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‘Smaaash’ing the weekend away

My brother and I had been looking for a chance to sneak away from too many friends and spend a brothers’ day out. The weekend before Christmas while he prepared to head back to his home town on Sunday, we decided to head to Smaaash on Saturday.

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Before visiting Smaaash, the only reason why it brought a smile on to my face was that it is co-owned by none other than the Master Blaster, Sachin Tendulkar. Smaaash is located at four locations in Delhi and NCR region. The one in Sector 29 Gurgaon also boasts of a Go-Karting track which is next on my list after this visit. We visited the one in Cyber Hub.

Personally, I am not someone who jumps out of the seat on the name of a visit to a gaming arcade. However, this visit might change my opinion about such places.

Smaaash offers so many types of entertainment options that no one from the family can get bored. The kids can have a lot of fun at the Arcade Zone with so much to choose from. The youngsters can enjoy the bowling, the pool table, the cricket nets and gulp down a few beers along with the oldies of the family.

Smaaash has a lot of the virtual reality games which eventually turned out to be my favourite. We started with the roller coaster ride. What fun it was and yes for the first few seconds, I was wishing if someone could press the stop button. Guess what, this was one experience which we came back to at the end after trying many other games. Among other virtual reality options, I would recommend the Jurassic Park and Vertigo. The latter is sure to give you a lot of funny experiences to laugh about later. My only wish, if only haunted hospital really felt scary. While playing the virtual reality games we did have a few beers from the bar. Just added to the real feel. 😊

 

Done with the virtual reality, we headed for a game of bowling. No prizes for guessing, I lost. I enjoy bowling a lot but I always feel that it ends too soon. Especially for someone like me who hardly gets a strike and gets no extra chances at the end. Nonetheless a great experience. Love the atmosphere at the bowling alleys with those radiating carpets and neon lit alleys.

One of the most popular experience at Smaaash is the cricket. You can experience a very enjoyable cricket net session with different bowlers from around the world. Believe you me, it will not be as easy as you think. There is one very interesting story that I heard and even witnessed. One fine gentleman visits Smaaash every Saturday and plays cricket in these nets for 3-4 hours. Now that is called passion.

Smaaash also has many other games such as the very popular Air Hockey, basketball, crashing cars, car and bike racing and much much more. We tried many more and I do recommend this place to you for a good family day out.

Smaaash also has two restaurants by the name of Unforked Bar and Café. One side of the restaurant is more of a pub with good music and big screens to catch up on all the sporting action live. The second restaurant offers a more silent ambiance for those family conversations, gossips and loud jokes. We ordered a Deconstructed Chicken Chaat and a Mezze platter to start with. Both these went well with the beer. I just wish the Chicken inside the nachos was served a little warm to make it more delicious. Post this, we also tried the Paneer Kathi Wrap. The presentation of the wrap was a pleasant surprise. The taste was a little extra spicy so make sure you highlight your preference to the chef in advance. We ended our meal with the Chicken nuggets and The Smaaash Lovers Pizza. The expectation was very high from the pizza since it is named after Smaaash. Fresh veggies but the crust could have been better.

While all the excitement of the games took over our minds, we forgot to order desserts. Now that clearly explains the good time we had at Smaaash. I think going forward I might just jump out of the seat if someone offers me a visit to Smaaash. The excitement will be higher when I visit the Go Karting in Sector 29 Gurgaon.

 

Turning 30 in the land of the namesake

When you find your calling….

It redefines you. It redefines your purpose, your attitude, your perception. Exactly what I experienced last winter.

When you find your calling??

It took me four years to arrive at this one destination. I do not regret that it did not happen four years ago for me. I believe I was not wiser than today to make the most of it. And surely one is expected to be more wise at 30.

December 2016 I finally took the plunge. I am usually not very upbeat about birthdays and even if it is the 30th. However, everyone around me was quite excited about my 30th. I decided to do it my way. I booked myself for Vipassana at Bodhgaya in the same week in which I turned 30.

‘Be Careful What you Wish For’

New Delhi to Bodhgaya are connected by railways as well as airways. You can take a train to Gaya which takes approximately 15  hours. I have always loved train journeys and have always wanted for more of them. My excitement of going for Vipassana almost went a notch higher when I realised that I was getting ready for another train journey. The journey that was supposed to end in 15 hours lasted for 29 hours.  Someone has righlty said ‘Be Careful What you Wish For’. I spent some time clicking a few pictures around the station and how could I have not tried a few eateries around the train station.

 

Vipassana at Bodhgaya

Vipassana is a Buddhist form of meditation which has its roots in Myanmar (erstwhile Burma). It was revived in India by S.N. Goenka who is fondly referred to as ‘Goenka Ji’. This technique was practised by Gautama Buddha about 2500 years ago.

It is ten day meditation course wherein the participants are required to practise complete silence and refrain from any activities such as reading, listening to music, consuming intoxicants etc. The millennials need to take note that mobile phones are not allowed during the ten days.

The campus in Bodhgaya is located at a 45 minutes drive from the railway station and is very near to the Magadha University. Going from Delhi it was a transition from an urban concrete jungle to an ocean of greenery. I was able to spot butterflies and that too in different colours throughout my stay at the campus. Break during the lunch were spent strolling amongst the woods like I have done never before. Breakfast time was one of the most serene and beautiful morning times I have seen in a long time. Foggy, moist mornings with Goenka Ji’s recitals echoing all around the campus were pure bliss.

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A day at the Centre

Our day used to start at 4:30am. We were woken up using the prayer bells. Breakfast was served at 6:30am after the first session of early morning meditation. The second session led us to lunch which was served at 11:30am. The last meal of the day which somehow turned out to be my favourite was served at 5:30pm. This was one level of discipline I have never observed in my life. The day had 12 hours of meditation which ended with a televised discourse by Goenka Ji.

I am sure if this routine is incorporated as a part of our daily lives, it would transform us in ways more than one.

My Learnings

The centre at Bodhgaya is within touching distance of the Bodhi Tree where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment.  There was some energy at the centre that made me feel that I was so close to the iconic location which has no parallel in this world. Fellow participants who had attended the course at different locations earlier agreed to my observation .

The course had 100 participants from all over the globe. I mean it when I say that. Africa was the only continent which was missing. Would have loved to have had a complete grid though. It was such a privilege for me to have participants who had done the course at various locations almost a dozen number of times but were back again. Such is the power. Their belief and faith was not only extremely positive but also very re-assuring.

We did not speak a word to each other but it was the faith that was the common thread. It helped us strike friendships and connect with people after the course ended. I am lucky to have met wonderful and inspiring people with so much to learn from.

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Jim, Petr, Azar and Me

I will not be able to do justice to the course by trying to write what I learnt and gained from it. Firstly, it is just not possible to explain the feeling and I also believe that every person would gain differently from the other one. Everyone has to have his own judgement independent of any perceptions.

However, there are two things which I would love to conclude with and highlight from my experience. While I was preparing to leave from Delhi, I felt it would be a kind of retreat from the world and its worldly concerns. No doubt that was true but this was the closest I could have come to myself and understanding myself.

Last and most important, one thing that Goenka Ji always reminds us and which has been eternally etched in my mind is ‘Annica’. This is one word to describe how I have started living my life – everything is temporary and it shall pass.

Annica.

It’s that time of the year again…

 

‘Winter is coming…’

‘Winter is coming’ and it’s that time of the year that we foodies look forward to. Time for food, feast, fun and food fests.

With every passing year and with my growing love for food, another thing that is growing is the size of the hoodies and pair of jeans that I have to buy for this year’s winter. My love affair with food has now come a full circle. Palate Fest Delhi 2015 was my first visit to a food festival since I started dating food. This year, I was very lucky to be present in  Chandigarh, The City Beautiful, as the curtains on the Lloyd Palate Fest 2016 were raised.

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the perfect set up…

The lush green environs of Leisure Valley in Chandigarh proved to be a beautiful set up for my date. Perfectly placed in the lap of nature, basking in the nascent winter sun and each other’s love, it was just my food and me.

We walked around, enjoying each other’s company and clicking a lot of pictures as well. I have always believed, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, and love turns out to be really beautiful when you have fallen for food. I would like to spread this joy through this photo diary.

The line up at the fest had some really interesting names such Dera by The Taj, Browse – the in house bakery at The Lalit, Kylin, Uncle Jack’s, Keventer’s Shakes, Casa Bella Vista and more. In addition, the music was like an icing on the cake with Astitva doing the closing act.

Casa Bella Vista

In my opinion, the prettiest set up was done by Casa Bella Vista.

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Casa Bella Vista

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Asparagus Pizza by Casa Bella Vista

Magic Wok

Among the other pretty places was the Magic Wok. It provided for a huge space and with lot of colors and a vibrant decor.

Keventer’s Shakes

And there was Keventer’s Shakes and they reminded me of the historic war cry ‘Dilli Ab Duur Nahin….’

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Browse – Hyatt Regency

Browse, the in house bakery by Hyatt Regency had some lovely desserts to offer. With the sweet tooth I possess, they were one of my personal favourites. From croissants to brownies to Danish pastries, Browse was a good experience.

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Danish Pastry by Browse

A few more special moments

As the evening set in, I decided to take my parents to meet my first love. Beautifully lit up, it was a typical pre-winter evening which we experience in ‘the North’ around Dusherra. My photo diaries have a few experiences which might just make the viewer a bit envious.

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Dilli Ab Duur Nahin

After this lovely weekend, I am ready to hop on to the next bus to Delhi and as I said ‘Ab Dilli Duur Nahin….’ Definitely not. Come November and Palate Fest now comes to Delhi. I wait to take all of you along on my next date in Delhi very soon. Stay Tuned and ‘Keep Eating, Keep Clicking’.

 

Chai ka Chaska!!!

In one of my earlier posts I remember writing about how we all need to stop for a moment and enjoy the nature’s beauty. When I clicked this picture below, once again a similar thought came to my mind. The need to stop running the race, sit back and relax. Yes, I do associate sipping a cup of ‘chai’ to relaxing. I am quite open to relishing a cup of tea every now and then, unlike people who have quite a rigid stand against it. The funny part about this latter group is how stern they sound when they refuse an offer for tea. You will always get a robotic reply, “Yaar main chai nahi peeta/peeti.” To me it sounds like, “my mom told me not to talk to strangers.” 🙂

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Moving on from choices and preferences. Finally, after very long, I landed at Chaayos. A place which Delhi has welcomed with open arms and has been showering a lot of love on. I am also pretty confident that my next visit will not be far enough. Also, now that they are open in Connaught Place as well, you could surely catch me sitting in the corner quite often.

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This was my first visit and just to play little safe, I tried the ‘Desi Chai’ with a few desi add ons . I was keen to draw a comparison with a usual home made tea. Chaayos surely did not disappoint me. It definitely gave me a homely taste and feel. They also give you an option to play with quantity of add ons and milk as per your personal taste. Now once I am done with the basics, I am looking forward to try the Kuhlad Chai and the Pahadi Chai with some Bun Maska the next time I am at Chaayos.

However, the ”Sambossa” did not really live up to my expectations. It gave me quite a train travel feel and taste. Reminded me of my regular Delhi Chandigarh Shatabdi journey. But I am quite willing to let this be an exception and head back to this place.

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Chai surely can be relaxing too, just like many other beverages coming in shades of  brown. This one does not even need you to be above 25.  I would recommend this place for some “Chai pe Charcha” to all the people I mocked above and all my buddies who have ‘Chai Ka Chaska’.

Ciao!!