Day #9

This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

Thought i’d try a couple haikus after what feels like ages!

Dawn
Heavy with dew
Fresh with a purpose
The sun rains a storm


Night
Star-lit moon eyes
Dotted birds of metal
Hovering clouds

Foodie list for Hong Kong

This is my list of personal preferences from trying out different places. The list is under construction. Do keep checking in as and when.

Captain’s Bar – Ginger Ale (Non-alcoholic) + Keep munching on the complementary nuts and chips they give. Trust me. (Also, probably a good place to land a banking gig if you’re into that :D)

Bersola – Deviled Pizza

Jinjuu – South Korean restaurant (As if “South” is really needed here :P) in the LKF area. Tostadas + Bibimbap was a good combo. And try the Spicy Kimchi Mary if in for an adventurous ride

Chilli Fagaara – (Sichuan Chinese) The gastronomical equivalent of a roller coaster. Apt for adrenaline junkies. Absolutely loved it. What I consumed – Krispy Rice, Tofu, String Beans, Steam Rice, Dumplings:

IMG_8878.JPG

Fantastic food; Few tips:

  • Whatever you order, specify “mild spicy” to the server (no one likes a hero; bravery and foolishness are first cousins)
  • DON’T attempt to eat any chillis whole
  • Go with a fat wallet. It’s not cheap
  • Order some lychee soda or something cool. You think you don’t need it, but trust me
  • Drink a glass of cold milk before you sleep, if you don’t want open rebellion from your digestive system the next morning
  • Tequila on David – Mexican. Standard fare was pretty good – Nachos, Fajitas, Beans & Rice. Choc lava cake to kill for.

    Day #8

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Well, two days in Hong Kong! Love the place like a third home. Living with my favourite (and only :P) real sister. I kid, I kid! Pic to prove sincere sibling love 🙂

    unnamed

    Lemme try again. So, am living with my favourite sis and bro-in-law and the cutie pie pictured above for a few months now while in HK. Absolutely excited. After a lazy first day trying to wear off the mild fatigue courtesy of a window seat in a fully booked overnight flight (Yeah, I don’t quite like the in-flight experience as much as the pre-), getting back slowly to routine.

    Turns out HK has great, well defined treks, which I never was enthusiastic (or non-lazy) enough to indulge in last few times I came here. But if there is a list somewhere of things that are infectious (like laughter and good ol’ ringworm), please add exercise to it too. Nothing like seeing two people focused on their diet, health and exercise to get the sweat flowing! So, that’s a checklist for now where I hope to tick off as many treks as I can on whatever weekends I have.

    However, being the true blue Marwaris we are, (me and sis, at least; jiju’s willpower is out of this world!) we are binging before we purge. Sis at least has a good reason for it, I am just along for the ride. I am actively making a list of good places to eat/hang out in HK, which I’ll keep updating here, so in case someone wants to, do try them out if ever you are in the general area. But, from next week onwards, iron clad discipline and gymming!

    And of course, how can I forget my little princess of a niece in this brief tell-all. That girl brightens whatever room she is in, with her cute questions and cute logics in her cute little voice. Even got to play the ukulele with her – as I held the frets, she strummed like a pro! Such a smarty. I swear she already knows more about the solar system than what I know today 🙂

    Anyways, also started with a new gig today. So, early wake-up call, brief confrontation with HK rain (I honestly don’t see the big deal; I’ll take HK rain over Mumbai any day! Or is that more of a statement on the public transport infrastructure’s resilience to them? Hmm), Octopus card entry, brief metro ride, Octopus card exit, escalator and finish line. (I swear, if I didn’t know better, I would have thought you could buy houses with your Octopus card; way too ubiquitous) Interestingly, I think in HK’s Central area, if you try really really really really really really hard, you can get away with probably not walking a single step and still get from any A to any B. Gotta love this city.

    Signing off for now!

    Day #7

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Well well well. Now I have a tidy little reason to procrastinate on my Russian travelogue – Another trip! Best reason ever or what?

    What I like a lot about traveling (except for the history and the beauty and the blah) is the feeling I get in the pit of my stomach as I prepare for the final 3 hours before take-off. It’s not like I don’t love the feeling of touching the skies again, of teleporting in space, of closing my eyes and 12 hours later, magically opening my eyes to a sight much more different. But what excites me more, for some reason, is literally the 3 hours leading up to me sitting in the aircraft, sipping my water while watching “The Wire” for the 100th time.

    I like standing in the queue at check-in, gleefully pointing and laughing at the non-online-check-in line. Or chatting nonchalantly with the guard at security, as if completely oblivious to him patting me down. Or looking at the camera without being pointed towards it, in anticipation of the photoshoot at Immigration. Or just walking through to the exact location of that café I went to, that time way back when. Yes, I know, how very pretentious. But, I just like the feeling of this having become so familiar! I finally understand what old people might feel about life in general.

    Anyways, this trip started off with the same excitement. As I got out of the car, I took an excitement self-portrait with my mom and dad.

    As I bid them farewell, I briefly lost my composure as I hugged mom for probably the last time in 3 months. Regained it in full at the check-in counter as I saw what a baller I had become.

    This is as if I had died and gone to baggage drop heaven. Missing the weight limit by the machine’s error margin. O Sweet lord of check-in counters, thou art very generous.

    The fun continued as I spotted some serious arbitrage at security, moved in and brought in some efficiency in the queue. Immigration too was a breeze. Walked forward, winked at the camera (yeah, right) walked off with a grin. The most surprising part? All of this took me 15 minutes. And might I remind the unsurprised, this is Mumbai’s International Airport we are talking about. So, basically, I had entered the airport at 10:38 and was chilling in Duty Free by 10:54. For a flight leaving at 01:05… Mumbai Airport, you disappoint me. I expected less of you. Tch, Tch.

    As the flight commenced take-off, I munched away on the Vadapav I had sneaked in. It was one of those pleasures that I had not had the opportunity to indulge in, in the past couple of days when I had basically gone food-hopping across the city, devouring my favourites that I was not gonna see again for the next few months. Inadvertently, I saved the best for the last.

    Enough of all this typing now, “Billions” beckons.

    Day #6

    My last night sleeping in my room today. While I have been in this situation a few times before, like a lot of other experiences, I hadn’t really thought about it. I can almost feel the emptiness that would envelop my house, and me, for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I do _not_ think that the world revolves around me. But as I helped my mother pack, I knew hers did.

    And it has been so since a long time, longer than I can recall; probably because my brain wasn’t even developed when it first started. I dread the teary farewell, I always do. Something about it, for some crooked reasons in my head, would always bring up feelings of disgust, another part of would tell me its weakness; even if the tears were mine. But, now I am wiser (at least I like to think so), and now I know that it is simply a front. I still dread it.

    It is strange; Laughable almost, these feelings I have now. They show you how fickle we can be. How contradictory. For, far as I recall, once or twice every month for the past 3 years, I would want to keep some distance from home; I would get it in my head that I need to move on and move out. I would tell it to myself, I would tell it to the people close to me. It was always some reason or the other; but the truth is, on average, I have enjoyed my time. Sure, it has had its detriments, but I’ll be damned if I can’t admit the flipside. I have enjoyed sharing this space with two people who mean the world to me, even though I think I might have outgrown it a few years back. I have bonded with my parents at a time that I think was ripe for all of us, with both parties thinking about their paths ahead.

    With their support, I have seen myself through personal and professional conundrums. I have had a chance to interact with them as something other than just parents. I have talked to them as my friends, I have shared with them things I wouldn’t have earlier – before this, I was either a child or a clueless rebel. And they have given me the liberties of being an adult (every now and then, obviously), explicitly or otherwise. We have laughed, cried, fought, celebrated, travelled, shared, learnt, grown. Together.

    This isn’t going to be easy…

    Day #5

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Taking a breather from the Russia trip exposition for a day; a bit tied up. This is another thought which crossed my mind recently:

    Well, I don’t know how it goes elsewhere, but at least here in Mumbai, male “grooming” (I am being generous here) is waaaaay cheaper than that for females. Don’t get me wrong guys, if you ain’t a miser, you shall have plenty of opportunity to burn your cash on haircuts, but I am the kind of guy who always takes the high (stingy) road.

    Females, on the other hand, (I am guessing) allocate more of their capital to “personal care”. So I present to you Exhibit 1. Tell me if you spot the difference!

    Exhibit 1

    Fun to be a guy here – value for money! Admittedly, the 50 bucks doesn’t really solve that “ugly” problem. *sigh*

    Day #4

    This is a part of a mini-series of independent posts, starting here

    Moscow saga, continued. Beginning of the story

    Day 5 – 3 pm :

    The last two days in Moscow were eventful. Tales include an unsuccessful ~11 km chase of a river cruise along the banks (with navigation errors on the part of yours truly), the Moscow Metro hop, a walk down the pretty Arbat Street, and a visit to the Gorky park. I’ll highlight the metro rides first.

    Expectations weren’t high, but numbers beat street estimates by some margin. Who the hell, after all, expects a “metro hop”? Intra city train hops in Mumbai are a topic best left untouched in polite company. Don’t get me wrong, the trains will get you where you need to go. Probably the fastest way around. Also happens to be the fastest way to get drenched in sweat; some of it not yours! (That being said, I loveth _aamchi_ Mumbai local) So one can empathize with me when I say I had gone into the whole thing with what can be described as slight skepticism at best and fear at worst. Moscow’s metro stations don’t, after all, look like the friendliest places to be in. Sure, they aren’t claustrophobic; nothing in Russia quite is. Yet, I don’t know if it is the lighting, the colors, the tiling, but I’ll be damned if some of them don’t induce that feeling. Doesn’t help that their trains and tracks somehow seem incompatible with each other, evidenced in the worrisome vibrations at speeds more than 20 kmph. Or that their doors snap shut faster than Exhibit 1. Or that a few of these stations doubled up as bloody bomb shelters, not too long ago!

    But what does help is the beautiful decor of the stations. And they are so well maintained, that “Moscow Metro tours” are an actual thing and one can see why! We saw multiple tourist groups snapping pictures of the pretty stained glass panels at Novoslobodskaya, the palatial interiors of Komsomolskaya, the 34 gorgeous mosaics on the Mayakovskaya ceiling, or with the frontier guard statue at Ploshchad. (It is believed that rubbing the nose of the dog which is a part of the guard’s statue is supposed to bring good luck – it is such a common activity among all that the dog’s nose has actually been worn off its bronze) All of this was expectedly surprising to a bunch of people used to strictly utilitarian modes of transport. The experience comes highly recommended. And in case you visit, don’t forget the Komsomolskaya selfie spot!

    Once done with our underground shenanigans, we thought of giving a shot to another mode. After a long walk down Arbat street, (great place to shop for some paintings, or catch a theatre performance, or just sit around and watch people go by) we decided to catch a ferry ride on the Moskva river. However, in our hurry, the distance to the loading point got grossly underestimated, and we started off on the long walk ahead after a sleep-inducing lunch of Dal Makhani and Tandoori Roti. After an excruciating 2 hours, which included several navigation errors by yours truly, we got close to the loading point, only to be told that all slots for the day were full.

    The saving grace for us was that we were essentially at the border of one of the most extensive and beautiful parks I have ever seen. As Russian architecture somehow seems to go, this park was massive. At 7 pm, it was bustling with people lining up for cotton candy, schnitzels, corn on the cob, beer and more, after perhaps a long day at work, children running about, cycling, skating, Segue-ing, kids enjoying the bubbles around bubble guy. Glorious summer day! We did finally get on a cruise the next day (with more planning this time), but it isn’t quite worth mentioning. So, after a tiny tour of the beautiful and _huge_ Soviet-era government buildings, after what seems like ages, we finally bid adieu to Moscow and head for St Petersburg!

    As a final thought, I think I really underestimated what the city had to offer, as far as sights are concerned. Some that I have described till now showed the grandeur and the beauty of a city; once and still powerful. But along with this grandeur, one can see through the cracks if one cares to focus. I saw what was probably the most disturbing sight I have seen in my life in person, when in front of the Ritz Carlton at Red Square, I noticed a pregnant lady (probably nearing the end of her second trimester) kneeling in submission with her head hung low, and a cloth in front of her. It’s not like I haven’t seen people asking for alms on the street in Mumbai, but this somehow felt different. She was alone, didn’t have any support to hold on to, and was being thoroughly ignored, especially by the patrons walking by in their Jimmy Choos, and clutching their Guccis, and driving their Porsches. Away from home, in this grandiose city, caught up in a bubble, it brought me crashing back to the reality of a place that actually isn’t all monuments and power and glitz; that picture has imprinted itself on my brain, and even though I did not have the heart to take an actual photo, I won’t ever be able to push that image out of my head. It was a reminder. The yin to the yang…