The Kokke Gang


‘The Kokke Gang’
[Standing L to R ] – Myself, Raghu Bavaji, Sudhir Bavaji, Vidhyadhar Bavaji & Rohit
[Sitting L to R ]- Wifey, Aks, Jaya, Ambica, Rhea
[Kids L to R] – Anagha, Ananya, Stuti, Sanchi, Vinayak [with Ambica]

Ever since I moved to Singapore a few years back, one thing that I always had in mind was, during leisure, what is that I am going to do? Who is it that I am going to meet? Who are the folks that I can be totally bindaas with and enjoy to the core? These questions weren’t answered immediately but eventually, it was.

Being single back then, the things I missed the most was family and home food. So, then I met up with these 3 families which eventually would be one super awesome, fun loving, caring and friendly huge family called ‘The Kokke Gang’.

Vidhyadhar Bavaji & Ambica (VB), Sudhir Bavaji & Jaya(SB), Raghu Bavaji & Aks(RB) [I am lazy to type the full names in the paragraphs ahead πŸ˜› ] – all have been in Singapore for quite some time and they knew each other well. So, for me to fit into this group after being introduced by VB was very easy. The main reason for this was, these guys made me feel very comfortable right from our first meet up. It was absolute fun and frolic whenever we met and I was very happy to have found a family away from home here in Singapore.

As my marriage date was nearing, I was obviously excited about getting married [who wouldn’t be πŸ˜› ] but I also was very happy that wifey wouldn’t feel alone with VB, SB & RB family awaiting her arrival here πŸ™‚ Wifey was welcomed with so much love that I must say, I am very thankful to Ambica, Aks & Jaya for having treated her so warmly ever since they met. πŸ™‚

I knew Rohit since my engineering days as my junior who I once ragged πŸ˜› [Bro, I will not get into the details of the ragging here πŸ˜‰ ] and when he moved here to Singapore, introducing him to this family was very easy. He too got hitched and then the big family was complete. I am sure Rhea too felt the same amount of warmth when she became part of this huge family – ‘The Kokke Gang’!

Being in Singapore, one thing that is constant – Work Pressure! So, once in a while, you do need that time to unwind and let yourself out with no boundaries whatsoever. It is not possible with each and everyone but with family, it always is. From birthday parties, bowling, BBQ parties [where of course, the men suffer more from fire πŸ˜› ], potlucks – ‘The Kokke Gang’ never leaves a chance to meet up. When we meet, its chaos πŸ™‚

In other words, its unlimited fun when ‘The Kokke Gang’ meets up. 5 kids – Ananya, Stuti, Sanchi, Anagha & Vinayak brighten up the mood even more with their innocent and creative talks. After the initial round of Hi & Hellos when we meet, the fun starts. Usually, women need some private time to discuss ‘Who, When & What’ πŸ˜‰ we men tend to silently enjoy ourselves with the topics concentrating more on Politics, Cricket and few other [which is not appropriate in public form – please read my mind here πŸ˜‰ ] When women have completed their ‘Who, When & What’ discussion, at least we men presume it to be completed πŸ˜› we usually have few games planned for the evening. Its fun to arrange these games and the best part is when the whole gang enjoys these. There are moments when SB comes up with his absolutely amazing one-liners which just gets every to roll on the floor laughing hard. Then there are those by RB which just are so hilarious, that you cannot even imagine. Overall, it’s more like Baba Ramdev’s Kapalbathi, getting a stomach exercise, but here the only difference is by laughing πŸ˜›

I feel blessed to have found a family here in Singapore which I always cherish meeting up. Thanks a ton ‘The Kokke Gang’ for the fantabulous fun with no strings attached πŸ˜‰

Cheers,
Muki

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Penang – An Untouched Beauty!


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The final month of the year and planning something right at the last moment is quite thrilling. Planning has always been the best part of the trip for me since my wifey is the one who does it πŸ˜‰

Right before our trip to India early last year,

oh yes! “LAST YEAR” which reminds me – Happy New Year πŸ™‚ Its been one more year already which has been nothing else but exceptional in all terms.

Coming back now to the present, before the India trip, we did plan for Krabi, Thailand or Bali, Indonesia for December. Ticket prices were good, accommodation reasonable but the excitement of going to India was more and I missed to book the tickets. When in December, its right next to impossible to get a good deal at the final moment and yes we were left with no choice but to choose a city nearby Singapore, travel by bus and also have a relaxed time. PENANG it was!

Since Singapore is connected to Malaysia, you do have an option to travel to a lot of cities via road from Singapore. Yes, you do require a Visa to enter Malaysia & it is actually quite an easy process.

Continue reading “Penang – An Untouched Beauty!”

Happiness


This word gives a whole new dimension to ones life. Every single person defines ‘Happiness’ in their own way possible and it is not necessary that the reason for ‘Happiness’ be the same for everyone. Irrespective of how it is achieved, the end result is amazing.

For me personally, the first and foremost way of achieving ‘Happiness’ is by getting a smile on my parents face. That feeling is absolutely amazing and if that feeling is called ‘Happiness’ then its the best ever. Being away from home since early study phase, the craving to be with parents, spend quality time with them has increased manifold and every minute I get to do it, I cannot thank god enough – ‘Happiness’

Block leaves have always been the thing to look out for to wifey and me ever since I moved out. We have always been so excited planning for India holidays, just like the summer holidays that we as kids looked forward to, to enjoy super awesome time at grandparents place. πŸ™‚ Where to go, what to eat, what to cook, what to shop, the list is never ending. Not everything goes as planned but even the ad-hoc plannings are just equally exciting as the planned ones – ‘Happiness’

Post marriage, time has to be managed at two places which is equally exciting and at in-laws place, there is more and more love showered in terms of food πŸ™‚ Sometimes I wonder, parents and in-laws are the happiest when we as their kids eat well than do anything else. My bulging tummy speaks volumes of the love being showered on me πŸ˜€ I believe that, they find their ‘Happiness’ in that way πŸ™‚

Professionally as well, solving a critical issue, giving a helping hand to a project which you are not part of, helping a colleague understand something and more over having a sense of satisfaction at the end of day all contribute to one thing – ‘Happiness’.

This post is a way to remind myself that I need to blog often and find that ‘Happiness’ on this front as well. The next biggest ‘Happiness’ will be when I reduce my tummy πŸ˜€

How do you find your daily dose of ‘Happiness’? πŸ™‚

Cheers,
Muki

An Adventurous Trip – Cebu, Philippines!


Before I even go to the actual content, I realized that it’s been a year and a month since my last post!! How lazy I have become. Yes, I have become so damn lazy, gained weight with a tummy staring at me and just have to buck up! So yes, I have woken up from my slumber and here I am penning down 2nd trip of this year (First one coming next πŸ˜›)

 

Planning a trip is always super exciting. First, it comes to which place to visit and then the adventures you want to experience in that place, the location of accommodation, food – which is the most important thing as we are vegetarians, mode of travel.Β  Thanks to Venki Nayak, coming to a conclusion about going to Cebu, Philippines was not so difficult for us. He made it easy with much-needed tips and guidance.

 

Continue reading “An Adventurous Trip – Cebu, Philippines!”

Amma & Annu :)


The word “AMMA” has so much meaning to it, that it just cannot be described in wordsΒ & can only be felt. In the same way, “ANNU” is also that word which gives you that proud feeling and also yes some fear too πŸ˜‰Β  Everyone will agree with me on this. πŸ™‚

Today being ‘Mother’s Day’, I felt about dedicating this post specially for you AMMA πŸ™‚

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Everyday is ‘Mother’s Day’ and we should always make it count by sending out our love and warmth as much as possible to the person who brought us to this earth and has given us a life to live.

Continue reading “Amma & Annu :)”

GSB Singapore Badminton!


In the wake of Saina Nehwal and PV Sindhu emerging as Olympic Champions in the field of Badminton, every indians love towards the sport has increased manifold. Not that the sport wasn’t famous before the rise of these 2 super stars but now it is even more audience.

GSB’s at SG are active across all forms of sports with Badminton being the latest attraction and this was the 2nd tournament organised by fellow GSB’s. Over 40 folks participated both young and old πŸ™‚

A fun filled morning started on 14th of April and being a Public Holiday, the turn out was even more than the 1st one. Tampines Hub was the venue which has over 25 indoor courts. The atmosphere was thrilling and on the other side was terribly hot πŸ˜›

Men’s doubles, Ladies doubles and kids singles were the groups. All enthusiasts were on their heels for the start of the each game. 4 courts were booked from 7am to 10am and it was more than sufficient to drain out each one of our energy πŸ™‚ **Ammi Amase Punve ek vela khelche paleya** πŸ˜› (Sorry folks, can’t translate this into english :D)

Organizing such a event is truly wonderful experience and Nagraj Shenoy Maam and team made sure that there was absolutely no shortcomings. Kudos to them for arranging one and getting all of us involved. Kids are always fascinated and excited when they get a gift and this was made sure by Purnima maayi who sponsored trophies for all winners as well as medals for kids. Truly a wonderful moment to see the kids glow with happiness πŸ™‚ and who doesn’t love to pose for pictures? πŸ™‚ There should be someone behind the lens as well for this. Thanks Shyam for the wonderful captures. πŸ™‚

Amchi’s and no food!! Can this ever happen?? “Ambica’s Fine Dine” to the rescue – πŸ™‚ Upma was on the menu and was super yummy.

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Got a chance to play doubles with a uncle who was quite old enough and guess what, his age was 70! No, I am not kidding. He plays 3 times a week from 8am to 10am. Getting some tips from him for the drops and the smashes that I played was wonderful. πŸ™‚ ** pats my back πŸ˜› **

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In front of him, I was nothing in terms of fitness. Being at SG, people around you always remind you about being fit no matter what your age is. Are you fit? πŸ˜‰

All in all, it was a wonderful get-together and this time around was to lose some calories than to gain πŸ™‚ ** I will not even talk about the 2 days after the tournament. Let all your imaginations flow πŸ˜€ **

Cheers,
Muki

#KiniFamilyAtSingapore :)


Tickets are booked, my brother exclaimed!!! πŸ™‚ My joy knew no bounds. A dream come true after 4 years and finally parents and brother were coming down to Singapore for couple of weeks πŸ™‚

Ever since I moved to SG, I always wanted to get my parents and brother to experience the beauty & awesomeness of this counrty. Something or the other always came in between and this trip never became a reality. Excitement was super high and their travel was approaching fast. It was my parents first ever international travel and having them here was just about the amazing feeling that I could get. Mugdha too was on her heels and counting days to 27th January πŸ™‚

Day 1: 27th January, 2017

Final few information on call before they boarded the flight and then they were off. We could not wait for the clock to tick 6pm πŸ™‚ Wifey had prepared welcome boards for parents as well as Mannu Bannu πŸ™‚ Yes, that what she calls him πŸ˜€

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Then we see them walking out. That Feeling!! Cannot express and I guess it is one of those moments that I will cherish through out my life. Seeing them all smiles and they seeing us all smiles – πŸ™‚

This day was so so long! We spoke spoke and spoke as if there was no tomorrow. The happiness wasn’t sinking in, it still is not even after almost 2 weeks of they coming down. It was truly amazing. It was almost 2 when we actually thought it was a nice idea to sleep πŸ˜€

Day 2: 28th January, 2017

The iconic Marina Bay Sands was planned right before anything else. That “WOW” feeling which one gets watching the boat on top of 3 huge towers, that makes the SG trip complete πŸ™‚

img_20170128_162332 img_20170128_163117Merlion welcomed them by showering water from its mouth πŸ˜‰

Even though rains spoilt most of our evening, we made it count with a back up plan and headed out towards Suntec City mall with those amazingly huge showrooms with a hell lot on display. Fountain of wealth added on to the list with beautiful evening by the fountain which was truly wonderful experience. Dad was fascinated with those sexy cars on display with Lamborgini and Ferrari taking him off his foot πŸ™‚

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I am sure this was one day we walked walked and walked! So much. Trust me, now I realise that I should not have taken them around so much right on the first day. The excitement of being in SG drove them, but otherwise it was really a tiring day. Dad & wifey went for a huge walk around the Bedok reservoir park early morning. A round trip home, is approximately 7kms and with talks and lot of talks, they both had a very good walk and talk time πŸ™‚ This added on to their step-o-meter and by late evening, both of them were feeling each of their steps πŸ˜€

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Italian Gelato – something quite new and tasty which they loved. πŸ™‚ Always curious and ready to do something new, my parents were totally loving it here at SG.

Day 3: 29th January, 2017

Dad is a shoe freak and I am his son πŸ™‚ So I don’t need to explain more. We both went down for some ‘Shoe Shopping’ πŸ™‚

Nike it was! He was totally blown away with the amount of shoes on display and so with the price when compared to those in India. Just 2 shoes and he had already done his decision πŸ™‚ Quick and fast, we were out with a wide smile on his face with a big orange box in his hand πŸ™‚

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Showing him my current client place at Changi Business Park was a proud moment.

Sentosa!!!! πŸ™‚

Complete 2nd half dedicated solely to this amazing place. Started off with a trip on the monorail. First time experience for parents, brother as well as my wife. Even though she is in SG for the past 6 months, we did not visit the most important tourist attractions – Sentosa. So all in all, everyone were excited.

Cable car ride was thrilling. This was an internal cable car, which took us from Imbiah Station all the way till the Siloso Beach and back. To our left, it was completely sea shore with those huge ships with containers docked up. To our right we had the amazing Singapore city. It was truly mesmirizing.

Post the cable car ride, parents visited Madam Tussads as dad was so keen on meeting up with Narendra Modi πŸ™‚ Yes, he is a huge fan and this visit to see his wax statue was worth it. His excitement is totally seen below:

Mannu, Mugdha and myself tried the skyline-luge! Luge is something very similar to Go-Kart with the only difference being, no accelerator here and this works only down the slope. Pull a bit and you are off with a little more pull applies the brakes. It is one awesome ride to experience. Go down the mountain via the luge and come up on the skyline. Skyline is similar to the cable car but an open one πŸ™‚ Its totally worth it.

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Our 3rd attraction was supposed to be Sea Aquarium but due to time constraint we could not make it and hence visited the Tiger Tower. Over 20 storeys high and rotating a very slow speed, the view is absolutely magnificient. Even Malaysia can be seen from the top.

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The day ended with the absolutely brilliant and mind blowing lazer show – Wings of Time! All were floored by this one and their expression post the show said it all. An award winning show which captures everyones eyes. One cannot miss this show if you visit Sentosa Islands.

All in all an eventful day with lot of amazing things seen. Days were flying off and the happiness amongst us was just too hard to contain.

Day 4: 30th January, 2017

As it was Chineese New Year weekend, me and Mugdha both had a long weekend and it was good time for parents to come down. Fort Canning Park and Clarke Quay were on the cards.

img_20170130_173046Rains spoilt the evening with Fort Canning just did not happen. Getting wet in the rains was fun, but the overall site visit did not serve the purpose. Clarke Quay on the other hand was a silent but lovely experience. Due to rains, the crowd was less and as the evening progressed the rains drifted off. We enjoyed the lovely evening by the Boat Quay as well as the walk through those amazing restaurants across the river.

Commenting on the folks who enjoyed the reverse bungee jump was super fun! We were so much into it that we wanted the bungee to twist and turn multiple times just for us to feel the adrenaline πŸ˜› Poor people who rode the one during those multiple turns might have had hearts in their mouth πŸ˜€

img_20170130_182037When you do not get to roam around, sitting at a place and enjoying the beauty with your loved ones gives a different kind of happiness alltogether.

We visited one amazing restaurant, Annalakshmi – where by you eat as much as you like and also pay as much as you like. Yes! That’s their model with only vegeterian food on the menu. I must say, it was delicious. After the long walks that we did, it was full-filling. Ambience of the place and the warm welcome added on to it. There was this lady who looked like a newbee cooking those ‘Aapams’ and most of the one she prepared were undercooked. People were waiting for it and she in a hurry gave away the undercooked ones as well πŸ˜€ Mannu was at his best. He waited till all left, sat around with eye on the aapams and right when it was good, he would tell us to go and get it πŸ˜€ In that way, she was not pressurized and we did not get the undercooked ones πŸ™‚

img_20170130_155845All in all a good day to sign off.

Day 5: 31st January, 2017

5th and 6th day of their visit, I & wifey both had to return back to office. As Marina Bay Observation deck was not ticked off our list, we decided to visit in the evening. Luckily the rains took a break and the weather was perfect to enjoy the view atop 56th floor of Marina Bay Sands.

Parents, bro and wifey were awestruck from that amazing view of the skyline on one side and the garden view from the other. Even though my dad has the fear of heights, standing on top there, was he says is one of the best experiences he ever had in his life. So it was for mom and bro. Pics Pics and more pics followed before we sat down and enjoyed that amazing view. It just wasn’t sinking in for them.

A glimpse of “Infinity Pool” from one side of the deck and that was one more thing which is worth a visit. Only guests who stay at the hotel have access to the pool and hence this one is still pending for them as well as me πŸ™‚

By now, they were well versed with the MRT and bus routes around our place and just giving them the directions would suffice. :)you

Day 6: 1st February, 2017

A day off from travel and it was a couple of meetings scheduled for dad and brother with dinner at Ambica’s place. As usual, it was super fun to be around with the hosts – ‘The Kudva’s’ πŸ™‚ The lil kudva with his ‘bappa, bappa’ calls. Just love him more and even more every single time you meet. Away from India, parents were happy to meet Bavaji and Ambica and it felt like a family reunion they mentioned. Even though they had met only once earlier backΒ  in India, this was like a long family get together πŸ™‚ Thanks to Bavaji & Ambica for making the evening memorable πŸ™‚

Day 7: 2nd February, 2017

It was shopping day! πŸ™‚ Shopping is so much fun, with parents around and buying stuffs for them is even more fun πŸ™‚

China Town is always the goto place in SG for souvenirs and the fridge magnets which usually are given as gifts. You cannot stop yourself from filling your basket. Such are the stuffs around there, for any shopping freak, it would definitely be worth a visit. As the name goes, the street just outside the MRT station is filled up quite a lot of shops with loads and loads of eye catching things.

We took off to Little India post China Town. Any Indian coming to SG, the visit is not complete without a visit to Little India and Mustaffa πŸ™‚ Name any Chocolates, they have it. Visiting such an enormous store which has every single thing that you would want in your life – from pin to gold πŸ™‚ Yes, I am not joking, he does sell Gold as well. Worthy experience.

It was very kind of my boss to come down to little india to have dinner with my family. I really appreciate his care and concern, even after being my boss he did come over for dinner as a matter of respect towards my parents. Thanks boss πŸ™‚

Day 8: 3rd February, 2017

Again a rain spoilt evening at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore. My first ever visit to this amazing place (I know, staying is SG for so long and still the first trip πŸ˜› ) and I was spell bound at the way they have constructed this whole gardens just next to the bay. If not for the rains, it would definitely be even more fun filled. Not that we could not look into any of the attractions inside there. The ones we did visit were truly majestic, specially the Supertree Groove. GoPro really does wonders in capturing this amazing view in a single shot πŸ™‚

 

Mannu as usual is brilliant with his photography skills which is evident from his instagram page – www.instagram.com/mildwave . Some of his pictures were beyond amazing and the way he clicked those were also worth a watch πŸ˜›

img_20170203_1753122 umbrellas and 5 folks πŸ™‚ Umbrella Management was the key here πŸ˜€ With me and dad being the thinnest of the lot, we took one umbrella and the other 3, not so thinnest took one more πŸ˜› Drenched in the rains, this was an amazing walk down the gardens.

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There are quite a lot of things to cover here and I am going to have a full day dedicated to this place in the coming weekend πŸ™‚

With rains pouring down, wifey had something hot and yummy prepared – Onion Pakodas πŸ™‚ Absolutely yummy from wifey! The weather added flavor to it πŸ™‚

Day 9: 4th February, 2017

This was the best day I must say. All 5 at home, with no plans whatsoever πŸ™‚ Lots of games of cards which I won πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ (obvisously πŸ˜› ) and getting some handy tips from 2 big Chartered Accountants was worth every minute. A late evening visit to Bedok Reservoir Park summed up the day. Dad already was in awe of this place for its 5km jogging track around the reservoir which early morning has its own charm. The serene surrounding made the evening with family truly worth living. πŸ™‚ Cannot describe sometimes the feeling of having your loved ones around. Sometimes its sad that we all are not together every single day. I really and heartily want that day to come soon!

Some more shopping followed with a visit to the nearby huge mall. The superstore here called ‘Fair Price’ had a lot to offer as well πŸ™‚ We are always good at shopping πŸ˜€ It was a good day which ended me watching the Chelsea game on the huge screen at the Tampines Hub πŸ˜› Yes, Chelsea won by a comfortable scoreline.

Pani Puri time it was back at home. All sitting down, waiting for their share of Puris πŸ™‚ Ahaa, this added so much taste to the pani puri πŸ™‚ Finger licking good πŸ™‚

Day 10: 5th February, 2017

The feeling of having missed out on the ‘Sea Aquarium’ was too much to bear for me and I somehow managed to fit in one more day at Sentosa πŸ™‚ Yes, dedicated to ‘Sea Aquarium’ and the lovely beaches. πŸ™‚

‘Sea Aquarium’ – one word for this experience is “SOOTHING”.

Getting to see so many underwater creatures, some of which we would not even imagine exists is wonderful. For aqua maniacs it is bliss. Sharks, Sting Rays, Fishes – tons of them. Its just wow πŸ™‚

Even though there is no scarcity for beaches back in Manipal for them, the Siloso beach here at Sentosa has its own charm. The lovely sunset with bunch of ships in the foreground makes the sunset worth watching πŸ™‚

Back home, it was yummy patholi time πŸ™‚ A konkani dish prepared with the jaggery and rice dough steamed with turmeric leaves πŸ™‚Β  Yummy!! Yes, my tummy is growing πŸ˜›

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Day 11: 6th February, 2017

The feeling had already started to kick in! Just one more day and they would be traveling back to India and I wanted the time to stop, rewind back 10 days and start playing in loops for ever.

Day 12: 7th February, 2017

9pm was their flight back to Bengaluru and since the previous day, eyes were moist, heart quite heavy. We all had such an amazing time and we dint want it to end. This feeling was mutual amongs all of us.

For dad, it was his long wish to travel abroad and away from his office chores, no phone calls as well, he was totally in a holiday mood. Amma on the other hand, hates travelling. Forget Singapore, she does not travel down to her mothers place Koteshwar which is hardly 30 mins from Manipal often. For her to come down, relax and spend quality time with her whole family and not feeling the tension which she usually does during travel which is something which made all of us super happy. Many more trips in the days to come for sure to SG πŸ™‚ Just love having her around. Finally, for brother, it was a cool vacation πŸ™‚ Enjoy till it lasts – his mantra. His one liners always a killer. As the day progresses, he gets into his groove and there is no arguing with him when it comes to his killer instincts. The atmosphere with him around just turns electric πŸ™‚

Dad always had his morning ‘SHOPPING’ walks πŸ˜€ Post morning tea, he would go around our neighbourhood and shop for something or the other. Fruits were on top priority with a couple of new items everyday and then it came to croceries, utensils and what not πŸ˜€ and guess what he even managed to bargain and get items from here πŸ™‚ Just can’t believe it πŸ™‚ Parents named Murugan stores as ‘Shanmugam’ πŸ˜› and the Tampines bus interchange as ‘Majestic’ πŸ˜€ I don’t think, we will ever call these by their right names ahead πŸ˜€

Wifey was at her super best, fully busy cooking and serving as many lovely yummy dishes as possible whenever she found time. Pizza’s, Patholi, Happla Peet, Meethi Parota, Brinjal Yennegai and the list goes on and on and on! Out of her excitement, she was confused as to what to do and what not to. Love her for everything she has done.

Overall, it was such an amazing trip that I cannot thank malshi enough for making this one a reality. A long long dream fulfilled πŸ™‚ Wishing many more of these to come at regular intervals πŸ™‚

Love you all!

Cheers,
Muki