January Update

It has been a month of too much on my plate. Mainly because there were almost 3 trips that I took, thus, leaving no weekend for just being. I am sure all of you have seen those memes about ‘this is the fastest January ever’ and right now, I am feeling exactly that.

So, where did I travel to?

Before 2022 ended, Rahul and I took a quick trip to Rishikesh with two of our friends. It was quite impromptu as Rishikesh is only 6 hours drive away from where we all live and Rahul & I were anyway visiting my parents, who live even closer to Rishikesh. Our friends decided to pick us up on their way and it was a very smooth and chill trip. I’ll write about it in a blog post and link back here.

After that, my friend and I took a much awaited trip to Banaras, the ancient, holy city in India. I don’t remember properly but I am very likely to believe that she and I have been thinking about making this trip since 2016 and so glad that we finally made it. Again, a post is due.

Then, this weekend that just passed us by, Rahul and I went to Jim Corbett National Park with my parents. I would probably not dedicate an entire post to it as it has very limited things to do, so let me just get to it here. Basically, its a national park where you can be one with the nature – flora and fauna both. The place is famous for tigers and there are regular forest safaris arranged for tiger spotting. I have been here once more before with my engineering friends and there used to be only early morning safaris back then. This time, there were afternoon safaris as well, which is what we opted for to avoid the early morning cold. Literally no one I know has ever spotted a tiger in the Corbett Safaris and so was the case this time for us. πŸ˜€ There are very less tigers in the entire national park region anyway. We did, however, spot tiger paw marks. My trip highlight was the Kosi river that flows from this place. When I had been to Corbett the last time, I didn’t know about the river, neither was my resort situated near it. My husband researched and told me about the river and that there are resorts next to it. Hence, I spent time looking at the river from my room’s balcony and we also went to sit there. It was really peaceful and calming.

I am then taking cue from Lyssy’s post here to take stock of my month, she calls it “What’s Up Posts”, it was started by her blogger friend Shay 8 years ago it seems!! Let’s see if I manage to do it every month.

I am going to answer all the questions in the below card for the post then.

What We’re Eating?

I mentioned here how I am trying to eat healthy in my daily routine. The only thing is that this month didn’t have a lot of routine days, but that also means I loved so many things during my trips. Banaras trip was exceptionally good when it comes to food. I have written all about my Banaras food expeditions on my Instagram here, in case you would like to know.

What I’m Reminiscing about?

I am in general someone who reminisces a lot, so its difficult to keep a track of this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Loving?

Absolutely loving my rhythm and carving a routine for myself in all the chaos. I should also mention here even though I hadn’t considered it while writing out this post that I am thankful for the chaotic but fun travel opportunities.

What we’ve been up to?

Work, travel and finding moments for myself and even for me and my husband.

What I’m dreading?

I am going to meet a lot of a particular side of my extended family in the upcoming days, dreading is too strong a word, but I am cautious of it getting too overwhelming.

What I’m working on?

Snail’s pace but I am trying to work on this. Trying being the keyword, haha!

What I’m Excited about?

Even though I mentioned I am worried about getting overwhelmed about meeting the said side of my extended family, I am looking forward to enjoy in the wedding this is for. I love Indian weddings more than anything!

What I’m Watching/Reading?

I just completed my first read of the year – The Hindu Way by Shashi Tharoor. It was a roll over from 2022, now I am onto my second one – The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjay Baru, I have never read a book on politics and, surprisingly I am quite enjoying it.

I am watching ‘The Crown’ every now and then, mostly with my meals. I am not able to binge watch it because a) I cannot play it as background music while working since it requires attention the first time, b) my husband does not enjoy it, and a couple of hours at night is the only time we have in common apart from breakfast so I don’t want to watch such a long series during that time.

I recently concluded ‘Emily in Paris’ and man do I love it! I never expected to enjoy it so much. I might do a post on it, you know.

I am also watching the Indian version of Shark Tank, not enjoying it as much as the Season 1.

I may have re-watched a lot of stuff, and I am also looking forward to watch SRK’s latest movie Pathaan after 4 years in a movie hall. Although I don’t have a lot of hope from the story, but just for the heck of watching SRK on big screen.

What I’m Listening to?

Oh, this is a good one for me. So, I may have mentioned that I am not into any specific music, mostly anything nostalgic Bollywood or any famous Punjabi songs float my boat. Every now and then I listen to random podcasts but I haven’t found one that I love and its very random and also very infrequent. However, very recently, I have kind of started building my podcast listening habit to avoid looking at my phone in mornings and right before bed. I am liking it not only to avoid screen time but also because I am leaning to informative stuff. I won’t share which ones I am listening to because I don’t have a strong opinion yet on this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Wearing?

I am sad that I didn’t use a lot of my winter stuff on my trips, but kind of repeated the same things. I just wanted to be super comfortable and not try at all. I am also sad that my two boots that I love have started to chip, because I definitely wanted to use them more. I’ll probably check with a shoemaker who sits outside my house if something can be done.

What I’m doing this weekend?

The coming weekend, i.e. Feb first week, would be the weekend I would want to chill completely. Let’s see how that goes, although knowing some upcoming things, I think it would be busy again.

What I’m looking forward to next month?

The said wedding fun.

Planning for more travels, especially a big one, fingers crossed.

Most importantly, improving some things about my work.

What else is new?

I had to think hard for this, so I am just sharing a silly thing that came up in my mind – I am soon going to try a fun takeout and planning to convert it to date night. Let’s see how that goes.

4 foods from Himachal I cannot get over with!

Remember my trip to Manali and Kasol in 2021? First of all, please show that post some love since it was truly one of my favorite trips. Living for so long in the mountains is a dream come true for me, and I cannot be more thankful that this pandemic allowed us to do that.

Now, onto the topic for today, I had this post sitting in my drafts since long from the time I was reminiscing about all the good food I ate on that trip. A disclaimer though – all the dishes mentioned below except one are not specific to Himachal Pradesh. They are popular in the rest of North India as well, but I am specifically going to talk about the Himachali versions today.

Let’s get started:

Siddu: This is the only one on the list which is a pure Himachal based dish. Siddu is basically a dumpling made of flour (it didn’t seem like wheat flour or all purpose to me but I Google-d and it is in fact wheat flour only) and its filled with spicy pastes, like the regular North Indian Spices, salt, pepper, red pepper, coriander powder etc, but the real deal is poppy seeds paste. It seriously changes the game. It’s usually served with, well, again some spicy chutneys (dips) and loads of ghee (clarified butter) on top. I think its the kind of dish which either you would love a lot or hate a lot. For me, its the former. I would kill to eat a nice Siddu plate right now, but its a very traditional Himachali dish. Honestly, I have started appreciating foods that are only available at certain locations a lot more as I realize that everything being available everywhere just takes the charm away.

Rajma Madra: Rajma is red kidney beans and though rajma curry is the most popular North Indian dish, but “Rajma Madra” is specific to Himachal. It is basically Rajma curry but in a very thin and spicy gravy. Its almost like a thin consistency, spicy soup and despite the thinness, goes well with rice. Personally, I am not as much of a rajma lover as North Indians usually are, but I love this Himachali version a lot. I also read up just now that its probably different because the gravy is yogurt-based. Yumm!

Kadhi Pakora: Funny thing, as a kid, I used to hate Kadhi and never understood how can it be someone’s favorite food. As a grown up, I have nothing but respect for this yogurt curry. I was once out with few colleagues in Ljubljana, Slovenia to an Indian restaurant and a foodie colleague of mine ordered Kadhi (which was served under the soup section there). I didn’t expect him to like it because its a very distinct taste. He fell in love with it. Anyhow, coming back to the Himachali Kadhi. Now, the thing is that Kadhi is made in many variations across India, or at least in the states above the peninsula. πŸ˜€ Rajasthan has a very thin soup-like Kadhi and Gujarat ones have some sweet and sour thing going on but the Kadhi in Punjab, or higher up North, like Himachal, is super thick and rich, and is always served with Pakoras (fritters) dipped in it. What I especially liked in the Kadhi in Himachal was that it was not supremely thick like the ones you get in restaurants, which are nothing but killjoys really. It was just the right consistency, thick but not chokingly. πŸ˜€

Bun Chole: I don’t know which North Indian state this street/fast food belongs to but in recent times, I have most commonly seen them in Himachal. Basically, a super spicy Chole (white chickpeas) dish is made and served stuffed inside buns like a hamburger, along side green chillies and raw onions. My spice-loving a*s loves it and misses it now.

I know, I know. My list is very generic and I haven’t even touched upon very traditional cuisines. I really hope I get to taste more of Himalayan cuisines. In fact, on that note, I recalled that I love this restaurant in Delhi – Yeti, the Himalayan Kitchen – I think its Nepali and Tibetan food. I have only been there once but I wholeheartedly recommend it IF AND ONLY IF your spice tolerance is high.

Blogmas Day 5 | My 2020 Favorites! The year that was!

Ushering in the new year watching Mirzapur in bed (truly grateful <3). I had one more new year plan which didn’t quite materialize – put a besan (gram flour) face mask on with Rahul – this Rahul refuses because it’s cold. So, well, Mirzapur it is.

I don’t want to end this year without doing a roundup of my favorites, because it would be a nice recollection of the year that went by:

Favorite movie
Cannot say that I watched too many, but still from the limited ones, I don’t have a favorite. In fact, I would rather link this list of my favorite re-watches. I watched most of these in 2020 as well.

Favorite Show
I watched quite some shows online this year, especially with the lockdown. I know I am still far behind what with people consuming every new show on Netflix these days (something which you may have guessed because of my watching Mirzapur in end of Dec!) but by own standards, I watched quite some. Among these, Panchayat was my favorite, simply because it was a refreshing concept.

Favorite Food
Well, well, well. This is a tough one, because I love food too much to pick just one favorite. However, I am going to pick an unexpected one – Momos is one of my most favorite things on Earth and I didn’t expect to find them in Surat, but forget finding them, I got to sample some of the best ones I have ever had here in Surat. There is a ‘Darjeeling Momos’ stall right next to where I live and the people selling the momos seem to be from North East, some of the best ones I have ever had!

Favorite Outfit
I scored a pair of Zara formal pants at Brand Factory on great discount and it was everything I have ever wanted in a pant – well fitted but flared bottom and that steely Grey color! I love it and am itching to wear it to work, except that I don’t want to go to work, I am quite happy with wfh now!

Favorite Skin Care Product
None. I tried a lot of new stuff this year and I was so looking forward to chemical exfoliation changing the game for me but nothing really worked. As in, nothing bad happened, but nothing good happened either. On the other hand, this was an year of all the random make-up purchases working awesomely. The irony is that there were not much occasions to wear them to. πŸ˜€

Favorite Book
I am going to pick 3 here because I enjoyed all of them equally – 1) A Man called Ove – endearing & emotional, I have logged down my love for this one here at Instagram, 2) I’ve Got Your Number – nothing new here, it never happens that I read a Kinsella and don’t enjoy it to the core and 3) Shoe Dog – this was an unexpected one. Phil Knight’s autobiography on how he set up Nike was one of the best stories I read this year and a lot of people will relate to this feeling. So well written! As the testimonials on the book say, Phil is a great storyteller.

Favorite Event
One of my closest friends got married this year in November. This was a wedding which I was waiting for since the beginning of the year because it was the last wedding of my friend circle of post grad. We were really hoping that it doesn’t happen during Corona, but it did and while we were in extreme dilemma about attending, but since the beginning we knew it will be a huge regret if we skip this wedding. Hence, we went and it was truly one of the funnest times of my year. I just realized that even the other two of my friends from my post grad group got married to each other this year as well, in Jan, when Corona didn’t exist for us. Aside this, small joys like watching random things on tv with family when lockdown had just started counts big time too. I have always enjoyed watching Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana and it started airing like a proper show on TV during the beginning of lockdown. We recently went to a beach resort here near to Surat and it was a lovely experience too. I also want to give a special mention to an amazing product that I bought this year in the middle of lockdown – it was my first non-essential purchase after March. The below lovely Parama blouse.

While typing out this post, the new year has just begun. I wish you a very happy, healthy and successful new year! Hope this new year brings tons of luck and happiness for all of us! I couldn’t be more thankful for 2020, even though it was the oddest year that we have been alive for but still there’s a lot to be grateful for – being near to your parents more often, a healthy life, food and roof, a fulfilling life. Truly grateful.

13 | What your Sunday looked like ?

Mine was more than decent. I spent the entire day taking things slow, at my own pace & not getting fed up of it even for a moment. I never skip my breakfasts on the weekends also, even though I don’t wake up that early. Today it was oats chilla (oats crepe of sorts) and scrambled eggs with cheddar cheese. Slightly more work than my usual fare (because I had to use the grinder to powder the oats for the batter), then watching ‘The Office’ along with breakfast, followed by another snooze. Showering, putting a hair pack for that extra indulgence :D. Then, lunch was lachcha paratha and chilke wali moong dal (if you are not an Indian reading this, please Google :)). Would you believe if I tell you that this was followed by another snooze? πŸ˜€ Then, I had tea and read for sometime.

Just when it could have possibly felt like too much time spent alone, a plan was made with friends. A lovely way to end the day! We went to this place called Urban Tamasha on 100 ft road, Indiranagar. Pretty good! And just before meeting them, I also happened to shop.

It feels like Sunday spoilt me a bit, but I do feel good. So, all’s good. πŸ™‚

Would love to know how was yours. πŸ™‚

11 | 7 places where I ate in Pondy: Friday’s List

Hola amigos!

Friday's List2

I am going to have a separate post for my Pondicherry trip but today is Friday’s List night & what better than to talk about food. Especially because, Pondy is a place which has so many cute cafes to take life slowly in and with such awesome French decor, and when you crave for something more spicy, you go to the South Indian joints!

So, I am going to talk about 7 places that I ate at. I wanted my trip to be a mix of places that people touted about and the ones I discovered myself. Considering I had only 2 days there, I managed to try out quite a fair lot! Here it goes:

  1. Hari Tea Stall or H2K: If you start from the clock tower on MG Road and keep going straight in the Rock beach direction, you will spot this super tiny South Indian breakfast type shop on the right side. I read about someone loving their mini samosas, so I had to go because I have had my fair share of mallu style mini samosas in Dubai & I love them to bits! I also ended up having other things like dosa on their menu & these guys are super good. Do try them out for sure.IMG_20181230_112250.jpg
  2. Cafe Des Arts: Unarguably the most spoken about place in Pondy because they have the most Instagram worthy wall in Pondy! I saw a lot of blogs mentioning that this place is quite a put off after you are done clicking the wall. However, my experience has been fairly good. First of all, their interiors are also very beautiful and, second, if not outstanding, their food is pretty decent at least. I had a ratatouille crepe with mozarella & saw others having pancakes which looked good. πŸ˜› Coffee was a downer though (which is anyway my complaint with a lot of places in Pondy).

3. Artika Cafe: Okay, I did read up this name on some blogs but didn’t pay much attention as there were other places which took centerstage in those blogs. This actually was one of my favourites in Pondy! And what a chance discovery! So, as soon as I got done with Cafe Des Arts, I was craving good coffee and while roaming in the French Quarters, I came across this place and just entered (mostly because they had a washroom & I really had to pee). Then, I ordered a coffee and just settled in. I loved how this place was not rushed, there was never too much crowd but never fully empty and the place is surrounded by greenery and lush sounds to give you company. This place is surreal really! And the best part, they have an art gallery, I bought 2 vintage postcards from there. I ended up going to this place twice, the food is average cafe food but overall lovely experience!

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4. Kasha ki Asha: I saw multiple people mentioning to try out their European thali. I cannot even begin to tell how bad it was. Honestly, I feel bad saying so because this place is run by a women group and the earnings from this place are very helpful for a lot of needy people. But I really hope they improve the food. Even at home, a good salad is not a very tough job, so I felt a bit bad as a customer. Again, the ambience is extremely good what with greenery and leafy sounds all around.

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5. Cafe Xtasi: Okay, a lot of people recommend this place for wood-fired pizzas and I had a hunch that it will just be a normal one, this place is famous as its old, but I wanted to try the pizza anyhow. But something weird ensued. I crossed this cafe multiple times on my walks and every time it gave a shady feeling, as in not super shady but for a girl on a solo trip, definitely! I didn’t want to miss it so, at one point, I went in and asked one of the staffs if there is any other branch, because the board mentioned Xtasi gastro pub while everywhere on the internet its Cafe Xtasi. The guy hesitated for a minute and then said, “No, no, this is the only one”. Even more shady now! I immediately decided to go to another pizza place. There was waiting there, so I thought shady or not shady, I am going back to Xtasi now (not very wise guys! If it feels shady, skip it!). So, I put Cafe Xtasi in Google Maps and reached a totally different Cafe Xtasi. It is then that I realized this is the original and earlier I was always crossing the rip-off one. πŸ™‚ I had a very good meal here but nothing out of the world.

6. Baker’s Street: Another place which gets a lot of love on the internet because French bakery, hello! But the sad part is I always crossed this place when I wasn’t that hungry. Eventually I decided I’ll get something packed from here to take back, like a quiche or croissant, but when I went there to do that, it was closed. I did try their coconut ice cream, which was good but then, its coconut icecream!

7. The Gelato Factory: This one deserves a special mention because it was a chance discovery again & exactly what I needed then. So, again, I crossed this place multiple times & its done in a cutesy manner so it definitely drew attention. It seemed to be new. It was never on top of my list of places to go eat at, but I had kept it at the back of my mind in case opportunity comes. πŸ˜› I make it sound like a really important decision, but, well, food is. On my last night dinner in Pondy, I somehow saw myself near to this place & what I was craving was this – something light like a soup but also not like cafe food which is creamy or mild, but something very spicy like Indian food. Yeah, pretty complicated! However, I had zero expectations of getting exactly this requirement fulfilled πŸ˜€ so, I just thought of finding a nice soup place. I asked these guys if they have soups. They said yes and I quickly entered. One look at their menu and I realized they are kind of doing Indian versions of many things (y’all grown up in Indian know those kinds of menus). I ordered a tomato soup & cutlets. I loved both the things!!! It was just how I wanted, light, warm, comforting but also Indian style! πŸ™‚


That’s it for my Friday’s List. Do let me know if you have been to Pondy. πŸ™‚

Disclaimer: I didn’t try any food places in Auroville even though I did go there. All the places mentioned above are from the French Quarters or White Town area.