Sunday, May 20, 2018

Qatar


The two best words to define Qatar is wonderful skyscrapers and blue water. I visited the place recently and I am quite impressed with its welcoming culture. Since the trip was last minute plan I was unable to do any research about the place as such.  However, I loved the place specially their welcoming culture. And since the people there are from various countries and cultures it is a perfect example of cultural amalgamation.



The first place I visited in Doha was the Grand Mosque. The magnificence and peace of the mosque was so appealing that I fell like spending the whole evening there. Since there are seldom any mosques for women in India (especially North), I was simple overexcited when I visited the mosque. Lost in the peace and tranquility of the space I felt like staying there forever. Architecturally its grandeur and adornment is simply swaying. With an area of 175,000 square meters, it can accommodate more than 30,000 believers for prayers.









Next day I started my day by visiting the famous Villagio Mall, one of the most popular malls of Qatar. Every nook and corner of the mall is ornamented beautifully. The mall is said to be a great destination for shoppers but though I did not go there for shopping, still I loved the architectural luxury and beautification of the mall. The Gondola Rides, food court and the beautiful interior are the highlights of the mall.


The third place I visited was Corniche, one of the coolest places for the loyalists. It is a waterfront walkway and quite popular among joggers, evening walkers and bikers. The spectacular views of the city's skyline can be experienced by the ride on the local boat. 


The cool breeze, refreshing blue water with a backdrop of skyscrapers completely rejuvenated my evening. I took the boat by late evening so I enjoyed the serene beauty of sunset and post that at night I enjoyed the magnificent colours of the city's lights reflected off the calm water.







After the refreshing boat ride we just walked and visited the traditional Qatari village. It is located just along the Corniche in Al Rumeilia Park, it is a skanzen based on traditional Qatari village. We can see pearl trading, weaving, and a dhow. There are several parks adjacent to the Corniche that are ideal for families. Worth noting is the giant statue of Orry, the Oryx, who was the mascot for the 15th Asian games that was held in Doha in December 2006. Along the southern end of the Corniche is a large Oyster and Pearl statue.



Next day I visited Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum. Though I am not a museum person still Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Al Thani Museum is one of the best museums I have been to. From fossils to Crusader arrow heads, a passable homage to the 'Bar at the Folies-Bergere', Sufi drums, muskets, swords, butterflies, priceless carpets, calligraphy, furniture inlaid with mother of pearl and an entire Syrian palace room rebuilt next to displays of dhows and aeroplanes, well the list is too long. This is world’s largest private collection of armoury.




The Museum portrays not only of the history of the Qatari people, but also of its founder. The outstanding collections mirror the painstaking efforts taken by Sheikh Faisal and his extensive international travel. There are several rooms in the main section of the museum which more or less have a theme. Near the central courtyard, on the outside of main museum, there are also several other rooms with dedicated themes such as fossil rooms, textile rooms etc.







I am so overwhelmed by the amazing collection of this museum that given a chance I will visit it again. For people like me who loves history and culture it is definitely a treat. The museum closed at 4pm sharp and hence its important to plan the trip accordingly specially because it is not in the main city and ample time is required to visit its vast collection.

In evening I went to The Pearl which exhibits a collection of white Yachts, definitely a place to see the luxurious life of the natives. Besides gazing at the Ferrari showrooms, shopping at the Pearl is strictly all things designer. But since I was not there to shop, I can say the Pearl is the place to see the rich and famous live life in the fast lane. The best thing to do there is grab a coffee and sit by the many cafes or simply to walk along the beautiful boardwalk admiring the gleaming dockside with glittering white Yachts. I went there on the full moon day so it turn out to be a glittering night.





The next place visited by me was the Katara Cultural Center. It is a cultural village with various traditional and modern structures such as an open amphitheater, an opera house, a multi-purpose cinema, a multi-purpose conference hall and a beach. Greeted by the beautiful Katar Mosque, the Katara cultural visit is one of the most favoured places for families to spend their weekend. With striking blue-purple tiles and intricate carvings dressing this masjid’s exterior, it is one of the best Mosques I have seen in my life till now.



It is said that you save the best for the last, the Souq Waqif village/ market is my personal favourite place in Qatar. I visited the place twice during my 6 days stay in Qatar. ell known as the social heart of Doha, Souq Waqif is a great place to shop, explore, have a meal or simply idle time away in one of the attractive local cafes.



From the outside, the compound looks like a rustic sand-stained ruin. But look inside, and you’d realise that the stalls are all immaculately refurbished with shining furniture.





Selling everything from Arabian rugs and colourful spices, to squawking parrots and stocky shisha pipes, the Souq is a popular tourist destination. With the bustling sights and symphony of sounds, I’d highly recommend a stroll through the market’s snaking streets because each alleyway sells fascinating trinkets that make for awesome souvenirs to pack home.



Friday, July 14, 2017

Cat Lovers- Finally A Place For You




Cat Cafe Studio

One of my dreams, being a cat lover, has always been to “build and run a shelter for cats”. But most of the people with whom I have shared this idea have either considered me a lunatic or declared me differently abled. Only few (and trust me this few is really few) have liked this idea of mine. As a general norm in India not many people are keen on helping stray animals. So, when I first read about the Cat Café Studio of Mumbai, I was filled with joy and got really excited to visit this place. Based in Mumbai, it is the first cat cafe of India that is build on the motto "rescue, care, love, adopt".   

Hence, as soon as I landed in Mumbai, on my recent visit, the first place I chose to go was - Cat Cafe Studio. Here is the little something I wrote out of my pleasing experience.



About the Ambiance- The decoration is minimalistic, neat and cute with floor seating arrangement that gives a very homely feeling. Cleanliness and hygiene is well maintained.  Before you enter you must take off your shoes, wash your hands and read the terms and condition. The "dos and don'ts" are explained in order to safeguard the cats. I reached in the evening with my twin daughters who are two years old. Yes, this place is kids friendly. It was then full of college students and possessed an animated ambiance. My daughters simply loved playing with the cats just like their mother. Although, it was quite difficult to control them as they got super exited to see so many cats, but nevertheless, we enjoyed thoroughly.


About the Cats- People of Cat Cafe Studio make sure that they rescue cats without being bias on the basis of breed or colour. To be honest, people in India love to buy expensive light coloured Persian cats, instead of opting for adoption. Hence to have a cafe that rescues Indian street cats is like a ray of hope for the innocent and homeless. For those who claim to "love" cats must acknowledge that Indian cats are the most active ones and require least maintenance money. Moreover, they are accustomed to the climate of India. I do love Persian cats as they are also very adorable, what I am trying to say is that we should adopt, not shop.



About the Engagements- One can simply sit and work on his/ her laptop or relax with a book picked up from the shelf. You can play or lovingly caress the cats who pass by or choose to sit with you. All the cats here are calm yet playful and ready to make friends. You will always find some of them snoozing comfortably in their soft beds built along the walls.



About the food- You can grab a cup of coffee or frappe along with snacks from the counter or get your order served at your table. I loved what I ordered, especially the chocolate brownies. Simply enjoy your food while watching the cats playing around. You can place your order at the counter and wait inside or choose to sit outside in the small seating area near the counter shelf. Remember that feeding the cats from your plate and putting them in your lap while you eat is not allowed. However, if a cat comes and sits on your lap on its own, then its ok. I sat quietly watching my twins playing when a little kitten came and slept in my lap. Trust me, I felt privileged.


About Adoption - If you like any cat and want to adopt it, you can simply do so by following the proper procedure. The cats here are vaccinated and well trained, hence you won't face problems.
I wish there is a place like this in Delhi also so that I can take my daughters there on regular basis and teach them how to love and deal with cats. Personally, I loved the place and its services as that cats were kept and taken care of in the best way possible. Also, I felt great to be with and around cat lovers. Its like a mini trip to heaven for those who are cat crazy like me.



Address- 63, Harminder Singh Road, Aram Nagar Part 1, Versova, Andheri West
Timing- Open from 11:30 to 9:30

Friday, May 19, 2017

Being A Mother



An Experience
I generally say that I am still the same as I was before I become mother, but I know that I am not. Motherhood changes a lot of things and though it is not a life changing stage it is definitely a huge change. I have grown, evolved and changed as a person. There are some typical things that most women do after becoming a mother. So, here are 10 very distinctive yet hilarious signs of being a mother. I am sure all the mothers can relate to it.

You know you are a Mother when:
1. You become incapable of having a conversation with anyone for more than 5 minutes without mentioning your baby or her recent antics and achievements. Personally, I love talking about my twins and their latest frolics. And if I meet another mother then the conversation can go on and on. The conversation can be of all kinds of topics- baby food, vaccination, clothes, medicine and so on and so forth.



2. Your handbag looks more like cartoon’s pouch and contains everything from your lipstick to your baby's diapers and feeding bottle. All my handbags have diaper and wet tissues. I am not a perfectionist but yes now I have all important things in my handbags. I no longer use my sling bags as it is less spacious. 



3. You call your shit 'potty' and your pee 'susu' in front of other adults who eye you with suspicion. Yes, I have done it multiple times and now I don’t even get embarrassed. In fact my vocabulary has weird words.
 

4. You suffer from auditory hallucinations every time you are more than 50 metres away from your baby and your adrenaline pumps up whenever any baby cries. 


5. You realise most chores can be accomplished with the use of a single hand. Yes multi tasking is one thing that I have learnt and still learning. 



6. You don't find anything gross anymore, even vomit and smelly poops. Instead of running from projectile vomit, you run towards it. 



7. You prefer sleep over socialising. Though sleep has always been important to me but now I love sleeping even more, whenever I get time I sleep. I prefer sleeping even above eating.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Goa- In Monsoon

Go Goa

This was my first trip with my twin daughters; hence I packed my stuff very carefully keeping in mind all their needs. Since my twins are just one and a half years, I chose the hotel also carefully so that I do not have problem in bottle sterilizing and other stuff like that. My motto of this trip was to relax and rejuvenate, I needed a break from my monotonous life. It was after an year that I was travelling anywhere so I was a bit scared about the trip which is very unlikely of me.

The flight from Delhi to Goa takes just 2 hours and hence it was an easy journey. Though my kids got quite irritated sitting at one place, but somehow my husband and I managed. I always prefer visiting places in off time but never thought of visiting Goa in off season. However, this trip proved to be an amazing trip despite of off season. The beaches were less crowded and calm. And though it was a monsoon time, it was not humid. On the flip side, there were no water sports and night market, since Goa was flooded with water. 

Here are some reasons why one can travel to Goa in off season and that too in Monsoons-
1) Economical
The first and most beneficial part of visiting Goa in off season was it was cheap. The flight ticket from Delhi it was just 8k per person for round trip, which in peaks season varies from 15k to 25k per person. And it is not just about flight tickets even the hotel we got was super economical. A luxurious suit with a huge balcony overlooking a swimming pool and beautiful garden to sit back, sip coffee and enjoy rain. The rates were actually 50% less than the normal rates.

2) Beaches
The first beach which we visited was Baga Beech. Most popular beach of Goa and nearest from our hotel, it offers something for everyone. It is a picturesque beach with parties, music, beach shacks, karaoke, good food and is easily the most happening place in Goa.  Just adjacent to Baga beach, the Calangute beach it is a bit crowded yet beautiful sea beach. Famous for its nightlife, Calangute is has lots of famous pubs of Goa including the Tito’s and others on the Tito’s lane are located closeby. Next day we started with Candolym beach followed by Anjuna Beach. Personally my favourite was Anjuna Beach, it was peaceful and serene. It is a perfect beach to spend a peaceful evening with family.





3) A drive to South Goa
Though we would have preferred walking, but since we had two kids with us and rain was unpredictable, we chose a drive to South Goa.  We were completely mesmerized by the peaceful yet enchanting beauty of South Goa.  On one side of road there is a beautiful sea and other side is dotted with incredible houses. These houses of Portuguese era have been well preserved by the natives. These houses have the most beautiful colours and textures and are just captivating. The cool breeze of sea on my face and the sight of of these engrossing houses just made the drive one of the most beautiful drives of my life. My kids also loved the whole drive. They loved the refreshing breeze.




We also visited Dona Paula which is located just 6 km south-west of Panaji . Famous for the shooting of Singhum film, our taxi bhaiya thought that this is the best place he is showing us. It was a high tide so it looked quite beautiful, but the place was too crowded. We also visited Colva beach and Palolem beach. The Palolem beach proved to be my girls favourite though I do not know the reason why they liked this beach only. The two reason I could think of is it had lots of dogs and by this time they were fed up of being scared of huge tides. Whatever be the reason this is the only beach where they enjoyed to the fullest so much so that we had to stop them to go near the tides.  This beautiful beach is located in Canacona and about 40 minute drive from Margao. This beach is one of un-spoilt stretches of sandy shores. The inhabitants here are the local fishermen and visitors who stay in the shacks. I bought some handmade anklets from them.

4) A ride to ship/cruise  trip
Our super excited taxi bhaiya also took us to a ship ride along the Mandovi river. The Goa Tourism operates a range of entertaining hour-long cruises along the Mandovi River aboard the Santa Monica or Shantadurga . It includes a live band and that performs on Goan folk songs and dances. There are also twice-weekly, two-hour dinner cruises and a twice-weekly, all-day backwater cruise, which takes you down the Mandovi to Old Goa, stopping for lunch at a spice plantation and then heading back past Divar and Chorao Islands. All cruises depart from the Santa Monica Jetty next to the Mandovi Bridge, where you can purchase tickets.

We went to one hour trip. The most beautiful sight in this one hour trip was that there was a point where Mandovi river meets Arabian sea. Though the ship took a uturn from there I can see the change in the waves, it was a beautiful sight to see. For the first time in my life I have seen the confluence of river and sea.





5) Beautiful Churches and Fort
The most beautiful church we saw was Basilica of Bom Jesus, a remarkable church built by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It is a part of UNESCO World heritage Site and it also referred as St. Francis Xavier’s Tomb. This grand church is built out of black granite in an amalgamation of the Doric, Corinthian and composite styles.




The Basilica of Bom Jesus preserves the holy remains of Goa’s patron saint Francis Xavier, who died on a sea voyage to China in 1552. Once every 10 years, the body is allowed to be viewed by the people who visit this holy place. When we went the body was resting in peace in a beautiful wooden coffin inside a corner of church where photography was prohibited.

We also saw the “Three Kings Church” known to be the most haunted place in Goa. Legend says that it is haunted and the story is that once upon a time there were three Portuguese kings living in Goa. They often used to fight to gain power in the land but they were tied by the Portuguese diplomacy between rulers policy. One of the kings (King Holger Alvunger) one day invited the other two kings in his place and poisoned them to death. He himself fell out with the public and committed suicide by consuming poison. King Holger’s place is the current Three Kings Church in Goa, where there have been reports of sightings and general unrest.

However,  the place is very scenic.  It is worth climbing the hill and getting here since one can get a breathtaking view of surrounding lush green regions and the Arabian Sea, and if you go there before sundown you will be able to enjoy a peaceful sunset. The Three Kings Church is one place to enjoy peace and pleasing natural beauty.

Another historical place is the grand Fort of Aguada at the shore of Mandovi river. It was constructed to protect old Goa from the attacks of Dutch and Marathas. A central jail and a lighthouse built during the 19th century are also located near this fort. This is presently serving as the Central Jail. Aguada Fort boasts of the first ever light house in Asia.


6) Greenery
I am not a person who loves rain, but still I fell in love with rain here.  It seemed that I have used green filter in my eyes as all I can see there is greenery. In fact if I have to define my first visit to Goa in two words then it is- ‘Green Goa’.  So, all those who loves rain must visit Goa in monsoon to see how the droplets from the sky embellish the place and makes it green, rejuvenating and pristine. It comes alive in a lush green tropical vibe and everything feels fresh, wet and clean.