bringing the chaat culture in our office. Many of my friends would thank me for the same. Having tried many Yadav stalls and other chaat centers, I stumbled upon this one.It looks similar to the Yadav chaat stalls. If you love spicy stuff, try the Pani puri without the sweet. Somewhere in my head, a tap just opened and water poured out of my eyes & nose. Sniff! (Um… It wouldn’t be much spicy with the sweet sauce. So the rest can chill. :)) Damn spicy and yummy!
Handpicked Specialities: I have tried only Pani puri, Sev puri, Sookha & Samosa chaat. All awesome! The best street chaat I have had in Kochi.
Location: Opposite Yashoram Mart & Amul Ice cream parlor, Convent road, Near Convent junction, Ernakulam.
Price range: Around Rs. 25.

2. Gokul Oottupura (For chaat items) – Chaat again! 😛 It is a bit more costly here, but definitely affordable. This is THE place for cleanliness freaks. If you despise having chaat from the street, you can visit one of the Oottupuras.
Handpicked Specialities in Chaat: Sev Puri, Dahi Puri, Papdi Chaat & Assorted Chaat.
I’d suggest you try the Assorted first. It comprises of all the chaats I just mentioned. While you’re at it, try their Pav Bhaji too. You may try their Bhel & Pani puri at your own risk. Me no likey there. :/

Image courtesy: Tumblr.com

Location: There are three Gokuls – Panampilly Nagar, Kadavantra & South. I’m not sure if they serve chaat everywhere. I have had from Kadavantra & Palarivattom Byepass (Which unfortunately closed down recently :().
Price range: Between Rs. 40 to Rs. 80Note: If you’re not fond of curd, you may ask them not to put curd in Assorted & Sev Puri.

3. Sree Krishna Inn – To start with, this is a vegetarian restaurant. So you may visit this place while intending to have some veg. Well, the food is really good. A bit too expensive perhaps. Here is the reason why this place is on my list.
Handpicked Specialty: Chilly Paneer for starters!!! 😀
No! Don’t stereotype this. You must have had many a chilly paneer from many restaurants. This is the only chilly paneer I remember. Once, I bought three packets of the same for parcel and ate them for evening snack. It is mind-blowing. Garlic lovers! You have a mine in here. 😀 Others, please skip this dish.
Highlight: Even the green chilly tastes yumm. I don’t spare even that.Location: Next to Chinmaya Vidyapeeth, Warriam Road.
Price range: Was Rs. 120 when I had last time.

4. Quick Snacks – My all time favorite! 😀 The reason being, I have had breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner here. When I got to know about this place initially, they were cheaply priced. Now, you can’t say it is reasonable. But, not too expensive either. If you love cheesy, saucy food, you must try this. However, I’d warn you not to be misled by the images they have shown at the place. The food & images displayed there are unrelated. Regarding the ambiance, don’t expect a closed restaurant or cafe. It is a small, square, open room with common long tables attached to the wall. You can see it for yourself. 🙂
Specialties: Paneer cheese franky, Veg franky, Aloo Paratha, Vegetable and Cheese rollers. You do have some varieties here. And I just love them. Listen to some bollywood songs and plunge into some paneer & cheese. 😉

Paneer Cheese Franky. Cheesalicious :D
Paneer Cheese Franky from Quick Snacks. Cheesalicious 😀

Location: Next to the medical shop, Regional Sports Center, Kadavantra
Price range: Rs. 40 to Rs. 80.

5. Coffee Cube – No introduction needed. Yep! The ones who frequent convent junction and the ones who are on the lookout for free wifi would know about this cafe at the heart of convent junction.
Specialty: I have dragged it up here for their Choco chip Frappe. I love the Chocolate chips and What-nots I get at the end of the drink. Lip smacking indeed! 😀 Next time, you visit convent junction, do try it if you haven’t.
Location: Convent junction, Ernakulam. Reach the junction and ask anyone. 🙂
Price: I don’t remember.

6. Coffee Always –  Friends! Stop sneering. Well, this is just next to my house and so I am the top customer. Most of the people don’t miss the pyramid building where this is located. That is the first attraction. Secondly, they have mind blowing interiors. Ranging from paintings to engravings, they have done a fabulous work.
Highlight: Don’t forget to look for the cave-like area. You could get some good clicks in there.
Handpicked Specialties: Caramel Spice Latte. The drink is as elegant as the name. And I haven’t had anything so satisfying in any of the cafe I have visited before. To put it simply, it is coffee with spices. They serve Ice cream with it. I have always gone there for more of this.

The Caramel Spice Latte with Ice Cream.
The Caramel Spice Latte with Ice Cream from Coffee Always.

They earlier served hot chocolate. It was just that – melted dark chocolate. Since it was imported, they had some problem with importing the same later, and it was discontinued. I haven’t had Hot chocolate ever since! Well, since I am a frequent face there, they have promised to text me once the drink is available and I am waiting for the message. 😀 When you drop in for some spice latte, enquire about the Hot Chocolate too. You might get lucky! 😉
Location: Opposite More Super Market, Next to Real Arabia, Civil lane Road, Padivattom, Kochi
Price – Rs. 120 (Currently)

7.  Waffle Street – Yes! The one set up by the Actor Asif Ali. I went there a couple of days back. I – being not much of a sweet lover – wasn’t interested to try Waffles. But, once I did, I loved it.Waffles are new here. (Correct me if I’m wrong. Not much of a foody. Remember?) Many of my friends said that they did not get satisfactory reviews. The reason being, waffles are foreign breakfast specialties. We, tend to compare everything with what we have eaten. The quantity, ingredients, taste and texture. While trying something new, it doesn’t work that way. So, before you visit this place, I’ll tell you what to expect.Milk, butter, flour, eggs and sugar is what basically goes into the batter that makes the base. The variants of waffles are made from the toppings you choose. They have a list of waffles, each with different toppings and they are all sweet. You can also choose extra toppings from the list.

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Banana & Maple Syrup after nibbling from the sides 😛

 

Strawbarian Waffles. This was the best :)
Strawbarian Waffles from Waffle Street. Yeah we ate this 😛 This was the best 🙂

Handpicked Specialties: We tried Waffles with Strawberry, Banana & Maple syrup and Marshmallows & Whipped cream for main toppings. Strawbarian was the best.

If you’re in the mood to have something sweet and you feel a bit experimental, go for this! Do not compare it with Indian food. As for the boys – It is not as filling as Indian food. Try this when you’re in for some knick knacks. 🙂
Location: Opposite Alibaba restaurant, Panampilly Nagar, Ernakulam
Price: Starting Rs. 110.

8. Sweet Corn: I prefer chewing the sweetcorn from its cob rather than eating the loose kernels. And the only place that served corn with the cob was a tiny stall near the Rainbow bridge, Marine drive. I don’t think they serve it anymore. Well, the next option is loose Kernels. The taste is the same, just the experience (and the rate) differs.

Image courtesy: sharonxoxo.tumblr.com

They serve sweet corn in almost all the malls in Kochi. A word of caution; there are many people who do not like sweet corn. So, if you haven’t by any chance tried them, don’t expect too much. They come in four flavours – Masala, butter, pepper and plain. I love the buttered/peppered ones! They are juicy, tasty and filling.
Location: Look for tiny stalls in Central, Oberon, Lulu, Baypride, Gold Souk & Nucleus malls.

9.  Bread World – Again, I got the wind from my office. I wasn’t very fond of this place since it is quite expensive. But, since it was near our office, I have been here many times. During one such visit I memorized this dish.

Handpicked Specialty: Caesar chicken salad. Mainly comprising of bread crumbs, lettuce and chicken, this is a must try for salad lovers. When it comes to salads, you can imagine the quantity. You can’t expect it to be filling but, definitely worth a try once in a while.
Location
: Next to Food Village, Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Jawahar Nagar
Price: Rs. 90 during my last visit.


Cake Lovers Cavern

10. Bake my Day: Chocolovers, Hear hear! My office was just next to these bakers and that is how I stumbled upon their cakes and pastries. We have ordered almost all variants of their cakes and I got addicted to one particular delicacy.Handpicked Specialty: Mudcake!!! 😀 I know many of my friends would be nodding their heads vigorously. They have pastries of the same mudcake. But that wouldn’t give you the real experience. If there is an upcoming Birthday, do try a full Mudcake (chocolate). The cake is covered with melted dark chocolate that, you wouldn’t stop licking it.(Shhh! The first time we bought it at office, a few of us waited for the crowd to clear. Needless to say that the cake was over. We took the base & the knife into the pantry and licked all the sauce. It is richly Chocolicious! ;))
Location: Near Petrol Pump, Subhash Chandra Bose Road, Kadavantra.
Price: Rs. 600 approx. (Pastry costs approx Rs. 50)

11. Ohmycake.in: We have ordered cake from this place for around half a dozen occasions. On one big function, all the visitors kept saying that they would definitely buy from here. The reasons? The cakes are fab, they have home delivery and you can easily order online. Simply google the store name and you can place orders from their site. (Note: Some cakes take as long as 3 days for preparation.)
Specialty: Haven’t tried all their cakes, but the Blueberry Cheesecake just stole my heart. So did their chocolate specialties – Dark chocolate and Belgian chocolate cake.

Blueberry Cheesecake. When I liked a flavor other than chocolate for the first time.
Blueberry Cheesecake of Ohmycake.in. When I liked a flavor other than chocolate for the first time.

Location: Not sure of all. They have stores at Palarivattom, Vazhakkala and near Inforpark.

Price Range: Starting Rs. 550. Assured value for money.

Help Me Dear Readers And Fellow Bloggers :)

This is regarding the earlier post I wrote about the Flower selling PaatiFor those who did not have time to read the entire post, here is the gist.

At Palarivattom, Cochin, I saw a paati selling flowers. She looked very old and tired. I bought some flowers from her and started a conversation. Over two visits, I got to know that both her sons passed away. Her husband was sick when I spoke to her the first time. However, in my next visit, she told me that he too had passed.

My Flower Seller Paati
My Flower Seller Paati

She has some debts that sum up to Rs. 10000 to be repaid. And hence, she traveled all the way from Coimbatore to Cochin on Sundays and Thursdays and sold flowers. At an age when she needs to be cared for, she was getting baked under the sun.

When I asked her contact details, she said she did not have a phone and asked me to lend her a old handset if I had any. I told her that I would inform her about the same. She also told me about how she got her eyes checked and didn’t have the money to buy spectacles.

To read the full story, click HERE.

My questions:

  1. I decided to get her a phone. But I was wondering about the SIM card. Since she is travelling a lot, there is a chance of her losing the SIM. If I am to get it in my name, I believe that would be a huge risk. Do I have any other alternative (In case she has no IDs)?
    For those concerned, I just want to help her out. She travels alone and apparently has no close relatives, I am worried. For those who think I’m crazy, you may ignore this post.
  2. I would like to collect some fund and help her repay her debt (At least a portion of it). Do you think it is possible through my blog?

For the skeptical ones:

When I was on the hunt for a good handset, a friend asked me,
“You just spoke to her once and believed whatever she said?”

I believe many of you might have that question too.

Firstly, I don’t believe that any mother would make up a story about her children’s death.

Secondly, she is a very old lady who is working hard. Assuming that she wasn’t truthful about any of the above, I don’t lose anything by giving her a phone. But on the other hand, if she was genuine, I would be helping her somehow. I am only helping someone trying to help herself.

Regarding the fund, again, let us assume she is making up a story. I buy stuff online frequently. Things that aren’t a necessity for me. For an old lady who works to make ends meet, I could sacrifice a top and lend her that money. That is not a great loss for me. But, it would be a great help for her. Whether her story is true or not, she needs the money more than me. If there are people who think like me, they may contribute. There would be no pressure. 🙂

Is Kissing A Crime?

This happened around a month and a half ago. A TV Channel -Jaihind- belonging to a political party, ran a news report showing footage of couples engaged in ‘immoral’ activities. The footage was nothing but that of a couple kissing in the cafe. The news also mentioned that the cafe was the ground for other illegal activities such as drugs. But there was nothing to substantiate its claims apart from the same footage of kissing couples being replayed.

Following this news, the youth wing of another political party, vandalized the cafe in the name of moral policing. They destroyed much of the cafe’s property saying that they were forced to react in response to such ‘immoral activities’. You can read more about it Here.

The next thing that happened was the Kiss Of Love (KOL) movement in Marine Drive, Cochin. A group announced that KOL movement would happen on Nov 2nd protesting against the moral policing drama at the cafe in Calicut. Facebook flooded with opinions, about how it was wrong and how it wasn’t wrong. On the said day, all the political parties and activists were present at Marine drive to flog anyone who dared to kiss in public. They outnumbered the KOL participants who were only about 50. Even before the protest began, they were taken to the police station. The arrest did not dampen their spirits. They continued their protest.

Today, there was another KOL in Calicut. I just read their press release from their Facebook page and it painted a very sad picture. Similar to the earlier protest, Hanuman sena, Shiv sena and the police joined hands, tore clothes, abused and beat up the activists. Anyone found kissing, holding hands or even passing by, were taken into custody as per this report.


Really? Making a big scene out of people kissing and demolishing a cafe in its name!?

  • When questioned, the moral policing supporters say PDA is against Indian culture. But these pillars of Indian culture struck unarmed lovers for their act of love. How ironic!

May I ask?
How many women are raped on a daily basis?
How many little children are violated, shredded and thrown by the vultures in our country?
How many politicians are corrupt?
How many poor are rendered homeless in the name of industrialization?
How many cases of murders do you hear on a daily basis?
How many children are used for prostitution?
And how many for child labour?

If kissing in public is against Indian culture, are the above our culture? If not, where are the activists when any of the above happen? When the accused is caught, why don’t they just go to him and thrust a knife at his heart? People’s priorities give me the chills. An act of love is considered more dangerous than an act of lust!

The protesters kiss with mutual consent while rape is a forceful act. Yet, people choose to butcher the former & ignore the latter.

  • They said, “Bring your mothers and sisters too when you come for kiss of love. Well, you wont. That is what we are trying to say. It is wrong for our women to do all this.”

May I ask?
Are your women incapable of taking their own decisions?
Aren’t they individuals who have the right to decide whether or not to participate?
If you’re doing all the thinking for them, why don’t you do the same for your father and brothers too?
Certain parts of your body differs from that of women. But the brain does not differ. Women can think for themselves as much as you can.

  • They ask, “What will our future generation learn?”

May I ask?
Our future generations need not wait in streets or cafe to watch couples kiss. You have given them everything to trigger their lust and learn things. Have you given them cell phones, television, internet? Are you sending them to schools and colleges? Influences can come from anywhere. A kissing couple wouldn’t be their first ‘bad influence’ I’m sure.

To those parents who are concerned, I totally understand you. I’d feel protective about my children too. All I’m saying is that, if they want to, they will go after such temptations. Nothing can stop them.


Image courtesy: Imagesbuddy.com

I believe, no one has the right to prohibit anyone from kissing publicly. But No! I won’t participate in it. Seems ironic. Doesn’t it? Like many of you, I have been seasoned in such a manner that kissing in public makes me uncomfortable. Watching others do it ‘might’ make me uncomfortable too. I don’t know. But I’d just ignore them because I believe one has the right to express their love. What I don’t get is, why do people resort to violence when they see such acts? Are their instincts so damn animalistic that they can’t stand to watch a couple kiss before their eyes?

Imagine, we had no bodies, no gender bias, no rules, no moral policing. We are just the souls. You love another soul and that soul loves you in return. Now tell me, will you kiss your love in front of other souls?
A sensible person would say ‘Yes.’ If so, what is making you protest now? Your body, gender, rules, jealousy or ‘moral policing attitude’?

One thing I understand is that, majority of our population have been tamed to shun and despise PDA. We can’t blame them for it. Open mindedness or the will to view things with a different eye is a rare quality. Not everyone is born with it. When you have it, put yourself in the older generation’s position. After living in a conservative society, it would not be easy for them to accept such protests. There is some right on their part too.

As for those moral police who are merely jealous, I pity you!

The icing on the cake: all the religious heads and political parties in Kerala united in this name. They all fought together on one side, for the same cause. Sadly, the cause was to refrain people from kissing in public.

The bottom line is, there are many more important things you have to stop before you stop people kissing in public. There is so much of violence, people’re dying and rotting away. If you are turning a blind eye on them & stopping people from showing some love, you’re surely doing it wrong.

I wish the politicians had half this zest in serving justice to the innocents.

I wish people were asked not to piss in public rather than not to kiss on public.

Image courtesy: Imagesbuddy.com

3 hours in a Railway station

“Booking tickets has now become a real pain”, said the man behind me in a broken Hindi-English accent. I nodded in the affirmative cursing my stars for having cancelled the train ticket I had & having to wait for hours to get a tatkal booking done. This was the first time I was booking a tatkal ticket from the station.  So I was unaware of the formalities & rules.

As I walked into the reservation compound of the Ernakulam South railway station at around 6.45 am, there was a long queue outside the office. I went and stood at the end, wondering what would happen next.

By around 7.30, they opened the office and began issuing token numbers. There were 7 counters and on first come first serve basis, people were allotted to each counter. The last counter was for the ones who wanted tickets for self alone while the rest six were for those who wanted more than one ticket. Once I was given mine, I scanned the room for a nun whom I had seen earlier so that I could ask her what was next. I spotted her, ‘At what time do they start issuing the tickets? Do they call these token numbers?’ 
‘They start by 10 am’ I looked at my watch: 8am. I was glad that I had brought a book.
‘I don’t know about the token numbers’. She turned to the person sitting next to her,‘How does this token system work?’
He asked, ‘What is your token number?’
I began digging my bag for the form, finally I unearthed it, ’19 it is’
‘They would have assigned you a counter number. What is it?’
‘Hmm.. 7’
‘Alright! they start issuing the tickets by 10 am. Then you just have to go stand in front of counter 7 in your place. Others have been allotted numbers too. Ask them theirs, find your place & wait.’
‘Thank you’ I walked back to my old place, took out a book & began reading. After an hour or so, as I looked up, Kochi had really woken up. The office was teeming with people. Yet it didn’t seem like Kochi. There were many north Indians, east Indians, tamilians, I could hear a couple speaking telugu, a smart North Indian city girl with her dad jabbering away in Hindi, a foreign couple, a few Keralites here and there, other unintelligible tongues, the noise of vehicles outside which were minimal about an hour ago, a sudden burst of ‘baharo phool barsao’ which I soon got to know was a ringtone, other ringtones – of Late Nokia, samsung, the old tring tring etc.

After a long wait, the normal reservations were minimized to one counter & tatkal queues began forming by 9.45am. I went to my counter, found my place & waited. It was just a matter of few minutes & I’d know whether my 3 hours wait was worth it. At sharp 10 am, they began issuing the tickets. The uncle before me was fidgety.
‘This queue is so slow. I should have requested for another counter. We were issued this counter because we were taking tickets for self only.’ He said in his strong Tamil accent.
I gave a half smile wondering whether other queues would be faster than ours. He kept bantering this when a boy came and asked him, ‘ which number?’
‘I’m 17’
‘acha! I’m 18’
As I gave space for him, Tamil uncle spoke again, ‘ I should have asked them another counter. This counter is…’ this time the new guy was his conversant.
‘No. This queue will go fast. Fatafat jayega ye. Rest of the counters will have people booking for many people. They will have to enter names one by one, it will take time. Ours only one person’s booking, toh will be over fast.’ his voice was full of hope.
‘Oh is it? Great then! I thought we were so behind. This system is good. They won’t let anyone without the number in between right?’
‘No no. They wouldn’t. They check the token numbers and then issue tickets. I tried for my tickets online yesterday. But couldn’t get. Thats why I came here at 6 am today. If I don’t get today, I’ll come tomorrow at 4 am’ he said, smiling.
‘No don’t worry! Have a positive attitude. You will get your tickets and I will see the smile on your face today.’
‘Haan! I really hope. Mil jayega. I’ll definitely get. Mainly, my mother will be very happy to know. Yesterday she called me asking whether I got my tickets. When I said I didn’t, she was very disappointed. Today if I don’t get, I’ll come tomorrow at 4am.’
‘You will definitely get today. And first thing call up your mom and tell.’
‘Haan wahi!’ All the while smiling.
Behind me were the North Indain father & daughter, ‘Ye kitni slow hein!? Pehle ek din jab mein aayi thi, woh lady fatafat tickets de rahi thi. Aaj 7 minutes me bas 2 tickets!? 10.30 ke andar sab khatam ho jayenge’
Tamil uncle, ‘Yes. She is very slow. One finger typing! Haha’
As I peeked at the lady sitting there, my heart went out to her. She would look at the keyboard, type a letter, look at the monitor, again at the keyboard, a letter… impervious of the fact that the future & hopes of many people before her was in her hands. Hundreds of people, all over the country would be waiting in queue in many reservation offices at the same time, many others would be refreshing their browsers to get the irctc site & this lady was sitting here lethargically learning type writing. In between, she would look around, here & there, down, the keyboard, the monitor & mumble the amount unintelligibly, ask for change, make faces… God!
The guy began checking an app on his phone, ‘I have only 54 seats available in my train. Let me check the status.’
After a few minutes, ‘It’s 34 now. Mil jayega mujhe.’ 
‘Which site is it?’
‘This is a utility’
‘Alright’
Few more minutes of anticipation
The girl behind me, ‘Mera train mein 200 seats hai.’ Tamil uncle looked at her questioningly.
‘I have 200 seats in my train for tatkal. Mil jayega.’
Her dad, ‘Bangalore train, it isn’t so difficult to get because they know many people will want seats, they put extra compartments.’
I asked her, ‘Which train are you opting for?’
‘Kochuveli.’
‘The 8.40 pm one?’
‘Yes. The same.’
*Great! So it has 200 reserved for tatkal. There are chances that I will get one.*
The guy kept praying & fiddling with his phone,
Tamil uncle,‘You should have confidence! Have faith! In fact you go before me. My needs aren’t as important as yours.’
‘No it is ok. They will check the number.’
‘I will tell them. Dont worry. You go’
‘No it is alright. There are 29 left and I will definitely get. We will go by order.’
And soon Tamil uncle’s turn came. The Lady slowly typed in the name & mumbled the amount. While she was fishing for the change, uncle gave way to the guy who gave his form.
‘I will wait here. I want to see the smile on your face.’
‘Oh’ he was visibly overwhelmed by how Tamil uncle was. So were we.
He gave the form & stood in a half pray position staring at the lady. Though it wasn’t my ticket, I too began to pray that he gets his ticket, to make a mother smile. After eons & eons of waiting, the lady said the amount & few of us in the front of the queue were smiling away to glory. The guy & tamil uncle walked away. Meanwhile, I got my tickets too. On my way out, the guy asked, ‘You got tickets?’
‘Yes. Which is your place?’
‘Amritsar. Yours?’
‘I belong here. I’m going to Puttaparthi.’
He gave a quizzical look, ‘I’m going to Bangalore where I studied, just for a visit.’
‘Oh alright.’
I didn’t want to make further conversations. Though the fellow seemed harmless from the events that unfolded that morning, I wouldn’t prefer making a conversation with any stranger more than a limit. So I was trying to leave when Tamil uncle asked me, ‘Mole.. Kitiyo?’
‘Ah kiti’

‘Where are you going?’
‘Bangalore.’
All of a sudden, his soft expressions changed. ‘Bangalore-o? Please be careful mole. It is not safe. Didn’t you hear the ATM incident?’
‘Yes uncle’
‘Be very careful. He just slashed that lady with a knife. Very brutal. Be careful tto’
‘Okay uncle, I have to leave now.’
‘Okay mole.’

That morning gave me many things to think, from the Indian railway’s systematic methods of tatkal booking, which is spoiled by such lethargic staff to those hundreds of people who are working far off from their hometowns, persons like Tamil uncle who understood the guy’s needs and was willing to sacrifice his time or even his tickets for the guy so that he could be with his mother, how the same utility was used by many for many needs, how some who really needed it, never got it. Most importantly, I got to know the procedure of booking the tatkal tickets in person 😀

PS – It’s advisable to be there before 6 am if you want tickets for a train with very few tatkal seats.