This past October, I had the privilege of making my first trip to Thailand – Bangkok, to be more specific. Having heard so much about both the city and the country as a whole, I wasn’t quite sure where to begin exploring. Top of my To-Do List of course, were Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and Bangkok’s Grand Palace (also home to the Emerald Buddha). I signed up for a guided tour, only because there’s so much history and culture, that it’s more sensible to have a local guide explain the architecture, heritage and little nuances that may not be otherwise noted in a book or audio guide.
I’ve never been as excited to visit a Restaurant, as I was before my meal at Gaggan. Ranked the #1 ‘Best Restaurant in Asia’ and Thailand (respectively) for 2015 by ‘World’s 50 Best’ (and being the only Indian Restaurant to crack the top 10), I’d only heard whispers of Chef Gaggan Anand’s culinary prowess until this past October. I really wasn’t sure what to expect – other than some interesting molecular gastronomy techniques. Gaggan’s philosophy is “progressive”, taking traditional Indian cuisine to the next level, using modern food science and techniques.
Earlier this year, I spent a week in Bangalore – catching up with old friends, making new ones and trying to get a feel of the City in the few short days that I was there. Most of my time was spent eating (of course) and sampling some of the best that Bangalore had to offer, with a smattering of sightseeing thrown in, too. It really didn’t take me more than a day to see why everyone I know raves about Bangalore so much – it’s so lovely, I definitely want to make another trip again soon. Keeping in mind that I stayed with a friend, and didn’t have an unlimited spending budget, here are some great things to eat, see and do while you’re in India’s Garden City:
Recently, I stumbled across an old photo album (if you call 2013 old) from a previous trip to Dubai. The biggest highlight of this trip for me, was a walking food tour that my Dad and I decided to do – not just because of all the ridiculously amazing food involved, but because it was such a great way to learn about different cultures and the way they cook and eat their food. It also opened a door to new flavours that I’d never had a chance to experience before – Arabian, Syrian, Turkish, Iranian, Lebanese, Jordanian and Yemeni.
Here’s a small glimpse of what a five-hour food education looks like.
This February, I spent some time in Bangalore. Intending to delve into the city’s past, I made a trip to the iconic Bangalore Palace, the seat of the Wadiyar (or Wodeyar) dynasty. It may sound like an incredibly touristy thing to do, but if you’re a history buff like me, then exploring old museums and monuments is always a fun way to get to know a city better.
I had heard a lot of mixed reviews, but decided to keep an open mind and no expectations. Paying about Rs. 200-something for the entry ticket (it’s more for foreign nationals), with an audio guide included was fine, but being compelled to pay an additional Rs. 500 to be able to take photographs with my smartphone was not something I saw coming! It’s quite a heavy fee, but one I also imagine is necessary in order to maintain the huge costs that the Palace and grounds must be incurring for the basic general upkeep.
A little sunburnt, with blistered feet and a satanic flu, but nonetheless happy – I returned from a new camp-out music festival in the Sahyadri hills, called The Lost Party, held this past weekend. Invited to stay by LetsCampOut, I was rather intrigued – having only been camping at a music festival once before (actually, it was rather like glamping), this experience sounded a little outside of my comfort zone – so of course I said yes!
I will travel for music.
Not only is it a great way to see new places and meet new people, but experiencing music you love and discovering new sounds is something I highly recommend. Far from the days when we could only pine for music festivals to be held in India, we’ve come a long way, with a multitude of Indian music festivals putting themselves on the map. Of course, there are the commercial ones targeted at the masses, engineered to churn out money like machines, but there are also those beautifully curated, smaller scale ones that renew my faith in the industry. Of the latter, the ‘Emerge Music & Arts Festival’ caught my eye mostly because of it’s lineup – Alt-J (an English indie rock band) and Rudimental (they are a quartet with a blend of live instrumental and electronic music), two of the best acts (in my opinion) to come out of the UK in the past couple of years and definitely not what I expected to see on an Indian music festival lineup, let alone together! With feverish excitement, I booked my tickets to the Bangalore edition of the festival (Emerge is a bi-city festival, which was to be held in Delhi and Bangalore).
Picking up from where I left off in my last post – Eat, See, Do: Toronto Part I; here are some more things to do if you’re ever in Canada’s largest city. Some of these may not seem that unconventional, but they have been included in this list because of my personal experience – and trust me, they’re worth doing.
Having spent some time in Toronto this past October, I got to experience a lot more than I had initially thought. Besides being a cultural mosaic, Toronto is also Canada’s largest city (the 4th largest in North America) and has been consistently named one of the world’s ‘most livable cities‘. Apart from exploring the world’s #1 Food Market – St. Lawrence – and re-discovering my love for Thai food at local favourite PAI, I did manage to soak in as much of Toronto’s attractions as I could, thanks to my friends.