In the wee hours of the morning, well before the sun rises from its slumber, we gather together around the fire. Blowing on our steaming mugs of coffee, biting into a chocolate covered buiscuit, eyes wide with excitement and anticipation, we watch as air is pumped into a balloon…as it rises tall and magnificent in the pre-dawn light. And then it’s time for a fire…pumped into its immense cavity, as it stand, fluttering in the breeze, eager to sail away with the wind. And soon enough, it’s time to scramble into the basket that will take us high up above the world…soaring…floating… exclaiming in wonder at our very first hot air ballon ride.
Have you ever been up in a hot air balloon? If not, would you want to?
Question: What do you get when you put 150 women into a room with two hot dudes? Answer: One hell of a fun evening!
150 ladies – travelers, lifestyle bloggers, a lot of them friends – got together on a cold winter’s evening for an evening of fun, technology, wine and food. The room was filled with the buzz of conversations and everywhere you looked you could see shades of pink. The mood was built with free flowing wine, and the event was truly underway with the entry of two dashing men – Tech Guru Rajiv Makhni and Michelin star chef Vikas Khanna! And we set off on an odyssey of food and technology.
Given that it was a Lumia app tasting event, held in association with WOW, the apps were largely travel-related. And there were some interesting apps on display. There was a cool language translator that doesn’t just give you a text translation, but actually speaks the translated sentence in the language of your choosing. You can never be lost in translation when you travel again!
There were three amazing photography apps – one fun app that let’s you swap faces, the other a super cool app that gets rid of photo bombers and random people who walk into your frame, and a third app that gives you moving gif images. Imagine a night spent dancing captured in “moving photos” – how cool is that?
And for the next time you’re out drinking, there’s an excellent app that will help you decide if you should hire a cab or drive yourself by telling you just how drunk you are based on your walk! But if you want my opinion – don’t drink and drive. Ever. Make alternate arrangements, please! After all, safety must come first!
Mixed in with all the technology were some fun food-related games. Both games involved blindfolds…and food. One needed touch and smell. The other needed taste. Both games were plays on sensual movies….Nine and a half weeks of taste and 50 shades of pink. Naughty, eh? But that’s the beauty of Vikas Khanna – with all the innuendo and all the leg-pulling and naughtiness, it never got uncomfortable or even the least bit lecherous.
It was all done in good (nay, excellent) taste (pun intended), with fun, wit and humbleness. And just as Rajiv was there for the technology, Vikas was there for the launch of his latest cook book – World Feast. And where there is a book launch, there generally are free copies! And when you have the author there, there also are signed copies! And when the author is as charismatic as Vikas, there also are selfies! As the women thronged around him, waiting for their chance to get clicked, I couldn’t help but marvel at his patience. He had a kind word for everyone, he had the patience to take more than one picture when they said “oh, this picture is making me look fat!”, and he graciously signed everyone’s copy too!
Needless to say it was a fun, exciting evening – one that will stay with me – and with all who attended, no doubt – for a long time to come!
Part of the travel experience, for me, is choosing the hotel. Our travel philosophy is to utilize the maximum resources on sightseeing and shopping, and keeping a very limited budget for our hotel stay.
If you thought limited budget = seedy little hotel/backpacker’s hostels/soulless hotels, think again. A little research is all it takes to find charming places to lay your head down at the end of a day of hard sightseeing.
A few of my absolute favorites are
Inn Seventh Heaven, Pushkar – Comfortable rooms, beautiful color schemes, friendly staff, a quiet, green courtyard and a lovely roof terrace make this our go-to place at Pushkar. We’ve driven down here for a holiday on numerous occasions, only to stay at Inn Seventh Heaven again.
Samode Palace, Samode – Known as one of the best Palace Hotels in Rajasthan, Samode is a place you must visit at least once. To be sure, it does not fall into the budget category by any stretch of the imagination, but considering that you will be doing nothing much except staying at the palace and driving down to the quaint village at the bottom of the palace, this is one extravagance that is totally worth it!
Arya Niwas, Jaipur – Although it’s been called a soulless hotel for a busy executive, for some reason, I love this place. It’s where we stay every time we visit Jaipur, and we visit Jaipur quite frequently. The green lawns, where you can sit sipping a cold coffee in the evening, the restaurant, which serves some yummy food, and the bonzais in the corridor will make you fall in love with this place.
The Indian summer makes outdoor eating a rather difficult proposition, except during the winter. And when the setting is such, within the City Palace at Udaipur, how can you pass up the chance to grab a quick bite under the umbrella, enjoying the people and the ambiance around you?
Traditionally, the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum is written in Sanskrit on the outside of the wheel. Also sometimes depicted are Dakinis, Protectors and very often the 8 auspicious symbols Ashtamangala. According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition based on the lineage texts regarding prayer wheels, spinning such a wheel will have much the same meritorious effect as orally reciting the prayers. – Wikipedia.com
Every time I visit a monastery, I am struck by a few things: the cleanliness and aura of peacefulness; the gorgeous, brightly colored tangka paintings and murals adorning the walls; the larger-than-life statutes of the various avatars of Buddha, and the prayer wheel outside most monasteries.
Every time I walk around a monastery, running my hand along the prayer wheels, I feel a sense of peace and calm descend over me. Once, I even managed to work through a particular problem that had been plaguing me since a while. Monasteries, along with churches, often have this effect on me.