Egypt Again.

the last time i visited egypt was in June, 2011, a little more than five years ago. it was more of a stop over on the way to my final destination, new york. we decided to stay for two days with the primary intention of visiting the pyramids and the sphinx.

this time it was different. A has been wanting to visit egypt ever since he can remember. i had an off from work on the 6th of July {which also happens to be my birthday} so we decided to make a short trip out of it.

A has colleagues in Cairo, a family of four. he’s very friendly with them and they had been inviting us to come over for a while. we decided to spend 2 days in cairo at their home. two days in el gouna this beautiful resort town by the red sea {around a 4.5 hours drive from cairo} and the remaining two days in el ain sokhna another resort town by the red sea {around a 1.5 hours drive from cairo}.

we flew via egypt airlines. cairo is a short 5 hour plane ride from mumbai. on learning of our plan, a lot of people asked us whether it was safe to travel to egypt. we inquired with our friends in cairo {who informed us that it was 95% safe} and decided to take the slight risk.

Day 1.

we landed in cairo at around 5.30 am! our friend ashraf picked us up at the airport and drove us to his house in heliopolis which is a 15 minute drive from the airport. he showed us around his beautiful home {which was to be our home too, for the next few days} and we met his sweet wife and the two most adorable kids. seline {1.5} and mark {5}.

after having an Egyptian breakfast of falafel {it’s not just a lebanese staple! but egyptian too}, ful {egyptian flava beans} eaten with aish baladi {egyptian flat bread}, koshari {egyptian rice with lentils} scrambled eggs and cheese.. we took a tour of old cairo and visited the coptic district of cairo  and its’ several churches {ashraf and his family are catholics}.

it was 35 degrees and sunny .. but old cairo is beautiful and we didn’t mind the sun at all.

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^^ walking around the streets of old cairo with ashraf and his family^^

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^^ something about narrow lanes ^^

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^^ A and Seline….up until then i had never seen A even hold a child. seeing the two of them bond the entire trip made me SO happy. i think it’s safe to say now that he likes kids^^

at night we saw the pyramids of giza and the sphinx. the sound and light show. we were 6 of the 15 people in total who were there to watch the show. it was a friday night and a public holiday.

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it’s sad that a sight as beautiful and mesmerizing as the pyramids of giza and the sphinx {one of the seven wonders of the world} attracts such few people these days. it has a lot do with political instability in the region {two revolutions in 5 years!} and worldwide terrorism in general. and it saddened me so very much to see all the locals outside trying so hard to sell us their souvenirs. running after us and even begging, ready to sell them for as low as 1 USD. Ashraf informed us that a few years ago they would sell the same souvenirs for 20 USD and we would have had to reserve seats for the sound and light show a week in advance!

i hope and pray that things get better for them soon. and that the egypt tourism industry bounces back to its former glory days which it well deserves.

the machan

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A and i have been fortunate enough to have traveled a lot in our first few months of marriage.

there’s no better ‘quality time’ then going away, just the two of you.

a few of our closest friends gifted us a weekend stay at the machan, lonavla and we can’t recommend it enough to people.

it’s a very different concept. they have tree villas with glass walls, which make you feel very connected to nature. also, they don’t have wifi or phone network. which made A a very happy man {i survived! only because it was just a weekend}

we stayed at the sunset villa. and had our very own outdoor hot tub. in the evening we took a stroll around the property and found out about their yoga classes. A and i both joined in, and it was extremely relaxing {although i practice yoga regularly at home with my teacher, somehow doing it at the machan surrounded by nature, was a whole different feeling}.

the machan has both lunch and dinner buffets with simple indian cuisine options. we both liked the home-made taste of the dishes.

we ended the night with a one-hour game of scrabble which to my surprise, he won :/ who knew about his hidden vocab knowledge?

i tell you, this man, it’s been three years {almost} and there’s still so much to learn about him. and that right there is my favorite part of our marriage.

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^^us^^

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^^ the best part of our villa ^^

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^^ scrabble wars^^

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^^ beautiful flowers everywhere^^

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^^ duplex for two^^

leheir pranaya shah

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last week, A and I were blessed with a beautiful baby niece, leheir.

being a masi is so much fun. i see her pictures 23+ times a day. and watching them takes away all the stress i have at work ;p. they make me v v happy.

cannot wait until september when i get to hold her in my arms. there will most definitely be tears. happy tears.

…normally i would have filled this post with a whole lot of pictures of her, but my unfortunately {for you} sister has this strict no-social media policy for leheir. so we have to just do with just  this one.

the only people for me are the mad ones

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a few days ago on the suggestion of another blogger, i bought the kindle version of ‘blackout: remembering the things i drank to forget’ by sarah hepola.

i am quite literally in love with this book. and i’m only halfway through. can’t remember the last time a book has made me laugh this hard.

generally, i tend to read books which are a lot more serious.

this book makes me realize how much i love reading or listening to clean honest words. i love it when people write/ talk with no inhibitions. people who are truly themselves. no holds barred. no pretensions. they maybe mad to some, crazy to others but to me – they are my kind of people.

if someone had to ask me what i would have chosen to be, had i not been a lawyer – i’d say a writer. but i’d go to grammar class first. my sister never misses a chance to point out one of the million grammatical errors in my blog posts… in my defense – legal drafting is to blame  and only lawyers would know what i mean by that ;)

Dubai

we went to dubai in january, 2016. the last week of january. it’s already been two whole months.  have been meaning to write about our time there before. but man, does time fly…

it will forever be one of my most memorable trips with the husband. yet.

we didn’t do much. mostly just ate really good food. shopped at the dubai mall. swam a lot {does jacuzzi count as swimming?} and spent quality time with few of our favorite people.

we stayed at husband’s friends house near downtown dubai. very close to the burj khalifa. which was great as that’s where most of our friends stay so everything was walking distance. also they were just moving in themselves, so helping them unpack and sort the furniture was a fun and new experience.

the dubai shopping festival was going on and they had a beautiful outdoor market at the burj khalifa park, all the days that we were there. husband and i walked by the outdoor market on our way to the khalifa.

on this trip, we finally got to try  pappa roti! AND it’s gone right to the top on my list of favorite foods. i liked the regular bun. but husband liked the nutella one better.

one night we kinda ‘crashed’ a bachelorette and chandni and i  had an amazing meal at zuma. inn my previous visits to zuma we mostly just had their cocktails. but guys their truffle mushroom rice?!? i’d go back just to have another bowl of it ;)

we tried out cafe habana and the mexican food there was surprisingly good. so were their drinks {a.k.a the blow job shop. no seriously}

we also went for the arab health expo importers meet at the habtoor grand beach resort and met few of husband’s colleagues from germany. post dinner we had a few drinks at buddha bar with chris and anette. it was a night that we would never forget. our last one  with chris {r.i.p. chris, you will forever be in our hearts}

although i left early. was there just for 4 days. husband stayed back a few more nights for work. it was sad leaving him behind. and just leaving dubai. over time i have grown to really like the city

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^^ jacuzzi time with baby rajveer on the 76th floor was something else! there was a slight chill in the air and the view was amazing. husband joined in too, only by then we were too comfortable to get out and take more pictures.  sorry you were missed out A!^^

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^^ pappa roti regular bun. my favorite^^

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^^and husband’s favorite. which was great because we didn’t have to share^^

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^^ bachelorette time – at zuma. too bad we didn’t get any pictures of the food ^^

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^^ breakfast with husband at the IHOP. my standard order, the buttermilk pancakes + mushroom and spinach omelette^^

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^^ the cocktails at buddha bar. husband went back again on his last night just to have another espresso martini ^^

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^^ our very last night with chris…. so grateful to have had a chance to meet him in this lifetime. he will be missed dearly :( ^^

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^^ shake shack. husband tried his shake shack burger for the very first time and he wasn’t disappointed ^^

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^^ vapiano. need to eat at this one in every city we go to^^

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^^ chandni and i, shopping at the mall while the husbands were at work ^^

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^^ view from the top ^^

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^^ mexican cola! am always up for trying new colas ^^

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^^ cute little cafe at the dubai mall, which unfortunately we did not try.^^

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^^ customary touristy picture^^

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^^ dubai buses ;) ^^

things about us

  • we met at a wedding in goa. he was the best man. she made the first move.
  • one year and 6 months later he proposed in goa. it was her birthday.

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  • he stalked her all the way to madras cafe once. she was having lunch with her  mum. it was their first week , dating.
  • he still denies it. says it was a ‘coincidence’
  • he has a dog named hugo. when they first started dating he had to lock hugo in the terrace before she  agreed to step into his house.
  • these days hugo refuses to eat unless she’s sitting besides him. he likes to watch her face while he eats
  • he isn’t afraid to pick up snakes.
  • she is scared of cockroaches.
  • we both love good food. and make it a point to go on a date at least once a week
  • he doesn’t like her late work hours. he doesn’t eat dinner till she gets home from work. even if its 11 pm.
  • he drives way too fast.
  • she doesn’t know how to drive.
  • she loves  planning  his birthdays. even months in advance. he doesn’t really like birthdays.
  • he has a temper.
  • she loves sharing a room with him.
  • he doesn’t like sharing his pillow. he has a designated one.
  • some days he doesn’t let her get out of bed. she gets late to work those days.
  • we fight a lot. sometimes they lasts for more than a day.
  • eventually we make up. and those days..they are the very best.

happy list

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every time i feel low or just not grateful enough about the way things are, i try to come up with a happy list. sometimes i even ask my friends to email/ message me theirs.

it always works like a charm.

within moments you find your self snapping out of the mind frame you’ve been in and grinning to your self {and getting weird looks from all your colleagues}

right now happens to be one of those moments. so here’s a list of what makes me smile…

1) babies – small, fat, tiny, chubby, black, laughing, crying, white or brown. basically all kinds of babies and absolutely everything about them.

2) the rains. the smell of rain. the feel of it. and how beautiful it makes my city look from the window by my desk.

3) the swedish berries green tea from the coffee bean and tea leaf.

4) snuggling in bed with my husband at the end of a long day at work, watching a crime show on netflix {marvel’s daredevil currently}

5) when a random restaurant you visit surprises you with really good food

6) a glass of sangria {or lets just make that glasses ;)}

7) swimming pools – swimming, floating or just lounging. i’m a water baby, you see.

8) reading a good article or book. an article/ book on reading of which you want to immediately call a friend or husband {in my case} to discuss.

9) memories {happy memories} – memories of family, friends, vacations and of people you once knew.

10) listening to cheerleader by O.M.I. – it’s been around for a while, but the song has a way of lifting my spirits. i try to listen to it on my way to work {when the spirits need lifting the most ;)}

feel better already! would love if you guys could  email me your happy lists, would love to read them!

ubud

we spent an entire day in ubud.

we visited the rice terraces, the batik painting stores, the wood carving stores and the bali zoo ! {fun fact – what i liked about the bali zoo is that unlike most other zoos that i have visited, the bali zoo has some fun interactive activities that each visitor could opt for. A and I chose to feed the crocodiles and the tigers at nominal extra costs.

at night once we returned to our hotel in seminyak, we visited the kudeta beach club {food tip – if you are vegetarian do NOT try their sushi. have the pizzas instead}

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^^ batik painting which is a technique of wax-resist dyeing of cloth ^^

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^^ feeding the crocodiles and the tigers. for those few hours we were kids again. ^^

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^^ the beautiful rice paddy fields of ubud. it was a 45 minute trek to the top, unfortunately i forgot to wear sneakers, so i had to do with slippers throughout! let’s just say it wasn’t very easy and A wasn’t v happy with my shoe choice that day^^

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^^ unfortunately the only picture i have of kudeta^^

other fun things we did in bali because really this could go on for several most posts…..

Visit the dovetail – we happened upon it while we were walking around seminyak square. their bartenders whip up some of the best cocktails in seminyak. also the owner was super nice and gave us lots of dishes to try out {on the house!} he was a delight and we spent hours at the bar just talking about how similar our traditions and cultures were!

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^^ the tomato balls at dovetail were amazing ^^

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^^ with the namesakes! my husband and the owner shared the same name and birth dates! how co-incidental ^^

Also visit saigon street if you happen to be around the potato head beach club. they serve some great vietnamese food and the most good looking sangria i have ever seen!

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if you like desert as much as we do, try out the fat turtle. we had the red velvet pancakes and the nasi goreng. but everything on the menu looked so v tempting >>>

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and last but not the least – the truffle polenta fries at sisterfields is a MUST try. i’d go back to bali just to have those again ;)

all in all it was a great vacation. A and i  met so many people from around the world.

i say this every time i’m back from a vacation but its amazing how people  from different countries and cultures are deep down all so very similar. we think the same things and believe in the same principles. well most of us anyway….

bali (continued)

we sat in our beautiful hotel for almost all of day 3.

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^^ our beautiful villa…. when we first booked it, i was v excited about the thought of having our very own  pool right beside our bed, but we barely used in the six days we stayed there. ^^

we stayed at aria luxury villa and spa at seminyak.

the temperature on that particular day was upwards of 40 degree Celsius. we finally made our way out of the room just to grab a bite.

since potato head beach club was just only few minutes walk away, we decided to try their indonesian restaurant called Lilian.

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^^ our meal of grilled tofu in yellow curry, Indonesian chicken curry and fried catfish with some steamed rice.^^

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^^^ we had heard so much about rock bar before we left for bali but nothing could have prepared me for this incredible view. it was a 40 minute drive from our hotel and totally worth the ride.  also it helps that they whip up some of the best cocktails in bali. ^^

after having a few drinks at the rock bar, my husband surprised me with an amazing meal at this hip new restaurant in Bali  called cuca. he had done a bit of research before we left the hotel and come to know about it. the meal, which was fusion indonesian, was incredible and there was an indonesian wedding going on right by our table {it’s an indoor/ outdoor restaurant}. such a perfect date. it’s unfortunate we took no pictures !!

bali

we went to bali for our honeymoon.

we only had a week to celebrate, as we had to get back for our v close friend’s wedding in mumbai. so bali seemed to be the perfect solution.

spent 6 days 6 nights in bali. and 1 whole day traveling.

we flew via singapore {singapore airlines} but didn’t stop over as i had visited singapore just a few months before

{will go again someday with A, as i really liked the city/ country}

A and i decided to stay seminyak throughout the 6 days and 6 nights {best decision!} and seminyak happened to be one of my favorite places in bali.

it’s buzzing, lively and filled with cute little restaurants and bars all over. it is also home of the famous beach clubs {potato head, kudeta, mozaic etc}

an entire day was spent at potato head beach club. {we would end up coming back every day after…for lunch/ dinner or just a drink} also it helped that our hotel was a stone throw’s away from the beach club.

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^^ potato head beach club {i kid you not when i say that we spent an ENTIRE day here. We saw a beautiful sunset, swam a lot and  made so many friends with people who were from all over the world^^

to make up for the lack of traveling and sightseeing on day 1, we decided to fit in as many ‘things to do’ on our bali list as we could on the next day

the next day morning we scuba dived and para-sailed in nusa dua. it was one of most enjoyable moments of our vacation.unfortunately we forgot to take any pictures during this time.

after the water sports, we visited the famous luwak coffee plantations near uluwatu. the luwak coffee is said to be the most expensive coffees in the world as it is made from part digested coffee cherries which are eaten and thereafter defecated by an asian palm civet, the luwak! not being a fan of coffee i decided to stay awaybut A tried and loved the strong taste of the coffee.

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^^ at the luwak plantation… where along with luwak coffee we tasted several other flavours of tea and coffee. my favorite was the lemongrass tea. ^^

after visiting the luwak plantations, our driver took us to a hidden beach called the padang padang beach. the path to the beach is rocky and cumbersome, but you are in for a treat once you get there. the water in the beach is beautifully clear and the beach is almost deserted. it has great waves and is a popular surfing spot for surfers from around the world.

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^^ patang patang^^

we ended the day with a visit to the ulawatu temple at uluwatu which is around a 30 minutes drive from seminyak. it is built a top a 70 mtrs cliff over looking the sea and is a balinese sea temple. in the evenings they have a traditional balinese dance show called the kecak and fire dance, depicting the ramayana. i’m glad we made it just in time for the dance show and the sunset!

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at night after we got back to the hotel, we went for a late dinner at what would turn out to be one of favorite restaurants in seminyak – the motel mexicola cantina. it is such a fun place. with an elevated dance floor, the restaurant turns into a mini club post 9 pm. and it helps that the mexican food was amazing.

fast forward to Udaipur

i haven’t received my wedding pictures from the photographer as yet. it may be a while before i get them and it only makes sense to post about the wedding/ reception/ cocktail party once i receive the pictures.

so lets fast forward to udaipur?

udaipur was my top choice for a destination wedding. unfortunately we didn’t go ahead with the idea of a destination wedding {too much planning and with both of us working all day we had little time}

so my very sweet family decided that we would all go to udaipur post the wedding and spend three days to celebrate the marriage  and to detox ofcourse…

we were around 30 of us and had the entire top floor of the hotel to ourselves.

we stayed at the fatehgarh palace which is about 30 mins away from the city center. it’s a breathtaking property. calm and peaceful and has some of the most amazing views of the city.

in our three days there, we walked around the city palace, ate street food and did some jewelry shopping at the small shops on the roads.

one night we had dinner at ambrai. a beautiful lakeside restaurant to celebrate my aunt and uncle’s 25th wedding anniversary.

A and I stayed back an extra day and had dinner at this other amazing rooftop restaurant called AD 1559. it is brilliant and i would recommend it to everyone who visits udaipur. it offers one of the best views of the city and of the city palace

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^^ the hotel lobby, pool and the view from  our hotel room!!^^

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^^ our hotel from a distance^^

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IMG_1716IMG-20151203-WA0092^^ best part of the day was breakfast with this amazing view! breakfast wasn’t extravagant but just perfect. with a bit of indian and continental both ^^

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^^ posers^^

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^^ matching colors with this cutie!^^

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^^ A and i were upgraded to their royal suite {was it?} but it was a great surprise and kind gesture. they even left a chocolate cake in our mini fridge and we had our very own jacuzzi right by an amazing view ^^

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^^ walking by the city palace^^

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^^ view of the city from the top!^^

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^^dinner at ambrai^^

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^^ our last day alone in the city^^

udaipur is definitely one of the prettiest cities i have been to. there’s such a charm to it. the lakes, the palaces and the cute little cafes by the road. i love it all and i’m glad that part of my wedding festivities took place there. i wouldn’t have had it any other way.