After the end of exams on the 24th of February, we went on the customary post MBA trip. Some to Bhutan, some to Tawang, some to Goa. Our aim was cover as many places as possible and thus we ended up with a massive 18 day trip.
Leg 1 : Pune
The first leg was Pune. It feels strange to write about Pune in my ‘Travels’ category, but we did do a lot of touristy things. Most of this leg of the trip focussed on food, for I realised that there is not much to see here if there are no concerts happening or you are not a fan of Maratha history.
We covered most of the famous joints – Coffee at Pune Coffee House, the JJ Garden vada pav guy(which in my humble opinion is the best vada pav ever), chicken sandwiches at Marz-O-Rin, naan at Naaz Bakery, Shrewsbury biscuits at Kayani Bakery, The king burger at Burger King, mutton crumbs at Diamond Queen, bun-maska and chai at Good Luck, filter coffee and onion uttappa at Roopali, sizzlers at Zamu’s, rabdi from shiv Kailash and even a closer-to-home option of pasta at Polka Dots. In hindsight we did miss out on the kathi kababs at Kapila and the whole experience at Shisha, but then there has to be something to do in the next trip.
We also went to COEP and sat through a BCQC session. Other than this we did nothing but sleep and laze around.
Leg 2 : Goa
We started our stay in Goa at Palolem beach in south Goa which still untouched by rampant commercialism and hence is the way Goa was meant to be – that being a place to do nothing at all.
At Palolem we stayed at a place called Cressida. They gave us coco-huts on the beach itself for a very reasonable rate of 450 per room per night. We walked out of the room straight into the sand. Pure awesomeness. It was here that we formed our gold standard for judging any place in Goa – a large Old Monk for 40 bucks. I ate sea food on practically all meals – starting with tuna sandwiches for breakfast, going on to kingfish curry for lunch and roasted red snapper for dinner. We experimented with a lot of Goan food and tried out Xacuti, Vindaloo, Cafreal and even stuffed papad. We also checked out Patnem beach and did a bit of driving around the Cancona area. After two days of doing nothing at Palolem, we headed to the north of the state, the hyper commercial, impeccably cartelised and full-of-TDCs part of Goa. We stayed at a sidey place called La Manna near Calangute beach. There is a different attraction to north Goa. Here you are taken in by the colour, the lights and the party atmosphere. Practically everyone you see here is in the celebration mood. In north Goa, we did a bit of sightseeing. We saw the Aguada fort, which was boring to say the least. A plus point emerging from our trip to Aguada was that we stopped by at a church built in the memory of Saint Lawrence in 1630, which was totally breath-taking. We did the usual touristy thing by eating at Brittos on Baga Beach. On the first day, we also spent some time at Candolim, saw that all the shacks spectacularly fail our gold standard and left to find cheaper places to eat inland. We found this place called ‘Old Mango tree’ which gave us awesome crab and Xacuti. We also checked out the Saturday night market at Arpora which felt like a scene out of some 60’s rockumentary. All hippies selling trippy stuff, live music all over the place and a ton of great stuff on offer (but all too expensive). We ended our trip with a very uncomfortable bus trip from Calangute to Panjim where there were atleast double of the bus’s capacity stuffed in.
Side note: I will never forgive Neeta busses for subjecting me to Tees Maar Khan twice – on both the to and fro Pune-Goa journey.
Leg 3 : Delhi
We then returned to Pune and took the Duronto (which I have to say is awesome in every aspect from timeliness to food to comfort) to New Delhi. After a day of lazing around in Delhi and watching a movie (7 khoon maaf) we headed out to Agra the next day. Another awesome train, the Bhopal Shatabdi, which covered the 200km distance in 2 hours flat. In Agra we saw the Taj Mahal and Agra fort – both extremely well maintained places and then headed out to Fatehpur Sikri. The lack of maintenance in Fatehpur Sikri is appaling. Arguably the worst kept World Heritage site ever. Filth and shit all over the place, the entire complex covered in shops trying to sell you crap. We then had some of the famous Agra chat – cheela, alu tikki, golgappa and chuski (with malai in it!) and headed back to Delhi.
The next few days were spent in doing touristy things and taking in the atmosphere in Delhi. We spent some time at Delhi haat (which is an initiative to promote handicrafts from all states), then we went to Connought Place and did a very Delhi thing (apparently) which is eating shammi kababs from Wengers with the Flavoured milk (which is served in half litre glass bottles) from Keventers. Then we had kulfi at Moets (some of the best kulfi I have ever had) and chicken from a place called Chawla’s.
The next day we went to Chandni Chowk. Here we had kachori from a shop simply called Kachoriwala, followed that with Paranthas from Paranthe wali galli at a guy called Pt. Gaya Prasad Charan’s which is a shop established in 1872 and has been run by the same family for five generations. Then we had jelebi at Jelebiwala (!) – another very old shop started in 1884. Then we went to the Red fort and the Jama Masjid.
On the last day in Delhi, we took the Hop on Hop off bus service (called HOHO) started by Delhi tourism during the Commonwealth games. In this tour we saw Raj Ghat and Veer Bhumi, the National Gallery for Modern Art (NGMA), Humayun’s tomb, the Lotus temple and Jantar Mantar. We drove past the Qutub Minar, Safdarjung Tomb, Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhavan, Sansad Bhavan and India Gate. The only negative of the HOHO was the guide who was giving totally useless redundant commentary – for example Captain Obvious once said “On your left you will see the Income Tax office, where people come to pay tax on their income”.
Overall the Delhi trip was very enjoyable and worked out very cheap largely thanks to the Metro (which is amazing in its network and reach).
Now I am back in Pune and back to doing nothing. A review on 7 Khoon Maaf should be up on the blog soon.