What happens when 50 strangers from various cities gather to travel to a place unexplored? Fun, discovery and friendship build along with stories to be shared for years. A random tag on Facebook made me register for an online contest; always skeptical about winning these contests, I wrote the answers and within 10 days, I received an email after which I was packing my bags for a three day trip to Barmer in Rajasthan. [Read more…] about Barmer: The Underrated World of Heritage & Art
There are only a few people who enter your life, and from that moment onward, you aren’t the same anymore or at least, a part of you changes completely. I met one of those people on my recent trip to Ahmedabad. A common friend, the 6 ft 2 inch giant with stirring eyes seemed to me like a closed book with a glamorous cover. Behind the charming face that attracted a lot of women, no wonder, I got attracted too; however, there was something else that I wanted to unravel.
Little did I know that the subject of my interest would turn me into an assessment and deduce hypothesis, questioning everything and flipping the pages of my personality like a pro, inferring answers that I am too afraid to confront. Music turned me on; rain outside the 7th-floor apartment was the catalyst and one question of his: ‘why are you sad inside’ left me in trepidation. Out of 10 people in the room, he walked up to me and shot this question.
How did he know? Or was this his best pickup line since we all are somewhere sad souls wearing masks of happiness and waving delusional reality on the faces of the others? My skeptical mind was racing and well, I read him too which left unanswered. Never mind, I will have my chance.
Scene changes to the one where we are face to face and I’m waiting for my over analyzing mind to stop. The story of his mother who lost her life to cancer (Leo woman, damn we are fucking strong people), work related stuff was good enough to break the ice. In some time, I included him in desultory conversations and before I could comprehend the situation, he started reading me.
Gosh! He learned that I am an emotional wreck, forgiving and keep going back to those who have hurt me, afraid to open up, dealing with insecurities and basically, showing me the mirror, only this time, it was as clean as the summer sky. I couldn’t breathe. Was he judging me? Was he creating a mental image of me without even knowing my story? It was too much for me and my obnoxious, irrational, bruised self started to dredge up. On one hand, I wanted him to shut up and on the other, I wanted to hear him read the scribbles written all over me.
He left to sleep, I played the music, sitting on the balcony of the 7th-floor apartment, waiting for the dawn to break and I will be on my way back home. Few minutes had passed and he broke the solitude, started a conversation. He gave me hopes, reminding me of what I am and what I can be. Who does that to a stranger that he has just met 24 hours ago during dim lights, in a crowd, wearing a loose t-shirt, the size of Hulk, literally? But he did.
This is it. It was time for me to slap reality on his face. I told him about my story, how I feel and how I am not ready to take up all of those words onto my shoulders that have become weak from keeping up large boulders of illusions, self-doubt and hurt. He annoyed me several times because he knew the answers to most of the problems, or at least had suggestions. I didn’t need them, I wanted to vent. Somehow, I tried giving snippets of my life and he listened to them, attentively. Until I could see how sleepy he was and I couldn’t let him stay awake, and so I let him sleep.
After an hour’s sleep, I woke up and ready to leave with nothing to say. I was guilty for keeping him awake, afraid that he will only see me as a weak, fighting with my own demons, irrational human too afraid to face reality or worse, devoid of self-love. ‘I am bad at saying goodbyes’ was what I texted him when he asked about my weird morning behavior.
I am glad that I am completely wrong. We are talking through texts and three statements during that night are stuck in my head: ‘If I can live my life without my mom, I can live it in the absence of anyone and that is how I have become strong,’ ‘It is the most important to be selfish and not give a fuck about anyone, except for those who are in your inner circle. The rest of the people can live their life without affecting yours,’ and the third: ‘You have such potential in you and capability to do things that most people only dream of. Why and where are you stuck at all the wrong places?’ Hit me like a bullet!
Sometimes, people come at the right time in your life and he is one of them. I don’t know if I can have any impact in his life, but he has on me and I am thankful for he walked in. Let’s see for how long does he stay.
We always wonder about what it takes to make a difference in the world or to bring a change in the society that we live in. A scientific discovery, a technological invention, a fashion trend, an NGO, a liberal reform or a rally; these are a few things that we often think of but for Bhuvnesh, it was simply planting a seed of thought; literally! [Read more…] about Bhuvnesh Ojha: Changing the World One Tree at a Time
That’s the thing about ordinary; it compels you to defy the humdrum and witness what lies beyond. It usually is a tedious task but somebody has got to do it, isn’t it? For instance, running a café in Udaipur can be a precarious business as with time, this city has seen multiple concept cafes mushrooming in every corner. How to keep up? By innovating and evolving and in this case, Mic & Munch raised the bar high and there’s no complaint about it. [Read more…] about Mic & Munch Café: For the Love of Food & Music
The hill range covered in lush greens, alluring beauty of the lakes, palaces that tell history, and streets that impose culture, art and beauty all around is found in the romantic city Udaipur, situated in Rajasthan. Renowned as one of the most romantic places in the world, The City of Lakes Udaipur is about festivities, old palaces and havelis, grand celebrations, shopping, elegance and memories soaked in unparalleled beauty.
When in Udaipur, go beyond the touristy tour and explore the city as a traveller, admire the architecture, learn about the history, practice art, make connections with the local and go back with an enthralling experience. [Read more…] about The Top ‘Non-Touristy’ Things To Do in Udaipur
Emotions need to be expressed and creativity takes courage. Art is the only way to unveil what lies inside of us; having multiple interpretations and making the world a little better.
Long before what the present day art is; drawings, symbols, paintings, street theatre and folk music were the epitome of expressions. War, battles, social movement, agitation, love, cruelty, peace, harmony, dogmas, and politics etc. have been open to interpretations for the common people through art in any form suitable. Just because sometimes, we don’t understand it, doesn’t make it less imperative.
Art has a monumental impact on the society and is an undaunted force of change. With this notion, young art lovers Surya Siras and Vaidika Wadhera decided to invite city’s poets, notable speakers, musicians, storytellers and comedian to share their expressions in an open mic session.
At Mic & Munch, city’s conceptual café which promotes music, storytelling, and art combined with amiable ambience and delicious food opened its gate for all to see the varied definitions of art. Wikipedia defines ‘Open Mic’ as an event that is commonly held at venues with or without a stage where newer or emerging artists are given an opportunity to practice and improve, with a view to getting paid work in the future. Also, it is an event where anyone can sign up to perform.
The first artist to perform at the open mic was a 19-year-old storyteller Pragya Jain who put her emotions in words immaculately and connected to the audience on a deep level. She was followed by Unnati Gupta, a poetess who took the centre stage. Surya filled the in between gaps with his funny anecdotes, love poems and tragic short stories that instilled a tornado of emotions.
To shake up the mood, a 19-year-old chef with a passion for music, Vaidika Wadhera, performed Bollywood as well as English songs on guitar and ukulele including two special songs ‘Nahi Saamne’ and ‘Rubaroo’ as a tribute to maestro AR Rahman.
After the groovy tunes, I set my foot on the stage and while I had thought of reciting few poems, I instead, decided to open up about mental health, anxiety, and depression. Amid silent audience and peering eyes, I spoke about the prevalent mental health issue and to my wonder, I found people who have had or are going through the same issue. After a serious topic, poetry was recited by Rachit Boliya who took the breath away with haikus and love notes.
To give a comic relief, upcoming stand-up comedian of the city, Rohit mimicked Bollywood actors and gave all a hearty laugh. With time, all of the seats, bean bags, and even the floor was occupied by audience members and Surya Siras told a tragic love story (although he said it was fiction, it was kind of ambivalent when he said that every story is somehow inspired by real life) that baffled people as to whether to sigh with sadness or feel mushy for it had a strong tinge of love in it.
City’s renowned architect, entrepreneur and a mother of two, Priyanka Arjun took the stage as a motivational speaker and talked about her like, before and after marriage, with an architect and interior design company in her name and two loving kids taking the most of her daily time. She was an inspiration to all women who aspire to have a family while focusing on their career and her insights impelled many to pursue their dreams.
Many of the people present in the open mic session were newcomers or had been on the stage for a couple of times. But the next artist who performed was Tripti Vyas known as Tappu, who is an RJ, songwriter, and singer. She, with her guitar strapped on her shoulders, performed an original composition and an old Bollywood song from the ’60s. After she performed a few songs, Tappu was accompanied by Spanish musician Richard, who with trombone and metal flute jazzed up the good vibes.
For what it’s worth, more artists including Harshit Sidhwani (musician), Dhruvank Charan (musician) and Amulya performed over the course of the evening. There were music, poetry, stories, comedy, speech and great food that made the evening worth remembering. Special thanks to Surya and Vaidika for bringing all forms of artwork together, and it was fabulous!
Coming back from Delhi where I lived for almost 4 years was a stark twist for me. I have lived in Udaipur all my childhood and growing years to see it change exponentially in all terms. One growth that I have observed is that of the café culture. A number of coffee shops, tea stall; small and big cafes have mushroomed in the entire city. With distinct vibe, ambience and a variety of food options, these cafes have become functional in a small city that has marked in the world as one of the favourite tourist spots.
First of all, there’s something that you should know about me. For me, coffee is a drug; just like for few others it is either food or alcohol. Coffee has its own intoxicating and addicting properties and I consume it every day to kick-start my daily routine life. So, one fine day, while window shopping at one of the malls of the city, I came across this quaint, open café on the second floor and something about it caught my attention. Hanging above the counter is the framed piece of ‘Apple Delight’ with smiling staff bestowing the feeling of being welcomed. I had the pleasure of meeting Chandra Shekhar, the owner of Apple Delight and if you ever had, you will understand how accurate this simple word ‘delight’ summarises the café ambience and his endeavours.
The counter, coffee tables, placards, furniture, quote frames were custom-made by the owner with the help of his close friends-insuring every one that enters the café feels comfortable in his own space. There are a few places that I keep revisiting and Apple Delight is one of them. This spot represents an assemblage of the owner’s passion, values and work ethic all in one place, with the highlight of sumptuous food and delectable beverages. After handing me a Hazelnut Cappuccino and Chocolate Croissant, Shekhar explained how he has had the best coffee experience that lingered his mind ever since and wanted to start his own café that creates something similar in the minds of each person that walks in that open space. Not only has Shekhar succeeded in the work he set out to do, but he has made incredible success along the way, gaining popularity among the youth and the old alike of the city.
Over coffee, we held conversations stating how many of the coffee addicts entering the café on a given day have already had coffee at home, restaurants and other cafes but a little compassion towards them can go a long way. I looked at my coffee served and saw my name drawn with chocolate and I immediately knew what he meant. Shekhar excused himself to attend other guests and I sip my coffee wondering what is that one thing that makes this place a ‘must visit.’
A tad empty stomach myself, I ordered Vegetarian Pizza and Doughnut to fill my appetite. Within the time, I observed people walking inside the café and to my surprise, not only the youngsters but also family and old couples walked in and sat. The café serves full menu of vegetarian food, including a delicious spread of sandwiches, pizzas, doughnuts and baked items; some of which are best recommended by the owner himself while others have become the talk of the town. One such item is the Beer Coffee, served in a beer mug, looks like beer but has the taste of coffee, of course! At first glance, anybody could mistake it for alcohol but this one-of-its kind beverage is freshly made by the staff with a unique method and served chilled.
When my order came, I was ecstatic to see a thin crust delicious base with loaded veggies and cheese; just like I adore. The soft, gooey doughnut was a cherry on the top to my entire food mania that I had indulged in at the café.
After paying the bill which apparently turned out to be light for my pocket, I promised to come back again and in a few days I did. But before leaving the café, I was handed over the Customer Review Book and a pen to scribble my experience and like a curious intruder that I am, I flipped the pages and started to read the reviews of the customers. Each review that I read talked about how special their experience had been in terms of warm hospitality and great food menu that is customised every few months.
Apple Delight Café is a speciality café that may be in a busy floor of a mall, but it has ample potential to become a favourite for the people of Udaipur. The vibrancy of the hospitality culture is exuded in the café and the inevitable smell of the coffee lures one to direct their steps inside the open space. In a world where everything is commercialised, sipping a cup of personalised hot coffee at a place that makes you feel special, why wouldn’t it become your favourite spot in the city, right?