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How London’s traditional afternoon tea is fast evolving

By on Apr 21, 2014 in City Guides, Short Experiences | 0 comments

Being brought up with a Brit expat family living in the hills of a remote city in India, my wife has an uncanny love for everything English. Including the ritual of the classic afternoon tea. We have white laced window curtains and a tiny porch to have tea in as well. You can imagine the horror on her face when she read the draft of this post – for her, somethings, and an English tea specifically, must remain sacred. However, whether or not my wife likes it, the ritual of the English afternoon tea is fast evolving, being inspired by urban cultures through literature, fashion and even the process of blooming flowers.     The newest English fascination is to create the most unique, specialty tea. Head to Pret-a-Portea at the Berkeley London Hotel. Taking on a new facet every few months, the tea offered celebrates works of top designers from the London Fashion Week....

The 5 best cable car stops in San Francisco

By on Apr 18, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

It is a tourist trap some say! Others agree that the $12 round trip ticket is a bit too pricey. Moreover most people are not happy with the 20-30 minute wait time, yet it is still one of the biggest crowd puller in San Francisco – the famed cable car system! And you must get in one to decide if you like it or not. How do I know? Because I have been in one.Trust me it was so addictive that though we had plans of walking back, we actually waited for more than 30 minutes in the sun, saw the cable car on the turn table, and also caught a few interesting hip hop moves by street performers before we boarded another, back to our car . Of course I learnt later that to avoid waiting time and the crowd you can walk to the next stop, and that there is $15 one day pass from Muni that covers Muni Metro, cable car, street car and you get unlimited rides on them. But I never regretted spending...

A field trip guide on how to conquer the Grand Canyon

By on Apr 18, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

No one can tell you how best to conquer Arizona’s Grand Canyon. In the literal sense of the word, that is. This vast expanse of water carved rocks, that record over 2 billion years of the Earth’s history on their sheer steep faces, is a graveyard where ‘egos’ go to die and man humbly accepts that there are forces more potent in this universe than the self. Anyone who thinks they know all of the canyon’s secrets are only deluding themselves. That being said, one can always use an extra help when traversing the rugged terrain of the canyon. Mind you, this is not a guide to how to nimbly navigate the treacherous canyon trails. There will be awe; sheer bone-penetrating jaw-dropping awe. There will be falls and scraped knees, and even a few scary moments when you look over the sharp edges and see your mortality staring back at you. That is part of the canyon’s charm. We will not even...

Tracking the 6 best food trucks in San Francisco – why you should skip a restaurant

By on Apr 11, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

Restaurants are passe! Welcome to the world of food trucks. Armed with delicious, fresh fusion food, low prices,  super fast service and the allure of pop culture, –  the food trucks are a winner . No wonder there has been a  revolution in the last few years. The Bay area has its own share of innovative trucks catering to the people of San Francisco and its suburbs. Whether visiting the city for business or pleasure or a bit of both, it is worth checking some of these food trucks. We came up with our very own “must try” list. The Filipino Twist  in Burritos   Senor Sisig goes around the town selling flavors that come from Mexico and Philippines. Apart from the fact that the burritos are filled with Filipino style chicken/pork or tofu, what makes them unique is the french fries in it! They were featured in Food Network and seems to have a decent number of loyal...

The art of doing nothing – on travel

By on Mar 11, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

  The antithesis of ‘nothing’ is to ‘do everything’.   As travelers and tourists, there are many of us who have been victims of this habit. With practiced panache we preen and pose before famed monuments, click pictures of every little food bite we intake on our trip, and store the names of the places we go to in the corners of our brain so that we can happily name drop when we are among friends and family. The world is open to inquisitive eyes and little more of the mystery unravels every day. Like hungry vultures, we swoop in on our prey. Everyone has a bucket list of must do’s and must visit’s and they would happily walk, run, fly, canoe, row, bungee jump, hike, drive, dive, and walk some more to wrap up. Glory, after all, lies in having been to more places than the Joneses. Happiness is being the one with more number of travel pictures on social media sites. The quest for...

Visiting the Reindeer People in Mongolia

By on Mar 11, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

When I was a child, I remember playing this game where we moved around the house with pillows in our hands which were our bags. We often sat down and brought out food from our bags and ate a communal lunch. It was a very fascinating game for me, as I imagined climbing hills, crossing streams or even going to Japan. I guess that’s how I first fell in love with traveling. Little did I know of the real hardships of a nomadic life back then though, until I, in some fashion, lived through it, being an expat in three different continents. There are still many nomadic tribes all across the globe and each have their traditions, rituals, and deprivations. Most endure severe climatic conditions, and live through a constant struggle to retain their tribe’s ethnicity in the face of civilization. The Tsaatan people of Northern Mongolia is one such tribe, popularly known as the Reindeer...

Norwegian hangouts – places where Oslo’s locals play

By on Mar 6, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

In the last few months, I have covered a number of places that somehow was going under the rug as far as being on the travel radar goes. Read the story on Toronto if you want to find out what I mean (Is Toronto sexy yet?). The same search brings me to the Norwegian capital of Oslo. Over the years, Oslo has grown from being a country town into the sophisticated metropolis it is today. It’s a city fueled by oil money from the “black gold” of the North Sea. However, somehow, Oslo has been playing second-fiddle in the European travelers’ bucketlist. The city today though, is permeated with a Nordic joie de vivre in contrast to its staid, dull reputation of yesteryear.   Where does the Oslo local go to play then?     Out of all the neighborhoods, Grunerlokka sits on the banks of the Akerselva River but it was not always the hip new hangout area that it...

5 offbeat Indian coastal drives you might not have heard of

By on Feb 27, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

India’s long and wondrous coastline is a fact that books never tire of eulogizing. And yet, when remembering ‘coastal drives’ in the country, one normally thinks of the ever popular Mumbai to Goa drive or the backwaters of Kerala, and almost nothing else! An ignoramus could be forgiven for imagining the rest of the Indian peninsula as a smorgasbord of coconut trees and tiny hamlets, while in reality it is over 5700 kms of ocean side scenery and butter smooth roads (for most of the way at least!). So if the tides’ turning sounds like music to your ears and anathema for the popular your living mantra, ready your wheels to drive down these five highly recommended and fabulously ‘offbeat’ ocean hugging roads in the country.   Digha to Chandipur   Warren Hastings once called Digha the ‘Brighton of the East’, and Kolkata’s favorite beach resort has aptly lived up to the platitude....

The best bread trail in Paris

By on Feb 25, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

When it comes to bread, the Parisians have taken it to another level. Every neighborhood in this city has its own Boulangerie and if you see a line snaking out of it, take the plunge and go in, chances are high of you being pleasantly surprised! Baking a bread is a form of art in Paris. With thousands of bakers competing against each other, the industry levels are higher than anywhere else. Most Parisians will probably not  be very happy with the white and brown squarish thing you and I have for breakfast. Though most boulangeries have good bread, it would be a good idea to befriend a local and ask him to show you around (you can do that on mygola locals). But if you are a discerning traveler, go ahead and take a look at what we found – in search of the best braid trail in Paris. Traditional and contemporary flavors First established in 1889 in the 10th Arrondissement, you will...

Lone Christmas Rituals – 4 ways to celebrate Christmas if you are away from family

By on Dec 26, 2013 in Event Guides | 0 comments

As the leaves start changing colors, as you feel a nip in the early morning air, you know it is time to gear up for the best time of the year. Soon it is time for Christmas shopping, house decorating, party planning and the list goes on. Suddenly everybody seems busy, excited and happy. Festivals are meant to make people happy, after all. The word itself is derived from Latin: “Festivus” meaning happiness. However, for some, who has to stay away from home, the festive season makes them even more lonesome. The chilly wintry nights sometimes do not mean cozy gathering of friends and family for dinner. Don’t spend it watching television and having Chinese take-out. Being an expatriate has its pros and cons. Few know it better that me, having been an expat in over three cities in three different continents over the last three years. I have some ideas for you –...

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