Hub that’s not Cyber but… Designer

“No yaar…Not again!!!”
This was Trisha’s abrupt reaction to my nth ‘Check In’ at the Cyber Hub. Trisha (name changed), is a close friend who actually lives quite far and hence has never been to Gurgaon and Cyber Hub, of course… hence, this genuine reaction!!!

But to be very frank, I just can’t help often being there. I simply love the place. The very first time I visited the Hub, was over lunch, with a bunch of colleagues, to check out the newbie who had suddenly become the talk-of-the-town. And since then, it has kept inviting me over and over again.

image

Placed strategically amidst the Corporate Hub of Cyber City, allowing several suited booted souls to drop-in during weekdays, connected smartly by the Rapid Metro, overcoming the hassles of public transport, sitting just parallel to NH8, enlivening the space over weekends as well, Cyber Hub is an unparalleled prospect to be lived up all the seven days of the week.

A place is popular not only because of the amenities it bestows. The experience it enthralls you within, the delight that you sense inside, is one of the prominent reasons.

This aspect of different experience begins from the car park itself, where you find an interesting semblance of hardscape and softscape, that welcomes you with an experience, so unusual of Gurgaon.

image

As you walk down to the Hub, the view of colorful signages, with a back drop of tall Cyber City buildings, the excitement gets built in, a little more. The very characteristic steel and glass of entire vicinity flows down to the Hub as well, but you can distinctly feel the life enthused in it, by the designers.

image

image

Though there are several things that entice you in all possible directions from the entry point itself, but the very distinguished avenue, carved on the longitudinal axis along which food outlets are arranged, will compel you to walk and explore till the other end. And here you find your cherry on the top…the beautiful amphitheatre. The curvilinear steps entice you to come and sit for a while. The radial flooring pattern, emphasizing the center of the stage, gravitates your eyes to appreciate the architectural beauty of the space. Primarily designed for holding events and equipped with weather proof sound system, this amphitheatre is the epicentre during festive seasons. So if you are there while some cricket match is going on, or some dance performance or a musical band, you can witness the literal ‘function followed by this form’.

image

image

The methodical composition of very simple and common flooring materials is carried throughout the complex on all three floor levels. The patterns themselves define the walkway and the sitouts very intuitively, along the corridors.

image

The captivating tensile membranes, space frames and all those roofs flaunted with green cover, speak themselves of the modernity and grandeur of the place. You can’t escape getting impressed by the greenery and landscape spread throughout inspite of the meager soft area available…Creativity at its best…I would say.

image

image

image

Though Cyber Hub is mainly a food hub, unlike the conventional shopping malls, but still it’s not merely food for which you should be visiting. Neither you have to check out the seasonal sales on various outlets, nor you have to walk and walk to do endless and mindless shopping. You can just hang out with your best buddies or your colleagues or family and spend some special moments or else you can even choose to go alone and cherish your solitude. The choice is yours!!!

And when it’s the time to go home in the evening, there stands the magnificent view of the epitome of Modern Gurgaon, the Gateway Tower, standing out amidst the entire Cyber City.

image

Every time I come out of the Cyber Hub, I would rather say the Designer Hub, I feel prouder of my profession. It’s a perfect example of what a good work in architecture, can make the users of that space, feel. So I think, by now, I have very calculatively figured out all the reasons I can specify to Trisha for my next ‘Check In’.

Advertisements

Up above the world so high, like a Bird in the sky

It’s a beautiful day, an unusual one; when something I never even dreamt of, is coming true. I am all animated, all elated-without any idea what’s going to happen next. Looking for the instructor to call my name, I am in a desperate wait for my turn now. I had not set it as a new year resolution or a goal to accomplish before I turn 30 or even the one in my bucket list, but see I am lucky enough to be flying on my own in a while. I am trying my best to compose all the random feelings and thoughts arising inside my head and heart and attempting earnestly to behave calm and alert too. And here comes the man with all the stuff to get me set for the ride.

Very dutifully, I have packed myself well, to avoid any kind of problem or hindrance in my delight. And now I start running, with a pounding heart and held breath. Before I could expect anything, within 10-15 steps of running, it is hard for my feet to continue. The upthrust of air has started pulling me up; the gliding machine tied to me, has started exhibiting its aura around me.

And now, there’s no ground beneath; I have crossed even the edge of cliff I was running on, a few seconds back. All that I can see is deep valleys and contours looking similar to a view at Google Earth. The cool air is not only flowing, rather carrying me too with it, yes I am actually flying now. The wings have spread fully and I am feeling like a bird. In total rhythm of my flight and the breathtaking views from the sky, I have even forgotten who I am. Time has paused now and nothing else is on my mind.

I could never see this world from that perspective ever. After living those elaborate 15 minutes of my life in the air, it’s time to get down now. Now I should look down to find an appropriate place to land. As I am sailing down, the details of Google Earth again start getting zoomed in, clearer picture of the landscapes, the hills, the roads, the trees, the water-everything is getting more and more crystal-clear. But there are too many power lines there and I m afraid I may not hit into them. So I should be more careful. But despite my best of efforts, I am getting closer and closer to those cables.

‘What are these roaring sounds now? Ohh they are so loud, so annoying. I have to get my way down.’ I am perplexed, I am confused-what is this coming in my way, plundering the pleasure of the most perfect moments of my life. In no way, I’ll let it ruin the end; the whole flight will not be well if it doesn’t end well. But the sound gets even more rowdy and strident. I move my limbs in rescue and to my horror, I find my cell phone ringing the alarm bells vehemently.

‘Oh no! don’t tell me it was a dream. Don’t tell me it was all not real. No, I don’t want to wake up.’ I turn my alarm off on snooze and am trying getting it back. But I have lost it by now. Even after trying gravely for 15-20 minutes, I can not get back that sensation again. And with no other option left, I am back on ground, landed safe and sound to get up and get going for the office. ‘If one can manage paragliding in this chilling weather, then going to office is not such a big deal. So what if it’s a Monday morning.’ That’s my way of consoling myself. ūüôā

Golden Chance to see the Golden City

I love October; it’s the best month of the year. Reason? There’s not just one. Not only the season of holidays, feast, shopping and festivity, it’s loved for the pleasant weather too. And four holidays in a row, that too in October, is totally a golden chance to pack your bags and run away-far off. And why I am writing this is, because this golden chance turned into visiting the long desired Golden City.

Yes, I am talking about Jaisalmer in Western Rajasthan, another boundary of India (after Kerala for me). The vast expanse of barren land with merely a few thorny bushes at intervals was something I had never seen before. So in the train only, we received our bit of induction. Reaching the city was a pleasure to see some life around, but that too-‚Äėall golden‚Äô.

While scanning through the hotel and its roof-top restaurant, we could not resist getting city’s top view. Cool breeze flowing, even in the peak of afternoon was suggestive enough to point out the difference. Long after lunch, we set our cab ride off to the Thar Desert. The straight and clear road through the blank land, with few patches of grass and bushes was quite striking that made us stop chatting and gaze ahead. After a few kilometers, even those resorts and hotels too vanished.

Now we joined the caravan with many other people ready to get enthralled by the bumpy camel ride ūüėČ and local travel agents with their camel owners ready to amuse the tourists. The names they had given to their camels were funny-Michael Jackson and Aamir Khan were with us :).

As the camel strode through the sand dunes, I could feel the jolts despite the cushioned seat, covered on its back. Although it was engrossing; but its effect lasted longer. The beautifully textured dunes, which keep changing their shapes everyday, formed a perfect backdrop to the setting sun, which further rendered the whole sky-all red. I wondered how many residents of Jaisalmer actually enjoy this beautiful sunset which was explicitly visible from every house, almost every day. And before we could reach back to the parking, it was all dark and cold too.

Bidding adieu to the camel, we headed on to the camp fire which was like entering a family feast. You surround a stage in a nawab style, with musicians sitting on one side, setting their instruments to bemuse the audience. Folk songs begun with ‘Padharo mhaare des’ and soon their voice filled the air around. The flexible and energetic moves and use of props like number of matkas so skillfully was totally astonishing. The tempting and delicious Rajasthani dinner (its fragrance had already aggravated our appetite)-Daal baati churma, gatte ki sabzi, bajre ki khichdi, makke ki roti marked the end to the show.

After getting thoroughly ‚ÄėRajasthanized‚Äô, next day we went out to explore local architecture of the place, for which it is widely recognized. Wherever you turn, you can see a single color-yellow-whether there are houses, havelis, temples,¬†or even earth-it‚Äôs all yellow. The only break in that monotony comes from green patches at intervals, the wind mills standing far off or the colorful artifacts and handicrafts by artisans flocking the narrow streets. All this was prominent enough to characterize it as another world altogether.

Courtyards, narrow streets, jharokhas were a peculiar style of architecture to beat the scorching heat and create cool interiors. One can easily figure out the water scarcity in olden times as all the construction is done in locally available yellow stone with least dependence on mortar and water. One of the haveli caretakers even explained us, how water was recycled six times before disposing it off after use. I could well imagine the scenario that might take place few years later if we keep misusing water now.

Throughout the visit, I was making inferences how Rajasthani culture and cuisines might have developed, somehow due to their scarce resources. But something worth learning is-still they are making the best out of what they have and are having an identity of their own throughout the country. While trudging through the city you can’t miss those stalls of pani puri, bhel puri, chaach, neembu pani, jaljeera, tikki and much more.

After this mesmerizing experience, boating in the nearby lake was itself a respite from the hot sun. And hence with all the lessons and experiences, fun and pleasure we bid goodbye to the beautiful city.

A Day @ Neemrana

To confess, travel is no more merely going out and visiting places, for me now. This storytelling part is much more fun and for that, I actually devote time and energy taking pics with my husband. And hence comes another entry to my travel diary.

If you also live in Delhi NCR and are looking for a day trip with friends and family or your loved ones, a long drive and some break from the daily grind, Neemrana is just the right place. Okay, I knew this earlier too, but when you actually get to do something, you can say that more sanguinely.

Aravallis begin to appear

First of all,¬†the drive on NH8¬†through Pink City Expressway, which is still under construction, although. But if you’re also one of the kinds like me, who prefer to justify¬†the drive with some convincable¬†destination-then it’s worth it. Second of all, as you’re about to reach Neemrana, the surrounding Aravali hills begin to impound their spell on you. And finally, when you reach there, it’s¬†altogether a different world (at least from the city), highly captivating, that seems¬†far-off from the capital and its commotion.

Horse shoe hill embracing the Fort
the semi open deck
semi open corridor
columns raised over the rock

Neemrana fort palace, the heritage hotel resort, which originally belonged to the lineage of the royal Prithvi Raj Chauhan is a tremendous icon of restoration. The stone cut from the rocks, creates such a sturdy and bold semblance. Plastered surfaces are beyond any comparison to the beautifully laid stones in the masonry. The contrast it gives to the horse shoe hill over which, this complex sits so gracefully, is impeccable.

Fort in stone
beauty lies in details
stone masonry and the arches
the piece of art
viewing from the deck
at leisure

And yes, contours are so skillfully utilized into 10 playful levels, that you never get bored. Either discover the bits of the Fort, which again gives you a remarkable blend of open, semi-open and closed spaces or else, be seated at leisure in any jharokha or  any deck, gazing at the expansive plains below. Even from the lowest point in the fort, you can look up to admire this piece of art, as there are abundant places to sit. Landscaping too, is splendid, so as to not leave any flaw and spare you from making the best out of it.

looking upwards
dealing with levels
landscapes
open air theatre
kulhad-the traditional way of terrace insulation
gazing at the plains

This day picnic was such a retreat, I could imagine the bliss it can be¬†in sunny winters. One of my friends even recommended staying there overnight to get the real¬†vibe. It never occurred to me there, that we are just in vicinity¬†to a mad city. But don’t worry…the huge jam, just after crossing the toll plaza¬†near Manesar, made us feel so-back-home ūüėČ

Cruising through the HouseBoat

I guess, I was 8 years old, when for the first time my Mom taught me about the Dal lake at Srinagar and the houseboats there, from my text-book. It was since then, that living on a houseboat became a fantasy for me. We kids even played games imagining our house on a boat, in the middle of a river.

But it was only during our trip to Kerala, that I actually saw a houseboat for the first time and believe me, the experience was far beyond my expectations. It made our stay at Alleppey backwaters, the best spell of our vacation and I assume, this will remain one of the most cherished memories through my entire life.

After a six hours long journey from Kanyakumari, we were already quite starved and exhausted. It was hot too. So within no time, we hopped on to the houseboat as soon as we reached there. The manager introduced us to the boat and the cruise but I was in no mood to listen; my eyes were busy examining all the details of the boat very desperately.

 

As our cruise started amidst the brightly shining sun, I could barely open my eyes. I put on my sunglasses but the cool breeze that started flowing, was such a respite. We were so spellbound by the amazing views: the coconut trees, the floating plants, the villagers along the river and the vast expanse of water; we could hardly pay attention to the deliciously cooked lunch by the chef. He and the captain were the only two people along with us, on the boat, they were very friendly and thank God they knew Hindi and English too. The captain even gave me a chance to sit in his seat and ride the boat for a while. I can’t even explain how much fun it was.

The whole place seemed so divine that we felt like being rewarded for something and compelled me to put a pause to every little thought that could ever pop up in my mind. The assorted type of boats and people enjoying their cruise in difference ways was all so lovely.

 

Now it was evening, the time to halt (when we were not at all prepared to halt). The two men asked us to walk into the nearby village and explore the place. It was so green that it seemed monsoons were on (but actually monsoons had to start 2 months later). The banana trees and coconut trees were framing a different composition at every place and in no way seemed monotonous. After a short stroll, we came back and sat down along the river bank, had nothing to talk about and were just enjoying the beauty of the place, all speechless.

Soon it was dark and the chef called us for dinner. After watching TV for a while, we chose to sleep early so that we could have our share of early morning views and some extended time spent in that heaven. As the morning came up, people started coming in their built to suit boats, heading towards their work. The chef served us a nicely chopped pineapple just after breakfast as a farewell delight and then we moved on.

Naini…You look beautiful!!!

Another hill station, yet again. And now, this time it is Nainital. Despite being such a familiar hideout ‚ÄėMussoorie-Nainital‚Äô for Delhites¬†and researching quite well, about the place before going there, it was least expected to view that grand lake within the center of the town (surrounded by pine and oak), set amongst¬†the towering peaks of the Kumaon Himalayas.

You may stroll along the lake, try a bit of boating, shop at the Mall, capture some gorgeous shots in your camera, enjoy Bhutta or ice-cream or do nothing at all, but relax and watch the lake changing its colors every while like chameleon.

Hill stations have a unique spell of their own especially during monsoons. Summers are explicitly a relief from the heat of plains and winters offer the snow-clad show. But in monsoons, when everything is green and mist is all around, you can expect any drastic change in weather. There is pleasant weather and you plan to go out for a stroll and as you get ready, it starts drizzling. Now you make your mind to either go or wait and thick rain drops start falling which you can hear aloud over the sloping tin roofs, making it easier to decide. As you sit down to have a sip of tea while watching TV, the sun starts shining brightly. But beware; you can’t even rely on this one too.

There are hordes of people coming from different places to spend their weekend, so if you want to be a little different from the rest, move to the outskirts and let yourself detox with peace prevailing. Naukuchiatal is amongst the loveliest lakes in Kumaon’s lake district, deep blue expanse of water, all engulfed in the terraced green hills and forests, making you believe you are in heaven.

Strolling around the secluded lake amongst woods you can see the flowers blossom and hear the birds chirping. It feels like a place out of this world-watching ducks, lotuses, boating and one or two dhabas around to have some food, cooked fresh just for you.

Needless to say, the trip was very rejuvenating and proved that slowing down the pace of life can really refresh and make you ready for all the day-to-day fight back home.

Kempty had a great fall

What can be anything better than an outing with a bunch of¬†friends and that too during a season when it is scorching hot in Delhi and the plan is to visit “the Queen of Hills”. Yes, this is about Mussoorie: a hill station we visited last summers ūüôā

Delhi offers a wide range of options for weekend getaways in vicinity, so it was after a multitude of permutations and combinations that this particular destination could be frozen. Ready to refuel our energy tanks, we left Delhi and the drive was normal till Dehradun. It is only when you climb up from there for the next one hour, that you can come across the feeling of reaching a heavenly place like Mussoorie. The beautiful flora and fauna along the twisting and turning roads with hairpin bends, made us slide down our windows and feel the cool breeze and sudden drop in temperature.

Coming back from the parking lot, it was so much of pleasure to keep walking along the Mall road. It’s just so peculiar of the typical hill stations,¬†a road along the hill and¬†assorted shops on its sides, and so many faces from all over the regions inside and outside the country. Bhuttas, tikki, pani puri, ice cream-everything was available there with a few restaurants too where one can have the meals too. Monkeys were jumping here and there. Benches, street lights and specially the advertisement banners were quite¬†distinct there.

Though it was a short visit, we preferred to way ahead towards Kempty falls too, an hour’s drive from Mussoorie. This 40 ft waterfall is the highest of five cascades that branch from a mountain stream, and cuts its way through great boulders and rock faces. The whole place was crowded by the stalls and hawkers, all welcoming you to have a look at what they have with them,¬†to offer you. There were so many people taking pictures in different poses and enjoying the beauteous place like this. Going down by the timber trail was itself a dramatic¬†experience.

And finally we ended our trip there, having our share of some fresh air and beauty captured in our eyes as well as digital cameras, and headed our way home.