Relocated. Rejuvenated.

For the first few weeks upon moving to India, I simply vegetated on the couch. There was good reason to: relocating Mia, our cat has been more of a challenge than packing and moving the rest of my life in Indonesia. Once we came through Bangalore customs, cat and all, life at Reva’s got relaxed, with me having no responsibilities except playing badminton with Ira at all hours of the day, while Sara took on Mia’s welfare.

Through my vegetative weeks we waited for the rain clouds to gather and shower, admiring the beautiful sunsets from the balcony, made even more serene with a glass of wine and a light blanket.

My visits to Bangalore have a few must-do’s. Topping that list is a visit to the Canon service centre in Ulsoor, to undo all the damage I’ve inflicted on my camera up to that time. Followed by a coffee stop at the neighbouring cafe, Marzipan.  This time, we ended up servicing 2 cameras and multiple lenses, causing us to make this journey at least 3 times, with an added shopping stop at 1 MG Mall.

The whole point to this description is that through my days in Bangalore this time, I had no camera until the last weekend, but once I did, it was near impossible to drag me in from the balcony.

That’s why:

Bangalore sunset-1

And that:Bangalore sunset-2

Until that:

Bangalore sunset-4

I’m happy to be home.

Ode to Homes

For someone who craves variety, I get plenty packing and moving. The number of times we’ve moved seems like we don’t pay our bills anywhere, and have to make a run for it! Consequently it’s rare for me to get nostalgic about any place, though there are plenty of anecdotes about each one.

kholiTake my ‘kholi’ – a poky little room at Warden Road in Mumbai. I can’t remember if it had a wardrobe, but there was a horribly dusty attic, and to enter the room, you had to jump in about a foot deep at the door. The location was the best part about that room – close to work, close to the seaside, the fanciest shops in all of Mumbai, some lovely walking parks, but I had to fight over the use of the phone line with the neighbouring electronic repair shop.

House hunting in Mumbai after we were married was quite a challenge, since we had very little money and seemingly different priorities. I wanted the apartment in the building with the pool, but Souvik refused to live there because it was called Mota Nagar (Mota = fat). After some desperate searches, we settled down at Amboli Naka, right at the traffic junction, a spot that we both hated; every time the light turned green, all vehicles blared their horns. There was little to recommend that place except that we could afford it. After that disaster, we got on a continuous improvement curve, thanks to our careers and the 11-month lease agreements.


Paranjpe Complex at Vile Parle


Moving to Bangalore was a breath of fresh air. Apartment buildings were swanky shiny, compared to whatever we had seen in Mumbai. Koramangala was the nicest place to live. There are mixed memories of our apartment there. Souvik’s dad battled with his illness there, and sadly lost. We packed up and moved to Chennai.

Diwali at Purva Park-3

Purva Park, Cox Town

Raheja Residency-2

Raheja Residency, Koramangala

MKaka & Varun at home

Gandhinagar 3rd Main, Adyar

So many people complain about Chennai, but we had one of our best years there. Living in Adyar, there was my weekend schedule of grocery shopping at Besant Nagar, brunch at Murugan Idli, coffee and a book at the Barista on the beach. Alternately, driving off to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry at the drop of a hat. Hanging about the house as little as possible.



Our own place in Bangalore



By this time we had invested in buying an apartment of our own in Bangalore, and ironically that is the one in which I have spent the least time (1 night) calling home. Back in Mumbai, we had a jolly ride over 3 years. Dosti Acres – tiny flat, massive furniture that I had to move around like a jigsaw puzzle to make it fit. My cousin got married there, well, across from there. Moving from Wadala to Pump House (yes, that’s what the area is called) and Kalpataru at JVLR because of, you guessed it, the 11-month lease. And just as I was ready to renew my lease at Kalpataru (gasp!), we took the call to shift to Hanoi.


Dosti, Wadala


Cousins at Kalpataru


Ciputra Window, Hanoi

We were blissful enough in our Hanoi place for Souvik to make a crazy video of it. I spent hours looking out of the big window, blogging about my life there. Then we realised what a jinx we had with lease renewal. Every time we signed that paper, we would have to move. This time to Ho Chi Minh City. That year I spent half the year looking at houses. As we were about to finalise the flat there, we ended up moving to Jakarta instead.

(Click to view video)


I went into an ‘instant hate’ mode with the city. Endless traffic, horrid apartments where windows wouldn’t open, big palatial houses that seemed like to much work for an apartment-inured person that I was. After sound advice from a friend, we settled on the house that we’re in now. Finally there was some love, especially with the pool in the backyard. The house was too big for just the two of us to enjoy, we were happy to open it up to welcome family and friends. And plenty obliged. Not that they were lacking in our ‘smaller’ places, but the joy of jumping into the pool at will is irresistible. We renewed our 2-year lease last November. And guess what – we’re moving again! Right this very week. And this time the nostalgia seems to be coming on, mostly for that backyard and pool. Never have I enjoyed a house (not counting Kolhapur) as much as I did this one. Watching the rain in the afternoon. Barbecue on weekends. Painting the wall. Sewing curtains. Killing off plants one after the other. Negotiating banjir, the floods after a heavy downpour. Jalan Tikus, the tiny lane shortcut to the main road. Decorating at Diwali. Chasing Mia.


In the midst of packing chaos, I’m letting the shifting blues set in, but visualising living in the new place. The landscaping is definitely better, with plenty of tree lined avenues to walk, run and cycle. Actually, with a lot of our ‘stuff’ packed already in round 1 by those efficient packers, I’m in the mood to get going right away. Going by the lethargy I’m exhibiting though, it’s clear that I enjoy unpacking and setting up house, but sorting and packing is just not my favourite thing. HELP!

My top tips for painless relocation:

  1. Hire a good packer-mover service. That’s money well spent.
  2. Pack a week’s clothes, towels, toiletries, shoes, bedsheets separately yourself. If it takes time for the washing machine to be installed, you’re not going crazy. If you’re moving cities, make that 2-week supply. That should give you enough time to figure out the laundry.
  3. Pack VALUABLES (jewellery, electronic gadgets – phones, laptop, tablet, chargers,cameras, power adaptors,  important documents – passport, tickets, IDs, insurance policies, bank papers, house papers) and MEDICINES yourself, and don’t let that bag out of your sight until you have set up the new house. If you are moving cities, carry your valuables in cabin baggage.
  4. It’s useful to wear something (like a jacket) with plenty of pockets to hold small stuff like keys, phone, pens, wallet, so you don’t put it down and accidentally have it packed up, or worse, stolen.
  5. If you’re moving country, make sure to finish or give away all the beverages – yeah, have a big booze party the night before. Spillage in the suitcase is such a pain.
  6. If you’re an Indian like me, take your pressure cooker with you.
  7. Keep calm and enjoy the change!







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A weekend with family, friends, food and fun!

Souvik’s arrival in Bangalore was met with great fanfare! Reva had planned a grand dinner the following night, which required marinading a lamb 24 hours earlier.

Pieces 2 aur aadmi 4? Bahut nainsaafi hai!

The lamb chefs – Ganesh and Vish – did the needful, while the girls – Reva, Vrinda & I – took off to the airport to receive Souvik. It was also the unveiling of Souvik’s new look, the Jakarta No.3, which has been making waves on the social network.

West Bengal #1

Jakarta #3


By the time we got home, the lamb was marinaded and resting in the fridge. Just the thing to start the party at 1 am. Reva’s cheese crackers hit the spot, and we nearly left nothing for the ‘real’ party.

Saturday night was the gala – the lamb, divine tomato tarts, sinful cheese crackers, refreshing watermelon salad, trio of dips, roasted chicken for the kids, music hijacked by ZNMD (Señorita) videos projected on the wall, and a finale of crème brûlée, where everyone tried their hand at torching.

The pinnacle of our madness came in trying to ‘levitate’ Niloy, after he had consumed vast quantities of food and drink. Their inability to achieve the impossible was blamed on my giggle explosions.

We signed off early (!) from this one, because we had a breakfast party at Irina’s to look forward to. Irina’s breakfasts exceed all expectations, and are NEVER to be treated lightly. And yes, we went to meet her parents, and Gopal and the kids too.

The spread was predictably spectacular – 2 kinds of sandwiches, eggs and sausages, dosas/ uttappas to order, date & walnut cake, poha; I’m sure to have missed out on a couple of goodies, there were so many! The light was bright, the company jovial, and everyone was in the mood for pictures! Except li’l Divya, who must’ve wondered which zoo animals had been let loose.


Independence Day

It’s our day of independence from British rule, and as many Facebook updates say, it’s time to gain freedom from a whole list of social and economic ailments that plague the country.


Reva & I woke up bright & early this morning, and drove down to Cubbon Park to breathe in some fresh air and get some pictures.







Lush greenery, sharp morning sun, chirping birds – a great reminder of what Bangalore used to be – Garden City.

Mere desh ki dharti

I’m all excited about my upcoming whirlwind trip to India next week. 4 cities in 2 weeks does not leave much time to chill out and meet people, and I will have to run helter-skelter to meet the hardworking ones. Then there’s all the food I’ve been craving for months, and clothes that I have to buy, coz the Vietnamese sizes are nowhere near mine! Have to mention – Souvik has a problem with clothes fit too, so it’s not only about the fat. More like work than a vacation, and one where I don’t have to buy a Lonely Planet, or trawl through other blogs to get a ‘feel’ of the places I’m visiting.

Hopefully the weather in Delhi will improve, we will see the city transformed yet again for the Commonwealth Games, meet various people who will lament, “Oh how sad that Souvik couldn’t come.”  The only excuse I have to be in Mumbai is that it is the transit point between Delhi & Kolhapur, but there are hundreds of friends to meet (literally), and the best clothes shopping in Fabindia and OMO. The hillside in Kolhapur is green again, after the rains, and I never tire of photographing the greenery, buffaloes, wildflowers and the lake. Am trying to keep meals simple here, but there’s Phadtare’s misal, and Sunitabai’s bhakris (yumm, slurp). This time round, I have to put up the hammocks that we bought in Cambodia. And parents will comment, “This is perfect for Souvik; how sad that he couldn’t make it.” Final stop: Bangalore, mainly to babysit my niece, Sara, while Reva and Vish go off salsa-dancing on the weekend. And Sara will ask, “Where’s Souvik?”

The greater excitement is that Reva and Sara are travelling back with me, so they can help in lugging the dals and atta that I will inevitably have to stock up. Errrrr…. Sara will lug her blankie, and the airlines will lug the rest. And we have a whole bunch of activities planned around Reva’s favourite subject – FOOD!

Before I leave, however, the cleaning lady needs to be organized around Souvik’s schedule (through Google translator), mountains of laundry to be sorted out, and a few containers of sustenance in the freezer for the poor, sad husband who has only 26 DVDs on World War II for company the next 2 weeks.

And I look forward to seeing India through the eyes of my SLR camera, and subjecting you all to some choice images.