Monday, September 8, 2014

The Old World Charm of Fontainhas

I first came across Fontainhas when I did an online search for self-guided walks in Goa. Located in Panaji, the capital of Goa, and also known as the Old Latin Quarter, Fontainhas is famous for its pretty and colourful Portuguese-style private residences. I was charmed by the description and the many images of Fontainhas available online convinced me that I should visit the area while in Goa.
So after a day spent at Old Goa, I decide to head towards Fontainhas. There’s only one problem: my cab driver has no idea where it is with the result that we spend quite a bit of time in asking around and locating Fontainhas.
It is an hour before sunset when we finally arrive at the Panjim People’s Inn, a landmark in the area and now an art gallery. I would have loved to see the exhibits at the gallery, but have to give it a miss as otherwise I will not be able to take advantage of the remaining daylight to see Fontainhas.

A walk through Fontainhas reveals an old world charm in old, colourful houses with tiled roofs, narrow curving streets, vintage house signs, children playing football, a vintage car or two, gift shops selling souvenirs … The only thing that does not have a splash of colour is the local St. Sebastian’s Church; it’s whitewashed, neo-classical, single-towered fa├žade is in stark contrast to the colored houses all around.
In spite of the evening time, it’s quiet and peaceful and it’s easy to imagine a bygone era. If not for all the modern cars around me, I would probably have thought that I had travelled back in time.
I wish I could have spent some more time at Fontainhas, but daylight is fading fast and there is nothing more that I can see. I drop into Marcou’s Artefacts to pick up some gifts for friends and family before I leave.

My last view of Fontainhas is from the steps of the nearby Church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception. Or rather it’s an imagined view as I can’t really see any of the buildings of Fontainhas and can only imagine them hidden behind the trees and out of sight. A colourful blue building with red windows opposite the church is a reminder of the wonderful evening that I have just spent at Fontainhas.

Sudha is one of the founders of #TSBC (or The Sunday Book Club), a traveller, a bookworm, an editor, a communications consultant, an amateur photographer, a Classical music (Indian, Western, and Arabic) lover, a mythology enthusiast, a closet graphic designer... She claims that she is a nerd who is chained to her office desk during the day, reads books and listens to music in the evenings, and dreams of travelling to faraway lands at night. In between all this, she finds time to blog a bit. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Walk of Stars, Broad Street, Birmingham

Did you know there was a Walk of Stars in Birmingham, UK? It might not be as grand as the Walk of Fame in the US, but nevertheless this little tribute to the local artists is something that should be celebrated.

You won’t find tourists or locals getting down on their knees to take photos with the “stars”, but this little initiative from the Broad Street businesses does pay homage to the various “celebrities”, mostly from the fields of TV, Cinema, Sports, Music, and other such arts, who have strong linkage to Birmingham or the surrounding areas, and those who have made prominent contributions to their respective fields.

The first in the series of the stars than can be found along the length of Broad Street at different locations, was presented to Ozzy Osbourne on 6th July 2007. Since then there have been 27 more stars that have been added including influencers like Chris Tarrant, Beverly Knight, Julie Walters, Frank Skinner, Noddy Holder, Jasper Carrot and the likes.  

Since the stars are placed without any real order and are not marked, it does make for a nice trip as you walk along Broad Street to try and find your favourite local artist. On the other hand, without any guide one can miss out on a number of these. Another reason why the Walk of Stars is not as popular as its counterparts is that it features local artists and thus overseas tourists might not be aware of most of them.

Nevertheless, the Walk of Stars remains a well appreciated initiative that does make a first timer stop and look and if they are familiar with the celebrity, maybe even smile and take a photo of/with the star.  

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Johnny Rockets

It's all Americana from the moment one enters this classic "original burger" joint from the West and it stays that way till the very end. Johnny Rockets' newest branch, in Ambience Mall Gurgaon, with its "diner" like decor is the place to go for some comfort food. With an open kitchen plan, Johnny Rockets is primarily filled with a table-chair seating style, but a small section comprises of barstools which keeps the entire diner look as authentic as one can possibly have when it comes to commercially run restaurants. The staff is friendly and it's quite clear that the notion of service with a smile has been infused into them wholly during training.  

Off late many restaurants have a theory that the key to success is offering as many different cuisines as possible. While this does work because it helps bring in people with varied tastes, it can also backfire as the chef(s) just might not be as good in everything on the menu as compared to specific food which is their specialty. Since over time I too have gotten used to such restaurants, my initial reaction on reading the menu at Johnny Rockets was that it was a bit bland and very limited in choices with burgers and shakes taking most of the space and that too once again in limited numbers. But, it wasn't till I was half way through my mean that the beauty of the simplicity of what they serve truly struck me. They might have only a few choices in comparison to the many other places, but they seem to know their strong points, and the fact that they make it perfect, with the focus being on the product and service, is what matters in the end.

The entire ambiance at Johnny Rockets is very laid back, something that is essential when you just want to take a bite in-between carrying shopping bags for your wife. There is also an aura of fun in the air, something that is heightened by the song and dance routine that is performed every half an hour or so by the staff. Another aspect about the entire meal that stood out was the choice in music that was played at the restaurant, which stayed honest to the theme, with rock and pop songs from the 50s to the early 80s.

While all the superficial elements in a restaurant add on to the way a customer feels, the most essential aspect is the food itself. Here again Johnny Rockets comes away with flying colours.

The milkshakes that come in glasses with that little extra bit served in tumblers is a nice little gimmick that works perfectly, especially when the said milkshake (Vanilla for me and Hershey's Chocolate for the wife) is perfect in terms of not being too sweet or too thick.

Johnny Rockets also has options for the somewhat health conscious and the Streamliner vegetable burger that sports a delicious soya patty is highly recommended if you want something light. Unfortunately, the potato fries that accompany the burger are very basic and not at all impressive. A helping of freshly made hand-cut fries would have gone a long way and would certainly be much appreciated.

Lastly, the Shredded Chicken Philly Sandwich that I had was juicy beyond comparison. The stuffing reminded me of the kind one finds in a Doner Kebab which compensates the dryness of the bun, making it very tasty especially if you include the freshness and crunchiness of the green salad side that accompanies the dish.

Who would have thought that keeping it simple can have such an effect, but Johnny Rockets does exactly that, but focusing on their strengths they guarantee delicious food that would certainly make this foodie visit them again real soon.    

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Competition - WIN! Travel related Music CDs & Books.


To be in for a chance of winning the above pictured stuff you need to follow the blog (via email or by clicking the Follow/Join the Site button on the right). Please note that following on Bloglovin does not count. Also, if you follow via email please make sure that you activate your subscription. Inactive subscriptions will not be counted.

If you are on twitter, you can get brownie points by following @raghavmodi 

You can even get more brownie points by tweeting the following;

"If you want to #WIN some awesome Travel Books and CDs, follow @raghavmodi and enter his #Competition at"

Once you have done the above, simply comment below stating you are taking part and also how you have followed the blog so that I can check just before I pick the winner on June 12, 2014.

Your participation entitles you be in the draw for winning;

1.     5 Travel inspired Music CDs
2.     Tuscany for Beginners by Imogen Edwards-Jones: a light and funny holiday read, one of my personal favourites.
3.     Delhi 101 by Ajay Jain: a book that gives you an insight into the best (hidden) places to visit in Delhi.
4.     The CD of the movie Road signed by the star Antra Mali

Although it won’t make any difference but Ticker is also on Facebook. I always appreciate a follow with the promise that I shall not spam your timeline.

Now for some other T&C's
This competition is valid in India only
The prizes will be delivered to an Indian address.
Incomplete entries will not be considered.
The final decision lies with the blog owner.
No cash alternatives will be given.
The prize will be sent via post and we are not accountable for late/lost/damaged/stolen prizes.
The prize cannot be substituted or refunded.
Only one entry per household will be considered.
Competition ends on June 12, 2014 at midnight.
Winner will be contacted via Twitter or by a mention on the blog post. If you do not contact back within a week, a new winner will be selected.