Saturday, November 19, 2016


Who is your Jug? Asked Blog Adda. That got me thinking ..yeah who is actually my Jug? Do I even have a Jug? The answer did not come to me as a surprise. I do. 
I shared my love, laughter, tears, adventures, misadventures with my Jug. My Jug has been with me forever. But yeah the workings of the relationship has changed a bit. When I was in 4th Std I first met my Jug. I did not know that that friendship will last this long. But it did. Even after a brief separation our relationship continued. I would always lay bare my heart to my Jug. And my Jug always listened patiently. 

I remember the first separation. I was in 9th or 10th Std may be. Few people found out about my strange fascination with my Jug and no one understood that. I had kept that hidden till then. I just never thought it was for others to see and judge. That relationship was mine and mine alone. Not to be shared with the whole world. But alas! People found out and we were humiliated. I was hurt and confused. I was made to think that it was "not correct"; whatever being correct meant. We broke up. Rather I did. Vowed never to get into a relationship with another Jug again.
It took me good 15 years to be back with Jug again. But this time it was there for everyone to see. I never kept it hidden. Then something very strange happened. I came to know that there are creatures like me and they are in fact accepted in this world. There no one laughed and raised an eye brow about my relationship with my Jug. That left me wondering where was I all these years! 
For you My Jug

You must be wondering why am I referring to My Jug as My Jug all the time. Because My Jug doesnot have a gender.  My Jug is my blog “Dear Diary”. I used to keep a diary as a child and used to write whatever (non)sense I wanted to. Noone back then understood that. Someone found out my diary and a very humiliating public reading followed. Somethings were never meant to be shared. Those were strictly for Dear Diary’s pages only. Yes I had named my diary “Dear Dairy” back then too. I burnt my diary and never kept one for a long time to follow.

One fine day I discovered blogging. I started to write. My first blog was in an website called It’s not updated since 2007. I myself opened that today as I am typing these words and look what I found. My last post was in 17th April 2007 and I wrote about Memoirs of A Geisha. In fact the page did not look like this back then. Anyway, in 2007 I had moved to Blogger and started Dear Diary. Again a gap of few years and this quirky relationship is continuing on and off. My Jug is my Dear Diary where I write about “Everything that makes me smile”. Age and time have made me slightly cynical. I now know where to draw the line and when and how vulnerable you should appear to the world. But I feel alive and liberated when I scribble on the pages of Dear Diary. That’s what a friend does; right?
BTW do you know the song that I want for my Jug..."Jug ghoomiya thare jaisa na koi.." Yeah I know I should crack better jokes than this. :)  

Image source 

am writing about Jug in my life for the #DearZindagi activity at BlogAdda“.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thank you Dear Zindagi!

Dear Zindagi,

Aye zindagi gale lagale
Hum ne bhi tere har ek gham ko
Gale se lagaya hain ; Hain na!

Yes. Zindagi, I am writing this to you. You are my yaar, dost, friend. We fight, we make up; we cry,we laugh. I know I have never expressed how I feel about you. But it's never too late to say what you want to say. So here I am, writing this to you, to let you know how I feel about you.

At times you drive me crazy and I hate you. But the very next moment you find a way to make me smile and be in love with you even more.

You have been that strict teacher to an unruly undisciplined student ; me. But you have been also been that caring friend who would be there whenever I needed someone. You taught me to cherish every moment. Like most teenager I was a rebel too. You taught me to be responsible even in being a rebel. I tend to go crazy with my “over thinking head”. And I cannot thank you enough for being so patient with me and my whimsical ways.
I owe you to my parents. They always did the best for us. Us are I and my siblings. But along with them, dear Zindagi, you too have contributed to make me the woman I am today. You gave me friends who stood by me in my toughest days. Whenever I thought that was it and I could not take anything anymore; the most important lesson you taught was that "Life finds a way". Yes, it does; you do and so do we.

P & I
You gave me P my soul mate. Before I met him I tend to be a little hard on you. I am sorry. I had built a wall around me and pretended to be cold and uncaring. Now as I look back to those days, I realise you tried to make me see how beautiful the world around me was. Like a stubborn child, I refused to bulge. But you being you; finally found a way to break the wall and to bring out the real me. Thank you for P. He made me let go off my “too much worrying” ways and smile more often. Now I don’t take you that seriously. You know what I mean, right? Now I have finally accepted you as you are. I am not scared of dreaming nor am I scared of letting go.
You know what, I always thought I have to run along with this fast paced world or else I would lag behind. You helped me find my pace and make peace with that. It’s ok to walk if I can’t run. Now I stop to admire that sky, that sight, that sunset, that tree. I am no longer in the race of making it to the top with flying colours. Strangely that does not affect me anymore. I don’t care. I just want to be happy and content. The 0 (Zero)s in the bank account do not matter that much that used to few years back.

But hey there is one complain to you I have; rather P has. Even after all these years I have always remained that clumsy girl I was. No one could change that thing about me. But then I guess somethings are meant to be forever and my clumsiness is one.
Thank you #dearzindagi .

Much Love


“I am writing a letter to life for the #DearZindagi activity at BlogAdda“.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Make a wish and mix - Christmas Cake mixing at Renaissance Hotel

Thank you Renaissance Hotel and Convention centre, Mumbai for giving me the chance to be a part of my first ever Christmas Cake mixing ceremony. I have always read about it, seen photographs and wishing how I also wanted to be a part. That wish came true today and guess what, this gave me a chance to make another wish too.

 It is said that the Christmas Cake mixing ceremony dates back to 17th Century in Europe. This ceremony marked the arrival of harvest season and lots of fruits and nuts were harvested and then preserved for the next harvest season. This turned into a family get-together where everyone would join hands, literally, to soak the dry fruits and nuts in Rum, Wine and Brandy. Over the years it became of big ceremony which fall well in advance of Christmas so that the fruits totally soak in the liquor and thus when mixed in the cake, they add to the whole taste of it.

Roasted Pork Leg
My lunch
Before the ceremony actually started, we were treated to the sumptuous Italian brunch spread at Fratelli Fresh. I loved the roasted Pork leg with the apple sauce. The Ravioli and Gnocchi were phenomenal. I had 2 new desserts Crostata di Fruta and Zuccotto; and I liked the former more. 


Then the bell went "ting ting" marking the beginning of Cake mixing ceremony. The guests were given chef caps, aprons and gloves before everyone put their hands into the large trays of fruits and nuts. Bottles of Rum, Wine and Brandy were poured into the fruit trays and then there was lots of laughter and giggles all around. We all joined our hands with the chefs and mixed the fruits and nuts into all those booze. These booze soaked fruits and nuts will be kept in air tight containers for 3-4 weeks. By the that time they will completely soak in the booze and be ready to add much more flavour to the final 

The guests getting ready
In action

And yes I did make a wish as I was mixing. That I would like keep as a secret for the time being. 

All set

Sunday, October 9, 2016

The new Lemon Leaf

To start with, I take  part in a Twitter chat session every Tuesday at 9.30pm called SY5Chat curated by @TheSynergy5 .One session was about Pan Asian cuisine and it was co hosted by @chefmitesh and @Lemonleafmumbai 

I was one of the winners  that evening and  got an invite to taste the menu at the soon to be opened Lemon Leaf at  Colaba. I was super happy as Pan Asian cuisine sure is one of my favorite cuisines. Hence there we were ,the chosen few at the Restaurant all set to for an exclusive tasting of the menu. 

Tempura Prawns
I and my husband had been to Aoi many times. When we found out that Lemon Leaf came from the same team, we knew the meal will be as good. And we were right. Starting from the drink to the dessert  team Lemon Leaf did not disappoint. 

Chicken Sisig
For vegetarian starters we had Mushroom Yakitori and Mint Cheese stuffed potatoes. Then came the Sushis, Tempura Asparagus and Tempura Prawns. So well made and well presented. How can I not have dimsums at an Asian restaurant. There they were; Chicken coriander dimsums and roasted vegetable dumplings. I loved both. The crispy fried fish baos are sure not to be missed. The Salmon salad was so fresh on the palate. My favourite starter was the Sizzling Chicken Sisig. It was so good that I could have go on and on.

Crispy Fish Baos
For drinks I asked for Divine farmer, which was a smoked cinnamon tea, infused with cranberry juice and fresh peach. Since I asked for one with  less  ice and  they made me a special glass and I loved that.

Salmon Salad
Srilankan Fish Curry

Then for mains, we had Srilankan Fish curry with Jasmine rice. There was a vegetarian curry as well. Both the curries had such distinct aromas, and were sure delectable,not to be missed! The Nasi Goreng with Chicken and Holy basil and the Pad Thai,my husband's favourite were perfectly done. 
Nasi Goreng

Even after all those food, one always saves some space for desserts and when desserts are 4 different types of ice creams, one has to make space. We had Black Sesame & honey , Pumpkin, Beetroot and Jackfruit icecreams. My favourite was the Black Sesame and Honey. The Baked cheesecake with Miso Caramel was sensational. 
Cheese cake
The restaurant was yet to attain a liquor license which I am sure will soon be in place. Uber stylish and chic, the decor and ambiance are very very impressive. Don't miss the book faces upstairs and please do not miss the Maü. As everyone at lemon Leaf calls it, it's the magic; the spirit; you tap into it and release it to see life in new light.

Here's to Chef Mitesh and his team at Lemon Leaf, Colaba all the very best. For me, I would surely go back for the rest of the menu once they open full fledged. 


The Address : Lemon Leaf, 4, Mandlik Road, behind Taj Mahal Hotel. Next to Indigo. Colaba

Sunday, August 14, 2016

A night in Delhi in 2050

14 AUG'16

Time - around 9.30pm on 16th December 2050. They came out from the cinema hall and walked towards the bus stop. 

It's a cold winter evening in Delhi. There are vehicles on road. They waited for the bus to come. He asked " How did you like the movie?" She said " It was nice but a bit too long". 
He : " Are we meeting tomorrow?"
She :"  I have my physiotherapy practical sessions tomorrow. I will be very busy. Why don't you come home in the weekend?"
He : " That sounds like a plan. I will come on weekend."

There came a bus. Though it didn't look like a regular city bus, they got into the bus as the boy inside the bus said that they were going to take the same route they needed to go. There were no passenger in the bus except for them. The bus started to move. They looked out through the tinted glass of the bus. It started to get foggy outside. They could not make out much.

The bus moved. There was music inside the bus. It didn't stop anywhere else. Nor did it pick up anyone else. 

Time - around 11pm on 16th December 2050. Mrs. Singh heard the front door open. Nirbhaya, her daughter, was home.  She went back to sleep. 

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Mumbai Local Story

16th AUG'16

It just happened.. don't ask me how or why or when. Some questions are better left unanswered. What's important is that it happened. I fell in love with Mumbai and the madness that the city offers. I was a hardcore "Dilliwali". But I am neither from Delhi nor from Mumbai. Both these cities are my adopted homes. Delhi was my home and Mumbai is my home now. While I continue loving Delhi and the idiosyncrasies I fell for Mumbai too. Just don't ask when and how. That I can't answer. Then why this page in my diary? Because just the other day something happened and it stirred my heart strings..again!

 After a hard and long day at work I got into the train at Churchgate. It was slightly pass the "peak hour" and hence the Ladies first class compartment had only 2 passengers. I and another lady. I sat on a coveted window seat and looked around. A little boy, an urchin, was fast asleep in one of the seats. I mean the whole seat meant for 3. I kept looking at him. So peacefully he was sleeping. He should have been in his home to the safety of the bedroom. For once I thought should I wake him up before the train starts. He must have got in to the train when it was coming to Churchgate. Now it was getting ready to leave Churchgate for Borivali. Then looking at how sound asleep he was I decided not to. Slowly the train moved out. One after another the stations came and the compartment started getting full. No one woke him up. Everyone was sitting. Usually at Lower Parel the compartment gets fully packed. I thought now he needs to get up. But before we crossed Mumbai Central I dozed off.
When I woke up the train was entering Malad station which is just 2 stations before the final destination Borivali. The compartment was still crowded. I looked towards the seat where the boy was sleeping. With so many ladies / girls standing, I could not see it. I thought someone must have woke him up and he must have got down in one of the stations. As the train moved out of Malad, the crowd got slightly lighter. I turned towards the seat again. There he was..still sleeping! I could not believe my eyes. That meant no one woke him up all this while. After a tiring day at work, all these women got into the train, hoping to find a place to seat and just close their tired eyes. I witnessed quite a few catfights in such crowded trains. But today all these women came standing, letting the child sleep. I looked around the compartment, to everyone. I realized I was grinning. Few ladies smiled back. Suddenly I was so happy even after a long day at work.
That evening I fell in love with Mumbai; once again!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cappadocia - It's mesmerising

This is considered to be a must do for anyone visiting Turkey. Hot Air ballooning in Cappadocia finds a place in all the itineraries of Turkey. But that's not why I wanted to do that. I am not an adventure travel enthusiast in the traditional meaning of the term "Adventure". I don't go hiking, trekking, river rafting or bungee jumping. But there are few things which I wanted to do and being on a hot air balloon was certainly one of them. So when P and I planned for Turkey, this had to be in our "To Do" list.

We planned and booked all the arrangements for our Turkey trip by ourselves. It was only for air tickets Mumbai Istanbul and return and Visa that we took the help of a travel agent. The idea of not going through a fixed itinerary was because we wanted to be in our own pace and do the things the way we liked. In Istanbul we roamed from one place to another at our own pace. We spent good 3 hours in one place but skipped another prominent "tourist attraction" as we preferred to sit by the Bosphorus, sipping a cup of Turkish tea munching a simit watching people go by. But this was very much a part of our plan.

We had booked a flight from Istanbul to Nevsehir, the nearest airport to Cappadocia on Anadoloujet which is a subsidiary of Turkish Airline. Our first thought as we stepped out of the flight in Nevsehir " This is so much like Leh". Yeah the surrounding area was so similar to Leh with that Moonscape type brown mountains. Our pick up was waiting outside. The cave hotel called Maccan Cave hotel that we had booked was the last stop.
ATV Quad Bikes
By the time we checked into our hotel, it was only lunch time and we had one half day with us. Most of the regular tours of Cappadocia start in the morning after the hot air balloon ride gets over. P said "Let's try ATV Quad biking" Now that was something which we had never before. We saw few quad bikers on the way from the airport to hotel and then realised that that was also available there. So we checked with Ahmed, the manager at Maccan if he could help. He called someone and after 20 mins a tall lanky fellow came to pick us up for ATV Quad biking. His name was Tolga. He showed us the bikes and we tried out if we both fit into one bike. Actually I was not very confident if I could manage to ride one on my own.

Wish tree
We opted for one bike and went out with our guide Timrai. A young fellow of 20 years, Timrai spoke broken English. He guided us through the valleys and the mesmerising landscape of
Cappadocia. Our last stop was at Sunset point. By the time we reached the sun was all set to bid adieu for the day. The whole place looked magical in the fading sun light. There was Wish tree where people would tie the famous amulet "Blue Evil eye or Nazar Boncugu" to make a wish. No we did not tie one, instead we clicked photographs of the tree. As we rode back to town, it was already dark. Hence Timrai guided us through the main road instead of the quad tracks.

Both I and P decided to take a walk around the Goreme town and then have dinner somewhere before heading to hotel. Walking around we came across a very interesting sign at a café.
Cafe Safak
We went in and had a cup of Turkish Coffee there. The café owners were an old couple and when they came to know that we were from India, they called the restaurant help to meet us. Nehmatullah was from Afganistan and he was so happy to see us. A fan of Sanjay Dutt he said he loved India and was in awe of Amitabh Bachchan because he played a Afgan Pathan in Khuda Gawah. It was a pleasure meeting him there. We had an early dinner of Pide or Turkish Pizza and went to sleep as our pick up for the hot air balloon ride was at 5.15 am next morning.

Next morning we were up and ready by 5am. Exactly at 5.15 am our pick up van arrived. There were 4 people already inside the van and it stopped at another hotel near by where an elderly couple joined us before taking us to the office of the balloon tour company. We had booked our balloon tour with Butterfly Balloons We only had to provide the credit card information to confirm our booking. It was not charged and we had informed that we would pay by cash on the day of the tour. Since March still not the official tourist season, they had special rates and they offered cash discount of 10Euro per person too. There was quite a breakfast spread before we were introduced to our group members and were driven to the take off point. The take off points differ every day depending upon the direction of the wind.Our pilot for the day was Kahn. Such a charming and jolly fellow he was. He made sure all the group members had fun at the same time explaining and showing the most important sights as we flew over. I admit it was one of the most delightful one hour of my life. Kahn has been a hot air balloon pilot for last 7 years. After we landed straight on the top of the truck that was meant to carry the busket; the team from Butterfly Balloons were ready with our flying certificates and a bottle of Champagne. It was of course a reason to celebrate. We all were just back from something wonderful and an out of the world experience it was.
It's a sight to behold
After the balloon tour was over, the car drove us back to our hotels. Usually people opt for day trips after that. But we decided to do our own things our own way. And later in the day I and P had another adventure. That needs another post. It's one of the bizarre things that I have done so far. Will write about it soon.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Simply Saraswat - The other South Indian Restaurant

To be honest I had never heard about this community called "Saraswat Brahmins" forget their food. It was when our friend Bakul mentioned about this place called "Simply Saraswat" that too in Borivali I was really interested. She spoke very highly of the place and that they serve Chitrapur Saraswat cuisine. But P and I hardly had time to go find it. As luck would have, few days ago as we were going somewhere we saw Simply Saraswat on the way. There the place was; next to 5 Spice at the corner of Chandravarkar Road and Eksar Road. We decided to go there while returning.

It's a small place. On the wall there is big mural of the Rath Utsav festival during which the deity is taken on a Rath / Chariot ( hand drawn) around the town / village. When we reached there was only a lady sitting in one of the tables. She was busy sipping coffee and writing on her note book. We both did not know what we should try. Even though Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin cuisine includes non vegetarian dishes, Simply Saraswat is strictly vegetarian.

From the menu we could make out that Dosas are called Pollo and these are soft dosas not the kind of dosa that we get in regular South Indian or Udupi places. We ordered for a Mushti Pollo with Puddi Chutney and Ghee (Rs. 80) and Appe (Rs.70) to start with. Appe is described as a" Fluffy avatar of doas" in the menu. It came in the shape of small Unniyappams. The similarity ends there. It's actually a dosa,remember! It was served with sambhar and 2 chutneys. The Mushti pollo looked like an Uttapam. It was so soft and fluffy and the puddi and ghee sprinkled over added so much more to it.

Mushti Pollo

Rasam Ambode

We loved both. Then P asked for Rasam Ambode (Rs. 70). Button Vadas served with Rasam. After all these we thought let's have another dish from the menu and our dinner will be done.
We asked Kishore who was there serving us about his suggestion. He said Dakshin idli (Rs.90) was a very popular dish. It's idli fried in a spice mixture which, we are told, are very typically saraswat.

Dakshin Idli

All the dishes that we ordered were served piping hot.The menu boasts of a variety of Pollos or dosas. This time we tasted only 2, Appe and Mushti Pollo.

The place has been featured in a column in Mid day. A paper cut was hanging on the wall. From there  I learnt that saraswat brahmins trace their origin to Kashmir. They used to live on the banks of the river Saraswati. Later they migrated to the areas near Mangalore. The food, however is so similar to South Indian dishes than up North Kashmir. Whatever it is, both P and I enjoyed our first visit to Simply Saraswat thoroughy.  We have all the plans to go back to try other items in the menu soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Snapshots from Chhattisgarh

Last year both P and I went to Chhattisgarh, a state we had never been to and came back with some wonderful memories. I have written about it here. After 6 months we were going through the photographs and I came across few which are indeed more special. Not because they are some spectacular clicks; but because each of these photographs carry a story in it.

Chhattisgarh has so much to offer

That mesmerizing Chitrakote fall. We witnessed this majestic fall in it's full glory as we had gone there while it was still raining. Yeah, the water was muddy; not clean and sparkling like the brochures. But this roaring water had it's own charm. We did not get to see Sunrise and Sunset because of the clouds. Instead we saw the water fall when a storm was approaching. It was dark, grey and that fading light cast a magical spell to the whole evening. We stayed back till it started to pour and it was an absolutely out of the world experience.

Chitrakote as a storm approached

Actually we were in Chitrakote to celebrate my birthday. On the day we woke up at 5am hoping to catch up the sunrise. But the clouds played spoilt sport. Sitting near the water fall just 2 of us were enjoying the solitude thoroughly. Suddenly a boy comes and picks up a conversation with P. He had come as band member who was supposed to perform in some rally at the Government guest house near the resort we were staying. His name was Lakhiram and he played Banjo. We kept meeting him till on and off till the day we left Chitrakote. He just seem to come from nowhere whenever we were there. Untouched by the complexities of life, his simple dreams may come true soon.


The priest at the temple near Teerathgarh fall. Our experience at such places have not been really good. Usually at such touristy places, there is always someone trying to fleece you and when  you tell them you were there because that happen to be a special day; you can be sure he will find a way to rip you off. When P told the priest that that day was my birthday and asked him to offer a puja on our behalf; I was almost sure now the priest would come up with an elaborate puja ceremony. But to my utter surprise the priest just looked at us and chanted some mantra as we both folded our hands and gave us coconut pieces as Prasad. He did not say a word about offering this puja that puja and ask for any "chadawa" or cash offering or "fee".

The Priest

The artist whose shop we happen to visit by sheer chance. As we were leaving Chitrakote to go to Gangrel, P said let's stop near the fall for one last time. We did and there we noticed those lines of small shops selling little artefacts. We stopped at this particular shop where the guy was working on something so intently. As far as I remember, his name was Raju.Very soft spoken he showed us the pieces he has made. They were all so beautiful. We bought 2 pieces from him. Everything in the shop were made by him and the prices were so reasonable that P paid him what he asked for. The previous day we had gone to different shops in the Jagdalpur town and we knew the prices these shops charged for similar artefacts. This man made everything himself and he never asked for an exorbitant price from 2 "tourists". Do visit his shop near the Shiva temple next to Chitrakote fall. Trust me you will not regret stopping there.

Chhattisgarh remains in the news for more wrong reasons than right. This is a beautiful state and has so much to offer from the tourism point of view. It's a state marred by disturbance and conflict. I am not capable of commenting on this. But I also come from a region which was once considered to be very disturbed and a conflict area. But life has become "normal" now in Assam. While growing up and even now a common sight in towns and villages of Assam is the sight of girls and boys going to school riding a bicycle. More so in villages and smaller towns. This very sight in Chhattisgarh made me the happiest. It was a sign, the new generation growing up values education; they want to spread their wings and may be one day bring the much needed change to their state. I hope they do and soon.

I loved this sight the most

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Turkish Delights

Yeah I know, such a much used and over used title for an account of a trip to Turkey. I also know what I am going to share, many across the Globe have "Been there done that". After much planning, changing, again planning we (I & P) finally landed in Turkey this year. I will share a detailed post about what how and where all in Turkey we had been to some other day. It was my first trip to Turkey and here I am going to share those moments that made us smile & made this whole trip so much more.

1. The very first one was at the Immigration counter itself in Istanbul. The officer took my passport and read my name in an "almost perfect Axomiya / Assamese pronunciation".Yes, not "Maayoori", "Myuri" "Meyuree" but "M-O-Y-U-R-E-E". (I spell my name as Mayuri). I could not stop grinning and responded with a "slightly over enthusiastic for the place" Yes. I don't know what he made out of my happiness at that moment as he stamped "Giris" meaning To enter in Turkish. And I am sure I didn't imagine the faint hint of smile in his face too. Such a welcome change from the otherwise expressionless wooden faces at such places.
Blue Mosque

2. After that another Turkish Delight was waiting for us near the airport Metro gate. I and P reached the metro gate and was trying to understand how to use to Vending machine to buy an Istanbulkart. An Istanbulkart is a must whosoever is going to stay in Istanbul for 3-4 days atleast and plans to use public transport. It is an Electronic wallet which can be used in Metro, Ferries, city buses and even in the old tram in Taksim. One card can be used for more than 1 people. However it is advisable to use 1 card for 2 people only as the charge increase in the immediate second swipe or third swipes. As we were standing there with money in our hands looking for instructions in English, a gentleman offered us to help. He entered all the details and advised us not to charge it with a high amount right away. Few seconds later the Istanbulkart was in our hands. In a place where very few locals speak or understand English, and most were tourists like us, he sure came as an angel!

3. We reached our first hotel of the trip. It was cute little hotel amidst many hotels right behind the Blue Mosque. It's actually an old house which is now converted to a hotel like many old Turkish houses in that area. Ilhan at the reception welcomed us warmly and he very kindly upgraded our room without any charges. That was totally unexpected. Boy weren't we delighted. At first we thought there may be not too many people during that time and hence we got the upgrade. But next day in breakfast, we realized the place was almost full. Still he did that even though we never asked for it.

4. We reached Cappadocia and P randomly decided to try our hands at ATV Quad biking. So Ahmet from our cave hotel called the guys at ATV Quad biking and arranged for that. They assigned us a young 20 year old "Navigator and Guide" Timrai. That young boy very patiently put up with 2 "Big" Hindistani tourists who would stop and start clicking random photographs. With his limited English , he told us that he was studying and part time he worked to earn as well. In his bike, he took both of us one by one for Cappadocia's version of dune bashing. Hats off to that kid and we wish him all the luck.

5. While walking around the Cappadocia town, we saw a café called Café Safak. The signboard read different prices for the way you ask for coffee. We stepped in and who we meet!! An old couple and a young and chirpy waiter cum cook from Afghanistan who was a fan of Sanjay Dutt! His name was Nehmatulla and when he heard we were from Mumbai, he started speaking in his language. Urduish hindi or hindiish Urdu. The son of the old couple was in Australia and Nehmatulla was the one who was running the show in Café Safak. He told us that since they couldnot pronounce his name, they named him Farhat! Even though he loved Munna bhai, he was mighty impressed with Big B because he had played an Afghan in Khuda Gawah. He dreamt of coming to Mumbai and we sincerely hope he does someday.
Cafe Safak

Uncle & Nehmatullah

6. Our first hot air balloon ride ever and it could not have been better. All thanks to the team at Butterfly Balloons and especially our pilot Kaan Demircan. In our balloon that was the first balloon ride for each one of us and Kaan kept saying that was his first flight too! Very jovial and lively, he was the show stopper of this spectacular Balloon ride. A very senior pilot he had been doing this for 8
years now. I was cribbing to P about the charge that we paid compared to what few other Balloon companies were offering; but trust me every penny was so worth the experience. If we go back to Cappadocia and plan for a Balloon ride again, we would surely opt for a flight by Kaan and Butterfly Balloons any day.

Kaan and the team of Butterfly Balloons

7. In Pammukkale we had opted for a day tour by Tours4Turkey. We were a part of a small group of about 12 people. From different countries, this motely group had 3 solo travelers and 2 of them were women. I loved meeting each one of them. There were 4 ladies from Malaysia who were on the last leg of their yearly "girly trip". Leaving children and husbands behind, these ladies every year make plan and travel to different countries for 15-20 days. They all were working and decided to do this since last 4 years. I was surely impressed. I wish them all the luck and may they continue this every year.
travertines at Pamukkale

8. In Istanbul we had planned to visit The Museum of Innocence. We heard that if you carry a copy of the book, the entry is complimentary for one person. In a book shop near the underground metro at Taksim square, we asked the guy at the counter if he was aware about this. His English was limited, but he called his "director" of the shop and told him. He was not aware about that. But he asked us to wait as he checked on the website of Museum of Innocence , took out their phone number and made a call reconfirming this. Both I and P were looking at each other. That was sure unexpected. After speaking with them, he showed us the page which would be stamped at the Museum. We thanked them profusely as we left happily.
Museum Of Innocence

9. The Incharge at Museum of Innocence who allowed a girl even beyond the museum timings. Both I and P spent quite sometime at the Museum of Innocence and finally when we were done, it was almost the closing time. I came down and waited till P joined me. One girl was pleading the incharge to let her see it even for 15 minutes as she was leaving the next day. She admitted she was late but she pleaded to allow atleast for sometime. She was on the verge of tears as she turned to leave visibly heartbroken and disappointed. The incharge who looked quite strict relented and asked the guard to allow her in. I witnessed that moment when the girl really cried out of happiness as she thanked the incharge and paid the charges. She looked at me with teary eyes and a smiling face. I was smiling in her happiness and thanked the museum incharge too. Just like that.

10. The Cobbler at Kabatash who was so grateful to P for showing him his shoe brush which he had accidentally dropped that he offered him to clean P's shoes right then and there. We protested but he did not listen and P allowed him to just brush lightly his both shoes. That moment of instant gratitude by him sure made us smile widely.

The Man on right!
11. The driver of the old tram in Taksim, Istiklal street who allowed P to ride for free. It so happened that we got into the tram at Taksim Square and swiped the Istanbulkart. One amount was charged and for the second swipe there were not enough amount left. We offered him cash. The driver said that he was not authorized to take cash and pointed to the vending machine to recharge the card. I was fumbling in my bag looking for paper currency of 10 or 5 TL. The vending machines accepted paper currencies only. The driver had stopped that tram for us and it was getting full. So P told me to go and get down at our stop and wait for him as he would take the next tram. As P started to get down, the driver stopped him and asked him to go in. We were looking at each other as we could not believe what he just did.

I would term these moments as Turkish Delights as in an alien country such moments added so much to our whole experience. Of course there were tourist traps in Istanbul, specially at Grand Bazaar and Spice Market. But when we talk about our first trip to Turkey, we want everyone to know this too.
Now let me quickly add one more : A random lady complemented me about my "small but bright eyes" and that made me smile the widest.

Grand Bazar