Tag Archives: india

Six reasons why you should travel in the monsoons

I’m sure there are more, but let’s start with six. In fact, while many tourists shy away from travelling because it’s raining, true travellers will tell you that a place can be enjoyed despite the rain. It’s a mindset that you need to avoid a destination when it rains. Unless, it happens to be a big city. In which case I would say avoid it like plague. You don’t want to deal with clogged roads, drainage overflowing, traffic jams and all the associated issues that the rains bring to our very well planned cities.

A little piece of paradise
The view from a tea garden in Pozhuthana, Wayanad

Anyway, this is about the monsoons. And why it’s a great time to travel. Any place takes on a different hue during the rains. I was in Goa last year for 3 weeks and had the time of my life despite the torrential downpours.

It’s lush and green

The valley before you spreads out like a lush carpet. The roads are framed by green trees and grass on both sides. The hills are showing off their full foliage, again in green. It’s so green that if you’re not used to it, you’d probably need tinted glasses to tone it down. But seriously, green is definitely the colour of the season and we all know that it’s the best one to get your relaxed and rejuvenated. Nature really wears this colour well.

boys having fun
A sight for sore eyes!

You get better deals

You might need to look around a bit and even ask for discounts, but this is a season where you will get lower prices from a lot of home stays, resorts, hotels. If you’re not sure, just ask them. We are spoilt for choose today in the array of options available. And in this era of social media, even if we don’t look for them, they will probably land up in our stream anyway.

Lesser people to fight with for space

So one of the reasons I travel is to get away from the city (where I clearly see the alarming impact of producing a billion and more people) to smaller destinations and locations where you’ll see a soul once in a while. Get away from the madding crowds, the hoi-polloi and give yourself some breathing space. I love the feeling and I recommend it to everyone (at least once in a while).

Nestled in between
Choose places a bit away from the main towns – usually they’re much more peaceful and calm

There’s colour everywhere

Just before the onset of the monsoons, it’s a pretty sight all around. While on a walk outside today in Wayanad where I am currently, I saw so much variety in foliage that I couldn’t stop myself from clicking everything in sight. From vivid reds, to oranges, to colourful yellows and pretty pinks – there are beautiful blossoms everywhere adding to the prettiness quotient of your frames.

A time for blossoms
It’s amazingly pretty this time of the year and you need to step out to witness nature’s gorgeous hues

Carrying a torch for you
A flower called ginger torch that I saw for the first time

Rediscover the joy of getting soaked

I remember as kids, we loved getting wet in the rains. In fact, we would wait impatiently so we could all rush out and do our rain dance. Our parents had to cajole us to come indoors since we would just be out for hours on end. But what a feeling. Do it sometime. Just get wet. Feel the rain on your skin. Instead of running for a raincoat or an umbrella, soak in the sensation of a rain bath. I can tell you from experience – it’s true joy. Last year, on a trek in Wayanad, I got soaked to the skin as it started pouring cats and dogs. But once I gave in to it, began to enjoy the feeling, I realised that I need to let go. (And yes, we will eventually dry off.)

Comparing notes
With or without rain gear, have some fun

Smell the coffee. And the flowers

The monuments are done and dusted. The hectic sightseeing has been completed. Now, just sit on your balcony and watch the rain. Meditate. Open the door of your room and just relax. Do yoga. Listen to the birds. The rains are a great time to just not venture out and give yourself the “me” time you so badly need (and you didn’t even know)!

A welcome view
I totally believe in doing nothing holidays – they are good for the soul


Another reason, contributed by a friend

Monsoons are the best time for ayurvedic massages

So, during the Kerala Blog Express, we met a doctor at the Manaltheeram Ayurvedic resort who told us about how the ayurvedic massage is the most effective during the rainy season. In fact, many guests come specifically during this period for treatments. A combination of the temperature, rains and other factors all adds to increasing the effectiveness of the oils. So, isn’t this reason enough?!

So there – I hope I’ve given you enough reasons to step out this rainy season. And if you did, or plan to, do share your “getting soaked” experience!

More photos on Flickr

(NOTE: On this trip, I am using the Canon 500D body and the 17-85 mm lens. All photos [except no 3 and 7 from an earlier collection] in the post are with this equipment provided my photography gear & equipment partner, “Book My Lens”. I’m happy to announce them as a partner and I’m quite impressed with the kind of services they provide. They are a photography equipment rental service based in Bangalore which provides quick service for photography enthusiasts who want to experience all lenses and accessories from Canon and Nikon. Their aim is to provide the best in class, at affordable prices. Do check them out on bookmylens.com)

Bitten by the travel bug

Bitten by the travel bug

Looking back, I’ve always been a bit of a wanderer and a gypsy. I’ve always had the yearning to discover, learn, journey and share. I’ve never been happy sitting in one place, one city, one country (and maybe one universe?!). I know – it doesn’t really make for a very stable and predictable career, but it does bring with it experiences that are out of the world.

Jumping out of a plane was perhaps the most exciting and nail-biting thing I did last year, but I enjoyed even the mundane walk through a small town where every experience is novel. Experiencing a serene sunset, cycling through rural villages, enjoying a cup of tea by the road side, rafting down a raging river – I would have never known life’s simple pleasures if I hadn’t ventured out of my comfort zone.

And I’ve managed to pack a bit in the last year. From diving into the deep blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, to experiencing a royal way of life in Jaisalmer; from a journey into the Kanha forests to cycling to Devanarayanadurga hills on Bangalore’s outskirts – it’s been exciting, different and always new.

I came across this quote online and found it really apt: “Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.”

So, I’m not very sure where I caught the bug since not too many people in my family travel. In fact, my parents can’t often comprehend why I need to revisit the same place. But it’s difficult to explain the magic of some places – you can visit many times and yet see it with new eyes.

So, here’s to another exciting, fun-filled year. Starting off with being named as one of India’s top 25 travel bloggers, which is quite an honour. And of course, it also means that I need to get on the road again…

Once the travel bug bites, it’s hard to stop. Here’s to another year on the road. Here’s to 2014. And lots of new experiences, sights, sounds and moments to cherish.

(PS: On that note, I also need your help to put me on the Kerala Blog Express!)

The X-Files, Part 1: A list of entrepreneurial ventures run by women

The last few months have been an amazing journey for me. Not only did I take the next steps with my own ceramics venture, MyArtitude, I got introduced to The Friday Convent (TFC), through which I got to know several women who are striking out on their own. The start-ups and ventures range from kids services and education; to event planning and PR; home decor and jewellery to content and photography – the list is endless. Though most of these women are based in Bangalore, most of the services cover the rest of India and even overseas locations.

Anything you want – and you can find the solutions or the service. All run by women who have decided to quit their corporate jobs and work on their own terms. An extremely encouraging sign in these times when flexibility has become so very important, rather than being tied to desk jobs. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, of course. In fact, there are definite advantages of the corporate life and climbing up the ladder – a fixed income, predictability and a “plan”. Whereas, in the world of entrepreneurship and start-ups, it’s the exact opposite. But in spite of all the obstacles, women are forging ahead and not only setting up businesses and ventures, but running them quite efficiently. And to top it all, they are doing it while managing families, raising kids and a multitude of different challenges.

My effort is to compile a list of women-led and run ventures (who are also a part of TFC) – they can be stores, online services, consultancies, services – which can serve as a ready reckoner. Feel free to bookmark it, share it and pass it around! Here is Part 1 (in alphabetical order).


Casa de Regalos India, Neha Arya
Contact: +91-98451 68518
Description: Premium home decor, children’s products and gifting products
email: casaderegalosindia@hotmail.com
FB: CasaDeRegalosIndia
Twitter: @casaderegalosindia
Her story:
casaregalosMy name is Neha Arya and along with my sister-in-law from Mumbai (Nalini Seksaria), we started Casa De Regalos which means house of gifts in Spanish. We personally source our products from across the globe and sell them through Facebook, exhibitions and online portals. We have also started supplying to several stores in Mumbai and Bangalore.

EnthuCutlets, Antara and Namrata
Contact: +91-99009 33095
Description: Lifestyle products in bags, home decor, jewellery and accessories
email: writetoenthucutlets@gmail.com
Facebook: Enthucutlets
Retails online at: Annika
Physical stores: (which stock their products)
d cube- Plot No 560 A, Phase III, 1st Floor
Road No. 92, Jubilee Hills; Hyderabad – 33
By the way, Under the Mango Tree, Richmond town,Bangalore
The Orange Bicycle, House No. 3353, 5th Cross, 12th A Main, HAL II Stage, Bangalore, India 560038
Their story:
A place you call home should be about you. We believe that art on your walls speaks of you & tastefully done home adds verve to your living space. At Enthucutlets, we want to recreate that little something that is personal – something in your kitchen that’s handcrafted, a spread that reflects your hue, a drape that is wrapped in warmth. We like useful to be beautiful & we like affordable to be personable. You’ll find seasons and festivities stitched into our products. They’ll compliment the muscatel brew in your tea cup as they’ll augment the lacquer of your coffee table. Our products will help you reminisce, or remind your of all things handmade thats borne out of love. pin-up or soft boards for home, wooden handcrafted kitchen roll stands, banana fibre boxes, photo frames, magnetic black boards, kitchen wall art.

indisplashIndisplash, Poonam Sehrawat
Contact: +91-9739763701
Description: Handcrafted products
Facebook: Indisplash
Website: www.indisplash.com
Her story:
Indisplash creates one of a kind “hand crafted” products for home decor. Most of our products are inspired from Indian textiles and crafts. Every Indisplash piece is crafted with exquisite care & attention to minor details which makes a home look special.

Karaashilp, Tanushree
Blog: http://blog.karaashilp.com
Facebook: Karaashilp
Website: www.karaashilp.com
Physical stores:
Bangalore: Kitschdii, 100ft, Indiranagar and Asmara, HRBR Layout, ORR
Pune: The Little Quirk Shop, Wanavadi
Her story:
karashilpI run a hand crafted products venture by the name – Karaashilp Creations Pvt Ltd. Karaashilp which means “Hand Craft” in Sanskrit. Through KaraaShilp, we wish to revive the interest and appreciation for meticulously and lovingly made handcrafted products as also fuse western and Indian crafts to make contemporary lifestyle products in bags, home decor, jewellery and accessories. Our popular eco-range has products upcycled from denims, cargos, corduroys, cocoons, glass and premium range has products from eco friendly materials like fabric, jute, wood. We also run “Crochet for Beginner” classes in Bangalore.

Kynkyny Home, Namu Kini (along with her husband, Vivek Radhakrishnan)
Contact: 080 4092 6202 and 080 4092 6206
Description: Designs and manufactures world-class, European-style furniture with super-high quality standards
email: contact@kynkyny.com
Website: www.kynkyny.com/home
Location: 104 Embassy Square, 148 Infantry Road, Bangalore, India 560001
Hours: Monday to Saturday from 10am to 7pm
Their story:
The company is based in Bangalore, India, and run by its creative director Vivek Radhakrishnan, a graduate from The Design Academy Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Each piece of furniture is an artful blend of design, unpretentious aesthetics and a high degree of user-friendliness. Created with locally-grown, sustainable solid wood, the products are put together by a team of highly-skilled technicians. The common thread yoking these varied creations is an emphasis on simple lines and graceful proportions, coupled with the ability to transcend trends and stay relevant through time.

Named after the places that inspired them, Kynkyny Home currently showcases an intriguing assortment of products for the bedroom, study, living and dining room. In addition, Kynkyny Home does custom work and often works in association with architects and other designers, as well as with artists. Kynkyny Home also developed the set for Conversations with Namu Kini – Live, in collaboration with Maia Design, engineered to be assembled and dismantled each time.

MyArtitude, Anita Bora
Description: Ceramics and handmade pottery
email: anitabora at gmail.com
Facebook: myartitudeindia
Store: Indiranagar (by appointment only)
Her story:
MyArtitudeI began MyArtitude to showcase the handmade functional pottery range that is crafted by my sister, Ranjita Bora. Ranjita works out of Golden Bridge Pottery, Pondicherry and has trained under reknowned potters Ray Meeker and Debra Smith. Her work focuses on mainly functional pottery. So these are great for your house, and also make for ideal gifts for friends, family and loved ones on any occasion.

Whether on the dining table, on your kitchen shelves, use some of these handmade products and add a dash of style and colour to your home and garden. Apart from the in-house range, I also try and curate the works of other potters from different places in the country to offer a variety of designs and products, especially for lovers of handmade terracotta, pottery and ceramic art.

Rainbow Bunting, Saritha Ashok
Description: Vibrant handmade products
email: rainbowbunting@gmail.com
Facebook: RainbowBunting
Her story:
rainbowbuntingWe at “Rainbow Bunting” intend to bring a joyous spirit to your home with our colourful and vibrant handmade products. A colorful bunting welcomes you to a world of festivities ,celebration and happiness.A decorative item which adds a cheerful splash of colours to the ambiance.We at “Rainbow Bunting” intend to bring that joyous spirit and fervor to your home with our handmade products like buntings, pouches, coasters, fridge magnets etc. We are based in Bangalore but take up orders outside Bangalore too.

The Chalk Boutique, Kajal Daga & Kavita Chowdhri
Contact: +91-9448458985
Description: Lifestyle store
Facebook: The Chalk Boutique
Address: The Chalk Boutique, Above Cocoon Day Spa, Near Hope Farm Jn, Opp ICICI Bank, Whitefield Main Road, Bangalore-66
Their story:
Chalk BoutiqueTucked away in a charming bungalow in an unassuming residential neighbourhood of Whitefield lies our quaint little store filled with all things pretty and colourful. Vivid and splashy garden accessories at our little terrace beckons you to walk into our little world of delight.

Being chartered accountants by profession, this was a leap for us. But it all started with our conversation over endless cups of chai discussing how we would love to have something of our own and still have fun while doing it. The idea of having a store came instantly to both of us. This had been a part of our dream since long is what we discovered. A lot of people ask us why we named our store The Chalk Boutique. For one, we both are fond of doodling and use a black board quite often in our homes. Second, we want our store to be ever evolving and felt that a chalkboard signifies the same.

At our store, you will find home accessories, garden accessories, clothes, jewellery, handbags, organizers, footwear, handpicked studio pottery, designer candles, baskets, trays, coasters, cushion covers, vintage photo frames, wall art, refurbished wooden frames and much more. We have products in every range starting from Rs 150 and going up to Rs 8000. Each product is handpicked to give the customer that unique shopping experience.

World O’Ceramica, Aruna Padmanabhan
Contact: +91-9880041648
Description: Handicrafts
email: worldoceramica@gmail.com
Facebook: worldoceramica
Website: World O’ Ceramica
Retails online: http://www.pepplr.com/worldoceramica
Her story:
I picked up the love for handicrafts at college. A group of friends, the love for beauty and a little free time introduced me to the whole new world of creativity.

worldoceramicaThe first display of the work was a stall of amateur work displayed to a group of friends and relatives (Jan 2002). Surprisingly, it proved to be profitable. A couple of exhibitions later, I found my path alone and started my own business.

My work now includes Handcrafted artifacts decorated with Ceramic designs using primarily upcycled materials. You can buy my work online, through Facebook or at exhibitions in Bangalore.

Yellow Button Store, Curated by Madhavi Rongola
Contact: 080-25262108, 9741511733
Description: Jewelry, Bags & Baskets, Clothes, Home Decor
Facebook: Yellow Button Store
Store Timings: 11am to 7:30pm, Open everyday
Her story:
yellowbuttonYellow Button Store is an independent retail store carrying an eclectic mix of inspired products. Stocking a variety of affordable clothing, jewelry, bags, baskets and home accessories you will find that perfect something amongst our handpicked products. Come visit us at our store or shop online and get yourself a fun something that’s bright and beautiful.

Yellow Dots, Gauri Chandra
Contact: +91-99 00 079464
Description: Interior Design
email: gauri@yellowdots.in
Facebook: yellowdots
Website: www.yellowdots.in
Her story:
yellowdotsYellow Dots is a highly acclaimed interior design & home styling consultancy that provides personalized styling solutions for homes. Classic or contemporary. Understated or flamboyant. Ethnic or western. Our clients range from busy mums, to jet-setting professionals, to those moving into a new house.

They find our services helpful for a variety of reasons – sometimes they are unsure of where to start, or have a busy schedule and don’t find the time for it, or they’ve been putting it off thinking that it would cost a small fortune, or want a one-stop-shop and avoid the hassle of dealing with an army of contractors. Our objective is to enhance their homes with their individual touch.

Services: Architect, Kavita Sastry
Contact: +91-98452 51612
Description: Architecture, interiors and landscape design services
email: mail-kavisastry@gmail.com
Location: 98,16 main, Koramangala 4 B block, Bangalore
Her story:
After completing my B.Arch from BMS Engg college, I worked with reputed architectural firms for the first 5 years. That was suffocating and wanting to test my creative limits I decided to strike out on my own. Fifteen years and 2 kids later, I’m happy doing a few quality projects every year. Most of  my work is through referrals from satisfied clients. My design philosophy is a simple marriage of form and function, aesthetics and practicality using elements that are organic, natural and sustainable with a wow factor. I usually love a bit of drama… be it through art,a quirky piece of furniture, lighting or an accessory. Though I love doing up homes, I’ve recently completed a restaurant, a wine bar (Bangalore’s first), a dental clinic, a mattress showroom, corporate offices, a boutique hotel. Variety… IS the spice of life!


shewhoknitsShe Who Knits, Madhu Mehra
Contact: mmmadhumehra@gmail.com
Description: Knitting
email: +91-9449348098
Facebook: SheWhoKnits
Her story:
I knit scarves, booties, socks, neckwarmers, hats… anything that can be knit! (except sweaters) Prices vary depending on the wool used, pattern, size. The same colours may not be available but we will give you a great palette. If you’re in Bangalore you can come by and select your colours.

stitched2save9Stitched2Save9, Josephine
Description: Handmade products sewn from recycled material
Contact: stitched2save9@gmail.com
Facebook: Stitched2Save9
Online shopping: http://stitched2save9.itshandmade.in
Her story:
I sew bags / yogamat bags / different pouches etc from upcycled material… Sewn, up-cycled, stitched, bags, books & ‘just-stuff’ to use, reuse and reduce our ecological footprint… one person at a time.

Satthvam, Vidya Ramamurthy
Contact: +91-9886101278
Description: Recycled cartons, bags, potlis
Facebook: Satthvam
Her story:
SatthvamI am a mompreneur and what started as a hobby, that turned into a passionate recycle venture in the name of Satthvam! Where my main and only source of beginning working on a product is what everyone throws into the trash cans – cartons, wedding invitations etc. Satthvam in sanskrit means the essence of one’s being, essence of life, living or non-living thing. My small effort is towards finding that essence in all the things around us and putting them to use in an eco friendly way! The intent is to make available and accessible as many cloth bags as possible so the need and dependence on plastic bags reduce. This endeavour arises from an environmental commitment and is not a business venture. The bags will be affordable, some up-cycled but durable and can be easily stored in a handbag, in a car, in a bike, under your bicycle seat – shopping is impulsive, you never know when the jamoons look juicy enough to buy!!

Most bags will reflect the philosophy I apply in my life – keeping it simple. That being said, for the many out there who would like their grocery bags as stylish as the rest of their accessories, there will be many for you too. Will be doing a lot of experimenting with design, size and the “extra something” that will make the bag a little special and likely to go with you everywhere.

(**Note: All images in this post have been sent in by the individual business owners or downloaded from their websites/facebook pages.)