January 28, 2011

Banerghatta National Park - Jungle Lodges

We decided to go on a one night trip to the Banerghatta National Park, and it being a holiday for the Republic day in the middle of the week also helped. We stayed at the Jungle lodges nature camp, in one of their swiss tents, which were very comfortable. There were deers, peacocks and monkeys all over the camp… and they were very used to human beings around them, to the extend that they did not have any issue if you went quite close by for a good photograph. The food was simple and tasty, the lunch especially, and all meals were served as a buffet. We wanted to leave early to get to office on time, and also to give a miss to the traffic, so they even gave us breakfast early in our tent itself. I think it was very good service from Jungle Lodges, all activities on-time, and there were always many folks around who were ready to give information on the animals, the places around and advice on not disturbing the animals too much. 

The national park as such was disappointing I would say, with small enclosures where the bears, lions, tigers and the white tigers were kept. The enclosure area being so small made it seem more like a zoo rather than a national park. And even in these enclosures, some animals were kept in cages and some were left in the open, which seemed more like a fair gimmick than a true practice. On wondering why such a park was being maintained, the only reason I could come up with was the fear of poaching, even within the premises of the national park. To ensure animal safety, I guess the cages and allocated outside time was the only method they could devise. 

We did not visit the zoo or the butterfly park, amongst which I have heard quite a rage about the butterfly park. One thing I would have loved to do was visit the butter fly park, and post a post card from there, as the postage seal would be of a butterfly when dropped in that specific post box. 

Here are some pictures for a better idea of the camp and also the animals.

Urban Shots

Urban shots is a collection of short stories from upcoming Indian authors and a fair number of bloggers too are amongst them. I picked up this book, after reading the review on Monika's World, around the time when I was looking for a good suggestion on short stories. I find short stories easy to read when on short trips, like the many I have been in the near past. 

The book is divided into 5 major categories - Friendship, Love, Angst, Longing and Relationships, and I must admit that each section has at least one story which I thoroughly enjoyed. But, I must say that being short stories helped a lot, as if any of them would have been a full fledged novel in the same tone, I am sure I would have not been too pleased. I felt the tone and writing style was very apt for short stories, and the authors have done a great job in weaving great plots together in a few pages. There is a story in there for everyone, be it a complete romantic at heart, an animal lover, or the ones who love the family drama. 

Having said the good about the book, I have to say that, there were some stories, which felt very much in line with the current Bollywood era and the lifestyle.. and I guess they were trying to portray the today's generation. But, I am not too sure whether I enjoyed any of the such stories. I felt those are the things which we see around ourselves too much, and it being put on paper, was just another repetition. 

All the stories nevertheless are very quick reads and on moving from one to another, the stark difference in plots makes for a fresh start and a jump start to one's senses too. Overall I would say that this book is different in being of the present Indian outlook, and also what concerns with most of us at some point of time in life. Though I must also add that its not a book which I would re read, or remember give or take a few months… but then such books do come by also quite rarely.

January 27, 2011

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro

After quite a bit of research, I finally zeroed in on the Sony Xperia X10 mini pro as my new cellphone of choice. I bought it in November and been a month I have been using this phone now. I must say, I have been very impressed with the ease of use, the sensitivity of the touch screen, and also the ease with which one can navigate and customize the menu.

The photos, many which I clicked using its 5.0 mp camera, is also nothing to complain about. Without a flash, your hand does need to be real steady, but with the flash on, things are very smooth.

I love the notes and navigation application, very useful while traveling, where one can make notes on what all places to visit, save it as the main screen and then use the navigation tool to get directions and all. These two have been the most used applications on my phone apart from the sms, Facebook and email. I also like the one button access to the camera, which makes quick photos a breeze.

Another aspect which I adore about this phone is, unless I wish to type a message or a mail, I do not need to open out the qwerty keyboard. I can use the screen for all my daily uses, but at the same time, I do not need to struggle without he on-screen keyboard to type out messages and mails. I did have a tough choice in front of me when I had to decide between the mini and the mini pro. The main detail which factored in for me was the option to type using a simple qwerty keyboard, which I was just not ready to give up.

I think those are the great things which I can think of with regard to this phone, and having the android OS also helps with regard to apps and games. :) I am yet to upgrade to the new Android version, but since this one has given me no issues, I have yet not gotten down to it. 

January 13, 2011

Kuwait - My home

I think when you think of home, the two things which come to one's mind is where one's parents are, and next, where they would have spend a considerable amount of their childhood.And for me home which I associated till now was Kuwait. I have always felt Kuwait to be my home since my childhood. Started schooling in Kuwait, and finished with schooling there. Born in India, but brought up in Kuwait… that's what truly is me. This new year I spent with my parents and it was the way I remember it during my childhood days, except the kids were not there now.. and all the parents were left behind in the same setting. My parents will be winding up and moving back to India, which means this trip of mine might just be the last one to Kuwait; I do not think I will be staying at the house which I used to call home till now even if I do visit Kuwait anytime ever again in the future.  This trip to Kuwait has been one to relieve many places and things which I used to do as a school going girl… and I am glad I have a fresh memory to live by for a long time. 

The feeling is not nice, but then maybe I think I might just start finally seeing our house in India as home… and India as the country where I will be settling. Settling might be too early to tell, but then home would now be shifted to India and cease to be Kuwait, once my parents shift base. I have been reading Urban Shots, and some of the stories struck a cord with my feelings and the attachment I feel to my home.

January 5, 2011

Christmas in Goa

Christmas season in Goa is said to be real fun. The festivities and decorations are maximum, and its one of the few places where I have seen stars being hung up outside the house. Hence we decided it would be best to go there for our first anniversary and relax ourselves after all the running around. We decided to make it a short trip and by train to make it least hectic. We even got a First class coupe for the return journey which just made the trip perfect!

We reached Goa on christmas day, and stayed for just 2 nights at the Mahindra Varca Resort. The resort is lovely, with direct access to the beach and the beach is relatively empty making it very easy to spend time on the beach without fighting for space. The beach is also way more cleaner than Calanguate/Baga, with fewer masseurs and water sports operators hounding you. 

We went to Morbor beach for lunch one of the days and had an amazing lunch at one of the shacks on the beach. We were planning a lunch at Leela, but  being a full season, they were not allowing any outside guests! 

Here are some photos... not too many, but then no Goa trip is complete without relaxing and sleeping on the beach.

Birds at Sunset at Mobor Beach

Mahindra Resort, Varca

Christmas tree decorations

The resort

Christmas decorations

Resort deco

Mobor beach umbrellas

Mobor Beach

January 4, 2011


I liked Calcutta for a variety of reasons. I think its a great place in terms of not seeing the usual sky scrappers and new buildings. You get to see the city through the years as you walk/ drive through this city. Many cities in India do not retain their old world charm and I think this is one of the few cities which has managed to do so... at least from the ones which I have seen. Went there in December... and this is  real late post for it :(

I did not do too many touristy stuff in Calcutta, but I guess I had loads of fun being there for a family function... I also did have my share of authentic Bengali cuisine!

On the Hoogli river

The chinese fish at China Town :)

At the Jal muri stall at Park Street

Enjoying a Puchka ... totally!

And thats what the puchka looked like!