What you should eat on your Sri Lankan holiday

Experience the true flavours of Sri Lankan food

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Food in Sri Lanka is heavily influenced by Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India. There are a lot of similarities yet unique tastes in their local food and why eat anything else when you can have authentic Sri Lankan cuisine. Sri Lanka has many roadside eateries serving deliciously warm breakfast; while most of them are restaurants, there are several shed-like structures run by women serving up colourful food for cheap prices that would definitely not burn a hole in the pocket of a tourist in the country.

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Local food in Sri Lanka

The distinct accent made it difficult for us to get the local names but we did get the translated version of most. Breakfast includes a Tender cutlet (SLR 25) made from sweet jaggery and batter-fried crisp with a little spice. It was followed by the Idiyappams (SLR 20) – rice flour noodles garnished with curry leaves to lend a spicy flavour; it was served along with Sri Lankan sambol (an orange dry chutney made from coconut and chilli powder). Sweet Hoppers (SLR 20) are crisp pan-fried appams filled with sugar and can be eating plain without any accompaniment unlike the savoury alternative. Ulunde Wade (SLR 25) are the Sri Lankan equivalents of Medhu wadas only a spicier and served with a delicious white coconut chutney.

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Digestive warm drink of Beli Mal made from locally found beli flowers

Usually, Sri Lankan’s apart from beverages like coffee and tea, like to end their breakfast with Beli Mal – a brownish detox drink made from ground beli (a local flower) and water; the bitter taste from the drink is cut off with a small piece of jaggery served along with it.

Also Read: This is all the money you need for a Sri Lankan holiday

Eating local food brings out the true essence of a place but looking for the right restaurant is important because most and usually overpriced if the city is visited by tourists; especially Colombo. We stopped by a restaurant that had a lot of people lined up waiting to eat their lunch and were lucky to get a table soon enough to eat our meal. Since we were ravenously hungry we didn’t mind sharing the table with another local.

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Thick dal (top left), spicy radish side-dish (top right), French bean preparation (bottom left) and Sri Lankan sambol chutney (bottom right).

We savoured a plate of fat rice that was served along with a spicy radish side-dish, a French bean preparation rich in coconut and a thick dal gravy we really relished. The meal is also served with the Sri Lankan sambol chutney on the side to make a deliciously wholesome meal. We were also served fried fish (resembled a Pomfret), a dry chicken dish and a prawn chilli fry on the side. While most look for the non-vegetarian food, the vegetarian food is an absolute delight. Interestingly, the whole meal turned out to be only SLR 130.

Also Read: Your travel bucket-list for Sri Lanka

Meals are incomplete without a sip of alcohol for most people and we thoroughly enjoyed exploring drinking Arrack. The drink almost tastes like black rum but is not as strong and has a strong flavour of coconut in it.  However, the prices of the bottle differ from place-to-place and is anywhere between 230 – 350 SLR for half a litre.

Tip: Eat only local food as it is really cheap and the flavours are worth the money

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Your travel bucket-list for Sri Lanka

Get off the beaten track to experience Sri Lanka with a difference

Itineraries are an important part of every holiday and while most people may choose to go by a tour, it is important to make a personal list on-the-go so that interesting places aren’t skipped for the lack of time.

Sri Lanka has many popular places to visit but it is ideal to stick to the central, south and south-west region as it is said to be safer than the rest of the country. These particular regions have so much to offer that missing out on the upper-half region won’t even cross your mind.

Our itinerary included Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Bentota and finally the capital city Colombo but we did visit many places en-route including Kalutara, Kosgoda and Balapitiya; the latter opens out to the sea and subsequently 18 islands in Sri Lanka.

Places to visit in Sri Lanka

Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage
Travelling from Bandaranaike Airport in Negombo, the closest sight-seeing spot is the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in the village by the same name. We were lucky to witness the elephants religiously going for their daily bath across the street to a nearby lake. The 25-acre coconut plantation houses the Asian elephants in captive breeding and also takes in any elephant that has been orphaned by its herd in the nearby jungles. Interestingly, many shops have sprung up on the route the elephants take and have different kinds of accessories being sold made from elephant dung. The accessories include books, calendars and other stationery.

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Elephants bathing at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage

Kandy
Situated in central Sri Lanka, the city of Kandy should be on the list of every traveller looking to visit Sri Lanka. It has an old-world charm in its architecture with a mix of hills and a sparsely populated city. Spending an afternoon around the lake in the centre of the city is certainly relaxing if you want to take things slow. The city also has the Royal Botanical Garden, a Gem Museum and the Temple of the Tooth Relic Of The Lord Buddha; all of which can be done only if there is an interest but otherwise may not impress many younger travellers. 

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Kandy City Centre

Nuwara Eliya
While the weather in Sri Lanka is very similar to most parts of India, it is Nuwara Eliya that makes for a perfect hill-station in the country like north India or Munnar and Ooty in the south among others. The resemblance to colonial-style structures along with the lush green fields engulfed us even before our driver told us it is fondly called ‘Little England’ by the locals. While it has a golf course and various other sight-seeing spots, a visit to the local bars is mandatory if you crave for some spirits to keep you warm. Enroute the hill-station, a visit to the tea plantations is a must because of the flavourful tea served and the fact that Sri Lankan tea leaves are commercially sold in many countries under different brand names.

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The hill station of Nuwara Eliya

Bentota
While we spent most of our time at the Hotel Eden, a beach resort with a beautiful view, there is a lot more that the town has to offer if one sets out on foot including local eating spots and a lot more. However, the resort town is popular for its water sports and the boat safari; the latter is a must when in Sri Lanka for the most unique experience at sea around the 18 islands off the Sri Lankan coastline.

Also Read: This is all the money you need for a Sri Lankan holiday

Speeding through the surrounding Madu Ganga river, the boatman will take you through the breathtaking mangroves and move over to Cinnamon island to see the making of various products from cinnamon trees including cosmetics and cooking masalas. He will then take you under the bridge leading to the largest inhabited island of 300 people and drink coconut water for Rs 100 from a man in a shop on the waters. Among the many islands, a Ganesha temple is the smallest island surrounded by a mystery that you have to be lucky to be told by the guide. Ending the safari with fish pedicure is also a relaxing experience after a two-hour-long tour.

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Mangroves off the Mandu Ganga river close to Bentota in Sri Lanka

Kosgoda
Travel to south-west of Sri Lanka to Kosgoda to visit an interesting Turtle Hatchery and Conservation area. The farm houses a variety of turtles -big, small and handicapped from the fishing nets. A tour around also enlightens tourists about the effort being taken by the locals to preserve the turtles that come to hatch every year on the closest beach, The small town also has a beach that not many know about as it is guarded by trees but is a must-visit for some quite time and escape from the cacophony of the city. Driving back would also reveal a train track running across the road and you would be lucky to spot the occasional train going from station to station, to complete a fulfilling experience.

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Turtle Hatchery in Kosgoda in Sri Lanka

Colombo
The capital city should ideally be left for the last as it turns out to be as crowded as any other metropolitan in the world. Clearly, the shopping district in Sri Lanka, it can keep you busy for a whole day if you’re a shopaholic. Restaurants serving local food are easily available and definitely worth a try because the food is absolutely delicious. For the devout, the city also has many churches around (both catholic and orthodox).

Other places to visit
While we covered most of the important places during our five-day trip, we were left with a need to see more as we hadn’t had enough of the country yet. It would be best to visit Sri Lanka for at least 10 days to make the most of it. I, personally, was really disappointed we couldn’t visit Galle which is further south than Kosgoda because it is known to be a famous Dutch colony and hence piqued my interest. The Portuguese and British influences along with the local setting make it an interesting spot to visit.

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This is the second article in a series about my Sri Lankan travel experience. Come back for more on the food and culture and my personal experiences.

This is all the money you need for a Sri Lankan holiday

Travel cheap to an underestimated destination

Planning international trips take a while mostly because of the money involved and while it may seem a lot, it is also important to see if it is worth the experience. While most travellers settle for exotic destinations in Europe and the US and UK among others, looking closer home may help Indians looking for shorter trips.

Around India, Sri Lanka is an under-explored destination and can be a good change for people on a shoe-string budget. There are many reasons to visit the colourful land but an easily available visa and the lower currency rate are easily on top of that list. The currency is almost two-and-a-half times the Indian Rupee and the visa comes to you within two days.

If you’re itching to go on a cheap holiday, Sri Lanka is not more than INR 60,000. Our trip for five days turned out to be an amazing stay that encompassed almost everything we wanted to do while in the country. Here is the break-up of the money spent followed by tips on how it can be cheaper.

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Local food in Sri Lanka

Money spent for five days:

Flight tickets – INR 18,200 (round trip)

Tour Package – INR 28,500 (including car with driver, breakfast and dinner, stay)
The tour included staying at two five star hotels – Amaya Hills in Kandy and Hotel Eden in Bentota and a three star Hotel Sapphire in Colombo (which is closer to the airport).

Visa – Rs 1,400 (for one month) 
The visa can be applied for online or can be acquired on arrival. Applying for it online is easier and less time-consuming

Miscellaneous expenses – Rs 12,000 (lunch, alcohol, shopping and souvenirs)

Do’s and Don’ts

1. Book flight tickets four months prior to reduce cost to barely Rs 12,000.

2. Do not spend on food at big restaurants. Eat local food at SLR Rs 130 – 150.

3. Travel by local transport or be ready to spend on food and drink for personal driver.

4. Inform personal driver that eating local is priority and not at fancy restaurants if comfortable with local cuisine.

5. Walking around will save money and help explore place better.

6. Do not go by a tour guide as it will save a lot of additional unwanted costs.

This is the first article in a series about my Sri Lankan travel experience. Come back for more on the best places to visit, food and culture and my personal experiences.

Unique Weekend Getaways In Mumbai 

One a rainy paradise and the other a mini Goa

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Route to Rajmachi Falls in Khandala off Mumbai

A trek during the rains is one of the many favourite weekend plans for many Mumbaikars; some decide to club it along with relaxed weekend getaways, the others, usually the seasoned trekkers, choose some difficult trekking paths that are simply breathtaking.

I happened to visit two interesting spots in July around Mumbai – one Lonavala and the other Uttan. While the former is a few hours away from the city, the latter a jewel within the city is only a 30 minute rickshaw ride from Bhayander railway station in north Mumbai.

If you’re planning to go for a trek in Lonavala, Valvan Lake is a must visit. While it is more of an easy hike, it is enroute Rajmachi falls in Khandala. Valvan lake is serene and is best for a lazy Saturday afternoon dip. For those who are hydrophobic, the view is breathtaking from the hillock, you’ll see the occasional dance of birds a few metres above the water in the distance too.

Also Read: Markets That You Must Visit in Mumbai 

Rajmachi Falls is a daunting task for first timers but a joy for seasoned trekkers. While it is difficult to search for the falls, asking the locals helps while you cut through vast grassland onto an off-road towards the falls.

Tip: Wear footwear with proper grip. A windcheater is best as it rains regularly moving upward. Carry a first-aid kit as you could scrape your knee while climbing up the rocks.

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Uttan near Bhayandar

Uttan on the other hand gives a reminder of my trip to Pondy (Pondicherry). All those who have visited will know. While the main attraction has to be the bright red lighthouse, Uttan beach not too far away is another good option if you do not want to travel to far away from the city over the weekend. There are many hotels to stay at for the night which are both cheap and expensive with varying facilities. They boast of the delicious East Indian cuisine in the city that must be eaten when in Uttan.

Would love to hear your experiences from your getaways 😀

Others 

My Earliest Travel Memory 

Local’s Speak: Why Goa Becoming A Second Home To Most Mumbaikars

Meandering Through Thrissur In Keral

Platform Steps Crash Due To Stampede At Vasai In Mumbai

Currently at Vasai Road Railway Station on the Western Line in Mumbai. After a derailment at Mahalaxmi, trains haven’t been running for the past 40 minutes. Due to the unavailability of trains a large amount of people were gathered on the platform and the surrounding road. As soon as the regular 8:44 local approached the platform, the crowd rushed up the stairs which almost immediately crashed, sending everybody into the drain below.

RPF and Railway authorities haven’t reached yet.

My Earliest Travel Memory

Memories of a hill station, trekking and a good trip

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Memories of a hill station, trekking and a good trip

We’ve travelled so much that we rarely remember our first trips, if your family had a penchant for travel, then you’ve visited many but if not, the few are as good as gold. While the most obvious place for Goans to go to travel to is Goa, I went there when I was seven and nine years old, respectively but my memory from those trips are hazy. So, one of earliest memories of travel trace back to when I was a 14-year-old in school, not a picnic but a so-called ‘Spiritual Trip’ by the Brothers of St. Augustine’s School, the school I studied in.

It was in the November of 2006, winter had just set in, and 16 boys were selected from our school to travel to Mount Abu in Rajasthan. We were a mischievous bunch but we had to live up to the ‘spiritual trip’ tag, it ended up being little of what we expected. It turned out to be one my earliest treks and a good one at that. We travelled by train, it was a sponsored trip and we were going to stay in the students hostel of St Mary’s School, the Christian and Irish Brothers branch in the north Indian state of India. We had hardly packed for the five day trip and clearly didn’t know what to expect. We reached early next morning and had to travel by jeep before we reached the school which was situated atop the ghats, since it was early November, it was really cold and though there was a swimming pool, we would be able to swim, which we thought we could because of Mumbai’s sweltering heat.

Most of the boarders had gone home as it was Diwali vacations but some who stayed to far were yet in the hostel. We were assigned a large dormitory that we shared with the students. We were to sleep in rows of iron cots with thin mattresses and were given thick blankets to escape the cold. We were really excited for the next day and why not, we were in for a surprise. We were briefed about the next day; Breakfast at 7 am, Lunch at 12pm and Dinner at 7pm, we couldn’t miss any of them. There was a common bathroom, where all of us had to bathe by taking water through tubs from a drum kept in the corner. We were living like boarders and it was exciting. Over the next few days we trekked through various hills called by different names by the boarders – Plummey (don’t remember the origin), Spongy (because it had pores like a sponge) and Toad Rock (shaped like a Toad) overlooking the main city market. We also climbed down 886 steps to Gow Mukh (marble cow head) through which water flowed into a small open tank. They say the source of water was unknown and so many believed that wishes come true there too. It was Aldo the first time we saw big scary Langur’s (a species of monkeys). It was only at the end of the day when we reached the dormitory that we realised we couldn’t walk at all. The ascending and descending of the steps to see How Mukh had left us almost crippled and we couldn’t feel our legs at all.

The best part of the trip turned out to be on the night before our last day, we went crab catching, in a flowing stream. And the best part? We went in the night! As the surrounding area was forest land and bears and panthers were said to be spotted, we took the school dogs for safety. While we learnt how to literally fish crabs, as we used leftover chicken bones to get palm-sized crabs that we were going to eat the next day. Suddenly the dogs started barking and we were told that they had sighted a panther around the area, we were quite astonished and excited at the fact that a wild cat was in close proximity but soon it was gone and we carried we our night crab-catching and took back a bucket full of crabs to end the trip on a high note.

P.S. – Pictures are plenty but sadly none are digital.

Markets That You Must Visit in Mumbai

Markets that are a completely delight when you enter them

Markets that are a completely delight when you enter them

Tourists come to Mumbai and visit iconic places like the Taj Mahal Hotel and Gateway of India which is only a few metres away, and Elephanta Caves if you hop on that speed boat and sail across. I’ve always been intrigued by markets, one of the best I’ve seen is the colourful McLeodganj market in Dharamshala. Mumbai has a few of them too which not many know, so here is a list of the most popular markets in the city and interesting tips.

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Crawford Market Photo Credits: wikimedia

Crawford Market
If you’re in Mumbai, visiting Crawford Market is a visual treat. While it has been named Mahatma Jyotirao Phule market, the name Crawford is synonymous with most Mumbaikars. Since it is known to be Mumbai’s first vegetable market, there are wide variety of groceries available at the market that may not be available anywhere in the city; exotic fruits and vegetables are all available for takers. Move on a little ahead and you’ll find the animal market; various animals and birds – Persian cats, different breeds of dogs, birds, fish and illegal animals are also said to be sold there. The market is also popular for its art supplies used by many artists across the city; bakery products to make items like cakes and pastries are all found at wholesale rates at this very market. If you hop in, I bet you’d be enamoured with the variety of things available there.

How to get there? Step off Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station and ask anybody for the iconic market and you’ll find your way

Where to eat: When you’ve come to Crawford Market, going to Badshah’s is a must, the restaurant is always crowded and there is never place but you should definitely have the milkshake there.

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Chor Bazaar Photo Credits: i1.stay.com

Chor Bazaar
It is said that Chor Bazaar isn’t what it is today, it was initially called Shor Bazaar (noisy market) but the Britishers mispronounced it and it came to be known as Chor Bazaar. Mostly popular for the stolen goods and artifact, the market has everything and anything you would want at cheaper rates but you got be good at bargaining to strike a perfect deal, because you if you can’t, the shopkeepers will make sure they rip you off your money. Victorian furniture, clothes and accessories are among the many things found there. It is also said that you can really expensive artifacts for Rs 50, if you know how to bargain. The best time to get there is as early as 5am to escape the crowd that comes in once daylight sets in.

Tip: Carry minimum amount of money or pack your wallets tight, because there are always pick-pocketers waiting to pick a pocket there.

Also Read:Locals Speak – Why Is Goa Becoming A Second Home To Most Mumbaikars?

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Shop on Lamington Raod Photo Credits: avmax.tech2.in.com

Lamington Road
Considered the ‘Tech Market’ of Mumbai, the market runs off Grant Road and has almost every part required for your computer, phone and other devices at really cheap rates. Hard drives, pen drives, web cameras and more are available here. There is a chance you’ll find transistors and cassette players there too. It is what Ritchie Street is to Chennai. If you need to buy any device at cheaper rates, head over to the market and you’ll instantaneously be happy with your purchase.

How to get there? Take a train to Grant Road station and get off on the west end.

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One of the many gold and silver shops at Zaveri Bazaar Photo Credits:www.rediff.com

Zaveri Bazaar
Known to be Mumbai’s diamond market, the bazaar also has all kinds of precious stones and gold and silver jewellers. Different kinds of show-pieces and household items are also said to be found in precious metals in the bazaar. Like any other bazaar, this market can be visited for different kinds of ornaments of the highest quality and decorative items for the house.

How to get there? Take a train to Sandhurst Road on Central Railway and Charni Road on the Western

 

 

 

World Earth Day: The Need To Stop Littering

We can plant trees but we need to stop littering too

We can plant trees but we need to stop littering too

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Garbage being thrown ceaselessly around us every single day Photo Credits: silencelikethunder.com

Travel is never associated with cleanliness. It is always about luxury, backpacking and experiencing something new. Little do many realise that it is also about preserving our surroundings, it is a responsibility that every backpacker or vacationer should take. I’ve been on the mission to tell people to not litter the place.

I’ve noticed it is rather difficult for people to not dirty a place as it is habitual act. Every single day I somehow happen to count the number of times people spit paan around me. One particular day, I counted five people on a railway platform in one minute. Having forgotten my attempt to count, I was reminded of it when I met an over-enthusiastic rickshaw driver who spoke through mouthfuls of red liquid we fondly know as paan. He also habitually spat it out when he realised I didn’t understand what he was talking about, without checking if it splashed on a passerby.

It is hard to explain how people do not think twice before spitting around on railway platforms, on railway tracks, roads or randomly in thin air. However it is easier to tell them not to do it but that too has its own share of amusing incidents. One of the earlier times I remember telling somebody not to spit on the road, he immediately told me, “Tera baap ka rasta he kya”; that  it was rhetorical is understood from the tone and the fact that I was left dumbfounded at his retort. Another interesting reply I once received was ” Sab log toh idhar thunkte he”. Spitting is one of the many problems that India faces in terms of littering. Throwing garbage on the road, or even on the platform while a bin is just behind is usual.

Also Read: Locals Speak: Why Is Goa becoming a second home to Mumbaikars? 

On this Earth Day, we could just help make an attempt to tell people who don’t know, and the people who deliberately do it about the importance of keeping our surroundings clean.

A few years back when I visited Mysore, there were officials at public places who fined people for throwing garbage on a clean road. It was no surprise that in 2016, Bangalore received the award for the cleanest city in India.

Five Steps To Keep Our Surrounding Clean

1. Carry a plastic bag in your work bag to dispose of thrash while travelling.

2. Make use of the bins that are present at regular intervals.

3. Carry a spittoon if you eat pan and avoid painting the town red.

4. Do not dispose of garbage anywhere unless it is a garbage bin.

5. Create awareness among people.

While we may talk about planting trees this Earth Day, we cannot ignore cleanliness.

Local’s Speak: Why is Goa becoming a second home to most Mumbaikars?

Goa is now a permanent getaway rather than just a holiday destination

Goa is now a permanent getaway rather than just a holiday destination

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Mumbaikars and city dwellers are resorting to the Goan lifestyle Photo Credits:mmishmash.blogspot.com

We know Mumbai as the ‘City of Dreams’ and that many people from all over the country come to earn their livelihood here but it works the other way around for Mumbaikars. While all these years they liked the adrenaline rush and the ability to adapt to worse conditions; the crowd, pollution and the pace at which the city moves is now taking a toll on many too.

Many Mumbaikars are now shifting, and their most popular destination is none other than Goa – the land of beaches. My roots having been in Goa, I’ve never found the state amusing; one can take in the beaches only so long as they are on holiday mode, otherwise it is just like any other place in the country but only with thousands of tourists flocking the land every day. I’ve noticed a trend in the past few months, many people from Mumbai are choosing to shift permanently to a place like Goa because it offers peace and runs at a slower pace, especially for a Mumbaikar.

Hindustan Times Brunch in a late January issue did a story on people from Mumbai that have shifted to Goa to spend the rest of their lives there; in a similar story, Homegrown, a popular website on art, food and culture did a story on people shifting to other cities and states in India to avoid the chaos. While the HT article revolved around people who have shifted to the southern state, I noticed that the Homegrown article too had many people shifting to Goa more than any other place in the country. They are shifting to places like Assagaon, Panjim, Miramar, Calangute, Colva, Salvador do Mundo, Caranzalem and Corlim. So that gets me to the question, why Goa?

Also Read: Meandering Through Thrissur in Kerala

And there is none better than talking to Goans who have seen both places in the past few years. Alisha Patel, a 24-year-old Goan who has recently shifted to Mumbai, elaborates about the trend she notices says, “I think it’s a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ kind of thing. People in Goa want the rush of Bombay whereas people in Bombay want the calm of Goa.” She further adds that a lot people from Mumbai have settled in Goa not just as retirement homes but also for work in the IT sector, hospitality and industries.

Twenty five-year-old PR professional, Suezelle D’costa, shedding some light on the trend says, “I think it’s not just the scenic beauty, it’s more to life life at a relaxed pace. People often talk about retiring in Goa. I think what they mean is just take a break from the mechanical metro lives. And Goa lets anyone have this own-paced life.”

While migration seems to be working for fast-paced Mumbaikars, Patel highlights a problem among the locals, she says, “It works for them, but I guess not so much for the locals who are in constant fear of becoming an outsider in their own state. But that’s the other side of the coin that comes with what happens when Goans move to other states to work.” I would agree with her on the fact that it works both ways but it is important to note that the number of opportunities in Mumbai are innumerable while in Goa it maybe lesser, from what I’ve seen.

It would be interesting to hear experiences from Mumbaikars who’ve shifted to various places in India including Goa and vice versa 😀

Meandering through Thrissur in Kerala

Experiencing Thrissur’s food, travel and culture

IMG_20160215_180542Having visited Kumarrokom and Munnar earlier in 2014, a trip to Thrissur (Trichur) though only for a wedding celebration got me really excited; little did I know what was in store for me.

We were going to stay in a friend’s house during our trip unlike the usual hotel rooms which make you over-spend and leave you without a true local experience. Two hours away from Kochi airport, Anthikad (pronounced as Andhikad) is one of the many villages in Thrissur where my friend is from.

We reached in time for lunch and were served a delicious meal on a banana leaf; the meal consisting a mound of red rice, sambar, pineapple and coconut curry accompanied with a typical Kerala preparation of cabbage and coconut with lime pickle. The flavourful meal gave me the first hint about Kerala’s obsession with coconut, the second hint came only few hours later when chicken was being fried in coconut oil while the aroma of coconut wafted through the house windows; it also set the tone for the pre-wedding program the same evening.

IMG_20160213_152114Houses in Anthikad village are spaced out over every 50 metres with each house having its own porch and backyard marked by shrubbery.Staying with the locals also gave us the chance to learn words in Malayalam like Accha (Father), Amma (Mother), Chetta (Brother) and Chechi (Sister); I already knew numbers from my previous interactions with people from Kerala or ‘Mallus‘ as they are fondly called, by the rest of the country.

Also Read: Travelling In My Own Backyard In Vasai

Over the four days, we had a variety of food that would make even a non-Vegetarian change his opinion about vegetarian food. A typical Kerala meal is had on a banana leaf with small portions of side-dishes in the top half and rice in the other half. We started with a simple meal of fat red rice, sambar, pineapple and coconut curry, a dry dish of cabbage and coconut with lime pickle. The sambar made typically made with drumsticks was a little sweet and spicy. The yellow pineapple curry had a sweetness that was balanced with coconut and was clearly my favourite; the dry cabbage dish had a coconut flavour that we all liked.

IMG_20160215_100922The evening got better with spicy long orange chips and sweet Appams (round brown balls made from jaggery, rice flour, banana and coconut). The pre-wedding celebration is one where the bridegrooms family invites all the villagers and neighbours for dinner.The people in Kerala like to drink a lot and so in no time the men were drinking while the women and children ate at long tables arranged outside the house. This celebration had fried chicken, a spicy chicken dry dish with rice, sambar, pappadams (papad), a tamarind-based tangy pickle and a variety of other coconut based dry accompaniments with Mor (chaas-like drink) that completed the meal and celebration.

Wedding day celebrations started as early as 7 am as we made our way to Guruvayur Temple (Krishna Temple) is considered one of the most revered temples in Thrissur. Ideally people visiting the temple for the ceremony wear a knee-length silk kurta with a a gold-bordered Mundu (pronounced as mund) – a version of the popularly worn lungi. After the ceremony at the temple, an official ceremony (like a reception) is held in a hall before guests are served lunch which is a real treat and consists multiple dishes on a banana leaf that include Avial (a popular Kerala dish), pappadam, chutneys, mor and payasam. 

IMG_20160215_173005Breakfast on the three days after our visit included typical dishes eaten in a Kerala household. On the first day, Savoury upma was served with boiled bananas – the bananas are supposed to be mashed with the upma to get the sweet and spicy taste. The next day was Putte (pipe-like food) made from rice powder, coconut, onions and jeera had a rich flavour of coconut and jeera; it was served with boiled bananas too; it is also eaten with papaddams. My last meal in Kerala was Idiyappams for breakfast. The loosely-bound rice noodle preparation is traditionally served with coconut milk but also tastes good with chicken curry.

As Thrissur is known for its different temples, the small market usually has supplies required for temple-goers and different keychains with god-faces among accessories. A vehicle is the best mode of transport if you do not wish to get cheated by the auto-drivers. The tourist attractions closest to Anthikad is the Snehatheeram beach that is pure bliss for anybody. Popular drinks apart from toddy in the town are a sweet and salty Sherbet (a lime and local juice mixture) and the popular Sharjah Shake (Banana and Chickoo milkshake with a generous amount of peanuts), the latter is a must-try while in the town.