Sunday, 7 December 2014 0 comments

The Airbnb wishlist

I am a perpetual wanderer, and you'd know that if you've been a regular on my blog. Packing a bag of essentials and setting out to chart out unknow lands is very much my kind of thing. And this is the reason why I steer clear of the option of staying at hotels. Hotels, according to me, are very monotonous and restrictive, as they restrict the scope of your travel.

Also, travelling isn't just about seeing sights or having local food but also checking out how locals live. But it isn't always possible when travelling with family; firstly, not everyone would be willing to share their personal space with strangers and lastly, bigger the family more the issues while finding a good place. In these cases renting a whole place seems legit and now, that can be done with ease, thanks to Airbnb, a community marketplace which connects the hosts and the travellers; the travellers have the option of checking out the property they wish to stay at during their travel, read the reviews and then contact the host directly. The wide array of properties available to be chosen from is just amazeballs.

Navigating through the Airbnb website, I made a wishlist of these five holiday homes which I have always dreamt of....
  • Godess Lethe No2, Oia Village, Greece.- A private terrace, a private jacuzzi and a view to kill for, what else would you require when vacationing in Oia Village, globally renowned for the amazing sunset and clear blue waters. Makes for a complete Greek experience, no?
4/11: Oia- Caldera View- Godess Lethe No2
5/19: Zona de la piscina
  • Cottage in Hvalfjorour, Iceland.- Next in line is this gorgeously luxurious cottage located in one of the most offbeat travel destinations in the world; Iceland. Aesthetically refined yet cozy, the landscape it is set in is divine. I can already picture myself sipping on my Earl Grey and enjoying the views from the lovely terrace it boasts of. 
1/27: Cottage in Hvalfjörður (Whalefjord)
  • Traditional Scottish Island Cottage, Balivanich, UK.- Scotland has always been an exotic destination or me; given the Potterhead I am. The enchanting castles, lovely landscapes and sparse population gives it a very eerie yet mystic charm. Hence, the only place I can imagine myself staying at during a visit there is this Traditional Scottish Island Cottage located in Balivanich. It looks very rustic and very traditional from outside, but is super cozy from inside, what more you'd need in a chilly Scotland? And the added bonus is the beach just behind the cottage!  
3/47: Cosy and warm with a peat fire burning - perfect for winter breaks or Christmas and New Year Highland style
  • Mike's studio, Capbreton, Aquitaine, France.- Overlooking the Bay, Mike's studio located in Capbreton is both chic yet romantic, perfect for a holiday in the South-west of France. Although not popular like Paris, Aquitaine is an equally charming place and couples with its proximity to the waters, a win-win for me. Mike's studio is just like a cherry on the icing for me, I mean, seriously, I can spend hours looking at the bay from the studio's balcony.

11/14: Outdoor dining at it's best

This is my Airbnb wishlist, what's yours?

Note: All images used in this blogpost are of the actual listing on the Airbnb website.

Sunday, 30 November 2014 0 comments

On My Playlist: Phantom Of The Opera by Nightwish


I know, I know, I have been MIA since too long now. Well, I don't want to start a blame game, but let's just say the situation was too hectic. Finally, I am taking a break and doing things which are fun-fun, not study-fun; watching Revenge (Once Upon A Time is the next in line), snoozing as much as I can (yes, day-in day-out) and dreaming of witnessing an Opera live (Ah, this one is barely possible, I think).

Talking of Opera, I've always felt a pull towards operatic vocals (you see, a reason why I subconsciously prefer bands like Iron Maiden and Deep Purple), just like how tides get pulled towards the moon on a full moon night. I'm not going to talk a lot about Opera today because essentially I don't possess enough knowledge about it in the first place. Despite that, hey, I can talk about Phantom Of The Opera. I have been meaning to read the book but as I am trying to cope with a burnout (which happened due to reading too much and studying almost all day, in the first place) the plan has been laid to rest for a while.

Nonetheless, I am still fascinated by the Phantom Of The Opera and this fascination landed me through youtube on this beautiful song by Nightwish called...(you guessed it right)...'Phantom Of The Opera'. I feel awkward admitting it but I prefer this Phantom Of The Opera over Iron Maiden's Phantom Of The Opera; maybe because this one is actually a cover of the original from the musical.

Honestly, I must've heard this song over a hundred times now since past two days! Also Marco's vocals on this song have become an epitome of Phantom's voice for me; just note how perfectly it sticks to the image of the Phantom (not minding the whole opera part). I checked out the original too, but still this cover has got stuck inside my head. Hence, I am sharing this with you too, check out the song maybe, and if you can't shake it off you head like me, do let me know in the comments below (rhymes, no? Ok bye).


Edit: I just saw the movie, and I was wrong all along with my assumption that the Phantom is an actual phantom. And wow, the story is so beautiful! If you haven't already seen the movie or have read the book or have seen the musical, I suggest you to do it now! 
Thursday, 16 October 2014 0 comments

Review: Pizza & Beer Carnival at California Pizza Kitchen

California Pizza Kitchen is a chain of restaurants that almost everyone is acquainted with due to their iconic Californian style Pizzas. I have already raved about their delicious Hollywood on your table menu which I had the opportunity of sampling back in March. Yet what does a foodie do when she gets a chance to go back to savour a new spread of curated pizzas available only for a limited time period? Well, grab it!

Last week I paid a visit to California Pizza Kitchen's outlet located in Phoenix Mills Compound, Lower Parel, to check out their awesomesauce pizzas drawing inspiration from cuisines all around the world, as a part of their ongoing Pizza & Beer Carnival (which, by the way, is on only till 19th October, so hurry up!). And to put it concisely, the efforts were worth it.

My Pizza & Beer evening started with the much loved Capriciossa Pizza which projects the flavours of Italy, continued with the delectable Brussels Pizza exuding essence of Belgium, of course, and ended with the lip-smacking Kasundi Paneer Pizza inspired from our Indian subcontinent; all devoured with my bottle of Corona hailing from Mexico.

Hey, but all you non-vegetarians have the option of ordering the stellar Cheeseburger Pizza which basically recreates a cheeseburger experience in a pizza! The non-vegetarian at the table swore by it, and although I didn't try it, the Cheeseburger pizza did manage to captivate my senses.

Personally, I loved the Kasundi Paneer Pizza. The thin crust topped generously with the trio of paneer, bell peppers and tomato marinated in Indian spices and garnished with coriander was an explosion of flavours in my mouth. The zing, the freshness and the richness offered by this pizza is what stole my heart.



My second favourite on the vegetarian section of the menu has to be the Capriciossa Pizza. It is again a thin crust pizza, but smothered with tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, studded with artichoke hearts, kalamata olives and mushrooms, and garnished with grated parmesan and basil. The Chef informed me that this is their best-seller; why wouldn't it be? This pizza is a personification of Italy.





The Brussels Pizza daubed with pesto marinara and topped with slices of mushroom, sundried tomato and sauteed spinach, although good in its own right was a tad bit sweet for me. In my opinion, if you don't like your pizzas being on the sweeter side you can give Brussels Pizza a miss.



Southwestern Burrito Pizza and the Beijing Style Veg Pizza are the other two options available in the vegetarian section of this special menu. For non-vegetarians, I'd recommend the Cheeseburger Pizza without any doubt, still feel free to explore the extensive menu sporting Fish & Chips Pizza, Sauerbraten Pizza and many more global flavours inspired pizzas.

The finale of the evening came in the form of the famed Red Velvet Cake and Chocolate Banana Cake. Both utterly exquisite and finished within seconds of arriving on the table!





Overall, the Pizzas & Beer Carnival gets a thumbs up from me. I am certainly wanting to go back and try the Southwestern Burrito Pizza. For all you lovely folks, all I can say is, go savour the delights before the festival ends on 19th October.
Friday, 26 September 2014 0 comments

Chapter 19: A Palace of Mirage

(Note: This post has been written as a part of Blogadda's #CelebrateBlogging. My team is 'Tandem Tensome' and this post is the nineteenth chapter in the novel we are writing. You can read the eighteenth chapter here).


__________________

“What a day!” Jennifer thought, “First this Cyrus and now Ice Lady, argh!”. “Hello?” Tara questioned in her stark tone. “Umm, Ma'am…” was what Jennifer could mutter before Shekhar cut her short with his explanation “She is here for the dinner party I am hosting tonight, for Roohi.”. “Oh, you could have informed me at least?” Tara said, her voice sounded frail. “Would that have made any difference? Shekhar cross-questioned, trying his level best to drag the conversation. “Nevermind” Tara quipped and walked straight into her bedroom.

“It always happens…..always has to happen with me” Tara thought as she entered the shower. She wondered why she even tried to be emotional; “These things just aren't for me; all these family melodramas”. These days, no matter how hard she tried she couldn't shake off this weird feeling inside her; she suddenly began caring for her family after the incident where Roohi went missing.

Even her close friend-cum-colleague, Reema, had remarked that Tara has achieved enough on the professional front, “Concentrate on your family now, they need you” she had said. Tara had brought that conversation to a full-stop by saying, ‘The moment one becomes content with their current state, the desire to aspire comes to an end’. “From tomorrow onwards, only work” Tara repeated in her head a few times and slipped into her bed.

“So your wife, eh?” Jennifer asked Shekhar. “Hmm, fortunately or unfortunately, that’s your call” he shrugged and quickly gave a playful smile to cover-up. Inspite of him smiling, Jenifer sensed that something is indeed wrong, but she didn't press the matter and instead called out for Roohi and went inside.

“I scream, you scream Jennifer aunty, we all scream Ice-cream” was what Roohi was chanting when Jennifer found her in the living room. “So Roohi wants ice-cream it seems?” Jennifer asked in high spirits. “Yes, call Papa. He has this whole secret stash of ice-cream hidden somewhere in the house, aunty.” Roohi said. “Have you ever checked the freezer, kiddo?” a bemused Jennifer remarked. “It is never there! Dad says it is the fairies, like the one who is on your hand, who delivers him tubs of ice-cream whenever I am a good kid” Roohi chirped. “Wait then, me and Jennifer aunty will just ask your magician dad and get you some ice-cream, what say?” Cyrus interrupted the ongoing talk. “Either you or me” Jennifer said, her expression bearing annoyance.

Shekhar and Mr. Ahuja’s entrance at that very instant took away Cyrus’s opportunity to continue. “Princess wants some ice-cream, yeah?” asked Shekhar and got a reply in affirmative. “But today the fairies won't be able to deliver it, see there….” Shekhar spoke pointing towards the sky “it is dark now, fairies aren't night creatures.” On hearing this Roohi’s face bore disappointment. “Or maybe I and Roohi can go out and buy some instead?” Mr. Ahuja spoke. “In that way, our Princess’s desires will be fulfilled and I would get a little walk too” he added further.

“Oh no Mr. Ahuja, you are our guest, it would be wrong to do so on my part” Shekhar said. “I insist, Shekhar” Mr. Ahuja pleaded. And finally after being reluctant for a while Shekhar too gave in.

Mr. Ahuja’s persistence made Jennifer suspicious. She already felt a little uneasy having him around Roohi; the way he touched her inappropriately. “How can Shekhar’s turn a blind eye to this!” she thought. “Or maybe he is just too fond of kids, given that he has none” her thought process continued, “Can’t be so, his sly smile says otherwise”.  After a heated debate with her own self she finally decided that she is going to follow them, just to be sure, and maybe in the process she'll end up with some candid shots of Roohi.

Hence, within a few minutes of Mr. Ahuja and Roohi leaving, Jennifer made an excuse of forgetting her mobile phone in Shekhar’s car and made an exit.

“Ahuja Uncle, we are supposed to walk right from this point to reach the shop.” Roohi said looking perplexed. “Oh are we? I was thinking of going to my house and get some ice-cream for you, you know, and you can meet Fluff too.” Mr. Ahuja said, trying to lure Roohi. “Fluff, yes, you don't even bring her to the park these days! I want to meet her. Now! Now! Now!” Roohi replied. “Yes, baby” Mr. Ahuja replied with a peculiar grin on his face.

“Why the hell is he taking Roohi there?!” Jennifer gasped in shock. “You are so busted Mister” she thought to herself.
***

(Me and my team are participating in 'Game of Blogs' at Blogadda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.)

P.S. You can head here to read the twentieth chapter of this story.

Saturday, 13 September 2014 3 comments

Chapter 2: Such A Long Journey

(Note: This post has been written as a part of Blogadda's #CelebrateBlogging. My team is 'Tandem Tensome' and this post is the second chapter in the novel we are writing. You can read the first chapter here)


__________

“The number you are trying to call is currently busy, please try again later.” was what Shekhar could hear on the other end of his call. He sighed and assured himself that indeed she must be busy at work.  “I’ve boarded the train back home, and will reach by tomorrow. Call me ASAP.” he typed in a jiffy and sent the message to Tara, his wife, and slouched in his seat.

He couldn’t help but think of Tara and how strained their relationship has become, not that it had been a healthy one erstwhile, but now it took a lot of effort even to communicate! They went days and sometimes even weeks without seeing each other although they lived together under the same roof; she'd be up and out even before the sun’s first rays hit the earth and home at a time which Shekhar could never track.

This resentment of Tara’s, Shekhar supposed, stemmed from his resignation. Two years back, he decided to leave his job as the editor of an English Daily to look after his daughter, Roohi. There had been complaints from her class teacher of her being too aloof and hitting other children. That paired with their disheveled domestic state forced him to take that step. Although he welcomed the change in his lifestyle, his better half slowly began drifting away even further from him. No matter how hard he’d try, she always found a reason to grow apart; from him and from Roohi.

The word “Chai-Chai” spoken in rhythmic intervals by the Chaiwaala got him off his train of thoughts, brought him back to the train he was travelling to Mumbai in. “Ek chai” he said. As soon as the Chaiwaala handed him over his plastic cup filled 3/4th with a liquid which he considered gold, he couldn’t help but wonder that being a stay-at-home-dad has certainly taught him to enjoy small things in life which people take for granted. He smiled to himself and began with his tea. One sip at a time.

Time seemed to fly and his train reached Mumbai. In past, whenever his train entered CST, a strange sensation passed through him. Today was no exception, but today he felt reluctant too. He didn’t want to retrace his steps back to a house which he and Tara were supposed to build together. “Bandra?”  he asked the taxi driver and occupied the taxi after getting a nod of approval.

 ***
“Has the photographer reported?” Tara questioned sharply in the meeting, she continued speaking “We have a very tight deadline and I hope you have that information”. All the while her eyes were on her phone; constantly checking mails, missed calls, taking mental notes of whom to call back. Shekhar’s missed calls and message didn’t escape her eye, yet she overlooked it.

It was easy for her to turn a blind eye to her ‘family’ now and even Shekhar had grown accustomed to it. He knew that Tara never wanted to be a part of this wedlock; hence, he never tried to grow closer to her romantically. But what had come as a shock to him was how she could neglect her own daughter with such an ease! The whole fault, Shekhar always thought, was his; if he hadn’t given impetus to his one-sided love for Tara, these circumstances would’ve never arose.

They had met in college once, all credit for that goes to their annual college festival. She was in the core committee and he had to do an article on the festival for the college magazine, for that he needed to interview her. He fell immediately for her. Who wouldn’t? With her tall stature, a stylish bob and polished sense of dressing she won hearts wherever she went. She hadn’t changed in her looks after all these years, not in the least bit.

Destiny made them cross their paths again, or so as Shekhar liked to think at that time, they met again a few years later when he unknowing moved to Tara’s next door and befriended her father, who thought Shekhar would make a great life-partner for Tara. At first Tara simply declined citing career as the reason but later on her family’s constant pressure forced her to give in. And so the knot was tied.

 ***
(Me and my team are participating in 'Game of Blogs' at Blogadda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.)

P.S. You can head here to read the third chapter of this story.
 
;