Travel Diaries: Surreal Kanyakumari

Kanyakumari was just a few hours away from Kovalam, the venue of 2015’s hackbeach, that I() decided to plan a day trip to visit the Southernmost tip of the Indian subcontinent. We toyed with the idea of taking a cab like a friend of ours did but in the end we opted to take the Island City Express to travel the roughly 3-hour journey.  This was turning out to be quite a low cost trip thanks to the company I had. One of the concerns I have with solo tripping is that it does burn a hole in your pocket if done for short periods of time.

Tip: To get to the station from Kovalam, you have to choose between a rick (tuk-tuk), cab or the bus.

So we caught the train around 12:30 and reach Kanyakumari by 15:00. We were staying at Vedanta – Wake up and since it seemed closeby we decided to walk there. As we walked to our Inn, we got our first taste of  the multi-ethnical, multi-cultural town of Kanyakumari.

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After a brief break, we decided to head to the tip, where the action seemed to be; the sea shore. The Triveni Sangam is one of those rare places where you get to see the “meeting” of 3 bodies of water. This incidentally also means that at Kanyakumari you can see the sun rise from the sea and set into the sea as well. However the weather was gloomy and we did not get to see the sunset.

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There is a Gandhi Mandapam where his ashes were kept before immersion. This is really a huge empty building populated in some parts by lovers.

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As it grew darker we decided to explore the shops around and man! were we in for a surprise. The busy market was full of LED lit shops selling wares for Rs. 30, Rs. 20, etc. Entire shops dedicated to a single pricepoint.

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We headed back to Vedanta to sleep early so that we could wake up to see a sunrise.

IMG_20151114_061148933.jpgUnfortunately, the morning was just as gloomy and the crowds that had woken up with the hope of seeing a sunrise had nothing to do. Some of us walked down the stone jetty to the far end and sat down to take in the calmness of the morning but there were people selling watery tea and trying to con people into buying ‘pearl’ necklaces. There was this one guy who haggled with a family and brought down the price from 200 to 20. Later on in the market, I overheard another seller trying to sell similar necklaces to foreigners for $100. I wonder if anyone falls for their tricks.

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When we got back we could see that the line to visit the Vivekanand Memorial snaked through the bylanes of the town and the memorial had not even opened yet. So we decided to skip it since we wouldn’t be able to make it back to Trivandrum in time. But we had plenty of time to kill, so I decided to go for a stroll along the coast.

Being from a coastal town, I felt surprised to see the amount of construction and development done to commercialize the shoreline and provide people a place to sit and see the ocean. The roads too were well maintained and the streetlights bright.

Finally it was time to go. We headed back to the train station and waited for the island city express to start.

Back we headed to Trivandrum.

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A little off course…

It was May and I badly needed a break hence we planned a last minute impulsive getaway to Mahabalipuram(Mamallapuram) over a weekend. The trip was unplanned and people were few but the fun was good. All we did was eat and after starving through most of April I really needed it. The trip may have been too short but then frankly it was not the best time in the year to visit.

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We stayed at the Lakshmi Guesthouse, where we were assured that we would get bakcup power for our AC room. We visited the Le Yogi for Breakfast(Crepes were had with a mug of good tea) and then headed to Seashore Restaurant and Shanti Cafe for a *long* lunch. The beach air was just what I needed and I ended up exhausted and slept prior to dinner. Dinner at Anand’s Moonraker’s was not as good as I had hoped it would be. Perhaps this was a lesson never to go for anything other than the real Moonraker’s. Next day’s breakfast was at Nautilus and that was because the Gecko Cafe was closed. Unfortunately as it was off season, there was no bacon anywhere.

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Its definitely one of my favourite getaway spots. This was I think my third visit and I bought a well read copy of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods back as a memory of it.

Pincoding India

I was running through the book, Visualizing Data by Ben Fry and came across his pincode example for USA. I decided to replicate the example for India. Thus began my search for an geo-tagged dataset of indian pincodes. Sadly it does not exist. The best set of easily available data is hosted by datameet at http://pincode.datameet.org/

I ran the set through Tilemill and found large parts of India still untagged especially almost all of Maharashtra and Bihar. I asked Arun and he told me that ” there are no official public datasets available. But there is reasonably good coverage in the openstreetmap data. The simplest way to view the data is to probably use http://maperitive.net” which I will try to explore for now.

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You could help by mapping your own pincode on this website. Go on, it only takes a minute.

 

Ko Da Gu!

A not so last minute trip to ‘the Scotland of India’ was planned and executed this last weekend. In just a couple of days, we somehow managed to get rooms booked in a homestay and our bus tickets to and fro. We had a limited amount of time so we planned the itinerary to cover the most of the visit places.

Day 1 was rainy and we were drenched by the end of it. We visited Talacauvery, Abbey Falls and Raja’s Seat. The Evening ended with us warming ourself at Pause, the unwind cafe.

Day 2 was surprisingly sunny and after morning problems of waking up and getting ready, we were finally on our way to the Dubbare Elephant camp. This was followed by us visiting the Namdroling Monastery. This trip wanted me to learn more about buddhism. Finally it was time to go home and we caught our Volvo back to Bangalore.

If any of you are planning a visit, do try booking a cab from Bangalore or perhaps opt for this kstdc plan.

Greekalicious

Some people consider me as an ideal example of a person who lives to eat. I love hogging out every now and then and my bank balance will tell you the story.

Way back in College, Way back when we started watching Highway on My Plate.. i had this dream of having a job of travelling and reviewing food. Man vs Food introduced us to food challenges. What a life i thought, even though it had its own pitfalls health wise. But nevertheless everyone has a dream job and this is one of mine.

I’ve been in Chennai for the past one year and i’ve been loving the food here. When me and my friends initially got placed in TCS and booked our tickets to Chennai, our friends and relatives were apprehensive about the food in Chennai. They talked about stereotyped food everywhere and this scared us a bit. But surprise, surprise..our gastronomical journey so far has been awesome. True there have been ups and downs but generally i’ve had some really good food. It helped that i have a group of friends who love to eat as well. In the past one year, i’ve eaten at more than 60 restaurants in Chennai and my Burrp! profile is proof of that 😀 We also had this little side project titles ‘ Experiments and Food ‘ going for sometime until it became too tough to gather pictures and upload them to one place.

Now the fun part came when Burrp! emailed me and asked me if i was interested in reviewing Azulia, where a Greek food festival was taking place. THIS was BIG! I was so surprised!! The email said that i could take a friend so i called up @Nievu as she’s accompanied me to most of the restaurants and also because she could offer a vegetarian perspective to the food.

So the date was set, 11th November was the night and boy was it fun. Except for the part where we paid 400 for the cab to drop us back, the night was epic! Wish i could take part in more such free food… erm Food Reviews.

FYI: You can read the Review here.

Food for the Soul


The Wine..hic

The Mezze


Yeros

Pastitsio

Chef Ethem Aydemir

*Burrrrrp*