The South: Nilgiris

I have been wishing to travel again for a long time. It is one of those many things that I think about these days, and as I look back, I remember that it has really been a very long time. It has been so long that I have gone for a trip for the traveling purpose alone. But it doesn’t stop me from looking at those old photos of travel, and as you might have figured it out, I have so many of them. Well, I am going to need a hard disc to store them all soon – a separate one. As one journey provides thousands of photos, I have always felt that there would be the need. But here, I share ten photos of Ooty and Coonoor.

We stayed at Coonoor when we decided to get to Ooty. Well, I have been to Ooty only once and that journey actually came too late. I visited Ooty in the last few years, and I should be the last one in my friends circle to visit the hill station for the first time. Both of these places were nothing less than charming; I loved my stay at Coonoor and the tea there. The places to visit exist close enough both towns. Coonoor is the second largest hill station in the Nilgiris, and you will want to stop there too, along with being at those usual tourist destinations at Ooty. The photos shared here were taken by me on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310.

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Meanwhile, I hope most of you haven’t missed Charlie.

TeNy

The Tea Photos

It is a lovely Friday even though my laptop’s display screen desired to commit suicide; I can’t access most of my saved material, and so I will share a few tea photos taken on my Sony Cybershot DSC-W310 to make sure that this day doesn’t go as a waste 😀 The movie of the day, My God was good though. All these photos shown here were taken at Munnar, Coonnoor and Ooty.

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Hope this inspires you to have more tea 😛

TeNy

Three Simple Words

Vampire Bat: Okay, the first person to start this round is the Vampire Owl from my left side.

Vampire Owl: Oh! You mean to say that I have to say three of my favourite words right now.

Vampire Bat: Yes, it is how this whole thing works. This is also a game which we can play once in every week.

Vampire Owl: But I have no idea where to start. I have never been good with this type of ideas. I don’t play such games either.

Vampire Hamster: Let me say then, sir. I am ready to come up with mine. You will surely like them. There are vampires, zombies and undead as the three…..

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Vampire Bat: No! Your turn will come. Don’t talk now. I hate it when vampire apprentices try to intervene early.

Vampire Crocodile: I told you that this game is turn-based. Like the games Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic and Disciples: Sacred Lands. You are just not playing enough computer games.

Vampire Owl: Do you know how difficult this is for me. I could use a clue.

Vampire Bat: Okay, I will provide you with one myself. You can add this as the first letter on your list. Tea.

Vampire Owl: What? Tea? Why would that be so?

Vampire Bat: Well, tea has been part of our lives for quite a long time. You should have read all my tales related to tea. We have always had some good time with tea, and it is the one true elixir of life. It has defined my childhood with its taste, and I have had more tea than ice cream even as a kid. Just don’t tell Uncle Dracula because he will only talk about blood, but this is the truth.

Vampire Owl: That was some nice description. Tea should keep its greatness as the one grand drink. Now, I will require two more words. Here is my first word and the second of the series. Death.

Vampire Bat: Death, yes related to Lady Death, isn’t it? The one who has refused to see you for so long? I didn’t think that you would like to choose this one; otherwise I would have given a better clue earlier.

Vampire Owl: No, not directly. Yes, the Lady Death influence cannot be denied because she is always present everywhere. Even when she is not known to be with me, she is there; she is with us all. She knows us all and she can easily predict where most of our actions are leading us. Death does have an existence also without its personification.

Vampire Bat: You mean, as the great leveler, the one who brings equality to a world where everyone considers the other as inferior. There are not many problems that death cannot solve. What lies under the tombs shall always be the same.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and the talk about tombs bring me to the third word – Graveyard which is an extension of death. That makes it three; tea, death and graveyard. This should finish my role in this game.

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Vampire Bat: Yes, graveyard has had a special place for us throughout the history. I don’t see why can’t it become a favourite word. It has always been the place where things became better and there, all sufferings end. There is no better location which has given quality resting time.

Vampire Owl: It has also played a big role in the battles which were fought there, most of them being won by our kind. It has the record of being a lucky place for us, and it is approved by my zombie minions.

Vampire Bat: The zombies will surely find it the best word ever. But it is still not as powerful as death with all its glory. Graveyard needs death; more and more of it. May be the angel of death will bring more.

Vampire Owl: In the end, it all comes to death, the end of the story of lives, and it is undoubtedly the best word ever.

Vampire Bat: But for a lot of us, life is death and vice versa. Most of us never really live and we all die in the end. There are not many things which can equal living a dead man’s life with its melancholy.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

***The two images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of Hotel Transylvania.

TeNy

For the Restaurants

I have had a long history with the restaurants of my favourite towns, and I had already written about those five towns already. The restaurants at Aluva, Perumbavoor, Muvattupuzha, Kothamangalam and Angamaly have been part of my life for quite a long time because they are part of the routes which I have traveled a lot. Yes, a good number of restaurants around the city of Cochin also got a big part to play in the same. Throughout my life, I have loved many restaurants and decided not to visit a few ever.

I have rarely hated any of the restaurants because I have always found one interesting item in one form or the other. Most of my favourite restaurants were vegetarian, with only a few exceptions in each town. I have already written about how much of an integral part of my life, Indian Coffee House has been. But talking about the restaurants, or at least most of them, there are a few things which I would like to see at all of them. I am sharing them here.

Try providing only the needed amount of curry: When there is only one person having food, I am surprised that there is so much of the curry being provided whether it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. When I go outside with friends, if we are only two, we share one curry with the rice, Chappathi, Porotta, Appam or whatever we are having. This is the reason why I have some Dosa, Idli or Biriyani items which don’t require separate curry when I am alone. I am sure that I won’t be able to finish one full curry, but the restaurants can have the option of providing half-curry or sometimes even quarter-curry?

There Dal Fry which you see is usually enough for me and my friend :)

The Dal Fry which you see here with the roti is usually enough for me and my friend 🙂

Try not to make random assumptions: I have seen that many non-vegetarian restaurants bring Chicken Noodles, Chicken Fried Rice or Chicken Biriyani whenever we ask for Noodles, Fried Rice or Biriyani. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. There was a time when I had to chase the waiter to tell him that I actually meant Vegetable Biriyani only. This is really not fair. You can’t make me eat non-vegetarian just because the restaurant is non-vegetarian. I might have chosen this restaurant because of its location or due to the fact that someone who is with me wants to have non-vegetarian, and it needn’t be even chicken – it can be fish, mutton or anything else.

Make tea available at all times: Having anything cold might not be the right thing to do at all times, and so I would like to say, let there be tea! Yes, it has to be there all the time, from the moment the restaurant opens to the time when it closes. It has been a nice feature of restaurant chains like Indian Coffee House, but a lot of restaurants have failed to keep that property even as some combinations of bakeries and restaurants do manage the same. As the common man’s drink, tea should be available at all times, and at the cheapest possible price; it is rather a necessity.

Dosa means enough free sambhar, and tea at any time makes it better.

Dosa means enough free sambar, and tea at any time makes the situation a lot better.

Don’t hesitate to bring us the menu: Yes, please do bring that because even if you talk about what all are available in slower pace than that usual high-speed talk, we might not be able to follow that exactly as it is supposed to be. We might end up hearing something else, or may be you will just forget one name, and we won’t get that thing which we really want to have. It is really a loss on both sides, and lets keep things clear with the menu. Knowing the prices of all those things will also help. May be there can be a huge menu board on the wall like we usually see at the branches of Indian Coffee House – they are very useful.

Do have the restrooms for customers: Yes, this is very significant because when we are on the long drives, the presence of the same will only help to make sure that the customers make the visit. I have rarely been interested in visiting a restaurant without them, and hasn’t added them to my list of favourite restaurants. It is better to have them outside the restaurant too, or at least on the other side, quite far away from the kitchen. Some restaurants are really careful about the same, like the Carnival Food Court near Angamaly which maintains the cleanliness really well.

***The images used in this blog post were taken by me only.

TeNy

Tea in a Coffee Shop

Vampire Owl: Just order anything from the list. This is my favourite coffee shop, and today it is my treat.

Vampire Bat: This is a very nice menu with interesting pictures. But I will just have a cup of tea. If I need anything else, I will ask for another cup of tea. Thank you.

Vampire Owl: A cup of tea again! Do you know that it is intellectually weird to have tea in a coffee shop?

Vampire Bat: I have never seen anything weird in having tea anywhere. I will have it in the cemetery, library, almirah, underground or at the world’s end. I have never had coffee at Indian Coffee House either. I have always had tea. So why bother?

Vampire Owl: Wait till I get the Great Vampire Guide Book from our library. I will find something related to this in that book. There has to be a provision to ban this.

Vampire Bat: I am writing my own guide book. You can keep that old and outdated book for yourself. Even Uncle Dracula and the elder vampires don’t read that!

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Vampire Owl: So, you are not just the part-time writer; instead, you are officially a writer.

Vampire Bat: I was actually talking about writing the remaining pages of my life.

Vampire Owl: But why do you keep a broken pencil with you? I am sure that you can’t write with that.

Vampire Bat: It is part of my childhood collection. I used this pencil to play pencil fights with my friends.

Vampire Owl: I do not believe that. I know that there were only pen fights in school. I had a very heavy pen with me which I used to my advantage to win those fights. And I have a feeling that this is a magic pencil. It helps you to become a writer.

Vampire Bat: This is really a coffee shop, isn’t it? You make me feel that this is a bar.

Vampire Owl: Bars are banned. This could have been a beer and wine parlour, but this is a coffee shop.

Vampire Bat: You are still acting too strange. Do you have a problem that I got a broken pencil?

Vampire Owl: No! Not at all. You are the writer. But it reminds me of my childhood. One day, one of my classmates had a broken pencil. I had two pencils and still didn’t help him as I was a bad kid. This is a very emotional memory for me.

Vampire Bat: And then what happened?

Vampire Owl: Well, he still came first in the class without the pencil and I came second.

Vampire Bat: No wonder that it is very emotional moment for you.

Vampire Owl: Yes, and so I hate broken pencils, or all those pencils.

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Vampire Bat: Do you know why I actually keep looking at this broken pencil? It is more than just something from my long lost past.

Vampire Owl: Because it is broken and of no use, and then you realize that you don’t need a pencil which makes you extremely happy?

Vampire Bat: Absolutely not. I place it on the table as the symbol of my broken life. When my life gets better, the broken pencil will also be no longer broken.

Vampire Owl: Oh! That should be a writer thing.

Vampire Bat: Well, not exactly. I had this one with me for a very long time. I never really posted anything at that time.

Vampire Owl: So, it is just a Vampire Bat thing.

Vampire Bat: May be you can say that. But the fact remains that if you are even somewhat a writer, the broken pencil can easily be used as a symbol and a reflection of your life.

Vampire Owl: Just like I use my fangs. They are so bright and broken!

Vampire Bat: Lets not talk about the failed appointments with the dentists. Instead, we should finish the drinks.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it is time for the coffee shop to close. There is nothing to be done in life, but the shop has to close.

Vampire Bat: Death comes to us all, and life itself is a pencil waiting to be broken. But I hope not to leave this pencil broken for long. I am rather more concerned about this pencil than related to myself.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

***The images used in this blog post are from the Official Facebook Page of the movie, Hotel Transylvania.

TeNy

ICH: Our True Lifeline

Whenever we have travelled around Kerala in a car or on a two-wheeler, there was always the need for a place to have tea at regular intervals, and there was surely the need to have food. We couldn’t have food from here and there, because nobody can say for sure how good it is, especially by the quality. You might see the best looking restaurants, but there no guarantee about the quality, especially when wandering through those areas were there are no friends to recommend the best places.

The oldest memory that I ever had of a restaurant which still exists, goes back to the Indian Coffee House, even though that branch at Perumbavoor no longer exists, with another branch opening about eight kilometres from there instead. At that time, I used to say that I wanted to visit an Indian Coffee House, and any of those branches would do, because they were all the same, and there was quality. I had already visited every branch in Ernakulam district long before I was a teenager.

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Indian Coffee House is spread all over Kerala, as it has the largest number of branches in the state. It has evolved into being the best choice of the Malayalis all around. It is fully owned by the employees of the restaurant chain as a co-operative society, with a committee elected for management. The biggest encouragement for starting this chain of restaurant goes to the popular communist leader of Kerala, A.K. Gopalan who was a leading social activist in the state. You can see his portrait at every branch of ICH.

With its fifty year anniversary celebrated in 2008, this group of restaurants having its headquarters at Thrissur has its most number of branches there itself, along with the same number at the capital city of Trivandrum. Considering the branches from Thrissur to Trivandrum, they have the same price everywhere. The northern version of Indian Coffee House from Palakkad to Kasargode is kind of different, even with the structure remaining the same. You can notice the difference on the logo itself.

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Even though the Indian Coffee House from Central Kerala to the South which covers eight of the fourteen districts has been more of the thing of concern for me, I have found the quality very good in both cases, as I have tried both. The Thrissur based ICH does have the Poori Masala factor available at all times, which was replaced by Idli, and that too only in the morning for the Northern based ICH. The choices were less in the latter case. For the former though, most of the things shown on the menu are available throughout the day.

Lets get back to the Thrissur based ICH completely which deals with the Travancore-Cochin area, and you can actually check the rates from their website itself. After it opened a branch at Aluva, it had become our regular place to have some tea. I was highly disappointed when the branch at Muvattupuzha was closed, and it is quite an addition to the earlier shock given by the closing of their restaurant at Perumbavoor. Well, now Perumbavoor surely needs one, but not at that earlier location which is too crowded.

I would say that the best branch opened is at the Angamaly Bus Station, which is a very nice choice of location, as the town now got three of them. I have the opinion that each and every bus station, railway station, theatre and mall should have one Indian Coffee House near enough. Also imagine having one near those pilgrim centres. They have the best people serving food in their trademark clothing, and having the fine quality food. With the low costs and tasting nice and exactly the same in each branch, ICH always scores.

***The images used in this blog post were taken during some of my visits to ICH.

With love for the ICH tea
TeNy