Rajasthan has been calling out to the traveler within me all this year. After a beautiful Jaipur holiday which I took in July (read more about that here), I got a wonderful opportunity to re-live the royal Rajasthani experience yet again during a short getaway to Jaisalmer. Jaisalmer symbolizes everything the state of Rajasthan is famous for – the desert, the camels, the folk music and dance, the forts, and the food! A visit to Jaisalmer may be the best way to experience Rajasthani culture at its best, something that makes that five-hour, back-breaking drive from Jodhpur totally worth it! There is so much to see, and so much to do, but here are my top five recommendations for that perfect Jaisalmer holiday.
Two Versova based Cafes go above and beyond the conventional ‘Cafe’ definition, to provide experiences unlike anything else.
Mumbai has embraced the Cafe culture whole heartedly since over a decade now. But the average diner is now looking for a lot more than simply a coffee and a couch. Both the places which I’m going to discuss today are favourites – each for a different reason. Both these places will ensure you walk out with so much more than just a coffee in your system, or some food in your belly.
1. Leaping Windows Library and Cafe
Leaping Windows is a one-of-a-kind comic book library that houses an impressive cafe that doles out some delicious food. The entire space at Leaping Windows has posters, drawings and comic book memorabilia adorning the walls – you’ll never feel like you’re eating alone here. The basement houses an impressive collection of comic books, graphic novels, and manga – a treasure trove in a city like Mumbai where libraries are so hard to find. What I love is that you can drop by anytime, pay a nominal charge to use their reading room, and surround yourself in the magical world of comic books.
I remember the first time I was going to dine at the newly launched Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra. I was counting down days with giddy excitement akin to a teenager attending her first Coldplay concert. Those were the days when ‘Molecular Gastronomy’ was a fairly unheard term. Those were the days when Bandra Kurla Complex had almost no restaurants and was still relatively under-developed. Those were the days when Indian food was not equated with beautifully plated, fine dine food. Well, so much was about to change for the Indian diner and for Mumbai’s restaurant scene post Masala Library.
Molecular gastronomy and its influence was yet to make it’s way to India, having been well established across menus in the West, pioneered by El Bulli in Spain. The philosophy adapted in the menu at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra revolves around progressive Indian cuisine, using elements of molecular gastronomy as an integral part of the menu to enhance the experience of the dish in terms of not just the flavour and visual appeal but also to introduce an element of surprise into the fray. Because after all food is a multi-sensory experience; going above and beyond taste, incorporating vision, olfaction, and texture into the entire dining experience. We would now start seeing foams, spheres, and fumes included in menus across the city, the word ‘molecular gastronomy’ being thrown around loosely, with Indian cuisine becoming modern and pretty.
‘The train had been making good progress, and towards half-past twelve it reached the northwest border of the Great Salt Lake. Thence the passengers could observe the vast extent of this interior sea, which is also called the Dead Sea, and into which flows an American Jordan.’An excerpt from Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne.
I must have been twelve when I first read Around The World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and accordingly heard about the Dead Sea. A water body so saline that even the heaviest of objects float in it. A water body christened ‘dead’ because not a single living creature can survive in it owing to the extreme salinity. It is at the age of twelve that I dreamt a little dream, and hoped that I’d get to float in the magical waters of the Dead Sea someday.
Last month, my mother and I took off for a vacation that was going to mark a major milestone in our lives. We were off to the mysterious and mythical country of Jordan to experience Middle Eastern culture, history and to soak in the Dead Sea, of course. Little did I know that our recent holiday to Jordan would help me strike three major items off my bucket list, including this dream that has been harboring inside of me since the past sixteen odd years.
Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened ~ Anatole France.
I don’t recollect when my obsession for animals began. I do remember being extremely fond of them from an early age in life. I remember being in the sixth grade, and getting punished by a teacher for harboring a cat in my desk and feeding it out of my lunch box. I remember telling my parents I don’t want any siblings, and to get me a puppy instead. The crazy obsession for animals also stemmed from being an only child, and looking towards pets for comfort and companionship.
Animals are wonderful, wonderful creatures. Pets provide me with a sense of fulfillment and unconditional love in a way no other human can provide. The joy of having a dog run up to you, tail wagging and ears flapping as you return from a dreary day at work is immense. The calm and peace of a purring cat on your lap, even when you’re fighting demons inside is undescribable.
Feeding an animal, caring for it, and providing it with a little love is the best way to make this world a better place, in my opinion. That animal could be a stray on the street, or living in a shelter, or a pet at home. We are blessed being the most superior of God’s creations, and caring for an animal is one of the most noble deeds we can do. And that animal – dog, cat, horse, bird – will remain eternally grateful to you.