Tracing Tipu’s Legacy In Mysore

“What do you mean he was not your son? Who has all my clothes then?!” Our dear friends who were hosting us in Bangalore were dealing with a crisis. P had accidentally handed her best clothes to be ironed to someone who turned out not to be her ironing man’s son. While she stressed over if she’d given away her new M&S pants to an opportunistic thief, or donated them to someone asking for clothes, we decided to use the day to do something in Bangalore.

Every time I asked a Bangalorean what I can do when there they said – microbreweries, pubs, restaurants, and umm Nandi Hills? Imagine our delight when we found the Bangalore Palace – who even knew there was one?!

Bangalore palace
The Bangalore Palace

Continue reading Tracing Tipu’s Legacy In Mysore

Temples and Silks in Kancheepuram

“How could you wear shorts to this trip?!” The Brit in the travel group was met with shocked expressions. “We have to buy you an emergency veshti now, they’re not going to let you into the temples like that!” One of the many silk showrooms came to our rescue, but not without having to fight off efforts to sell us a pattu (silk) veshti.

The only time I’ve been to this tiny town was to see the Kailasanathar Temple for a college trip. It was meant to be to study the architecture and art history, but if memory serves right was more of a sing-your-lungs-out-on-the-bus trip.

This time though, we made it a point to see it properly and even chatted with the miffed priest who spoke surprisingly posh English. “It was those Brits” he said. “They plastered the temple to restore it, but look, does the colour even match the original stone?” Continue reading Temples and Silks in Kancheepuram

Editing A Book Is Hard Work

For what seems like an eternity, I have been editing a book by Peter Claridge, titled Chennai Expat Guide. The book started out as a blog post that was meant to outline a few things that expats need to know before relocating to Chennai. It soon turned into a mammoth 65,000 words piece of writing and lost the ability to be called a blog post!

Process of editing

Being an “editor” sounds pretty fancy – it is anything but. I’ve read, re-read and re-re-read at least 6 versions of the book printed out on A4 paper and spiral bound. The process involved hand-written notes, SHOUTY CAPITAL LETTER remarks, arguments with the author about including or deleting something, and just a whole lot of patience.

It didn’t just involve trawling for typos and grammar errors, it also included having to figure out flow, order, context of the content. The book is interspersed with illustrations, photographs and true stories, so it wasn’t simply copy-editing. There was plenty of quality checking alongside many tiny decisions – bullets or numbers? Titles or subtitles? Quote or story? Tell the truth as it is or sugarcoat? Throw the book away in frustration or power through? Continue reading Editing A Book Is Hard Work

Getting Hitched Down Under

A version of this article was published in Metro Plus, The Hindu.

“It’s going to be a relaxed affair guys, you can wear whatever you’re comfortable in.” My soon to be Aussie SIL took us through the details of the upcoming wedding on Skype. “So shorts and T-shirt then?” While she was more than happy to accommodate our casual attire, the eye-rolling and low decibel mumbling from my old school FIL kept us in check.

The Itinerary

The itinerary included Sydney and surrounding coastal towns, the Blue Mountains, and a couple of days in the mystical land of Uluru. Sydney is a tourist’s paradise – the Taronga Zoo, Sydney helicopter ride, and the Harbour Bridge climb are recommended must-dos. If you’re one for petting marsupials (an experience you cannot have anywhere else), head to the Featherdale Wildlife Park to hang out with free range wallabies. Continue reading Getting Hitched Down Under

Out And About Chennai

Every weekend we have the same conversation – what should we do? Not ones for partying or pub-hopping, we end up watching a movie, catching up on chores, and occasionally trying a new restaurant.

We’ve been working on a book about Chennai for a very long time now (more about how long it takes to publish a book later), so in an attempt to check off all the ‘to do’ things in Chennai, we hit three recommended spots. The Vandalur Zoo, The Lighthouse, and the Egmore Museum. Continue reading Out And About Chennai

A Very Nizami December

“I’m sorry, did you just say you’re going to…Hyderabad?!” Our plan to spend the end of the year in the Nizami city was met with a mixture of surprise, scoff, pity, and confusion from our friends, further dampening our already low spirits on zeroing in on this city.

Bemoaning our terrible holiday choices, we braced for long traffic jams and boring city “things to do.” So much so that we stayed in our hotel the first two days (a school boy error in hindsight) binging on Christmas specials, stepping out only to experience the city’s claim to fame – Hyderabad Biriyani. Continue reading A Very Nizami December

How Many Ways Can You See A City?

A version of this article was published in Metro Plus, The Hindu

There aren’t many big cities on my travel wish-list. After a while, they start to look the same. And yet, every time I travel to a new city, my one and only goal is to see as much of it as I can. Most touristy cities are centered on a point of interest – the Statue of Liberty, Tokyo Tower, or the London Eye. Most recently, for me it was the Opera House. And here’s how I experienced the city in six ways. Continue reading How Many Ways Can You See A City?

Why You Must Go To Colombo

You know how we all have that neighbour who’s got better tiles, better furniture, nicer food that us, more friends than us, more faucets, a bigger TV, and we try and take a sneaky peek inside everytime we can? Colombo is like that enviable neighbour. A recent 4 day trip quickly reversed every expectation I had. Continue reading Why You Must Go To Colombo

Among the crowded rolling hills

A version of this article was published in Metro Plus, The Hindu

You don’t realise the value of your friends till you fall ill on the top of a packed hill station, and your mommy isn’t there to make you soup and nurse you back to health. A recent trip to the Nilgiris proved disastrous in more ways than one. Continue reading Among the crowded rolling hills

The English Countryside Wedding

Last October, I attended my first non-Indian wedding. It had everything fairy-tales are made of – the flowing white dress, the bridesmaids running around, the crying baby, the vows, the drunken touchy-feely uncle, the emotional dad, the sleepy best man….everything. Except there was more. I wrote about it in the local newspaper a while ago. This post is long overdue – hope you enjoy it!

You can read it online here.

Indulge - Swapnil Midha