Wagah – The Incomplete Pilgrimage

It is a scene straight out of a Hindi film. The day is bright and beautiful, the long straight road is flanked by lush green fields on both sides complete with tube wells and narrow irrigating canals; there is no trace of traffic or mankind only the odd car passing by. A few narrow lanes …

Of Memories & MTR

About fifty elderly men sip coffee from white china cups in and around the ground floor Coffee-Room. Some lean against the walls, some support themselves on narrow cement benches, and some, for want of space, have moved on to the pavement. The pavement outside is equally busy. There is a newspaper seller arranging English and …

Saigon Diaries

My trip to Ho-Chi-Minh was planned at a whim. I was close by in Singapore with a few days to spare and Ho-chi-Minh happened to be not only the cheapest and closest, but also the most interesting place that I could get to in the short time. And so one fine morning, I found myself …

Biriyani Blue in Lucknow

"Humari baat maniye Tundey ki nahi, agli gali mein Shakeel ki Biryani khaiyega, pasand na aaye to paise hum denge." Our rickshaw puller, who has apparently been eavesdropping on our non-stop chatter about food, tells us in his Lucknavi style as we get off his vehicle in the middle of a busy lane in the …

The Joy of Jalebi

It is 11.30 a.m. and we are as famished as we are tired. We have been out since 4 a.m., driven over 250 kms, visited the tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daula and the Taj Mahal, and are on our way to the erstwhile capital of Akbar, where we also plan to catch up on breakfast. But there …

Makkhan Malai – The Desi Soufflé

Come winter and the streets of the old towns of North India – particularly Uttar Pradesh – reverberate with the cries of the makhanwala. He comes every morning on his cycle and calls out to the sleepy residents in his trademark style, compelling them to throw off their thick quilts and run towards their gates …

French Kiss

The reasons to travel were many: to be away from home, to breathe fresh air, to soak in some peace and quiet. Then there was the ocean, the architecture, the history, and the culture. And so, one fine morning, I found myself in a place I have often fancied living in - Pondicherry. Although famous …

The Road Behind Me

After many years, I found myself at the street of my youth. The street that once gave me my ambition, now gave me a lesson: one might outgrow the charm of the things that once fascinated him but it is often difficult to be indifferent to them --  if nothing else, these remind you that …