10 things to experience in London

Dubai is great, but during the summer you might need a break. As the Dubai temperatures were still soaring in August, I found that break in London (my second favourite place after home :-D). If you are visiting the Old Smoke you will find umpteen lists on the web that will advice you to check out the top destinations in London, eat at the best places, and do the most exciting things that a tourist should do whilst in the bustling city. Well I followed most of the lists with few of my own additions during my last trip there and vouch for them all especially the street art walk in East London. But this time my trip was more of a homely affair than a touristy extravaganza, so my list is of the things you can experience in London when not in a rush to tick all the boxes on that itinerary.

  1. Feel the chill on the run – I was lucky enough to be welcomed by a lovely warm weather in London, but the evenings had a tingling chill. Away from the Dubai heat I thought of making the most of the outdoors and jumped into my running shoes. I never knew that running around Carshalton can be such an invigorating experience. With a cold tip of the nose and flushed cheeks, my mind opened up to senses which seemed to have been dormant for a while. Surrounded by nature, I let my shoes take me to every nook behind the lush greens and would advice any lost soul to go find themselves while running around this beautiful city.
  2. Add to your collection of pine cones and feathers – I came back from many of these runs with pockets full of pine cones and exotic feathers. Pine cones always remind me of my childhood, a good part of which was spent in collecting and painting pine cones back in Dehradun. Well, they do make really good decorations on my book shelf :-). And I can never forget those sultry afternoons spent looking for the most unique bird feathers for the summer school projects, and on finding a few, running to my grandmother to know which bird it belonged to. This trip to London refreshed these long forgotten memories and brought back some simple childhood pleasures.
  3. Go berry picking in the neighbourhood – Each day in London brings a new surprise with it. Whether you are on that run (one I just wrote about) or just visiting one of the parks, you are sure to come across plenty of berry bushes. This was a first for me, the experience of plucking a berry straight from the bush and popping it in my mouth, feeling the splash of juices swirling around my taste buds. Yum! But just be careful you know what you are popping in your mouth, don’t experiment with the poisonous ones 😛img_6041
  4. Bite an ice lolly to experience an epic brain freeze – Raise your hands, who all dream about those cute ice cream trucks filled with the delicacies from some icy, sugary, creamy wonderland?  Well, I do! And the best part about them is that they have my favourite flavours of ice lollies. I had a hard time choosing between the classic orange and the crazy cola, but finally settled for the Cola and then dug my teeth straight into the icy bar. Brrrrrhhhhh… Brain Freeze!img_5727
  5. Think of a story plot while sipping cider at a pub – The pub culture in London is centuries old and always makes me think of all my favourite writers and literary figures who must have come up with story plots that made history whilst sitting in such pubs. The whole pub culture brings out the romantic in me, so sitting alone or with some good company, sipping a glass of cider brought some interesting story ideas in my head. Hope I jot them down someday… but if you want to be transported back to those romantic centuries then this is something you have to experience.
  6. Feed the ducks and swans – With the breathtakingly beautiful commons and parks that London has, you will definitely come across a lake or a pond with a variety of duck species and elegant swans. Just sit around and watch them glide and if possible break some bread to share. Trust me, it’s therapeutic.
  7. Get some grass stains on your jeans – In London grass is greener on either side. So sit on it, roll on it, lie around till you feel absolutely one with Mother Earth. Read a book, stare at the sky, observe passersby, discover new species of bugs, blow on dandelions, or just look through your phone’s lens… there is so much you can do on that grass till you stain your jeans 🙂fullsizerenderfullsizerender-6
  8. Get to know the flowers – The flowers in London speak to you in the gentlest of ways, or maybe I just day dream too much. But the hues make for a perfect picture and the blooming buds always bring a smile to your face. So stop by and smell some flowers.
  9. Start the day with some English breakfast ( even Eggs Benedict can get you perky) – When in the English capital you have to start the day with a hearty English breakfast. Or just team up some equally scrumptious eggs benedict with a steaming hot chocolate and you will be in high spirits till your next breakfast.
  10. Make some furry friends – Yes, I know that most of us here in Dubai have colonies of adorable furry feline friends. But as a personal policy I expand my network of furry friends wherever I go. One can never have too many of them, and on a solo trip one definitely needs some good company right? Look who I met during this expedition 🙂  (I do advice you to take permission from owners before getting too chummy)

    So, that’s my list of life enriching experiences that I thoroughly enjoyed. Next summer if you happen to visit this pretty place, do try out some. Till then enjoy the weather in Dubai, because winter is coming!

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Weekend Getaways: Jebel Hafeet VS Jebel Jais

We brought in the New Year, 2016 with the resolution to travel the world like carefree birds all round the year and discover our true selves during one of such travels. Well, it was another drunken New Year’s Eve, I admit it. As we stumbled into our daily routines during the month, being a responsible, busy, and broke couple, we didn’t really let our resolution be pushed back into the closet. Every adventure does’t need an expensive flight ticket or a chunk of our non-existent savings. So we decided to make the most of our own surroundings. It was as simple as fuelling up the car to hit the road. We planned out two weekend getaways, first to Jebel Hafeet – the second highest mountain peak in the U.A.E and the next to Jebel Jais – the highest mountain peak in the U.A.E.

Destination 1: Jebel Hafeet

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We decided to explore in ascending order and chose to explore the second highest peak in the U.A.E. before we scaled the highest. It was a slight hazy Friday morning when we left from Dubai. We were driving towards Al Ain and the haze just got worse. After driving for nearly an hour and a half we reached the final climb. Flanked by ghostly silhouettes of queerly shaped peaks, the road uphill was wide and smooth. I squinted to get a better look and excitedly pulled down the window to get clearer pictures, resulting in a mouth full of dust and itchy eyes.

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The road was desolate but was under the sharp eyes of the falcons circling above. As we meandered up the hill we crossed a number of viewing points, but the view from each one was a white sheet of nothingness. I’m sure had it been a clear day, there would have been a lot to see and admire. But it just wasn’t our day. We hoped it would look better once we reached the top, but the haze just got thicker. Apart from the nearest peak we could barely see beyond. The top of the peak too seemed pretty much deserted sparing a few other weekenders, and that gave us some quiet moments to hark the eerie howl of the wind. There was an old fashioned canteen with limited food options. Its surroundings were not very appealing, with casually thrown garbage. Some broken squeaky swings creaked noisily as a few children played around. The place had a peculiar edge to it which made me feel calm yet a bit uneasy. We hung around a bit and then climbed back in the car with a head full of tangled, messed up hair.

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As our car rolled down the hill we admired the road but struggled to get just one chance to experience a clear view. It was an interesting drive and quite a different landscape but honestly there was nothing much we could do there. Yes, the weather wasn’t the best. But even if there was no dust and crazy wind, we really wouldn’t have spent more than an hour at Jebel Hafeet.

Destination 2: Jebel Jais

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The next Friday morning was thankfully a clear sunny day. For Jebel Jais we were to drive towards Ras Al Khaimah and it was little more than two hours from Dubai according to Google Maps. We had the right music and a favourable weather, so we were looking forward to a cracking drive.

As we were nearing our destination, we were amazed by the unstirred, immaculate beauty of the concrete landscape. We could see the towering wall of mountains in front of us and then in no time we plunged right through the cracks. With every bend we let out another gasp of surprise or admiration, and we just couldn’t help but stop every fifteen minutes to take some photographs and  of course lots of selfies 🙂

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As we delved deeper into the rocky maze, we spotted many families and groups who had claimed their spots and were enjoying a relaxing picnic. By the time we reached the top we realised that there was a massive crowd of campers and picnickers fully equipped with tents and  barbecues. There was a single food truck and a tiny tea stall, barely reachable because of the gaggle of visitors. The chatter was loud and cheery and was accompanied by head bobbing beats blaring from the truck. The place was packed and lively, and we did manage to squeeze in to place our order. Soon, with steaming hot shawarmas and deliciously crisp fries we found ourselves the perfect spot to enjoy our picnic. With a spectacular view, lip smacking fast food, and perfectly chilly breeze; the worries of the sudden, rampant traffic and crowd were forgotten and we just stared at the still rocky formations that stood tall and proud. The hue of the sky changed and we climbed a bit higher. The population below seemed immense but all we could see was beyond those peaks…the sky, the peace.

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In comparison, Jebel Hafeet was definitely quieter and placid, but Jebel Jais was serene despite being hugely popular and infested with tourists. The landscape and the drive were definitely more interesting and scenic at Jebel Jais, well of course after all it is the highest mountain peak in the U.A.E. I don’t regret going to Jebel Hafeet, but Jebel Jais is somewhere I would love to go again and again 🙂

Summer in Turkey

4 o’ clock in the morning, and we were at the check in counter, dealing with an extremely grumpy member of the Turkish Airlines ground staff. He was having a rather early and busy morning I suppose. I smiled at him meekly, and was glad to grab our boarding passes as he casually rapped them on the counter. I wonder what he would look like with a smile on his face, but then he had no business smiling at such an inappropriately early hour, it wasn’t he who had a vacation to look forward to!

Well, our vacation was just beginning and I couldn’t help but smile (even while I took short snoozes in the waiting lounge, I could feel every muscle on my face twitch into a smile.) The on-flight staff was much more welcoming and soon we were up above the clouds, feasting on a turkish breakfast. My husband and I thus embarked upon yet another memorable adventure to the historically rich and charming Republic of Turkey.

I had come up with a seven days itinerary after some intense three-month long research, and I can swear by the obsessive wanderlust-ful travel bug within me, that it was flawless. 🙂

Day 1

After a four hours long flight from Dubai International airport we landed in the European side of Istanbul at the Ataturk airport. Since our first destination was Cappadocia, we proceeded to the domestic airport just across the road to catch our connecting flight. Another hour and a half or so, and we landed in a quaint little airport surrounded by low, rugged hills. We were at the at the Nevsehir airport where our hotel shuttle was waiting for us and we were greeted by warm welcoming smiles. Once in Cappadocia, there is no way you can miss staying in a cave hotel. Goreme (the heart of the town) is infested with numerous charming cave hotels and you’ll be spoilt for choice. We stayed at the Grand Cave Suites and loved their hospitality. From a never-ending supply of apple tea and a home like ambience, it was a perfect pick.  We had half a day to explore our surroundings; so we set out on foot, roaming the steep, narrow, cobbled streets. We hit the Goreme market where you will find all the famous turkish souvenirs and interesting turkish cafe at every corner. The day ended with some mind numbing local Efes beer and a comforting clay pot kebab meal.

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Day 2

The day started with a breakfast of fresh fruits, variety of cheese, turkish bread with condiments and eggs, spinach pie and turkish tea. About 9:00 am, with stuffed bellies,we were ready to be picked up for our first guided tour. Most hotels in Cappadocia have tie ups with various travel agencies and offer different tours and activities which can be booked upon reaching the hotel or in advance too. The most popular tours are the Green tour and the Red tour priced around 35 to 40 Euros per person. We were picked up by Flintstones travel agency in a sixteen seater van for the Green tour. The itinerary of the tour covered the top sites of Cappadocia. Our first quick stop was at the Goreme Panorama with a breathtaking view of the rock formations.We then headed to the Ilhara valley – the longest and deepest canyon in Cappadocia, where we hiked for 3 kilometres alongside the river. Lunch was served at the end of the hike. We had two quick stops post lunch, the Nar lake – a serene water body with pristine beauty, and Selime famously called the Star Wars movie place.

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Our next intriguing destination was the Derinkuyu underground city, the deepest underground city going down about 55 feet and 8 levels underground! The tour came to an end with some insights about turkish jewellery, especially the turkish turquoise and silver and then some snap shots at the Pigeon valley. We were dropped back to our hotel post which we hiked up to the sunset point nearby in Goreme. We watched the sun go down and the fairy city full of curious caves lit up with an enchanting twinkle of lights.

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Day 3

The alarm went off at 3:30 am and for the first time in my life I was excited to wake up before dawn breaks. We were off for a hot air balloon flight, an experience you cannot miss if you visit Cappadocia. It is worth all the money and lost sleep. It is advisable to book the Balloon flight in advance to get a reservation with the top companies. I would recommend to get a booking with one of the top companies even though there prices are slightly higher, as their equipment is well maintained and they carry fewer people than the standard flights. We flew with Butterfly Balloons and loved it, and of course we landed without a scratch 🙂 Post landing we had a sweet landing ceremony with champagne, cake and fresh fruit.

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By 7:30 am we were dropped back to the hotel, right in time for breakfast and then we  headed out for the Red Tour. The red tour covers  some more fascinating sites around town. The Goreme open air museum, Uchisar Castle, Imagination valley, Love valley, Pasabagi, Urgup, and a unique turkish pottery experience at Avanos. The panaromic view of the fairy chimneys and the incrdible rock formations was a mind-boggling experience. The tour ended some wine tasting and wine shopping at the Turasan in Urgup. Towards the end of the day Amar and I stopped by the nearby Hamam to experience the turkish bath. O Boy! it was some experience for me. Apart from being relaxing it somehow was curiously liberating. You need to go and experience it to know what I mean. 🙂

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Day 4

We left early for the airport and caught a flight back to Istanbul. By 11:00 am we were in Istanbul sitting in the airport shuttle bus till Taksim Square. We were booked in a neat Hotel named Duo Galata situated in Beyoglu, and the airport shuttle seemed the cheapest and quite a convenient mode of transport as compared to the taxi. We chose to stay in Beyoglu because of its proximity to the tram stations and of course more the much talked about night life. We had some scrumptious Italian lunch at a local cafe down the street below our hotel and then set off towards Sultanahmet. The tram is the most convenient mode of transport within the city for which we bought the Istanbulkart card at the kiosk outside the tram station. We bought just one card between the two of us and kept swiping it twice wherever we went. The Istanbulkart is used from trams, metro, buses and even the ferry and can be topped up from any of the stations. We hopped off from the tram and made our way to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia. In the evening walked around Sultanahmet and Fatih in search for the cosiest place to eat.

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Day 5

We climbed up the Galata Tower for a 360 degree panoramic view of the beautiful city and then left to make it on time to the Topkapi Palace. There is just so much history to absorb there that we spent most of the day loitering around the palace. We lunched by the Bosphorous at the Konyali Cafe within the palace. Next int the itinerary was the famous Grand Bazaar, we walked and shopped till we dropped. Some juicy turkish baklava got us back to our feet and then we headed back to Beyoglu for the rest of the night. As we strolled in the streets past midnight, we enjoyed the bustling crowd and street music. Pubs and bars blared with music and the ice cream vendors rang the bells and called out to the customers. We had some lovely wine at 360 ( a hip bar in the area) and then walked backed to the hotel, licking the huge scoop of ice cream in our hands.

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Day 6

It had been great so far, but a trip to turkey isn’t complete till you cross the waters of the Bosphorous. We started our cruise from the Golden horn at the Eminonu station. We bought the tickets directly from the counter in the morning and opted for the 2 hour cruise. We sailed around the city till we touched the Sea of Marmara. As our boat anchored back at the station we headed on to the Spice market just across the street. With my first step in the narrow, bustling alley, I was bombarded with bold smells and colours. Spices, tea and sweets and a lot of friendly turkish salesmen, made me want to linger around for as long as I could. With bag full of baklava, spices and a variety of tea we took the tram back to Beyoglu and shopped for souvenirs till the last shop closed down ( which is usually past midnight).

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Day 7

It was our last day in the charming city of Istanbul, so we wanted to mostly relax and take in the beauty and history. We had breakfast by the Galata tower where I wrote out postcards for friends and family. Soon we were walking towards Istiklal Cadessi to ride back in time in the vintage red tram. The tram cut through the crowd and dropped us at the Taksim Square. As we slowly walked back breathing in the smells and sounds of the market area, we stopped by at St. Anthony Church. After a hearty lunch and guzzling down a few Efes beers, it was time to pack our bags and head to the airport.

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It was hard to say goodbye to the beautiful weather, the beautiful people and the beautiful city, but all good things come to an end. Turkey is a traveller’s paradise overflowing with culture, history, architecture, quaint markets, piquant food, and soothing wine.

Watch video snippets of our trip to Turkey on Youtube or Vimeo, follow any of the links below:

Summer in Turkey on YouTube

Summer in Turkey on Vimeo

Some tips if you too are planning a trip to Turkey:

  • In the summer months you will definitely need lots of sun block lotion and a hat.
  • You can carry Euros and exchange for Turkish Liras at the local reputed money changers as many places accept Euros as well, using your ATM card to withdraw cash as and when you need also falls economical.
  • If you love wine then do not forget to pick up a few bottles from the vineyards in Cappadocia, the wine is cheap and delicious.
  • Do not forget to pet the adorable cats of Turkey.
  • If you are from India you can forge many new friendships just by humming a few Bollywood tunes 🙂

Good Music = A Good Evening

I had heard a lot about Raaga Factory, not only from a friend who is a part of the band but also from other friends who have been in Dubai for a while now. A group of young Indian working individuals who decided to follow their undying love for music in their after -work life was quite intriguing to me. I missed a couple of their performances, but I finally managed to make it for one of them this month. It was a Friday night and Amar and I were speculating on how to make the most of it. We picked the option of going for the Raaga Factory performance, and drove till The Address Hotel in Marina expecting a pleasant evening with a  cozy crowd and some passionate amateur musicians jamming together. We were quite taken by surprise when we entered a massive hall filled with people all hooting and clapping. The stage was brilliantly lit up with some extravagant lighting and there was a whole lot of camera coverage (with live switching) projected on large screens. ‘This was going to be one rocking night’, I thought to myself because I never expected it to be such a groovy musical concert. 2015-04-11 13.42.33-3 The evening just got better as we ran into some friends and joined their table to enjoy some great soulful music (and some complimentary mojitos). Far from amateur, the musicians and singers of Raaga Factory sounded much like (or even better than) professional artists. Knowing the fact that each of them in the group has a regular job and they still manage to make time for their passion (which itself seems like a full-time job) is commendable. The variety of music they had to offer was another thing that surprised me. We walked in during the famous qawwali ‘Dama dam mast kalandar’, and soon we found ourselves foot-tapping to some retro hindi numbers. My evening was made when they even added some folk english music in their mixed bag of performances. I had never heard or seen ‘Blowin’ in the wind’ by Bob Dylan being performed live, and I couldn’t help clap so hard and smile even harder when Ishaan from Raaga Factory played the mouth organ with such finesse. 2015-04-18 17.20.18 Another deep voice that mesmerised us was of Payal’s who sang the latest Bollywood number ‘Mai tennu samjhawan’ (originally by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan), and left us craving for another performance by her. 2015-04-11 00.03.18 The mood was further pepped up by some more stirring  performances like ‘Garaj Baras’,’Sayonee’, and many other hit numbers. It was an evening well spent and quite exhilarating. To know about more about the group and their performances you could follow their Facebook page, and if you are a music lover and looking for a way to spend a great evening with friends or family listening to some of your favourite Indian and Western songs, then I highly recommend you to catch the next performance of Raaga Factory.

Biryani Chicken… Nothing authentic about it.

Last week my cat Johnny had to share the bed with my husband during his afternoon siesta as well (usually he tolerates people on the bed with him just at night… it was torturous for him). Amar was down with a nasty flu and was tucked in the sheets for four days. I came home one of the days to a very grumpy cat (obviously he wanted his own private space), and to a very sick and very hungry husband. I went straight to the kitchen with the thought of making a light comforting stew or soup for the poor lad, when he called out in a croaky, muffled voice demanding some spicy, VERY spicy chicken for dinner. He wanted so much spice that it opens up all his senses and he can discover his taste buds again. ‘Yes sir, that’s what you’ll get,’ I retorted as I went exploring (head in first) into the refrigerator.

I gathered my basic curry ingredients hoping to find few more green chillies to make it the most fiery curry ever! And then I stumbled upon a packet of ‘biryani masala’, which gave me a brain wave. I opened the packet and with one whiff I knew that there will be some very interesting flavours in this chicken curry. Just by fluke I created one of the best chicken curries that I have cooked on my own ( I usually end up with over done onions or some chicken swimming in a water pot). It was simple this time, full of love, spice and everything nice. ;-P Amar took two big helpings and had some for lunch the next day, and seemed quite content each time. So I thought of sharing my recipe with you all, it may come in handy when you want some spicy comfort food to share with your family.IMG_20150406_154138

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

1kg Cut Chicken (with bone), cleaned and washed

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 Large Onions, finely chopped

1 Cup pureed tomatoes

5-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 inch piece of finely chopped ginger

4 small green chillies, finely chopped

2 Tbsp Mustard oil (or any cooking oil you prefer)

1 tsp Cumin seeds

2 Bay leaves

1 stick Cinnamon

4 Cloves

1 Cardamom

4-5 whole Black Peppercorns

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 packet Biryani Mix/ Masala (readily available in the market, you can use any brand or if you prefer to make authentic homemade biryani spices please do share the recipe with me 🙂 )

A knob of butter

Salt to taste

Fresh Coriander for garnishing

Marinade:

2 Tbsp Yogurt

1 tsp mustard oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 packet Biryani mix/ masala

Method:

  1. Marinate the chicken and keep aside for half an hour.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan or wok and add cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, black peppercorns, and cardamom. Let the spices crackle.
  3. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and onions. Stir fry till the onions are golden brown.
  4. Add the potatoes and stir fry for 5 mins.
  5. Add the green chillies and pureed tomatoes and cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add coriander powder, chilli powder, biryani mix and salt.
  7. Now add the marinated chicken and mix well. Add the butter, cover and let it cook for 7-10 minutes on medium flame.
  8. Add 500 ml of water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  9. The chicken is now ready to go straight on to your plates, garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steaming rice.

Amar devoured it with gusto, he went at it with all his fingers, then the entire palm and for 15 minutes we didn’t speak a word. That was followed by a second helping and a satisfied smile. Aah! the joys of cooking for a gourmand husband 🙂

Get FNLed!

Fridays in Dubai for me are almost the same. Have a heavy lunch, chill at the mall and then watch a film. The last Friday had a similar itinerary. Amar and I had a hefty Indian meal along with a few friends and then headed to the mall for window shopping (it eventually turned into a wallet emptying, card swiping activity). The ritual wasn’t complete without a film, so we excitedly made way to our seats in the theatre to watch Furious 7 (I won’t get started about the film here, it has to be a separate post). The film ended, leaving me in tears (what? the tribute to Paul Walker struck an emotional cord!) and they were also tears of satisfaction to have yet another perfect but mundane Friday. (We are almost on auto pilot mode now). The final lap was to drive back home listening to our favourite playlist, but miraculously there was a change of plan.

One of our friend from work (Sunny) had a live stand up performance (his second performance in Dubai) and we felt it was our moral duty to go cheer for him. Being an expat I am very particular about being there for fellow expats in good times and bad. So with a few exchange of whatsapp messages we had the information about the time and venue (which is a stone’s throw away from our home), and we were on our way. Amar was still under the Furious 7 influence, I felt like we were a part of some chase sequence. But thanks to that, we managed to reach Sports City just in the nick of time. We almost barged inside without the hand tags being given at the entrance, as we heard Sunny’s voice on the microphone. And we ran in at that precise moment.2015-04-03 21.01.47

The weather was clear and pleasant and the place had a relaxing vibe to it. The cosmopolitan crowd was at ease with a mug of beer or a glass of wine, whilst they all laughed at the subtle jokes cracked by Sunny. He elaborated upon a lot of Indian idiosyncrasies, which made me nod furiously in agreement and many giggled with amusement. The show wasn’t over after his performance. There was another stand up comedy act by Tanuj who kept the laughter alive and later we all swayed to a brilliant musical performance by Joe and Faye. (They played the melodica, I heard that instrument for the first time and it was interesting). The night wasn’t over till people could shake a leg or two on some African beats by DJ SD.

Apart from Sunny’s rib-tickling stand up act, what made my evening really charming was the enormous mug of Guinness Irish beer, that I gulped down with some unforgettable fried fish and chicken.IMG_20150404_123657

It was a night under the open starry sky with a calming breeze, good food, great beer, pleasant company, friendly crowd and some enriching live acts.Oh! and did I forget to mention it was a free entry? So it was a win-win in every aspect.

Honestly, it was one of my most well spent Friday nights ever since my big move to this wonderful city, and I can see the rest of my Friday nights being even better till 8th of May (there will be a live event every Friday till 8th of May at Friday Night Live in Sports Village). It’s time to plan your Fridays in Dubai too. What are you waiting for? Get FNLed! I hope to see many of you Dubai people tomorrow.. or the Friday after that… and then again the next week.. so on and so forth.. at FNL.

To get updates on the Friday Night Live events and schedules, I think it is a good idea to check their Facebook page or just refer to their website. It’s just a click away.

http://www.fridaynightlive.ae

P.S. – Sorry for all the blurry and not so aesthetic pictures, either I need a new phone or it was just too much Beer! I hope to do better next time 🙂

Circle of FOOD

It was one of those hungry days at work today when in-spite of getting my lunch box from home, I was craving to grab someone else’s food to devour. But to my despair, nobody seemed to be carrying any lunch (or they secretly hate me and were just hiding all the food). The Saturday afternoon was getting lazier as Amar and I stepped out of office to walk around in search of a quick miracle meal. The wind was almost like a wizard of oz(ish) tornado that literally transported us across the road, and we found ourselves standing with a head full of messed up hair squinting up at a big black board with neat white letters reading ‘Circle’. We followed the whiff of aromas leaking through the edges of the glass door and found ourselves in a cozy little cafe splashed with the warm welcoming smiles of the Circle staff.2015-04-04 14.37.18

We were guided to the most comfortable looking sofas next to the window where I encountered a very creatively designed menu – The Circle Times.  With  story snippets about its bagel loving founders (Mira and Rama), The Circle Times also includes a lot of fun facts about the food options in their menu. We ordered the soup of the day along with a family salad about which Mira had quipped, “The family salad started when someone in the Circle family asked for a salad that included everything we have.”

I was a bit worried about the prices in the menu and I wasn’t sure if I would like to pay that much for a simple cafe meal on a regular basis, but once our order arrived all my concerns were buried under the huge heap of food that arrived. An enormous bowl of heavenly broccoli soup (the bowl was much bigger than what it looks like in the picture, trust me!), and a deep dish carrying a mound of salad overflowing with perfectly roasted chicken, made me first gasp out loud and then sigh with pleasure. The tender roasted pumpkin chunks were a surprise and added a smooth melting texture to the salad which was well complimented with the creamy Italian burrata cheese.2015-04-04 14.11.24

Just a simple soup and a salad was enough to extinguish our enormous appetites (and believe me, we both can really stuff ourselves). We paid a bill of AED 64 and were satisfied for hours, plus we enjoyed a great ambience, I admired their inviting book shelf (my hands itched to grab a book or two, but I had to get back to work remember?), and they had some lovely white roses on each table to make us smile. I definitely see myself being a regular here. 🙂

So when are you grabbing your next meal at Circle (if you haven’t already), or celebrating a birthday or anniversary there? (they did get an utterly sinful cake for a birthday girl lunching with her friends there today, the staff also sang for her!)…

Check out their website to read more about the lovely place, to skim through their menu or to know their locations… and do tell me if you like the place as much as I did. #circlecafe #dubaistudiocity

http://circle-cafe.com