The Top 5 Grocery Delivery Services I Use In Kochi

Since Covid-19 there has been a growing spurt of online grocery store services that sprung up and have been doing great business. Most people, me especially, do not want to go out to a store and get my family’s grocery. Want to avoid it? Order groceries online from the top online grocery store and sit back and relax. There are several apps that you can choose from and not all are available throughout India. I use a few on a regular basis and chose based on options and availability. If I were to rate them that’s a different thing altogether as I feel that Lulu is probably the worst in service.

1. Big Basket

Big Basket is India’s leading online grocery store. Here you will get quality products, be it rice, dairy, spices, gourmet products, or any other items related to your grocery needs. And if savings on grocery shopping is at the top of your mind, Big Basket is the place for online grocery in India. Here you can get various discounts and offers such as a 10% cashback or an extra 5% off on your orders using the Big Basket coupons.

Other than the quality and discounts, they also ensure on-time delivery, same-day or express delivery, and signature packing.

2. JioMart

JioMart is one of the top online grocery stores in India. Launched as a joint venture by Reliance Retail and Jio Platforms, Jiomart was founded in 2019. It works as a mediator between the nearby grocery stores and end customers. It mainly deals with the delivery of groceries and daily essentials. Currently present in more than 200 cities and India’s towns, it is also known for offering products at an affordable price range. Jiomart has posted a 3x growth in customer acquisition in 2020-2021.

3. Amazon Fresh

Amazon expanded its horizons in the grocery industry and became one of the top grocery shopping sites in India. You can now shop online for your monthly groceries with Amazon Fresh. Shop from a wide range of items, cooking essentials, beverages, household supplies, and other daily necessities. You can also get an extra 5-15% cashback if you purchase more than Rs 1000. Visit the site for more information.

4. Lulu Hypermart

Lulu is a global chain of malls and they have one in Kochi, established in 2014 and a newer one that opened in Trivandrum. With its pleasant and novel variation from the usual supermarkets, LuLu offers grocery delivery and more with their app and website. When it comes to grocery though, they have a lot more variety that they do not offer on the app, which is odd but I guess they want to save some for the huge throng that come in daily to the mall.

5. Swiggy Instamart

Swiggy (and Zomato by the way) is the newest entry and one that I have really started to use these last few days. They offer delivery in different & convenient slots from within an hour or you can chose a slot during the rest of the day. This is very convenient and I like ordering during my work but having a delivery slot when I am more free or done with my work. Their new store in the city helps to have them deliver from the stocks there rather than what they did earlier and have their delivery partners go to different stores.

It’s A 4 Cup Coffee Kinda Weather

Since the last couple of weeks, it has been raining quite a lot. The weather has become very cool, dare I say kinda cold by our standards. It wouldn’t be cold when you compare it to temperatures in places that get snow but it is cold by Kerala standards as we are a tropical climate place. The current temperature is 27 degrees Centigrade but with winds at 10km/hr and the sun staying partly hidden, it is very cool.

This kind of weather is perfect for hot or grilled food. Evenings are for hot samosas, egg/chicken/meat puffs like the ones I ordered in yesterday. Hot puffs with minced meat inside or drier masala and half a boiled egg inside it. Delicious and goes down well with a hot latte. It is so warming for the body at the time I tell ya. Or you can have some pakoda or banana fritters which we make at home using ripe Nendran bananas. If you have a tea shop close to you, like we do, you can instead go and ask for hot vadas for your evening snacks.

These days are multiple cups of coffee days. Not that I drink less coffee on other days but yes these days it’s more of the 4 cups of coffee a day variety rather than the 2 or 3 cups a day version. If not more. Now it’s getting to be close to 4 pm and I usually start craving my coffee at that time. Off to the kitchen!

My Favourite Bars In Cochin

Couchyn at The Grand is a restaurant on Grand Hotel, MG Road Ernakulam in Kochi. It is a preferred destination for several old timers in the city as it is attached to one of the oldest & famous family restaurants in Cochin. A perfect place for wining and dining, drop into enjoy your favorite beverages, cocktails & mocktails. Recommended food pairings are their Trivandrum style chicken, fish fingers, tandoori chicken and French fries.

Blue Rock Resto Bar at Olive Downtown – very cool and awesome location at Kadavanthara. They mix fine dining dishes with fast food and snacks. They have happy hours and offers as well. A tad more expensive than Couchyn. Best pro is that you can get burgers & pizza from the hotel’s cafe downstairs to pair with your beer while you sit in the bar. Recommended is the crispy fried prawns, pork chops & their pizzas.

The Ava Lounge & Bar is hotel Raddison Blu’s bar which is on the 6th floor. Comfy chairs and Couches, thoughtful and polite staff, variety of beer, wine and liquor with a great ambience & service. Decent prices for 5 star hotel however you must go during their happy hours from 11am-4pm. Afghani chicken, tempura prawns and French fries are the only food I have tried from there and I highly recommend them. It tends to get crowded during the evenings and on weekends.

Heavy Rainfall Lashes The State Of Kerala

Flooding rains have been lashing the state of Kerala for the past few days which light breaks in between. Some parts of the state have seen some disruption regarding these heavy rainfall activities that have been over the state for quite a while. During the last 48 hours from 8:30 AM on Tuesday, some parts of Kerala recorded three digit rain as well including the cities of Kozhikode where 115 mm of rains were seen and Kannur where 120 mm rainfall was recorded.

Other parts that saw significant rains include Wayanad 63 mm, Karipur 56 mm, Alappuzha 44 mm, and Thiruvananthapuram 31 mm. Cities of Kannur, Kozhikode, Thallasarry, Kasargode, Wayanad, even going down to Thrissur and Palakkad saw some flooding rainfall activities yesterday as well as today. The Cyclonic Cicrulation over the Southern region is still persisting and the offshore vortex has moved a little inside. Thereafter, some relief can be expected only around May 20. Before that, weather conditions will remain rainy and cause some disruption to the residents of North Kerala.

For us here in Kochi, it has rained so heavily throughout the day and especially at night. It is so cold that I am now sitting in my room starting work and drinking hot black coffee without the ceiling fan switched on. I usually cannot even think of switching the fan off while I am in the room, unless the ac is on full blast. But it is that cool.

Paul & Mike’s SIMBA STOUT BEER CARAMEL CHOCOLATE

Named after two Latin American fine cocoa farmers, Paul And Mike would love to show you how great fine flavour chocolate can be. They believe that the purest chocolate doesn’t have to be bitter. And that everyone deserves great chocolate.  Headquartered in Kochi, Kerala (my hometown) they grow and ferment cocoa on their own farms in Kochi and Coimbatore. Also, they source wet cocoa beans from progressive farmers in Kerala and Andhra and take care of the entire post-harvest operations. The chocolate making unit is based in Kochi, just a km away from their cocoa farm. I’ve been seeing a lot of their brand on websites, Instagram and Facebook and I just had to try them out.

Simba is a craft beer company in India started in 2016 and selling their wares in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore, Assam & Kolkatta. Simba’s Stout is a dark and creamy beer with notes of rich espresso and cacao which we have blended with dark caramel and wrapped in Paul & Mike’s signature Farm to Bar dark chocolate. Simba Stout is actually India’s first bottled craft stout. Paul & Mike in collaboration with Simba Beers bring you a specially crafted chocolate for the beer lover in you. Combining dark beer, dark caramel and dark chocolate- genius! Shaped like beer bottles, the chocolate exterior hides the mouthful of stout inside it’s hollowed middle and oh my gods, you are not ready for that burst of stout that hits the insides of your mouth and tongue when you first bite into it. Really awesome!

I must rate this chocolate an 8.5 outta 10!

Paul & Mike’s 64% Dark Peppermint Gelato Chocolate

I want to give this local company a shout out especially since they make such fine products featuring chocolates. Named after two Latin American fine cocoa farmers, Paul And Mike would love to show you how great fine flavour chocolate can be. They believe that the purest chocolate doesn’t have to be bitter. And that everyone deserves great chocolate.  Headquartered in Kochi, Kerala (my hometown) they grow and ferment cocoa on their own farms in Kochi and Coimbatore. Also, they source wet cocoa beans from progressive farmers in Kerala and Andhra and take care of the entire post-harvest operations. The chocolate making unit is based in Kochi, just a km away from their cocoa farm. I’ve been seeing a lot of their brand on websites, Instagram and Facebook and I just had to try them out.

First bar of theirs that I tried, ordered directly off their website was their 64% Dark peppermint Gelato Chocolate! I love the combination of cool mint with crunchy chocolate. The classic chocolate-mint combination, but with a modern twist! They use peppermint leaves and premium-grade peppermint oil to make a high quality artisanal gelato. This intense peppermint gelato is then freeze-dried and sprinkled in the 64% chocolate bar to create this unique chocolate which will leave a lingering aftertaste of real peppermint in your mouth. And it is a great treat for the taste buds and leaves you wanting more & more. I absolutely loved it.

I must rate this chocolate an 8.5 outta 10!

I Don’t Understand Why Dominos Will Not Deliver When Others Can

Dominos India is the worst! I just do not understand them – they won’t deliver to my place via their app.  I’m 3.6 kms away from one outlet & 4.1 km from another. Note I am less than 5kms away and yet they won’t deliver to this area. Do I love in a village or the edge of the city? No, I live very close to the commercial hub of the city.

Now, we have a few food delivery apps that will collect from any restaurants in the city. But even with Swiggy & Zomato, Dominos will still not deliver. And yet I can get food from other places 10kms away! Only they restrict this stupidly.  As mentioned two outlets are 3.6 km & 4.1km away from me. They have always been very difficult to work with regarding home delivery to my area. I thought atleast since Covid these guys would make it easier to deliver to home but no! There is a KFC next to this Dominos outlet that is 3.6 kms – they will deliver on their own or via Swiggy & Zomato. But will Dominos – NOPE! Too good for us I guess! You have to go there.

The other Dominos outlet is a tad over 4kms away and they won’t either. But I can get pizza from Pizza Hut, Tacos from Taco Bell and other food from Lulu Mall via Zomato & Swiggy – 7.4 kms away. Canosa, a stand alone pizzeria will deliver via Zomato and they are 10 kms away. Most places will since Zomato & Swiggy makes it easier for them to get more customers and for us customers to get variety from far away. But for some reason Dominos is the only one who won’t budge. I messaged them on Twitter and they gave me some stupid answer which did not tell me anything.

Rain Lashes Down On The State And It’s Cold

Heavy rains hammer Kerala, IMD issues red alert for three districts. The rains led to water level in various dams in the state rising to the red alert mark, prompting the authorities to open one of the shutters of Cheruthoni dam of Idukki reservoir. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday issued a red alert in Kerala’s central districts of Ernakulam, Idukki and Thrissur for the day even as heavy rains continue to hammer parts of Kerala since Saturday night.

Heavy rains led to water level in various dams in the state rising to the red alert mark, prompting the authorities to open one of the shutters of Cheruthoni dam of Idukki reservoir in the afternoon. In its latest updates issued this afternoon, the IMD said that light to moderate rainfall with isolated extremely heavy falls are very likely over south Kerala and Tamilnadu on Sunday (14th November) and isolated very heavy rainfall over Kerala on Monday 15th (November).

The heavy rains inundated roads in several parts of southern Kerala, which also saw landslides in some parts. It has been a hot meals and lots of hot black coffee day for me. I watched a movie in the afternoon and might watch another on a little later. Nothing special or major for our meals but just hot and quick.

Family Favourite Fast Food Chain : Chicking

So it’s the weekend and you have your family & you feeling hungry. You wanna watch a football match on tv or a movie with the family and you don’t want to waste time in cooking. What do you do? You order in food from Chicking. What is Chicking?

Chicking is a fast food restuarant chain very similar to KFC and that was launched in the year 2000 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  since then, the brand has grown to become extremely popular in 23+ countries with more than 180+ outlets.  In India First outlet opened in MG Road and now spread more than 56 outlets including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Mumbai & Delhi, serving families and alternate to KFC and other Southern Fried Chicken outlets.

While their main flagship item is the southern fried or batter fried chicken buckets and the sandwiches or chicken burgers, they do have a lot of other options on their menu. They also have chicken wraps and subs and recently introduced tacos. The Mexita is a good sub sandwich. They have chicken nuggets & popcorn chicken as well as chicken strips. They have a decent veggie section which are mostly based on their chicken counterparts.

Along with their batter fried chicken they also have flame grilled chicken though it isn’t as good as it used to be. They have rice bowls with chicken in them and they also have some decent pizzas. I think I will do a separate post on their pizzas as I am planning a pizza series for various options in Cochin. But they they do have a few. And they mostly have Coke & 7Up as well as a couple of virgin mojitos. Overall, something for the whole family.

Kerala Coronavirus Lockdown Update – August 2021

The Kerala government is mulling to execute a new COVID protocol to regulate crowding and avoid complete lockdown in the state. A health expert committ..committee will prepare recommendations for the new COVID protocol as directed by the Chief Minister. With this, the government will quash the weekend lockdown and restrictions on alternate days. A final decision in this regard will be taken in the review meeting on Tuesday.

The government has been facing harsh criticism over the unscientific restrictions which increase chances of crowding. Observing this, the government has decided to revise the protocol. The expert committee has opined that there is no need to impose restrictions across the state based on COVID Test Positivity Rate and the number of patients. Instead of this, restrictions will be imposed  by identifying micro-containment zones based on TPR. The committee also recommended to cancel the weekend lockdown as observing that it increases the rush on Friday and Monday.

Shops that are allowed to function three days a week will be allowed to open every day. Restriction on working hours of shops will be cancelled. Meanwhile, strict restrictions will be in place for weddings, death and other public gatherings. The government will take strict action to avoid crowding after revising the protocol.Along with intensifying police surveillance, efforts will be taken to increase COVID tests. Though the state has been reporting a surge in COVID cases, the number of people under treatment in hospitals were not increased.

It is hinted that the vaccination helped the patients to avoid complications after contracting the virus infection. Hence, the government is planning to vaccinate more people in the coming days. A high-level committee headed by the Chief Secretary will discuss the recommendations of the health expert committee. Following this, the government will enforce the new COVID protocol. As Onam rounds the corner, the government will be more scrupulous in taking the final decision.

10 Day Lockdown

With Kerala reporting nearly 42,000 cases on Wednesday, the highest-ever single day spike, the state government announced a nine-day complete lockdown in the state from 8 May morning to curb the spread of the virus. The lockdown will come into force on 8 May morning and extend up to 16 May, according to official sources. Strict lockdown-like restrictions are already in place in the southern state and the Pinarayi Vijayan government decided to clamp the complete shutdown in the wake of a severe spike in the positive cases.

According to a report in Mathurbhoomi, the govt announced the complete lockdown after the state police department reported that restrictions which came to effect on Tuesday, was not as effective as expected. Earlier on Wednesday, after Kerala reported the highest-ever single day spurt in positive cases adding 41,953 infections, Vijayan had described the situation as serious and said stringent measures will have to be taken to curb the surge. The government  also announced several other decisions to strengthen the anti-COVID measures by deploying medical students and government officials to tackle the situation on the ground.

He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state should be allotted 50 lakh doses of Covishield vaccine and 25 lakh doses of Covaxin. The Centre should take into account the number of people waiting for the second dose and those who have registered for the first dose while allocating vaccines to the states.

Got A Star Trek Tattoo

I first got a tattoo back in 2015 (August 14 to be exact). While I was in Chennai, sent there from the office, and shopping on a Friday I spotted the store owner had a couple of big tattoos. I casually asked him where he got his, how much they were and if there were any tattoo parlours in the mall or nearby. When he gave me directions to the same one where he got his, very near the next stop I was headed too, which was a pub, I just had to get a tattoo done. Just like that, on the spur of the moment from me asking some guy I just met about his tattoos and asking for recommendations to me getting my first tattoo done at the ripe old age of 39.

IMG20210130121032IMG20210130122406

Today, after a bit more planning for the past few days, I decided to contact a few tattoo parlous and check out their Instagram pages. I selected one which is not too far from me. I arranged for my appointment (as they are only doing it this way since Covid) at 12 pm today and I left by 11:30 am. I reached 10 minutes early but it took me 4 minutes to locate the building. I walked the steps to the first floor and rang the bell. I met the two artists who run the place and showed them the design I had finalized on. They took a print out and then a stencil of it which was stuck onto my hand.

IMG20210130133140

I sat in a nice chair, relaxed (as much as you can when that needle is hitting you) as the artist (on seeing my ACDC inspired mask) and asked me what other bands I listened to. On hearing my tastes, he changed the music from the New Age stuff to more classic rock. I chilled to Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Guns n Roses,Ozzy Osbourne etc and we talked music and tattoos as he did the work on me. It does hurt but I can take it. I wasn’t expecting it to take almost 2 hours to finish. By the time he was done, I was close to wanting a break. I needed a cold drink.

IMG-20210130-WA0010

I didn’t get on at that time though. I went to a grocery store and bought some supplies, then to an ATM to take out some cash and later on also buy some medicines. I then came home and wasn’t in the mood to eat a full lunch as it was almost 3pm, so I ate a meat samosa and am egg puff with a Coke and then logged in to my work computer as they needed me to check on some data. I was checking on it till about 5pm and then messaged the details. I was ready for some coffee and music blasting on my laptop, so I shut down my work pc and chilled till just about now.

I’ve got grilled chicken alfahm coming my way and I am drinking a beer. Things are good.

Theatres To Re-open On Jan 5th

Word is out that movie theatres in Kerala will reopen from January 5 but only with 50 per cent capacity. Theaters in the state are reopening nine months after the lockdown forced cinema halls to shut down. Theatre operators must ensure that all COVID-19 protocols, including masks, social distancing and sanitisation are followed while functioning. Cinema halls in several parts of the country started reopening from October, months in the shadow of the pandemic. Theatres and multiplexes had been shut down since March because of the coronavirus crisis.

As per the guidelines under the phased lifting of restrictions under ‘Unlock 5’ the government had directed several measures. Fifty per cent occupancy, staggered show timings, social distancing, thermal screening, adequate protection gear for the staff, and compulsorily providing phone numbers for “contact tracing” were some of the changes that were called for. The announcement comes as a big relief to the Malayalam film industry, which has suffered due to the disruption caused by the pandemic. According to reports, top executives of the Kerala film chambers have planned to meet Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday to seek the government’s support, including tax exemption and concession on the electricity bill.

While it is great that the theatres are reopening, I am not going to go for a movie anytime soon. I will wait, check with people’s experiences and see how it goes. Same for bars and I haven’t been in the inside of a mall in months either. I am gonna wait it out for a while. I don’t think I am missing out on too much but I do miss watching a movie on the big screen. That is an experience that cannot be beat at home, not with a 32 inch tv.

Yes! Finally We Have A Starbucks In Cochin

Read This. And then this little article. And then my first visit to a Starbucks (not in Cochin but in Chennai) back in 2015. And now….

We finally have a Starbucks open in Cochin! Finally after all this time. I first heard about Starbucks on a Discovery Channel program back in the 90s. I think. Coffeeshop culture hadn’t hit India at the time. Then Friends became a thing and Indian fans of the show wanted their own cafes. Enter Cafe Coffee Day which soon spread all over India and became our version of Tim Hortons & Starbucks. But we wanted more.

In 2008 I had heard about the possibilities of Starbucks coming to India but it was only in 2012 that they finally did launch – I was informed of this via an NYTimes article sent to me via Twitter by a Canadian who was living & working in India at the time. Starbucks had started a partnership with Tata Global Beverages LTD to launch Starbucks in India with 50 cafes. I visited a Starbucks for the first and only time back in 2016 when I was in Chennai and the mall that I was in just happened to have one. And now, 2020 we finally have a Starbucks in my hometown.

Located at Lulu Mall, Kochi is Starbucks’ 14th city and the company’s 201st store. I’m sure than in a few years we will have a store in Calicut, Trivandrum and maybe Thrissur as well. Now if I can get a part time job there to be able to afford the coffees and food.

Kakkanad & Office Visit Post Lockdown

I went to the office today for the first time since March 20th. I didn’t realize that I missed it so much and was happy to see the premises. I was only there to get a replacement for a small device that I need to access the client tools. I woke up at 1:30 pm, after my 10:30 pm to 7:30 am shift and then waited for about 30 minutes before taking a shower and a shave. I then had my lunch and got ready. I had booked a cab and called him as he was nearby and went down, mask in hand.

We went to Kakkanad and I was passing by areas that I haven’t been to since the lockdown started. Kaloor, Palarivattom and Kakkanad areas. Happy to pass by with less traffic, not happy because of the reason. On the way I saw several taxi cabs and some are Uber and Ola drivers in them, seller chips and other snacks items out of their cars, which were parked by the side of the roads. That is a sad thing to see. Some of the snacks were cheaper than usual. They gotta make a living.

In 30 minutes we reached the office andI was only there for about 25 minutes or so, spoke to a couple of colleagues and then left. Still felt nice to see the place. I left soon after and bought some medicines on my way home. I came home, ordered some hot chocolate and had a light snack and then fell asleep after watching a couple of episodes of The X-Files.