I immediately handed him the set of Information Brochures I had purchased at the Museum and launched into an excited account of my visit there. My brother listened to me, went through the brochures and then said:
“You know, I just remembered. There used to be this box of coins at home, though I can’t recall the last time I saw them. With all the moving around cities and houses that we have done, it probably got lost somewhere.”
Amma, who was listening to our conversation, suddenly piped in and said, “No, it has not. The box is in one of the cartons in the kitchen loft.” This statement was enough to make us search for the box in the loft immediately. It took us a while to sort through the stuff there, but eventually we found what we were looking for — the box of coins.
It was a small plastic box, heavy with the coins it contained. It jingled tantalisingly with a metallic sound as we brought it down from the loft and opened it eagerly.
A short distance away from the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) buildings in South Mumbai is its Monetary Museum. The museum, which is the first (and perhaps the only one) of its kind is all about something that is an intrinsic part of our daily life — money. The Monetary Museum is not very well-known, but having visited it I can say that is one of Mumbai’s, and perhaps India’s, best curated museums.
Though I had been aware of the Monetary Museum’s existence for some years now, I had never gotten around to actually visiting it. Which is kind of strange as the Museum is located in an area that I visit quite often. And when I did actually visit it earlier this year, it was a spur-of-the-moment decision that led me there!
Mural at the entrance lobby of the RBI Monetary Museum. Please click on the picture for the source of this image
A 10-15 minute walk from CST or Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the RBI Monetary Museum is a high security museum, with no photography and no bags inside. Entry is free and after depositing my bag and cell phone in the locker provided, and a security check later, I was inside the first of the 6 galleries of the Museum.
It was almost 9 pm that day in April when the taxi turned into the lane leading to my house. It had been a long day at work and I was tired and hungry with the beginnings of a headache. All I could think of was dinner, a long cold shower, and sleep.
The lane is not very well-lit, and I was surprised to see it blazing with light. There was a large van parked in the lane and some kind of display on the road. Curious, I got off the cab at the entrance to the lane, paid the driver and walked towards the light, or rather the van and the display. To my surprise and delight, it was a display of books and the van was a mobile bookshop. And to over see all this was a man sitting at one end of the display and reading a book.
I am usually inspired to read about a place after a visit there; I have also been known to pick up something to read once I have decided to visit a place. As for packing my bags and heading to a destination after reading about it? Never, though I have added a destination to a mental list of places to visit.
Did I just say never? Actually, that has now changed to ‘just once’ when I visited the Shekhawati region in Rajasthan after reading a book about its painted havelis or mansions in January this year. The Painted Towns of Shekhawatiby Ilay Cooper was a serendipitous find, and I want to first share how I found the book with you before telling you what the book is all about.
It was a rainy August day in 2014 and I was feeling quite sorry for myself at that time. All my travel plans were falling through for some reason or the other, which meant that I hadn’t travelled anywhere that year.
A casual twitter conversation with a friend on the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) got me thinking about attending the festival in 2015 and maybe combining it with some travel to places around Jaipur.
A simple Google search threw up Shekhawati as a possible place to visit. A little deeper search and book on The Painted Towns of Shekhawati popped up. Though I was aware of the painted havelis in Shekhawati, I was more than a little sketchy on the details. The book intrigued me enough to place an order and the book was in my hands a few days later.
The first thing I did after reading the book was to apply for leave at work, write out a tentative itinerary, and book the hotel and flight tickets (not necessarily in this order). Yes, I had decided to go to Shekhawati after reading the book.
So what was in the book that got me all set to travel to Shekhawati?
I received an Asus Zen Fone 5 to review, and the phone was returned after about 20 days. I was compensated for my time and effort with Flipkart vouchers.
“It’s so light !”
“Look, the reverse is white.”
I listen to the excited comments of my department colleagues as they examine the Asus Zen Fone 5 that has just been delivered to me at my work address. I hear their comments, but all I can see of the phone is its size.
“Just like you use your other phone,” retorts a colleague. “Don’t whine about the phone size till you have actually used it.”
I wisely shut up.
That evening, the first thing I do when I reach home is to transfer the sim card and contacts from the old phone to the Asus Zenfone, and set it up. It is surprisingly seamless and within minutes the phone is configured and ready for use.
Another few minutes to download the social media apps that I use — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — and I am all set to use it and begin the review.
My visit to 80 Days started off on an amusing note.
It was Restaurant Review evening at 80 Days with other Navi Mumbai Foodies and I had arrived early. It was a lovely evening in March and the sun had not set. There was enough natural light to settle on one of the benches placed outside the restaurant and read a book, while waiting for the other reviewers to arrive.
I had barely sat down and pulled out a book, when the mosquitoes decided to join me. That was enough for me to decide to wait inside the restaurant instead. I was warmly welcomed at the entrance and when I said that I was waiting for the rest of my group, I was told that they had already arrived and were waiting for me. And I was led straight to a table where a Kitty Party was in full swing !
The people at the Kitty Party table were as startled as I was and after a few seconds of confusion and amusement, things got sorted out, and I was led to another table. I, however, decided to get started on photographing the restaurant interiors before it filled up with other diners. Continue reading →