A blog anniversary, giveaways and YOU

Wow ! I sure didn’t expect so many people to participate in the giveaways. I had thought that I would be doing an “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe” to select a winner. Instead, I put all the eligible participants’ names on a slips of paper and had my mother draw the names of the winners of the Giveaways. And they are: :)

Giveaway 1: Sapna (@dreamysap)

Giveaway 2: Poonam (@poonamc)

CONGRATULATIONS, Sapna and Poonam ! Since both of you are on Twitter, please DM your contact details to me :)


Earlier this week, this blog of mine celebrated its 4th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, I decided to have a special and exciting event on the blog, something that has never been attempted before here.

And that something, dear reader, is the First. Ever. Giveaway. on My Favourite Things. Did I say Giveaway? Correction. It should be Giveaways as there are two of them. Details with regard to what they are, how you can participate and win them, and the Terms & Conditions are given below.

GIVEAWAY 1

Giveaway 1 is a bundle of 4 books: The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz;  Land of Seven Rivers; A Brief History of India’s Geography by Sanjeev Sanyal; Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair; and Renaissance Art: A Very Short Introduction by Geraldine A. Johnson (see photograph below). The books are not new, but are in excellent condition.

Blog Giveaway

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4 years, 346 posts, 2,65,417 words…

…later, a milestone has been crossed. Yes4th Blogversary, dear reader, the blog celebrates its 4th anniversary today. :)

Its time to write that anniversary post, which will be a reflection of the journey undertaken so far and hopes and plans for the future. But first, let me share with you some of the highlights of my 4th year of blogging.

  • It was a year of travel — Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Goa and Aurangabad. While I have finished writing about my visits to the first two states, I still have to write about the latter two.
  • This was also the year of exploring my city, Mumbai, and writing about it as well. Its art scene, its neighbourhoods, its rich and varied heritage, its public transport, its forts… all found their way into the blog. I think my blog url of “thatandthisinmumbai” has finally lived up to its name. :-D
  • I started getting invites for blogger events. The first was a FAM trip to Suryagarh, near Jaisalmer; the second to a Google+ event to celebrate World Photography Day; and the third (and most special one) was an invitation to be part of an art trail in Mumbai.
  • Two new series were introduced on the blog — Photostory and “Neighbourhoods of Mumbai” — and I’m really excited about them. Right now there aren’t many posts in the series yet, but by next year (fingers crossed!) there will be.
  • One of my earliest posts, Meenakshi’s Lamp, got featured (with slight modifications), in The Deccan Chronicle and The Key Bunch. Similarly, part of my post on Pallankuzhi, a traditional board game, was included in the DKS Learning Centre’s blog.
  • I finally started a Facebook Page for the blog. If you haven’t ‘liked’ me yet on FB, this is where I humbly fold my hands and request you to do so. I promise I will never spam your TL with inane or too many posts. :)

After reading the above highlights, would you believe that I began my 4th year seriously contemplating whether I should continue with or stop blogging altogether. :-/

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Neighbourhoods of Mumbai 1: Matunga

Neighbourhoods of Mumbai is a series that will explore the different areas of Mumbai, their history, their sub-cultures, their architecture, the changes sweeping through them, and what makes them tick.

How difficult can it be to write about a place that I have known all my life? I would have said not very, till I sat down to write this post on Matunga, a central suburb of Mumbai. Read on with advance warning that it is a long post ! :)

Matunga is where my mother grew up, where I spent a part of my childhood, and a place that is so much part of me and my memories that I’ve never given it a second thought. So when I heard about a guided walk of Matunga conducted by a fellow blogger and friend, Rushikesh of Breakfree Journeys, I was surprised and intrigued. Surprised, because someone found it interesting enough to conduct a walk, and intrigued because I wanted to know what exactly was being covered in the walk and if they would look at Matunga the way I saw it and do it justice.

On a Saturday evening earlier this month I went on the 2-hour walk that took me through the history of Matunga, its development, the different communities that are resident here, its architecture, it unique sub-culture, its eateries, the changes sweeping through it… Some of what I learnt on the walk was new to me, some of it was a literal walk down memory lane, and some of it was seeing the same place through new eyes. Join me as I take you on that Matunga walk and also share my memories and thoughts about the place.

Matunga 1

My maternal grandparents’ home … somewhere in Matunga

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Travel Shot: The elevator with the pink seat

The elevator dings its arrival and the doors slide open noiselessly. I step in and look in fascination at the elevator’s interiors.

I am at Hotel Suryagarh, a luxury boutique hotel near Jaisalmer, and am being escorted to my second floor suite by a hotel attendant after completing the usual registration formalities.

“Why don’t you sit down, Ma’am?” the hotel attendant urges me.

This might have been a strange question considering we were in an elevator. But since the elevator had a large, cushioned seat upholstered in a velvet of bright pink, it really wasn’t that strange a question.

Hotel Suryagarh, Boutique Hotel, Luxury, Elevator

I politely decline as I feel a little stupid to sit down for a trip of two floors. But I do notice that the elevator speed is quite slow and discover later that this has been done deliberately to encourage guests to relax and sit down.

And over the over the two days that I spend at the hotel and the numerous trips that I make between my room and wherever I was headed to, I would use the elevator. Get in. Sit down. Relax. Take pictures. Normally, I would have used the stairs, but not this time.

Hotel Suryagarh, Boutique Hotel, Luxury, Elevator

To this day, the luxurious elevator with the pink seat at Hotel Suryagarh remains unique. I have never come across anything like this before, and doubt it I will.

Have you come across unique hotel elevators? Do share.

The social movements calendar 2014

You might wonder why I’m writing about a calendar when we are almost half way through the year. The thing is, I forgot to write about it when I received the calendar in January. And the reason I forgot is because I’ve always considered the Social Movements Calendar (SMC) to be more of a resource, and less of a calendar, in the sense that it is not time-bound for me. Besides, I never give away the SMC even after its “validity” is over. As to why I do so, well… read on :)

Originally conceptualised by the late Smitu Kothari, the 2014 SMC Calendar is its fifth edition and returns after a gap in 2013. The good people from Intercultural Resources India, who bring out the SMC, have this to say about it:

The Social Movements Calendar 2014 is a collective process and a non-profit endeavor meant as a tool to educate and create public awareness about the vast array of people’s struggles in India.

Like previous editions, this one too is an effort to document peoples’ struggles and protests. While the previous two editions were theme-based —  “peoples’ struggles against international financial institutions (IFIs)” in 2011, and “saga of labour struggles from colonisation to globalisation” in 2012 —  the 2014 calendar does not state any particular theme on the first page of the calendar.

Social Movements Calendar 2014, Intercultural resources, People's struggles, social issues, calendar

Protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

But when one goes through the calendar it is to discover that the most recent protests in India have been included in the calendar. Continue reading

The Sewri Fort

A couple of years back, I happened to travel in a cab whose driver was very chatty and unusually boastful of his knowledge of the city. About 20 minutes into the journey, I had enough of his tales and asked him:

“Since you know so much about Mumbai, tell me how does one get to Sewri Fort. I want to visit it.”

“Sewri Fort? What Sewri Fort? There is no Fort at Sewri.”

“Of course, there is a fort there. I read a report about the Fort in the newspaper only last week.”

“Newspaper? Bah !” said the driver in a dismissive tone. “Don’t believe everything that they print. Listen to me, I’ve been there so many times that I know the area really well. I know Sewri Jetty, all the automobile service centres there, the Port Trust Offices, the dargah… everything. I can tell you confidently that I have never come across any Fort there.”

And that was the end of the conversation.

Last month, I visited Sewri Fort. Yes, there is a Fort, but after visiting it I could understand why the cab driver and many others like him are neither aware of its location or existence. Incidentally, it is located right next to the dargah that the driver mentioned. Just see view outside the Fort in the photograph below.

Sewri Fort, Forts of Mumbai, Eastern Shoreline

The approach to Sewri Fort

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