Photo Challenge: Transformation in Ladakh

This is my first attempt at participating in one of the WordPress challenges I have been following lately. The subject of this week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is transformation.

This picture is of Pangong Tso, the most famous lake in the Ladakh region of India, popularised even more after it was used as a shoot location for a hit Bollywood movie.

In summer, the tourist season for Ladakh, the lake is known for its beautiful blue-green waters that keep changing in hue, depending on the time of the day and cloud cover. It is an incredibly beautiful lake, and offers gorgeous shots of sunrise and sunset amidst the surrounding mountains.

Fewer people have been lucky enough to see the transformation of this blue water to a frozen sheet of ice. Unlike the usual Pangong images, this picture shows the lake in its fully frozen state. The lake freezes over during winter and you can easily drive a car over the frozen waters to the other side. I shot the picture in late Feb, on a day when the temperature at Pangong was an incredible -30 degrees Centigrade. Apart from the four of us, there wasn’t another soul around except for a military post some distance away. Walking on the frozen lake was an awesome experience, although the ice was so slippery that it was less of walking and more a combination of sliding, falling and stumbling, much to the enjoyment of my companions.

Someday, I hope to revisit Pangong in winter. Till then, pictures keep the memories alive.

via Photo Challenge: Transformation

Foodie Friday – Breakfastgrams!

Okay, I just invented that word. You’ve probably guessed that it refers to instagrammed images of the breakfast kinds. That’s what this new Foodie Friday breakfast post is all about.

When I travel, it’s as much about exploring the place as about trying out the food. Even though being vegetarian limits my ability to try out the entire universe of cuisines, I still manage to experiment as much as possible. Over the years, I have realised that I often skip lunch or dinner when I am out around town doing my thing. But I never start my day without a good breakfast. It’s a practice that has worked well for me.

This post is simply a recollection of some of the more interesting and memorable breakfasts I have had while travelling.

Banana Nutella pancakes from a street food stall in Phuket – Sweet and chocolaty!

The finished product!

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Peanut butter French toast in Atlanta – Could not finish it off! That’s sweet potato pancakes on the left and eggs and toast on the right. Yes, everything was delicious. No, I didn’t order all of it for myself.

Breakfast #Atlanta #yummyfood

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Pooris with tangy potato curry in Kolkata – Worth the early morning start

#Kolkata #foodiemoment

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Masala dosa with sambhar and two types of chutney in Chennai – Probably one of the best dosas I have ever had

#Chennai breakfast treat #foodiemoment

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Beignets and coffee in New Orleans – When in Rome…

The obligatory Cafe au Lait with beignets at Cafe Dumonde #neworleans #latergram

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Naga Chilli Cheese Toast in Shillong – Spicy as anything!

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This is by no means the entire list, and I sure I will be writing more on the subject sooner or later 🙂

If you are reading this, do share some of your favourite foodie memories!

Travel solo

Why I travel solo

I travel solo quite often for various reasons. While an Indian woman travelling by herself for leisure still often elicits some surprise/shock/concern from others, I’ve never let that bother me. In fact I believe that solo travel has made me better in many ways. I travel solo at least once a year, more if possible.

This is what I believe happens, when you start to travel solo

  • After the initial discomfort of being all by yourself, you move on to being able to enjoy your own company and the pleasures of being the sole decision-maker for your holiday plans. Want to capture a sunrise? Go for it! Prefer to spend the morning lazing at a café instead of visiting a museum? Sure, whatever you like!
  • You become a lot more confident. Travel can bring along with it missed connections, lost belongings, budget issues, security concerns and lot of other things. Dealing with it all and still having a good trip teaches you that you are stronger and smarter than you think you are. You learn to trust your gut.
  • You start getting to know yourself better. With nobody else’s preferences to worry about, you can plan your trips just the way you want to. In the process you learn more and more about your own likes and dislikes and what makes you happy. You also figure out things like how good a communicator you are, what your travel style is, what are the things you have trouble dealing with, and so on.
  • Gradually your perspective on life begins to change. When you go out into the world, meeting and talking to people, learning about different places and cultures, you realise what is superficial and what really matters in life.
  • You learn that there are a lot of good people out there, and travelling alone does not necessarily mean not having folks to chat with. All you need is a willingness to smile and communicate.
  • You realise that your fears about travelling alone were mostly unfounded, and that you’ve ended up actually having a great time.

Maybe now you can see why I travel solo so often! If you have not tried solo travel yet, go ahead and give it a shot. Be sure to let me know about it!

Featured image by Yaoqi Lai on Unsplash

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This picture of a peaceful beach illustrates one of the reasons why I travel solo

 

 

Foodie Friday – Amritsar

This is the first post in the Foodie Friday series. I hope to make it a regular one. This post is about a foodie-delight city called Amritsar. Amritsar, apart from being the home of the revered Golden Temple, is also an absolute heaven when it comes to Punjabi cuisine. I recently had the good fortune of spending a day and a half here with my parents. While the primary aim of the trip was a visit to the Temple, the side attractions of various food outlets that we tried out were equally enticing!

So here’s a quick run-down of the places I tried out (too many on the list were left out due to paucity of time and inability of the system to handle so much food):

Gian Chand Lassi – Delicious lassi served in metal tumblers, topped off with butter and cream. People struggle to finish one serving, and once done, you are sorted hunger-wise for hours together. They also have something called “pede waali lassi” where they add bits of sweet pedas to the lassi! Located near the Temple in the narrow market lanes.

Bharawan da Dhaba – The place to have a vegetarian meal in Amritsar. While my parents raved over the dal and bharta and the crisp tandoori rotis, I went straight for the one thing I wanted here – the onion kulcha thali! The kulchas were hot, crisp, nicely stuffed and accompanied by some very delicious chholey. While most people head to the outlet near the Golden Temple, we went to the newer branch at Ranjit Avenue. Comfortable seating, good ambience, decent service. My dad still remembers this meal fondly!

Kanha Sweets – The Sunday brunch here is legendary – a fixed menu of pooris, potato curry and chholey. The potato curry is like nothing you would ever have tasted before – tangy and sweet-spicy. It’s a challenge to stop at two pooris, and you will definitely ask for refills of potato curry as well as chholey. Don’t go here for ambience, there’s none – just focus on the amazing food! The sweet shop outside also sells a variety of traditional mithai (sweets), of which the most famous seemed to be the pinnis. After having eaten one, I could see why.

Prasaad at the Temple – While the Gurudwara visit was not food-centric at all, I cannot help but mention the kara prasaad here. It’s one of the best suji halwas you will ever have, and even though we were not able to join the Langar, I am glad I could have this famous prasaad and be blessed.

Lubhaya Ram – Different from the Ram Lubhaya shop, this is a small kiosk under a tree near the Girls’ College on Lawrence Road. We tried out a range of delicious aam papad, choorans and interesting mouth fresheners before settling on a few to buy. Worth a visit if you’re there. Chef Vikas Khanna’s list of food recos for Amritsar includes this little cart.

I realise the list is way too short given the scores (hundreds?) of amazing food joints in Amritsar. Unfortunately we barely had 24 hours, and of course being vegetarian means that I did not try any of the fish and meat dishes that I’ve heard people rave about. A second visit (soon, I hope) would be needed in order to scratch the surface further.

What are your favourite places to eat in Amritsar?

Getting there: Most airlines now fly to Amritsar; there are also multiple convenient Shatabdi trains at different times of the day.

Stay:We stayed on Ranjit Avenue – good restaurants around, calm and quiet, and only a short Ola ride away from the bustle of the old town.

If you are planning a visit and looking for tips on places to visit in Amritsar, then Shivani at The Wandering Core has some helpful tips here, take a look.