Superfast or Superslow?

IMG_2514I have been a big advocate of traveling by train and have some lovely journey memories too; but some of my recent experiences have left me in big big doubt about their reliability now. There was a recent news article about the scam concerning the Rail Neer where the contractors and railway staff had colluded to supply packaged drinking water at higher prices and raked in crores.

Read about Rail Neer scam here:


Experience #1
Travelled by #JammuRajdhani recently and as is my norm, I dont eat train food. Despite that, the catering boys came asking for “tips” from me! I was shocked at this – are they paid so low or is this a quick norm to make money on the side? Is #IRCTC #Indianrailways aware of this? BTW, they insist on more than 10/- and want money from every passenger – its very very shameless and feels so pathetic! It was very sad to see such a disgusting “begging” attempt in a superfast train!


My friends traveled back to #Jammu via #JammuRajdhani last night. They didnt eat in the train either but requested the catering boy for some tea – they had to pay for the tea (ofcourse) but also HAD TO “tip” the catering boys who served them the tea!!!!!!!!!!!!!

To top it, one of my friends had her Iphone stolen while she slept. Another passenger in the adjoining cubicle was also robbed of his mobile. And both my friends and their two female co-passengers felt that they were sprayed with something to make them sleep soundly as none of them are able to sleep deeply in the train due to the racket and movement. My friend slept for an hour within which the phone was stolen. The passenger in the adjacent cubicle complained about the catering staff boys walking around a lot in the compartment and opening the curtains randomly too while the passengers were sleeping. One of the passengers had loudly asked one of them for an explanation of this behaviour and the boy bolted.

My friend went to collect the FIR and the cops told her that there was a major heist committed in another train where the victimised passenger had lots of valuables with him as he was in the process of shifting cities. This reeks of collusion between the Xray scanner staff, coolies and the catering staff of Indian Railways.

How sad has Indian railways become these days, especially in the premium trains like a Rajdhani! The X-ray scanner staff, coolies and the catering staff of railways have nothing better to do than scheme, loot and ripoff the passengers! Is there some way to bring this to the notice of the concerned authority or do we just shrug our shoulders and say – this only happens in India!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!






Of lazy breakfasts & beach bumming!

IMG_2908While planning the Goa trip, the gourmet offerings of the city were top of our list to explore. Needless to say, we researched some food and travel blogs, got tips from friends and family and made a scrumptious list which looked too big for our four days there. Undaunted, we went at with a true blue spirit of a dedicated gourmand and oh my god, our taste buds were not disappointed! The places which really delighted our foodie hearts and tummies have been joyfully represented here. Read and bookmark for your next trip to Goa!

German Bakery | Anjuna | Free WiFi |

imageA charming and rustic getaway in Anjuna, a little hippie- esque in its interiors with sequined fabrics, gorgeous canopy crafted out of  bamboo, sturdy furniture, lots of low seating with mats and cushions, hanging fabric lights, eye-popping graffiti on walls and loads of greenery! The hippie look is further accentuated with an idol of Lord Shiva, that has been set up with a lot of reverence and care and its deep blue is contrasted beautifully with the lovely orange marigolds adorned around its neck! The vibrantly colored Tibetan prayer flags added to the overall theme.

Food was average – we ordered a salad which was bright and crunchy but a bit too simple in flavours. The juices were fresh though! Pasta  arrabiata was just about average but the portion was quite big for one. We ordered a cappucino each and a chocolate croissant to round off our meal. Hmmm!!! Croissant was disappointing as it wasnt flaky and soft; chocolate was wanting in quantity!

Service was excellent with very attentive servers. We loved the fact that there were lots of extra plug points around for all the gadgets. Perfect spot to laze away over some food and surf the net or simply chitchat with friends and strangers alike! We loved it for the greenery, simplicity and the staff quality.

Overall Rating 31/2 stars


Cafe Lilliput | Anjuna | Beachfront Shack|


Beach bumming began at this cheerful place on Anjuna beach. Paan flavoured Hookah gave us some kick (enough for us to have a reeling head for a little while). Simply loved sitting at the beach, watching the waves crash, got our hair braided, clicked some interesting pics of the vendors hawking laser light knick knacks and generally sipping on breezers! But its as much of a shack as any other! They are dime a dozen – so take your pick at any if this is all that you wanna do! Didnt try the food, so wont rate that!

Overall Rating 3 stars


 Lila Cafe | Anjuna | Free WiFi |


We had heard a tonne of reviews for Cafe Lila before heading to Goa and so this was on top of our list of places to eat at. We werent disappointed!

Set in a large airy space with a huge white canopy atop bamboo poles, its a very soothing restaurant. The cane chairs with colourful and comfy cushions and table tops to match were the perfect accompaniment to the serene whites of the interiors and invited one to lounge till eternity. A border of green turf, replete with towering shady trees and potted fronds completed the natural atmosphere!

We ordered cold coffees (dark and cold) with a potato cheese rosti and a salad – boy were we in gastronomical wonderland! Free wifi for 45 minutes but yeah the speed was blah! Never mind, we werent here for the internet.

A must hangout place to loll and muse all day long! Dont forget to savour the desserts too! Do check out the other activities offered at this complex – from yoga, beauty salon to dancing!

Overall Rating 4 stars


Villa Blanche Bistro | Vagator |


Rustic. Charming. Inviting.

What a delectable place with an unmistakable friendly charm and verve. This is a place run by two German ladies who have not only made Goa their home but made a very homey cafe in the midst of a very much Goan villa. We reached dot at 8 am for our brekkie and were simply bowled over ( so much so that we landed  up the next day too). Our hostess conversed with us and shared with us interesting tidbits – not only in conversation but in food too! On hearing that my cousin was not feeling well, she served us a Pretzel (after regaling us with its goodness) and boy was it yummy! Plus there was no charge for it as it was offered to us for its medicinal properties!!!!!!!! (She did feel better after eating it)

In two days, we tried as much as possible!

Buffallo mozarella cheese Open sandwich – mmmmm!

Fluffy omlette – superb!

Spirulina juice – refreshing and very different from my expectations! (our first time)

Strawberry panacotta – found it a little yoghurt-y in taste and a bit bland but the texture was awesome! (our first time)

Fruit Pancake- the motherload of savoury sensation on the tastebuds (had it twice)

Pretzel- Awesome combination of salty in bread; just too yummy with butter (our first time)

The servings were quite generous and had fresh flavours.

Next time shall try out their lunch and dinner too! Not to be missed is their zeal for wholesome organic products – honeycomb, spirulina, honey, grains, etc.

We recommend this place for its heartiness in meals; sumptious flavours; excellent hospitality and a gorgeous, peaceful ambience!


Overall Rating 5 stars


Thalassa | Vagator | Vegas kinda entertainment |


We saved the best for last – Thalassa is one of the most reviewed and well rated restaurants in Goa (according to the reviews we checked around) and we will not disagree one bit from this statement. Our night out there was simply spectacular and one that we will cherish for a long time to come.

The place is in a narrow lane in Vagator and we recommend using Google map for directions, if driving oneself. We found the place simply pulsing with music, crowd and energy. There was some sort of a bazaar setup too but we simply sailed inside to savour the delectable atmosphere. The music was retro – oh how soothing it was to my 90s ears! We were seated at the bar with a drink each till a table opened up and we found the servers engaging and very friendly who ensured we were comfortable and having a good time.

Some grooving on the dance floor later, the space was cleared up for a Las vegas like performance. A girl with a hoop on fire twirled gaily while two dancers, resplendant in feathers hopped out a routine much to the amusement of the crowd who went wild with appreciation.

Dont ask me what we ate- some pasta, some bread…………….. But we know it was scrumptious! And yes the energy and music is what we remember the most from our evening here.

A word to the wise: weekends are very busy and a reservation wont go amiss!

Overall rating: 41/2 stars (1/2 stars deducted for the loooong queues for the loo)


Swirling Dervishes!

“A secret turning in us, makes the universe turn. Head unaware of feet, and feet head. Neither cares. They keep turning.” – Rumi IMG_4845

I happened to attend an event organised by Zorba The Buddha on the swirling dervishes, last friday at their complex in Ghittorni on MG road. It was my first experience of such an enthralling performance which left me with many questions. I chose to seek them on the net and was duly rewarded with some well written info on this practice of Sufism. I have “borrowed” some of this info and compiled into an article for others who might want to learn from it. The pictures in the article have all been taken by me during the recent performance.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sufi whirling (or Sufi spinning) is a form of Sama or physically active meditation which originated among Sufis, and which is still practiced by the Sufi Dervishes of the Mevlevi order. It is a customary dance performed within the Sema, or worship ceremony, through which dervishes (also called semazens, from Persian سماعزن) aim to reach the source of all perfection, or kemal. This is sought through abandoning one’s nafs, egos or personal desires, by listening to the music, focusing on God, and spinning one’s body in repetitive circles, which has been seen as a symbolic imitation of planets in the Solar System orbiting the sun. 
As explained by Sufis:

In the symbolism of the Sema ritual, the semazen’s camel’s hair hat (sikke) represents the tombstone of the ego; his wide, white skirt (tennure) represents the ego’s shroud. By removing his black cloak (hırka), he is spiritually reborn to the truth. At the beginning of the Sema, by holding his arms crosswise, the semazen appears to represent the number one, thus testifying to God’s unity. While whirling, his arms are open: his right arm is directed to the sky, ready to receive God’s beneficence; his left hand, upon which his eyes are fastened, is turned toward the earth. The semazen conveys God’s spiritual gift to those who are witnessing the Sema. Revolving from right to left around the heart, the semazen embraces all humanity with love. The human being has been created with love in order to love.


Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi says, “All loves are a bridge to Divine love. Yet, those who have not had a taste of it do not know!”

“We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust.” – Rumi

THE SEMA RITUAL began with the inspiration of Mevlâna Jalâluddîn Rumi (1207-1273) and was influenced by Turkish customs and culture.

It is scientifically recognized that the fundamental condition of our existence is to revolve, because all beings are comprised of revolving electrons, protons, and neutrons in atoms. Everything revolves, and the human being lives by means of the revolution of these particles, by the revolution of the blood in his body, and by the revolution of the stages of his life, by his coming from the earth and his returning to it. However, all of these revolutions are natural and unconscious. Thus the whirling dervish or semazen, intentionally and consciously participates in the shared revolution of other beings.

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who can fan your flames.” – Rumi


DervishThe Ritual Dance or Sema

The Mevlevi (also spelled as mawlawi) Ritual dance or sema consists of several stages with different meanings:

The first stage, Naat-i Sherif, is a eulogy to the Messenger of Islam and the all Prophets before him, who represent love. This eulogy is followed by a drumbeat (on the kudum) symbolizing the divine command ‘Be’ for the creation of the entire universe.  

The Naat-i Sherif is followed by a Taksim, an improvisation on the reed flute or ney.This expresses the divine breath, which gives life to everything.

Then follows the Sultan Veled procession or Devr-i Veled, accompanied by peshrev music; this is a circular, anticlockwise, procession three times around the turning space. The greetings of the semazen, or whirling dervishes, during the procession represent the three stages of knowledge:

ilm-al yaqin (received knowledge, gained from others or through study),

ayn-al yaqin (knowing by seeing or observing for oneself) and

haqq-al yakin (knowledge gained through direct experience, gnosis).

“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life.” – Rumi


During the Sema itself there are four selams, or musical movements, each with a distinct rhythm. At the beginning, during and close of each selam, the semazen testify to God’s existence, unity, majesty and power:

The First Selam represents the human being’s birth to truth through feeling and mind. It represents his complete acceptance of his condition as a creature created by God.

The Second Selam expresses the rapture of the human being witnessing the splendor of creation in the face of God’s greatness and omnipotence.

The Third Selam is the rapture of dissolving into love and the sacrifice of the mind to love. It is complete submission, unity, and the annihilation of self in the Beloved. This is the state that is known as nirvana in Buddhism and fana fillah in Islam.

In the Fourth Selam, just as the Prophet ascends to the spiritual Throne of Allah and then returns to his task on earth, the whirling dervish, after the ascent of his spiritual journey, returns to his task, to his servanthood.

This is followed by a recitation from the Qur’an, the Sura (Chapter) Mary on the miracle birth of Jesus and his mission.


“Out beyond the ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, is a field. I will meet you there.” – Rumi

At the end, by the salute, the dervish demonstrates again the number ‘1’ in his appearance, arms consciously and humbly crossed, and, by this, the unity of God.

The ceremony ends with a prayer for the peace of the souls of all the Prophets and believers.

After the completion of the Sema, all the dervishes retire silently to their rooms for meditation and further remembrance of God.


“Close your eye. Fall In love. Stay there.” – Rumi




Location & Event :



Images : https://www.facebook.com/Vanilla-Impressions-108071932560007/?fref=ts


Dilli ke infamous autowallahs

A new one from ‪#‎Delhi‬ ‪#‎autowallahs‬ – this happened at ‪#‎Racecourse‬‪#‎metro‬ station. Three of us had to go to ‪#‎janpath‬ and the first auto guy told us that “charges are 20/- per savari”!!!!! What a blatant loot n fraud – fixed charges are 25/- for first 1.8 km…..

Most of the other 5-6 autowallahs also looked away when we insisted on going by the meter. One gentleman (yes he was that) said he will take us and by the meter which clocked 30/- in total! My kind and generous friend paid him a 100/- since he was so courteous to us and also because he had a bad leg!
Question to Delhi ‪#‎CM‬ ‪#‎ArvindKejriwal‬ -just because they voted you to power, you have given them the right to persecute the citizens at any and every rate? Shame on you for being part of this ‪#‎corruption‬



Ode to Le Cake

cake6It slowly wafted into the olfactory passages, teasing them with the citrus- sultry orange zest, sweet heat of cinnamon, gooey darkness of chocolate and the spicy sense of dark rum – all rolled into one but then each released individually, in slow motion, one after the other like the helium filled gas balloons that we used to let fly on Sunday afternoons which would rise up, magnificent in their freedom, bright coloured bits bobbing in the breeze till they disappeared into oblivion! But here there was no oblivion, just the cavernous gut of gluttony, begging to be sated! Piece after piece, it demanded more, and more and even more, now like a tyrant dictator in the throes of his own tyranny- till it all finished! Sigh!


Birding at Sultanpur


Sultanpur bird sanctuary needs to introduction and is an equal favourite with its avian and human visitors alike! Dusshera holiday saw a  group of us head off for an early morning walk and a Dhabha session later. Some of my shots as captured that day!


A painted stork foraging for some twigs and branches to build up a new nest!



A Purple Heron, sagily perusing its next prey while it stands resolute in the shallow waters!

_MG_3776cI was lucky enough to catch this break! I love Kingfishers and was just rapt when this little thing let me get as close to it as possible!


Now this was an accidental shot and I am glad to have made it – A Shikra!!


A parakeet in a silhouette of a tree!

Early morning sunshine homage!



Momma bird feeding the baby birds – Painted storks!


Black headed Ibis perched pretty on top of the trees!


Slaying the devil – Procrastination


As I sit here listening to the sounds of firecrackers, indicating the burning of the Ravana effigy; I contemplate on the evil I wish to triumph over in my life. Its a little devil called Procrastination.

How many of us arent truly enraptured by him? Can you honestly say no to this? Think again!

Ever since I went freelance, I have been in the throes of this charmer – he does woo with elan, have to give him that! I mean who would want to sit on a boring PC and pound out work when one can loll about (still in the pajamas) and peruse the channel guide to see morning TV action (tell me have you ever found anything interesting on TV; never mind the time of the day?) Or surf about the latest sale? That blog about the Better Indians? Possibilities are endless and this little charmer knows all about it.

So he seduces your pschye into believing these things are more important and before you know it, the day is over with zero productivity! Thats when he chuckles satisfactorily and moves on to slumber till the next bright day!

Well! I just laid him down – no seriously I mean it! Its done! Gonna bury the remains at the undergoing metro construction site – who will ever know!! (Will do it tomorrow)

So from tomorrow finess, food, health and work – all in order!

Fingers crossed!