Getting your vegan fix in the city of Bangalore

vegan

India is famous for its vegetarian traditions. Vegetarianism finds a place for itself in the historical as well as the modern spheres of India. In fact, some reports go so far as to claim that our country has more vegetarians than the rest of the world put together. And yet, we weren’t among the first nations to promote the now globally popular philosophy of veganism. Be that as it may, several Indians are now opening their doors to a lifestyle that is completely free from the consumption of any form of animal product, and the restaurant market is catching up with them, as it is bound to.

Some people go vegan for health reasons while others are motivated by the desire to live a “cruelty-free lifestyle”. Whatever the case, one can’t deny the increasing demand for the cuisine. Unfortunately, while Bangalore does not have too many vegan-only restaurants yet, there are several vegetarian restaurants offering vegan options that are nothing short of delectable. Here’s my pick of the best places in the city to fulfill your vegan cravings. Whether you are already a hard-core vegan or you just want to experiment with the idea, you should give these places a try.

Carrots

Possibly the first all-out vegan restaurant in the city, Carrots is a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the bars and barbecues in Koramangala. It was where I first tried vegan food, and I’m glad I did because more often than not, the right introduction sets the tone for the way anything is perceived later. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing drink, a quick snack, a meal of several courses or even a rich, creamy dessert, Carrots is up for any vegan challenge that you put before it! My pick from their menu is the Kurkur Bhindi Chaat, although I’ve heard great things about their soups and salads as well!

Find them on Zomato here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/carrots-koramangala-6th-block

Green theory

What I remember liking the most about Green Theory was where it was located. If you aren’t careful, you might almost miss it, but the hunt for the quiet spot on Convent Road – off Residency Road – is well worth it for the peace and calm it offers. Whether you want to go as a group and play a bunch of fun board games before your meal arrives, or you want to enjoy a healthy date outdoors among the plants, or you just want to relax by yourself with a book from the collection they have at the restaurant, Green Theory is certainly something for everyone. Most of their dishes are available in vegan-friendly versions; just make sure you specify your preferences. You could also check out their other restaurant – Little Green Café on Church Street – which is also rumored to have good vegan options.

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/green-theory-residency-road

JustBe Café

Calling itself the first plant-based whole foods restaurant in Bangalore, this place in Sadashivnagar has consciously-created, locally-sourced options for vegetarians as well as vegans. JustBe Café is a brainchild of Nidhi Sogani Nahata, a pioneer in the vegetarian and vegan movements in Bangalore, as well as a leader of the initiatives of the NGO Sharan, that seeks to achieve disease reversal through proper diets. I remember being particularly inspired by her ideas as a panelist in a discussion on conscious living recently conducted in the city. So head on over to JustBe Café and kick-start your vegan living in style.

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/justbecafe

Vegan Heat

While Vegan Heat is a delivery-only outlet based out of Koramangala, most of their customers find their service exceptionally good. Their menu stands out for its unique options, such as the Tempeh Quinoa/Millet Masala Dosa, the Quinoa Cumin Crackers with Beetroot Hummus, or their probiotic burgers and pizzas among others. If you aren’t up to experimenting yet though, you can always go for something you recognize. An added bonus is that they seem to be very responsive to feedback, so if you want to give them your opinions or suggestions, just leave them a comment on their Zomato page and they’re sure to get back to you.

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/vegan-heat-koramangala-1st-block

Jumping Beans

If you’re a vegan complaining about the lack of Indian – specifically North Indian – options in the vegan scene in Bangalore, head on over to Jumping Beans on Old Madras Road. While the travel is a bit of a downer especially if you’re put up in South Bangalore like me, the effort is well worth it for the number of options on the menu. The restaurant specializes in “mock chicken” dishes, so be sure to give that a try whether you’re vegetarian or not. Just be sure to specify your vegan preferences because while the place is vegetarian only, the menu has several non-vegan items. Oh, and the icing on the cake? It’s a pet-friendly place! So get out there with your buddy and give yourselves a well-deserved treat!

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/jumping-beans-old-madras-road

Hwealth Café

With two outlets in Koramangala and HSR, Hwealth is fast gaining popularity not just as a place for healthy food, but also as one with several vegan offerings. The place is also ideal for you if you’re the only vegan in your group because it has enough (healthy) non-vegetarian options to satisfy your friends’ meat cravings while you lose yourself in that Veggie/Fruit Detox Juice or Tabbouleh Salad. The best part is that the food tastes so good, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything by choosing a salad over a bucket of deep-fried chicken. It’s definitely the place to start if you’re trying to ease your way into a healthier lifestyle.

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/hwealthcafe-koramangala-5th-block

Enerjuvate Studio and Café

Enerjuvate is loved by its patrons not just for the food that lacks for nothing, but also for its décor and its fun vibe. With a new outlet in Koramangala apart from the original in Jayanagar, Enerjuvate is clearly becoming a favorite with many! Much like the décor, the menu itself is eclectic and quirky offering enough and more in various cuisines. Whether it is the Coco Mojito (coconut water with pineapple and mint) or the vegan “ice cream” in the flavor of the day, Enerjuvate is going to leave the vegan in you asking to come back the very next day! The food is always cooked fresh and is naturally flavored with no added preservatives, leaving you light and energetic true to the café’s name. So gather your friends and head on over to Enerjuvate for an afternoon of board games and a guilt-free indulgence!

Find them here: https://www.zomato.com/bangalore/enerjuvate-studio-cafe-koramangala-4th-block

Do let us know where you like to get your vegan fix in the comments below!

 

A Taste of Kerala in Kochi

~by Nirupama Rajan

It’s been just about a year since I left the sultry, languorous afternoons of Kochi behind after a month-long internship there. Nonetheless, in typical Kerala fashion, the place has become a sort of permanent fixture in my mind since then, often drawing me into memories of some great times I had that summer on the Malabar Coast, and inviting me to pen them down.

I have often noticed that just as visiting a place for a short while makes one enthusiastic to experience everything that it offers within that limited time span, if your stay is a prolonged one, you tend to lay back and let the place come to you instead. And so, very often, tourists often end up knowing a little about a lot more, while residents usually know a lot about very little. This was the case with me as well. While I initially set about making plans for every weekend so I could see for myself as many of the things that I’d read about Kochi, I quickly became very content with the pleasures my neighborhood and its vicinity offered me.

So if you are looking for a List of Things to Do in Kochi, you won’t find that here. In fact, I don’t even intend to write about all the places that I visited or all the things that I did while I was there. What I’m attempting here is to create a curated set of experiences that have stayed with me, for whatever reason, even after a year has passed by. I hope that this will encourage you to visit these places so you may see for yourself why I’m partial to them.

I’ll start with a place on the Ernakulam side of town that I would visit every day if I could- Subhash Park. Located beside the Marine Drive and overlooking both the Kochi Harbour as well as the backwaters of the Vembanand Lake, this park is a treat for the senses. Whether it was to simply lie on the grass under the many trees there in the afternoons, walk around listening to the park’s brand of music in the late evenings or just sit down on the concrete ledge that separates land from water and gaze at the ships in the distance, Subhash Park became one of those places that defines the city of Kochi for me. A bonus is the great raw banana bhajjis and the ice-cream sticks (so reminiscent of childhood days) that you will find being sold outside the many entrances to the park.

Kerala is a whole other culinary world, especially for a vegetarian from Bangalore like me. The blanket term of “South-Indian food” applies to almost nothing here. All my fears of not finding satisfying vegetarian food in a town famed for its seafood culture were banished the second I tasted my first puttu. In the weeks that followed, I gorged on other local delicacies. My picks of the lot include the cutlets at Indian Coffee House (which is a stone’s throw away from Subhash Park), practically anything on the menu at Gokul Oottupura (though I’m very partial to their kothu parotta), puttu-kadala, idiyappam, parotta-kurma – honestly, anything local and vegetarian tasted great to me! And as far as my meat-eating friends were concerned, the seafood there is apparently some of the best you’d find anywhere in the country.

The bhajis and bonds sold on street carts stood out particularly not just for their flavor but also for the cleanliness and hygiene evident in their preparation. Another local haunt that I found myself praising plenty was Milano on MG Road. Run by an Italian family, their gelato is exquisitely handcrafted and outdoes the stuff you’d find in most of your big cities. Make sure you try their hazelnut while you’re there. Finally, stock up on the local chips – jackfruit, tapioca, and banana – that you’ll find being made fresh in several street-corners. Non-vegetarian or not, you’re very likely to come back from Kochi a lot heavier!

In my experience, Fort Kochi is almost always the first thing that props up in any conversation involving Kochi, and for a good reason. While you can take one of the many buses plying to Fort Kochi from Ernakulam, my preferred mode of transport is the local ferry that covers the distance in about 20-30 minutes if memory serves me right. Once there, avoid autos and use your feet instead. It is truly a joy to walk around the streets of Fort Kochi – each of which is steeped in centuries’ worth of history and culture. The many churches and other edifices that are scattered around the area take you back in time to when the Portuguese descended upon the west coast of India all those years ago.

The most famous structure here would have to be the Paradesi Synagogue in Jew Town. Built in AD 1568, it is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth nations. Knowing almost nothing about synagogues, I went there expecting a dark, looming structure similar to the ancient churches you’d come across in Goa. Imagine my surprise then, when I stepped into a bright, ventilated room with sunlight streaming in through the windows and reflecting off the chandeliers and hand-painted tiles. The synagogue is also home to some very treasured artifacts, such as scrolls containing the first five books of the Old Testament. I’d recommend visiting the historical exhibit inside the synagogue premises for a crash course in the Indo-Portuguese history of Kerala.

The other historical site in Fort Kochi that has stayed with me is the Mattancherry Palace. While originally built by the Portuguese and still often referred to as the Dutch Palace, it is today a museum chronicling the lives of generations of the Rajas of Kochi. While it is very normal to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and artifacts available there, you can as easily choose not to read every plaque or examine every old coin on display. In fact, even if you look around inside the palace and appreciate its ancient aesthetic and interiors, that itself would suffice as a history lesson. In fact, my friend and I just sat down on a ledge by a rustic-looking wooden window overlooking a little pond and enjoyed the natural breeze wafting into the corridor.

Fort Kochi is also a great place to do some street shopping. Whether its earthy homemade perfumes, fine Pashmina shawls or delightful little wooden toys, there’s something for every kind of shopper on the streets of Fort Kochi. Keep in mind, however, that the prices are usually marked up because of the number of foreign visitors to the place. And while you’re walking around, do have a look at the few Chinese fishing nets that are still in use there.

If you’re hungry in Fort Kochi, hit up the Seagull restaurant. While the food and drink in itself are pretty fantastic, it has often been cited as one of the top restaurants in Kochi because of its ambiance. From the looks of it, it seems to be a docking yard that has been converted into a restaurant, meaning you could be sitting there sipping on a cold beer while the waves of the ocean crash repeatedly on the other side of the low wall that you’re leaning on. There’s also a section of the restaurant that’s right on top of the water, but as its uncovered, you can only sit there once the sun goes down a little. Other eateries favored by tourists include Kashi Art Café and Dal Roti, a North Indian restaurant located on a quiet and quaint street in the interiors of the fort. I’d also recommend the wood-fired pizzas at David Hall.

If you have a few days to spare, see if you can rent a bike or car and go up to Kottayam. While Kottayam would require several days to explore truly (thanks to it being home to some of the country’s oldest churches and mosques, as well as for its contribution to the history of the Indian print industry), the ride there itself is more than worth it. The route goes through some of the most scenic backwaters of Kerala and with a few slight detours, you can also visit some of the most serene and secluded beaches on the country’s coast. You will also pass through the Kumarakom bird sanctuary en route; even if you aren’t inclined to meet its avian residents, you should try the kappa (steamed tapioca, typically served with fish curry) and toddy that Kumarakom is famous for. The restaurants on the backwaters may seem shady, but sitting in a wooden booth with water running underneath while you sip on some heady coconut-toddy is an experience you shouldn’t miss out on!

At the end of the day, this barely scratches the surface of the wonder that is Kochi and its neighboring towns. If you are into art, travel to Kochi when the Biennale is happening. Unfortunately, I only arrived there after it concluded, but several people I know highly recommend being there for it, at least once. My advice to you is to go to Kochi with enough time to spare, so you don’t have to rush through anything. And if you can’t do that, don’t try to squeeze in as many things into your itinerary as you can; instead, fully relish the few places that you do visit.

Do let us know what you like about Kochi in the comments below!

House Party this Weekend ?

House Party

Living in Bangalore means engaging in house parties. Whether voluntarily or out of sheer peer pressure, every Bangalorean is bound to host a house party at some point during their time in the city. I have organized parties at home about 3-4 times in the last two years here.

Every party you host will feature one or more of several characters including but not limited to Quiet-Corner-Buff, Music-Buff, Drunkard, Story-Man, Designated-Driver, Gaming-Guy, Maker (of drinks or smokes) and so on. Each of them has a unique role to play in making the party a hit. The Maker, for instance, sets the mood. The Story-Man keeps the night interesting as it progresses. The Music-Buff will take care of the ambiance, and the Designated-Driver ensures that everyone has a safe and pleasant time even after the party.

But while this may be all fun and frolic, hosting house parties brings with it plenty of challenges, especially if you are a bachelor like me, and there are several things you must take care of before you let all your ‘kaminey’ friends into your house. As a host and as a resident in a shared space, you need to show your friends a good time and keep the house safe simultaneously. While this may mean more work for you for a few days before the party, remember that it’s all for a good cause!

So here are a few things to keep in mind when you decide to host a house party:

  • Keep good speakers and an even better playlist on hand to set the right party ambiance.
  • Place a mattress, carpet or cushions in empty spaces around your house, so your guests have plenty of places to sit and chill.
  • Make sure you have enough food and drink to last the night.
  • Keep a shoe-rack outside your door to encourage people not to bring their footwear inside.
  • Keep lined dustbins in every room to minimize trash on the floor.
  • Ensure that you have doormats in every room as well.
  • As there are food and drink everywhere, it makes sense to leave plenty of napkins and newspaper around to minimize damage control after the party.
  • If any area is out-of-bounds to guests, make sure to lock it beforehand as you can’t prevent people from moving around once the party kicks off.
  • Most guests typically bring along people that you may not know, so keep all your valuables safely tucked away before the party.

As the night progresses, your guests will slowly settle into their roles and carve their space for themselves. As long as you’ve taken all the necessary precautions and stocked your house with enough food and drink for everyone present, sit back, relax, and let the party take its course- you never know just how exciting your night could turn out! Remember, however, that most often, the host ends up having to drive everyone back home safe and sound- so be prepared for that. But otherwise, this is your party too, so go ahead and have a great time!

What do you think is your house party character? Are you a Story-Man or more of a Gaming-Guy?

Let us know in the comments!

Going Green in a World of Grey

If you really get down to it, almost every one of us has the innate desire to do something for our environment and for our health- often, the two go hand in hand. Living in a city, however, comes with its fair share of environmentally unsustainable practices – from buying packaged food at supermarkets to driving on congested roads – and doing your bit for the planet might seem like a rather unattainable idea. Fortunately for those of us in Bangalore, there are some hardworking citizens out there who have created innovative and fun-filled platforms for us to go and engage in discussions and activities that promise to make our urban lifestyles more responsible. Here is a list of some regular environmentally-oriented events that happen in Bangalore.

Earth Friendly Choices

This is an event conducted once every month – usually on the first Saturday – by Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living. It is a space for anyone who wants to know more and do more about reorienting our urban lives in a sustainable manner. Every session sees a few experts from different areas of sustainable action, be it waste segregation, fair trade, tree plantation, lake restoration etc. come in and share their stories with the rest of the audience. This is then followed by an interactive session where everybody present can ask questions, clear doubts or share their own experiences and information.

The objective of the event is implied in its name- it is all about getting citizens to make more responsible choices because ultimately, it is each individual’s choices that have the potential to reshape the future of our planet. Whether you want to further engage in environmental volunteer work, or listen to success stories directly from the mouths of the people who created them, Earth Friendly Choices is the place to be for you.

You can follow the Aikyam community and find out more about their activities here: https://www.facebook.com/AikyamCommunity/

Sustainability Drinks Bangalore

With nine editions to their name so far, Sustainability Drinks Bangalore is conducted by Ecofolk on a monthly basis at The Humming Tree in Indiranagar and is another platform for exploring innovative ideas in the field of sustainability. Just like Earth Friendly Choices, it is a space where you can listen to and interact with interesting speakers and learn all about how we can, as a community, create a cleaner and greener future for the city and the planet.

The aim of Ecofolk is to generate more awareness around conscious consumption among people. If you’re interested in more of what they do, you can find them here: http://www.facebook.com/ecofolk.in

Organic Terrace Gardening Workshops

The idea of growing by yourself the food that you consume is an extremely appealing one; when you grow your own food, you can be sure of what goes into it and you can keep all those harmful chemical pesticides and fertilizers away. That said, in a busy and rather congested city like Bangalore, most of us live in matchbox-sized apartments with just one balcony in the name of outdoor space and maybe a terrace if we’re lucky. And so, most of us are living under the assumption that fruits and vegetables can only be grown in a nice big garden or backyard.

The team at My Dream Garden is here to dispel that myth and show you how you can grow a significant portion of the food you eat in your own house. Their workshops happen about once a month, and they also provide you with a terrace gardening starter kit. My Dream Garden can also assist you in setting up your own terrace/balcony garden and can provide you with all the material that you would require, including seeds, potting soil, organic fertilizer and pesticide as well as innovative space-saving planters. So start small, but get those green thumbs working!

Find out more about My Dream Garden here: https://www.facebook.com/itsmydreamgarden/

Oota from your Thota

If you’re still convinced that you don’t have the space to grow your own food or if you aren’t able to grow everything you want but still want to consume healthy, sustainable and fair priced produce, go to an Oota From Your Thota event. Literally translating to ‘food from your garden’, OFYT is basically the urban environmentalist’s version of shopping festivals like Soul Sante and other flea markets.

OFYT happens once every few months and offers everything that you would want to lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle, including organic fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, oils as well as seeds and home gardening solutions. Often, there are also composting and gardening workshops for children and adults alike, as well as numerous food stalls selling some delectable sustainable cuisine. It is also a space for organic terrace gardeners from all over Bangalore to come together and exchange their surplus produce.

So be on the lookout for an OFYT announcement, take a Sunday off and come celebrate an organic lifestyle with the rest of the community!

You can find them here: https://www.facebook.com/Oota-From-Your-Thota-1403570923190949/

The Ugly Indian Spot fixes

With more than one event every week, the spot-fixes organised under the banner of The Ugly Indian are one of the most popular events in the city that bring together people of all age groups and from all walks of life for a good cause – to clean up the garbage that is mindlessly scattered all over the city and to make its nooks and corners cleaner and more beautiful with every session.

The main principles that The Ugly Indian operates under are anonymity and the act of actually “doing”. They are all about going out there and just getting the work done without wasting time and effort on technicalities. They also emphasize not looking for personal rewards for your actions. The impact created by The Ugly Indian is visible all over the city- they clean and restore black spots, pavements, underpasses, flyovers and practically any other space that could use restoration. The work done in their name is a clear testament to the responsibility and power that individual citizens have in making their city a better place. So go get your hands dirty, explore your painting skills and help eliminate Bangalore’s garbage problem- one spot-fix at a time.

You can check out some of The Ugly Indian’s wonderful success stories as well as find out about upcoming spot-fixes here: https://www.facebook.com/theugl.yindian/

Whether you want to pick up a shovel and dig up some soil or clear out some garbage, there are actually innumerable ways in which you can contribute to making this planet more habitable for future generations as well as for your own, even with your busy city lifestyle. The important thing is to actually take that first step. So go out there, talk to others who can help you get better at being environmentally responsible and start living a better life today!

If you know of other events in the city that operate along the same lines, let us know in your comments.

 

Out and About on a Sunday Morning in Bangalore

By Nirupama Rajan

Come Sunday, and the first thing most of us look forward to is a late rouse. Wake up the early afternoon with a hangover that threatens to stay forever, make an omelette and call it brunch, and spend the rest of the day parked in front of the TV catching the Sunday afternoon blockbuster that you would never otherwise deign to watch voluntarily. And yet, while you are bang in the middle of your most interesting dreams at 7 or 8 in the morning, there is an entire city outside your door, painted in colors that you’ve never seen it in before.

Yes, sleeping late is an art that must not be dismissed. But perhaps once every now and then, you could let that alarm clock ring on one more day of the week so you can have the chance to witness this city in a completely different light, quite literally.

Here are some things that I like to do on Sunday mornings in Bangalore; perhaps with time, you may come up with a different list of your own?

On wheels at dawn

Before anything further on the subject, I will say this: be careful, wear a helmet and if you’re cycling make sure you’re carrying sufficient fluids. That said, riding the streets of Bangalore and its outskirts early in the morning is probably my top pick from this list. Our city is quite infamous for its traffic jams, but riding early in the morning, you wouldn’t think it’s the same roads that trap you for hours in the later periods of the day. Even the air feels refreshingly cleaner and clearer at this time. In fact, I’ve long since come to the conclusion that early morning riding is far more pleasurable than night rides. The sights keep changing every few minutes- first the early morning tea stalls open, then you’ll see hawkers slowly amble about with their baskets of flowers that can overwhelm you with their morning fragrance, then the cleaning of thresholds and streets is underway while vegetable sellers steer their carts through the dense residential areas and so on. If you’re lucky, you might even find yourself riding along a lake as the sun rises and believe me, you’ll come back for that experience.

Many people also enjoy the ride to Nandi Hills for the sunrise view and the highway breakfasts, so you could try that as well, although the hilltop tends to get quite crowded on weekends.

cycling wheels bangalore

Park yourself at Cubbon

This one is a crowd favourite. In fact, Cubbon Park is one of the few places that you’ll find packed on Sunday mornings regardless of how early you are. While Sunday may be a day off from exercise for many, several others get to don their running shoes only on the weekends and what better place to sweat it out than Cubbon? While there, make sure you visit the dog park; it is only active on Sundays and is a star attraction, with good reason! You could also buy fresh produce and juices from the HOPCOMS stalls or simply get lost wandering under the ancient trees inside the park. Cubbon Park is also often the location for several events on Sunday mornings ranging from yoga to photography and you could sign up for one of these through Facebook or other platforms.

Of course being the garden city, you can’t ignore the other parks (like Lal Bagh, for instance) that have their fair claim to fame, but Cubbon Park is by far, my favourite.

cubbon park

Go meet some birds

Whether you like identifying, photographing or simply watching birds, Bangalore is surprisingly home to several avian species despite the increasing crowds and concrete of recent years. Go on over to any of the many lakes in the city- some favourites are Jakkasandra lake, Puttenahalli lake, Madiwala lake etc. Quite a few lakes have actually been restored recently by active citizens and you have them to thank for being able to enjoy a peaceful morning by the now cleaner water. Look for bird-watching groups on Facebook; they usually hold events on Sunday mornings and you could sign up for one of these, especially if you want someone to show you the ropes.

Idly-dosa and some legends

Vidyarthi Bhavan Menu

Vidyarthi Bhavan, MTR, Veena Stores… the list can go on for a while yet. You’ve probably heard these names being dropped even outside Bangalore and it is probably because these age-old South Indian eateries actually live up to their reputation. Most of them, such as Vidyarthi Bhavan, Veena Stores, and CTR are located in older, more quaint localities such as Malleshwaram and Basavanagudi (on a side note, did you know that these two places were R.K Narayan’s favourites in the city, thus giving him the idea for Malgudi?) while MTR, for instance, has several modern-looking outlets across the city for those unable to find room in their original restaurant at Lal Bagh. So go enjoy a hearty meal of masala dosa and vada at any or all of these eateries- they have been the haunts of several legends in the past!

Or maybe you prefer pancakes?

Bangalore is as cosmopolitan as a city gets and it has something for everyone, whether it is activities and events or breakfast choices. So if you’re in the mood for a fancy morning meal and scrambled egg-toast at home just won’t cut it, fret not for there are more than a few restaurants willing to whip up their fluffiest pancakes and omelettes for you with your choice of toppings. While the list seems to be growing every day, my picks would be The Hole in the Wall Café, A Hole Lotta Love Café and DYU Art Café (the hot chocolate here is a must). If you get out a little later in the morning, there are some great brunch options like Bangalore Brew Works and Three Dots and a Dash.

Walk through history and heritage

You might have traveled to Hampi, Gokarna, Badami or any of the numerous historical sites in Karnataka. But what do you know of the history and heritage of your own city? If you enjoy walking and good stories, then exploring the older neighborhoods of the city would be the best way for you to spend your Sunday mornings. Even better, there are several organizations including Bengaluru by Foot, Bangalore Walks, and INTACH that conduct these weekend walks, covering some of the city’s most iconic neighborhoods and historical sites such as Bangalore Fort, Basavangudi etc. Rumour has it they even stop to sample some fantastic local cuisine en route!

bangalore fort

Feed the bookworm in you

What better way to let the bright morning slowly morph into the lazy haze of noon than with a well-loved book in your hand? Bangalore is home to some very iconic bookstores as I’m sure most of you would know. My top choices would be Blossom Book House (I prefer the old one, although the new building is also definitely worth visiting) and Goobe’s Book Republic; you’re very likely to lose track of time wandering the musty aisles of these stores with books of every age towering over you on either side. The staff is very friendly and you might even find yourself a rare novel at a bargain price in these well-stocked stores.

If you don’t want to buy books per se, you could also drop by Atta Galatta in Koramangala and settle down with a book from their reading library over a steaming cup of lemon tea.

books

Contribute to your city and the world beyond

If you’re looking for something productive to do on the weekend, then this is probably it. Several good Samaritans get out of bed on weekend mornings to spread awareness of how we can make our world a better place to live in and you can join the effort by attending seminars and workshops or participating in their events. Aikyam Community for Sustainable Living, for instance, conducts discussions titled ‘Earth Friendly Choices’ where you can learn much about the environment and ways to restore it from experts and activists in the field. Some others like Kaulige Foods and HappyHealthyMe conduct workshops on healthy and sustainable cooking choices. My Dream Garden regularly conducts organic terrace gardening workshops and almost every weekend sees a clean-up operation under the banner of The Ugly Indian, so these are good options too.

So what are you waiting for? Get out of bed and gift yourself all these experiences and several more that are waiting out there for you to come discover them!

The Best of Both Worlds

By Nirupama Rajan

Area: Panduranga Nagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, House Link

When I was graduating from school back in 2015, the prospect of college was extremely exciting mainly because it meant I was finally going to move out of my parents’ house and live by myself. I remember having all sorts of dreams about the kind of cosy apartment I was going to have, all the fancy food I was going to cook and all the late night hours I was going to stay awake through, streaming movies and sitcoms using my unlimited internet.

Unfortunately, despite the number of new buildings shooting out of the ground every single day in Bangalore, getting an apartment in a city like this is not as much of a breeze as one would expect. For starters, the size of your wallet seems smaller and smaller with every house you visit. Then, considering the rent and the comparatively high cost of living, you obviously have to share your apartment with other people- and believe me, finding students whose parents are willing to let them stay in an apartment where they have to cook, clean and pay the bills by themselves when they can just stay in a less expensive PG or hostel is not easy at all!

And so I had to give up on my apartment dreams for a while. For an entire year, I tried all sorts of things. I stayed in a PG where I felt like I was waking up and going to bed in a tiny cardboard box every day (and I won’t even get started on the food). Then I moved into an apartment-like set up with some people and I thought I would finally be happy despite the fact that our allowances could only afford a house in a shady locality whose walls would become a playground for fungi of all kinds every time it rained. However, very soon it became apparent that running behind my flatmates to pay the bills (the people at BESCOM actually threatened to cut off our power supply several times), looking for new domestic help every month and then haggling with them to arrive at a pay that would suit everyone in the house, hunting for repairmen every time the faucet broke and so on, left me absolutely no time for myself!

And so, after a year of experimenting, I finally moved back into my parents’ house. As luck would have it however, that is exactly when my parents quit their jobs and decided to move to another town. Once again the hunt for the perfect apartment began- meeting brokers, meeting owners and their various pet animals, posting “looking for flatmate” messages on every social media platform known to mankind…

It was on one such evening, when after spending hours on my laptop with 5 different property sites simultaneously vying for my attention that I stumbled upon simplyguest.com. To be honest, it seemed too good to be true; no brokerage, fully furnished, all bills taken care of, and a great looking house at an actually affordable rate! By now my thoroughly suspicious mind was reading between every line looking for a catch. However, my father convinced me to at least go take a look and so I met up with Mr Subbu the next day.

It has almost been a year since then, and for that entire period, I have been a SimplyGuest tenant with no complaints and no plans to move out unless I have to leave Bangalore itself. Living conditions wise, this has by far been one of the most peaceful years for me in the recent past. I get to have all the benefits of an apartment- I can cook my own food (and I didn’t even have to get my own cookware) and I have access to the whole house, not just to one tiny room that’s been allotted to me. I have also made some great friends and I don’t have to worry about my rent increasing if any of them decide to move out. No curfew means I don’t ever have to worry about getting home late from a party, and my friends can also come over to my place when we have to do group assignments.

The house is always clean thanks to the help who are extremely regular. I don’t have to worry about any of the bills because they are all taken care of by my rent and most importantly, I can always rely on Subbu and Ambareesh who go out of their way to solve any issues we might have at home, whatever time of the day it is.

The terrace is by far my favourite place in the house; I’ve spent several evenings there (and even slept there overnight) just watching the planes fly by and enjoying the breeze that is always cool regardless of the season. The house is also in a great locality, so when I lean over the terrace walls, I see clean streets instead of garbage dumps. When I’m too lazy to cook, at least ten different cuisines are available at restaurants within a few hundred metres of the house while there are 3 parks in the near vicinity that motivate me to run every morning.

I guess I can say that SimplyGuest has truly given me the best of both worlds- the security and the reduced responsibilities that come with regular PGs and hostels, as well as the freedom that comes with an apartment. Over the last year, the house has slowly become a home for me. The only downside is, it’s going to be that much harder to say goodbye to the place and my roommates when it’s time to leave.

Experience of a SimplyGuest flatmate – Home not House

Someone rightly said always choose the people you live with, not the place ~Anonymous

living together in a shared flat

Area: BTM Stage 2, Bangalore, House Link

I started living in a shared setup when I started my first job. I had an option to either take a PG or live in a shared flat by SimplyGuest. I chose to take the flat which for me was the better choice.

There are pros and cons to living in a flat as opposed to a PG. One of the biggest advantages of living in a flat is the privacy. I love my privacy and independence. There are some days where I just want to be alone and not have to deal with other people, and being in a flat allows me to do this.

There are some weeks we barely see each other. Everyone had work/ family schedules etc. We had dinner/drinks together at least twice a week to iron out anything that anyone was annoyed about. And we used to have parties all together every month and would all invite our friends, nothing out of hand, just some fun.

Additionally, I don’t have to eat at a specific time If I wanted to I could go out and get Taco Bell at 7 o’clock and eat it while watching Netflix in my room. I don’t feel bad about not eating with my flatmates. We are all on different schedules so we eat when we can. You always have the different kind of cuisines cooked at your place, no Aloo always. Which is a huge relief as we get to eat what we want to and not follow a menu or hog outside food. We don’t have to wait for eating on a timing. We always have food in our fridge courtesy one of my flatmate who is a foodie and hence we always have supplies to enjoy a weekday or a weekend evening.

One of the best things about sharing a flat is that there is absolutely no need to introduce my ‘friends’ as cousins to be with them for some time or trying hard to find a place to do so. After shifting into a shared flat by SimplyGuest I have been able to spend time with my friends and enjoy my evenings.

We have a TV in our flat and hence all of us has our share of time on TV and there is no need to do a real-life drama to watch TV. We also have a PS4 and hence we enjoy all the stuff together.

Sharing things with flatmate is quite easy as the trust level is way high then living in any other setup and hence I save a lot of money on the one time use things that are available with my flatmate.

We don’t have the restriction of entering our home. Yay, we can party all night but we also take care of our Flatmates and make sure that we don’t disturb each other. We don’t have to make deals with the security guard to sneak into the house.

One of the best part of living in shared flat that you can make people clean the room. SimplyGuest providers are awesome and make sure that we don’t have issues with cleaning. They deep clean the house every 2 months

We always have our share of the bathroom time, we always have our timings and nobody disturbs us here. No arguments over bills, SimplyGuest pays it all and no hassle and no need to waste the last Sunday figuring out the finances which we don’t remember.

We all have our bad and good times and flatmates are always there in our good or bad times. We become a family and that’s the best part of it.

On the other hand, I don’t have to really tell anyone about my plans and live my life peacefully.

Written by – Mayank Pokharna on pokharnatalks.com