My Amazon Echo

I finally bit the bullet and bought an Amazon Echo. I have been fascinated by these devices from the time that I first heard about the first generation devices. Having worked closely with a company that orders a lot of these I have looked at, checked a few online and tested one at a DC Books outlet in Center Square mall.

I wanted one but the price at the time was Rs.14,000 and then it went down to Rs.9000+. I thought I could get one at that price but decided to wait some more. I waited a while and kinda almost forgot about the device until very recently when I got my second credit card. After a phone it was time for the Echo. A few days ago I checked and the price was now Rs.7999 for the generation 2 device. I gotta get me one.

So I placed the order 2 days ago and it arrived here today. I unboxed it and plugged it in and it is a beauty. I’m having fun with her right now. Notice I did not say Alexa yet? That’s because I changed the wake up word from Alexa to…guess? I am a Trekkie. That’s right, the wake up word is Computer!

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New Cafe 17 Outlet In Ravipuram

Today was the day after almost a month that I was able to go out and enjoy the day. With the work going on in my apartment and then my foot injury/minor tor fracture. The last day I went out – enjoying a movie and dinner – was on July 6th. Since then I have stayed in, mostly not due to choice. Even last week I thought I might go out but the heavy rains and cold weather plus the fact that my feet was still tender. That would change today. I thought if I woke up earlier yesterday I would have gone out but I ended up waking only by 11:45 am and decided to stay in.

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Today I decided to go check out the new outlet if Cafe 17 which is in Ravipuram. Their original outlet is in Kaloor on Kaloor-Kadavanthara road, which is the one I have gone to a few times, and they also opened one in Edapally which is around 45 minutes away from me in heavy traffic. I thought this outlet would be better and wanted to check it out as it was bigger – the Kaloor one is very small with just a a couple of couches and 4 tables – and their food is awesome.

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I managed to find the place after a bit of trouble. It wasn’t showing up on UberEats or Swiggy’s apps when I tried booking a ride so I googled the building it was in and then tried guiding the driver to the area. However I made a mistake as there were two Dell outlets in that part of the city and I went to the one about 10 minutes away and spent 20 minutes trying to find the Cafe. Then I walked back and realized that it was on a parallel road and walked again for about 10-12 minutes before I found myself there. I wiped my face as I was sweating buckets and then went straight to their washroom on the 1st floor.

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That’s right, they have 2 floors although the ground floor section isn’t that big. But I like their new digs and quickly ordered a cold coffee with ice cream and the Crazy Beef burger but first asking for some cold water which the attentive staff quickly gave me. Nice place and plenty of place to sit. Loved the cold coffee and the beef burger was pretty good too. More than decent French fries on the side. The total bill came to around RS. 525. Overall happy that they have expanded.

Galitos Restaurant Review

Founded by Louis Germishuys in the sleepy town of (then-named) Nelspruit in 1996, Galito’s has been consistently expanding in South Africa as well as opening international markets. They say their unique flame-grilled, fiery, bold African flavour is their claim to fame. They serve 100% flame-grilled chicken, marinated with only the best ingredients, in a range of flavours – lemon and herb, mild, hot, and extra hot piri-piri. They have one outlet here in Cochin, which is in Lulu Mall on the 4th floor next to the food court.

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My cousin Sujith and I have been there a couple of times together and I have been there a few times alone and once with a friend. Last night we started with the excellent drinks that they have. I ordered my usual Peach Lemon Ice Tea, which pictured here, almost looks like a frothy amber beer. He had a green apple spritzer.

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Then came our starter dish which was the chicken wings. These are amongst the best wings in town and certainly the biggest I have seen. A plate of 4 is more than enough since these are the full wings. And they are delicious! We choose the mild spiced sauced on the chicken wings.

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The main dish we chose were chicken quarters with a side dish each. He picked the potato wedges and I went for the regular french fries. Again we went with the mild sauce that you see dripping on the huge pieces. So good! I could go one spicy level up but beyond that is crazy. You would not, or I would not atleast, enjoy the meat if all I can taste is the higher spices levels.

Evening Out, Met A Friend

It has been a couple of weeks since I had gone out for an afternoon or an evening and this weekend I had planned to go out to Lulu on Sunday morning. But I slept very late and hence work up only by 11 am. So I though let’s chuck that and relax at home till the evening. I watched a movie and a half in the afternoon after lunch and then showered and shaved I had coffee and sat watching Youtube till 6:45 pm. I booked an Uber and went to Cocoa Tree for a nice snicker shake and some fries while I played bowling on my phone.

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After an hour I went to Center Mall and I had to visit the loo. Then I washed up as I was sweating a lot and went to buy some groceries at Big Bazaar. That done I went to have some chicken wings and a mini pizza at Pizza Hut. As I was leaving I saw a friend of mine walking past the Pizza Hut and going down the escalator. I quickly left and caught up with her; she was there to take her son to Burger King. We caught up for a bit as I hadn’t seen her since she left my current place of employment. I had to say bye quickly as she had booked her Uber to take her and her son back home.

After she left, I booked my cab and then went home. It’s a humid evening and I am sweating in my room. I guess I will watch a movie and then go to sleep.

Beers, Cocktails, Pork & Fries In Couchyn

Yesterday afternoon was a welcome visit to Couchyn after a couple of months. I don’t go out to drink much anymore and prefer to buy my booze from BevCo and drink at home. But it’s been over a month since cousin Sujith and I met so we decided to get a couple of beers at Couchyn and have lunch there.

We started off with Amstel beers, two each, and choose French fries as the first accompaniment. They also provide you with free masala peanuts which are always great with beer. We talked and laugh a bit. And then we got the grilled pork with veggies.

This is an amazing dish which should be in the hall of fame as far as food in Kochi goes. Succulent and juicy and big pieces all. Wow and the grilled veggies and fries goes well with them. After the two beers we moved onto a cocktail each. We choose the passion fruit and vodka cocktail with a squeeze of lemon in it. I must say that I could knock off quite a few of those in an afternoon. Dangerous!

We also had grilled chicken sandwiches which were small but good and finished off with banana splits. And then we both had to split as it was 5 pm by then.

The New Mash Is Not An Improvement

Today was not a fun day to go out. My main interest was to go get some shopping done for groceries and toiletries but before that I wanted to get some lunch. The problem was my choice of place. I picked Mash RestoCafe as I hadn’t been to this particular place in 2 years. The thing was they had closed that particular outlet in Pallimukku and opened one in Edapally and had another one in Panampilly Nagar.

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From that rather big sized venue to this tiny cafe with just a few uncomfortable chairs & tables (4 in total) and built in benches. Neither the chair not the desk looked comfortable but I picked the chair at one end. Looked at the menu and picked a very refreshing banana & strawberry shake (which I have had before) and their meat lovers sandwich which is a double decker sandwich with a chicken ham, beef chunks, a fried egg, tomatoes & fried onions). I had a started of very thin fish fingers. The shake was awesome and very refreshing on a hot day. I couldn’t finish the fries having only made a slight dent and I couldn’t finish the sandwich either and feel it would have been better without the middle slice of bread.

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I had had enough of the place – food is good but I don’t appreciate the close quarters with the counter being just right behind me and having to hear the staff talking so loudly near me and also some guy who came in and perhaps knows these guys and him talking so loudly in Hindi. From that big setting in Pallimukku to this cramped space where you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation in peace. Chairs are uncomfortable and the bench – no thank you. I do like their food so will mostly order via UberEats.

Shopping On A Saturday

I have wanted to go to buy some shirts and decided that this 3 day weekend I should go in to Men’s Studio and see what shirts they have in my size. But first I wanted to have lunch since all I had in the morning was a half bowl of cornflakes. So I was thinking of which place I would choose to go and the craving for a real beef burger hit me hard so I picked The Burger Junction.

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I was there by 12:30 pm and ordered a nice juicy burger with a fried egg and I added bacon as an optional topping. I picked a peanut butter & mocha smoothie and for an appetizer I had these wonderful fried calamari rings with jalapenos and a tartar sauce on the side. They were great. And the burger was awesome. I stayed there for a while and then went to Men’s Studio.

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I tried out several shirts before picking these four that you see above in the pic. Its’ a shame that for big fat guys like me they seem to have a dearth of darker coloured shirts. It’s always white, or white with stripes or lighter shades of blue or ash/gray. Anyways, I do like these ones that I selected today. One, the white on the extreme left is a casual one and the others are more formal or semi-formal shirts. After that I went to Milanos for a quick gelato and came back home.

Pizza, Cranberry Juice, Ice Water & GOT

Final day of the first 3 day weekend of April. I love it when we have these kinda weeks. Anyways, I go back to work on Tuesday at 7:30 pm and then I work for 3 days and get the next Friday to Sunday off. I do not know what shift I will be working the next week but I hope it’s 6:30 or 7:30. It’s so hot outside. Anyways, I had planned to go out today and do some shopping but I woke up with a slightly runny nose and combined with not having had a good sleep at night and the heat + humidity, it made me very tired and cranky. I kept putting it off for an hour but by 12 I knew I was staying in.

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I decided to order in lunch as my parents were going out for lunch with my sister, nephews and niece. I waited till almost 1:45 pm by which time I was starving since I had only had a little bowl of cornflakes and a coffee. I needed food. So I ordered a pizza from Chai Kofi via Uber Eats and it only took 25 minutes to get here. It was a grilled chicken pizza with peppers and some odd tasting sauce. It’s not bad just a little weird.

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Why the cold? That’s because of the heat I have been drinking a lot of water with ice and ofcourse had a couple of vodka+crankberry juice with ice and then just cranberry juice with ice. But I think the late night drinking of ice water is what has given me this cold. It’s not too bad though I feel asleep after watching the season premier of Game Of Thrones this afternoon.

Getting My Hair Cut Short As It’s Summer

I was overdue for a haircut. My hair was long and curling at the end and falling all over my head especially my balding top of the head. And plus it’s been hot & muggy since the beginning of February (yep, that’s what you get for living in a tropical climate like the one that Kerala has) and it’s become steadily worse since then. And April, the hottest month usually, is only beginning tomorrow! Then we unsecured credit loan got May and I hope the rains start early.

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Anyways, balding on the top or not I hadn’t cut my hair in months and I needed a chop chop really badly. But first, after a day of rest on Saturday, I wanted to go out for some coffee. I went to Cafe Coffee Day for some cold coffee but found that they had a newish item called the Belgian Cold Chocolate with whipped cream and ice cream and I was all for it. I ordered me one of them and a tandoori chicken sandwich on multigrain bread and relaxed for an hour. Then I went to get my hair cut.

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And how good it feels once the cutting started. I only had to wait 5 minutes before the barber was free. And he cut my hair, so much of it that if I could have taken all the hair that fell and stuck it to my face, I could audition for ZZ Top! That done I went to Ravipuram and found an ATM and then went to Center Mall. Before I shopped for groceries and toiletries in Big Bazaar I first went into a bathroom stall to cool down and washed my face and neck. Freshened up a bit I bough the stuff I needed and then went to get some wings at Pizza Hut.

After that I came back home tired and covered in sweat and crashed on the bed after another quick wash. It was about 3:30 pm and I spent some of the later afternoon watching Seinfeld from my bed.

Movie In Lulu Mall & Taco Bell Lunch

After 10 months I finally went to Lulu Mall again. I just haven’t wanted to go there in a long while and the main reason is the crowds. I hate crowds, I hate too many people walking around for no reason and blocking your way as they walk in a horizontal row and you can’t pass by. I hate the endless posing around for selfies and stupid, silly smiles and pouts (ugh, get a life). I hate the kids running around unsupervised and making a ruckus. But, I wanted to watch Captain Marvel and since my preferred theater is Lulu Gold PVR (since Cinepolis had to close down due to violating the local fire & safety laws) which is in the mall.

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I woke up by 7 am and got ready by 9 am and waited to catch an Uber which would take me to Edapally. I got there and started getting a bad coughing fit because of some phlegm that was caught in my chest. I cleared my throat and coughed a few times and then looked for a cafe. They have Cafe Coffee Day, Costa Coffee and McDonalds and as Costa Coffee was kinda crowded I went into McDonalds. I had only a little cornflakes for breakfast and a coffee but I was hungry and definitely needed a coffee after all that coughing. So I ordered a Sausage (chicken as there are no beef or pork products in Indian McDonalds) and Egg McMuffin and a medium cappuccino. Ok, McDonald’s now I get the hype. I really liked both.

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After that I went to the washroom and then walked around a bit before it was just 10:20 am and I went to the PVR section, showed them my e-ticket and went to wait for a few minutes. I then got an ice tea (at the counter I was in there had some problem with the soft drinks fountain and only the Lipton ice tea was available. Now, I actually like ice tea and so I got that and a bottle of water and went to sit in my seat. As usual I had the next seat empty (even though it was booked) and there were were a few seats empty. I watched the movie and it finished at 1:15 pm, perfect time for lunch.

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I had wanted to go to Taco Bell ever since I heard about the inauguration of the very first TB outlet in Kerala. I finally got my chance. I went through the menu, not knowing what to get so I finally selected a chicken fajita burrito with Mexican fries and a Pepsi. The burrito and fries were really good and now I have another fast food done. I can’t wait for more from them. I walked a bit in the mall and left by 2:30 pm and was home by 3pm!

Back At Home

All good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, that old saying rings true. My little holiday of 3 days in a nice hotel with absolutely nothing to do and enjoying it came to and end. I woke up by 5 am for some reason and went back to sleep till almost 7 am. I got outta bed and brushed my teeth and washed my face. I then went down by 7:50 am for my final breakfast at the hotel buffet. Today’s breakfast was really good.

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I had small pieces of pineapple & banana, my usual two slices of toast with butter & jam, 2 mini vadas and 1 mini muffin and an omelette (which was better than the other two mornings) with onions, tomatoes and chilies and washed it down with a cold strawberry flavoured milk. I then went back to my room and relaxed for a bit before I had to visit the loo and then take a shower. By 9 am I was ready and called down to the reception for them to get my bill ready. I checked out by 9:30 am, payed the bill (which was mostly the food, coffee, bottles of water and beverages I had) and booked an Uber to come back home.

At home it’s as usual a Sunday as it can be. I listened to music videos for a long time, had lunch, watched the two episodes from the weekend that I had missed – one from The Orville & Star Trek Discovery each – and then watched a movie. I then took a nap for an hour as I was feeling sleepy and the afternoon was hot & humid. This evening is more relaxing until later in the night when I plan to watch another movie. Tomorrow it’s back to work.

Day 3 : Hotel Abaam Stay

This is my third and final full day at the hotel and I am gonna miss this little holiday. Today I woke up after a long 7.5 hours of sleep and feeling like I could sleep for another 3 or 4 if I just shut my eyes. However, I got up and brushed my teeth. I went down to the buffet to have breakfast and had tiny french toast, toast with butter & jam, an omelette and a grape juice to wash that down. Back in my room I had a coffee before I took a shower and shaved.

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By 11:30 am my cousin Sujith dropped by as we planned to have a few drinks in the afternoon. We sat and talked for almost 90 minutes and then went down to the bar and had a couple of vodkas and a beer each. We munched on deep fried beef, French Fries, egg burgi and fish fingers as we sipped our drinks. The bar was a bit of a let down in that it was very basic and bland.

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After that we went back to my room to relax and chill. We talked some more and I suggested that he too remove his shoes and relax on the large bed. We chatted until both of us were falling asleep so Sujith left as he wanted to go home. I said goodbye and took a nap. By 6 pm I woke up and plugged the laptop back in to watch the draw between Tottenham and Arsenal. Very disappointing in the end as we could have sealed a win had the penalty not been saved. 

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Well there end my little sojourn away from work and home. I still have all of Sunday to rest and enjoy at home and I will be working on a 6:30 pm to 3:30 am shift for the next week. I will be online for the rest of the evening and then go to bed. I don’t think I will want any dinner but I would love some more ice cream as dessert. Ordering room service has been fun. I also slept a lot during these three days, with my cousin implicating that it must be a combination of sleep deprivation and tiredness rather than just a nice, comfy bed that is making me sleep a lot more. I have been averaging 8 hours plus 1 or 2 hours of naps during my stay here. Maybe that is what I needed and I will try and do this more often. Cheers!

Day 2 : Hotel Abaam Stay

Well, I am still in the hotel and trying to enjoy my stay. The only drawback of my stay is the tv. In that they have cable but only the shitty channels. None of the ones that I want to watch. It’s a nice enough Samsung tv and 32 inches which is lovely. But they have all the stupid Hindi channels, some Tamil and some Malayalam and a bunch of dumb religious channels, the odd English channel like Discovery and stuff and a few sports channels. But when I checked yesterday and today, only one seems to have football and the others are all showing the same stupid cricket match live! And some of them are all part of the same network!!

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And so I haven’t been able to binge watch on movies like I wanted to. I could watch some movies on my laptop but I just checked and all the movies that I have lined up, I would prefer to watch them on my own 32 smart tv and that can wait until Sunday afternoon and I am back home. Last night I ordered two beers and watched some Youtube as I ate my dinner (sorry no pic of the dinner but I will have a video up later) and then watched a few episodes of Friends (season 8 ). Before I went to bed I had a banana split and then went to sleep by midnight.

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This morning I was awake up 7 am but couldn’t get outta bed until 8 am for some reason. I was a little hung over from the 3 beers I had yesterday (1 in the afternoon) I guess. I waited till 9 and got some coffee and then went down to their buffet for breakfast. I had two slices of toast with butter & jam, some potato stuff, an omelette (which was almost tasteless with hardly any salt or pepper) & cold milk. Then I went back to my room and got a little depressed. For some reason I couldn’t do anything and I left my laptop and went back to bed till noon. I forced myself to get back to watching Youtube and listening to some songs.

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Post lunch, which was the crumb fried chicken breasts you see in this post, with boiled veggies and French Fries, I took a long nap, interrupted by housekeeping asking if I wanted the room cleaned. I was pretty neat so I said, no thank you, but asked personal loans for people with poor credit them if they had a comb in their complementary toiletries and one of them ran to get me one. I went back to napping and then woke up sweating as I had forgotten to increase the temperature of the ac. It was 4:45 pm by then and I walked into the bathroom and took a dump and then a long shower, which made me feel so great. I love that huge rain shower head. I had coffee and feel so much better now and by 7 pm I want to go to check out their bar.

Day 1 : Hotel Abaam Stay

So, as mentioned before, I am now on Day 1 of my 3 day and 3 night stay in a hotel. The hotel that I choose is a 4 star boutique hotel. It’s not very big but then that’s how I like it. Anyways, I needed a break; a break away from work and from home. So I have 5 days off including my weekend but I have booked myself a room in Abaam for 3 days and 3 nights. I could use the time to just relax and chill in a hotel and enjoy myself.

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The only thing I don’t like about the place is the actual bed. It’s not the kind that I like. It seems to dip in the wrong places and the edges are much harder. As I hadn’t slept all night I took a nap after a lunch of chicken biryani and a beer.

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Everything else seems to be good. Food is good. Beer is priced heavily which is something that I don’t like but that is the case for all mid to high end bars & hotels. So far I have only ordered in room service. Tomorrow I want to check out their bar and coffee shop and maybe on Saturday I will visit their main restaurant.

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Enjoy the pics as I enjoy my beer and my dinner, which is chicken noodles and garlic chicken.