New Sweet Home – Review

15-Jan-2014: Now this is not about our sweet home. Yes it is new and sweet and all that, but this is about the New Sweet home eatery which is on Kumthekar road, adjacent to Laxmi Road in Pune.

Why I am writing about this now? Because something unimaginable has happened. I am trying to have the mutter karanji there since last 3 years or so and finally I had it this weekend :), but it was no way close to the expectations which was built over many years and so was bit of a letdown.

I had never been to this place before and I was introduced to it by G few years ago. Per her, this is the must have stopover after all the shopping on the Laxmi road for her and her family. So once we had been around that area for shopping, G took me there and since then I have been to this place few times with her. Now when I first went there, I saw mutter karanji on the menu and as I like this item very much (the ones which Mom makes are yummy ;)), so I ordered that for me on the counter, only to learn that it’s not available today. G wanted to have vada sambar, which is her favorite dish here, so I ordered the same and it was ok. Then next time, I again ordered mutter karanji and the same reply. I was very much frustrated, why keep an item on the menu if it is not going to be available 😉 . So again had vada sambar with G :).

So this weekend, when we had gone for some Sankranti shopping there and G was hungry and I knew this is her favorite place, so I told her let me take you for snacks there and also let me try my luck again with karanji. The luck finally smiled :), but after having this stuff there was nothing to smile about. So again had to be content with vada sambar and coffee and then we continued with our shopping. Per G, one another specialty here is Mango Ice Cream. Let’s see when that happens. Until that time .. no more mutter karanji for me..even if it is available 24/7  🙂

PS: As per my notes, I had started writing this blog last year in August, may be when I had gone to that place last and was going to write about the mutter karanji eluding me. So finally there is a happy ending to this, or is it 😉

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Mahabaleshwar – Day 3

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29-Dec-2013: Mobile alarm rang and stopped, I even didn’t realize it and I slept on. Finally woke up at 7:00 am and realized that its quite late. I had to bring milk for Ar, get ready, pack everything, have breakfast and be ready to check out by 8:30 am. So unfortunately had to cancel the trail 😦

I got ready quickly, told G that I am going to fetch milk and meanwhile you and Ar get ready. I had packed some stuff last night only and so whatever was pending I packed quickly and started for the market. I went by the car as time was less and parked the vehicle close to the ST stand. I was hoping to find few dairies in the town, near to ST stand etc. and to get the cow milk as required and not repeat yesterday’s fiasco. It’s quite ironic that at any tourist place, you easily get the stuff which you don’t really need, but to get the basic everyday items is bit difficult. Obviously there would be market for the locals for their everyday shopping and all, but that would be someplace else and you would not know about it. Many dairies had yet to start :(, when I enquired about it, people kept pointing here and there but I was not able to find one. Finally I spotted one after walking almost to the end of the market. He had cow’s milk, but only from 2 brands Govind and Satara. I asked if I would get Chitale or Amul anywhere else and he was like here people only drink Govind or else some other local brands. After yesterday’s issue, to be safe I called G and told her the options and shop owner’s suggestion to go for Satara milk. She was fine, so I bought that and started back.

While on the way back, I saw quite a few strawberry vendors on the road and so decided to buy it from here only. I got 3 boxes at 180/kg rate and I think overpaid them, but at least I was done with the last piece of shopping and came back to resort. It was already 8:00 am and G and Ar still hadn’t got ready. I was worried about the checkout and all and also we had to start back to Pune and before that do the Venna lake boating and so was worried of getting late and stuck in traffic. Finally they were ready, Ar was done with here breakfast and we went for breakfast. Meanwhile the milk which I had brought was boiled and Ar had that as well. Then I did the checkout formalities and we started for Venna lake.

After my experience few years back, I think that the best time to visit this place is in the morning. There is less crowd, shorter queue, more peaceful environment and you can enjoy the boating and also the duration is also more. The weather is also quite pleasant in the morning. After we parked we immediately got a boat and we had a great boating ride. Everyone enjoyed it and we took quite a number of photos as well. Then we started back towards Pune. Luckily the traffic was not much and we were back to Pune by about 1:00 pm for lunch.

We had a great vacation and Ar also enjoyed her first vacation a lot. We will be back next year as always :)…

Mahabaleshwar – Day 2

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28-Dec-2013:  Mobile alarm started ringing at 6:30 am and as usual, I woke up, cancelled it and went back to sleep again. Somehow I again woke up at around 7:00 am and realized I had to go for the trail and its already late. So quickly got ready, asked G if she is going to come, but she was not, so started alone. Maybe next time I will take Ar along, I am sure she will like it.

It was quite cold outside, but the weather and time was beautiful and I started towards the trail. It is adjoining to the resort and takes no more than 3-4 minutes to reach from the resort. Only yesterday evening I had come there, but had taken a short walk and so wanted to go for a longer one this time, till the point where there are some huts. I had been here before few times and from there you can have a great view of the valley. But then there was one more important work to be done. I had to buy milk for Ar as she would need it once she wakes up and also give it to the restaurant guys for boiling it. So as it was getting late and I knew that it would be about time Ar woke up, I started back. I was not sure where I would get the milk bag and was hoping that it would be somewhere on the main road, else I will have to walk all the way to the Market (Our car was stuck in the parking lot, because some fool had parked his car in front of us and it would take some time to find that circuit and get it cleared). Luckily just when I touched the main road, i.e. where Madhusagar store is, there was a small shop owned by an old lady, where after inquiring she told she has the milk bag. It was from some brand I hadn’t heard off (and don’t recollect the name now), but I purchased it and started back towards our resort.

After I was back, Ar had already woken up. I told G that I had got the milk bag and would go over to the restaurant guys to give it to them for boiling and giving it back to us in thermos. But G was like which brand is this?, is it cow’s milk? etc. and I was like I am assuming this is cow’s milk and should be good. But she was not convinced and was angry. Then after lot of discussion finally she agreed to settle for it and we would buy Chitale milk in the afternoon. So I gave it to the kitchen staff and he got it back in the thermos after some time. Once Ar’s breakfast was done, we got ready and went for the breakfast.

Our earlier plan was to go for the Venna lake in the morning to avoid the wait and the crowd and go for couple of sightseeing places in the afternoon. So last night I had gone to the reception and enquired about booking the taxi for 1 custom tour. But the guy said that as this is peak season, the taxi will not come for only one tour, but I will have to book minimum of 2 tours. So I said I will check this with family and get back to him. It was now 10:00 am next morning and still we had not decided about it. G was still not able to make up her mind about the outing plan and also she was still sore about the milk bag fiasco. So I cancelled the Venna lake plan and said I will go have a swim to cool off and lets cancel everything. Then finally G made up her mind for going for the tours in the 2nd half but said no to me going for swim in such a cold weather. So I called the reception and confirmed the taxi for 2 tours in the afternoon 3:00 pm. But I wanted to take a short swim and so convinced G and Ar to join me on the pool side and at least take few photos of me while swimming 😉

When I put my toe in the pool first time, it was freezing cold and I was like I can’t get into the water, but I was determined to swim and so just jumped in. My body just froze for a moment and was shivering badly and I did a quick retreat out of the pool. When you get in the cold water, the first time it feels very cold and you want to avoid it but once you are in it and your body temperate drops then you want to go back/stay in the pool. So again I went back into the pool and started swimming. Ar was also happy seeing me swim and I think she also wanted to get into the pool. I was asking G if I can put Ar in the kids pool, but she was not consenting. After swimming across the pool for couple of rounds I got out and we started back towards the room.

We went for the lunch at around 2:00 pm after Ar had her food. While we were in the middle of the lunch, reception guy told us that taxi has arrived. So once our food was finished, we went to the taxi and were off for the tour. We selected tour no 2 and 3 and asked driver to skip the ones where we had to walk or climb much. But then in Mahabaleshwar for most of the points there is always a walk, trek and so we got quite tired at the end of it. We went to see the King’s chair and Green Carpet. We then went to see the Lingmala waterfall. I had always wanted to visit and see this but most of the times we had been to Mahabaleshwar at the start or mid of summer and we used to hear that the fall was almost dry and so this was always skipped. So when I heard that the fall has good amount of water, I was excited to go. But the trek was very tiring for both of us especially carrying Ar on the shoulder all along. Its more than 1.5- 2 km walk down hill and that too steps. But we decided to go for it but after a point G was quite tired and so we decided to stop at a point from where we could have at least a fine look at the fall, but off course we missed the best spot which was still some half a km uphill, maybe for another trip. While returning back we took turns in holding Ar and climbed back all the way.

Then on the way we stopped over at strawberry farm and took some photos amid strawberry plants and had strawberry shake. The sunset was approaching and so our driver was asking us to hurry. We started towards the sun set point and reached at the perfect time, when it was about to happen. We took some pics and enjoyed the moment. Then we were back at the resort. Ar enjoyed the outing a lot, whenever we used to get in the car she used to take a short nap, but used to wake up when we used to reach the points and she had a good time. We also had lots of bore, awale and red radish to eat which are all my favorite. Not much for G though 😦

We were back in the resort by 7:00 pm. We all were quite tired but also enjoyed the day very much. We rested for some time in the room and reluctantly went to the restaurant for dinner. G wanted to see around the resort and take some photos, but we were all tired and so went back to room. We slept bit early as tomorrow was our day back home and we had to check out by 8:30 am.

to be continued…

Mahabaleshwar Trip – Day 1

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27-Dec-2013: Traffic was not much, but the day was bit hot as we started in the noon for Mahabaleshwar. When we were approaching Panchgani, we didn’t spot any Parachutes, so was not sure if they close during noon or for the season. When we reached the toll collection booth of Panchgani, I asked the attendant about it and he said it is closed and didn’t give much information. Later I learned from the taxi driver that there have been few accidents in recent past and so it was shut down by the authorities.

As Paragliding was closed, we continued towards Mahabaleshwar. We decided to take a halt at Mapro Garden if Ar wakes up, she as always goes to sleep in the car within no time. Now a days this spot has become like a compulsory stop for any one coming to this hill station. I still remember my childhood days when there used to be considerable less crowd at Mapro Garden, but anyways it is a good place to take halt, have their famous Sandwich, Strawberry cream or shake, take some photos by the lotus pond and watch their factory. Ar had woken up and so we decided to take the halt. G and I had sandwich and Strawberry shake. Ar had her special food ;). Ar liked that place very much and we clicked quite a few photos there. The only thing which has changed and that too for good is that now they have provided for free dedicated parking area as earlier vehicles used to be parked besides the road and used to cause lot of traffic jams there.

We then started for the resort and reached there at around 4:00 pm. We had reached earlier than expected due to less traffic and Paragliding plan getting cancelled. We quickly refreshed and came to the resort restaurant for Tea. We then moved around the resort with Ar , especially she and I had fun on the tree house. This resort is one of my favorite’s since childhood and we have been coming here many times. Actually my Dad’s organization had few rooms reserved in this resort for their employees and people visiting Mahabaleshwar could book them at no cost. We had stayed here first when I think I was in 8th standard with family. The reason I like this place is that it is in the middle of the forest, still close to Market, it has couple of good trails just adjoining the resort’s boundary, it’s quite big and has lot of area covered by the gardens, children’s play area etc. The rooms and food are average, but I think the plus points overshadow the negative ones.

We had brought Ar’s food with us like milk etc. and wanted to get it boiled again. Resort’s staff was quite helpful in doing these things for us and so we were able to manage the Ar’s routine. We had reached early so I thought of going to the trail for evening walk. G was not much interested and she was also busy unpacking Ar’s stuff and all, so I went alone. I always like to go for trails when in Mahabaleshwar and this one, which is just adjoining the resort I know very well to even recognize small landmarks as we had stayed here many times and each time I go hike over this trail. It’s very good, walking through the jungle, with some very old 1920’s- 30’s villas on the way, you feel like transported to the past.

I went for a short hike as it was getting dark and also G and Ar were in the resort only. As there was nothing planned for today, we decided to go to the Market and shop around. In every trip it’s compulsory to hang around here as you have long list of things to buy for yourself and family. We bought Mapro Jam’s and other products, Mama’s chana and fudge, footwear for Ar and Sh etc. We had good walk down the market and bought most of what we had planned for and were back to the resort by 8:00 pm.

Then we just took rest, watched TV, Ar was playing around and then we went for the dinner. Dinner was Ok, after which we went for a small walk with Ar and then early to bed as tomorrow we had to wake up early. For what ? off course to go to the trail for the morning walk :).

Mahabaleshwar – 3 days’ vacation

Since long time i.e. since G was expecting and after Ar’s birth, we had not gone for a long vacation. We had been to few places for a one day trip, but no stopover. So we decided to go someplace in December, with Ar and have some change from daily routine and also have some fun.

But there were many questions to sort out:

1. Will Ar be able to manage for stopover outing?

2. Should we go for 2 or 3 days trip?

3. How to manage Ar’s food and other needs?

4. Will it be very cold at M’baleshwar?

5. Will it be very crowded at this time of the year (i.e. in second half of December)?

6. Should we take our car or rent it?

7. Which Resort?

After lot of deliberations they were sorted out and following was decided:

1. Yes, she will :). Anyways she likes travelling.

2. I was for 2 days, but G said 3 would be better otherwise it would be bit hectic for all of us and mainly for Ar.

3. I said that this can be taken care off by the resort. We will also carry supplies as much as possible and as with any travel few things might be here and there and that’s part of travel.

4. It would be, but not much option there as we were not sure, if we miss this timeline then not sure when we might get next chance. So best way was to carry proper winter gear for all of us.

5. I decided, we should go on 27,28,29 December. The logic was to go after Christmas and just before new year and so we might just be able to beat the crowd. And I was right 😉

6. G was for renting a car so that I will not get tired much. But I thought we will take the car as this gives us more control and options and also it would be cheaper as well ;). Also I love long drives.

7. Grand Resort. That’s the default 🙂

So, we planned properly (actually G did ;)), took lot of stuff with us like Ar’s food, multiple thermos and bottles for her milk and water, many clothes, winter wear etc. We had planned to start in the afternoon on 27th, as starting early would be bit difficult considering getting Ar ready and all and also it is better to start in the afternoon if not early morning as traffic is at its peak during 9-11 time frame.

We were all set and ready to leave for Mahabaleshwar at 12:00 pm, after having lunch. The 1st stop over was for paragliding @ Panchgani and then to the resort.

To be continued…

Sholay 3D

3-JAN-2014: Sholay has been one of my favorite movies since childhood and I still watch it once in a while. Even after watching it so many times I never get bored of it. It was always my wish to see it on the big screen but knew that this might never happen. So when I heard that Sholay is coming back in cinemas and that too in 3D I was very excited and was looking forward to release date.

So the movie was releasing on 3rd Jan 2014 and I was on leave on that day, I booked the 1st day 1st show. What if I was not there to watch it 39 years ago when it had released, but this time I was going to watch it 1st day 1st show. I, Baba and R were to go for the movie as G had office and Aai had to stay back for Aaji.

I had booked the tickets for Citypride Kothrud and it was on screen 4 which is the smaller screen. I was bit disappointed that it was not on the large screen, but this multiplex was the nearby option, so had gone for it.

When the movie started and the famous Sholay music played up, I was back in the good old days. Audience were repeating and even saying the dialogues before the actors, clapping, whistling, it was pure fun. The 3D effects were okay, but just being able to watch Sholay on large screen was a treat. Paisa pura vasool!!