Travelling with a pet – Bursting the bubble

For some unknown reason people who travel with pets are treated with scorn. Why is it frowned upon to want to keep your commitment to an animal that depends on you? Shouldn’t it be more frowned upon to abandon them just because your life is moving to different location?

Every step of the way the process is made harder and filled with a dozen vultures tying to extort money from you, justified by the assumption, that for some reason you must be loaded, if your willing to let your pet travel. Having gone through this experience myself I thought it would be helpful for a fellow animal lover to know the process and avoid getting ripped off by agents.

Relocating your pet from India to the middle east. (The below steps are valid for UAE and Oman.)

Let’s start with documents required.

a. Export certificate from India – This can be obtained from the Quarantine office at the respective airport in(Mumbai,Chennai,hyd, blr,delhi,kolkata) my experience was with Bangalore airport. You do not need a middle man or an agent. Contrary to what they tell you, it only takes 1-2 days for them to issue it and all they need are your documents. The quarantine office is in the Alpha-3 bldg in the airport. Enter the airport and take a left just before the entrance, it’s the 3rd bldg. You need to submit you ticket copy, your passport copy, the vaccination card copy and the import certificate issued by the country you are going to. The dog’s name, age, colour, breed, gender should be clearly mentioned. This certificate for export can be obtained only 7 days prior to flying. It is valid only for 7 days and you must fly out within those 7. It costs nothing but you may have to pay Rs 500 depending on their mood.  You can call them before hand to get an appointment. You have to go personally to submit the documents. The phone number is here and the man is actually very helpful :

b. Vaccination card (pet passport – it’s just a book with pets and your name details, the worming record and vaccination stickers and dates.) The vaccinations have to be less than 12 old and at least 1 month old. The required ones are :RABIES

Of course your vet will add some just because you are moving. I recommend Kennel cough.

c. Import certificate – In Oman and UAE, the ministry of fisheries and agriculture issues the certificate valid for 30 days. It should be applied for at least 15 days prior to travel. It costs OMR 60/- . Submit your ticket, passport copy, visa copy, the vaccination card and a photograph of the pet. These guys will apply and obtain it for you for the price of OMR 60 itself : . Just give them a call. Microchipping is not required for the middle east

d. Govt. Vet’s health certificate. – Please ask your vet to mention that the dog is in good health to fly. and stamp his registration number with signature.

e. So the paper work is done. The next step is the Airline. While Qatar and Lufthansa are the most pet friendly, in fact Air France is simply the best. None of these fly to the middle east and if they do, the flights are just too long. However, Air India does accommodate pets.Below 5 kgs they can be in the cabin, above that they will be in the hold on the same flight as you. You need to inform them minimum of 3 working days prior to flying. However, the earlier the better since they have to arrange for the carrier. The reservations manager is a really nice chap and he will help you through the process. It will cost you twice the excess baggage charges regardless of how much luggage you have. The wt of the dog + the wt of the airplane compatible crate * 2 * excess baggage cost

f. The pet needs to be in an airline compatible crate, your vet can acquire one for you or rent one for you. They are expensive. The dog should be able to turn around and stand comfortably as per the flying rules so it has to be big enough. Please stick a copy of all the documents onto the cage. Keep the originals with you. You can also cargo the pet but that will work out way more expensive.  The crates cost a minimum of Rs. 7000 if you have a small breed so renting makes more sense. Please do not sedate the pet, it is not required by the quarantine office and is dangerous for the pet’s blood pressure during flight. you can use herbal calming food to calm them down, these are available at any pet store.

That’s that. Arrive at the airport and the airline will guide you. Land, pick them up at baggage and the quarantine vet will guide you. As long your vaccination is sorted there is no need to worry. Do not hire these middle men, they only acquire documents and then leave you to fend for yourself and whats worse charge extreme amounts of money for these basic documents.

Hope it helps.


Worth Getting Your Hands Dirty

What comes to mind when you think of sweaty vendors,tiny carts, newspaper wrapped packets, steal tumblers attached to a rope, people talking all at once, ridiculously catchy slogans ,sticky fingers and that tempting aroma of calories??

There is something about street food that cancels out good judgement. Be it “pani puri” , “99 variety dosa” ,hot dogs, tacos or kebabs. That taste just cannot be replicated in a four walled surrounding! It’s a wonderful concept which provides a means of income to hundreds of people and secretly brings people together. Untouched by social classification, you can be rich or poor, black or white, you are powerless to the grasp of this sinful indulgence.

With our lives getting faster and faster, street food outlets are booming. The idea is timeless but the industry is changing everyday.

Why the makers love it: With more and more entrepreneurs going mobile to reduce their overhead costs, innovation is all around. Mobile restaurants take the business to the consumer. It gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to experiment with location without the fear of permanent losses. Opens up a wider consumer base and ability to get first hand feedback. Flexibility to change menu and reach a wider audience faster. The options have expanded from the traditional rolls and such to items like pizza.

Why the consumers love it : Choices! Economical, flexible portions, Ability to try exotic food or varieties in small portions, Time saving, An excuse to get out in the open and breathe fresh air.

Looks like a win-win but.. This is also becoming a pressing issue for the Health and safety regulators. It is hard to keep a count and ensure the quality of the food. There is a need to find some common ground between encouraging this wonderful culture and ensuring it doesn’t lead to health disaster.

If you’ve been to India or the middle east ; You haven’t really eaten if you haven’t licked your fingers after indulging in:

1. Pani puri ( always end with a sukha and if its not in a tiny leaf bowl served to you with the stuffing covered hands of a local vendor, its not right!)

2. Cheese palak dosa

3. Vada pav

4. Bhel

5. Steamed chicken and prawn momos

6. Shawarma with garlic mayonnaise (If you didn’t get it from a fat Arab guy, with a side of salted pickle, while you drooled staring at the large stand he was cutting the chicken from, its just a roll)

7. Saruk (Apologies if that’s not the way its spelt)

8. Fire roasted peanuts

9. Mutton Kababs

10. Hareesa

I have to stop because its late and I’m hungry.

Ps: Even though Bangalore doesn’t have great street food culture compared to Delhi and Mumbai, I would recommend the pani puri guy in Indranagar right next to Calafornia Pizza Kitchen, Right across the road is a Nandini milk stand and since you have gone all the way, do try the dosa guy next to it, walk ahead , buy yourself some peanuts and acknowledge how right I was !

Pani Puri
Pani Puri

chicken_shawarma pani puri place shawarma

Like A Bass!

In the land locked city of Bangalore if there was one thing I craved, it was sea food! Couple that with a convenient location, exotic ambience and you end up with few choices at excruciating prices. Among my favorite memories of the place, is a lazy Sunday afternoon when I found myself at an old haunt mesmerized by a new flavor!

Grilled sea bass with gently spiced crispy skin and soft white interior. Served on a bed of Texan-style Spanish rice, only made better, by the all-time favorite accompaniment, chips! When the, cowboy hat-clad waiter set the wooden platter holding the hot sizzler down on our table, we couldn’t have been happier. It was a perfectly sized meal for an afternoon lunch and definitely worth the buck.

Will definitely be going back there. The “fish of the day” sizzler at Grill house, Ulsoor Road makes a wonderful Sunday afternoon even better!sea bass