January 21st, 2017 by Jeet

Year end travel of 2016 was combined with personal work. I was also thrilled about this travel as I was traveling to the eastern part of India during winters after many years. I remembered about the december days and wished to experience them. We started our journey on the 3rd week of December 2016. I had already booked the tickets on Yeshwantpur – Howrah AC express and avoided the dynamic pricing which was introduced. This train seems to be same as Duronto with similar colour and departs from Yeshwantpur at the same time at 11.15 AM. However, when I booked the ticket Duronto was not written.  It takes 29 hours to complete the journey to Howrah if on right time. Arrival time at Howrah railway station is 4.15 PM. However, the train reached the platform at 4.30 PM. This train typically comes on the new section of Howrah station. From the platform hired a porter for Rs 100 who helped us reach the parking lot for private vehicles like Ola. Traveling from Howrah station we first saw the majestic Howrah bridge. Evening hours are normally pick hours and in older parts of Kolkata it is heavy traffic jam time. On the way also saw the flyover whose portion came down in the month of April 2016. The flyover is incomplete and work is suspended now. Driving under that flyover was little anxious. To reach our destination Rajarhat, it almost took about an hour. While traveling in the Ola cab, I noticed little change. Heritage light lamps has been installed on most roads and the lamp stand is decorated with blue & white led lights. On a flyover the railings were also decorated with blue & white led lights. From VIP road onwards the decorations increased 3 fold. Important junctions had been decorated with lights and santa dolls. It was a beautiful sight to view. The city of joy was on a festive mood. At around 7.30 PM we reached Rajarhat.

Next day morning we had went for some shopping to Priya Gopal Bishoyi at MG road. This is one of the best shop to buy sarees in Kolkata. Returned home in the afternoon and an authentic Bengali lunch was waiting. It was a feast in terms of food and sweets. Lunch and dinner consisted of fishes like prawn, Parshe, Bhetki, Tangra, biryani and a chilly chicken specially cooked by my uncle. In the evening went to City Center mall 2 at Rajarhat. There I purchased an ethnic canvas shoe at Khadims store. They have some good collection of formal and ethnic stuffs.  Looks like they sell online as well now. Following this it was some munching time. Along with uncle, we headed to KFC. I advised uncle to have Nashville chicken and I went for Zinger burger with extra cheese. This time it was not that cold in Kolkata but do calls for a blanket for sleeping.

Next day it was about my search for Bandhgala. In the afternoon after lunch we headed to Gariahat. I used Ola cabs for most of our travels in Kolkata. I looked for Bandhgala there at Manyavar, Shahenshah, Adi Punjabi, Prapti etc but could not find the design I was looking for. At Prapti I liked a jute wash coat. After trying it looked little loose and the the shops offered to alter it. As I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day, I left the wash coat with the shop and they said they will send the product after alteration to their shop at City Center 2. Also, we looked for saree there at Gauranga Bastralaya, Kalamandir Saree Emporium, Dhakeshwari Bastralaya etc but could not choose one. From there we went to Lindsey street store of Manyavar. It is said to be their biggest store in Kolkata. But due to pipe designs alternations are not possible which was a deal breaker. It was a day before Christmas and there were huge crowd in Dharmatala / New Market area. We moved further and went to a Raymond store opposite New Market. First I checked out the ready made section but not to my likings. Finally thought of stitching one and wanted to gather more info. In decided to remain in the range of Rs 15k to 20k. I liked one material with some texture. I was leaving for Nabadwip the next day and for Bangalore on 28th morning so delivery was  a concern. The salesman assured that he will take the measurement now and he will keep it ready. When I come back to Kolkata on 27th December, he will give me a trail and if required he will do the alterations on that day within a couple of hours. But poundered on little bit and decided not to pursue it as it looked to close. While coming back we took a tour inside New Market. My Uncle said earlier it was the largest market in Asia and there is hardly anything one cannot find here. He shown one cake shop offers various kind of cakes and some unique cakes. People stand in queue or book days in advance to buy from this shop. Outside also saw the oldest unit of Aminia.

Next day we booked a Scorpio for Rs 3000 and headed for Nabadwip after lunch. It was an amazing journey through rural and the paddy fields of Bengal. Four laning work on the road which I saw two years ago still shows no sign of completion. Overtaking on this two way road at times looks scary. After going to my maternal uncle’s house one of the first thing I did was going to shop in Hari Sabha para and buy Samosa, Gujia and sweet gur fry. Sweets of Nabadwip for very tasty and economical. We had lot of tasks to oversee and needed to be accomplished within our short duration of stay. Another thing which I absolutely love in nabadwip is the Red curd. This days it can be found from a store near Boral ghat. I bought around 2 kg for Rs 250. My mom wanted to take bath in river Ganga, so visited the ghat with her. It is always a pleasure to visit the ghat. While leaving Nabadwip we decided to take the local train. We planned to board the 3.30 PM Katwa – Howrah local. After we reached the Nabadwip dham station, we found it was packed with people. As per the ticket, the journey had to commence within 1 hour. I was expecting huge rush in the train and was thinking a hired vehicle would have been better. After boarding the train it was crowded for sometime but started to lighten up after few station. Around an hour later, we get seats. Then onwards it was fine. Ticket cost for two on local train is Rs 50 and a hired vehicle will be around Rs 2000. See the savings!  On the local I heard songs being played. First I heard it is being played from a station. But I could still hear it when the train was moving. Then I realised that it was being played from the train itself and that it is a new service of the Indian Railways called Rail Radio.

After reaching Howrah station went to the pre-paid taxi counter but it had a long queue. So decided to book an Ola cab. I have noticed that Ola charges little higher than pre-paid taxis. On 27th evening I wanted to watch Dangal at Inox, City Center 2. But it was kind of late by the time we reached Rajarhat, so we decided to skip it that evening. That night my uncle had prepared chilly chicken which was so nicely prepared and garnished that I had asked why did you purchased it. Awesome taste! Next day morning we had our train Duronto scheduled to leave from Howrah station new section at 10.55 AM. In the morning we left home at 9 AM on a Ola cab and luckily reached Howrah station within 45 minutes. It was time to say Good bye Kolkata, see you again. On reaching Banglore, we alighted at KR puram railway station. Normally Duronto do not give stoppage at KR Puram station, it could have been a signal issue. Now Hello Bangalore! It always feels awesome to be back in Bangalore.

January 9th, 2017 by Paramita Mukherjee

Who doesn’t love traveling back to time and get amazed with historical facts about any great legend. Springfield ,capital of the state Illinois, USA is one such place. Called by the name”Home of Lincoln”, the place offers legendary tours, exciting information about Lincoln and much more. Much to my surprise this is the only place where Lincoln ever owned a house. It’s a perfect place for weekend getaway.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s house

My journey started from Saint Louis around 11.50 am. It was around one and half hour drive. The roads were smooth and there were not much traffic. I halted in between at a place called Litchfield to have lunch. There were lot of food options in almost every exit. The beautiful fall colors made the drive even more pleasant.

I reached Springfield around 1.50 pm. The first thing I wanted to explore was Lincoln Home National Historic Site. This was the place where Mr. Lincoln spent most of his life with family. So without wasting any time I headed there. Once I reached, I found a big museum which had historical exhibits about Lincoln. There were also antique shops. I grabbed a small token of Lincoln memorial from the shop. The tickets for the guided tour to Lincoln’s house needs to be collected from the museum itself. The tickets were free. The tour starts every five minutes. The last tour ends by 4 pm.


I got my tour tickets for 2.50 pm. The tour guide was very well spoken and very informative. Once I entered the house, it took me to Lincoln’s time. The house was very well preserved with authentic Lincoln’s belongings. The house gives a perfect picture of Lincoln’s daily activities. Overall the tour gives you all the important events that took place in Lincoln’s life. I couldn’t have asked myself more than that.

An inside view of Lincoln’s house

A view of Lincoln’s living room

After the tour ended, it was time to head for my next destination. Just about a mile from Lincoln house, is the famous Dana-Thomas House. The house is well known for its stupendous architectural beauty. It gives an expression of the work of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School. There are guided tours available to experience the view inside. There are also free parking lots available. The house is open for tours between 9 AM -5  PM. Unfortunately I couldn’t avail this tour as I reached only after 5 PM. So I would definitely suggest you folks to keep the time in mind. But walking around the place was amazing.

 

Dana-Thomas House

My next target was Lincoln’s Memorial Tomb. It was the last resting place for Lincoln and his family. The tomb is situated inside a large cemetery. The parking place is just next to the tomb. I found the place very peaceful and well maintained. There is a person sitting inside to whom you can ask any query. Also he will provide you information about the history of the place. Once you entered the tomb, it leads to a big burial room which is made up of black and white marbles. At the center stands a monument with Lincoln’s name written on it. There are nine flags arranged in a semicircle around the monument. I was very humble to pay my respect to one of the greatest legend of all time. Outside the tomb, a beautiful sculptor of Lincoln is situated. People believes that rubbing the shiny nose will bring them luck.

 

Lincoln’s Memorial Tomb

The path leading to Lincoln

Some more information about Lincoln

Lincoln’s lucky nose

There were also couple of more places to visit but due to time constraint I couldn’t make it. Few of them are Old State Capitol, Illinois State museum, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, Henson Robinson Zoo, Henson Robinson Zoo.

By now the day ended and I headed to grab something to satisfy my hunger. There were lots of food options around the downtown. After having some snacks I headed back home. Overall the place is a worth visit. It was an wonderful historic weekend trip.

January 2nd, 2017 by Jeet

While traveling on a trip from Bangalore to Kolkata, it came to my mind – how about capturing the immediate areas preceding the Howrah railway station. Entering Kolkata on a train tries to show the life of people and scenes besides the rail tracks leading to Howrah railway station. The video was shot from the window of AC 3 tier.

 

December 17th, 2016 by Jeet

Recently our company’s annual day function took place at Templetree Leisure. Located at Bellandur it specializes as performance, parties, corporate events and wedding venue. The ambiance and style of Templetree Leisure comes with a touch of Bali.

Once I entered the front gate, I walked through bamboo shoots one the left hand side and lined palm trees on the right hand side. A nicely done long corridor led me to the party hall. On one end the performance stage was set and on the other end the drinks counter was set up. Besides the counter there is a room with two rows of seating arrangement and the diffused yellow light was adding to the feel. On one side of the main hall there is an open area which can be used for various activities. There is also a stage in the backdrop and looks like popular with weddings.

The property is very aesthetically built and has been given a minimalistic look. I could see a lot of wood work.

Ample parking space is available. I would give this place a thumbs up. Check their Facebook page and you will know it’s a high profile venue.

Address:

Templetree Leisure
128/8 Behind Embassy Tech Village,
Kannali Road, Bellandur, Bengaluru,
Karnataka 560103
Bangalore, India

 

 

Phone: + 9190083 66700

Websitehttp://templetreeleisure.com/

 

December 6th, 2016 by Jeet

Carnival De Goa is located right at the intersection of Ulsoor road and Bhaskaran road. Refer the map below for more details.

 

Address: 1st Floor, 8/6 Kensington Point, Ulsoor Road, Ulsoor, Bangalore

Timings: 12 Noon to 11 PM
Cuisine: Coastal – Goan, Mangalorean and Kerala
Alcohol available: Yes

 

carnival-de-goa-restaurant

 

As the name states Carnival de Goa wants to provide ambience and food of Goa. Lets see how much they stand on the ambience and food. When it comes to food it definitely has a Goa flavour but I would say it is coastal cuisine comprising Kerala, Mangalorean and Goan food. Ambience is decent with a open area sitting and section inside with AC. The servers serve wearing hawaiian Shirts and hats. Apart from that nothing like Goa. But I must add it is a cozy settings with dim lighting and candles on the table.

I visited there last Saturday with two friends and our main focus was food. We started with seafood platter which comprises 5 types of starters and rice gravy. Namely Indian Basha fish masala, mackerel fish, king fish, squid. Out of them Basha fish masala was outstanding. It was so tasty that we order Basha fish masala again separately. Tried fish kebab ( Indian Basha). Again an awesome item. The last item in starters was pork chilly fry. Umm tasty !!

Two of us went for Kingfisher draught beer 1.5 litres pitcher (Rs 520) which came in with 1 + 1 offer. My other friend had Smirnoff Vodka which also came with a 1 + 1 offer. Finally finished our awesome foodie evening with little rice and king fish gravy. I will visit this place again and it will be for the food.

 

Outside View of Carnival de Goa

fish-display-carnival-de-goa-restaurant

carnival-de-goa-restaurant1

carnival-de-goa-restaurant-server-dress

 

December 1st, 2016 by Jeet

cantonment railway station

Indian railways has announced dynamic pricing for some exclusive trains like Shatabdi express, Rajdhani express and Duronto express. Before proceeding any further let’s first understand what dynamic pricing is?

Dynamic pricing, also referred to as surge pricing, demand pricing, or time-based pricing is a pricing strategy in which businesses set flexible prices for products or service based on current market demands. Businesses are able to change prices based on algorithms that take into account competitor pricing, supply and demand, and other external factors in the market. Dynamic pricing is a common practice in several industries such as hospitality, travel, entertainment, retail, electricity, and public transport.

Source: Wikipedia

As per this system base fare will rise by 10% with every 10% of berth sold subject to a ceiling of 1.4-1.5 times, depending on ticket class. It also puts severe restrictions on how you will do the journey. Check the salient Features of Premium Special Train on Dynamic Pricing:

• Premium special train is being introduced from Railway with dynamic fare pricing.
• Dynamic fare stands for the fare component which may be increased with the subsequent bookings.
• Advance Reservation Period (ARP) of this train will be a maximum of 15 days.
• Agents will not be allowed to book tickets in these trains.
• Dynamic fare shall be charged for confirm as well as RAC passengers.
• Waitlist Ticket Booking is not allowed in this train.
• Upgradation option shall not be applicable in this train.
• Modification is not allowed.
• Only E-tickets will be permitted for booking.
• I-ticket Booking is not allowed in this train.
• E-ticket booking is allowed in General Quota only.
• Tatkal/ Ladies/Other Quota tickets cannot be booked in this train.
• No concession shall be applicable in this train.
• Identity card number of the prescribed proof of identity is required at the time of booking. At least
one passenger should travel with his/her ID card in original which was used at the time of booking.
• Vacant berths left at the time of charting will be offered for current booking at current booking
counters of train originating stations.
• Cancellation is not allowed. However, ticket can be cancelled only if the train is cancelled.
• Dynamic Fare along with Total fare will be displayed after filling Reservation form. Users must ensure
the Fare and Journey Details before proceeding for payment.

I experienced dynamic pricing first hand yesterday when I was trying to book a ticket for Yeshwantpur – Howrah duronto express. I did not find the name Duronto express in the list on IRCTC.co.in and I purchased the ticket on Yeshwantpur – Howrach AC express for AC 2 tier for Rs 1516. But the allocated berth was side upper, hence had to cancel it. The ticket was for a senior citizen. So if you must have a lower berth, select book only if one lower berth is allocated while booking your ticket. This way if lower berth is not available, your ticket will not be booked. Otherwise after booking you will have to cancel the ticket and in the process will also lose around Rs 250 on cancellation charge. The cancellation charge was increased to deter agents who bulk book and cancel. But it is also affecting genuine train travellers like me.

Then again booked on Yeshwantpur – Howrah AC express for AC 3 tier for Rs 1066. I had to cancel this ticket as well for change of date. Finally when I was trying to book ticket with the changed date, I found Yeshwantpur – Howrah Duronto express on the list this time. I prefer Duronto express for better service and less travel time ( 29 hrs). The amount flashed on the screen looked unbelieveable at first. Yes it was Rs 1965. Yes Rs 449 more than the AC 2 tier ticket I purchased earlier and Rs 899 for than the AC 3 tier ticket I purchased earlier. This is when 71 tickets on AC 3 tier was still available and the journey date is almost couple of months away. I take Indian Railway’s idea of dynamic pricing but should not that be fair? I also get that Duranto express runs better but does it provide a premium service to command that price. Note that the prices are for a senior citizen. The actual price for AC 3 tier I found on Duronto was Rs 3310. For that price I would prefer to look for a flight which will drastically reduce my travel time. For a AC 2 tier on Duronto, people would prefer a flight for that price. The less the pricing gap between AC berths on trains and flight, there would be more converts from train to flight. There should be fair pricing. If premium service is provided, then they can charge for it. They can use dynamic pricing on current premium trains but there should be a fair and decent cap on it.

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