About me

Am a contradiction of sorts. i love going out and having a good time with friends, and i can also stay home chill out over a book or a movie..

Am very passionate about writing, so give me a topic and watch me float away into wonderland... Love reading books- sometimes i read 3books simultaneously, crazy about music- need it all around me, all the time and ofcourse, i totally am ga ga goo goo over my 7yr old naughty brat- Floppy!! errr, Prince Floppy!! :)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Beyond the planes

Had just landed at Bangalore Airport, walking towards the shuttle I spotted this beautiful sky and cloud formation....

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Skywatch Friday...Golden Gate Bridge and the skies

It was a cool beautiful morning when I landed in San Francisco... As I sipped on the hot coffee while waiting for my bro in law [S] and niece [Sr] to come pick me up, I kept wondering what he had in store for the day. He had mentioned "lets do touristy things on Saturday, chill on Sunday and subsequent days were for me to explore the town/city"...  

Within a few minutes they pulled up and we were off on the road.. And lo behold, we were driving down the Golden Gate Bridge, the red bridge loomed large and was right in front of my eyes as we drove through it.. We pulled into the view point area and got off the car to get a good look at it.. The bridge was packed with kids who seem to have come on a field trip, and then there were hoards more in the viewing arena..  

And just as we were ready to leave, noticed a girl place her tiny dog on a mat on the wall, and start clicking pictures.. Well, we joined in and clicked a shot of the little pup.. She had a fancy looking mat, leash and a bag for it.. If you ask me, it looked more like the dog needed some food and treats.. :D 

After a quick few photographs, we decided to head out to somewhere up in the hills where the view was better and crowds were fewer..   The sky was crystal clear and blue that morning... The morning had been cool, but I could feel a warmth creep in... As we drove away from the hills, we could hear the hoards of cars drive up and make a beeline for the few parking spots available. 

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sarda Farms, Nashik

Friend and another lady who were part of the road trip had been subscribing to milk from Sarda Farms for a few months now. And so one of the things we were curious to do while in Nasik was to visit the Sarda Farms.Having grown up seeing cows in my grandparents house, watching them being milked, heck we have even played with the calves, I was curious to see what was different at the farm.. My friend had written to them earlier, asking for permission and fixed an appointment as well, Sunday evening 4pm. When we looked up Sarda Farms on Google Map, it showed it the place an hour away- in Shenith[Taluka Igatpuri, (off Mumbai - Shirdi highway)]. We planned accordingly, heralded the kids into the two cars and hit the road. 

Asked for directions every now and then, had guys on bikes literally taking over the route, showing us the way. And then what happens, we reach the office of Sarda Farms only to discover it is their Corporate office and not the farm. Bummer!! A few frantic calls, some semi-heated discussions - Should we go ahead, cos the actual farm was about an hour away [ acc to Google Map] but wait, the guy at the other end gave us a route that would take half the time [woot woot.. what sort of sorcery was this... ]. Finally, we caved in and decided to stick to the original plan and armed with the directions he had given and our trusted Google map, we were off. Well, what do you know, we actually reached the Farm gates in half an hour. Lo Behold~ 

Met the guy who was to show us around, the first he made us do was step into a small tray filled with lime powder. This is so that we dont spread any bacteria that was in our shoes into the farm. 

Founded by Shrirang Sarda, his sole objective was making sure people got to enjoy fresh milk delivered at their doorsteps - a luxury in today's times. The milk is packaged in glass bottles much like it used to be in the good old days and delivered promptly in the morning [between 5 am & 7 am], which ensures the quality is as high as it can get. The 4+year old brand now delivers to over 7000 homes across Mumbai and Nashik.The farm generates around 10,000 litres of milk per day . 

Friend of mine mentioned that the beauty of this brand is that only when someone recommends you can you become a customer. And then the very first time you reach out to them, they sent across a sample bag with milk, ghee and curd. Talk about building confidence and letting your product talk about the brand, thereby drawing customers.. At the farm in Nasik, we were told they had 1600 cows, and a few bulls as well. 

The cows were segregated based on their health, first time pregnant, some that were pregnant and milking, others that were new, and then there were the sheds for calves - ranging from 0-10day old going all the way to 1 year olds. We got to walk through the property, spread across 11 acres , petting some of the calves and watching how the milking process was done as well. They got periodical medical check ups done to assess their health, wellbeing, ailments [if any] and how/why they were giving as much milk as they did.. And then there was a huge shed that contained the cow feed- roasted corn, hay, and a whole lot of other food items that were mixed and fed. They have a property right next door where they grow a variety of plants that are part of the cow feed as well, and when there is a shortage they purchase from other farms nearby. The place also had fans, water sprinklers, and a scratch post for the cows to play with... 

The milking process is completely automated, the cows are herded into the zone in single file and they seem to know where to go, what to do. The suction gadgets are placed on their udders once cleaned and the milking happens, once done they are sent out back into their holding area. The milk is then brought down to 4degrees, and sent to container trucks which take them to the other unit for further processing, packaging and shipping out.. Think the milk is priced at Rs90/ litre,which is fairly high when compared to other milk,but then small price to pay for good quality.

We got to taste the milk - in its purest form or as coffee/tea.. Must say, it does taste far better than the packaged milk we get at home! After spending about an hour and a half, or more, we watched the sun set over the hills as we got into the cars to head back on the long drive ahead.... 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Skywatch Friday... Up towards the North I go

This year has been good in terms of travelling, have done a trip a month [ almost ] and they have all been to new destinations [some with a stop over at a familiar town/city].. Oct end took me to Mumbai, and then from there managed to do a road trip to Nasik, then a quick stop over in Bangalore before taking the train back to Chennai...

Here are a few shots captured during the 1st leg of the journey to Mumbai... [now you know why I make sure to grab a window seat on all my flights... lol]

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Parekh Farms, Nasik

Mumbai is one of those cities that has quite a few options for those looking to getaway for the weekend. But the flip-side to this is most places get packed and roads are trafficked on Saturday mornings. And even if you do manage to getaway, where would you stay? All the hotels are bound to be booked. 

Here is one place that we stayed at which I would highly recommend for anyone doing a weekend getaway. The place is located in Nasik and is called Parekh Farms. During my recent visit to Mumbai,  we decided to do a short holiday and a road trip at that. Except this time we were leaving Friday morning , so hopefully the traffic scene would be better.

Situated 11 kms from Nashik city on the Trimbakeshwar Road is where you would find the property am referring to. It is tucked away off the main road, but is quite accessible and not remote.  As you drive in, you are welcomed by nothing but silence, which is just wow, especially for someone like me who loves it!

We were greeted by Sumeet Parekh [who manages the property along with his parents, they also happen to live in the house near the entrance with his wife & two kids] and Cocoa, their friendly Lab. The main property has 5 rooms, each of which has been done up aesthetically in different colours, with plenty of natural light flowing in. 

The first space you see is the kitchen and dining area - food is served in buffet style near the kitchen and there are few tables chairs/benches to sit on. Alongside is a shelve with random set of books, games and toys for the kids. 

As you walk down the passage towards the rooms, in the middle are  small tanks of sorts that house Lily pods, few other water plants along with toads and guppies. These were the major attraction with the kids, who wouldn't let go till the time we actually bid adieu to the property. 

On the left side is a large room with a Table tennis , carrom board and other sports related stuff. Beyond this is a small basket ball court of sorts. Every other open space is filled with beautiful plants, flowers and their garden. 

We had taken 3 rooms, and each one was quite comfortable. Our room had one single bed, a big king size bed, cupboard, a shelf containing water bottle with glasses and a bathroom that also had an outdoor shower area. The bed opened to huge french windows that had simple curtains on them. The rooms have only fans, and so it would get quite hot if you were visit during summer months, so plan accordingly. The rooms had two fans and plenty of lights,  with beautiful raw brick walls that added to the cool factor. The decor is something I gotta mention as it was well thought out [ Sumeet's wife is an architect who has designed the place], the plants, the colours, the furnishings and just about everything else is very pleasing to the eye and works well. 

We were there with no set agenda and all set to chill, we were happy to go about doing things on our own, plus we had two cars with drivers to take us around. Otherwise you might be a little lost not sure about the public transport system here.

One of the kids had his birthday few days earlier and so my friend who had discovered this property spoke to Sumeet, got reference of a cake shop and managed to order a cake. Must say it was quite a yumm cake as well.. :) 

Since it is a home stay, dont expect room service or swanky elements. If you need water, or coffee or tea you need to do a quick hop over to the kitchen area. They are quite open, and give you a free run of the place, so feel free to get what you need or ask the help if you need something specific.  

We paid about Rs4000 per day per room, had to pay an advance and remaining at the time of check out by cash [not sure if they accept credit cards/netbanking]. The closest ATM was about 2kms away, a SBI one [I know this cos we went in search of one] :D

Breakfast is included in the package, and was ready by around 9am. It would either be poha, saboodana upma, bread/toast with jam, omlettes, fresh cut fruits, coffee, tea, herbal drink[ Sumeet's dad's speciality]. The days we were there, we did have lunch and while it was a simple menu, it was quite good [ some local dishes were also part of the buffet and again if you want something specific, you can request them or teach the girls who would make it for you, same holds for food for those picky kids] They do serve meat at lunch, one dish [if i remember right]

What made the place and stay special for us was that we all got to chill out, it was away from the city yet close enough and there was plenty of open space to just walk in. You get to enjoy the hosts' company through the day. 

Places you can visit around here
1. Sula Vineyard
2. Vellone Vineyard
3. Sarda Farms
4. Triambakeswar Temple 

[will write more about these in subsequent posts] 

If you are the kind who is a no frills fancy, happy go lucky person who wouldn't mind sitting in the garden reading a book while sipping tea this is the ideal place for you. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

Vegas and all the jazz.. Part 1

Having seen enough movies and TV shows featuring Las Vegas, the lights, the glamour and the casinos were way too much for me. I was not interested in any of those, but then a tiny part of me was curious I guess. 

When I was planning my USA trip, I knew I would be visiting the Grand Canyon and when I looked at the various options of getting there, most of them included Vegas as part of the journey. After a bit of deliberation, I caved in and chose a tour that was for 3 days, 2 nights through Take Tour company.

The agenda for the tour was, 

  • Reach and Stay over in Las Vegas 
  • Visit Grand Canyon (Grand Canyon South Rim or west)
  • Optional- Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe bend [though not mentioned in main itinerary, they offer this visit]
  • Breakfast and leave to Los Angeles
  • Visit Hoover Dam, 
  • Quick stop at Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens
  • Longish break at Barstow (Tanger Outlet Center)
The bus departed from China town around 7am and we were in Vegas, at the hotel- Circus Circus by 4pm. The hotel was quite nice, vintage in outer appearance but the rooms were beautiful. Mine had a view of the entire Vegas strip and the Trump tower [ a tall building shimmering of gold].. After a short nap and change, I was back and ready to explore the city, to see for myself what it was all about. 

The first stop was the old part of Vegas- Fremont Street... We had about an hour here before we moved on to the next spot. This section was packed with hotels from then years gone by, a few souvenir stores and general outlets [ water, snacks, etc]... A lady from China came up, struck a conversation and asked if she could tag along with me that evening. She knew just a few words in English and had come to Dallas for a teacher's conference from Beijing. How about that... And all she wanted to do was shop shop and more shopping... lolz.. Oh and ya take selfies/self portraits everywhere ... 

That evening was magical, for lack of better word.. I enjoyed wandering the streets, watching the street performers [ if you want to take their picture, make sure to get their permission and pay them something...] . Also grabbed myself a few souvenirs from the stores.. The highlight was that I gave ziplining a shot. Dumped my backpack at the counter and went ahead to zip across the long stretch in that indoor space. Wow, what a rush!! It was over in a flash. So much for all the anxiety and palpitations fluttering within me while I made my way up to the podium.. 

What else did I do in Vegas? well, stay tuned... 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sangam point, Leh

As we rode along the mountains, the landscape changed slowly, from blue skies and brown mountains to grey waters and muddy paths.. We were headed towards the Sangam area. The spot where two rivers come together, join hands and flow along- the Zanskar and Indus river. The vehicle came to a halt and we could see the rivers down below shimmering like a silver necklace amidst the tall mountain ranges. One was slightly blue while the other was silver & grey. After a few minutes watching them race along separately before meeting and flowing ahead, we drove down the hill getting closer to the river.  They flow into Pakistan before ending up in the Arabian sea. 

In winter months the Zanskar river froze and form a trekking path for adventure lovers. This trek is known as Chadar trek.

We made our way down near the water where we felt the cold water rush beneath our feet. Played around for a while, making jenga towers with pebbles and trying to see who can get the stones to hop most number of times along the water. We noticed a few folks doing rafting, and there was also a sign that Bungee jumping would be available soon at this spot. 

Even though the rivers were flowing quite fast and heavy, there was nothing but silence all around. We sat there for quite a while before making a beeline for the vehicle and heading out of here. I realised that is the beauty of Leh. There is not much to do, but what you do get to see/witness is magical and breath taking.. 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Skywatch Friday- The Magnetic Hill, Leh

As we got back on the Leh-Kargil-Baltik national highway, we were told the next stop would be the 
"Magnetic Hill" which is located about about 30 km from Leh.. It is at a height of 14,000 feet above sea level . I had read about this place during my research on Leh but there were contradicting pieces about the same. Some said it was just an optical illusion, others say there is a phenomenon that exists, and then there is one that says this is said to be the path straight to heaven.. 

Well, the human mind chooses to believe what it does right? So, there we were headed towards the "Magnetic hill". As if on cue, our driver turned off the ignition neat  the spot that carried a box with the name board. And lo behold, the vehicle moved ahead down the road. Wait, I thought the road ahead was going uphill, is it a mirage? Are my eyes deceiving me? The car stopped few 100 yards ahead and we walked out to inspect to the place. We did see a few bikers and trucks drive by, and every single one of them would pause when they approached the box marked on the road. 

Finally, we gave up and just enjoyed the place, the silence, the long winding road that seemed to disappear around the mountains and the beautiful blue skies.  Did not matter if this was for real or just an illusion, it was a place worth a visit~! Sometimes it is fun to just believe the concept and play along, what is wrong with throwing caution to wind and enjoying something cos its fun, right?

For more beautiful skies, visit Skywatch Friday