Rural Maharashtra and the ‘hill stations’.




This morning I drove out of Bombay, it is hard to do because it’s an almost never ending city. However we got to the ghats still clothed in mist and climbed up to the strawberries.

There’s indescribable beauty, huge boulders of mountains, forested, road lined with large banyans with hanging roots. Suddenly you come to a corner spouting a tinted blue waterfall falling over cement rocks? Nature did not do it well enough, we will better it!

Picture perfect little strawberry fields, full of people picking and posing for photographs. Every few turns bring an ATV track, old and young furiously driving mindlessly around in circles between used tires.

Pink, yellow, green resort buildings with large signages all but obscuring the lovely vistas that you have ostensibly come to see. Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar. The retreat in the hills.

Now I find myself sitting a half hour drive out of Mahabaleshwar, it’s a tiny village, the Jai Bhawani hotal serves a mean maharashtrian thali. The store next door has only two real cotton saris which we promptly bought.

The car is parked under a large peepul tree beside the temple, we walk a few meters past down to the banks of a huge, sparkling lake. A gaggle of multi hued ladies sit under the tree waiting for the phut, phuting, colourful boat that soon appears to take us across the lake to the far shore.

There is no one and nothing here but pristineness. We are come to see this little camp, irrelevant, other than that it provides an un intrusive way to to stay in the surrounds of this little place that actually exists just a short way away from the ugly tourist hub.

A moonlit night casts it silvered spell over a silent expanse of water, there are only three visible lights. The magic in my life continues.

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It’s Bombay


The not so little village of Bombay, the cobblestone streets of what we used to call the suburbs. Mainstream Mumbai of today with happening corners and still interesting village alleys rubbing shoulders with each other. A walk able pavement, but an ‘ istriwala’ blocks half, the next section is taken up by a lovely old peepul tree with a quaint temple around it.

That lady with her cotton dhoti and chequered blouse carrying the smart shopping bag works in 4 different flats. Speaks a smattering of English, does the daily shopping for all four workplaces, cooks their meals in record time and retires to her little basti around the corner where chickens still run in the street, the fish lady brings her basket around in the morning and a smart little advertising executive rents the little room above her house. They have village weddings and rocking parties in the little courtyard and each deals with the loud music of the other.

In every area, around almost every corner is a happening little bar or restaurant, you can aspire to pay huge sums for some well presented, pretentious piece of art on a plate or pay a quarter for a sumptuous feast of great fish curry and rice. Street corners sell health food and junk food in adjacent stalls.

The bread man still brings a bag full of goodies to your door, you could actually wake up to the cawing of the birds in the great tree outside your window. You get transport from anywhere to any where at any hour of the day or night.

It’s all rather dirtily swept, there’s a pervasive odour of ‘Bombay’, the sense of fashion is completely individualistic, you get glamour, style, funk, comfortable, ill fitting and downright nothing, but all worn with a sense of ease. There is zest, purpose and busy ness all around, the drivers are polite and they all have a story.

I so enjoy this city.

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Ph: +91 9810184360



One night

Photo 26-11-12 10 46 12 PM

Last evening I climbed a set of stairs into another world. A circle of murhas surrounded a brightly burning fire, gentle candles twinkled around. Beyond the parapet spread a silvered sheet of water, reflecting the almost full moon.

We were on the baand of an old dam. To my left was a graciously twinkling dining pavilion and on my left spread a tastefully separated row of supremely luxurious tents. As I sat there sipping a smoky malt with gracious hosts, I pondered afresh the magic in my life.

But it did not stop there. After a perfectly cooked and presented dinner, I had to walk grumblingly up a hill because the only tent free was the honeymoon one, set by itself on a burj overlooking the lake. My grumbles turned into full blown appreciation of the gently raised stair treads that wound through the trees to open onto an Arabian nights vista of a glowing tent, rose petals on the towels and all the enchantment of a spectacular moonlit night over water.

One night I would have happily shared with some like minded soul. But how I savoured it – even all alone.Photo 27-11-12 6 57 53 AM

Photo 27-11-12 8 03 06 AM

Central America: Costa Rica: Jungles, rivers, beaches and the Yucatan heritage

My delightful travelling friends and all who would like to join us,

Sorry for the delay in getting this out to you all. It has taken some research and much excitiement for me to put it together and I think we have the most glorious trip – one that we are going to marvellously enjoy.

I am giving you briefs and costs here – you can click the links for the detailed itineraries.

24 Feb to 3 rd March 2013

COSTA RICA: We arrive and depart from San Jose, the capital, in between for 8 days we raft the Pacuare river, sea kayak through the Tortuguero National Park looking for sea turtles and all the other myriad wild life. We stay at jungle lodges, luxury in the forest, true paradise, complete with zip lines over the river, jungle walks, rainforest canopy tours, waterfalls and time to just relax in  amazing river canyons, along the beach and at the volcano.

We raft out on the Pacuare river and head to the Arenal volcano area and it’s beautiful lake – hotsprings et al. So if that does not sound enticing enough – after this we head to Mexico and the Yucatan Peninsula.

4th March to 11th March 2013

CANCUN: We fly San Jose to Cancun, the veritable riviera of Mexico, but we are going to find those little magic places to stay and see. The Mayan heritage.

With its eastern border by the Caribbean Sea (the Mayan Riviera), the Yucatán Peninsula has ancient ruins, underground caves, colonial cities, and natural wonders that we are going to discover, or not, as the mood takes us. The itinerary gives us the options of famous Mayan archeological sites, several lesser known sites, and days of relaxing white sand beaches in the Riviera Maya. All in great locations and hotels.

After the Incas, I think we need to discover this other great people too. They discovered spectacles! The actual ones that we wear to see better, not just the visual panorama of beauty.

So obviously we want to do this, below are costs/ I have seperated the two areas so if there are some of you that want to do only one trip that too is possible, though I hope we will all do all, know how we feel missed out else.

The details of inclusive and exclusive are given on the different itineraries, here are just the total costs and the payment break up in rupees. (please note that these may fluctuate a little depending on the rates of the dollar once we make all final payments)

Costa Rica: Rs.2,06,000.00. /   Yucatan, Mexico: Rs. 1,96,000.00

Booking amount: by end Sept: Costa Rica: Rs. 69000.00 /  Yucatan: Rs. 64600.00

2nd payment by end Nov: Rs.68500.00 / Rs.65700.00

Final payment by end Jan: Rs.68500.00 / Rs. 65700.00

The rates are based on twin share occupancy – I will let you have single supplements if you want.

All tours and ground transportation are included in the itinerary

Please also note the current trip will run with a minimum of 6 persons. We can go up to 16 persons and if we do manage that the costs will come down some because ground transport  and guides etc  get distributed.

Meals & tips outside of those listed in the itineraries are not included

Flights: the best connectivity is offered by British Airways with American Airlines and Air Mexico. Currently the rate for the full round trip : Delhi – London – Miami – San Jose – Cancun – Miami – London – Delhi : Rs. 1,11,000.00 approximately.

Sorry I have not researched Bombay or other connections, but can do so if you want.

I need to confirm bookings as soon as possible so all those who are on please email or and I can let you have the details for making payments etc.

I hope we are all going to be on this grand trip, so looking forward to enjoying another great adventure with everyone.



Africa tit bits

Travel news from my wandering family. Africa this time, my young sister works at making a better world and travels to interesting parts of it while doing so, here are some tips from her.


A lovely little boutique hotel in Cape town that she loved staying in, this is what the hotel says about itself, and she pretty much agreed:


“Set in the heart of the urban trend-setting district of Green Point, dysART Boutique Hotel

offers a uniquely tranquil environment with modern facilities designed to ensure your well-being.


Myriad restaurants and bars are with-in minutes of our front door, on Main Road and beyond in the renowned Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the focal point of Cape Town’s day and night life.


Nearby is De Waterkant, the “Village” of Cape Town, which is packed with bars, music venues and eclectic eateries. A few minutes by taxi is Long Street, the inner city’s most charming road, full of inter-esting shops and restaurants housed in historic old-Cape architecture.


And just up the hill is the winding Kloof Street, with its array of shopping and dining emporia. And the ocean is just a few minutes’ walk, with its promenade and the promise of unforgettable sunsets.”


Now she is on the Shuttle bus from Arusha, Tanzania back to Nairobi, she reccommends it as a good way to get there. They have been visiting a bar called the Via Via, inside the natural history museum, apparently the museum after closing time turns into a bar till 12.00 and then a disco, all out in the open. Great barbeque and a lovely vibe. Sounds like fun. Nanki, you certainly are having some.
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