In 2016 I travelled to Japan with my best friend (7 Things You Should Know To Plan Your Japan Trip). My first question to her when we met at the airport was, “is that your luggage for 10 days?” She had the same question for me. We were definitely on two extreme ends of the packing spectrum. Her luggage was over 20kgs while mine only 8kgs. She got my point when we both had to pickup our trolley bags and climb a few flight of stairs at the subways where there were no elevators or escalators. Before she threatens to beat me up for sharing this disclaimer publicly, here’s a disclaimer – her packing skills have improved considerably and now she packs her as well as her baby’s stuff in just one suitcase.
I have a love-hate relationship with Mumbai’s weather. Every summer I hate it to the core, going into hybernation and refusing to step out of my room. Every monsoon I fall in love with it again, ogling at every green patch I can find, planning trips to the city’s outskirts. Traveling through the Konkan belt during monsoon is bliss and I make it a point to be out there soaking in the weather, even if it’s just for a weekend.
Last weekend I was in Wai, a small town in Maharashtra’s Satara district located on the Krishna river. It’s surrounded by the gorgeous Sahyadris with the clouds floating low, kissing the hills. The site is healing to the eyes and soul with all shades of green vying for your attention. I spent my day walking down to the river, letting my feet soak in its chilled water and inhaling the freshness of my surroundings.
Japanese cooking is a vast universe, way beyond the sushi, sashimi and ramen that we know of. (Read: Going beyond sushi: Eating my way through Japan). While every region has different styles of cooking, the food and cooking style varies within regions too, case in point the three cuisines of Kyoto – Kaiseki (the cuisine that invovles different cooking techniques and has evolved from the tea ceremony culture), Shojin ryori (the no meat, no onion-garlic cooking of the Buddhist monks) and Obanzai ryori (the simple home-style cooking of Kyoto). While the three styles differ from each other, they have a few things in common – using local and seasonal produce, minimal ingredients and simple flavours.
My introduction to Obanzai style of cooking happened at a local’s home in Kyoto, an experience I booked through Traveling Spoon. We drove through the Kamigamo river to reach our host Keiko Morita’s house in Koyama Kamigamo on the outskirts of Kyoto where she lives with her parents.
“Ye sheher nahi hai shakhsiyat hai.” (It’s not a city, it’s a personality.)
Said my host Saurav as I sat in the beautiful haveli of the father of modern Hindi literature Bhartendu Harishchandra. It’s my second visit to the city – just a few months after my first – and I am still trying to grab the pulse of Varanasi (or Kashi or Banaras), the oldest living city in the world. We sit under a beautifully lit gazebo in Bhartendu Bhawan discussing the city’s culture, its love for literature and performing arts and the famous Banarasi thaath (the lavish lifestyle, not literally but figuratively). The caretaker of the house makes baati chokha (rustic meal of Eastern UP) as Saurav recites Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja, Bhartendu’s famous satire. I am transported to an era that’s forgotten; it can’t get better than this. Continue reading
Anuradhapura, ‘the sacred city’ of the teardrop island has Buddhist culture seeped-in to its core. There are absolutely no tourist traps and the city feels much safer (saying this from the point of view of a solo traveler).
After spending first 3 days of my Sri Lanka trip in Galle and exploring the SoutWest Coast of Sri Lanka, I lugged my backpack on my shoulders and hopped on a train to Anuradhapura. While the train route was spectacular – coastline till Colombo and then beautiful countryside – taking a train might not be the best decision for long routes (it’s painfully slow). However, I enjoyed the slow journey mostly looking out of the window and munching every kind of snack that was being sold on the train – sliced apples and pineapple sprinkled with masala, daal vadais stuffed with prawns, peanuts etc.