March 1st, 2015 by admin

Aero India is a premier aero show hosted jointly by various defense organizations of India. Since its inception in 1996, it is the 10th edition. All the edition of Aero India has taken place at the Yelahanka Air force base, Bangalore. It is the largest air show in the world after Paris air show.

symbol of India’s Make in India campaign

Aero India 2015 was inaugurated by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the push for this edition was his vision of Make in India. In 2011, I visited the aero show for the first time on its 9th edition. This is the second time, I have visited the aero show. It is a thrill to see military hardware and brings an adrenaline rush when we see wings on fire. This time Aero India took place from 18 – 22 February 2015. As usual the last two days are on public holidays and results in more rush. This year it seems to have attracted more than 300,000 spectators. Tickets for general public are priced at Rs 600 and for business visitors at Rs 2500. But looks like general public can also purchase business visitor pass. People with Rs 600 ticket need to go to the ADVA area and business visitors / VIP pass holders can enter directly through the main gate of Yelahanka air force station. Vehicle parking is available but given the amount of visitors, finding space may be difficult at times.

In 2011, I have been in the ADVA area. It hold a public exhibition of miniature models of various Indian aircraft, timeline of Indian Air Force etc. The air show viewing area here is best for viewing and taking photographs. This time in 2015, I was in the business area. Here one can see the stalls of exhibitors from various countries of the world. They display avionics for business. This includes the top names in military hardware manufacturer in the world. I could see Rolls Royce, Thales, Meggitt, Dassault Aviation, SAFRAN, Rockwell Collins, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, GE Aviation etc. From the India side was PSUs like HAL, DRDO etc. However, it was great to see many private Indian defense companies like OIS AT , Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, TATA Advanced Systems etc.

Outside the business exhibition area was display of aircraft and military hardware. Missile launch system by TATA Advanced System (TASL) was also displayed. On the other side was Rafale aircraft team which was distributing Rafale caps and bags. This resulted in a mad rush in that area. I was able to corner two bags. But I wanted a cap. Luckily I was able to exchange one bag for a cap with a gentleman.

By the time I reached Yelahanka Air force station, it was time for the last show. The first thing I saw in the sky was the Rafale sortie. Its vertical thrusts and free fall were a treat for the eyes. This followed by Advanced Light Helicopter of India produced by HAL, Red Bulls air display by the Czech team, Boeing C 17 Globemaster, Lockheed Martin P3 Orion, Dhruv helicopters etc. We left the aero show by 3.45 pm as we had to go to airport. It is located at a distance of 17 km from there. But to get a bus that day was tough. The bus stands has been moved away because of the aero show. The traffic policemen I asked were themselves not sure. Finally, I boarded an auto. But as autos are not allowed inside the airport. Near the airport over bridge, I booked a taxi to airport. Crowd management inside the Yelahanka air force station was good but outside on the road was a free for all. People were just parking besides the road to watch aero show from there. This was causing traffic bottlenecks. While returning from the airport it took me 2 hours to reach home.

Aero India is expanding and gaining name with every edition. As of now it is the largest air show in Asia. With more exhibitors wanting to join, the space at current venue may not be enough. There are already murmurs that the next edition of Aero India may not take place in Bangalore. But the defense ministry of India has not taken a official decision yet.

For more pictures visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

November 21st, 2014 by admin

I was recently invited for a food review at Nando’s. I had heard about Nando’s opening outlet in Bangalore. But apart from that I did not had much idea about what they offer and their history. I had been to their Church street outlet in Bangalore. The look and feel was bit rustic and pretty comforting. As my affable host Shambhavi started narrating the story of Nando’s, I slowly got a feeling that the food also going to be interesting.

Nando’s started in 1987 in South Africa and now they have outlets all over the world. They mainly dwell in Afro-Portuguese food. And their strike product is flame – grilled chicken made with peri – peri sauce. Nando’s entered India in 2010 with two restaurants – one in Bangalore (Church street) and another in Chandigarh. As of now they have 7 restaurants in India – 2 in Bangalore, 2 in Punjab, 2 in Delhi and 1 in Chennai. I understood that Nando’s makes it a mission to provide the same experience across all its outlets through the world. In this regard, they have decided to keep the look and feel pretty similar. One of the visible things you would see is that they use a lot of wood in their interiors. Also, the menu and the taste of the food remains almost same throughout its outlets.

My host helped me understand how to order, like their customer service reps do for their patrons. I started with their Portuguese lemonade which was sprinkled with PERI-mix cube. I must say, it was one of the best lemonade I ever had. In starters it was chicken wings, Altogether Now- For 3-4 people to share. Keeping company was Spicy mixed olives, Roasted veg dip, Hummus and warm pita. Then we went for a walk around the outlet and see how the A grade chicken which are sourced from a reputed vendor of the region and handled in their customized machine. To put in short, most of the preparations are done in machine.

After we were back to the table, it was time for the main course and the peri – peri flame chicken. We started with some peri peri liver chicken and Portuguese bread. The gravy of peri peri liver chicken had a slight taste of tangy lemon and it tasted awesome. Now it was the turn of the showstopper – the peri peri flamed grilled chicken. As Nando’s hype it as their main USP, it lived upto its expectations. I would not have any problem suggesting one to go to Nando’s and try their peri peri flamed grilled chicken.

Music is actually planned in South Africa in their head quarters and is relayed to all the branches in the world though internet. Nando’s support artwork and one can see artwork in their outlets.

Nando’s has a wide range of chicken items but keeping in mind that in India there are many vegetarians who come along with their non – vegetarian friends, they also offer a small line of vegetarian food. Click here to check the entire menu of Nando’s India.

In deserts, we went for the creamy cheese cake. It has Muscovado Sugar, Smothered in rich and Creamy caramel. Yummy to end the lunch with it.

Nando’s address in Bangalore:
1. 1 A, Church street, ph – 080 25550707
2. Parksquare mall, ITPB, Whitefield, ph – 080 28026668

September 9th, 2014 by admin

Today Bangalore Mirror ran a report that, survey work to upgrade Bangalore – Mysore road to a six lane will start next week. First, this is a very welcomed news. The 141 km is a dreaded stretch for motorists particularly on weekends. I remember sometime back on our return journey from Coorg, we got stuck in a traffic jam lasting more than an hour near Bidadi. It was caused by an accident. Freaky accidents takes place regularly on this stretch. The traffic density on this road has increased manifold. And on weekends it might be too much for it to handle. Add to this the human negligence of driving in the wrong direction of a one way road, not following lane discipline and incessant honking. Infrastructure upgrade for this stretch of road is a must. I have seen this road when it was just a two lane road even without a divider.

But there is a little bad news for those who travel frequently on this road. As the project will be funded by the Indian union ministry of surface and road transport, it will be tolled by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI). The toll is probably for recovering the investment and in this regard NHAI will get to maintain this road for 18 years. But take heart, they are planning to construct two service roads on the entire stretch for those who would not like to pay toll. Now the questions is, will the free service road be maintained on per with the tolled highway? Also, as the service road will be free, it might see more traffic.

On 10th of February this year Times of India had ran a report that Bangalore – Mysore highway could be 8 lane but looks like it has come to six lane. The ground work is supposed to start by 2015 and the government claims that it will be completed by 2017 – 2018. The cost involved is a massive Rs 3000 crore. And pretty surely due to delay in implementation, there will be cost inflation. But before it gets completed for good, people gear up for a more bumpy ride to Mysore. The only alternative road present now is national highway 209 via Kanakapura. The route should be:

Bangalore – Harohalli – Kanakapura – Malavalli – Bannur – Mysore

The other route of 111 km to be implemented by NICE never took off and remained in quagmire. However, you have a better option to escape all this by opting for train. An express train takes around 2 hrs 15 minutes to reach Mysore. Presently, I think Bangalore – Mysore road is a state highway but once the project is completed it will be upgraded to a national highways status and will be designated NH 275. Lets pray for its early take off and completion!

August 18th, 2014 by admin

Recently I had the opportunity to experience Marriott hospitality at their Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield property. Today we know the brand Marriott is synonymous with great experience and top end luxury. However, back in 1927 founder of Marriott Hotels, J. Willard Marriott started with a root beer stand which grew into Hot Shoppes Restaurant chain and evolved into today’s Marriott International hotel company. Today its portfolio includes over 4000 properties in over 70 countries. They cater to four distinct segments with multiple brands as follows:

Being a traveler myself, I am always a proponent of seamless travel. And Marriott hotel does that very efficiently. As a hotel industry leader they are the first ones to introduce mobile check-in and check out enabling their guests to Travel Brilliantly. This is pretty much in the line of web check-in at an airport. If you are a Marriott Rewards member, you will have to key in your rewards member number to login to the app. You can also search and book a Marriott hotel using this app. On the day of my stay at Bengaluru Marriott Hotel Whitefield, I checked in remotely on mobile using Marriott mobile app. When I reached the hotel, I was greeted and taken to my room directly. Awesome! now travel is almost front desk independent.

With smart key your entry to the room starts in sophistication. I was provided a room with king bed and with an amazing view of Whitefield from the 7th floor. The rooms has been designed very intuitively for you to experience leisure and comfort. The glass partition bath room gives a different kind of experience altogether. You can watch TV from the leisure of bathtub!

My experience with Marriott is that it strives to make travel brilliant by converging technological innovations and top class hospitality.

And when you will be leaving your experience will be as seamless as when you come in. Using mobile check out, you can conveniently say good bye to the front desk. When you check out using Marriott mobile app, an email will be sent to your email address registered with Marriott. They are doing a global roll out of the remote check out facility across multiple brands.

In its quest to innovate continuously Marriott uses technology aggressively and works with people at large. In this regard it allows people to submit their ideas or co-create on a particular idea. For example, in 2013 Anjana K was selected as the winner for her idea on the Healthy Vending Machine.

The bottom line is that Marriott has shown by using the latest in mobile technology makes for a Transformational Journey for its globe trotting guests. You can follow Marriott on their various social media channels like Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram. I found them very informative & inspiring. So now Travel Brilliantly with Marriott.

May 31st, 2014 by admin

Tiffin Box Etc is a new entrant in the fast growing restaurant business in Bangalore. Located at Inorbit Mall, whitefield – one of the tech hub of Bangalore, Tiffin box intends to cater to the office going people at lunch and the family at dinner. This is a good concept of targeting a particular type of patron. I liked their concept of packaging their food experience in Tiffin. The Tiffin Box has a very nostalgic touch with almost every person. In younger days one might have carried a tiffin box to school and one might still carry one at office. So the idea of being able to get a tiffin box without the need to carry one from home could be a sell out!

I had the opportunity to visit Tiffin Box Etc recently. To start with the interiors have been done with refreshing idea but with a nostalgic touch. Tiffin Boxes hanging on one side, lights fitted on traditional milkman kettles and contemporary art on the wall should make one feel ease with this place.

Their concept of food is also very interesting. They have selected their menu based on four regions of India – namely Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi. Based on this they have four types of tiffin boxes – namely Delhi tiffin box, Kolkata tiffin box, Bangalore tiffin box and Mumbai tiffin box. They also serve some desi cuisines which developed with Indian expats in the UK.

Tiffin box has good collection of snacks like vada pav, Channa chaat, daahi vada, peanut vada etc and not just full course meal. Among beverages one can choose from Lassi, Shikhanji, Kapi, tea, coffee, soft drinks etc. Check their menu to get a complete idea. The veg and non-veg menu has been made with due thoughts. Food is available in buffet spread, la crate or tiffin box (serves two). A tiffin box typically cost Rs 320 for veg and Rs 420 for non-veg.

Lunch buffet is available in between 12 noon to 4 pm and cost Rs 350 + taxes. Dinner buffet is available in between 7 pm and 11 pm.

Let me tell you what did I had there. I started my lunch with sweet corn soup. Progressing to rogan gosht, chikken tikka, kholapuri chiken masala, panner biryani and couple of nans. Dishes to look out for is chicken nalli nihari and Kholapuri chicken masala. In deserts came butter scotch ice cream, blueberry cheese cakes, caramel custard and gulab jamun. With such nice line of food it should be okay to leave tiffin box at home once in a while and head to Tiffin Box Etc. Those who are working in the tech hub of Whitefield and do not have the option of getting a tiffin box from home, Tiffin Box Etc is open when you need food.

2nd floor, Inorbit Mall,
Near Sathya Sai Hospital
EPIP area, Whitefield,
Bangalore – 560036
Phone: 080 28029599

Free parking available.

Note: They also have another unit in Bandra Kurla complex, Mumbai.

May 24th, 2014 by admin

Last week I re-visited Pearl valley (Muthyala muduvu) after a span of 4 years. This was my 5th visit there. For route info etc, please check my earlier post on Pearl Valley. In this post I mainly want to show the development or change that took place for good or bad. Now when you drive towards Bannerghatta, you will hardly come across any forest on both sides of the road. All you can see is gated communities or apartment towers coming up. Better signboards has come up to guide you to pearl valley but at one place you will have to take a bypass through the next lane as the regular lane has been dug up (Bannerghatta road route). We went there in the afternoon and it was cloudy by then.

For vehicle entry, Rs 10 is charged. The KSTDC property has been walled and gated. Sitting facility and a small slope park has been created. So far so good! But the other side of the face of the gorge has been cleaned of any tree. That was a shock. As we started walking down the steps to the valley, further disappointment awaited us. The stream which flow through the gorge was mostly dry. I have never seen the stream that dry. The water that flows through the stream are basically from the areas around the valley which percolates there. With many fold development in land use around, the future of the small falls and the stream is almost sealed.

We continued walking further to trek to the other side of the gorge. On the other side we saw some saplings has been planted but all are dry. Not sure how many will make it. This place could be developed as a nice picnic or activity destination for the people of Bangalore. Lets hope action is taken before it is too late.

However, there was little solace for us. We could capture few good pictures on sun rays.

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