Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Parisien Café in Mumbai

Café culture as described by Oxford dictionary states a lifestyle characterised by regular socializing in pavement cafes, typically that associated with European countries like France or Italy.
Coffee or Café culture is very much in trend these days among people in India, and so are the cafes coming with unique concepts and menus. One such café lies in Colaba, which is offering a petite menu of savouries and a range of scrumptious desserts with brewing coffee.
Quaint interiors with black caned chairs and round tables, wooden floor, light music, brewing coffees and a display counter of eye-appealing colourful desserts. To the one who have visited Europe it might remind of a French café and for few it would be good introduction to the French being.
For me, it did remind me of my café hangouts in Paris while looking out at the street or reading a book. I had read about the ‘macaroon lady’ through Instagram as well as articles about Pooja Dhingra; having worked with Taj Group of hotels, fine dining and global cuisines is something which comes with exposure. So I was aware about macaroon but was curious to experience what Le15 café had to offer.
My friend and I decided to visit the café for a quick lunch. On a hot day in Mumbai, stepping in this brightly lit café with good room temperature was such a relief.
I had read about Chef Pablo Naranjo Agular and his experiments with different produce through his Instagram stories so thought of ordering savouries instead of desserts to start with. We ordered Pesto Chicken which is grilled chicken breast with salad presented on a bed of mash potatoes and a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top.

Pesto Chicken at Le15 Cafe
I have been experimental with my palate however my sweet tooth friend didn’t appreciate the taste ‘being the Indian food lover’ that she is and found the seasoning a little more.
Dessert was something we were keen on; I ordered the pink latte that fascinated me while for rest of it I asked the staff to suggest their best.
We were suggested Salt Caramel Macaroon, Nutella Brownie, Belgium chocolate muffin while I also ordered Pink Latte. All in all, macaroon was the star while Nutella brownie was our second favourite, Belgium chocolate muffin didn’t appeal us so much. I totally loved the Pink Latte as it did appeal my coffee palate and colour seeking eyes.
I do intend to visit the café to try their wide range of macaroons and waffle savouries on my next visit.
We had been there for a quick lunch and ended up spending three hours like the French do enjoying good food and great ambience.

Best coffee, Chikmagalur coffee estate brew

Nutella brownie, Salt caramel macaroon, Belgium chocolate muffin and Pink Latte

Pesto Chicken dish with Happy soul 

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Next time keep that empty chips packet or bottle in your bag!

I soothe your eye
I calm your soul
I give you food & all you do is litter my earthy bowl
Yours giving,

You may be a nature lover or may not be one, might love trekking or hiking or just enjoying nature in this season. One thing for sure you need to do, you need to keep our environment clean. Does that sound like it is much work? Well how about one step at a time, next time you are out make sure you keep that chips packet inside your bag, make sure you throw that bottle in the garbage bin. Don't say there ain't enough bins, if they ain't any you still have your hand to hold it or your bag to keep it until you find a bin. 
I usually don't write on such topics on this blog, but it was about time that we do our bit. Be it a small step or a habit, inculcate the good ones and influence others around you to act responsibly. It isn't about my area or yours, it is about our NATURE that we need to take care of. 
Do your bit of keeping nature clean, others will see and follow the same. 

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Tips on getting to know the culture and how to make friends in a foreign land

How to make friends in a foreign land? Is there a technique for that? I guess we all know how to make friends since we were kids. It is more of a habit than an effort one puts into but it’s not the same when you are in a different country. There you have put efforts consciously than before. Moreover, language barrier becomes an essential factor however most of the youngsters in Denmark speak in English. When it comes to other countries in Europe, you still have a scope of learning the language through free language course. Also, there are many programs taught in European countries in English, so the students are bound to speak in English.   
If you are communicative and mingle easily then it becomes easier for you. What if you are shy and reserved? Good news! No one knows you in that country and you have all the liberty to act the way you like. If people like you that’s well and good or you have nothing to lose. You must have seen and read quotes everywhere on the internet about ‘keeping your circle small and beer cold’, you can practically imply that in Europe (they have a lot of good beers). There is no need of being someone you aren’t, as the beauty of this journey will be to explore and establish strong as well as reliable bonds with like-minded people.
Let me tell you a secret, almost everyone who comes to study is from a different country and new to the university or college. So they are as excited and scared like you are. Don’t let the latter dominate the former.
It is a good experience in Denmark, where our college had given us money to party. Yes you read it correct; we had received money so that we could arrange a party with our classmates to get to know each other.  We had Europeans, Americans, South Africans and Asians in our class. I was sceptical at first with the word ‘party’ but I didn’t let my assumption overpower the exploratory mode.
From then on, there was no looking back; I got to know a lot of people from our class. I was keen on travelling when it came to Europe. Denmark has an interesting holiday week called the ‘potato week’. In this week, the schools and colleges give holiday to their students as they would help their parents in harvesting potatoes in the farm. This was a perfect opportunity for my first trip, where I asked my classmates to join me. We planned to visit Møns Klint, and it was an amazing experience. We went by our classmate’s car and tipped in our share for the fuel. Later, we went to Sweden which another great experience also for the fact that you tend to spend more time to get to know your classmates and the place you are visiting. When I posted the pictures of our trip, more people from our class were interested in coming with us.  This leads to the quote in implication “A journey is best measured in friends, rather in miles” by Tim Cahill.

Picture courtesy: Ganesh Giri , A road trip to Italy
Every time this isn’t possible that you can go on a trip however there are a lot of communities on Facebook which gives you an insight about social gatherings. The best way is to talk to people who have been living there such as counsellors, professors and former students. The most important word in all the vocabulary words you would have ever used is ‘Networking’. It is very important to go and talk to people who have been around for a while. I had connected with such a person and he got me introduced to his network of people. There I met a lady (Susanne Frederiksen) who was a local and had interest in travelling as well as food. The tip here would be that once you get introduced to people, common interest is the way to take it ahead from thereon.
Susanne and I used to meet over a coffee or a walk where we used to exchange ideas. She was keen on knowing Indian culture and it was Danish culture for me. There we came up with an idea of hosting dinner events where Internationals could meet Danes. It was really amazing how she was kind enough to host dinner at her house where all of us brought in some food to get to know each other over a dinner. I involved more of my friends so that they get to know Danes and vice versa. We created events on Facebook so that more people were aware of the same.  It was fun knowing Danish culture and for them to know different cultures who come to the country to pursue education.

Dinner event for Internationals meet Danes, Roskilde
There always highs and lows in our phase of studying abroad but there isn’t any fun without those. Especially, when it comes to winters in Europe. Denmark has a really dark winter and terrible unpredictability when it comes to weather. There was a phase around November and December where you would feel physically weak and depressed due to dark winters. It gets worst for me as Indian since we are used to sun at all time. At first, we tend to have a honeymoon period where everything seems new, exciting and we are on to exploratory mode. However, once that gets over we are hit by ‘cultural shock’ or ‘homesickness’. What happens when you are hit by cultural shock? That is right, you aren’t aware of the term, neither was I. Cultural shock is described as ones feeling when they leave their familiar culture to live into a new cultural or social environment. Even the most open minded people and cultural sensitive ones are prone to this. Moreover, a lot of people tend to face issue when it comes to food as many of us are used to eating homemade food for years. Hence, it is advisable to refer to what to pack list in the previous post so it becomes easier to sustain while you get used to the environment.
Now this was the reality check to your ‘All-nice imaginary world’, it is better to be aware. To avoid this one should definitely follow the rest above mentioned. My escape to such terrible winter was travelling to another country in Europe which had slightly better weather. When it comes to travelling in Europe, the best deals one can get is on Ryanair and EasyJet to fly with while hostels become smarter option to stay in. Moreover one shouldn’t forget the main purpose of their step out of their homeland- Studies!
It is always good to get involved in college communities such as Art, Science, Sports or Social cause. I used to spend my time in working for college bar where we arranged student parties and gathering for different festivities. I spent most of my winters in studying, exercising and watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S. series when flights were expensive, friends went back home for holidays and locals were busy in family gatherings. It does really help to keep yourself occupied; however do communicate with your family more often because that is a boon.
Staying away from your people and country will be difficult at first but it will make you independent on a foreign land which will eventually feel yours.
This phase that is about to come in your life or is going on will be one of the best, which will be remembered and cherished forever. So go on and live your dreams!

My article is also featured on EHEF Asia blog. 

Monday, 29 May 2017

Excited about studying abroad- Get to know what to pack?

All of you guys must be super excited about the thought of studying abroad and finally making it. What comes next? Oh yeah, packing our bags but how do I pack my 22 years of life in two suitcases. Don’t you worry; it is simple if that is the thought then no. Just kidding! There is a simple process though. Make a list; yes it is as simple as that.
Before you make a list, have in mind the country you would be studying in. A brief research about the climate, food, currency and culture is important. This gives an idea as what you can carry with yourself or cannot. For example, if I am travelling to a country which has cold weather round the year then full sleeves clothes, thermal wears are more logically then shorts pants. I am writing a list which is suitable for girls as well as boys.
So here is the list:
·         Inner-wear ( for at least a week or two)
·         Socks (two weeks plus woolen ones especially for cold climate)
·         Long sleeves shirts
·         Short sleeves shirts
·         Thermal wear (2 no.)
·         Trousers and jeans
·         Winter jacket
·         Blazer/ Formal jacket (in case you like to be dressed up for presentations in college)
·         Nightwear (Pajamas)
·         Workout outfit (2 no.)
·         Swimsuit (for warmer climate, as European summers are beautiful and warm for a swim)
·         Belt
·         Flip flops (home use)
·         Sport shoes (most European streets are cobblestone, it becomes easier to walk)
·         Hand gloves, scarf, hat, hoodies, etc.  (some winter can be harsh)
·         Dress shoes/ rainy boots/ boots/ formal shoes
Toiletries (at least for a month)
·         Toothbrush, toothpaste
·         Body shampoo, loofah
·         Hair shampoo, conditioner
·         Detergent (small packets) or washing soap
·         Deodorant/ roll on
·         Feminine products
·         Hair brush/ comb
·         Razor/ shaving kit
·         Contact lenses and solution
·         Spectacles/ glasses
·         Nail clippers
·         Medicines (with prescription)
·         Tissue/ wet tissues
·         Make up products
·         Important medication (for 2 months, in case you don’t get the same brand elsewhere)
·         Ziploc bags/ disposable bags
·         Documents (asked by college- keep two copies, passport, flight tickets, ISIC card, etc.)
·         Mobile and earphones (check with the company if it is not a sim-lock mobile) also make it sure that you have an international recharge done, as it becomes easier to communicate.
·         Mobile charge (2 no.) also adapter/ plug (check the plug system in the country of study if it is 2 plug or 3 plug)
·         Laptop and charger
·         Hard disk, USB cable, data card (in case)
·         Music player or Ipod (do update your playlist)
·         Local currency worth 8,000-10,000Rs. equivalent to 100 Euros
·         Travel card (which has option of pre-paid currency in it, you can opt for one or multiple currency) some banks give ISIC card along with it.
·         ISIC Card (International Student Identity card comes in handy for discounts on transportation, food, etc.)
·         Stationaries (pen, 5-subject notebook, diary)
·         Basic cutlery and crockery- spoon, plate, glass (carry plastic or steel ones)
·         Snacks (dry eatables, soup packets, IMPORTANT- Nutella jar, pickle, chutney, etc.)
Now you might think that why would I ask snacks, stationaries and cutlery to be packed.  From my example, when I had been to Denmark for the first time we were sent to a hotel for our stay. Unfortunately many European countries have conditions where the students have to find their own accommodation. In such a case, if you don’t have a room with kitchen amenities you can rely on the snacks and other ready to make packets instead of overspending. One should keep in mind the currency difference and expense of buying everything as well eating out daily.
Also, it usually take a week or two to get accustomed to the surroundings, to get to know the supermarkets, food joints, shops, etc. So it is better to have a backup.
It is also advisable to get a ticket to your study destination at least 4-5 days before your college starts. So you have enough time to get a hang of the locality and how to get around.
I hope you find this post helpful and make full use of it. Good luck to your first step in the global exposure, keep experiencing cultures, places and of course keep studying.
Here are the tips on how to pack by Sonia travels which I referred when I travelled for the first time.  
My article is also featured on EHEF Asia blog!

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Bombay to Barcelona Library Cafe

“If I can, You can. I am because of you”, says the man behind this movement.  It is rightly said that when a person undergoes the pain, he understands other who undergo the same.
Amin Sheikh was one of the many kids on the streets of Bombay who would eat out of the garbage or rob people to survive. He was rescued by a nun and taken to Snehasadan (NGO shelter home for street kids).
He got a new life, which leads him to help others. He got a life that a street kid wouldn’t have been fortunate to get one. He had been selling books on the street of Bombay for years, through which he managed to collect fund to open this café which employs street kids.
What I liked was the act of giving someone the right skills which can help them to have a decent life by earning for themselves.  An opportunity that a street kid who otherwise would or wouldn’t have got to lead a good life. Recently he had been able to send three kids to Spain for skill development course, one of the girls got an internship in Malta to learn fashion designing. She has returned to India with the required skills and now she designs clothes. You would see some of her work in the Café displayed for sale. Amin is training Gopal in his café for becoming a good PR person. All these kids are from Snehasadan who are been helped to discover the path suitable for them by giving guidance and developing their skills.

The man himself doesn’t believe in luck but believes in hard-work. He believes in change; a change which by one is a small step but by more people joining hands together could be a revolution. He has got a better life and he is trying to help others who are less fortunate to get one. For this he didn’t have to become rich, just a passion to for betterment of street kids.  We tend to think of working for a social cause when we would become rich or have enough money as well time for it. It isn’t about time or money, it is about feeling and if you are passionate to make a change that can brighten someone’s present and future. There isn’t a need to start something big, but a small act can do wonders.
Amin aims to keep the restaurant running, so that he can continue this movement. He would be on a tour in Spain to sell his book so as to collect funds to keep the restaurant running.
Be a part of it and go visit him, dine in the café which offers organic and food with a twist! Also, don’t forget to buy his book which tells a tale about his journey!
In Bombay to Barcelona Library café, all you can experience are good vibes, purity in the thoughts, good food, warmth and people with a big smile!
For me this is a pure example of ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,’ which motivates me to write this article so I could be one of channels to spread the word across the globe.

Bombay to Barcelona Library Café
Marol, Mapkhan Nagar
Andheri East, Mumbai

Saturday, 27 August 2016

For the first time when I stepped out of my home country...

Being in an International environment could sometimes be overwhelming as well as a cultural shock. How does one manage to create a balance? There isn’t a perfect recipe for it but there is definitely one thing you can do.  Get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. It is important to know how to connect with people and communicate with them. People say I am a marketing student so it easy for me to communicate with others. No one is born that way; it is a process of learning. I have always been a quiet and anti-social kid but various circumstances have helped me develop my interpersonal skills. It is very important to understand that most of the challenges in life can be transformed into opportunities. One should learn how to face it.
Moving out of one’s comfort is very important because that’s how you will learn new things. Go strike a conversation about food, travel places, sports, music, etc. with someone. Eventually you will understand the process of communication.
Looking at the different nationalities studying at college in Denmark seemed to be the perfect place to broaden your knowledge horizon and being a part of the world. The college intro parties were a great way to socialize and experience night life. I have seen Asian students facing difficulty when it comes to socializing with other nationalities. Language is one of the major barriers for most of them but once you overcome this fear there isn’t anything that can stop you.
Our college had a bar which is for the students and managed by the students. It is a great place to enjoy school life and make a social circle where one gets to know each other. 
For me it was a big deal, as an Indian girl I had a pre-developed scenes in my head about how the party would look like. All thanks to the American pie series which created an image that wasn't really good. However, I took a chance to explore and wash out all the prejudice. Fortunately, I didn't wake up in another country or with some random stranger. (Oh just kidding, this isn't the scene any which ways ever) I got to meet a lot of people and had fun time with them. It let me loosen up myself from the preconceived ideas that are passed down. 
I was really amazed by the way I felt about things. It was the way that a person with blurred vision feels after using spectacles. The clarity of things and the way you see the world changes by experiencing being independent and responsible while experiencing a new lifestyle.  

The Parisien Café in Mumbai

Café culture as described by Oxford dictionary states a lifestyle characterised by regular socializing in pavement cafes, typically that a...