Police Encounter in Adyar

I was involved in an encounter yesterday. My third one. With a menacing, mustached stern man who waits by signals to ruin the day for all happy drivers. Yeah, a traffic policeman!

I had fought my way through traffic on Sardar Patel Road and reached the Madhya Kailash junction. I intended to go straight but couldn’t make it to the left side of the road (till I reached the junction I was trying to avoid suffering in the traffic jam!). Still I went ahead, without switching on the indicator to show the direction in which I was headed.

Bang (mini bang)… a cyclist crashed into my bike from behind.

By the time my bike stopped swaying dangerously (I didn’t know a cycle could make such an impact!) a traffic policeman was telling me that the mistake was on my part and that I was supposed to go only on the left (oh yeah, a mistake. I admit it. I should’ve gone to the left no matter how many cars were blocking my way, like a superwoman. I’ve imagined myself climbing over several cars in seconds and getting to a signal. Seriously! I guess it happens to you when you encounter the Saidapet traffic jams everyday.)

Oh, back to the story. Yeah, I made a mistake! I am an impatient driver. I get distracted too. At that point my aim was to get my bike ahead. I didn’t switch on the indicator. Shouldn’t the cyclist have understood why? Also he banged from the back! So he turned before I did. How could he do that in a turning? Would I turn magically in the few milliseconds that took him to close the gap between his cycle and my bike?

There was a major catastrophe. I realized that the tottering, weak heel of my sandal had fallen off when my bike lost balance. I was looking at my sandal sadly, but the policeman didn’t sympathize with me. “Go to the corner of the road,” he said. My mind drifted back to Maths class in Standard IV for a moment and the policeman sprouted the long plait of my strict school teacher in my head.

Thankfully, not a single car stopped. The policeman, who noticed that no one was agreeing with his decision to send me to the corner of the road and collect money, said “Sari ma, Po!”

I left the heel of the sandal behind and sped away. The fine would be almost as much as the price of the sandal itself (say, 150 bucks. Yeah, I buy cheap but hot looking shoes – Bollywood Shoes, Egmore. Check it out!). Ok, I am drifting into dreams about new shoes. Let me get back to the story.

I headed to Adyar, Besant Nagar, every garment shop that I could spot on the way, to browse through clothes and cool down. I did that till 8 30 pm, but fortunately, didn’t find anything I liked. My Mom called me and yelled. I headed back home. Also treated myself to my favourite oily fried rice from the local wannabe dhaba on the way. And found the perfect bag after a week of searching! At least the evening amounted to something. Boo to traffic policemen!

As a concluding statement, I’d like to say this… If I were God, there would be no traffic policemen in heaven. There would be ice-cream wallahs, boutique owners, pushcart sonpapdi wallahs and every other person who cheers a girl up immensely after an encounter with a traffic policeman.

Europe – A Euphoric Sojourn

Recollecting wonderful moments in a continent I could never get enough of!

I went on a 10 day trip to Europe in November My first foreign trip. And every bit of it was fantastic. (Yes. This post is a latecomer. Its been lying in the cans for a long time.
I should be made to kneel down.)

Just reminiscing about the gondola ride or Swiss mountains gives me goose bumps. Proof enough that those moments were out of the world!

We travelled to Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, France and London – Venice, Florence, Rome, Vatican and Pisa in Italy, Lucerne and Jungfraujoch in Switzerland, Heidelberg & Cologne in Germany, Brussels, Paris and London. On the way back we spent a couple of days in Dubai.

We travelled by coach. It was quite a hectic trip. We were given an hour or two in each city to see the important places – but that is not enough to soak in the experience. On such trips we always wish we had a lot more time… but even months of travelling would not be enough for the complete European experience.

The tour began at Venice… it felt like a dream, right from the moment we took off at Dubai (we flew by Emirates; transited through Dubai). The plane flew across the entire Gulf region – located near the route are several major cities, including Kuwait, Baghdad, Amman, Tehran, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul and Athens (the map is shown on a screen). Also near the route are the historic river Tigris and major seas – the Black Sea and of course, the Mediterranean. It was wonderful that we were passing over so many countries – something we don’t always take note while travelling overseas.

Now for a detailed country-by-country account of the magical trip…

Italy – my favourite

Our first destination was the beautiful and unique Venice. There is a small airport in Venice – the Marco Polo Airport. When we landed we got to know, to our total dismay that half the commuters’ luggage had not arrived, because apparently the conveyor belt transferring the baggage to the plane had broken. We were completely pissed off. The luggage was sent only the next night – to our hotel in Florence. I wore dirty clothes for 2 days. And thankfully we had worn our jackets – the rest of our winter gear was in the baggage.

The temperature was 12O C. It was quite pleasant. Venice is a cluster of 118 small islands (a large part of the town) separated by canals and joined by more than 400 small bridges. The place we stayed was away from the islands. We went to an Indian restaurant that night, which was more than an hour away from our hotel. Our lady coach driver, Monica had a fantastic view of the road through the huge windshield that took up more than half of the front of the bus. We were treated to the sight of rolling farmlands and charming houses during our drive. We even got a glimpse of a beautiful carousel (merry-go-round). It seemed to take a really long time to reach the restaurant, even if it had actually taken just about an hour. The food was the best North Indian food I’ve ever had outside! Our local restaurants don’t match up one bit. It amazes me that the best Northie food I’ve had was in Venice.

The next day we travelled by water taxi (a ferry – called Vaporetti) to the main island, where the St. Mark’s Basilica and St. Mark’s Square are located. Many towns in Europe have an ancient city square around which the important buildings and churches are located. In many cities, the streets get narrower and narrower as you get close to the square. Coaches are allowed only till a certain point. After that you have
to walk.

Venice is famous for blown glass. We visited the Murano glass factory in Venice where they demonstrated the making of a horse statuette. The craftsman held a hot mass of molten glass at the end of a stick and with a pair of tongs created a beautiful horse with a few quick twists, with amazing craftsmanship. The glass is then baked in an oven.

Then we went for a gondola ride. How could we miss it? FYI... they charge 80 euros for a half an hour ride for a group of six.

I sank back into the seat and took in heaven! We traversed canals just as we would travel on roads. Tall buildings rose up on either side. They are built on wooden slats (this type of construction has been around for centuries there). I immersed myself in a completely different world, a fantasy… endless blue water stretching out before me, the sound of the oars against the water heavenly music to my ears, incredible joy and peace descending on me – the uniqueness of the place together with peace only water can bring. The gondoliers (boatmen) call out to each other, saying “Ooooye”… it catches on to you instantly and you too begin uttering the word. Suddenly the gondolier starts singing in Italian and you are completely enveloped in the experience. You feel like a Venetian.

Then we left the beautiful city and proceeded to Florence. This city is located in the mountainous Tuscany region of Italy. The scenery changed from rolling fields to beautiful mountains, small traditional houses dotting them.

That evening we had a walking tour of the city. Florence thrived during the Renaissance period and the works of several famous sculptors of the period can be found here.

We walked through several small streets in Florence. And suddenly I came across a monument that rendered me speechless with its majesty. Up, up it towered in the night sky and I felt very small before it. It was the Santa Maria Del Fiora basilica. We had reached the city square. This basilica shouldn’t be missed.

Near the basilica are statues created by famous Renaissance artists, among them Michelangelo’s famed David. I wished I could’ve had a couple more hours at least to see all the statues and monuments.

We went for a riverside walk, taking in the sight of glittering lights reflecting in the water. Then we went to a spot from which we could enjoy a bird’s eye view of the beautiful city.

We stayed for two nights at Florence. The next day we visited Rome and Vatican City and returned to our hotel at Florence.

Rome is 3 ½ hours away from Florence. It was a charming and beautiful, but quite cramped and crowded. We passed through the ruins of the wall that was constructed to protect the city during ancient times.

We visited the famous Trevi fountain. There is a belief that if you throw one coin over this shoulder into the fountain, you will return to Rome, and if you throw two coins over your shoulder you’ll meet the one destined for you here. I threw 2 coins :D.

They gave us hardly any time for visiting the fountain and eating lunch. That is the problem with these tours... But we managed to taste the original Italian pizza at a cafe opposite the fountain. The Pizza Hut variety is not a patch on the original. It had a crunchy base and was absolutely delicious.

Then we proceeded to the Colosseum – the famous or rather infamous arena where gladiators fought lions as thousands were entertained. We didn’t have enough time to go close to it. We went to a viewing point and took photos. One side of the Colosseum is in ruins and we could view only the other side.

Our last stop was Vatican City. Spanning an area of .44 sq. Km, the Vatican city is the smallest country in the world!

The St. Peters Basilica there is one of the very few churches where the founding pope is buried in the place where it is located. Stained glass work on the dome was created by Michelangelo. The basilica also houses Michelangelo’s famous Pieta statue – one of Mary holding a dying Jesus in her arms.

Everything inside was art on another level altogether and I could only stare. I didn’t have the refinement or knowledge to appreciate it deeply.

We saw the place from which the Pope addresses gatherings on Christmas and important occasions and the chimney that would emit smoke to signal that a new pope has been announced. They even pointed out the Pope’s chamber to us.

That ended our tour of this historic city. We headed back to our hotel in Florence. The next day we went to the coastal town of Pisa to see one of the wonders of the world, the leaning tower.

The leaning tower of Pisa is located in the Piazza Del Duomo (city square) It is the bell tower of a church that has a large dome (hence “duomo”). The tower is 55 m high and is made of marble. The whole place was very charming and peaceful. We had 1 1/2 hours for sightseeing and had a relaxed time.

From there we proceeded to scenic Switzerland that left me spellbound...

Scintillating Switzerland

The land of sparkling lakes that soothe sore eyes during the day; at night these take you to fairyland, radiating mesmerising beauty, with thousands of city lights reflected on them – we feasted our eyes on the lakes as we travelled through the mountains towards Lucerne (the city we stayed in - it has a lake too).

An added bonus - The Lucerne lake was just a 5 minute walk away from our hotel. We clicked some pictures there and even caught a couple of swans on camera. It was very cold – 6 degree weather. We had a lovely walk along the lake and in the streets around the hotel; we looked at shop windows that were beautifully decorated for Christmas.

The next day we took an excursion to Jungfrau - it is a mountain peak, the name meaning “virgin girl”. It is called the Top of Europe; located 11.332 feet above sea level, it is the highest point in Europe.

We took a cute mountain cogwheel train (with specially constructed tracks that fit the cogwheels). It even let out a choo choo whistle!

On the way we were treated to breathtaking sights – we could not miss a moment. Mighty snow clad peaks rose all around, at places touching misty white clouds. It was picture perfect. Our cameras never left our hands.

Then we reached our destination. The temperature was -4 degrees. There is a huge four storey complex at Jungfrau, in which a terrace leads you to the exact top point. Beneath metal grills under your feet stretches a huge valley.

The complex also houses shops, restaurants and an ice palace – here the floors and walls are made of ice & there are several ice sculptures. A temperature of -10 degrees is maintained in the ice palace. There is also an “ice terrace” (but I missed another place where apparently they had sledding facilities); here I had a wonderful experience. Slippery snow underneath my feet, cold wind and snowfall, the Swiss flag flying on a post… I felt like a mountain climber (and also like a kid – I squatted on the snow and grabbed all I could – which was not much really – and tried to strike a pose, holding up my hands to my chin and trying to blow the snow off my gloves). In one word, the experience was exhilarating.

We then returned to Lucerne. We proceeded to Germany the next day.

Germany’s Old World Charm

We visited the beautiful Rhine falls on the way to Germany. We travelled through the Black Forest - a really thick forest sprawling across more than 150 km. Right in the middle of the forest, we visited a cuckoo clock shop, where they showed us how they made the clocks; it was very interesting. We lunched at restaurant opposite the shop, where I enjoyed potato soup – it was excellent. I also bought black forest cake from the restaurant. It was quite different from what we have here and had layers of cherries.

Our next stop was Heidelberg. It had me entranced with its charm. It is an old town with a famous castle and bridge. We walked along cobblestone streets with old fashioned lampposts. Heidelberg became one of my favourite places.

We stayed the night at Happenheim, about 20 km from Heidelberg. We took a walk near the hotel and had glimpses of typical German architecture reflected in large sloping roofs on many houses.

The next day we visited Cologne. The city has a very old, majestic cathedral. Beautiful stained glass work adorned the windows. The architecture of the ceilings was unique.
The cathedral was filled with peace and old world charm.

From Cologne we proceeded to the Belgium that is famed for its diamonds and chocolates & has produced great tennis players.

Beautiful (and Bustling) Belgium

Belgium is a very small country with a large population. We were back in hustle bustle after leaving India. Brussels leans more towards Namma Chennai than urban Europe. But it has some redeeming features. The city square is apparently the most beautiful one in Europe. It has majestic buildings, with touches of gold plating adding to the allure.

I saw the Mannekin Pis statue (a little boy peeing away into a fountain). There is a cute story behind it – apparently a boy from a wealthy family went missing; when they found him, he was peeing under a tree… and they built a special statue for him! This is my favourite “monument”

We bought Belgian chocolates for people back home. I also had the Belgian speciality, waffles. We get it everywhere, but I wanted to have it in the country where it was born.

We then went to Mini Europe, which is on the outskirts of Brussels. Here they’ve created models of monuments in several European countries. There is also a steel structure called the Atomium – which was built nearly half a century back for an important world convention held there. On the whole, Mini Europe offers a very unique and interesting experience.

Fabulous France

To be honest, I didn’t get to see much, but loved what I saw.

We visited the Arc-De-Triomphe, which is truly majestic and beautiful! It was apparently constructed by Napoleon so that he could march through it victoriously after winning the battle of Waterloo, but well, we know what happened. Poor guy.

Then we proceeded to the Eiffel Tower. Its appeal lies in the construction and simplicity of the material. If it were made of shiny golden metal I wouldn’t have liked it. And it was built over a century ago! We took a lift to the second level, from where we enjoyed beautiful views of Paris. Then we walked down the stairs, beams and metal all around, to the ground level. It was another experience altogether!

We also visited the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa! You cannot make out what is different about it at first sight. But apparently Mona Lisa doesn’t have eyebrows! I wanted to spend more time at the sprawling Louvre but we could be there only for a couple of hours.

Another attraction was a famous Parisian show (I forgot the name) which was a family show according to the tour manager, but had topless dancers (should’ve expected that!). But I learnt to appreciate the gracefulness of a feminine, seductive towel dance and get over the mild shock of watching the women toss off the towels and walk away, their naked derriere on display. Most of it was graceful, I must admit (not elegant, as the tour manager claimed). But vulgarity did seep in with some crass movements.

Overall, Paris was a potpourri of experiences. Would love a chance to spend a day at the Louvre and enjoy a meal at a bistro.


From France, we went through the Eurotunnel to UK. The Eurotunnel is an architectural marvel constructed underneath the English Channel. A train took us from land, straight through this tunnel and out the English Channel to a UK city. It was, again, quite unlike anything I’d experienced.

The trip to London took 2 hours. The city was very cold. We took a trip around and saw the sights – Picadilly Circus, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace – unfortunately all this was in late evening. Nevertheless, we enjoyed it!

The next day, all the tourists were left on their own. My parents and I took a red bus to Madame Tussauds (We skipped everything else! But we didn’t want a hectic day.)
Madame Tussauds was fantastic. Amazing with a capital A! I was of course, happily posing with my favourite Hollywood stars, the King of Pop and Charlie Chaplin. The statues seemed so real that I found myself wondering if some visitors were made of wax!

That evening, we had to leave. But the fun wasn’t over. SOTC had thrown in 2 days at Dubai! And a fantabulous experience awaited us.

Dubai Treat

In Dubai, I got a fluoroscent yellow nail polish. Ok, let me move on to the coolest stuff. We went on the Dubai Safari. An absolute treat involving a mind blowing desert ride and enchanting belly dancing (It was fantastic. Extremely graceful. I couldn’t take my eyes of the stage. Didn’t want to miss a moment of it. We even videotaped a dance!)

Before this, we were taken on the ride of our lives. No, it was a good one! Up, down and along the sides of scarily high sand dunes (when you watch them from far) on the desert in an SUV. Mind blowing is the word. It seemed to last for 40 minutes (did it really last that long?) and I was craving for more! The sand being extremely soft, we willingly co-operated when the jeep slanted along the dunes, yet yelled and yelled which made it all the more fun. Yes, Dubai was just as unforgettable as Europe :-D.

So now I’ve come to the end of the article. About a journey I never wanted to stop, but which still holds a special place in my memory. And in my mouth, occasionally when I eat the Belgian chocolates that melted and then solidified into a rock hard mass which I was too lazy to break for a long time. My Mom kept the dabba (it’s in a stainless steel box now) outside and in the course of a day, it achieved the consistency of Nutella (of course it is a zillion times better than Nutella – but still Nutella tastes darn good with ghee toast.) Ok, now that brings me to another topic – chocolates. But no, I won’t write on that now. Please read this post and leave your comments. Thank you! And may you get the chance to travel to Europe too!

If you didn’t have the patience to read the article, please read this. Thank you!

Favourite Country: Italy
Most Memorable Experience: Gondola ride, snow and icy wind in Jungfrau
The Coolest Place Ever: Madame Tussauds :-D
Favourite Town: Heidelberg
Favourite Monument: Mannikin Pis :-D
Most Delicious Dinners: Indian food in Venice, Naan and Pulao at a Lebanese resto we managed to locate near our hotel in London (nothing like this stuff after a week of salad and bread for lunch!)
Snacks and Beverages: Bitter Coffee in Italy, Lindt Lindor :-D, Croissants
Culinary Revelations: Pizza in Rome, Potato Soup in Germany
I love food yeah, but am reluctant to admit it. I control my diet, though! As in, if I eat a burger in the evening, I skip dinner (did you know that white rice is far more calorific than a 450 cal burger?). If I have a brownie in the morning (yeah!) I don't eat anything else. I also do 2000 spins with a hula hoop everyday.. so that balances my intake, right?

Most Exhilarating Experience: Dubai Safari Desert Ride
Entertainment Pick: Belly Dancing – Dubai Safari
Fantabulous City Walk: Florence
Poster Boy: Statue of (stark naked) David (ok, just kidding), Mannikin Pis (statue of li'l boy peeing)
Eye Candy: Snow clad Swiss Peaks (of course!)

Me, Myself and Food

I was doing some boring work today that was really driving me crazy; as a result I let my imagination run miles and gradually crazy scenarios in my head gave way to thoughts of food. I guess that happens every time you sit down to think about nothing. All this resulted in the temptation to write a blog article on food. I hope to entertain you with an account of stuff I like on my plate, food quirks and other random thoughts about food.

1. There is a restaurant called New Yorker where I like to eat till I become drowsy (doesn’t mean I eat a lot in one sitting. Some of their dishes make me drowsy).

Once I get sleepy, I get very happy and decide to have fun by balling up tissues and arranging it in my ice cream cup or sticking toothpicks into the mouth freshener. It takes me close to drunkenness.

2. I scaled the heights of weirdness by adding tomato sauce to sweet lime juice I’d ordered without ice. (I had severe cold. And sweet lime juice is so unbelievably tasteless without ice that anything and I mean anything, would improve its taste.)

3. I love conepapdi (err.. the sonpapdi sold in pushcarts). When I spot a sonpapdi pushcart I completely abandon my maturity and run eagerly for a coneful.

4. There’s a Mc Donald’s just 5 minutes away from my house. When they opened, I thought that was pretty cool. Eagerly got a burger. However, it turned out to be beautiful outside but bland inside, like one of those dumb blondes in jokes (and only jokes! Am shaking my finger at the people who crack them.) I prefer Burger Man burgers any day (from kutti stands outside supermarkets. They cook it in 4 ways – Mexican, BBQ blabla). They don’t look gorgeous but are totally yummy.

5. I don’t like fine dining – rotis, naans, waiting long for your food… :-D. I prefer oily fried rice from a wannabe dhaba in Velachery.

6. I don’t like eating at the dining table at home (like many of us), because, I swear, I think my appetite takes flight.

7. Rainbow cookies rock! They have broken coloured candies inside them. I had them in Dubai. But I can’t find them here, even in Amma Naana!

8. No man can match up to a choco-walnut brownie with vanilla ice cream.

Cheap Date Ideas - 2

Are you broke? Here are some ideas for dates for which you decide how much you need to blow. Please don't mind the sarcastic humour in some of these. (If you don't like sarcastic humour, please don't read Cheap Date Ideas 1.. thank u).

Dabbu Kammi? Ikkada Choodu!

1. Pick a school working day (so there won’t be any gawking kids around) and take her to the nearest playground. Have a whale of a time playing on swings, slides, seesaws and mud boxes. End it in a really cute way – buy her balloons and cotton candy.

2. Go to the beach. Buy a bunch of balloons and play ball with them. Then tie a large number of balloons together and release them in the air.

3. Another beach date – spend an evening at the beach shooting balloons. Wear cowboy hats and take photos to remember the special moments. After the adventure, spend a chatty evening on the sands, munching son papdi and bajjis.

4. Take her on a motorbike ride in heavy rain. Ride down to a park and when the rain stops, surprise her by going down on one knee and singing a romantic song. (Provided your voice is good – if your voice sounds like that of music composer Deva, take the safe route and lip sync to a song while playing it on a music player in your pocket. On second thought… that doesn’t seem like a safe route because she’ll know that your voice isn’t that good). You can even make it a duet and run around trees.

5. Go to a village “tiruvizha”. Enjoy karagattam, oyillattam and bommalattam. You can even try doing a Ramarajan karagattam act with your girl.

6. This doesn’t really qualify as a date. However it promises fun.
Do a special photo session with your girl. Take charge of costume suggestions as well.

7. Skip pubbing and take her to a Tasmac shop. Drink yourselves silly. Follow it with a drunken duet, swinging around lampposts instead of trees.

8. Take her to Pondy Bazaar and buy her earrings and matching glass bangles in many colours. Be chivalrous (and miserly, remember this is a cheap date!) – take over the bargaining.
Be careful while parking your bike. Park only in a zone that has a “Park here” sign. Otherwise you might spend all your money on junk jewellery and have none left when Police Uncle demands it.

9. Cuddle up with her on a sofa and watch Maine Pyar Kiya. Beware: Salman Khan looks very cute in it.