Month: February 2016
Well, we just celebrated the 17th anniversary of International Mother Language Day on February 21. However, we might not know the native language of every Indian state. Never mind, we are here to guide you with! After all, ‘travelling like a local’ is the best way to explore an unknown land and fall in love with its local culture. To ensure you a comfortable holiday and definitely, a safe trip, we have listed some frequently spoken local phrases in Indian metros.
The ‘City of Dreams’ is a hot favourite of everyone. Here you must gain expertise to adjust yourself in a over crowded local train and to relish the taste of ‘vada pao‘ and ‘misel pao‘. Do remember that Hindi in Mumbai is not the regular one. Mumbaikars love to hear Marathi. So, stay cool and approach them by saying ‘Kya boltaay boss’ or ‘Kya bolttaay bhidu’ (meaning ‘what’s up dude?’).
Ahh!! The city of rosogolla (sweet made of cottage cheese and soaked in sugar syrup) and macher jhol (fish curry) gives a warm welcome to all. Even if it is your first visit, a Bangali babu would love to invite you for lunch or dinner and serve Bhetki Macher Paturi (baked fish covered with banana leaf) or Ilish Maacher jhal (hilsa curry). Don’t hesitate! Just step in and say ‘Kemon acho?’ (how are you?). With a smiling face he will surely reply ‘ami bhalo achi’ (I am fine).
Confused how to interact with locals in the Tamil capital, Chennai? Rather than considering yourself to be an alien, learn the state’s native language or some local dialects like ‘Nalla Irikiringala?’ (Are you well?) or ‘vannakkam’ (meaning greet or namaskaar). I am sure you are going to have a pleasant stay in the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu!
In our capital, every male is greeted as ‘bhaiya’ (brother). Delhi is speckled with historical remains, glorious past and thereby, worthy of travel. While Delhi gives a friendly happy-go-lucky feel, knowing some basic Hindi phrases like ‘Aapka swagat hai’ (you are welcome), ‘phir milte hai’ (see you later), ‘namaste aunty/unchle/bhaiya’ (hello sir/madam/brother) help to interact with locals and get acquainted with local culture.
Don’t get disheartened with the style of Hindi or English you hear from locals here. Bangalore is full of life and here every tourist is treated like God. To travel like a local in Bangalore, you might get to learn a bit of Kannada like ‘inda bandēni’ (I am from …). Wait! There is another way too! Simply learn to say ‘Kannada Gotilla’ (I don’t know Kannada.), and people will guide you towards the right path.
Like all other north-eastern states, Assam boasts of a peaceful environment coupled with abundant natural beauty. While in Assam, you cannot deny to fall in love with its slow moving life. Knowing its native language like ‘Aapunaak loge pai bhaal lagil’ (Pleased to meet you) or ‘Aponar Bhalne?’ (How do you do?) will let end up making friendship with locals. While returning bring along the traditional gamusa (cotton towel) as a token of memory.
We wish you a pleasant trip!
The Union Ministry of Tourism has launched a new mobile application called the ‘Swachh Paryatan’, to help travellers click pictures of dirty tourist spots and inform authorities about the same. The mobile app has been launched as a part of the ‘Clean India Mission’. It has been made available for around 25 heritage monuments across the country, namely, Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, Humayun’s Tomb, Qutab Minar, and Red Fort amongst others. The ministry also has plans to include other tourist destinations in the application soon.
Tourism minister Maneesh Sharma has stated that with the help of the application people can now click images of dirty and untidy tourist destinations and inform respective authorities for immediate action. At the same time, they can also send their valuable suggestions to restore the condition of tourist landmarks across the country. According to the minister, the cleanliness of the noted destinations will be restored within a span of 1-2 hours.
Initially, the application will be available only on android phones. However, with time it will become accessible to Windows and iOS phones also. The application shall be monitored from time to time by the project monitoring unit of Swachh Bharat Mission. Introduction of such a mobile app came after it has been found that heritage sites like forts, palaces, monuments etc. are gradually shattering down under the blanket of untidiness and unclean environment. With such an initiative, Indian heritage sites are expected to get back their glorious looks of yesteryear.
Delhi’s pride and India’s first semi-high speed train Gatiman Express has been flagged off today, April 5, 2016 by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu from Hazrat Nizamuddin Station, New Delhi. While the train is expected to run at a speed of 160 km/hr, Indian Railways has also planned to replicate airline style hospitality on board this train. Like flights, passengers on board Gatiman Express will be welcomed by red roses and ushered to their seats by a team of warm graceful rail hostesses. So next time you are greeted by a smiling hostess while travelling between Delhi and Agra, do not get bewildered!
The semi-high speed train will run 6 days a week, except Friday, between Hazrat Nizamuddin station and Agra Cantonment station. As it is packed with modern facilities and luxury services, passengers will get to enjoy amenities like high-power emergency braking system, automatic fire alarm, GPS-based passenger information system, sliding doors in coaches, WiFi and live television as a part of infotainment. Not only these, it will also have airline-like high quality cuisine, both Indian and continental, on its platter. Wholewheat upma, mini dosa, Kanjeevaram idli, fresh cut fruits, aloo kulcha with swiss roll, roasted dry fruit and chicken roll, chicken sausages with Spanish egg, white omelette and date walnut slice cakes in bone china crockery, are few to be named.
Indian Railways has decided to make an image makeover and the introduction of train hostesses in Gatiman Express is a part of such an exercise. The train is also the first of its kind in India to run at a speed of 160 km/hr. The fare is expected to be 25% higher than Shatabdi trains. Catering will definitely be better and passengers can enjoy a faster, smoother and more comfortable journey in Delhi-Agra route.
Another good news is that nine more routes including Kanpur-Delhi, Chandigarh-Delhi, Hyderabad-Chennai, Nagpur-Bilaspur, Goa-Mumbai and Nagpur-Secunderabad will run the similar kind of trains in future.
Dogs are indeed man’s best friend.
T2 terminal of Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) has introduced a new and rather adorable way of removing the fear of flying. It has recruited a group of cute fluffy golden retrievers that will serve as therapy dogs to wipe off your travel blues. This pilot project named ‘Comforting Angels’ has been initiated by GVK, CSIA and Animal Angels Therapy Center, a Pune based registered NGO, headed by Aakash Lonkar.
The dogs have been trained at Animal Angels Foundation for six months and are now ready to greet travellers at the departure gates from Friday to Sunday between 7 pm and 1 am. While the dogs provide canine cuddles, their human companions, who are professional counsellors, answer all your queries regarding flying and long hauls, thereby helping you to de-stress yourself. Dressed in jackets that say “Pet Me”, these cute dogs approach passengers to be petted and cuddled. How adorable!
Aakash Lonkar, believes that petting a dog is one of the best means of de-stressing oneself, because it helps the brain to release a hormone called oxytocin, which has a soothing effect on individuals, something that every white-knuckled passenger needs. Similarly, the canines help release stress that come with long layover or long flying times.
As per reports, from May 2016 onward, the Mumbai airport will have such dogs all seven days of the week. Undoubtedly, the program has received extremely positive response from passengers.
So, next time you are in Mumbai airport, make sure you meet these fluffy golden skinned cute friends who does everything to help you have a comfortable journey by air.
(With inputs from Anita Bhandari)
Here is another good reason to visit Mysuru!
The January Swachhta Sarvekshan (cleanliness survey) 2016, ranked Mysuru as the cleanest city in India for the second year in a row, as announced by minister of urban development M Venkaiah Naidu yesterday. Out of the total marks of 2,000 based on weightage for different parameters, Mysuru (the cleanest city) scored 1,749 (87.45 per cent) while Dhanbad (the filthiest city) scored 464 (23.20 per cent).
These rankings were based on parameters of SBM (Swachh Bharat Mission) such as infrastructure, individual and public toilets, solid waste management, deployment of men and machines and impact of Swachh Bharat Mission, among others.
Interestingly, the 2016 survey looked at only 73 cities as compared to 476 cities surveyed in 2014. If we compare the scores of cities as per this year’s survey with the 2014 survey, four cities have improved their ranks to get into the top 10. These are Visakhapatnam (from 44 to 5), Surat (from 12 to 6), Rajkot (from 32 to 7) and Gangtok (from 16 to 8).
Let’s hope other Indian cities follow Mysuru’s footsteps.
Once decommissioned from service in June this year, the world’s oldest aircraft carrier used by Indian Navy, INS Viraat, will be converted into a luxury hotel cum museum. The Defence Ministry has given go ahead to such a proposal raised by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (APTDC). After nearly six decades of serving the Indian Navy by sailing across oceans, INS Viraat will get ready to start with its new journey from this year end. The warship will thereby help in promoting tourism in Andhra Pradesh.
According to Andhra Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, this warship turned 500-room luxury hotel will be docked at the shores of the port city of Visakhapatnam and serve as an exclusive tourist attraction. Apart from 500 rooms, INS Viraat will also have a conference hall with a seating capacity of 500 people. Its conversion into a luxury hotel-cum-ship museum will be jointly pioneered by Indian Navy and Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA). The central government will also contribute towards the project. Andhra CM also revealed that tourism-related activities like yachting, sea sports, sailing, gliding, cruising and others may also be allowed on the warship.
The 28,700-tonne aircraft carrier is presently on its last operational tour of duty. The last British ship was inducted into Indian Navy on May 12, 1987. Visakhapatnam is the only Indian city to have the country’s submarine museum and with the introduction of INS Viraat as a hotel-cum-museum, the city is going to make optimum utilization of its long coastline and multiple beaches, which in turn will take tourism to greater heights.
Well, I am a foodie by heart! Be it a regional cuisine or a hot-pick Asian delight, my love for food knows no bounds. Staying in Delhi, the land of Mughals, I have had enough of Mughlai Chicken, Awadhi Biriyani and Lucknawi kebabs. I therefore decided to taste state flavours and local spices, India is known for. Hence began my gastronomic tour to regional restaurants in Delhi. Trust me, they all are fantabulous- be it the food or traditional décor. According to me, some of those best restaurants in Delhi are:
City of Joy, Alaknanda-A Chic Bong Flavour
Take out your old pair of jeans, Kolhapuri sandals and head to relish a perfect ‘Bangali’ lunch/dinner brought from the kitchens of Bengal. Catering to a wide menu of Bengali fish recipes, vegetarian dishes and local sweets, this elegant restaurant has touched the heart of numerous Bengalis and non- Bengalis. Try the mutton and chicken dishes too to savour flavours of herbs and spices from Bengal. The restaurant’s Bengali terracotta chandeliers and cane furniture paint the image of a chic Bong household. So, in City of Joy, feel like a Bong, eat like a Bong!
Where: Aravali Shopping Complex, Alaknanda, South Delhi
Must Try: Prawn Malai Curry, Doi Pomfret, Shukto, Kosha Mangsho (Mutton), Fulko Luchi
Cost for Two: Rs. 800
Rosang Soul Food-For the North Eastern Bamboo-shoot Pleasure
They are humble! They are experts of local flavours! Yes, this small calm cosy restaurant in Green Park takes you for a real date with North East India. Chefs and waiters come all their way from various North-eastern states to prepare and serve hearty home-style regional dishes. While the food won’t leave you supersaturated by oil and spices, it will leave you satiated with taste and quantity. Warm service and chat with cheerful staff make for an unforgettable dining experience.
Where: Green Park, near Uphaar Cinema
Cuisine: Assamese, Naga, Sikkim, Arunachal, Tripura
Must Try: Nghui Ngosing, Masor Logot Khorisa, Tokhan, Wild Red rice tea
Cost for Two: Rs. 1000
Yeti, The Himalayan Kitchen-A Fusion of Pahari Spice and Tradition
Not much places in Delhi offer Nepalese, Tibetan, Bhutanese or Himalayan cuisines. This chic, elegant restaurant in Hauz Khas Village and GK 2 is one of those few places where the not-so-popular food menu tantalize your taste buds with a fine taste of sweet and spice used in the local kitchens of Himachal. Brick walls decorated with Himalayan antics, Tibetan masks, Buddhist prayer flags and art- the restaurant’s ambience is worth appreciation!
Where: Greater Kailash 2, Hauz Khas Village
Cuisine: Tibetan, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Himachali
Must Try: Bhutun, Shapta, Mutton dumplings and Chow Chow
Cost for Two: Rs. 1,100
Naivedyam-Quest for Dosa Ends Here
In this land of kebabs and qormas, Naivedyam, an authentic South Indian restaurant does complete justice to the vegetarian fare. Stuffed with dishes (sweet and tangy) brought from kitchens of the south, Naivedyam is one stop destination for a fine vegetarian meal. Soft background music, antique furniture and paintings of gods and goddesses make your dining experience a pleasant one.
Where: Various places across NCR
Cuisine: South India
Must Try: Rawa Dosa, Lemon Rice, Curd Rice, Vegetable Oothappam and yes! Filter Coffee
Cost for Two: Rs. 600
Viva o Viva-Where Crabs from Goa Let Tongue Go Crazy
Haven’t tasted seafood in Delhi? Want to eat something unconventional? Drive to Viva o Viva in Goa Niwas, Chanakyapuri. Goa and seafood goes hand in hand and this restaurant leave you spellbound with Goan flavours that come in the form of crab and prawn platters. Fish cooked with local herbs and vegetarian delights typical to the state are apt for foodaholics in search of an offbeat dining experience.
Where: Goa Niwas, Chanakyapuri
Must Try: Pomfret curry with pav, King Fish Masala, Butter Garlic Crab
Cost for Two: Rs. 700
The Potbelly Rooftop Cafe-For Bihar’s Heart-melting Litti Choka
Narrow alleys, quaint locality and steep winding stairs- and you land in Potbelly, a rooftop restaurant serving the flavours of Bihar. Plain yet colourful sitting areas, vibrant and chic yet homely interior and an overall aesthetic set up juxtaposed with delicious Bihari food is something rarely experienced in the bustling city of Delhi.
Where: Shahpur Jat
Must Try: Litti Choka, Meat Pakora Basket, Khada Masala Mutton, Champaran Style Mutton, Sarso Machhli
Cost for two: Rs. 1000
SodaBottleOpenerWala–The real World Irani Cafe
Your craving for Parsi food ends here! A kitschy colourful café type restaurant replete with pool table, red checked table cloths from the time of nuns and cuckoo clock take you along a trail of Parsi culture. Cutleries like typical chai wala glasses, kettle and aluminium tiffin carriers, are what stands apart. And the menu card? Ah! The layout and name of dishes- both are superb. Heard of Khade Chammach ki Chai? Rest of the dishes are free if you can drink this one!
Where: Khan Market, Delhi and DLF Cyber Hub, Gurgaon
Must Try: Bhendi Bazaar Sheekh Parantha, Berry Pulao, Bacon Keema Macaroni, Prawn Patio, Ginger Biscuit
Cost for two: Rs. 1200
Karims–From the Kitchens of Mughals
Now this is one restaurant that every Delhite and non-Delhite will love to visit repeatedly. If you are a meat lover, then Karim’s is your ‘Mecca in Delhi’. Be it a family dinner or a food date with fiancée, dining in Karim’s is apt for all. Aroma of steaming nahari, taste of butter naan and a normal dining set up has attracted foodies since years. Don’t mind if you have to a share table. Just concentrate on that juicy tandoori chicken!
Where: Many places across NCR, Karim’s Jama Masjid is the main branch
Cuisine: Mughlai, North Indian
Must Try: Mutton Qorma, Mutton Nahari, Paya, Qeema Naan
Cost for Two: Rs. 800
February is the month of love and celebration. So why not plan a visit in one of these soon? Hold on! Do visit again and share your experience with us.