Must Visit Tea stalls of Bangalore

Chai Stalls or Tea Rooms are one of the best places to discover the culture, lifestyle and the heart-beat of the common man and the city. With a regular set of patrons of all ages who frequent these chai shops at-least once a day, they turn out to be an amazing platform to strike a conversation (from tales of good old days of our garden city or pensioner’s paradise to the latest Steve Aoki ‘s Bangalore concert ) all with a healthy dose of chai.

The below list of places have been rated based on the overall experience and not just the taste of chai (although “taste” is the prime factor).

1) Charminar  Tea Stall, MM Road, Frazer Town

An accidental discovery during a rainy day in the month of Ramzan , Charminar tea stall is the chai-wing of the Charminar Kabab Paradise on MM road, Frazer town. According to the chaiwalla – the chai section used be inside the restaurant but was shifted out (adjacent to the restaurant) to accommodate the ever-increasing patrons.

Charminar Tea - MM Road - Frazer Town Bangalore

Charminar Tea Stall – MM Road Frazer Town

One has to stand and savor the tea (regular or sulaimani) – no place to sit and they open from 7am to 11pm.

–          Regular Chai – I love this one (it’s the ideal mix of tea leaves + milk + sugar)- 7INR/chai

–          Sulaimani Chai – works wonders on a cold day – 7INR/chai

Google Maps Link to Charminar Tea Stall, MM Road, Bangalore.

2) Disney Bakery, BTM Layout 2nd Stage (best tea in South Bangalore)

Honestly I never expected a regular bakery/condiment shop to churn out such fantastic tea – the sheer number of people who throng this place every evening made me to stop by and try their chai.

Although it started out as a condiment shop, this place has more or less turned into a chai/coffee shop offering about 6 to 7 varieties of tea such as Masala, Elachi, Ginger, Lemon etc and at least 4 varieties of coffee.

Disney Bakery - BTM Layout 2nd Stage Bangalore

Disney Bakery – BTM 2nd Stage

I highly recommend:

–          Masala Chai & Ginger Chai – 14INR/glass of chai

–          Lemon tea – 14INR/glass of chai

Although this post is about tea stalls – the Ginger Coffee they serve is an interesting beverage (A hard-core filter coffee fan should stay away from this).

One major deterrent is the insane amount of cigarette smoke that clouds this chai place 😦

Google Maps Link to Disney Bakery, BTM Layout, Bangalore.

3) Savera Tea Centre – Shivajinagar (near Russell Market)

One of the oldest and most popular tea stalls of Bangalore, Savera Tea Centre has been serving chai, samosa and other condiments for over 30 years. Finding a place to sit inside between 3pm to 8pm is out of question – the best way is to be served outside.

Savera Tea Centre - Shivajinagar Bangalore

Savera Tea Centre – Shivajinagar

They are open till 11:30pm on regular days and mostly till 1am during the Ramzan season. Their most popular offerings are:

–          Bombay Special  – chai with milk flavored with a hint of ginger – 7 INR/chai

–          Sulaimani Chai – non-milk chai with lemon and pudina – 7INR/chai

–          Onion Samosa –  an ideal companion with chai – 8INR/samosa

Although the chai isn’t as great as it used to be – this is one brilliant place to get insights into how Shivajinagar thrives; Be prepared to listen on an array of topics – from prices of auto-rickshaw spares to the best kabab-joints in Bangalore to the best place to buy vegetables in Russell Market and yes, the latest in the city – Steve Aoki’s visit to Kadlekaye Parshe (the traditional Annual Peanut Festival/Fair held in Basavangudi , South Bangalore)

Google Maps Link to Savera Tea Center, Shivajinagar, Bangalore.

4) MNC (Mid Night Chaiwallas )

These guys deserve a spot for serving tea along with bun & omelet during the graveyard time (10pm to 5am) with a smile and somehow the tea tastes phenomenally well during the night.

2 thumbs up for these MNCs for braving the police harassment and the bitter cold. 🙂

The above places don’t accept cards, it’s unlikely to get a place to sit, you may be hounded by beggars’ atleast once during your tea – but nonetheless, you will walk out with the satisfaction of relishing some awesome chai along with the new skill of starting a good conversation with a random person. 🙂

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Swedish House Mafia – One Last Tour Bangalore

Woooooooooohooo, was my reaction when I heard that these 3 DJs are performing in Bengaluru – I mean it is Swedish House Mafia –  the top  Electro-trance DJs in the world!!!

No second thoughts – booked 4 concert tickets right away and started counting the days to the concert on Jan 20 2013 –  well I dont recollect much of what happened in-between  apart from the fact that everyday I did get high on their music 🙂

So 2 days before the concert, the ticket vendor announced the opening of about 6 outlets to collect the passes for patrons who booked online and what an absolute chaos it turned out to be and in-spite of waiting for 6 hours – I still couldn’t collect the tickets for the concert next day 😦

To add to this chaos was the rumor of SHM not playing on the scheduled day (usual thing – before a major concert – generates publicity) but sadly it did turn out to be true – One of the artists couldn’t board the flight from Jakarta to Bengaluru 😦 😦

Finally, we got the confirmation that they would perform a day ahead aka Jan 21.

Drama everywhere!!!

Swedish House Mafia - One Last Tour - Bangalore 2013 Tickets

Tickets to Trance Heaven 😀

Swedish House Mafia - Cup Cakes

SHM everywhere 😀

The best concert of my life PERIOD

Swedish House Mafia One Last Tour - Bangalore 2013

Swedish House Mafia – Bangalore 2013

They Came

They Raved

We loved !!!!

Kambala, A Buffalo Racing Sport in Karnataka

Kambala  is the traditional sport of Buffalo racing held across various towns/villages across coastal Karnataka.  Kambala season lasts from November to March and is more of a fair attracting participation from various village teams; although a fair share of betting is involved, the purists race mainly for pride than the money. One of the most famous and renowned Kambala is held at Kadri in Mangalore. I visited the Kambala at Mulki – about 30 kms from Mangalore during the last week of December 2012.

Kambala has been in existence since couple of centuries across various hamlets of coastal Karnataka – In the recent past, most of the kamabalas are held under the supervision of Kamabala Samhiti (Kambala Association).

Kambala is held on a paddy field along two straight parallel tracks of about 200 -400 metres in length filled with slush, water and mud. Two buffalos along with one rider/runner run on each of these mud tracks.

Kambala Buffalo Racing Mulki Mangalore

Kambala

Apart from the head-to-head racing (similar to an automobile drag racing) in the Kambala, we have the highest splash competition – where the buffalo which splashes the mud to the maximum height is the winner.

Kambala 2012 Mulki Manglaore

Getting Ready to Race

Kambala is organised during the day and at nights as well – although the daytime is a good chance to mix with the locals, listen to the Kambala stories, its heroes, taste those yummy foods in the stalls. It is during the night when this place really comes alive – as much as I don’t want to say it –”You haven’t witnessed the real Kambala if you haven’t seen it under floodlights PERIOD”.

Sweets at Kambala

Sweets at Kambala

Food at Kambala

More Sweets at Kambala

Namkeen food at Kambala

Namkeens at Kambala

I mean its magical – suddenly you are transported to this movie set – with people dressed in colourful clothes, kids adoring these racers in awe , guys with 6-pack abs who run faster than the best athletes in the world, to buffaloes which spew aggression with every breath and yet listen to the kids and come-up with expressions I never expected from such tough looking creatures.The energy and the vibes from this event so out out of the world and addictive.

Kambala Race Track in daylight  Mulki Mangalore

Kambala Track – Day

Kambala racing at night

Magical Venue at Night – Kambala

Shame, it took me so long to see a live Kambala.

How to travel the world without money

I have been a traveler all my life and money to a large extent has determined the duration of my travels. Ever since, I have been researching/scouring across the web on ways to travel which involves least or no money or make money while travelling – this blog-post is the result of this research.

Presenting you the top 10 websites(in no particular order) which can help you sustain travel for a longer duration (beyond 6 months) with minimal to nil spending.

1) CouchSurfing:

One of the best hospitality community website on the internet, with over a million users across the globe. Couchsurfing allows a user (couchsurfer) to offer his/her place up for stay for free for another coachsurfer.

How-to-get-started – A simple free sign-in form to complete your coachsurfing profile for other members to understand who you are.

2)  Hostel World:

A collection of the best and clean, extreme value for money backpackers hostels across the world. I have personally stayed at one of their recommended hostels in Malaysia and it was worth the moolah. I’ve found some great places to stay during peak seasons by exploring page 2 and page 3 of this website.

How-to-get-started – Sign in for free with an email id or you can just browse through the list based on your destination.

3) Escape the City:

I am so glad we live in this current world – couple of years ago, a concept like this would been a joke. Escape the city offers on the go jobs with a difference based on the location of travel across various industry/domains of expertise.

How-to-get-started – Sign in for free with your LinkedIn account.

4) Road-Sharing: (mostly Europe based)

Roadshare is a social community offering carpooling, free car sharing and hitchhiking services. A great way to travel with a companion for a few days while splitting the costs. I haven’t used this one yet, but included this based on user reviews.

How-to-get-started – Free sign-in with an email id

5) WWOOF:

WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms – an amazing platform to find opportunities to work at an organic farm – live the countryside and see the raw world. Food and accommodation would be take care by your farming host.

How-to-get-started –  There is no single universal WWOOF membership , interested volunteer to join the country-specific WWOOF-listed organization – free and paid (depending on the country)

6) Find a Crew:

How about volunteering on a sailboat? Every boat is different in what it requires, from capable sailors or people with technical expertise or just a few hands to carry out their daily chores and the best part – You DONT need to have prior sailing experience 🙂

How-to-get-started – Free and premium membership to get started based on the duration of your sail (365 days of premium membership costs about 26000 INR)

7) Mind my House:

A global  house sitting matching service – bringing house owners and home sitters together. Get paid as much as $20/hour as a house sitter.

How-to-get-started – Sign-in for free using an email id

8) HouseCarers:

Another house sitting opportunity website with a global audience. One of the highly recommended websites by many globe trotters.

How-to-get-started – Paid and unpaid online registration

9) GlobalFreeLoaders:

Another online community which brings people together to offer you free accommodation all over the world.

How-to-get-started – Fill-out an online registration form for free to create profile

10)  Worldhelplink:

A global platform to find that perfect job program while travelling from volunteering services to internships to teaching opportunities with contact information of the program in order for you to contact them directly.

How-to-get-started – you can just browse the site for opportunities or sign-up for newsletters

 

Most of the opportunities here are from a global perspective – to my eternal dream of Globe Trotting. They may not be applicable to travelling in India. But if you do find such websites, please feel free to comment.

Not all who wander are lost – J.R.R Tolken

Smitten by a Lamborghini

” There are super cars and then there is a Lamborghini ” I had heard this saying in numerous auto-forums, only yesterday did I understand the meaning of this when I witnessed a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder  up-close in flesh.

Lamborghini Logo

Wow !!!!

I pinched myself twice and asked my brother at least five times if I am actually witnessing a Lamborghini 😛

Lamborghini Gallardo - Front

Looks awesome from any angle

Lamborghini Gallrado Spyder - Rear

The Rear, uff 😀

Then came the surprise, when I asked the owner if I could click the key, he trusted the key into my hand and walked away talking on the phone, I had goosebumps all over 🙂

Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder's Key

Ticket to the Lamborghini

I knew then that I had done something good in my previous life for this one 🙂

PS: The bad images are courtesy the adrenaline spike from the Lamborghini :

Tigered – My first brush with the big daddy of wild cats

Ever since the famous character of Sher Khan from Jungle Book – the tiger, our national animal has caught my imagination. Its no surprise that I dreamed of witnessing this majestic cat in the wild during my every outing to the jungle.

And boy I did !!! Got a glimpse of the ‘Panthera Tigris’ or the ‘Bengal Tiger’ on new year’s eve (31-Dec-2011) at Kabini, Karnataka; the very first time I saw a tiger in the wild – a moment which lasted for about 3 seconds; one which shall be cherished in my entire life-time.

Those 3 seconds made up for all the time I had spent hoping to witness the elusive tiger.

First Tiger Sighting at Kabini on 31 Dec 2011

My First Tiger Sighting at Kabini on 31 Dec 2011

Little did I know what the first day of 2012 had in-store for me and the boys.A last minute decision to take a safari in Bandipur is by far the most instinctive decisions and it paid,  paid off pretty darn well.

We were blessed with the company of Gowri, a very well-known female tiger near Tavarekere in the Bandipur National Park for over 30 minutes .

Its like a 30 minute video of which I can recollect every single frame and has been running in my head all day and night long ever since.

Gowri - The well know female tiger of Bandipur

Gowri - The well know female tiger of Bandipur

There is an aura surrounding the tiger – just its sheer presence and to share space with this wild cat is out of the world.

Special Thanks for Angad Achappa, Vinay Laksman, Vinay Venugopal and  Vivek Kumar for capturing the undisputed King of Cats.

Special appreciation to Aditya Gunvanthe and Vinay.S.Kumar

For high-resolution and more images, visit:

Vinay Lakshman’s Wildlife Photography

Angad Achappa’s Wildlife Photography

I pray that this majestic cat never run out of forests and prey 🙂

Bicycle Sharing System in Bangalore

One fantastic initiative by BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike)  in association with Kerberon Automation Systems is the introduction of the Bicycle Sharing System/Platform or Bike Docking Stations, where one can pay and pick up  a bicycle and drop it back at any other such station across Bangalore. Currently there are 3 docking stations:

1) War Memorial, FM Cariappa Road(near Brigade Road)

2) Utility Building Complex (infront of  Fame Shankarnag)

3) Anil Kumble Circle, MG Road

How to use these cycles?

Currently Kerberon Automation (the company which developed this system) is running this in a Pilot Phase, which means one can just register and avail the cycles for FREE !!!

Anyone with a valid Voter ID or a valid Driving Licence or a Valid Passport  can register online for this service.  Email  a scan of the documents mentioned above along with your full name and valid contact number to info@kerberonautomations.com

Post verification of your address, a smart card will be sent out and the registered user can start using the cycles between 8am to 8pm

NOTE: The cycle must and should be returned to any of the docking stations on the same day before 8pm

Lets hope that with the Metro chugging up, these Docking Stations will solve the ‘last mile’ commute problem 🙂

Bicycle Sharing System or Bicycle Dock Stations in Bangalore

Bicycle Dock Station on Brigade Road War Memorial, Bangalore