First Time in Mumbai? Travel like a localite!

Last month I was in Mumbai and as work travels mostly are, I had to squeeze in time to visit at least the important places to pacify this wander lust heart of mine.
So my dear travelers , first things first… you can always hire a cab for 8 hours and see the attractions of this city but frankly speaking there is no adventure in visiting a metro city so why make it even more boring? Go out experience the local transport, local food…
A guide to the newbies as to how you can explore this city in one day.
1. Local Train is the lifeline: Yeah, I know this is not a new fact about Mumbai but don’t get confused by its different routes. Just download this map from internet and keep it handy, and speak to your fellow passengers.
Another Tip: Start your tour post 11am, the local trains are relatively less crowded at this hour of the day.
Say suppose you’re in Powai, take an auto/taxi till Kanjumarg station.
2. Tourist Ticket- Buy the tourist ticket (Rs 75) for the entire day. This is a major relief! You need not stand at the queue every time you board the train.
3. Siddhivinayak Temple- Get down at Dadar station, you will get shared taxis ( for Rs 10 per head) till Siddhivinayak Temple. Beware of the vendors just outside the temple who would ask you ‎to keep your shoes at their shacks and they would handover a basket full of sweets or flowers for which they would charge Rs 100 or 50. You can keep your shoes inside the temple for free.
If you are taking these baskets of sweets and flowers, make sure that you bring them back to the shopkeepers or else they would charge another Rs 50 extra. 😛
Keep your laptop or camera at the entrance.
4. Haji Ali: Take a bus from Siddhivinayak to Haji Ali, it wouldn’t take more than 15mins. I remember I got down from the bus and looked across the road, I could see Haji Ali dargah in the middle of the sea. The scenic beauty was mesmerizing!
After you have visited the dargah, take a taxi to Mahalaxmi station. It shouldn’t take more than 15 mins.
5. Colaba: Board the train from Mahalaxmi Station and get down at Churchgate. Take a bus to Colaba Market. If you’re a shopaholic and you’re good at bargaining, this is THE place for you to be.
6. Walk around Colaba Market and ask for Leopold Cafe and Bar: One of the landmarks of the city that never sleeps, a must visit if you’re in the city for the first time.If you’re from Kolkata you’ll surely get a “Coffee House” feeling.
7. Take a cab go to Marine Drive, Chowpatty, Gateway of India, Taj Hotel these are all nearby. Take a bus to Churchgate station again and go back to your destination in my case it was Kanjurmarg station from where I went to Powai.
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Mere Paas Google Hai!

First Incident

Last April I was at my native place Alipurduar (gateways to the heavenly hilly abode in North Bengal) after almost two years. Given the fact that our house is in the midst of a barren land which over the years has turned into a mini forest makes one of the most picturesque place on earth the most ‘mosquitosque’ place on earth at night !

The first night all I had with me was a box of mosquito repellent coil, which hardly had any effect on the blood sucking creatures. I even took the coil in my hand and ran after the mosquitos (seriously). Finally I took my phone and did what comes naturally to me when I am in despair. I Googled…’ how to prevent mosquitos’ . There were those golden suggestions to save my soul and body that night. I mixed some camphor in a cup of water and  kept it aside. The torture had reduced to some extent but now I was in a revengeful mood  so I googled more for home remedies and there it was written ‘ sprinkle Listerine on your bed’and luckily I had a bottle of Listerine which I almost emptied on my bed and went off to a peaceful sleep.

Second Incident

 After a grand party at my place, next day I found an extra bottle of beer, with overdose of beer, the previous night I hardly I any appetite for it  so I decided to make better use of it- wash my hair with beer. So I entered the bathroom with a bottle of beer in my hand but with my wet hair I started to think how to apply this? Should I have applied the beer on my dry hair? Should I wash my hair with shampoo first and then with beer or beer first and then shampoo. Or should I or not rinse my hair with water after applying beer. So I came out of the bathroom and ran to my laptop and yes I Googled ‘ How to apply beer on hair‘ and there was the answer: Shampoo – Beer – Rinse…

Third and numerous incidents

Our Saturday get-togethers are incomplete without a heated discussion between Kamal and Shanket on some of the pettiest issues on earth which is always concluded by a Google Search.

Once Kamal was telling us about the extraordinary parrot, a female one which his mama possessed and all of a sudden the discussion shifted from that talented parrot to Kamal’s knowledge of biology and Shanket questioned him how did he know that the parrot was female? There was an hour’s heated discussion and it finally ended in a Google Search  ‘ How to identify a female parrot! ‘

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Sab Maya Hai

There is a saying by Mohammed, “Dont tell me how educated you are,tell me how much you have traveled.” Quite obviously He did not mean the pre-paid package tours or the booze-tours with huge gangs of friends, which has merged with the concept and feeling of ‘travelling’  these days.It was 15th of August 2011, a friday. I had never been so excited about the Independence Day in my entire life but now being a working lady I understood the importance of a national holiday + a Friday! Its such a blessing. I could no way waste that ‘national vacation’ and so without a second thought I packed my side bag for the day and set forth.

I had never witnessed such a seductive Kolkata, it was a monsoon dawn and there I was falling in love with the city all over again. I was heading towards Sri Mayapur- the head quarters of Iskon ( if I keep it wikitravel way :p) but surely that wasnt reason enough to pull me up from my cosy bed on a national holiday! It was the journey of the unknown, the curiosity to see and understand those people who had sacrificed their life, nation, language, culture in the name of God that pulled me towards Sri Mayapur early that morning. I had no idea how to reach there except for the fact that there was some early morning local train from Sealdah station which took you somewhere close to Sri Mayapur. That was enough for me! All I had to do was take a cab to the Sealdah station and beg for information henceforth.

Soon after I was on KrishnaNagar bound local train. And all I can recall from that 2hrs journey– is me,myself, continuous rain and a book by Amitava Ghosh. A true ‘me- time’ is what I call it. After I reached KrishnaNagar, I headed straight towards a puri shop not because I was hungry but this is the most common tactics I follow while travelling, ‘pay for directions’ , i.e soon after completing my food and just before paying I usually ask the local shopkeepers ‘achha bhaiya what is the best way to go to so and so place, how long will it take, how much do they charge..-and so on.’ So the puri wala bhaiyya told me I had 2 options to reach Mayapur. One- take a direct bus outside the station which will drop me till Iskon. Two- take an auto ride (40 mins) till the river side. Then take a boat to cross the river and then another bus till Iskon. No prizes for guessing which one I opted for… Yes I opted for the second route. Hadn’t I come all this way to explore? So why ruin the excitement on a Rs 10 bus ride?

To be continued…

Standing in Queue for Boat-ride

For more photos of my trip, click here

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How to add mailchimp in Facebook and Website- How I did it!

Earlier this month we decided to start with newsletter services for one of our clients. Initially they wanted to go for a free service and I found nothing better than mailchimp can serve this. It took me an hour and I succeeded in integrating the mailchimp service with our client’s FB page. A complete step by step procedure on how to integrate mailchimp in Facebook has been added by me here. 

Now that everybody thought me to be the mailchimp expert, next I was asked to get the code of mailchimp for a client’s website which had to be integrated. Well, here I must admit, coming from a completely arts background, I have a phobia for the word “code”! It all seems Greek to me. But with Google at hand everyone’s an expert. I followed the initial steps of creating the account as in and then I sought help from this video I followed every step in it and my CODE was there which I passed on to the technical team… I felt satisfied. This was quite experiece, doing something successfully on which you have zero knowledge. It re-established my faith on the phrase, “Nothing is Impossible.”!

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My First Tattoo

Its almost been a year now since I got this tattoo…somehow today I felt I should be writing about this as well. Well my research work started at the end of 2008. I knew this is going to stay all throughout my life and I did not want to rush things. First I decided on what I wanted. I wanted a SUN. I love my name, its a unique one and “Bhanu” means the Sun. I contacted one of the best tattoo artists in Kolkata and mailed him my ideas. We exchanged some mails before I realized that it was too expensive for me at that time when I was just a student.

It was November 2010 and I was a working lady by then. Chances of being scolded was minimal. And on top of that I saw a deal on tattoo on a deal site and Voila! it was from the same tattoo artist I had interacted 2 years back.

My tattoo artist helped me in finalizing this tattoo which has a sun border with a Libra sign (thats my sun sign) in between. My 7 tips on first tattooing:

1.  Sleep over the idea for atleast six months. Be sure whether you actually want to have one.

2.  Have it at a place where you yourself cannot see it. You may not like it once the ink starts fading. It becomes very frustrating having such a patch on your body permanently. So atleast the first tattoo should not be visible to you.                             

  3. Keep a bottle of juice or soft drinks near you while tattooing, in case you start feeling dizzy.

4. Girls must be accompanied by someone while getting tattooed.

5. Follow the medication sincerely after getting tattooed.

6. Do not scratch the place inspite of the fact that it will itch like while.

7. Flaunt your tattoo with full confidence!:)

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Travelling Goa – OUR style…

Enough of following footprints…now we decided to explore Goa in OUR style, with a travelogue a hand. It was 8th of June, 2011…it had rained cats and dogs the night before but as if the Gods were super happy with us, the next morning we woke up to a cloudy but pleasant day. After having our breakfast we stuffed our bags with necessary items and started. We took a local bus from Colva to Madgaon. The cloudy Goa suburbs, hoardings of resorts and Kingfisher ads (you will find one in every 500 metres!) made the journey a very fast one. It took around 30mins for us to reach the Madgaon bus stop from where we boarded a bus for Panjim, the capital of Goa and the main junction.This was almost a 90 minutes journey.Our first destination was Dona Paula which is famous for the ‘Ek Duje k liye’ shooting spot. We took our third bus of the journey from Panjim to Dona Paula and reached this well maintained and ruthless sea  side. It is a rocky shore well barricaded by walls on all side. It is famous for the eternal love story of Dona and Paula who committed suicide  to sustain their love. (You can see the white statue of Dona-Paula at the background)

We bought some cashew nuts and cakes on our way back from the place. We came back to Panjim by noon and our next destination was Baga beach! So our fifth bus ride was from Panjim to Calangute. Though Baga is just 2 km away from Calangute, it is treated as some other country altogether. From Calangute we hired an auto for Rs100 for just a 15 mins drive till Baga!

The clouds could no longer refrain themselves and as soon as we reached Baga, it started raining. All the sea side restaurants were full but luckily we found ourselves a table in the “no smoking zone” of Bristo’s – quite a famous eatery on the shores of Baga. The interiors are typically Goan with floors of sand. It rained heavily that dark afternoon and we were silently looking at the rowdy sea from our place.We kept hopping from one hang out place to another near the sea side. It was the Goa we dreamt about. The rain and monsoon added to a very typical noiselessness all throughout the place. We were far far away from our home and all that mattered at that point of time was our friendship…which had travelled many many years…

We started our journey back in the same bus route i.e Baga to Calangute to Panjim to Madgaon to Colva…We went straight to CCD on the Colva Beach to have a mug of coffee…it was quite a hectic day in which we changed 10 transports but surely it never dampened our spirits and turned out to be one of the most memorable days of our life.

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How girls should travel in India

I am a 24 year old Indian girl who loves traveling. But unlike west- traveling alone or with a gang of girls in India is not so common and raises quite a few eyesbrows. If you have tonnes of money in your dad’s credit card hen things become simpler with preplanned travel agencies and post guest houses taking care of you. But I dont believe in that genre of traveling where you have nothing to explore. I have been traveling alone or with my gang of two best friends for the last few years now. Gathering all my experiences together here I jot down a few points on how girls should travel in India without burning their pockets.

1. Plan your trip way ahead– Yes being a girl that should be your specialty. Believe me it saves a lot of your money and energy. You need not depend on Tatkal tickets or rush-hour air fares. Impromptu plan for weekends is good but when it comes to traveling far the plan must thoroughly be chalked out way ahead.

2. Look out for Youth Hostels- Every major tourist spot in India has Youth Hostels. Youth Hostelling as a movement started around eighty years back. It was started in Germany. They provide separate hostels for ladies which are damn cheap and very clean and hygienic. Website- You need to write to the hostel authorities of the concerned place almost 2 months back to get an accommodation.

3. Bargain with the Hotel people- Very few girls know that the hotel charges are actually negotiable. If you are booking for 3-4 days, do bargain (afterall its our in born quality!)

4. Be polite and friendly- Be friendly and talk to everyone specially the localites, that is where you get the genuine informations.Hardwar River rafting

5. Never ask the auto-driver, “whats the fare?”– This is one golden rule I always follow. Always enquire about auto fares from a local fast food wala or some other fellow. The auto driver is sure to know that you are a tourist and will charge accordingly.

6. Be as you are- While of tours many people have this habit of dressing unconventionally. But I would recommend you to be as you are. You can have a gala time only if you are comfortable.

7. Do not drink much- This will not only prevent you from unfortunate incidents but will also help you from missing out a few hours from your travel diary. Hangovers are the last thing you would want in a trip. Wake up early each morning and utilise your time as much as you can during the tour.


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and the Goa story continues

…continuing from my previous post. So it rained the whole night and luckily by the next morning the “Rain God” decided to take a break and we decided to look for some local food for breakfast…and Voila(!) we found this small shop in the nukkad ahead of Colva church which served this special kind of bun…I am not too sure what was stuffed in it…some peanuts, a bit of coconut…but it was yummm! This bun and badam-milk was our staple breakfast for the next three days!

And these girls decided to venture out to the sea side after breakfast! This time around I decided not to be bossy and though I knew we are going to be late for the South Goa trip, I gave in! But I cannot deny the fact that the Arabian Sea had never seemed so beautiful to me!

After a series of horns from our driver we the ladies finally came down to start our Goa tour…its was a mixed group of people from all over India, some very interesting people made the trip quite entertaining.

Though our driver showed us many places on the way (like Kingfisher Villa, Casino Royale…etc…) but our first stop was Aguada Fort of Dil Chahta Hai fame. We couldnt actually stop ourselves from posing the Dil Chahta hai types, after all even we were 3 closest buddies set out to explore the world.

 And then followed some of the most prominent beaches like Vagator which is a peaceful beach with the ruins of the Chapora Fort, Anjuna beach and finally the busiest beach of all, the Calangute beach. It is typical Indian beach where you its full of chai walas…bhuttas…etc. Here I must mention that my dear friend Banani took quite a pronunciation class of a little chai wala who tried to convince her that its not ‘chai’ but ‘chaya’! It is also a shoppers’ paradise especially for young ladies…but even the guys shouldnt be disheartened as those interested in tatooing will definitely find this worth visiting.

Baga the real Goa like beach (as seen in movies 😛 ) was just 2km from Calangute but our driver refused to take us there, siting the reason that it is not suitable for ‘families’ as foreigners sun bathe there. This was enough to raise our curiosity and we decided to venture to Baga beach all by ourselves.

At 7pm we reached the Mandvi river where we had already booked tickets for a river cruise. A funfilled hour passed by with loads of cultural programmes and standing on the deck of the ship, watching the sun set. We returned to Colva at around 9pm and after a hectic day we went back to same Pappeji’s dhaba and a beer and Goan fish curry was an apt end to a memorable day.

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Facebook Campaign Checklist

The fans in the Facebook page is an asset for any brand. But one has to be extremely cautious while running campaigns on the Facebook Page. Facebook can be extremely draconian when it comes to enforcing its policies and can ban the mightiest of brands.

Take the example of Nutrichoice’s (A product of Britannia) Facebook campaign.

The above campaign thus started by NutriChoice violates the following rules of Facebook:

  • You must not condition registration or entry upon the user taking any action using any Facebook features or functionality other than liking a Page, checking in to a Place, or connecting to your app.  For example, you must not condition registration or entry upon the user liking a Wall post, or commenting or uploading a photo on a Wall.
  • You must not use Facebook features or functionality, such as the Like button, as a voting mechanism for a promotion.

Though the campaign has rightly put up a disclaimer which is necessary for every campaign where you need to acknowledge that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. This is according to the latest Guidelines by Facebook 11th May 2011.Other examples of Facebook promotions violations:The first 10 people to comment on this post win tickets.

  • Upload a photo to our wall to enter and win!
  • Press Like on this comment to win a prize.
  • 25th fan will win a slab of beer!
  • Tag yourself in this photo and win tickets.
  • Mention our page in your status to win a prize

Though I feel its also the whims and fancies of Facebook and its staffs that guide the actual decision to ban a page since there have been many engagement on Facebook that surely did not comply to its guidelines. For example there have been so many companies which used the ‘tag yourself in a picture’ for promotion and did not get banned. How does this get verified by Facebook? e.g. the famous IKEA tagging contest was never banned! In the campaign a profile was created for the store manager, Gordon Gustavsson and over a two-week period, it uploaded images from IKEA showrooms to his Facebook photo album.

Then they had spread the word that the first person to tag their name to a product in the pictures, would win it. This became a huge success. But the campaign definitely violated Facebook’s rule of “You must not use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism”.


Watch in youtube. The bans can really cost a lot to the big brands, to their reputation and can lose the huge fan base all at one go. In the past few months we have seen couple of such incidents. Last month the official Facebook page of Pizza hut was removed due to violation of Facebook promotional guidelines ( Reacting on this issue, Ashok Bajpai, General Manager, Pizza Hut (Delivery) said Facebook revises its promotions guidelines after regular intervals. Although, when the policy was updated in the beginning of 2011, the administrator of Pizza Hut Delivery India did not receive any notification of the change in norms. In a routine scan, Facebook referred to an old promotional offer that was still on our wall and temporarily disabled it until the historic content was deleted. Our administrator has been in touch with Facebook to ensure that we remain in compliance with the revised norms.”Even Cadbury India’s Bournville got banned for similar reasons.The action of Facebook seems quite hypocritical to me at times. On one hand you allow the businesses to create pages and fill your bank with ads from brands but on the other hand you regularize how to use the page and put every possible clauses in using the like button, tagging, comments etc. At least there should be a warning message from Facebook to the administrators before deleting a page which would really help the businesses from losing out so many fans.

But these bans have surely been an eye opener for many. Many brands have now started taking the right measures while running a campaign. Recently if you see the campaigns by Dominos Pizza India in Facebook, the users are all being guided to their blog where they can participate.

I was just wondering what would happen if these contest blogs became more popular than the Facebook pages itself. Would Facebook still stick to their “guidelines”?

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Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara- Farhan Akhtar’s Shayeri!

Cant get over Imran’s shayeri in the movie! So here it goes…

Jab jab dard ka badal chhaya

Jab gum ka saya lehraya

Jab aansoo palkon tak aya

Jab yeh tanha dil ghabraya

Humne dil ko yeh samjhaya

…Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai

Duniya mein yuhi hota hai

Yeh jo gehre sannate hain

Waqt ne sabko he baante hain

Thoda gum hai sabka qissa

Thodi dhoop hai sabka hissa

Aankh teri bekaar he numm hai

Har pal ek naya mausam hai

Kyun tu aise pal khota hai

Dil aakhir tu kyun rota hai!!!

One More Please

Ik baat honton tak hai jo aayi nahin

Bas ankhon se hai jhaankti

Tumse kabhi, mujhse kabhi

Kuch lafz hain woh maangti

Jinko pehanke honthon tak aa jaaye woh

…Aawaaz ki baahon mein baahein daalke ithlaye woh

Lekin jo yeh ik baat hai

Ehsas he ehsas hai

Khushboo si hai jaise hawa mein tairti

Khushboo jo bewajah hai

Jiska pata tumko bhi hai

Jiski khabar mujhko bhi hai

Duniya se bhi chupta nahin

Yeh jaane kaisa raaz hai

One more One more Please….my favourite:

Pighlay neelam sa behta hua yeh sama

Neeli neeli si khamoshiyaan…

Na kahin hai zameen

Na kahin aasmaan

Sarsarati huyi tehniyaan, pattiyaan

Keh rahi hain ki bas ek tum ho yahan

Sirf main hoon meri sansein hain aur meri dhadkanein

Aisi gehraiyaan

Aisi tanhaiyaan

Aur main sirf main

Apne honay pe mujhko yaqeen aa gaya!

And this one has been shared by one of the readers, Thanks Sarang!

Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum

Nazar mein khwaabon ki bijliyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum

Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise aazad rehna seekho

Tum ek dariya ke jaise lehron mein behna seekho

Har ek lamhe se tum milo khole apni baahein

Har ek pal ek naya samaa dekhiye

Jo apni aankhon mein hayraniyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum

Dilon mein tum apni betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, toh zinda ho tum


Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara All Poetry Farhan Akhtar


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