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Writer’s Notes From Agonda Beach, Goa

a person on agonda beach goa

A Writer’s Diary from Agonda Beach Goa (India)

 

It’s almost afternoon. We have taken a corner table in the restaurant of our Agonda beach (Goa) guesthouse. Sunlight is abundant but we aren’t under direct sunlight.

Indian ocean rush to the sandy shore. When the high waves crash against the beach, I get transported to the balcony of my parent’s home. I close my eyes. Standing in the verandah of my two-storey childhood home, I see our neighbor’s roof. Since I was little I have seen a mound of dry wooden logs and cow dung cakes kept under a blue plastic sheet on their cemented rooftop. In my lucid dream, I hear the sheet rattle in the wind. The covers writhe and clatter under the brittle branches and rusted metal junk but they can’t let loose. Soon my father calls me inside.

I open my eyes. The ocean is free.

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Cultural Differences, a Friend For Life, and a Diwali in Chile

in chile in cauquenes with friends teaching english in chile

It is Diwali and I’m reminded of a Diwali I spent with three crazy Chilean sisters in a country home of Chile five years ago. Damn! It has been five years. The narrative tells just how different two cultures can be.

 

In 2016, I had been volunteering as an English teacher with the English Open Doors program in Chile. I was in the south of Chile on the Chiloé island in its capital city Castro. Like other volunteers I stayed in a Chilean home. The house had my bubbly host mother, other Chilean borders, and two more volunteers from England and the US.

It was Diwali and also an extended weekend in Chile. My host mother was visiting her relatives. Other housemates were traveling.

I had made many friends by then but Gabriela, another English teacher on the island, had become a special one. She invited me to a countryside family get-together with her two elder sisters. They were going to their parental home in Cauquenes, a small town in Southern Chile, to celebrate Gabby’s daughter Javiera’s eighteenth birthday.

Either I could’ve gone with Gabriela or traveled with an English volunteer best friend and housemate (and his other friends) to another cool place. (This things to do in Chile travel blog from my experiences will help you plan your trip.)

But spending Diwali with three crazy Chilean sisters sounded much more fun than talking about foreign things with other foreign travelers. So I packed my bags, took a bus to Gabby’s house, and together we took another bus to Cauquenes.

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We Dared to Hike to Shikari Devi Temple (Mandi Himachal) On Our Own

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Hiking to Shikari Devi Temple Mandi Without a Guide At the Onset of Monsoons   Deciding To Do The Shikari Devi Trek Since we arrived in Mandi (our trip began at Pangna going through Chindi) we kept hearing about the Shikari Devi temple. Locals religiously believe in Shikari Devi and used to walk to her …

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Why You Can Do Better Than The Apple Village of Fagu, Himachal Pradesh

fagu homestays and apple orchards

Fagu Himachal Pradesh — A Misty Apple Village Where Homestays Are More Commercial Than Hotels

 

Fagu wasn’t an underwhelming experience due to its location. I didn’t enjoy my stay in Fagu because of the extremely commercial attitude of the homestays in Fagu Himachal Pradesh.

Like in many small villages of Himachal, a traveler has to stick to homestays in a tiny place like Fagu. And I love staying in Indian homestays (and abroad too). For most of my travel life, I have been more than happy to know a host family and understand their way of life. Sometimes staying in a homestay could imply you have to talk and smile when you want to write quietly in a little corner. But everything comes at a price, and well, families function in their peculiar way. Isn’t travel all about embracing the unknown?

So far so good. But in this 2450-meter high apple village Fagu, homestays function at a breakneck speed.

Let me take you through my Fagu journey as it happened.

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Amazing Karnataka – From Ten Years of Travel

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Timeless (And Best) Places to Visit in Karnataka India And All About the State — From a Local

I have spent six years (if not more) in Karnataka, spanning over a decade. And finally I’ve moved out (for the unempteenth time) to have a life on the road.

It seems yesterday when I had gone to Bangalore to work at a software company. Ten years ago, I wasn’t going to Karnataka. I was moving to Bangalore, the capital of the state and the software hub of India. This crowded city of Bangalore seemed like a state of its own. My local Kannada friends told me the city wasn’t so jammed and hotch-potched in their young days. They grew up cycling under the canopy of trees, taking the local bus, and spending time in parks. 

Since Bengaluru became the Silicon Valley of India, millions of employees and employers came to the city with their families. As the city wasn’t planned by any civic planner, it expanded in every direction in an unruly manner. Concomitantly, the infrastructure got so bad that everyone living in Bangalore wanted to go out to the places to visit in Karnataka rather than staying within the busy city.

But today I’m not here for Bangalore. Today I want to tell the story of Karnataka — the state of the jungles, so let me get to that quickly.

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Relishing Crunchy and Soft South Indian Dosas

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A Colorful Introduction to South Indian Dosas

 

I love South Indian dosas, and I enjoy talking about these crispy crepes even more. You have to bear with me as this article on dosas in India will be long. Like my piece on some of the best visiting places in Karnataka.

 

What’s a Dosa?

Dosa is a thin crispy or soft savory crepe, sometimes it is even thick and soft like a pancake. Dosa could be rolled and stuffed or it might be plain and open — with all other variations not out of the scene. It is served with sambhar (a curry), chutneys, garlic-chilli powder (podi, also known as gunpowder among the uninitiated), and other paraphernalia. Though now dosas are eaten throughout India, and the world, they are still a staple only in South India.

 

masala dosa in chikmagalur town karnataka
A simple stuffed dosa with coconut chutney and sambhar served on banana leaf. Eaten somewhere in Karnataka.

 

plain dosa in bangalore karnataka
Plain crispy dosa served with coconut chutney and sambhar in Bangalore on a small roadside dosa joint. Filter coffee is a must with dosa.

 

Where Did Dosa Originate?

No one knows where the dosa — known as dosai in Tamil Nadu, dose (dough-sey) in Karnataka, and dosha in Kerala — originated. But the ancient Sangam literature of the Tamil area mentions dosa as early as the 1st century AD. As per Wikipedia, a dosa recipe is said to be found in Manasollasa, a 12th-century Sanskrit encyclopedia compiled by the Chalukya king Someshvara III of Karnataka. Originally the South Indian dosa is said to be of a softer and thicker form. But later in Karnataka, dose took a much crispier and thinner avatar.

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Can You Believe This Is Bangalore? (In Photos)

ols style shop in bangalore

Unseen Bangalore Photos From a Plethora of Day Outings in Bangalore city.

 

These are not your usual Instagram Bangalore pictures.

My motive behind this piece on Bangalore images — which is really nothing but a collection of day outings in Bangalore — is to show real Bangalore. Not the cosmopolitan Bangalore city of the Manyata Tech Park, Cubbon Park, Forum Mall, and Koshy’s that every outsider like me knows. I wish to bring forward the old city, the city dense with flower shops, colorful food, coconut stalls, cycle hawkers, chaotic streets, and ubiquitous hot chips corners. Bangalore would be incomplete if we don’t mention its giant trees jutting out of buildings and breaking out of concrete roads, multicolored Hindu temples with a cornucopia of deity sculptures towering above, the most random stuff being sold in bazaar shops, old-style South Indian dosa joints authentic to their practices even 100 years later, and the feeling of the night during the day when thick Bangalore clouds threaten the residents way more than they would like.

In this essay of Bangalore photos, I share moments that have sparsely studded almost ten years of my life. Starting in 2010, I arrived in and left Bangalore so many times I won’t dare to count my shift outs. Irrespective of how much I wanted to let go of the city, Bangalore (and karnataka state) didn’t leave me, not so soon.

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My Journey With Street Food of Malaysia – A Photo Essay

Ais kacang on top of Penang hill

A narrative photo essay on street food in Malaysia

 

Eating Street Food of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

My experience with the street food of Malaysia began in Kuala Lumpur(KL). I arrived late at night in KL. I had chosen a hostel close to Chinatown to eat there as often as I can. I checked in the Travel Hub guesthouse and took a bed in a female dorm. 

A long transit from Bali to Malaysia had left me famished. Overeating has been my die-hard habit. Now I try to eat less for a healthy and sustained living. But then, I gorged on traditional Malaysian food without a thought. I don’t like to overthink calories when I travel. Who would?

From being baffled by the cornucopia of Malaysian cuisines, restaurants, and dishes to knowing where and what exactly I wanted to eat, I had a long rendezvous with the Malaysian food. This food memoir is my attempt to recreate my month-long food journey in Malaysia.

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Accommodations in India – Lodging Tips From a Local

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Indian Lodging Tips: How to find good, affordable, and clean guest houses in India

Finding good guest houses in India could be as chance-based as cracking a lottery. Amongst the many variables that might work for against you finding a comfortable Indian lodging are location, pricing, facilities, cleanliness, linen and towels, water taps, mosquitoes, cockroaches, (noisy) fans, parking, host and the service staff, their culture, relationship between the guests, and the geography.

In this guide to finding good accommodations in India, I also take you through the history of travel and lodging in India. Because without knowing the evolution of travel in India we can’t understand the current Indian hospitality industry.

Pro Tip: Also read my guide to finding Indian homestays. The article has in-depth information on Indian homestay culture.

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A Stunning Sunset at Mandalay’s Irrawaddy River

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A Myanmar Sunset on the banks of the Irrawaddy River, Mandalay

I saw one of the most ethereal sunsets of my life on the banks of the Irrawaddy River in Mandalay. That Myanmar sunset was enough to convince me to wake up before 5 every morning for my twenty day trip in Burma.

It was the last day of 2019. My friend and I had just spent the day roaming around Mandalay ruins, discovering pagodas and ancient temples in the historic town of Innwa, and strolling around Innwa villages. There was a hot pot lunch in between at a place called the Little Panda Hotpot and BBQ Buffet. It wasn’t one of my brightest ideas to stop for a hot pot when we had hired an auto-rickshaw to show us around Mandalay. But the kind driver waited patiently for an hour. Also, I could not be blamed for the do-it-yourself hotpot for I didn’t know the restaurant would ask us to grill and cook everything ourselves without even helping us light the fire under our wok. Let us blame everything on the language barrier.

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Blunders I Made as a Novice Traveler – Backpacking Tips Included

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My Backpacking Journey: Mistakes, Learnings, and Tips for New Travelers

 

Dreaming About Backpacking: A Wannabe Beginner Backpacker

 

My first solo international travel was a two-week trip around France and the UK in 2012. 

I don’t know why, but I had this urge to be a backpacker on that short journey. India was not high on the backpacking lifestyle then, and not so much even now. So I assume I had been influenced by the foreign backpackers roaming around Connaught Place and the Janpath market in New Delhi. Refusing the advances of the beggars and the hagglers, the travelers strode on. In that ten-minute walk from the Rajiv Gandhi metro station to my office on Janpath, I was transported from the billowing metro crowd to the cosmopolitan Janpath life to my corporate day enclosed within 500 square meters. The free travelers swaying along with their red and blue backpacks mesmerized me.

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12 Myanmar Traditional Food– Eating My Way Through Burma

shan traditional meal burmese food

Curry rich, Asian-influenced, salad-based, unhygienic — these are only some of the phrases that seem to describe Myanmar traditional food all over the internet. 

When I visited Myanmar last year, I had high hopes from the Burmese food: a concoction of not only the culinary taste of the hundreds of ethnic groups within Myanmar but also steeped in flavors, ingredients, and recipes from the colorful neighbor China, Thailand, and India. 

While you can find fish noodle soups and tea leaf salads at every corner of Myanmar, you can also overeat potato samosas, suck into juicy dumplings, and cry out on spicy curries or run away from fried insects— all the later delicacies can be attributed to Myanmar’s neighbors whose people and flavors both have been generously accepted by Burma. 

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