Shri Thal, Jaipur: A great place of everything Rajasthani, fun, food, peace, ambiance, music, hospitality!

Amidst all these stressful times when there are talks of Covid19 all over, round the clock, it is difficult to keep yourself aloof from the surroundings. We are confined at home 24×7 for many days, which for people like me who like to talk, host tea, lunches, dinners and most importantly taking morning and evening walks are feeling the heat beyond measure. Travel is out of the question, don’t know till when.

Hence, I decided to share with you the wonderful evening with my cousin Aarti and her husband Mohit in Jaipur. When I expressed the desire of eating daal, baati, choorma, she planned this outing for me. I fully trusted them for their choice and voila! What a choice it turned out to be!! It became a memorable evening!!!

Around 8 PM on 25th January we reached Shri Thal which looked to me mini chowki dhaani. Incidentally, the place belongs to Aarti’s good friend Ms Nidhi Upadhyay, a first-generation women entrepreneur with many prestigious awards in her thaali. We were accorded a very warm and traditional welcome at Shri Thal with their service staff. The seating arrangement was informal – Moodhas and Manjis and we were served raab as a welcome drink.

Shri Thal Village Restaurant, Jaipur is a Rajasthani Village in the City. This concept & idea of Village Theme Restaurant in the City came to Mrs. Nidhi Upadhyay’s (Managing Director – Shri Thal Village) mind looking at the busy lifestyle of Jaipurites, where it is practically not possible to get out of the city to experience the village ambience. For them, Shri Thal Village is an ideal place to enjoy ethnic Rajasthani Food, Village games & fun etc. The Restaurant is located on Queens Road in Vaishali Nagar, which is in the heart of Jaipur accessible from anywhere within 15-20 minutes of drive.

So, something about the ambience, it has a mini fort-like façade and a huge entrance door with a mud wall village structure with traditional mandana painted all over the walls, dry grass clad huts, water bodies & fountains. It is lit up in the night lit up with traditional lamps & village statues.  It has Entrance Munim (Cashier) Counter Hut, Gaming Zone Huts for Shooting the Baloon, Ring Game, Chai Ki Thadi etc. There are 3 dining halls named after Rajasthani Folk Dances as Ghumar, Ghorbandh and Panihari.

What to say of Rajasthani cuisine meticulously designed by Nidhi herself who is a culinary expert and a passionate food presenter which included Jaipuri Aloo Pyaz ki Subzi & Dal Panchmel, Bikaneri Papad Mangdi, Jodhpuri Gatte, Traditional Dal Bati Churma, Bajri ka Khichda, Rajasthani Kadhi, 2 Types of Chutneys (Coriander & Garlic), Snacks like Moong Dal Kachori, Kofta, Mini Samosa, Jalebi, Rabdi Malpua etc. Wow! I was confused to the core, what to eat, what not to eat. Aarti helped me with that, I had a great time relishing food and hospitality of the people there.

I and Aarti danced to the beats of Dhol and some other traditional instruments, watched Kathputli dance sitting on Manji with childlike enthusiasm. It was an evening, where my mind was empty and heart full…there is so much to be enjoyed, which we waste in unnecessary complications of life.

No wonder, Nidhi Upadhyay has been awarded “Corporate Diva Award” by FM Tadka – Rajasthan Patrika Group for Shri Thal Village Concept in an award ceremony at the Hotel Marriott, Jaipur.

idhi came to Jaipur after 14 years of marriage from Jodhpur, originally belonging to Kota. During these years she received many job offers from hotels & schools, as word had spread about her talent for cooking, but she could not take it up due to home priorities. But as kids had grown up, thus her husband Ajay, who had been admiring her talent all through, thought of opening a restaurant for Nidhi in Jaipur by the name of Shri Thaal Village. It was gifted to her on her 14th wedding anniversary i.e. 9th May 2011.

What a tribute from a loving husband for her talented wife!

Way to go Nidhi!!

If you are in Jaipur, mark it in your itinerary.


From ‘Mature’ look of 80s to ‘Youthful’ look of 2020! From Rs. 85 to Rs. 850 & near three decades!

Circa 2020, March 15, Place: Nahar’s Amrit Shakti,

Location: Chandivali, Mumbai, Activity Point: Shivas Salon  

Nahar’s Amrit Shakti is a sprawling integrated township developed by renowned Nahar Group in Chandivali, which was once a quaint village near Powai. Today is it is buzzing with enormous activity and home to over 4000 lifestyles loving Mumbaikars and NRIs.

More on the township in some other post, but what transpired there brought me some vivid memories of the day when I had joined my first job in BHEL in the late 80s.

The Club-House in NAS – Nahar’s Nectarfield deserves special mention owing to its excellent amenities catering to sports and fitness enthusiasts, children, Senior Citizens and family. The club has a swimming pool, kids play area, basketball, tennis, squash, banquet, executive rooms and Shiva’s Salon…

After finishing the round of the inimitable clubhouse, I decided to get a hair-cut at Shiva’s Salon, which was long overdue. Shiva’s is a celebrity Spa and Saloon and is home to many celebrities when it comes to hairstyling and other such needs. I would be sharing the picture of the wall featuring celebrities who are their client. Excitedly, I entered the Salon, welcomed by friendly and smiling Farzana, who allotted a stylist to me. My brief to stylist was: Give me a youthful look!  

He gave it a deep thought and started working. Probably it looked to him a daunting task considering my profile and hairline. He started working as an artist, first wash, conditioning, sharp-cut, blow-drying and setting. The result was satisfying, he did his best with the available resources. It was not that I didn’t have a cut in such a salon earlier…but…

My brush with Styling salon dates back to the late ’80s when I had just started working in BHEL, New Delhi. Once I and my colleague – Anita Roy visited Lodi Hotel in New Delhi for some official work. A young working professional and fashion & Lifestyle enthusiast, that I was, my eyes could not escape a Hair Styling Salon in Lodi Hotel premises. I requested Anita di to visit the place as it looked different from my regular parlour – Much upmarket, lifestyle-oriented and was in a five-star hotel – all merits to fulfil my fancy.

In those days, I had long, lustrous and beautiful hair which were well taken care of by my mother with her home remedies. So, I decided to go for a hair wash and cut. The salon was of none other than Mr Jawed Habib’s father – Mr Habib Ahmed. He excitedly welcomed us for our lost looks. Here my brief was: Give me a mature look, as nobody takes me seriously for my girlish looks.

And here I was with my head bent and eyes closed in complete surrender mode…Oh yes, hair-cut was not done by girls without parent’s permission. So, you could imagine what was going in my head – Internally, Externally – Double whammy.

I was shocked to see my beautiful tresses biting the dust!  

Final shock came with the bill: Rs. 85/- (10% of monthly salary) Anyway, I walked out with my new cut and style in the office with apprehension, I and Anita knew it will call for some sharp reactions. Forget that, but the price of this hair cut looked too much to colleagues as 10% of my salary and 80% of my hair had gone. Indeed, it was not a good bargain!

Cut at Shivas

At Shiva’s I paid Rs. 850/- (100% salary of the 80s) and only 20% of my hair, probably I recovered in the bargain lost some 30 years ago.

The drama which unfolded amidst my family members and friend circle is another story. I loved being at both the places, though lots of water had flown in between while transcending the journey of 30 long years.

If you are in Chandivali, don’t miss on visiting Shivas Salon at Nahar’s Amrit Shakti’s Club Nectarfield for your hair styling, hair-cutting, hair spa and some great ‘me’ time. Don’t miss on courtesies extended with a hot cup of coffee and smiles all over, which makes you feel important.

Shiva’s is owned by Shivaram K. Bhandary.

Glass Apart: My LOVE for Glass Bangles!

मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है…

The precious leave of Holi was utilised in a very unusual activity, taking account (Style, Design, Colour, Numbers – Total Audit) of the Bangles I have in my cupboard. I wanted to organise these as I was repeating my bangles quite often…

…& I don’t like doing that! I am a self-confessed bangle freak!!

I love to wear new bangles every day, matching it with the outfit, though it doesn’t go that way. So, cupboard cleaning and organising took a few hours but it was worth it. For the first time, I noticed my collection of glass bangles, bought from the length and breadth of the country. They were parked the same way as offloaded carefully from the flight, without even checking what and how many bangles I had bought.

My personal collection

My love for glass bangles dates back to my childhood when an old gentleman used to come to sell glass bangles in his daliya (cane basket), neatly tied by a sootli (thin rope) in such a manner, so that design colour etc. was clearly visible. My mother use to buy lots of bangles from him whenever he came. (Maybe it is genetic). I was a very curious child always, so I asked many questions from bangle seller – Naccha! So, what is Naacha now – Mummy use to call him chacha, I called him naana, so he became Nachha (Naana – Chacha) for all ladies in the colony! I don’t know what he thought about this new nomenclature.

Questions like: Bangles are made of what, how do you colour them? How do you put sequins on them? Why do you bring these in cane basket? Are these heavy? Why do you sell bangles? He patiently replied all my queries while selling his bangles to colony aunties, sipping hot tea. Once his sale was over, he will give me a few free bangles and my joy in knew no bounds. Probably, the love dates back to the incident, which I suddenly recollected while sorting my bangle collection today…real nostalgia!

My glass bangle collection has travelled from far-flung areas, across the length and breadth of the country right from Katra, Jammu to Hyderabad, AP traversing Delhi ( Pracheen Mandir Bangle Bazaar, Delhi Haat, Janpath, Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar) Jaipur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Lucknow, Dehradun, Rishikesh, Hardwar, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bhopal, Kolkatta ( Shankha Poda), Assam, Ahmedabad, Surat, Baroda, Kutch, Bhuj…

Even international destinations are not spared: London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Guangzhou, Bangkok…I have bought whatever in the name of bangle available there! (needs a separate post)

You will be surprised to know that I always carry a sheet of bubble wrap to pack my bangles so that they can survive the wrath of airline people. Before planning a trip, I never forget to check from where I can buy bangles. Over a period of time, I realised that bangles are becoming my passion, rather obsession! By nature, I am a very content person, I don’t like to hoard stuff for the heck of it, but I can’t control when bangles cross my eyes. I want to shop, come what may and most of the time I do that. I remember my bua saying: बिंदी, चूड़ी के लिए क्या सोचना!

That has stayed with me. I never give a thought to anything while buying bangles. I am sharing a few pictures from my collection. I love wearing them especially with traditional outfits on all occasions, on all festivals. Sometimes I decide the bangles first and then match the saree or dress. If I something misplaced, I feel very agitated.

The history of bangles dates back to Mohen-jo-daro days, 2600 BC when these were found in excavation and statues were found wearing them. In India Ferozabad in UP, near Agra is very famous for glass bangles and supplies to the world. The bangles of Firozabad are exceptionally made, so intricate, so colourful, so fine… It is one of a kind cluster producing bangles and catering to the growing demands and requirement in India, there is approximately 150 bangle making in the city.

We Indians love bangles, the love of Bollywood for bangles is part of the folklore, haven’t we grown up hearing songs like:

चूड़ी नहीं मेरा दिल है, बिंदिया चमकेगी चूड़ी खनकेगी, मेरे हाथों में नौ नौ चूड़ियां है, बोले चूड़ियां बोले कंगना

No celebration is complete without bangles, No Shringar is complete without bangles! Life is a celebration, celebrate it with anything you love!

My special thanks to Sai Vandana, Aarti Mohit Mathur, Aparna Chaturvedi and Hemlata Didi who have patiently tolerated my madness, added to the collection in whichever ways possible.

Last but not the least my dear Mummy, Usha Varma for introducing to the finer things in life!






She is Oprah Winfrey of our lives! #SheInspires

I can’t recollect when she quietly entered my life, And voila! My life has never been the same again!

Mrs Smita Mehta
Tarot Card Reader

I had a chance meeting with her at The Village (Restaurant) in a Mall at Kandivali where she was doing some predictions with cards in front of her. The curious cat that I am, I went to her to know what she was doing. She explained with patience what Tarot Card reading was all about. I didn’t know anything about Tarot Card till then.

I took another round of the place and watched her reading cards and talking to people. Somehow, I felt very drawn towards her because of her peaceful and spiritual, of course, beautiful demeanour. Considering the happy-go-lucky person that I am, I never believed much in astrology or any such thing. Still, I tried cards and she gave me answers, to which I didn’t pay any heed to, even forgot about it.

Few months elapsed and things started following the pattern, which she had predicted. Now, I frantically started searching her card for her contact details but no luck. But जहाँ चाह वहां राह, the card resurfaced and I called her. She invited me to her place, this is the first time, I visited her house, which was a simple Gujarati household.

I had something more to ask, one thing followed another…we could see the line was diminishing between client and reader, we were becoming friends. I started opening up with her, we started sharing our joys and sorrows. A bond started developing and as time passed, we became united by a unique bond of love and respect. I turned to her advice for even the smallest of things!

She is Smita Mehta who has inspired me in many ways.  From her humble beginnings with early marriage in the late 80s in ordinary Gujarati family burdened with societal and financial norms, she fought it all with elan. Her calm & peaceful exterior tells the story of the storms inside her. Fighting the financial odds early in life, she thought of supplementing the family income. Now the big question was what to do and how to do with a full family to boot? It was then she realised that she had a very good way with making future predictions.

While in school, she would read friends’ palm and tell them things, which turned out to be true many times. Probably, what she was doing for fun in school came handy when she was to choose the career. Now her struggle started with collecting information, studying, doing courses in Astrology, Vaastu and Tarot Card Reading.  She started doing it all free for her friends and relatives and word spread. This was the time when her friends told her to use her talent and charge a modest fee for it. Probably since then, there has been no looking back! Her struggle has been so inspirational, with two children and extended family dependent on her, she paved the way for herself.

Smita Di has climbed one ladder after another, she has done studies in her field ( She just took exams, when she is a grandmother) and boasts of international clientele in the US, Canada and UAE. I am close witness to her immense achievements in life, but she is just the same Smita Di for me. Always ready to help, always ready to listen, always ready to advise and what to say of her predictions! She has so many of us in her fan base! Her assurances are so motivating, so enlightening. An out-an-out-people’s person, she has a deep understanding of her client’s psychology.

Her struggle has taken her places literally!

From an unsure housewife of yesterday to the well-known astrologer, tarot card reader and Vastu expert of today, she has seen it all! She has faced it all!!

She is the Oprah Winfrey of our lives!