Diwali Food for BA

My editor from British Airways magazine emailed with this commission.

We’re after a piece on how different regions/cities in the country celebrate Diwali with food – this could be anything from street food in a big city like Delhi or Bombay to regions that might be influenced by other cultures (e.g French influence in Pondicherry).

The tone should speak very much to a local audience as opposed to someone, say, living in the UK.”


What shocked me was how little I knew about foods in other regions.  Not the broad “Bengalis love fish” type thing but details.  Phone calls to friends/chefs, etc.  The result is here.


Digital magazines are getting better and better.
Silverkris has a nice section called “Been There,” which talks about activities and locations. I am working on two pieces for this section. Here is the first one on a martial art that is close to my heart: Aikido.

You can read it in the gorgeous magazine here. Or clicking the link below.
They have me on the Contributors page here.

Been There Aikido


Oudh and frankincense are scents of the day.

Here is a story that appeared in Qantas magazine, Australia.

Thank you, Stanley Pinto for organizing a superb trip to Muscat. And hustling all of us energetic tourists and members of the Bangalore Black Tie into some semblance of organization.
And thank you, Shawqi Sultan and Saleh Talib for showing us an insider’s view of your lovely city, has only Epicureans can.
Here are some favorite photos of that memorable trip.






And thank you, Elisabeth, for being my fragrance friend. I miss you!

Perfume Oman


Thank you Viveck Crishna for the help and info. Here is the piece that appeared in Silkroad. Met a tea taster, Shivram Warrior, who was saying that once you drink enough cups, you can identify tea like I identify pizza– its provenance, grease-level, which Ray’s New York pizza outlet, and time of takeout. At least I used to.

Tea for Silkroad/Dragonair

British Airways Hyderabad

They called to assign Hyderabad. The layout in digital magazines is so beautiful now. Check out my story here.

I have pasted content below but not the photos


This city has been a centre of prosperity and innovation for centuries, but nowadays is better known for being one of India’s key IT and software hubs, earning it the nickname ‘Cyberabad’. But there’s more to Hyderabad than just business, says Shoba Narayan. Stay on and discover its fiery cuisine, intricate artwork and pearls

Get crafty

The city is home to intricate weaving styles popularised by the Mughals. Visit the homes of artisans who still use traditional Himroo and Mashroo techniques to spin soft muslin weaves, on a tour with Detours India. You can also pick up beautiful kalamkari paintings, popular with hip Indians.

A history lesson

Stroll around the manicured grounds of the University College of Women in Koti. It was once the mansion of James Achilles Kirkpatrick, the British Resident whose relationship with Khair-un-Nissa (teenage granddaughter of the then prime minister) was portrayed in William Dalrymple’s book, White Mughals – worth a read before visiting.

Time for tea

Sip Irani chai (a blend of brewed tea leaves, boiled milk and sweetened condensed milk) with Osmania tea biscuits at Farasha Café and Bakery, which sits in the shadow of the Charminar monument in the Old City. You can hear the call of the muezzin from the mosque nearby.

Get out of town

Take a trip to the historical forts in Bidar, a three-hour drive from the city. Tucked away in neighbouring Karnataka state’s northeastern corner and far off the tourist track, it’s home to the exquisite black Bidri metalware. There are also impressive ruins and monuments from the Bahmani era and the colossal Bidar Fort – the largest in South India.

Spice world

Try a spicy Andhra thali (a plate of local vegetarian dishes, such as daal, vegetable curries, mango pickle and curd rice) at the original Southern Spice restaurant in the Banjara Hills neighbourhood. Don’t miss trying Hyderabadi haleem – an Arabic-influenced stew of meat, lentils and pounded wheat – at cafés such as Niagara.

Pearl jam

Hyderabad processes many of the world’s pearls, so you get them at wallet-friendly prices. Mangatrai Jewellers is known for its high-quality pearls, and the best outlet is the flagship store opposite the Liberty Bus Stand.

Up on the roof

The Park Hyderabad, which overlooks Hussain Sagar Lake, is the place to enjoy a sundowner with a view. Make a night of it by heading down to its Kismet nightclub to rub shoulders with Telugu movie stars, socialites and the city’s glitterati.

Museum time

Summer can be humid, so take a break from the heat at the Salar Jung Museum, which houses a jumbled collection of global artefacts from Italian sculptures to Arabian books. For something quirkier, try the museum of local ‘crazy car designer’ Sudhakar Yadav, where you’ll find wacky automobiles in various shapes.

British Airways flies to Hyderabad six times a week, including a service on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Use the Avios calculator to see how many Avios you need to get there

Chennai for British Airways magazine

They have nice photos!!


This ancient city on India’s Coromandel Coast is dubbed the Detroit of Asia, thanks to its thriving car manufacturing scene. But, says resident Shoba Narayan, Chennai is also the cultural capital of South India, and it would be a shame not to stay on an extra day or two to experience its beaches, traditional arts and street food

Just dance

Established by 1920s classical dance star Rukmini Devi Arundale, Kalakshetra is one of the oldest Bharatanatyam (a traditional Indian dance form) schools in the country. Walk through its expansive verdant grounds and watch groups of sari-clad students rehearse under a banyan tree, or visit the museum, library and weaving unit to learn more about the region’s rich performing arts history.

The coast with the most

The Coromandel Coast has two beaches: popular Marina Beach is older, while Elliott’s Beach – named after Edward Elliot, governor of Madras 1803-1820 – is more of an up-and-comer. Take a jog or walk in the morning and you’ll see yoga practitioners, Frisbee players and even the odd politician walking by with his retinue.

Caffeine fix

Chennai prides itself on the quality of its coffee. Traditional households roast and grind their beans fresh every morning, and the thick coffee decoction is mixed with frothy milk and just enough sugar to take the bitterness away. For that traditional taste, try the outdoor Namma Café at Isha Life in Mylapore, surrounded by jackfruit and mango trees.

Street eats

Trying the popular snack dosa, a crisp, golden savoury crêpe, is a must. Masala dosa has a potato filling and is popular with hungry students. Most of the city’s luxury hotels will serve dosa, while humble eateries like Karpagambal Mess Bhavan serve it for under $1.

Silk route

Find hand-woven silk and cotton scarfs, shawls and saris in jewel tones at Nalli, Kumaran or Sundari Silks, all stalwarts of the silk business for decades. For newer designs, try Palam Silks to duplicate the trendy but traditional look that Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone sported in the recent hit film, Chennai Express.

Regal accommodation

Chennai’s newest grand hotel, the 600-room ITC Grand Chola is inspired by the architecture of one of Southern India’s greatest empires, the Imperial Chola dynasty, with granite carvings and towering columns throughout. With the environment in mind, it’s also the world’s largest LEED Platinum-rated Green hotel.

Going for gold

The World Gold Council’s India arm is headquartered in Chennai, so this is the place to invest. Go to GR Thanga Maligai (which means ‘gold mansion’) to pick up and buy a 24-carat gold ring, earring or necklace. Prices are fixed, so bargaining isn’t necessary – but make sure you get a certificate of authenticity.

Be a Carnatic fanatic

Chennai is the seat of Carnatic music (South Indian music, considered one of the oldest in the world) and there are dance and music concerts all year in the city’s sabhas or concert halls. Buy a ticket to attend a concert at the legendary Madras Music Academy, where the famous month-long Music and Dance Festival takes place every December.

Bronze age

The Chola bronzes (famous figures representing Hindu gods, goddesses and devotees dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries) alone are worth a trip to the Government Museum. Go in the afternoon, when the air-conditioned confines offer a welcome respite from the tropical sun.

Be there

To celebrate its 25th year of flying to Chennai, BA has increased its services from London Heathrow to Chennai from five to six times a week. Find our lowest fares at ba.com

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