Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hi tea at Spice Bazaar - a journey full of spices

Today I went for hi tea at Spice Bazaar restaurant next to M.M.Alam road. We were seated outside as requested, next to a three level waterfall and greenery. It was a courtyard in the middle of a U-shaped building with a very neat countryside look. We went to the food area which was empty, so we took time in looking through the dishes and pouring them. When I reached the end and glanced back, the food area was full of people. So I guess we were the first to start.

The food selection was mostly dry. It started with 5-6 salads (but no potato-cream or cabbage-cream salads, my favorites). Behind them were servers for dahi bhalla and go gappey. Next was an unusual thing: pickle vegetables in vinegar, which reminded me of Muslims in Germany. Then the dishes started with fish kebab, honey wings, small chapli kebab, fried fish, one Chinese dish+rice, chicken malai boti,  vegetable and white pasta, somosa+channay (an odd item), pizza and the highlight: Haleem (spelled Daleem). We were greeted on our table with pina colada.

Sweets included gulb jamun, trifle, pastries etc but excluded jelly, really!!!

Except the missing jelly, there was nothing negative and the environment was super peaceful, even for a buffet.

Comparison: both village and ziafat are cheaper and have much more variety. But this food was a little more tasty and the best thing was the outside aura.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Visit to North-East Italy 2016

This year, I planned to check out another item from my to-see list: Venice. I started looking for flights, and found cheap flights from nearby airports. However, as usual, getting to a Ryan Air airport is itself time and cost consuming. Another option that I considered was trains. German trains are fast and efficient, through not as luxurious as Italian ones, etc. I considered the option of taking a night train to Venice and coming back on a day train to see the landscape. Finally I opted for this option, however, failed to get a booking on night couch, and instead got a seat reservation only.

The train journey started at 6 pm. The first train to Munich was a nice train. We had a stopover in Munich for one hour. Due to recent terrorism events in Munich, we didn't wander too far from train station, but managed to find a Pakistani restaurant in a basement. We ordered one chicken qourma, roti and lassi. The chicken qourma was sweet, really. The bill was too much. Then we got on the night train. The train was cozy. We were two friends who bought their tickets at different times, so got different seats. We asked the lady at the counter at the time of buying the 2nd ticket to combine our seats, but she said not possible, even without looking at the booking plan. . . 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Glow24 by Warid

I have been reading about the new Glow24 package from Warid for some time now. at Rs. 15 per day, I considered it to be costy. But recently I analyzed my monthly phone expenditure and deduced that I end up spending Rs. 450 to 1000 in this regard. So it is time to analyze a shift to Glow24 package.

We start with simple math. Rs. 14.99 per day for a month adds up to Rs. 450 per month (incl taxes). You have to pay Re. 1 for your first FnF call, so add Rs. 30 per month to that. I think the tax rate is 42% on mobile card loading. So, if you make at least one call every day, you'll pay Rs. 827 on Glow24 package per month!!

This will give you 100 minutes on your FnF numbers. Calls on non-FnF numbers will cost regular. I don't think I can cross the limit of 100 SMS or 100 MB in one day. So non-FnF calling is the only extra cost I would incur. If that is around Rs. 50 for me, then switching to Glow24 will cost me Rs. 900 per month. That is a very big jump to take for now.

Let me know if I made any mistake in my calculations.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Trip to Andulus

Before my departure from Germany, I decided to visit one last location in mainland Europe - Andulusia Spain. This was planned hurriedly and we looked around for cheap tickets, which we found to be from Ryanair and bought the tickets for Malaga with a 4 day stay. We were supposed to reach at night and strangely the train network of Spain proved very inefficient to take us to either Granada or Cordoba. It was so inefficient and expensive, that we never sat on a train in our whole trip. The cheaper and much more efficient is the network of inter city buses. They even have very big bus stations and ticket machines, which I haven't seen for inter-city buses even in Germany.
We first landed at Malaga airport. Enroute we saw one of the most beautiful landscape about half hour before landing. There were steps of land and beautiful reservoirs of water. We decided to try to visit this place, but couldn't. In Malaga city, we had booked a hotel for one night. The airport shuttle bus dropped us in city center, from where we started walking. There was a fort atop a hill in city center. After that we reached a shopping street and were astonished to see something we hadn't seen in Europe.
To be continued...

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Trip to Pakistan

In November I had another trip to Pakistan; first one with my daughter. I travelled with Qatar Air which is known as the only 5-Star airline in Gulf and surrounding regions. The flight was as usual, however, the staff was very good, even at airport. They asked us to hand the stroller (baby-pram) at the gate of the plane. Folding the pram was a long effort since I was doing it for the first time and the staff also struggled with it. My daughter was presented with a stuffed plane model with vibration feature. Older children were given small school bags with coloring stuff. We had to change plane at Doha, Qatar.

The first flight was from Munich to Doha. It took us 4 hours with the fastest train.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attending a conference in USA

I arrived on Sunday in the US. The flight was a long 9 hour journey from Germany to New York. On arrival, they asked for a special interview because of my last name matching with someone else (Shahrukh Khan? :)  But they were very nice in the interview and afterwards they skipped my customs line. Then the next flight was to Minnesota, where I had an American from California sitting with me. He was a very cheerful guy making jokes with passerbys, who also always smiled and replied jokingly. This was the 2nd difference I noted from Europe. The first was, that here they offer/use much less juices than soda, and use too much ice. The weather is excellent, but the distances which look small on maps are not that small to walk.The hotel is very nice for such a price, with big rooms and a pool+sauna. Another thing I noticed was that all the cups used in the conference, whether for water or for tea/coffee are compostable. Almost everything is recyclable; i don't know whether in the whole of US? The conference organizers were obsessed with shrimps, which they offered in every event.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Applying for US visa in Germany

I got a paper accepted in one of the two biggest robotics conferences. This conference is supposed to be held in the US. So I had to apply for the visa. I asked the conference chair to send me an invitation letter to present my paper there. Then I checked the US embassy website in Germany. The nearest embassies are in Munich and Frankfurt. Frankfurt has a one week waiting list for appointments, whereas Munich has two weeks time. So I chose Frankfurt. Their website lists the requirements. There is a $10 application fee for filling the online application. Then there is €112 visa fee to be submitted to another agency. This agency sends an email confirmation of fee payment within 3 days. Then I got the sponsor letter from my prof. I reserved a time slot on a Monday at 9 am. I went to Frankfurt on Sunday and stayed at a friend's. 

On Monday morning I got up early and went out. I had seen the route plan on the Internet and so we went about to search for the tram station to take the tram. This tram station had two platforms on two different streets for two different line runs. We got to one platform, but found out that the relevant tram doesn't run from here. So we searched for the other platform, and asked a lady about it. She told us the location of this platform but said there is a transport strike today. Great!!! Like the transport strikes in my city weren't annoying enough, that they follow me here as well. Good thing a few buses were running. So we got on a bus. I called the embassy to tell them that I would be late because of the strike, and the guy there said ok in a careless manner, which surprised me. Anyways, the bus took us to a station about one km from embassy and we walked towards the embassy. 

The embassy is a big structure with a lot of space. There was a small queue outside the embassy for the initial counter. There were some sheds with benches along the queues with heaters in them. The heater did feel good as it was a little cold. When I reached the counter, the lady told me that there is a form missing in my documents. She gave me a map of the local area with addresses of local copy shops. The nearest one is an imbiss with a south asian owner. She told me that it is the nearest but most expensive. He had a laptop and color printer. It took me a long while to find the form, fill it and print it. Many people were coming there to do this, so it was a common thing. I also helped a couple of ppl there in finding the info they needed. One family hadn't submitted their fee, so they needed much more to do. Anyways, I got back to the embassy where they checked my documents and let me in, while giving my friend a map of the local cafes to roam around and come back after about 1.5 hours.

Inside, the process was pretty simple. The visa officer was a young guy who asked some simple questions, and then asked whether I can leave my passport with them. I got my passport back within 3 weeks with the visa.