Monday, June 15, 2015


From Oh...No to OYO : Part 1

Voila... !Where on Earth is this Paradise located? What were you doing there ? Who all were with you ? Why you, of all the people ? you all must be wondering. Well it's all about #OYOxplorer

Let's take it, Sushegaad( in Goan Konkani means leisurely )

It all started with a #OYOxplorer Contest on IndiBlogger ( 21 May 2015 )

I was like, I must get on the board. But how? IndiBlogger-Forum displayed the contest format of #OYOxplorer in greater details : Spend the day discovering the hidden surprises and unique adventures of your city with fellow bloggers. Kick back with a free night's stay at OYO Rooms ( India's largest network of branded hotels ), with complimentary breakfast and Free Wi-Fi .

As usual, I geared up to WIN the spot among the 10 bloggers from Mumbai. I twitted about the Craziest things to do in Mumbai ... with all my Heart, Brain and Hands. It was fantastic tweeting wittiest at top-notch speed. I was sure to win this contest. I was ready to pack my bag for the Mumbai #OYOxplorer team

The Trendinalia-India declared:The 3 most active users for #OYOxplorer were: @sujatawde (66 Tweets and RTs)  @shubhamtweets (40) @indywrites (39)   — #trndnl  — Trendinalia India (@trendinaliaIN) May 30, 2015

Oh...No ! After all this Twitter-frenzy about #OYOxplorer, I was not among the 10 selective Mumbai Bloggers.

I felt a bit disappointed. The concept of #OYOxplorer (OYO Rooms - Branded Budget Hotels at Rs.999/- with AC , Free WiFi and Complimentary Breakfast) was so swell that it was lingering in my mind all the while. Well, afterwords I got busy with Hindustan Times's initiative 'No TV Day' for the weekend. 

I had just returned home after attending Chef Indrajit Saha's recipe contest at Trident-BKC-Mumbai and ... Drum rolls, Please ... " Congratulations Sujata, you are among the top 4 Blogger-Winners of #OYOxplorer twitter contest " ... an IndiBlogger representative was on the line. "There are 2 bloggers from Delhi and 1 from Kolkata, you are the 1 from Mumbai. Get packing , you are going for an all expenses paid trip to Goa with OYO Rooms. How does it feel ?". 

OYO... Oh...Yeah! That's how I felt after getting the Goa-prize News. So the title of my post is 'From to OYO

I was further informed about my prize from OYO Rooms, as follows: You will be flying from Mumbai to Goa on 6th and will return to Mumbai on 8th. You will be staying at OYO Rooms ( near Candolim Beach ). Next I received a call from OYO Rooms representative to congratulate my win and more details. Teena the vivacious Senior Manager of OYO Rooms created an OYOxplorer in Goa-WhatsApp group and then we were all ready to Get Set ...GoA. 

Every last minute detail was taken care by OYO Rooms ( a comfortable stay at affordable rates ). We were constantly receiving updates about #OYOxplorer Goa trip.

The Spice Jet took off from Mumbai Airport ...

The #OYOxplorer series to be continued ... from landing in Goa. Please keep reading ... for more details about OYO Rooms properties : 

Website : OYOrooms

Twitter : OYOrooms 

Facebook : OYOrooms

From Oh..No to OYO : Part 2 

I got my first taste of OYO Rooms' ( Branded budget hotels at Rs. 999/- with AC, Free WiFi and Complimentary Breakfast ) grand-hospitality in Mumbai itself. I received a call from their driver, as soon as I boarded the Spice Jet for Mumbai-Goa flight . He confirmed that he will be waiting for me at Goa-airport. I was totally comforted by this bit, cause it was my first time in Goa.

It was my first Aha... moment of the day when I met fellow bloggers - Ragini , Manjulika ( Delhi ) and Sammya from Kolkata for the first time in person. Earlier, we had known each other, through our respective blogs, Thanks to IndiBlogger and #OYOxplorer, we got this opportunity to interact with each other. We were greeted warmly with cool Pina Colada by the Genelia-look-alike Teena ( OYO Rooms-Senior Manager ) at Ruffles beach resort ( OYO Rooms property )in Candolim , Goa.

Teena briefed us about the exciting #OYOxplorer activities planned for us. We were presented with OYO Rooms Blogathon Dossier, pocket-money and OYO-gear, consisting sipper, umbrella and cap. I was searching for an exclusive angle to click the pic. Watch out, if you can catch the fun-element.

After refreshing and rejuvenating ourselves with Pina Colada, we were ushered into our OYO Rooms. My next Aha... moment, as soon as I entered Room 20. Have a look and let me know ...


I didn't dare to disturb the superbly Swan-sculpted towels on the bed and made do with my own, as I took a quick wash in the spotlessly clean bathroom. The washbasin, mirror, walls, flooring, shower-curtain and most importantly the commode all were immaculately clean. There was an extra tissue-roll in the bathroom. The room itself was fully furnished with large wooden closet , full-length dressing-mirror, 2 big cushioned chairs, writing table, color-tv, air conditioner , intercom, curtained french-windows, mini-fridge loaded with assorted cold-drinks and mineral water bottles, a king-size bed adorned with freshly laundered snow-white bed sheets, comforter, 2 pillows, 2 cushions and 2 turkish bath towels sculpted as swans, 2 side tables with night-lamps, an OYO Rooms toiletry pouch consisting of a soap, toothpaste, shower-jell, shampoo, note pad, pen etc. The balcony with a scenic view of crystal clear swimming pool had 2 cane chairs and a center-table to enjoy the morning cuppa. Last but not the least : 2 extra plug-points to charge our ever-draining camera and mobiles plus FREE WiFi.

Our first lunch at the Ruffles - Beach resort, Candolim was full on rice-oriented. Veg. Pulao , Veg. Fried Rice , Chicken Biryani + Dahi Raita and chilled Pepsi to add the fizz. 

The ricey-rich lunch fueled us enough to hit the Candolim streets with vigor. Goa is vibrant and colorful. Look at the bright colored maxi-dresses, bikinis , mirror-worked zolas and mojris ( Zari-embellished foot-wears )  

We the #OYOxplorer were discovering the Candolim-Goa streets OYO, i.e. On Your Own ... by taking help of the locals. The taxi-rates were exorbitant plus we had to burn down the calories so we boarded bus no.11 ( walking en route ). In bargain we gained the eye-candy view of funky-decorated Goa-restaurants.

The murals depicting the laid-back Goan country life were delightful to match the Disco-lighted facades of the restaurants, all over the clean, green streets of Candolim .

We returned to Candolim beach, just at the backside of OYO Rooms property Ruffles, to see the sensational Sunset .

Now, was the time to get in the warm swimming pool at Ruffles- OYO Rooms  property. Sammya and Ragini were absolute buddies with pool, Manjulika had her share of fun in the shallow side. We returned to our rooms for a shower and returned all mint new to #OYOxplorer Goa at night. We were on the other side of 'The Fisherman's Cove', when the Goan folk-music mesmerized us towards it.

Fisherman's Cove : Folk music and dance ... 'Mirchi Papad , Loncha Papad ... in full swing added extra flavor to our Rawa Masala Fry, Chicken lolly pop, Noodles and Aloo Paratha with raita + Angry Bird for Sammya , who had disappeared mysteriously to get a cake for Ragini. Exactly at 12 p.m. we 3, Manjulika, Sammya and me surprised Ragini with cheery 'Happy Birthday'. 

We took full advantage of the Free WiFi from OYO Rooms for twitting, Facebook updates of #OYOxplorer fun-moments.
The expressions : The cat who got the cream is similar to the bloggers who got free WiFi at the OYO Rooms.

In a true explorer-spirit,Manjulika invited me to share her room as she had sensed my discomfort of sleeping alone. Next day Ragini chipped in and invited me to share her room. Strangely, but quite specifically, the bed in Room 20 remained fresh and inviting.

From to OYO - Part 3 

Sunday turned out to be literally a Funday for us #OYOxplorer. The OYO Rooms had planned a surprise birthday party for Ragini, which was joined in by the courteous Ruffles staff. The creamy chocolate cake was accompanied by golden cheese omelettes, buttered toasts, poha and tea / coffee. 

We zoomed in an Innova towards Bom Jesus Basilica in old Goa. "All lines in this route are busy... Ya margavaril sarva lines vyasta aahet , Krupaya pratiksha kara athava poonha prayatna kara ...' the FM-radio in the Innova was playing Goan Konkani folk songs with hilarious lyrics. On the way we spotted lots of fully loaded Mango, Coconut and Jack-fruit trees and the souvenir shop selling key-chains, dresses, hats etc. I wondered, what if my ZenPhone5 remained so much loaded to capture the Goan nature. 

As an #OYOxplorer I have a special tip for Goa-tourists, you would get the same quality of wide-brimmed hats, key-chains, hairbands etc. on the footpath opposite the souvenir shop at half the rates. But of course you must have honed the bargaining skill on Mumbai's Colaba causeway, Fashion Street, Linking Road etc. Hiring a car for sight-seeing is tricky. They tell you the fixed charges for 8 hours and then they charge you extra for more hours plus extra for kilometers also. So beware, while engaging a car otherwise the drivers and the locals are very friendly and modest. 


The opulent interiors of the Bom Jesus Basilica consists huge  and ornate gilded reredos stretching from floor to ceiling  behind the altar. This church is India's first minor basilica and the best example of Baroque architecture in India. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site, which preserves the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier.

Our next destination was 250 year old Casa Araujo Alvares mansion. It happens to be Goa's first automated museum, which possesses many priceless artifacts of ancient Goa. 

We the #OYOxplorer were so enchanted with Goa so far that we had almost 
forgotten to have our customary noon cup of tea. Suddenly the cool breez accompanied by drizzle gravitated us towards the nukkad chai ki tapri. We watched the lady while she fried the Vadas to a perfect golden hew and cushioned them in soft Pau. The lady had run out of both chutneys still the Vada-Pau tasted so yummilicious with steaming cup of ginger-tea, that we repeated the order. Would you like to share the treat virtually?

On this spicy note of Vada-Pau lingering in our mouth, we returned to OYO Rooms-Ruffles for a quick dress-up as we wanted to try out the famous Goan-shack style dinner at the beach. We wandered around the Baga beach market to buy cashews, but could not find my favorite Zantye brand. The whole area was lit up as if it's a Diwali. It was fun browsing through various restaurants and clicking candid shots.

After a lot of night-bird watching, we finally settled at the St. Anthony's shack and ordered Brizzers , Limca , chicken , fish etc. The atmosphere was full on charged with karaoke music, friendly banter, hookah smoke, candle lamps and laughter all around as if Christmas was just around the corner. We returned to OYO Rooms-Ruffles with our hearts filled with Goan happy-go-lucky spirit.

Monday morning, mood was a bit Mumbai-centric. After all you can take a person out of Mumbai to the paradise and he/ she still pines for good, old Aamchi Mumbai. Freshly puffed puris and steaming hot bhaji were spread out on dining table with buttered toasts / tea / coffee as a sendoff breakfast. I am sure after reading this exciting #OYOxplorer travelogue you all must be craving for Goa with OYO Rooms.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Cook With Cafe

Mumbai By The Beach ( Little Goa in Mumbai )

I want to make an honest confession " We don't have a TV set at home since 10 years. We have donated both of our TV-sets to an orphanage in VikramGarh." I know, you all must be wondering , How's that possible ? How do you survive without TV? Well, I did survive ' NO TV ' to tell the tale , have not I ?

I have won a Digital Camera, 2 Mobiles, E-Gift-Vouchers and a Helicopter-ride by writing various slogans, poems and witty tweets for
Hindustan Times's unique initiative HT - NoTVDay .

Some people say , " NO TV ? How boring, How do you spend time?". We answer, "We have just enough time to read so many wonderful books and magazines. We have subscribed to 5 newspapers daily ( 2 English , 3 Marathi ). We have 24 hours Internet-connectivity through which we get instant news, whatever happening all over the world is just a click away. Plus we don't have enough patience to mull over the never-ending Saas-Bahu sagas".

Am I stretching it too .? This lengthy prologue is actually, really essential to convince you all that, I won a Twitter-contest and got the yummilicious opportunity to cook with Chef Rahul Kulkarni at the Cafe By The Beach ( Girgaon Chowpatty, Mumbai ). Here's the First look of 'Cafe By The Beach' ...

We the Twitter-contest winner were welcomed by Hindustan Times's representative and Cafe by the Beach-executive with the chilled glasses of Aam-Panna followed by photo-ops with Chef Rahul Kulkarni. He demonstrated, how to cook Alphonso Mango Goat Cheese Salad and we followed each step... with our hand-gloved hands. The final scene was so eye-candy with Chef Rahul Kulkarni, that you must see it to believe me.

Next, Chef demonstrated 'Mini Dogs with Raw Mango Salsa' . And yes it was the most delicious preparation , as much as it sounds. I am sure, you all would love to have the recipe ...

Ingredients : Mini Hot Dog bread - 2 nos. , Butter - 10 gms. , Cottage chhese cubes - 50 gms. , Raw Mango ( Kairi ) - 40 gms. , Fresh Red chili - 10 gms. , Honey - to taste , Sea Salt - to taste , Mint - 5 gms. , Garlic - 1 Clove-chopped , Olive oil - 1 tsp ( Bertolli , if you please ), Parsley - for garnish , Oregano ( Fresh / Dry ) - to taste.

Method : Slit the Hot Dog bread in the centre. Apply butter inside and toast it in an oven. To make Raw Mango Salsa - Peel Mango skin and chop the Mango. Add Sea salt, Mint leaves, Red chili, Honey to taste. ( Can be made and refrigerated a day before ). In a hot pan, heat some oil, Add chopped Garlic, Oregano, Cottage cheese ( cut in cubes ) and toss till golden brown. To make the Dogs, stuff the Cottage cheese filling in the slit bread. Top it with chilled raw Mango Salsa just before serving and garnish with Parsley. Serve Hot or Cold. I am ready to bet ... that your mouth will water at the sight of these mean Mango Mini Dogs...

That's not all, we got to feast on these Royal Mango treat, all by ourselves. I so wished , if only my nephew or niece had accompanied me ...

We, the Twitter-contest winners thanked Hindustan Times and Cafe By The Beach with satiated tummies and delighted hearts. By the time we left, it was twilight hour and Cafe By The Beach sparkled in the setting rays of Mumbai Sun.

This post is written as a part of #BloggerDreamTeam with Vir Sanghvi campaign for BlogMint.