21 Black and White Mumbai City Photos

When I am not “on the road”, my base is Mumbai at my parents house. Naturally, when I am there, I wish to explore and uncover interesting stories. This implies heritage walks, chit-chatting with people from different strata of life, clicking photos and so on. ūüėČ And here are some of these Mumbai city photos! See the same old hustling bustling city in a different light – black and white only!

Mumbai City Photos - Farmer's Market
Farmer’s market near Mantralaya every Sunday morning. Connecting the South Mumbai urban elite to Farmers around the city!

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Mahashivratri Celebration at Isha Yoga Center, Coimbatore

Adiyogi lit up for mahashivratri

Hailing from the urban jungle and mega metropolis of Mumbai I failed to find much purpose or value in Indian festivals. From childhood, I had studied in convent schools and read western authors (Enid Blyton mostly), so I could relate with Christmas but not with Diwali or the religious Jain celebrations at home. But within a few years after graduation, Mahashivratri become my all time favourite and looked forward to festival!

How did this happen?

Only one answer. Isha foundation.

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Vegetarian Hot Pots in Taiwan

vegetarian hot pots in taipei, Like Lotus restaurant

Just a few days back I felt like having a hot pot. It is one of those things that happen after we travel quite a bit, we start thinking of options and alternatives that otherwise may have never occurred to us. So, I have been muddling around about how to make a hot pot at home in India. All the hot pots I have had so far have been in Taiwan.

Earlier I wrote a fairly detailed post about vegetarian and vegan foods in Taiwan. Adding to it, here are the hot pots that I tried out on this lovely island country. Usually the vegetarian food in Taiwan is vegan & without onion and garlic. So mostly, these vegetarian hot pots I have shared below are vegan and Jain-friendly. But it is possible that some side dishes may have dairy.Continue reading

Hiking & Cycling Routes Near Córdoba, Spain

Cordoba’s historic city center is a testament to the times of Roman settlements, Muslim domination of Europe and the later victorious re-conquest by the Christians. It has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. And the old town definitely exudes a character and charm not easily found. But this is not why I chose to spend a few days here. There are many hiking and cycling routes around Cordoba – these were my interest ūüôā

Here are some details in case you wish to explore them too:Continue reading

Botanical Garden in Ajuda, Lisbon

Botanical Garden in Ajuda - ornamental walkway

Lisbon has three botanical gardens as far as I know. Ajuda, Belem and the City Center. The one in the city center was under renovation when I was there. But I visited the one in Ajuda and Belem, they were very close to where I was staying. This post is about the botanical garden in Ajuda. It was the first one I visited and found totally fascinating! And possibly from what I read and hear it might be the best one in Lisbon.

As I entered the garden after buying a ticket from the office building I saw¬†glimpses of a maze-style garden. In the official website of this botanical garden it is called the ‘ornamental walkway’ but I think of it as the maze garden cause it reminds me of a maze carved from garden hedges. ūüôāContinue reading

Solo Hiking Safety: Preparation Checklist

Solo Hiking Safety

I have been on a few solo hikes so far. Three solo hikes¬†in the Himachal near Jibhi. One hike in the Subbetica Natural park in Andalucia, Spain. In general, it is a bit too soon for me to be putting a “Solo Hiking Safety” post. I like to be¬†more experienced about a subject like this before I write about it. But………I got lost on my¬†previous hike in the Subbetica Natural park and had to be rescued! And it got fairly dangerous due to the weather forecast!

My mind¬†was on overdrive for a few days afterwards, trying to figure out why it all became so serious.¬† Failure is a great teacher. And I also realised that there were a lot of things I did right, largely owing to my previous solo cycle touring experience (and the few hikes), which led to an ‘easy’ rescue.¬† So¬†I decided to write this post on potential problems and the solutions for solo hiking (also relevant for group hiking). Also,¬†I don’t think there can be a truly ‘complete’ list for these kind of activities – it is after all the WILD! So feel free to search more if you are planning a solo hike. And if you have suggestions to add to this list, comment and let me know too ūüôāContinue reading

Lisbon Oceanarium

I¬†came to Lisbon for¬†some work meetups. And¬†everyone in this work team had to vote for one fun group activity.¬†This is how I landed up at the Lisbon Oceanarium ūüôā

If you are wondering¬†about the difference between Oceanarium and Aquarium (I was *geek alert*) – any aquarium that provides an ocean habitat for its marine life can be considered an Oceanarium. And this is exactly what we get¬†at¬†Oceanario de Lisboa,¬†Europe’s largest indoor aquarium.Continue reading

Traveling in Vikram Samvat 2073 & Vir Samvat 2543, Year-end Post

vikram samvat 2073 & vir samvat 2543

Are you wondering what’s Vikram Samvat and Vir Samvat? They are the traditional Indian calendars. You can read more about them here. I¬†have shifted my year-end posts to this calendar. It is because the traditional year-end that happens after the Diwali celebrations and then wishing all friends and family alongwith some religious activities make for a lot more meaningful new year beginnings (and year ending). I haven’t found any meaningful connection with the gregorian New Year activity on 31st – 1st Jan.

Moreover, I was recently going through ancient timelines… when many ancient events happened and so on… and I realized that this calendar of BC and AD is oriented around Jesus Christ. So this makes it a Christian calendar. And not majorly relevant for me. Compared to that having a calendar which is oriented around Mahavir Swami (Jain tirthankar) or Vikramaditya, an impactful Indian king makes more sense. And resonates more with my culture and ancestral understanding.

So, traveling in the¬†year 2073 (& 2543)…Continue reading

Jibhi: A Month in the Mountains

misty town Jibhi

This Himalayan trip was easily one of my best – a week in the astounding desert of Spiti and then over a month in Jibhi – a beautiful, lush green mountain town at 7,000 ft. The idea was simple, leave the metropolis madness called Mumbai behind and be closer to nature. And so it happened.

The Offbeat Shimla Manali Route via Seraj Valley and Jibhi

There are three Shimla to Manali routes – 1) the offbeat one via Seraj Valley, on which lies Jibhi, 2) the popular one via Mandi and 3) the longer one via Spiti valley.

There may also be a fourth route with a longer westwards circuit near Mandi.

Jibhi is off the usual Indian tourist route. But surprisingly it is very much on the Israeli tourist route. I found it surprising but probably the proximity to the popular Kasol valley is the reason. I chatted with three Israeli travellers in the Kshatra cafe of Jibhi and it was an eye opener. They told me that Israel has alway considered India a close ally and they love the culture not because it is cheap (inexpensive), but because it deeply resonates with them. Oh and two of them had come to spend their honeymoon in India – that shows how much they love this country! And both did Yoga. The third guy had done multiple vipassana programs. So… wow! Far cry from the stereotyped image of Israelis holed up in cheap room of an Indian town¬†basically for the opium.

This trip to Jibhi was filled with interesting conversations and revelations. I made friendships that have lasted beyond the place and time. Still in touch with many of them, met a few later on elsewhere and looking forward to meeting them again!Continue reading

Australian Bush Macro-Style Photographs

australian bush

Macro photography: producing photographs of small items in larger-than-life size.

I don’t have professional macro photography setup, but here are some interesting photographs from the Australian bush, macro-style. ūüôā

But before you take a look at those, a quick note on –¬†what is the Australian Bush?

The ‘Australian bush’ loosely means any area outside the metropolitan cities of Australia. Almost 89%¬†of the Australian population lives in the major metropolitan cities. Outside these cities, the towns are small amidst huge expanses of land. And usually, any wilderness in these areas is considered bush. Even the small towns may be referred to as ‘bush towns’. I suspect the term has come up due to the bush-y nature of the wilderness. While there are a lot of eucalyptus tree forests in Australia, they are significantly sparser than the forests of the tropical regions. And apart from these Eucalyptus trees, the greens are usually stunted. Wattle bushes, grass, a¬†lot of mushrooms, fungus, tiny flowering plants and the like.Continue reading