Melbourne Melbourne..

September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

Living in new city always bring changes to your life style. Some positive, some not so positive. I wanted to talk about new things I’m learning, but I decided to leave that for another post. First let me tell you about the city that I live in.
I love Melbourne, Have done so since 2007 when I visited it for first time. I always knew if I ever move out of India, Melbourne would be one of top contenders. And now that I’m building a life here, I love it even more. Here are few reasons to love this city:
1. Macarons. It’s not Paris, but Melbourne can surely compete with it. Macarons at every corner. Some delicious, some heavenly, some not-so-good. And what flavors. Not just classic chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, but modern touches like wasabi. Melbourne lives on its macarons.
2. Lanes. I love walking in random small lanes covered with eateries, cafes, boutiques. I find new places each time.
3. Food. If there was a religion for city. Melbourne’s would be food. If you are in CBD, you cannot walk down 1 block without encountering eatery/cafe of some kind. And so many cuisines.
4. City Library. As much as I love food and shopping, everyone knows I cannot survive without books. Australian Publishers make it so hard for me to buy books, but city makes it so easy to read them for free. City Library lets you borrow upto 50 books and DVDs without any charges. (late penalties do apply). Life saver it is.
5. People. I don’t care what people say about Australians or urban people in general. I’ve met some fascinating conversations with strangers here. I’ve met a waitress, who’s looking to become a chef. I’ve met a cafe owner, who serve his grandmother’s recipe. And my day always begins with smiles, from people in lift to tram driver. Most people smile. It’s beautiful.

I’ll not rave about shopping ‘coz frankly it sucks. Either too expensive or crap quality.

Passport Woes: Change of Address

September 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

I never had any complaint against Indian Passport Department. I didn’t bribe anyone, Never had to argue. Just went to Passport Office in Delhi. Submitted form. Within 2 months, had passport in Hand. No issues anywhere. (Oh yes, My parents did serve tea to the Police verification guy. Their logic – “We were having tea when he arrived. It’s bad manners not to serve it :P”)
Then we shifted to Noida. After 4 years of living here, I decided to get my address updated. And, like any other net-savvy citizen, I went to Indian Passport Office website, visited the local Ghaziabad office website as well. Turns out both had different forms for ‘Change in Address’. Printed out and filled both. For Address proof, I took 2 different documents (Copy of PF a/c Passbook and letter from Office). I thought I was ready to take on the passport department. Little did I knew. Turns out, you need to use different form. And more photocopies. More money. Different Queue. Aaargh.. After half day, My application is finally submitted. Let’s hope my passport reaches me in a month.
Anyways, here’s the new process for Change in Address:
1. Form required is Form No. 1. Yes, it’s the new passport application form (Screw the dept website. I spoke to 3 different officers including passport officer in Ghaziabad passport office. )
2. Documents required:

  • Address proof (I used copy of SBI passbook and office declaration – general advice is get something from government like Driving License/Voter Card/national bank’s passbook/statement)
  • Copy of Original Passport – First 4 pages and last 4 pages. Basically 4 photostats (2 pages get xeroxed on 1 page). No visa copies are required. Also, doesn’t matter is last pages except for address are empty. You still need to provide them.
  • Original Passport

3. Fill up the form. Attach Photograph. (Do note now the size required is 3.5cm X 3.5cm)
4. Go to Passport Office and Submit form along with Rs. 1000/-. Counter would be the Re-issue/Minor Passports one.
5. After verifying the passport and it’s xerox copy, you’ll get old passport back. So don’t worry.
6. Now Wait. And Wait.

Update: 8-Oct-2010: Passport has been delivered. All shiny and no mistakes that I could notice. And, No, we didn’t pay the police verification person.
Impressed with the efficiency shown in this case.

Travel or Travel

July 8, 2010 § 9 Comments

Most people write Traveling as their hobby, just like Music. But few ever get out and experience it. Yes, Weekend trip to nearest hill-station doesn’t cut it. Esp when all you do is call travel agent or google hotel details, book it, drive to it, stay in comfort for 2 nights, marvel at beautiful sights, take few snaps and come back. Did you even bother to experience it or even spoke to any local except when to ask for directions?
Oh yes, I’m being judgmental and I’m looking down at you, fake travel lover.
Til you immersed yourself in the culture of the place you are visiting. Til you tried those local dishes whose name you can never pronounce. Til you know bit of history about the place. Til you talk to local and compare notes. Til then, my friend, you haven’t traveled.
Visiting Eiffel tower and Louvre And having lunch at those hidden restaurants that local frequent is completely different experience.

Experience the people, the culture, the air, the beauty and you’ll know why some people are looking forward to their next break.

What’s in your bag?

March 23, 2010 § 4 Comments

When I saw Up in the Air, one of the things I noticed was the efficiency in packing. Of course, normal people cannot survive with just 1 change of clothes. But do you really need 10 pair for 1 week?
I have some friends who always panic before leaving for any vacation. And then there are those who need atleast a day to pack.
Personally, I need half to one hour only, depending on whether I can find my passport in 15 minutes or 45 minutes.. And til date, I’ve never faced any kind of shortage (except space for all the things that I buy on way back)
Here are my tips and tricks for effective packing –
1. Know where you are going. It’s always better to be aware if you need to pack any woolens or raincoats.
2. One pair of jeans is more than enough. And while you are at it, try to wear it while traveling in planes. Saves weight and space in your bag.
3. Mix and Match. Carry t-shirts, tops that you can wear with multiple shorts, skirts, jeans. Seriously, carrying 5 sets doesn’t make sense. This way you get more variations with less number of clothes
4. Use washing machines/laundry I know, I know, hotel laundries are expensive but more often than not, there would be a cheaper option nearby. And at times, you meet interesting people in laundromats.
5. Give in to temptation. Yes, you wanna dine in that perfect restaurant and wear perfect dress. 1 is enough. 3 pairs of heels are not needed. Seriously.
6. Use Travel packs. I know people who carry 1l bottle of moisturizer. Ummm, there’s a reason all companies make travel sizes. It’s so that you save on space and have a lighter bag. I use all my sample gifts while traveling. No need to carry too much.
7. Leave cosmetic bag at home . carry only essential things and while you are at it, throw them in your hand bag. Much more handy and effective.
8. Make a list of essentials and don’t forget them. It’s ok to leave a scarf behind but forgetting your medicines, not so ok.
9. Wear sneakers on plane and put flip-flops in bag. Trust me, you are again saving on both space and weight.
10. In the end, even if you do forget some stuff, it’s not so bad to shop at other cities.. 🙂

It works for me. Let me know if it does for you.

PS: I actually went to Europe with a 7Kg bag for a month. And had most awesome time.

Trip against All Odds..

January 9, 2010 § 2 Comments

It seemed like higher powers didn’t want me to go to Leh. After 3-4 plans being canceled, I had given up on all hopes of ever visiting Leh.
Then Came shut-down and my stubbornness, which dictated I go alone if nobody else has time to accompany me.
So I decided.
Second week of Sep, I hurt my toe.
3rd week of Sep, My parents refused to let me go alone.
4th Week of Sep, I end up with Viral Fever.
Finally on 27th, temp went down and I left Delhi. (My parents n friends were really not happy about this).
Reached Manali 3 hours late from ETA. Never Mind.
The guest house I was planning to stay was full-booked. Never Mind. Found another cheap dingy hotel. Was after all matter of few hours.
Next surprise, Volvo to Leh were canceled. No other mode but tempo travelers. Those who dun know what those are, try a mini bus little more uncomfortable. Anywayz, wasn’t gonna give up after reaching so far. So booked seat. 2 O’Clock in night departure.
2.00pm waiting at hotel for pickup Taxi. Taxi arrives. I climb down the stairs and Voila, fell. Ankle Sprained. Biting down tears, Went and the journey started.

Now the reason, these people start in night is because if you see the way they take turns on those roads, you might never travel with them ever again.

And then I fell in love. Early morning, I open my eyes to glorious sights of Himalayas. One look at golden peaks and I was a gone case. Ride was uncomfortable, didn’t matter. I was cold, didn’t matter. I was alone, didn’t matter. All that mattered was, I was there. God was smiling on me and welcomed me with open arms.

Of course after this, I had problems in breathing. Luckily, got meds from fellow travelers.
There was road blockage.
One bridge broke down right in front of us.

But love affair had started. And It’s for life this time.
Each sight, each smile just reinforced it. Can’t wait to visit it again.

PS: Had started it long time back but finished it now. More details later.

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