Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tadoba National Park~ Pursuing those charismatic stripes!

           Are you a fool? They asked me. It’s an India vs Pakistan semi-final of the cricket world cup, and you want to see some stupid tigers? If you are an Indian, this is quite a believable statement. But fortunate I am that I dint fall for it, and went and saw those stupid, magnificent Tigers instead. Yeah! That’s foolish.

                Tadoba is a well-known national park in Maharashtra spread across the area of around 120 sq. km. It’s placed 100 km south of Nagpur and about 45 km north of Chandrapur. There are plenty of trains both to Nagpur and Chandrapur but if you just can’t wait to witness some stunning creatures, a flight to Nagpur is your safest bet.
                After driving around Chandrapur for a while sipping yummy lassi and making purchases of random clay pots, we reached Tadoba. There are number of gates you can access but we decided to go for Moharali which is the closest one to Chandrapur. You have to book your entry in advance at the forest office in Chandrapur or there is no way they are letting you in. We reached the booking office in time and were quite pleased to see a short que. As we asked for three passes for Tuesday with a cheerful smile, the polite officer (politeness is an extremely rare virtue when it comes to government officials in India) calmly pointed his finger towards something scribbled in green paint on the wall next to him. “The park will remain closed on Tuesday”. We were shocked! What are we going to do now? This puts our entire plan in jeopardy. I don’t know why but we even argued with the official about letting us in as we had no idea about this stupid rule. Strangely, he didn’t argue back! At all… And said nothing other than a plain, simple No! We decided not to test our luck and made bookings for the next day. We booked 3 Safaris which seemed to have guaranteed at least one encounter with the beast of the jungle. And headed toward the MTDC guest house.

                The guest house was practically a haunted old structure. An overstaffed place with an under maintained boarding. Everyone there seemed extremely busy gathering in a tiny room and watching cricket highlights than serving us basic living necessities. We feasted on a wannabe sandwich and settled down in the bug infested rooms. It was dark and it seemed like we were the only women, in fact people staying there. Thanks to the 1 billion population of cricket lovers. We even slept with a wooden axe that we bought at a tribal craft shop next to the pillow. :P

                In the morning everything took a drastic twirled! A glance outside the terrace filled my eyes with insane amount of birds against the lush green land. Effing magical! But we dint have time to chill, as we had to rush to our Gypsies for our first trail. 6 a.m.!
The chirping birds, scent of the burning grass coming from a distance and great company set the mood right! The open gypsy, which I always find very glamorous for some reason was filled with our chatter and anticipation while we waited at the gate. We gave each other naive instructions on how to shut up in the jungle and constantly keep all your senses alert. We were a bunch of kids entering a candy factory!
The trail began with breeze soothing my hair and silence never imagined before. I took the “keeping your senses alert” bit a little too seriously. I would get excited over every little sound heard and every unfamiliar scent smelt. The guide asked me to chill! God! He wasn’t nice. The magnificence of the jungle often gets flatly ignored in our desperation to sight the creatures living in it. It makes me wonder how we need to “find” things in order to truly appreciate them. What’s right there is just isn’t enough. Strange! The jungle was magical! No form of fiction can do justice to it. It’s one of those things that require a first-hand experience. The subtle chill of early morning, light filtering through the leaves, monkeys sunbathing and this entire universe existing without missing a human presence. Man! What was that??
The guide periodically showed us some interesting animals and birds followed by a few quirky details. One of the interesting facts, like all other national parks, Tadoba guides are hired exclusively from around the area. Basically people who are sons of the soil and completely habituated to the jungle. Not his etiquettes, but the guide’s knowledge about the jungle was absolutely impressive. For some reason he kept promising us confidently that we will be encountering a tiger soon. Our hopes reached sky high, every sound seemed like an alarm call, and every smell stinked like a tiger! As if seeing the wild cat would be the end of the world as we know it. No! we saw nothing. Not even its tail that day.

Next ride was pretty much the same. Although equally pleasing and enchanting, it was accompanied by similar disappointments. No tiger! The guy in the next gypsy saw a Leopard, a tiger and a very rarely sighted bear. That was brutal! I felt betrayed by the gods of justice. In an attempt to supress my distress I eat up the ill testing dinner and cuddled up in the blanket with a hope of a better tomorrow. And yeah! there was the wooden axe.
The next morning I was strangely hopefully. The newfound obsession was quite exciting. The world was divided into the people who have seen the tiger and who will see the tiger. I wanted majorly to escalate to the other side. A cup of hot chaha later, we hopped into our fancy gypsy, soon to realise there were just 6 vehicles entering the jungle today. Oh the cricket match! Seemed like we have the stupid tigers just to ourselves. We entered the jungle with an added rigour. The cool breeze seemed comfortingly familiar. Seeing the number of deers hoping around was like seeing dogs on the streets of Mumbai, Ample! Some species of birds were mind-blowing! The colours that nature can produce is unbelievable. We spent a lot of time photographing birds, trees and monkeys. As it seemed highly possible that the tiger will ditch us this time around as well.

This was our last Safari, the time was running out. The part of me pretty much gave up. The trees and deers seemed suddenly photogenic. We were encountered by a big group of Sambars. What beautiful creatures! We wanted to take as many pictures as we could before they run away. Sambars have this specific trait of not letting humans near them. They are quick and disappear into the forest in a matter of minutes. The shutter was clicking continuously. I dint realise how close we had gotten to the animal. I could see right into his eyes. Strange right? It’s almost impossible for a sambar to not run away into the forest. As we were busy clicking him from various angles, the guide quickly gestured the driver to go further and stop. Before we could notice, the time stood still! There it was! The most magnificent sight you could see. The bright yellow beaming fur with sharp black stripes. And the gaze that can freeze you right that second. For a minute I didn’t want to take photographs or come up with words, I just wanted to look! It was a mother with her cute little cub quenching their thrust near the water body. As soon as she sensed our presence she ran into the bushes, the cub followed her. Mother tigers are especially protective. All we were supposed to do now was wait for them to come out. All the six vehicles were waiting in extreme silence (even the guy who already saw a range of animals the previous day. Dude! Was he in a zoo?) The beating of heart, the rush of adrenalin and this strange comradery between every human present there was something hard to articulate. We waited as if we had no hurry in the world. Finally, taking her own time, the lady came out in grandeur. She looked at us as if we didn’t matter. She was the queen and we were startled. She waited for the cub to come out and he followed her like an obedient child. They didn’t rush, or run! No way! That’s too petty for the one who rules that land. They turned away and all we could see was two stunning figures walking further away from us in complete nonchalance. We couldn’t leave before they completely disappeared into the brown glowing grass. The driver rushed the vehicles in an attempt to make it back in time. We said almost nothing to each other. Just sat in silence trying to make sense of the last few minutes as the fast blowing wind attempted to push us further into the dream. I don’t know why this was such a powerful moment, or why something we see so often in imagery around, moves you so much when seen in flesh and blood. But it didn’t matter, all I could think was the wind, the tiger and my next journey to Tadoba.

10 songs that can not ascape your playlist while traveling!

Music sets the mood for your travels. Of course silence has its own significance, but I love the idea of having a background music for my journeys. That’s how often I remember those times in retrospect.

Here is a list of 10 wonderful songs that have awesomeness strung all around them:

1) The answer is blowing in the wind by Bob Dylan

2) Dil chahta hain

3) Leaving on the jetplane by John Denver

4) Dekha hain aise bhi by Lucky Ali

5) Hotel California by The Eagles 

6) Aane wala pal~ Film Golmal 1979

7) Galway girl from PS I love you

8) Piano man by Billy joel

9) Ek purana Mausam by Jagjit singh and Guljar

10) Dil gaye ja by Lucky ali

Friday, June 17, 2011

Goa trance~~

This time I start writing much in time… when the sand of Goan beaches is still in my clothes… and the cool breeze in my mind.

                Goa! Arguably the most popular tourist destination in India. I mean Who hasn’t been there? Well… I hadn’t! And this was shamefully my first time there. Usually I run away from any touristy setups. But I knew Goa would be different. The vibrance of the place was placed in a perfect proportion with the tranquilly. How often do you get to see that? 
                In some bizarre dramatic ways, all my plans leading to Goa over the past several years failed without exceptions. All of them!  But the most impulsive, unplanned plan worked with perfection. May be that’s the only way to experience this land… On impulse.

The journey began with some college kids chirping in the bus all night, not sparing a minute of sleep to anyone.   The book I had gotten along remained in my hand unread while my mind kept wondering into nothingness. The timing of this particular trip was crucial. When I am on the verge of a transition. When I am supposed to make decisions in terms of my work, moving cities and a general prioritization in life. All this without any tangible thread to hold it all together. I assumed Goa would be a way to desaturate. And indeed it was!
The rikshaw ride from Mapusa to Baga reminded me of a bizarre blend of Pondicherry and Kokan. The Marathi speaking driver, palm trees and a general small town vibe was pleasantly surprising. We reached the hotel in time and unpacked. The sea visible from the terrace was inviting with a crooked finger pointed at us. After quickly having breakfast, we ventured out and got hold of a bike rental guy. Our desperate attempts to bargain failed miserably and we finally gave into his 200 Rs. Per day rate with a shattered confidence.
The sun was beaming right in our faces. All the opposition we faced for deciding to visit goa in the month of May made a lot of sense. But fortunately that didn’t stop us. Oodles of sunscreen later,  the sea looked equally stunning.
Ok! I accept my obsession for maps and making lists! I have picked it up along the past few years but now I am hooked! There is no letting go of it. The only option is to accept it with a happy smile. As I opened my orange diary and the shiny map, ideas were umpteen. We decided to visit few places and do full justice to it. Really be in that place and try to remember the smells, feel the wind and soak the essence as much as we can. And trust me, it was indeed that poetic! 
                I remember sitting next to my friend in the Basilica of Bom Jesus church for two hours. Saying almost nothing to each other, just astound by the magnitude of that structure. Each person walking in with a distinct drive. The stillness I felt was so effortless and easy that I could physically see it. The history of that place in words is of course fascinating but the vibe that time has left behind made so much more sense to me.
The best part about having a ride with two wheels is you can feel the salty breeze in your hair (even if it screws it up), smell the grass and hear the noises. Travelling can never be just visually pleasing. Never!  We drove around all day taking turns anywhere the heart wished, passing palm trees, pretty houses, colourful markets, humongous churches and so much more… It was like a flip book.  The vibe differed with every fraction.  And like halting at a random page, we would wind up at a place, clueless yet extremely happy!
                Evenings were spent on the beach. There can be no two way about it.  Sitting on one of those beach chairs with a relaxed sense and an uncurled mind. Simply looking at the sun diving into the sea as the darkness seeps in. Only to be followed by the twinkling manmade lights everywhere which for some reason always gives me a sense of wellbeing. Novelty is certainly not a virtue of this experience. It’s beautiful because it’s basic and real! The forts, the roads, throwing everything from rocks to random things you can find around at the mango tree till something falls down. (Hopefully a mango), the tiny lanes, the smelly sea, the warm smiles, the overpriced markets, the cheap stuff, the sinners, the saints it all comes together as if diligently choreographed to let you experience pure bliss.
There are certain journeys that present you with experiences that are non dramatic, non life changing yet so subtly stirring and exceptionally gentle to catch in words~ this was one of those times. The only thing bad about Goa is that almost always comes a day when you need to pack you stuff and start your journey back home.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Pondicherry, The French Connection...

After the details of my Pondicherry trip begin to fade a little, I come out of my extreme laziness and finally decide to write about it. I open the word document on my computer and wait endlessly, slightly brushing my fingers against the keyboard waiting for the flow of thoughts to arrive.
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            As I try to put myself in the past days, I realize how much I miss Pondi. And moreover how much I miss the way I was there. As if a different person. That’s the funny thing about traveling. You end up doing things that you wouldn’t normally do in your day to day life. Not that they are in any way drastic or extreme. In fact the most basic things. But somehow you end up being judgmental about yourself when you are in your own town. Thinking unconsciously about the gazing eye of an outsider. Where as in traveling, the eye almost magically losses its prominence. You somehow just learn to be!
            The journey began on the most beautiful note. As I catch the 5.30 am plane cursing the odd timing, I look out of the window and witness the most spectacular sight. The sun was gently coming out of the fluffy golden clouds. Like an extremely humble king. Illuminating the slightest corner of the sky along the way. It’s reflection on the blue water which isn’t blue anymore but just sparkling blonde. My heart is filled with bliss. I considered it a good omen and closed my eyes only to open it when the airhostess announced that we are in Chennai.
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            I came out of the tiny airport and hired a prepaid taxi. I looked desperately for my assigned driver, soon to actually realize that I am in whole new world. Rough looking men speaking an alien language which sounded kind of funny but did not fail to intimidate me. I dint let it show on my face and finally got hold of the driver. The hour long journey to the bus depot began. It was so damn interesting to see the colourfull Chennai from my taxi window. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I have never seen so many gaudy colours together yet making a spectacular sight. There were a few movie theatres I came across on the way with huge Rajanikant posters with even more elaborate garlands. Suddenly all the Rajanikant jokes viraling for the past few days seemed realistic. Walls painted with portraits of politicians, women wearing bright saris and the beautifully glowing dark skin with the smile on their faces, brought one on mine too.           
            You know what? I wouldn’t want to talk about my bus journey from Chennai to Pondi… because it was far from good. people squished together with the hot sun marching in from the window and Completely alien words dashing the ears. As if the clock had just stopped and made me believe that I will never reach Pondi. No matter how much I try to put it into the category of an “experience”, sorry! That does not in any way make me feel good about it!
            But the good times were not too far. I finally reached my modest place of accommodation called the “The International Guest house” which is the Arabindo Ashram initiative with very cheap rates and a decent, spat clean room. I freshened up and sat on the wooden bed with white sheets. Wondering where have I come? With a hint of fear poking me from within, what am I going to do alone? For eight freaking days? Is it going to be as good as I imagined? And my sane voice replied without delay, “don’t worry, it always does!”
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            My exhaustion and insanity were both almost vanished after I woke up from a small nap. I washed my face, got dressed, tucked my newly bought aviator glares in my collar and got out. To begin with I went to the Arabindo Ashram which is just a 5 minutes walk from IGH. A beautifully quiet place with the most comforting vibe. Much smaller than I expected but falling nowhere short in beauty and magnificence. There a nice old man showed me around the place and gave me a few guidelines for my stay. The first thing you need to do is get the Ashram map along with the usual Pondicherry city map. It helps great deal with chalking out what you want to do. As I came out feeling nice and inspired, I just started walking aimlessly taking any turn basing purely on impulse. Checking out various book stores, shops along the way. Examining each building, creating compositions in my head, I kept walking. The sun was on the verge of setting I could see the beach now. Amazing! I walked towards the Gandhi statue. Most fortunately I see that a classical dance performance of artists across the globe was about to start. It was a beautiful open air theater right next to the sea. The wind was blowing my hair as if giving me company, welcoming me to this wonderful town. I sat there observing the foreigners. Although the performance was above average and failed to truly move me,  its stunning setting against the sea and the creative lighting made the whole experience worth while. Giving me assurance that this was a beginning of an incredible voyage.
            The “starving me” desperately looked for a place to eat. I soon found this tiny beachside café. Le café! And oh I was charmed! I was charmed by the modest beauty, the monochromatic photos on the wall, the arches looking at the sea outside and of course, an exquisite cup of Cappuccino! I sit there reading Kamala Das, getting inspired by the brilliance of this woman’s literary capacities. As I hear the clashing dark waves of the night sea, this pleasing sense of accomplishment filled my heart. I had landed!;
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            Waking up in the morning was not much of a problem. In any case I would get back to my room quite early in the night considering the in time for the guest house was 10.30pm. And I must admit I too was a little extra careful since I was traveling alone and all that was responsible for me was well… me! I would sit in my room reading, meditating or watching comforting chick flicks on my laptop laughing at the contradiction. A cute little lady with multiple piercings in her nose and ears would knock on my door every morning till I wake up and ask me whether I wanted tea or coffee? My response remained the same for all eight days, No, thank you! But yet she repeated the inquiry with equal zeal and smile every morning. At times, when I wanted to sleep some more, it would get a little annoying but yet by the end of the trip I had grown very fond of her.
            My day mostly consisted of roaming around on the bike that I had hired. Arguing with the bike rental guy I realized, bargaining in an unfamiliar language can be equal fun! First couple of days with the food were exciting. French bread, sandwiches, salads… seemed all good! But by the fourth or fifth meal my body demanded some real food! I couldn’t even look at the cold, ruthless well formed piece of bread! I asked everyone…. The bookstore owners, waiters of the same French cafes, everyone! I even tried eating at the Ashram taking their one day pass… Its extremely cheap (20Rs for one day pass consisting breakfast, lunch and dinner) and serves basic yet good, nutritious food if you are willing to stand in the queue for a while. But I knew I wont be able to do this often… I just can’t eat so much rice! And finally I found this blissful little place called Surguru.. or was it Sadguru? I couldn’t even pronounce the name, yet it lovingly served me yummy Indian food for all my remaining days. Turned out, it was quite a popular joint and a lot of people vouch for its quality. Anyone who is visiting Pondi, this is the place for their regular nourishing meals. It was here that I met Lauren, Ariel and Shannon. These really warm American girls who were traveling around the world as a part of their ‘International relations’ study program. We hit it off right away and I had a great time interacting with them. It was so much fun making them eat chatanis, Dosas, Malai kofta and nervously waiting for their reactions. I can be considered guilty of showing off our yummy Indian food. But I was glad they liked it too. I often find it interesting to interact with people from foreign lands. And thing what I find most exciting? Similarities more than differences!
            Sakhi Visited me on the weekend and it was a much needed relief to see a familiar face. We had a lot of catching up to do. One thing we both were really looking forward to, was an amazing meal at NCC. (The new creation cafe) It’s a pizza joint run by an Italian man which serves the most exquisite, authentic Italian food. The wood burning ovens right in front of you, Italian men and women serving you, add a tint of glamour to the experience. There is one thing that never fails to amaze me about us. We can have the most serious discussions about corrupt politics, complexities of art, feminism, pseudo intellectuals and without our notice with the utmost ease we switch to Gucci, Gossip girl, vogue and makeup… I love how we keep going back and forth with this… seamlessly….
            So after a lot and lot of food we moved on to our favorite task! Taking pictures! Almost too many of them. Such pictures somehow give the feeling of a chocolate cookie after dinner. You are done but there is still something to look forward to. A few hundred pictures, great meals and millions of words later I finally had to say goodbye to sakhi. which made me kind of sad and also made me realize that I will be saying goodbye to Pondi soon. I was awfully quiet that day. Driving back to the guest house I was looking around at the vivid coloured walls…. nonchalant lanes…. and was left with only one feeling… a desire to soak it all!
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            The night of 25th Oct, the one before I was about to start my journey back home, I was seating…. once again on the pristine white sheets…. without any active, dominating thoughts but a muddle of varied emotions… most of it very pleasant…. I remembered the whole Arabindo Ashram family and their warm, encouraging presence…. the multiple discussions I had with them about artistic appreciation, honesty of expression. How I see myself, the world around me ….the validation of the quest to find a deeper value of life…and finally a few highlighted words…. “No one comes to Pondicherry if they aren’t meant to be” it all appeared in my mind aligned in perfect composition… I didn’t even feel the need to put it all together and make sense of it… it all felt right!
            As I crosschecked my packed bags and tried to clean the remaining with an effort to put the room to its original self I noticed that my mind seemed empty…blank…. I instinctively touched the wooden, carved legs of my bed…. The little rack where I used to keep my cell phone… the desk where I sat late in the night writing random thoughts….I laughed at my foolishness…. A week isn’t a healthy period to get attached to nonliving things…. But somehow I allowed myself to be foolish that day… said goodbye to the bed, the floors, the desk and the white sheets… locked the door and hanged the key of room number 3 on the glass key holder at the reception area…. One last time! 

Simply Mumbai....

Mumbai! The city with the most repetitive set of adjectives… gilts, glamour, spirited and what not? It isn’t necessarily a city that would excite the ardent traveler to a large extent considering the chaotic qualities that any large city has. And yet, for many of us this city holds a special place. An incomprehensive quality that can be phrased as The Mumbai effect!  
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From buying shoes as a little girl, going to the Juhu choupati, slanting noses to the smell of entering Mumbai, to very recently coming here to take interviews and do photoshoots, my affair with this charming city is a long one! We meet on and off but whenever we do, we fit like a glove!
            A journey to India would be incomplete without visiting Mumbai. It has a significance of a pinch of salt in your food… it matters! Mumbai represents on so many levels what modern India is all about. But if you are expecting to see a replica of Slumdog millionaire and just want to get your heart warmed up, Mumbai will throw at your face so much more diversity… This town has a capacity to generate so much more in you… It can leave you astonished one second while at next you may feel completely lost… a little episode can inspire you more than a self-help book and at times the chaos could become too much to handle… you will meet strangers, freaks, amazing friends, inspiring personas, helpless children, warm faces and a lot more… The important thing is to dive in, and the lukewarm tides will take care of the rest.
There is so much about this maximum city that a single article won’t be enough. Following is a daylong schedule on what to do in Mumbai. And an exciting experience is a promise!
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 First of all, start your day early! Mumbai mornings are beautiful and more importantly it’s better to start before the nasty sun starts bothering you too much. A nice breakfast of Bun omelete and Chai at any irani restaurant is good enough to keep you going. After you get some food in your belly take a walk starting from Victoria terminal towards the fort area. The combination of beautiful European architecture and chaotic crowd is stunning. If you are interested in Art, take a stop at Kala Ghoda for a while and Visit the Jahangir art gallery. It’s one of the most acclaimed galleries in India and it’s impossible to remain unaffected by its nostalgic charm.  It was founded by Sir Cowasji Jehangir at the urging of K. K. Hebbar and Homi Bhabha. It was built in 1952. Managed by the Bombay Art Society, the entire cost of this mansion was donated by Cowasji Jehangir. Along with that it’s a must to Visit the National Gallery of Modern Art. NGMA was established on March 29, 1954 by the Government of India, with a gallery in New Delhi. Its collection of more than 14,000 works includes artists such as Thomas Daniell, Raja Ravi Verma, Abanindranath Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore,Gaganendranath Tagore, Nandalal Bose and Jamini Roy.
By the time you are done with this, it may be time for lunch. In case you are tired by all the walking, get a taxi to flora fountain. It will cost you merely 30 bucks. There is a huge variety of restaurants and you can make your pick depending on your mood and budget. When I am in a capacity to splurge, my pick is “Fountain sizzlers” right next to Bombay stock exchange. It’s a little place and could be hard to notice. Look for an orange sign with white lettering and lots of formal attired men and women with tight ties and shiny shoes. Geek chic as we like to call it. It’s a sophisticated place with a lot of Bombay exchange employees coming there for lunch. In fact that’s one of the reasons why I like to go there. A part of me is really excited to hear the heated arguments about Economics and policies. Tired faces and eyes staring at CNBC on the plasma installed. And of course it’s one of the best sizzlers I have tasted so you won’t be disappointed on any level. If you are short on cash but not ready to compromise on the taste buds, the roadside Mumbai sandwiches are sent directly from heaven. The gooey cheese and perfectly grilled bread is a combination to die for. But this recommendation comes with a huge disclaimer sign. Eat at your own risk. Make sure it suits you digestion system.

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The equation of Mumbai and local trains is undeniable. I am sure within your stay in Mumbai you will get plenty of chances to travel by the local. Don’t get intimidated by the aggressive crowd and grab the chance! You won’t regret it! The sheer life dancing inside the tiny space is spell bounding. People cramped in tiniest corners, women arguing over a seat and laughing over a silly joke with the same person within minutes gives you a whole new perspective on human relationships. Random women appearing from nowhere and making convincing sales of rubber bands and earrings, trusting you with the possession of all their stock while they make a visit to the other end of the compartment, it all made me sit up and look… really look! The confident body language of every mumbaikar, from an old women selling fish to a pencil skirt wearing officer… it all somehow fits… they seem like an effortless part of a smooth churning wheel and make you feel like you are too!
            Evenings are booked to be spent at marine drive! It’s nonnegotiable. A crooked line of cement going as far as your eyes can go and joy of just staring at the sea sipping tea is indeed a JOY!
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            A day in Mumbai is peanuts compared to the night life! From going clubbing to taking a quiet walk alongside the mesmerizing queen’s necklace, your options are plenty. My preferred choice is coffee at bandstand. Your can make a pick from Café coffee day or Barista right opposite Shah Rukh Khan’s house, Mannat. Crazy fans taking pictures in front of his house is certainly an entertaining sight. The sound of tides and rare cool breezes can be a topping of your coffee. If you are in the mood of a drive in the middle of the night, you might catch some celebrities too. The cityscapes you see on your way with millions of sparkling lights, is a delight for any photographer.
            No matter how many ornamented words I find to describe this city, the feeling that it generates is something to be experienced first hand! After all, there is nothing minimum about this city!