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Stuff Dreams Are Made of: The Little Dröm Store of Singapore

By on Jul 7, 2014 in City Guides, Short Experiences | 0 comments

I always find it a daunting task when I have to pick up souvenirs on a trip for friends and family back home. The questions that arise in my mind are never ending. Will they like it? Will it be useful? Will it remind them of me? The sad truth is most souvenirs are pretty low on their usefulness scale and more often than not they end up in some forgotten box in your home. Most stores sell the same kind of product all around the world. The missing part is human creativity.     A lovely exception though is “The Little Dröm Store ” in Singapore. A quaint, small shop that is packed with all things artsy, cute, vintage and different. It will take you back to your childhood say the patrons. Think of polaroid cameras, vintage dolls, the pins that remind you of mosaic playgrounds, and you will get the idea. I had a chat with Antoinette, part owner of the store, along with...

Take a Walk: Best neighborhood walking trails in New York

By on Jun 30, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

In New York, everyone walks. Part of it is due to the fact that finding a parking spot for your car (if you do own one) is almost next to impossible. This is why you will find almost everyone in New York on the streets. But the stream of human purpose that you see walking down the sidewalks of NYC’s streets does so with a single-mindedness that is anathema to a jaywalker. Stopping in your tracks and adoring brownstones is not allowed when you are on a New York sidewalk, unless it is in one of these neighborhoods that we have handpicked for you. Take a look! .. .. 1. Downtown Manhattan .. Nobody really knows where New York’s ‘Downtown’ actually starts. Nobody really knows exactly how to define this part of the city that has its own patterns and doesn’t follow the grid system that rest of NYC does. Earlier, people used the Twin Towers to orient themselves and now as the Freedom Tower...

A Cafe For The Love Of Cats: Neko No Niwa – Singapore’s first Cat Cafe

By on Jun 27, 2014 in City Guides, Short Experiences | 0 comments

Last April, New York City experienced something new. Hundreds of people stood in queue for hours to get inside, not a broadway show or art exhibition, but for cats. A pop up cat cafe was apparently the reason. Though the first cat cafe goes back to 1998 in Taiwan, it is only now that worldwide people are loving the idea of a place where they can just go and pay for petting. In Japan there are more than 150 cat cafes. A country that has apartments where pets are not allowed, cat cafes became tremendously popular in Japan. In fact not only cat, but rabbit cafes are equally in vogue there. Soon Europe had its own share of cat cafes and in USA, 2014 will see many cities boasting of their very own cat petting zones along sconces and coffee. In Asia, Bangkok, Malaysia, Korea  all are catching up. We happened to have a conversation with Sue and Sam, the owners of the first ever cat cafe in...

How to spend the best mornings in Singapore

By on Jun 20, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

I am a morning person. I wake up early, and force others to do the same, which often leads to arguments, fights and cold war at home. Nevertheless, I am undaunted. My obsession with mornings reaches its zenith, when on a trip. I hate to stay in bed, when there is so much to see, hear and smell outside the hotel room. When in Singapore, the lure of the outside world is just too much to ignore.   Eat Like a Local   Rise and shine as early as you can, to beat the heat. Armed with a wide brimmed hat, sunscreen and sunglasses start your morning in Singapore. The hotel breakfast buffet might come included with the tariff, but trust me it will be okay to miss it this one time and settle for the local breakfast of Kaya toast with Kopi. Kaya is the Singaporean equivalent of jam/marmalade/preserve. It is made of coconut milk, sugar and egg. It tastes best when you have it with freshly...

Book lover’s guide to San Francisco’s hidden bibliophile universe – 5 best bookstores

By on May 28, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

When it comes to reading, I am old school. No matter how technologically advanced e-readers, tablets or mobile phones are there in the market, nothing can replace a good old book for me. I remember, how as a 7 year old, going to bed with a book became a habit and ever since whenever I could manage,  I read at bed time. But as our life slowly becomes paperless, books take a backseat at home, school, or  office. However every city has a fair number of book lovers I believe, who form book clubs, meet up to discuss a book over coffee and cakes and does not miss any chance to keep the book culture alive.   San Francisco, the charming city that is famous for its Victorian architecture, summer fog, hilly terrain, the red bridge and a liberal attitude among its residents, is a melting pot for different cultures from across the world. It also happens to be home to Silicon Valley, that...

Hidden photography locations in Bangalore’s backyards

By on May 24, 2014 in City Guides | 0 comments

 One of my favorite places to go to in the Garden City is the tea-room Koshy’s in Richmond Road. More than the food, the pictures on the wall depicting Bangalore’s founding years are what I admire the most. Every time I turn a corner and find myself in a part of the city I have never been before, I need to capture that moment so I can go back and find more. Even though I am not a photography enthusiast, I can still appreciate the quest to find these ‘hidden spots’ in a city you have lived in for ages and never known. Somehow, it brings to you a little closer to your beloved town. And if a town had those proverbial ‘roots’ then well, to them too! As Anne Geddes famously said, “Wherever there is light, one can photograph”. So shutterbugs, get ready for a whole new tour of the city you love the most that will allow you to see Bangalore in a completely different ‘light’. And then maybe,...

8 (+1) Tips on how to travel duos – a guide to successful romantic getaways

By on Apr 23, 2014 in Short Experiences | 0 comments

I have had my share of traveling both solo and duos. Nothing can really prepare you for the stark differences till you have actually done both. Traveling in a group or even with a third person is in no way close to traveling duos. The intense sharing of personal space can get to you before you can say “trip”! Especially with a loved one. Weekend or daytrips with a significant other conjures up images of either candlelit dinners or screaming mismatches with the one on the driver’s seat. I have a few simple tips on how to get through a romantic outing safe and sane.   1. Efforts towards having a successful holiday where you are not at each other’s throats begins even before you leave home. Make sure you two sit down together and make packing and to-do lists. Pack at least a night before hand, locate all the booties and scarves. Otherwise, you two won’t...

3 places you must visit if you love Romantic poetry

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

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree : Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. Often when I read about a place in a poem or a story, I wonder what it would be like to be there. Especially if it is a distant place with an exotic name. I guess it is the die-hard romantic in me speaking, and it is of course a well known fact that we are always attracted to the unknown. Xanadu fit the bill perfectly! An exotic name, located in far flung Mongolia…I had fallen for this poem and Xanadu, 14 years back when I was a student of Literature. When I looked up Xanadu after all these years I was disappointed and sad too. 350 km north of Beijing, the city of Xanadu or Shangdu was the summer capital of Kublai Khan.  Now mostly covered by grasslands, the most prominent part of the ruin is probably the walls. It is perhaps hard...

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...

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