Lodi Art District – May 2019

St+Art has completely transfigured the look of Delhi ‘s street, yet again. A good 2 hours walk between Khanna market & Meherchand market in Lodhi Colony will leave you astounded as they illustrate their ideas into big art on the big walls.

The Lodhi Colony of Delhi is India’s very first open public art district. Art information courtesy to Start India.

Enjoy the photographic journey of this amazing street walk by Robindro – founder, travel curator & photographer of Serene Journeys, a bespoke travel & experiential based in Delhi welcoming our LGBTQ+ travellers & hetero-friendly 😉

@aaronglasson || ‘The Sacrosanct Whole’

New Zeland artist Aaron Glassons’ ‘The Sacrosanct Whole’ is a magnificent ode to the underlying sacredness of all the things of the world.

Watch the movie and try to spot all the cultural references that Aaron drew from traditional Indian history and the Indus valley civilization.

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@yohnagao || ‘The Light Fort’

Inspired by the unity in diversity Yoh Nagao experienced throughout his time in India, he decided to depict this thought as a wish in his mural for the Lodi Art District.

The mural is a wish for the community to stay together, and build on this openness and acceptance as long as possible. Yoh used patterns from Japan and India to create a piece that presents a mashup of cultural symbols from both nations.

He used the Arabesque Pattern which has traditionally been a part of the Islamic and Japanese traditions, and represents eternity. Spikes depicted in the artwork are a symbol for protection amongst the Ainu people in the Northern part of Japan whom Yoh also draws his ancestry from.

To build on the Indian context, he used the image of a hand holding a flower which represents the idea of welcoming a guest, and being open and inclusive. As Indians it is part of our tradition to be gracious hosts. We have a proverb stating ‘Athithi devo bhava’, which translates to ‘The guest is God’, and the symbol of a hand holding a flower builds on that idea. This image is also used extensively as a sticker in public transport such as Auto rickshaws and buses.
Therefore, the mural becomes a representation of diversity that welcomes people visiting Lodhi Colony.

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@sam_kulavoor || ’Social Media Friendly Plants’

Mumbai based artist Sameer Kulavoor is a multifaceted, and is as comfortable working on the streets as he is in the gallery. For Lodhi Art District, he produced a work which is part of his ongoing series of looking at life in the digital age. Here’s what he had to say about his work with us. “Algorithms are a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. In the 21st century, algorithms are the basis of social media and its influence can be seen on the way we live at a micro and macro level. They seem to have control over the human psyche – how we feel, what we think, what we eat, where we live, how we live, who we make love with, how our surroundings look like. Algorithms are said to have allegedly influenced international politics and the rise of right-wing thinking. Trollers and influencers are legit professions.” This thought by artist Sameer Kulavoor, is what stands behind the intricate composition.

Over the past two weeks, Sameer worked with a dedicated team of volunteers from St+art, painting his enigmatic figures that transcended dimensions and gravity, taking selfies mid-air and critique our digital lives where plants, as Sam observes, help you get a bunch of likes on your selfies.

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@andreco_ || ‘Climate 05 – Reclaiming Air and Water quality’

Italian scientist-artist Andreco’s mural is a one-of-a-kind example of environmental activism through street.
From its design, to the ink used, to the graphs drawn on the wall, Andreco’s mural is a warning on how climate change is taking pace and the huge risks it poses for the environment and all living species if we don’t drastically change our mindset and habits.

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Majili Art Forum || ‘Gracious Heritage’

Majili Art Forum is a New Delhi based organisation which acts as a platform for promoting local artists and creative talents through exhibitions, talks and workshops. In the spirit of building new synergies through artistic collaborations, St+art invited the Majili Art Forum to experiment the large canvas of one of the walls in Lodhi Art District.
15 artists from the collective got together to bring to life their first large public art mural. Mindful of the pockets of greenery embedded within Lodhi Colony’s landscape and Delhi at large, the artists created an artwork utilising the trees in front of the wall to create a dream like image to speak about the city’s heritage that exists in the form of nature. Drawn delicately onto the walls, Asian elephants emerge as a symbol of endangered species creating a giant yet soft presence within the piece.
For the collective, these elephants are a larger metaphor of our natural heritage that is slowly fading away due to urbanisation and the increase in pollution levels. As a way to reminisce the lost richness of nature in our cities, the artists created this dream-like image emerging from the real trees that face the wall. Thus, to project the grey area between what is present and what is slowly becoming absent.

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 @skl0_ x @waywardclouds || ‘Cause & Effect’

The mural by Sam Lo at block 13 in Lodhi Art District tells the story of how a little sparrow’s actions are tied to another’s fate. As free as they may be, or think that they may be, they make their decisions with all the information they have on hand, while dealing with their shadow selves and their environment.

Hence the mural puts the viewers at the centre of its storytelling, for them to wonder about one’s freedom and relationship with all the others. Maybe you are that sparrow as well?

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@_theyok & @_sheryo || ‘Letters for Lodhi’

Inspired by the visual cues of vintage Indian matchboxes, the Singaporean art duo brings a colourful mural that contains a series of cryptic messages embedded within.

Justice, Equality, Health and Fortune all form a clear indication of the core message behind the piece which are meant to be evocative of the Indian public service announcements in bus and train stations. There’s even a ‘call your mom’ on the wall as a reminder to, well, call your mom because your mother is very important and deserves to hear from you more often!
There is a central arch which the artists call the ‘Gupt Dwar’ meaning ‘secret passageway’ as they believe Lodhi to be a place rich in cultural treasures and generous people. The passageway is meant to lead you to good health and fortune and is guarded by two cats on the sides who protect you as you journey through it.

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 @yipyewchong || Impressions of Lodhi

Singaporean artist Yip Yew Chong is as peculiar in his style than he is in his life. After having left a managerial position in finance, the 50-year-old accountant turned muralist.

His work in Delhi is a direct reflection of the scenes from the street of everyday India, from the markets of Lodhi colony and Khanna market, to the neighbouring regions

He is well known for creating interactive pieces which invite people to become a part of his work and paints characters that are inspired by people passing by and inhabit the streets on a daily basis.

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@bondtruluv

Inspired by his extensive passion for travelling and exploring new environments, his style weaves a calligraphic representation of street culture in and around Lodhi Colony. Vibrant lettering now adorns one of the facades in the locality, while pedestrians engage with the artist and his work through a quiet observation, wondering what it will turn out to be!

One of the largest AR pieces in India.

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@priyesh_t

Unexpected rainy days posed a bit of a problem for Priyesh – the Mumbai based artist well known for his ‘Aadarsh Balak’ series which is a viral sensation on the internet. But he has been powering through it all continuing work on the biggest walls he has done so far.

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@_tahska 

The artist from China, DALeast, names the mural ‘Order and Chaos’ taking inspiration from his time in India.
For this particular wall, DALeast saw a beautiful arch which was the highlight for the mural. He depicts a flock of birds flying towards the centre of the arch – but all in complete balance and synchronicity – with an order to that chaos. He explores the tense relationship between the natural and the artificial, the organic and synthetic, forming an art work true to the characteristic of India – chaotic but beautiful and functional.
With this work, he has also made use of shadows since he believes that shadows, in a sense, validate our existence in physical space.

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@david_leitner || Reveal

Through his work in Lodhi, Austrian artist David Leitner wanted to highlight some of the socially relevant themes, he experienced in his time in India, such as the environment and gender issues.
The wall has a few elements which are quintessentially Indian and also shed light on the amount of plastic being used and wasted. Women are seen as powerful central characters on the wall, while three sets of text in Hindi, shed light on the fact, that of the 1 million consumed plastic bottles, only 9% are being recycled.
Through his work, David hopes to draw the attention of people to these pressing issues, while hoping that to start a dialogue between the locals about these topics.

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@dostreetart @bykhatra 

Indian duo Do and Khatra, their artwork at block 5 is around the differences and similarities between rural and modern urban India

As usual, their approach to the wall is very old school despite their young age. Each artwork by the Indian duo is a unique piece which constantly evolves as they spend more time at the wall. Often initial design elements are changed, or newer ones added into the composition as they respond to the space they are working in.

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 @georgiahillbth x @hanifkureshi || ‘Yahaan’

Based on St+Art India’s ongoing work with the community in Lodhi Colony, and responses from locals of how they feel about the area, Australian artist Georgia wanted to work with Hanif Kureshi to reflect how language reinforces our sense of belonging.
Building on the English phrase ‘This Must Be The Place’, the artists arrived at a Hindi translation of ‘yahaan’ (‘here’), where radiating lines and abstracted type would come to interact with each other, representing unique, varied, and ultimately connected interpretations of a sense of place.

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“How Is Global Warming” by @gaiastreetart 

For his wall in lodhi art district, Gaia explores the impact of green house gasses and global warming on our society. Using the arch of the wall, he made the Shish Gumbad, known as the glass dome in the Lodhi colony area, right in the center of the composition. Behind it, a Victorian botanical garden plays with the concept of greenhouse gases. This pairing is flanked by two hands emerging from the water signifying hope and despair. On either sides of the wall, the artist has painted one inflated globe and one deflated globe, to show the effects that globalization has on our planet.

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@li_hill 

Aaron is a Canadian visual artist currently based out of Brooklyn who uses local narratives from both his homeland and India to address the global issue of climate change.
In Lodhi colony Li Hill painted the facade with image of human figures transforming into a tiger and a polar bear. The Tiger represents Eastern knowledge, while the Polar Bear represents the west. In a symmetry that reads the architecture of the building, Aaron speaks about the dangers we pose to the world due to our own behaviour while the speed and powerful poses of the characters also indicate the speed at which things are changing, and the power we have in altering our conditions.

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@saner_edgar || Discovery of India – Balance in Mind and in Spirit

Saner’s work is symbolic, intricate and yet, direct.
As he himself explains, “The mural is inspired by some concepts that have crossed over to Mexico about the Hindu philosophies, mainly addressing the enlightenment through self-knowledge, through following a spiritual path and above all looking for the rebirth of and being to improve within from ourselves.” On the sides, a man and a woman represent the order and balance in the universe, their clothes and adornments identify Mexican and Hindu traditions that create a bridge between the two cultures.

Saner often used masks in his work which are an integral part of Mexican culture and are often used as a tool to reveal the true nature of human beings using animal forms. The human wearing a tiger mask on the left side of the wall is representative of Indian culture and people.

The rich diversity of the two countries are represented by the flora and fauna. This is also an important motif for Saner since he wants people to remember that we are one with the planet and its natural beauty which has to be protected.

The lateral characters – the Monkey and the Dog are the protectors – the guards, and above all, the guides who look after you on your path to enlightenment.

Finally, the lotus flower is a symbol of hope, while the heart in the middle is the humanity that binds us all together.

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‘Katha-Crazy Twins: Chiller Champa & Boom Bhaijaan’ by @harshraman

Through this piece, Harsh attempts to merge the ancient Indian art of Kathakali, which is a storytelling dance-form from the south of India which uses gestures and no words, with today’s medium of no words – street art. The two heads together represent the duality of human nature and it’s art thereof. The artwork was purposefully chosen for the location so as to bridge the gap between the older migrant parents who hold on to their culture, and the younger generation – slowly letting go of their heritage.

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@aravaniartproject || Trans Lives Matter

In collaboration with the transgender community of Delhi, Aravani Art Project painted their first mural in Delhi in front of the N.P. CO-ED Senior Secondary School in Lodhi Colony.

The collective’s wall in Lodhi Colony is almost a retrospective of their body of work, bringing together delicate portraits of women they have worked in the past and women who have shaped their philosophies as well.
Unity is what emerges from the image they’ve created in a process that is fundamentally based on inclusion. 15 trans-women and several volunteers contributed to the execution of the wall making it a collective celebration of identity and representation.

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 @sajidwajidshaikh || ’Shakti’

For his mural in Lodhi Colony, Mumbai artist Sajid Wajid gave an ode to femininity. Portraits of women are painted along with natural elements on a holistic amalgamation.
A vibrant colour palette and soft shapes offer a composition for the passerby to be engaged with, which are mostly children who go to the school right opposite to the wall, and their mothers who come to pick them up.
The work is a celebration of femininity and responds to the need of men to contribute to women empowerment as well.

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@adelerenault || ‘These Rock Pigeons Chose The Trees’

The artwork by Belgian artist Adele is now complete at Block 14 in Lodhi Colony. Her work celebrates one of the most common sight in cities which are often considered ordinary, but through her work she presents them as magnificent creatures full of beauty and grace.
The pigeons by Adele are already something notable at a distance, but the real impact of her work comes through the details once seen upclose, in person.

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Colours of the soul by @senkoeone

Inspired by the beauty of nature, Senkoeone painted these birds since in Mexican culture as well as several others, are symbols of diversity, identity and freedom. Birds are also considered travellers with a lot of experiences and stories to tell. Hence he painted the birds in Lodhi Colony to represent the colourful diversity of the people who live there and also to encourage them to communicate with each other and share stories, just like the birds would.

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@dude.sg | The Singapore Lane

Eugene Soh gives a nod to the Florentine polymath with Moh Lee Sha, in which the staggeringly famous Mona Lisa — of which an earlier version is incidentally on display at The Arts House — is re-imagined through a Singaporean lens. Instead of Lisa del Giocondo, the image features local band The Sam Willows’ Benjamin Kheng, who does a passable job of imitating her enigmatic expression. And, to drive the point home, the idealised landscape in the background of the original is replaced with another ideal view of sorts: Singapore’s skyscrapers, greenery and Housing and Development Board flats.

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Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube 

Cruising the Tranquil Backwaters

An exclusive Diwali getaway.

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26th Oct, Sat           Kochi

Tentative flight – AI 512, 1410/1710

Airport arrival & transfer to Tissas Inn. Own activities.

Overnight at hotel.

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 27th Oct, Sun          Kochi – Akkarakalam for embarkation

 After breakfast, transfer to the Jetty. A traditional Indian welcome awaits you when you arrive at Akkarakalam jetty on the luxurious House Boats.

The House Boat sets sail and heads to the narrow canals in Kainakkari, Kuppapuram, Lunch is served on board. You will be cruising your way through the picturesque, Kuttithodu, Venattkadu, Munnattumugam.

Overnight parked at Moonnatiinmugham, Dinner on board.

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28th Oct, Mon          Moonnatiinmugham – Nedumudi – Chambakulam – Akkarakalam

After Breakfast, we will set sail through Nedumudi, Chambakulam, known for its annual snake boat races and the oldest Angadi (market), you can see the Snake boats here.

Walk through the paths and lanes of this craft and coir village and also visit the St. Mary Florence Church built in 1870.Cruise through Pullangadi, Kanjipadam village with its rice fields, little houses and constant gaggle of geese and ducks. And there’s the 100-year-old temple of Shree Bhagavathy Kshetram which hosts a 5-day annual cultural Ulsavam (festival). You will be cruising your way through the narrow canals in Pallathuruthi, SNDP Canal, Punnamada. Lunch is served on board. Snapseed 7

The House Boat sets sail and heads to the “Vembanad Lake” Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Watch a whole new world unfold during your cruise as you sail along the tranquil waters. And then through a shimmering exotic maze of interlinked canals and rivers and lakes bordered by vibrant and lush green foliage, palms and paddy fields. After the cruising through Marthandam.

Overnight parked at Akkarakalam, Dinner on board.

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29th Oct, Tue           Akkarakalam – Kochi departure

Tentative flight Vistara UK886 1830/2145

We embark on the Breakfast Sail to Chennamkary, Nedumudi region return to Akkarakalm jetty by 9:00 am, ready to go on with your journey, already nostalgic about your spectacular and unusual experience on the Backwaters of Alleppey.

Check-out & drive to Fort Kochi, stroll around, relax and lunch before transferring to the airport for your onward flight.

HOTELS:

DESTINATION HOTEL
ALLEPPEY Spice Routes – Tamarind, 5-BR luxury houseboat
KOCHI Tissas Inn (Deluxe room)

QUOTE:

Cost on twin sharing / per single 25,000.00 PER PERSON
Single supplement / per single 16,500.00

INCLUSIONS:

  • 2 Nights’ accommodation on houseboat with all meals
  • 1 Night accommodation at hotel on bed & breakfast.
  • All transfers by AC tempo traveler 12-seater.
  • All presently applicable taxes

EXCLUSIONS:

  • ITEMS OF PERSONAL NATURE – such as laundry, table drinks, telephone bills, tips to room boys, drivers, guides, personal clothing including sleeping bags etc.
  • Any Airfare.
  • No guide services
  • Visa fee for India to be arranged and paid for directly by the clients. Check VISA rules carefully from your nearest Indian Embassy/ Mission before applying for Indian VISA.
  • Travel & Health Insurance to be arranged and paid for directly by the clients.
  • Airport taxes and fuel surcharges, which are subject to change without notice. Any meals (other than breakfast), drinks, tips, expenses of personal nature.
  • Anything not mentioned in the “Cost Includes” column.

 

ONLY 10 seats available. Book asap. 

For reservation, email robin@serenejourneys.co (not com)

 

 

Glamping with the Tigers

Sariska Tiger Reserve, located less than two hours from Jaipur, is one of the few tiger reserves unknown to many travelers. Ask your friends to journey with you to Sariska TR and you will see many raised eyebrows, as if you had just discovered a new species.

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Inasmuch as extraordinary experiences are often considered truly elegant, we went on a weekend drive with local and expat friends who now call Delhi home. The idea was to enjoy a nice weekend together. But little did we know what we were getting into as none of us had never been to this relatively undiscovered place. Although all of us had passed by travelling between Delhi & Jaipur.

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There was only one camp that had really caught my eye some time ago and I’d been following their Instagram closely.  So, I decided to get in touch with the owner of Utsav Camp, Luv Shekhawat. My first question was “I am planning to bring a small group of friends who are gay/gay-friendly. Are you okay with that?” In a very sincere tone, he replied with the best ever line “We are all humans. Everyone has preferences. Who am I to judge how you should live your life? This is your home.  We do not discriminate based on caste, religion or sexuality”. This conversation was over the phone, but it almost left me in tears. I wished all hotels in India would openly welcome gay people just as Utsav Camp does. Currently, The Lalit is the only luxury hotel to welcome the lgbtq+ community openly, with the tagline #PureLove.

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Back to glamping (glamorous camping), Utsav Camp is an eco-luxury tented accommodation, very boutique with only 10 tents located on the non-touristy side of the reserve. We started off from Delhi around 8.00AM in a twelve-seat coach and arrived at the camp around 1.30 in the afternoon. In fact, the staff were all waiting to welcome us with red tilaka & rice, which is considered a welcome and expression of honor.Welcome drinks were served, check-in procedure expedited, and off we went to our tents where our bags were already waiting for us. A tasty vegetarian buffet lunch was served. Luv had planned a nature walk through the village and on to the rugged mountain terrain, reconnecting with the wilderness where the nomadic goat herder could be seen, and the Indian blue bull running in the wild. After walking for 2 miles, we climbed up to one of the rocky plateaus and were delighted to see the tea sundowner set up just for us with cookies, biscuits, masala chai and other black & green tea. Wouldn’t you know, one of our group even brought a little wine to celebrate the sunset?

Oh, these urban souls now really understood the sheer exhilaration pure air as we watched the sun go down, gentle, cool breeze wafting by.

We walked back along the road to our camp, coming across more shepherds herding goats toward home. We all had a bit of chat and learned a bit of the technique of chopping tree branches to feed the herd. Perhaps we were planning for our retirement pastime.

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Our evenings were about getting to know each other better aside the bonfire with a few of our favorite libations, local snacks, and a sumptuous buffet.

We went on one morning safari, where we encountered deer, antelope, wild boar, and monkeys while enjoying the serenity of the jungle. We were not fortunate to see the tiger, leopards & the striped hyenas but the sighting has been good lately.After breakfast, some of us decided to go explore a small, nearby village.  It was a pleasant stroll, where the kids were playing while the ladies surrounded the hand pump washing clothes.  But one thing we saw on every face was a big fat, happy, welcoming smile when they saw us.

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One late afternoon, Luv took us to a nearby lake for bird watching followed by yet more tea and snacks set up along the lake. We spotted about 29 species of bird including the great white pelican, bar-headed goose, northern shoveler, pied avocet, black-tailed godwit etc. to name a few. A nice place for beginner birders. Quiet and less crowded.

It was a fantastic weekend getaway from Delhi, not too long of a drive. The staff at Utsav did a fabulous job in making sure everyone was well looked after. There are various experiences that will keep you entertained once you arrive at the camp from the evening sundowner trek, to the nature trail to bird watching along the lake, etc. Or simply enjoy the blessing of doing nothing at all. More slideshow photos of the camp.

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Please note that there is a pool if you like soaking in the sun. So be sure to bring proper swimming attire. Also, there is no alcohol offered at the camp, but you are welcome to bring your favorite libation with you.

All in all, a perfect glamping weekend.

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This blog is our unsolicited personal opinion. By no means, a requested review from the owners.

Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company based in Delhi, a travel curator & a travel photographer, exploring the beauty of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.

Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube 

Making my Way through Men in Lungi

Have you heard of a small town called Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, known as the knitwear capital of India?

It is situated at the centre of the South Indian Peninsula, 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of Coimbatore which is also the nearest airport. This small town is a major textile and knitwear hub contributing almost 90% of total cotton knitwear exports from India. Many of the world’s largest retailers including Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Switcher, Tommy Hilfiger, Wal-Mart, Primark, FILA, H&M, C&A and M&S go to Tirupur to manufacture their cotton products.

I remember I once booked a 3-night stay in a luxury (supposed to be) resort near a town called Polachi, which did not quite go well and so had to check out after the first night and return to Vivanta Surya by Taj at Coimbatore for another 3 days as my base. Annoyed and frustrated with the experience, I started researching things to do around the area and found out Tirupur was just a 90 min drive away. I called the concierge immediately and asked to arrange a car and local chauffeur who know his way around Tirupur. There was only one to-do list on my mind, that of going on a shopping spree at wholesale markets, outlets, and any stores I could find.  Some might call it retail therapy. It was quite a wonderful experience strolling around the markets and stores, but the apparel was depressing. I did, however, manage to persevere and bring back 8-10 items, after some serious digging. LOL!

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After a sumptuous Tamil cuisine lunch, I asked the driver to take me to a local vegetable or flower market. He kind of gave me a look which felt like ‘what a strange traveller’. He then dropped me off at the entrance to a local flower market and asking me to call when I finished. With no idea what to expect at this market, I took my first step into the gate, and literally went “WOW”! What was so unique about this place was that 99% of the purveyors were men in their lungi’s though both men & women came to buy the flowers. I lifted my camera and became totally absorbed with these beautiful men in their lungi’s making flower garlands, gossiping & chatting away. Typically, the work and pass time of the women!  All I could hear was my shutter rat-a-tat-tatting. Perhaps not many travelers visit, but they were so happy to see me with my big lenses and started posing. After spending about 2 hours in a not so big flower market, I went back to the hotel. It made my day, experiencing something local, all quite by accident. It’s a memory I still cherish.

Hoping you enjoy the photograph from the flower market, at Kamaraj road, Tirupur, TN.

Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company based in Delhi and a freelance travel photographer, exploring the beauty of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.
Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube 

All our blogs are unsolicited personal opinion. 

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Jimbaran Fish Market: Dining with the flies.

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The vegetable selection

Don’t be fooled by the title, it’s not as off-putting as it sounds. To most who visit, it is a little seafood paradise and very local.

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This place is essentially a fresh seafood market. Wholesaler to the finest large and small hotels & resorts in and around Jimbaran including the ever so posh Four Seasons. The market is also a great place to enjoy the treasures of the sea just after the catch. From huge lobsters, mahi mahi, snapper, tuna, a tremendous variety of prawns and various other unlucky sea creatures (at least that’s what I call them) all are ready to be grilled or prepared to your liking.  The Fish Market is also one of the best cheap eats in Bali. The lobster is priced at around 350,000 IDR (= $24)/kg which is entirely negotiable. Six of us feasted on a platter of sardines, medium sized prawns & squids (4kg altogether) costing only about 200,000 IDR or $14.

 

How does it work?  We arrive at the fish market and start browsing the big selection of all these yummy creatures on display underneath 4, 100-meter long pavilions. Choose your favorites, strike your bargain and off you go to the open kitchen with your catch where they prepare your order beachside. The dishes are then served with rice and sambal mata, a kind of lightly sautéed onion and fresh chilly. Alongside are small shops selling beer, coconut water or other soft drinks to wash down your food.

The experience may be a bit challenging for the nose, but then one can’t expect pleasing fragrance around a fish market. Of course, as with any outdoor dining, there may be a few flies around but entirely manageable and again this comes with the territory. This is definitely not a place for creature comfort but heavenly to those who simply enjoy eating the finest seafood smack on the beach.  Local troubadours even come by and perform Balinese live music for tips of a dollar or two.

It’s one of my favourite spots when in Bali along with enjoying the various, plentiful warungs– small traditional, buffet style cafés featuring 15-20 different Indonesian dishes.

Inexpensive living, cheap food & drink–what more can one ask for on and exotic island paradise?

Enjoy Bali!

Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company based in Delhi and a freelance travel photographer, exploring the beauty of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.
Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube 

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Eating in Bangkok

Last night’s dinner started with a random stroll, just bumping along the road. We decided to walk around Suan Phlu Soi area and pick a Thai restaurant. We wanted something local, non-descript, undiscovered for us. As so often happens in Bangkok, we stumbled upon exactly what we were looking for in no time Larp Suanplu. Just the perfect little restaurant with 4-5 tables serving both Thai & Northern Thai style. Simple, very casual with delightful menu and great, friendly staff. We enjoyed a bounty of 9 different dishes…
 
• Fried rice with crab meat
• Fried rice with salted fish
• Stir-fried pork liver with black pepper
• Fried pork neck slices with fish sauce
• Papaya salad with crab
• Stir-fried century eggs with crispy basil
• Spicy shredded bamboo-shoot salad
• Sliced grilled pork neck salad
• Spicy chicken curry
 
Plus of course a local Singha to wash it down… All for around 700 baht ($20).
Ah!!!!!!! Bangkok.
 
By the way, fyi this is our unsolicited personal opinion. By no means, a requested review from the owners.
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Fried rice with crab meat

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Fried rice with salted fish

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Stir-fried pork liver with black pepper

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Fried pork neck slices with fish sauce

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Papaya salad with crab

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Stir-fried century eggs with crispy basil

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Spicy shredded bamboo-shoot salad

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Spicy shredded bamboo-shoot salad

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Sliced grilled pork neck salad

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Spicy chicken curry

Going Incredibly Asian.

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Jackfruit, the largest tree born fruit in the world, a species of the fig, mulberry, and breadfruit family. The jackfruit plant originated in southwest India, where it grows abundantly. And then, it spread to other parts of India, southeast Asia, the East Indies, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

It has a mildly unpleasant aroma if you are sensitive but not nearly as aggressively pungent as Durian. The flavour is a mix of banana & pineapple with a texture of chewy to succulent, depending on the ripeness.

Many consider the best part to be the giant seeds, which are a delicacy for the locals and popular among foodies & fruit connoisseurs. As I say, “when in Asia, go Asian”! The seeds are best boiled or roasted, and you will sometimes see them offered on the streets. The taste is a combination of Taro & boiled potato with a fine sweetness of chestnut.

Next time you buy jackfruit, don’t forget to keep the seeds. Enjoy!

 

Serene Journeys is 5…

Namaste!

It’s been five serene years since Serene Journeys began to provide bespoke travel services to India. Since that time we’ve met old friends and made new ones along the way.  We’ve flown, floated, and driven.  We’ve wined, dined and danced.  We’ve explored horizons afar and those within ourselves.

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We’ve visited so many wonderful places, met so many interesting people, seen amazing sights, encountered nature at its most intimate moments.  At times we’ve been spiritual.  At times creative, even artistic.

During this time we’ve expanded our reach into Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and even China.  We continue to work with a clientele as diverse as the world we live in.  So Namaste, but also Sawadee and Ni Hao.

None of this would have been possible without the trust and support of our guests, travelers, and travel partners.  Thanks to you…

The Journey Serene continues.

We travel on!

With Love, From Robin, Mark & Steve

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For reservation query, please email us at robin@serenejourneys.co
steve@serenejourneys.co (for UK and Ireland ONLY)
mark@serenejourneys.co (for US ONLY)

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a bespoke travel to India & Southeast Asia and a freelance travel photographer, amateur birder and rural explorer.  Follow us on Instagram @ serenejourneys or Facebook @ Serene Journeys or  tweet @serenejourneys1

Goa and the Magical Monsoon – II

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Birds-eye View of Planet Hollywood Goa (Picture Courtesy: PHG)

The penultimate last day of a memorable Serene Journey in Goa during the monsoon season.

The first few days were terrific and today was a real topper!

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The Pink Room Spa at Planet Hollywood Goa (Picture Courtesy: PHG)

After a relaxing deep tissue therapy at the Pink Room Spa, I was all set to explore with Planet Hollywood Sales Director Ms. Charmaine, the Braganza House in Chandor, a small village in South Goa. Built in the 17th century, the Braganza mansion was the home of Luis De Menezes Braganza, the champion of Goa’s freedom. The ancestors were Hindu ‘Desai’ before converted to Christianity after the Portuguese entry.

As we walk up the rickety stairs, we were greeted by Ashley Braganza from the 15th generation, who showed us around his family’s residential wing. The other wing was occupied by another sibling’s family. A short tour took us to the living room, ballroom, dining, master bedroom ensuite and a private chapel.

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the stairs to Braganza house

The house is a living museum including a collection of antiques by various members of the family.  Here you will find intricate wooden furniture, porcelain, in rooms bedecked with Venetian glass chandeliers and Italian marble flooring. We then went to the private chapel. When St. Francis Xavier’s remains were brought to Goa, a nail from his body was given to the family to keep as a relic in the chapel. Visitors are encouraged to make a donation, whether large or small, to help maintain the house and its historical character.  This concluded the sightseeing for the day after which I enjoyed a fabulous meal with Trupti Wesley founder of the Chickoo Tree Project restaurant at Margao followed by Feni (local alcohol) shopping.

And in conclusion…

GO TO GOA FOR THE MONSOON!!!!!

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The beaches of Goa have been ranked by CNN Travel as #3 in the world and National Geographic Travel ranks the nightlife in the top 10.  So many thinks of Goa as primarily an exotic beach party experience. Certainly, the beaches, the nightlife and the cuisine are world class. But Goa offers so much more to the traveller who explores the depths of its diverse culture. It’s a place where east truly meets west. An Indian palette painted upon a European canvas. It is truly a colorful, historical, spiritual and serene place…that just happens to be a lot of fun to boot!

I also can’t stress enough how truly wonderful Goa is in monsoon.  Here the rain falls softly and shares the day with the sun and lush tropical foliage. The monsoon is the epitome of renewal and nowhere is this more apparent than Goa.

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A big thank you to GM Anand, SD Charmaine, PR Rajveer, DM Wallance, Chauffeur Rahesh and team PHG.

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One rainy day… Picture Courtesy: PHG

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Who does’t love a Sunday Brunch

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oh yes, keep pouring please…. (Picture Courtesy: PHG)

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The grill counter

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thank you for the rainbow cake dessert

 

Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company based in Delhi and a freelance travel photographer, exploring the beauty of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.
Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube 

Goa & the Magical Monsoon

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Sunset at Uttorda Beach

Goa is known as the most popular beachfront state in India lying along the Arabian Sea bounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south. Its biggest draw is undoubtedly its virtually uninterrupted string of white-sand beaches each beach having its own personality from tropical retreat to backpacker haven to hippie bliss.

Over 450 years of Portuguese rule and the influence of the Portuguese culture presents visitors to Goa a cultural environment that is not found elsewhere in India. Goa is often described as a fusion between Eastern and Western culture with Portuguese culture having a dominant position in the state be it in its architectural, cultural or social settings.

Goa is visited by large numbers of international and domestic tourists each winter season given its top world ranking nightlife and beaches. But I chose to visit Goa in the monsoon season (July through September) when the foliage turns lush green from the rains. Beauty abounds while the tourist population recedes.

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I stayed for four wonderful days at the new Planet Hollywood. Well-appointed and comfortable along clean and quiet Utorda Beach with a most welcoming and hospitable staff. So many surprises awaited from day one, including a beautiful and very tasty greeting cake, an upgraded luxurious suite room and a handwritten personal welcome note from the GM. Each room is individually designed according to a Hollywood theme featuring creature comforts like massage chair, mood lighting, goose down pillows, plush towels, satin sheets, and designer toiletries. Rooms either overlook the Arabian Sea or feature a lush garden view.

As to meals while in residence, I was offered a menu but instead asked that the chef select all my meals choosing from local favorites like pork vindaloo, chicken xacuti, balchão, pomfret curry… all prepared to my taste using a mouth-watering array of Goan spices. I was never disappointed.  What a fantastic culinary experience!

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Welcome assortment and brownie topped with Serene Journeys

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Welcome note from GM Anand jee

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one of the walls at the lounge bar

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executive suite

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Prawn Kismur

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Pork Vindaloo

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Pomfret Recheado

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MargaFeni – Feni Margarita

The second day I enjoyed a bicycle breakfast picnic to Three Kings Church, a famous ‘haunted church’ once attended by three Portuguese kings… one poisoned the other two and then committed suicide. Dicey heritage, cool place for enjoying a picturesque view in a most serene setting. I dined on fresh fruit, fresh baked breads and muffins, an omelet, some Indian delicacies and of course all washed down with delightful local coffee and tea.

On the way back, we detoured through local rice fields, small villages and took a long photo-stop, as I was excitedly prepared to ‘shoot’ every unique beauty coming my way from ruined churches among the coconut trees, to the farmers in the field and the butterflies. I spent the day at leisure along the beach watching beachgoers and cricket matches along the Sea as fisherman brought in their ‘treasures of the deep’.  My day ended still at the beach embraced by the patina of a golden sunset through the clouds and into the Arabian Sea.

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Wallance & I getting ready for the adventure

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the road to three kings church

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the spots decided

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we have a picnic butler 🙂

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under the tree on a beautiful morning

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beautiful moth

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this tree is beautifully creepy LOL!

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The ruins at Three Kings Church

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Picturesque view from Three Kings Church

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Three Kings Church

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The caretaker makes sure this fire does not go off

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another abandoned church on the way back

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The third day we toured many of Goa’s famous historical religious sites. Goa has a rich spiritual history where east meet west, Hindu meets Christianity.  First stop was the Basilica de Bom Jesus housing the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier, a UNESCO world heritage site. Dating to 1605, the basilica is an outstanding example of baroque architecture… one of the most important destinations for Christian pilgrims from all over the world. Then on to the Se Cathedral which is the cathedral of the Latin Rite Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Goa and Daman as well as the seat of the Patriarch of the East Indies. Next, I visited the church of St. Francis of Assisi built in 1660 by the Portuguese as a chapel later gaining status as a church. Then on to the church of St. Augustine completed in 1602 and now a famous ruin with the only remaining structure being a 46-meter bell tower constructed of laterite.   Last but not least on the list was Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church built in 1541 and featuring the second largest bell in Goa. I enjoyed a fish fry thali for lunch at the famous Ritz Classic.

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Basilica de Bom Jesus

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the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier

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Se Cathedral

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The ruin around the church of St. Francis of Assisi

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The ruin around the church of St. Francis of Assisi

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the church of St. Augustine

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the church of St. Augustine

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the church of St. Augustine

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the church of St. Augustine

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Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church

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View from Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Church

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Blue building is Singbal’s Book House, Church Square

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Given my diverse religious background (a prodigy of both Hinduism and Chritianity) I visited several Hindu temples each surrounded by flower vendors stringing garlands and making beautiful floral arrangements to place in the temples. I visited Shantadurga Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to the goddess who served as a messenger between Shiva and Vishnu. Formerly a small laterite mud shrine with a small idol during Portuguese times it is now converted into a beautiful full-scale place of spiritual enlightenment featuring a blend of Indian and Portuguese design. Next was the 400-year-old Mangeshi Temple founded during 16thcentury dedicated to Bhagavan Manguesh a incarnation of Lord Shiva.

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Shantadurga Temple

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Wallance & Chauffeur Rakesh ended up doing their own little shopping

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the 400-year-old Mangeshi Temple

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Stay tuned for Part 2 of ‘Serene Journey’s Excellent Goa Adventure with Planet Hollywood

 

Robindro Saikhom
robin@serenejourneys.co
www.serenejourneys.co

Robin is the founder of Serene Journeys, a gay travel company based in Delhi and a freelance travel photographer, exploring the beauty of India, Nepal, Bhutan and Southeast Asia.
Check us out on Instagram Facebook Twitter Youtube