Category Archives: Travel

Books and a lot more in Kolkata

Lot of things have changed in the last few months…I am coming out of my rut and learning some important truths, especially because of changes on the work front, among other things and not to forget, the presence of some people in my life who have helped me do so. It is time I took charge of some things. There’s an important person that needs my attention – and that person is ME.

In my attempt to do so, I am learning to give more time to myself. And that includes travelling to new places, meeting new people, and spending time with people I love, even if it means going out of my way to do so. Mostly, I have to learn to not be too hard on myself.

Last month, I went to my friend Eesha’s wedding in Kolkata. It was a lazy weekend, spending time at the wedding venue doing nothing but looking good. Eesha made a very pretty bride and she was especially in high spirits on the night of the wedding. Having never been to a Bong wedding before, it felt like an adventure of sorts – observing and participating in different rituals and eating food I have never had before ! The high point of the holiday has to be the food – I had fish, lots of it actually, each dish different from the other. Shaileja and I gorged on the food while Riddhika sat on the side with the vegetarian fare and Anant took selfies.

The next two days after the wedding were spent in lazing around and occasionally visiting places of note. 😛

We started with lunch at a place called Mocambo on Park Street, followed by a visit to the Presidency College area where we spent a major part of the afternoon looking for second hand books.

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I ended up buying two books (Russian and Soviet Story by Dostoyevsky and Penguin Modern Poetswith poems by Kingsley Amis, Dom Moraes and Peter Porter) while Shaileja browsed through the different books trying to find something she liked. Anant was heavily disappointed as he couldn’t find a particular book on sea diving that he wanted at a book store which claimed to have all the titles possible. Amit was too busy bouncing around, very happy with a book on cricket that we found. It was such a delight looking at him, browse through the photographs like a child who’d just been given a toy. I used the negotiation skills learnt in my sales job to maximum advantage and got the book seller to give away the book at Rs. 500. Amit owes me big, for that one ! 😛

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After spending so much time in the Kolkata humidity, we went to the Indian Coffee House for a quick cup of coffee. Some cities have a distinct identity. However, Kolkata seems to have a soul.

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The day ended with a quiet dinner at Flury’s and a drive to the Victoria Memorial. I was a little surprised how most restaurants in Park Street close at 10 pm. We got a cab who was enthusiastic enough to drive us to the Howrah Bridge. It was just touch and go, but I felt like my life’s purpose had been fulfilled. 😛

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The next day, after a hearty breakfast, I made the others go to the Indian Museum, which in hindsight was not a very good decision. Although the building is quite beautiful, architecturally, the museum is quite boring. The natural history section is quite creepy. Seeing an embryo of a human child preserved was quite chilling. Somehow, it gave me the creeps.

So, after that, nobody really listened to me as to what we should do next. And I followed good advice received from others by having lunch at this small place called The Blue Poppy at Sikkim House on Russel Street. We found it after a bit of an effort but having some thukpa there, made me feel so happy and contented, as if everything was quite alright. We spent the rest of the day, lazing around at Aqua, The Park, having bloody mary’s and enjoying the beautiful ambiance of the sitting space near the pool.

IMG_20150301_180553The next morning was hard. Taking that early morning flight back to Delhi seemed like such an impossible thing to do, especially the thought of going directly to work. It was only the promise of the next weekend made me take the flight (and the money spent in booking the return flight at the last minute along with the imagined look on my boss’s face if I didn’t turn up for work :-P).

Sigh, Life is beautiful, isn’t it, when you have the liberty to do the things you like doing, visit new places and the love and company of good people?

Book Nook #2: 3L Library in Defence Colony Market, New Delhi

It’s been a pitiful state of affairs these past few weeks. I have been sad and discontented because of things not really going well on any front, especially work. I am still discontented but I am learning to take it better. I guess the pressure will always remain as long as this sales stint lasts. One just needs to not be too harsh on oneself especially when things aren’t in one’s control.

There are so many things that one sees and ponders about in the course of a day. A sales stint means that I travel across the breadth of the city of Delhi every single day of the week (except Sunday, thank god).  Auto wallahs have become both, my dearest friends and enemies.

A sales job, particularly in FMCG, can be grueling and extremely demotivating. You will get shouted upon by your boss, a purchase manager in a top hotel, the distributor or a random shop keeper during the course of the day. You may be lucky enough to not get kicked out by a disgruntled shop keeper. In all this, one needs to find a reason to smile everyday and motivate oneself before the start of each day.

A sales job will also quickly make you understand that having got a MBA degree from a good B school, does not entitle you with special privileges or benefits. Nothing comes easy in life. Probably, this is why they say that if you can do sales, you can do anything in life.

But there are also some advantages to being in sales. You get to see many places; places you never even knew existed. Having been assigned South Delhi as my territory, I have seen it all – the big intimidating bungalows in Panchsheel Enclave, the hip and happening Hauz Khaus Market, Nehru Place and its population of upwardly mobile white collared work force, the narrow lanes of Kilokari Village, the dusty roads of Jaitpur and the always choked street of Chattarpur Mandir. You get the experience the vibrations on the ground, the nation’s heart beat, especially before important political happenings in the country. I could feel the anger among people just before the Delhi Elections. You also come to know about different perspectives, a break from your own closeted thinking, being used to a specific view point as a product of your environment and upbringing.

And then, sometimes, you come across tiny gems, hidden away in places where you would least expect it. And so, here comes the second post in the Book Nook series.

This time, I feature the 3L Library in Defence Colony Market. I found it quite by accident when I was at the market for a sales call.

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3L Library, 49, Defence Colony Market, New Delhi

It is located just behind Moets and is a place from where you can buy or rent second hand books. For renting, you need to get membership which is very easy, all you need to do is register your name and details and pay a deposit. There is a fixed amount of books that you can rent on each visit. You can also buy books instead of borrowing books. It also rents out movies and DVDs.

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The place has a big collection of books, especially Mills and Boons. I just stood and stared at the familiar purple colour (the Mills and Boons branding) that I saw in 4-5 shelves.

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Apart from that, there are many popular authors available. You will find a lot of mass paperbacks. However, there are also some classics here and there.

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So, did you know about this place? Or have you tried out their services? Do you like reading about such places? Do leave a comment with your experiences.

You can also contribute to the Book Nook series by writing in to booksandalotmore@gmail.com with the subject ‘Book Nook’ about your favorite reading spaces anywhere in the world (or in outer space, if you’ve been there 😛 )

Second Hand Book Finds #1

17 Problems only book lovers will understand seems to have gone viral in social media. I am not surprised, since it’s so TRUE, as most of you would agree! And the 17th problem is that you can never have TOO MANY BOOKS! With so many books still sitting on my table, waiting to be read, I still had to get myself some more books that I couldn’t resist buying when I chanced upon these series of second hand book stalls in Saket, thanks to one of my market visits (I love my job :-P)! Find below some photos of the place and my second hand book finds!

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This is near PVR Anupam, Saket in South Delhi, in case you want to check out the books.

This is what I bought:

Second hand books 1

Naomi Wolf, The Beauty MythThis book is an important voice for the third wave of the feminist movement.

Random fact about the book: In 2002, Harper Collins published a 10th anniversary commemorative edition of The Beauty Myth.

Flipkart | Amazon | Goodreads

John Irving, The Cider House Rules: The story is about a young doctor and explores the abortion debate. Yes, the movie starring Charlize Theron and Tobey Maguire is based on this book.

Flipkart | Amazon | Goodreads

(Related: Review of ‘Last Night in Twisted River’ by the same author)

Wilbur Smith, Eagle in the Sky: I generally prefer other books to the ones which have too much action but this is an attempt to ‘diversify’ my reading. 

Flipkart | Amazon | Goodreads

Catherine Coulter, The Scottish Bride: Oh well, let’s just say I was in the mood to read something like this. Sometimes, you are just not in any mood to read something heavy or read for the ‘beauty of language’.

Flipkart | Amazon | Goodreads

Did I tell you about my Goa Trip?

In the middle of farewell parties, convocation, packing bags and shifting from my room (sniff, sniff), I almost forgot my Goa trip! Well, it was quite an eventful trip, especially the circumstances in which I went. I do not know how I could have forgotten about it but I guess I was still suffering from MICA withdrawal symptoms. 😛

It started with friends cancelling on me due to their health problems and me with a second class train ticket from Ahmedabad to Goa. There were other friends who planned their trip to Goa at the same time coincidentally but I still faced a certain amount of hesitation in going alone from Ahmedabad to Goa (yes, that was stupid!). I tossed a coin in the morning, wanting the Gods to tell me what to do. And the coin ordered me not to go. I guess I was a little disappointed because, in some teeny weeny corner of my heart, I did want to go. I got ready for class and stood outside my door, imagining the clear blue skies and the waves splashing on to the shore and I decided. Heck, I was going!

The journey from Ahmedabad to Goa was fairly uneventful and I am glad for that. What was a first for me, was travelling in the local transport buses!

When I reached Madgaon railway station in the morning, I realized I would have to pay Rs. 1200 to get to Candolim (where I was supposed to meet my friends who were coming in some time later in the day) through the Pre-paid taxi. Even my train ticket from Ahmedabad to Goa wasn’t worth that and so I decided, I had to find another way. After much asking around at the station, somebody told me how to reach Candolim Beach by bus. I took a bus from the stop outside the station(which was full of people like me :-D) to Margao Bus Station from where another over crowded bus took me to Panjim Bus station. That led me to the bus which would finally take me to Candolim! And all that accomplished in Rs. 45. The Amdavadi in me never felt happier! 😛

"The sea, the great unifier, is man's only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat" -Jacques Yves Cousteau

 Candolim Beach, Goa

Dog on Candolim Beach, Goa

A different kind of tourist at Candolim Beach, Goa

 

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 Little Vagator Beach, Goa

Little Vagator Beach, Goa

Little Vagator

One of the best places to go to at night is Cavala. I had a great time there! There was a band playing and you could just feel the energy in the place. Mostly, they played some rock and roll. People randomly start dancing and it’s such a refreshing break from the typical Club music that most people nowadays play. I couldn’t stop myself when the song “That thing you do” by The Wonders started being played.

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Cavala, with live music and people just randomly start dancing!

Cavalla Restro bar

Cavala, Baga, Goa

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Candolim Beach, Goa

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Candolim Beach,Goa

Candolim

Candolim Beach, Goa

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Ashwem Beach, Goa

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Arambol Beach, Goa

Arambol has a salt water lake which is quite a hike from the main beach and something that you can miss. On the whole Arambol seemed to be of full of stoned hippies and dirty looking people. Candolim, on the other hand, is this peaceful beach where you only see white senior citizens (so, you can give it a miss too if you want to, ahem, sight see) although it’s very clean. Even the toilets in the shacks are very clean! However, Ashwem is another beautiful and nice beach where people of all ages come, if you get what I mean. 😉

Some Places that you absolutely have to eat at:

1. La Plage, Ashwem

2. Thallasa, Vagator

3. Souza Lobo, Calangute

Things that I missed out on:

1. Club Cabana

2. Saturday Night Market

3. Anjuna Market (On Wednesdays only)

4. South Goa

Goa is one place you never get bored with. I can probably lay on the beach everyday, doing absolutely nothing except probably read a book (started reading ‘Last night in Twisted River‘ by John Irving in Goa, which I still haven’t quite finished yet :-/).

However, next time I go to Goa, I think I shall concentrate more on South Goa, spend two days just visiting churches and look at old Goan buildings. There’s so much still left to see!