Graduating in lockdown: A story of a student in India

I am delighted to introduce Vaishnavi, bringing an insight from India on the current lockdown situation for herself and her life as a student.

Vaishnavi has a great blog of art, photography, food and travel (safe to say it is four of my favourite things!) and I appreciate being able to share her story on my blog for the WordPress community.

I hope you all enjoy the read and this insight all the way from India!



Namaste! I am Vaishnavi Karnam, a 22-year old Communication Designer who just graduated from college during this worldwide lockdown. I am originally from Hyderabad and Bengaluru, two of the many state capitals of India, though I have been born and brought up in New Delhi, which is India’s capital. Coming from a rich cultural background from Southern India, my parents made sure my brother and I know our lineage, roots and our native language. Having said this, I am multi-lingual.


Being an elder child, I have always been given a lot of responsibility. But I have had my moments of being a brat and trying to do what I wanted to do. Also, making sure that I did things that I was expected to. I am not only my dad’s little girl, but I am close to my mom as well. My puppy dog eyes are irresistible and always works for me when it comes to my parents. Even though I was pampered a little bit, but I was also made to learn the hardships of life.

Since I was a kid, I have tried my hand at whatever was available to me. Starting from art, craft to music, dance and even sports. Oh, baking and reading too! You can say I am the jack of all trades and master of some. Not ‘none’! I have always had multiple interests, and I made sure to keep trying out new things as and when possible. One such thing that caught my attention and stuck with me amongst a few others is travelling. I have grown up looking at pictures and listening to my dad’s stories from when he used to travel for work. Listening to those stories kept me at the edge of the seat no matter how many times I heard them. It made me want to have some of my own stories like that, to feel that adrenaline rush every single time. That’s how my love for travelling started and, during one of my internships, I discovered my inclination to write. This gave birth, more like helped me to begin my blog. I write about food, travel experiences and sometimes life lessons as well.


When it came to choosing a career path, I was sure that I wanted to do something different from what anyone’s done in my family. A lot of parents in India pre-decide what course their child should pursue in school or college, mine never forced me into anything I didn’t want to do. From planning to study psychology when I started high school to then changing my mind and finally graduating as a Communication Designer, it has been quite a journey. All throughout college, one thing that my friends and I were looking forward to was an extraordinary graduation showcase and a memorable farewell. After all, we were going to start a new phase of our lives. I definitely didn’t expect 2020 to go like this. Like everyone else, I also thought 2020 was going to be my year. I was supposed to start the next phase of my life. I still would be taking the next step, but in a much different way than expected.


Never had I thought for COVID-19 to spread and become a pandemic leading to a lockdown almost everywhere in the world. Considering that I graduated not too long ago, I had about 2-3 months left for my college life to get over. I was hoping to have fun with my friends, peers and faculty in the college, having the most wonderful last few days of college that was left. Every plan I had went down the drain. I was sitting at home, either working on my graduation project, giving presentations online, which is nowhere near to the actual experience. I was usually found dancing and singing at celebrations in college, hanging out with friends, lounging in our studios, travelling and making memories that would last a lifetime.  I was never a social butterfly, but I have had my fair share of memories from my college life. Now, I can only imagine what I would have been doing in the past few months if we weren’t confined to our homes due to the pandemic. At this moment, we are planning what we can do once all of this is over, but we can only hope that it actually happens.

A week before the lockdown was announced, I was travelling for my graduation project in the mountains in northern India. This trip I took was preponed at the last moment; otherwise, there was quite a lot of chances that I would have got stuck at an unknown destination with hardly 3-4 pairs of clothes. I was lucky enough for my plans changing at the last minute. Though I am happy that I was back home right on time, unlike my friend who is stuck in an unknown town in Rajasthan (I feel so bad for him). Being a restless soul and staying at home 24/7 wasn’t really turning out the best for me. I was used to staying out of my house for at least 10-11 hours a day, and suddenly it went down to zero. Coping up to this change was tricky, trying to adjust to the new routine all of a sudden. We are a family of four, and I can say for sure that this is the first time that all of us have to stay under one roof for so long without stepping out at all. We had to adjust to each other’s new routine as a family. It was quite hilarious actually. Initially, it was challenging for me to keep sane, but then I tried small activities to help me adjust to this new routine. The first few days, I used to go to the terrace to look at the sunset and walk around a bit. Never had I seen so many people on their terraces. With nowhere else to go, that was the only escape.


Though when I am talking about what I used to do before COVID-19 struck, I feel like I am talking about a different life altogether. A life before taking multiple precautions to step out of the house and terrible news reaching us every day. There are some things that I used to do daily and miss doing it now. I miss the peak hour rush in the metros, booking a cab or bargaining with auto drivers, chilling at my favourite cafes and exploring Delhi even after staying in this city all my life. One thing I miss the most is eating out, especially Indian street food. It’s to die for.

I had a plan, to graduate college, travel and explore a new destination with my brother, get a job at a different city, move there and start fresh. I have always lived with my parents, except for a few years in between where I moved out to be closer to college. I was excited and hoping for a change. With the pandemic hitting us all, there have been so many changes all of a sudden. With employees being laid off left and right, hiring has definitely come to a freeze. The dream of getting the ideal job I had hoped for has been crushed. Sort of. The chances are quite low, considering the numerous people who are now in the market trying to look for new jobs. Though I am not giving up hope to find the perfect job for me, it is still scary when I think about it.

Now that I am free, I am trying to catch up on writing, reading, helping my mum with household chores and cooking. What I do whenever I have the time mostly depends on my mood. There are days when I only feel like binge-watching a show, texting my friends or just chilling in our house cribbing about when I’d get to go out. Video calls, virtual collaborations, Instagram stories of our routine, Tik Toks are now the latest trend.

I sometimes wonder what if Covid-19 hadn’t become such a vital matter, what if things were different, but it’s just left to what if. We can only dream or imagine what the scenario would be but cannot actually know. I know that with a nationwide lockdown in India, there have been positive implications. Pollution levels have really gone down, natural habitat is getting better, less traffic on the roads and we are spending more time with family. But did we really need something severe to affect us to make out lives slow down? Life has given us time to make things better, take time out for things we stopped doing because we never had the time, but did it have to be after putting so many lives at stake? I am trying to think positive, hoping that we all get out of this safe and sound, but I sometimes fear what else could happen, which might make things worse.


Well, that’s just me. I hope all of you are keeping safe and are doing well. I just hope one day, things will get back to normal and life will be better again. Until then, let’s hope for the best and stay healthy!




Thank you to Vaishnavi for providing this insight for my ‘Life in Lockdown’ series, aiming to provide a glimpse into the lives of people around the world during this pandemic.

All words are Vaishnavi’s own and for more great stories, art, photography, food and travel, please visit The Vaish Saga, and @thevaishsaga on Instagram.

Have a great week everyone!


An escape from the flat

Thank you all for the love you have shown me in my last post, I appreciate it. I have just responded to the comments there and I feel so lucky to have this amazing WP community to engage with every single day. It is a blessing right now for all of us to be able to engage in isolation. We are lucky to have technology allowing us to communicate to each other across the world, what a fortunate time to be alive.

Yesterday I went to the shops. That really is an exciting story in 2020. I had to go to four in total as each one I went to didn’t have everything I needed. I needed mouthwash (currently sold out in supermarkets, so I had to visit the pharmacy), that was store one. Store two had no chopped tomatoes, but it did have turkey mince. Store three didn’t have chopped tomatoes either, but it did have straws that my flatmate asked me to get.

Also whilst I was buying flavoured teas I wanted to share this. Did you know that the company Twinings has this message on their packaging…

‘By appointment to her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’

This is because Twinings supply goods to the Royal Family, and have done since the 1800’s. They have a shop over 300 years old in London that I will blog about when I can visit. A cool little fact I wanted to share with you all.

Store four was my little local shop that had everything. So far these smaller groceries have been the best for stock, most people emptying the supermarkets it seems. I got chopped tomatoes, passata and today made a banging chili. That will last me a few days until I have my next crazy adventure.

Just a little travel update, until the next…



Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!



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I just want a walk and a doughnut…

‘Dough nut’, or ‘doughnut’ are terms first recorded in the early 1800’s. These people were the first bloggers. Those writing on walls with paints and stone tools, then using new inventions called ‘pens’ to write with ink on paper.

Some of the words they came up with to describe the fancy foods they were creating, would they have had any idea they would stand the test of time?!

I was walking by this doughnut shop in February and now the cravings are hitting me again.


Getting messy with a fat doughnut as I try to dodge the oncoming rush hour commuters. Ahh, those were the days. Moments of frustration that are now memories of when life was just a little bit easier. But I can still order these snacks to my house, so life is still way, way better than it could be.

I have had a couple of conversations with fellow bloggers about what will change as we slowly get back to normal, when it is safe to of course. The foot-operated hand sanitizer in my last post being an example. Will we have a heightened awareness of where our hands are going each and everyday, and where they have been? Greeting with a handshake might give us the urge to wash our hands straight afterwards with this pandemic still fresh in our minds. And if we do have this increased urge to sanitize, how long will it last? Humans have a great track record of forgetting things as we get back to normality after a tragic event.


Do you think you will change your routine in the long term?

I’ve never really liked handshakes anyway, there are too many variations these days. The fewer ways I can make a fool of myself in public, the better.



Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited as to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over as I continue to explore London.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!



Connect with me

Click here for my social media > Instagram   Facebook   Twitter   

Want to reach out to other bloggers and find new blogs? Introduce yourself here!

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Literally the only thing left in the noodle/tin section are these ‘be good to yourself- chicken noodle soup in a cup‘ sachets. I bought a bunch of these to last me if the apocalypse truly hit as they were cheap. It seems like I am the only one buying them and now wonder if this was worse than going hungry.

I love how the population has collectively decided to buy everything but these. It actually hurts me a little to think I am the only one that bought some, what do they know that I don’t? It has ‘be good to yourself’ on the box, it was a no-brainer surely?

I’m the no-brainer apparently.



Due to the Coronavirus outbreak I am somewhat limited to what I can do in London, but I aim to post as much as I can during this time. I promise to have some great posts coming your way once this is all over and stay well during this difficult period.

Stay home, stay safe and happy blogging!


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Something a little different everyday

I’m currently working a bunch of PM shifts, meaning I’m rushing around on a morning trying to get things done as I have no time after work on an evening. But sometimes it has it’s perks. I decided to have a cut through Queen Victoria Market on route to work on what has been a very wet and miserable day, and needed a hot cup of something.

I stumbled upon this Indian Chai company Chai Co. and they have a hot chocolate with spices drink on the menu. If there’s two things that warm me up its hot chocolate and spices, but I’ve never had it together. I’ve had chilli and chocolate before which was an interesting combination, so I thought why not.

It wasn’t as chocolatey as I expected, but the people were friendly and it did indeed warm me up. The mix of flavours was interesting, I’d probably have it again.

I think it’s important to try and do something different each day. No matter how big or small, something that makes each day a little different as helps us to break the mundane cycles we often find ourselves trapped in. Today it was changing the drink that set me up for my shift. It’s the little things in life that can lift our moods and be a catalyst for bigger changes.

I hope you do something a little different today, and let me know what it was!

Have a great day wherever you are, from a cold and wet Melbourne.



Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

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Travel Diary: Finally visiting Melbourne’s Winter Market

I honestly reside a two minute walk from this market. And ever since I arrived in Melbourne I have heard the same ‘why haven’t you visited Queen Victoria Market yet?!’, and it is a question I have asked myself a lot too.

Maybe the fact that it is right on my doorstep has given me less urgency. Maybe it is because I have been doing a lot of morning shifts at work. I don’t know. But now that the winter markets are taking place every Wednesday evening I decided to take a very quick look for myself.

I will warn you, it was very quick.


As I was walking up to it I could sense the scale of it. The smoke escaping the tent from the various meat stalls, the sound of the live band playing and chatter of hundreds of people enjoying their mulled wine and finger foods. That and the neon signs pointing to the entrance and various stalls made this a very exciting and inviting first impression.


I mean it was packed. There was enough room around the market to find space to stop and eat your chosen grub, and seating didn’t seem to much of an issue. The first thing I did was head to the bar, what else gets you more in the mood for food than beer?

In fact, the queue was that short I didn’t even have time to snap a picture of it before being asked my order. I grabbed a pale ale and did a lap of the floor. Here is what I found.

Firstly, meat. Lots of meat.



The smells were amazing. And it was an obvious choice looking at the lines, usually a good indicator as to how good the food is going to be. IMPORTANT RULE: Always trust the locals. Although I am unsure as to how many of the people here are locals with this being such a popular venue.


I kept walking around and almost got knocked over by this silent disco train…. I have seen these a couple of times wandering through the streets in Melbourne, the last one was a hen party. Must be something you can hire… Have you seen this in your city?

The looked like they were having a good time.


I need to come here during the daytime, I have seen many pictures from this position and the skyline makes for an impressive backdrop.

Thanks to the guy in the hi-vis below for providing the light.


Melted cheese anyone?


And of course, there were vegetarian and vegan options, although I am not sure how much choice there was as I didn’t really look out for them. The below stall is one with vegan choices, I am sure this was food stuffed into a pineapple. It looked very different, but very good.


What would the world be without live music? I don’t want to know.





Now this was a very quick run through of the market, as I had a busy night ahead of me and needed to meet friends from both Sydney and my work on the opposite side of the CBD. However as I got there quite late, things were wrapping up anyway. I then noticed this huge parting of the crowds in front of me, which I assumed was the grand finale of some sort. The lights moved around on the floor like a nightclub, the music was pretty dramatic as if we were expecting a close encounter with the third kind.

As everyone held their breath in anticipation….


Actually, that was it. It led to a bit of confusion as it was a bit of an anti-climax, loud music, lights all concentrated onto this small patch of ground that people circled, maybe I was late and missed all the fun. But it all stopped and we all started walking again. Picture it like a crosswalk basically. An overly dramatic crosswalk.


Now as this was a very brief tour I aim to go again very soon. I also aim to do the day market too and see what this has to offer. However this was a very fun run around and I would recommend anyone in Melbourne to take a look, whether during the day or winter market. Look out for another post from here in the near future!!

Winter Market: Every Wednesday 5pm-10pm, 5th June- 28th August.


Queen Victoria Market:

Thursday- 6am- 2pm

Friday- 6am- 5pm

Saturday- 6am-3pm

Sunday- 9am-4pm

Monday- Closed

Tuesday- 6am- 2pm

Wednesday- Closed





Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

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Happy blogging,


First impressions living in Melbourne

One perk of hostel life in the CBD of any city is that the moment you stumble through the chaos of backpacker accommodation and out the front door, you are right in the heart of all the action. Here in Melbourne I am experiencing just that. Immediately after hitting the pavement I see the trams go by, the business people power-walking with their coffee in hand, the buskers, the police sirens, highrises towering above, the artists… everything good and bad about city living.

And in Melbourne in particular, the constant smell of great food around every corner is something I have welcomed with open arms. To say people are spoilt for choice when it comes to food here is an understatement. If like me you do not know the city well enough to make a revised decision, it means just jumping into a food joint and hoping for the best. I did this with a friend and it was very good leap of faith.

And this was a pretty cheap meal, AUD$12.50 each. This is just one needle in a giant haystack of eateries on offer and for this reason alone I am happy to be living here. Every place I go seems to have an establishment filled with people, from the main streets to the back alleys that although might not look too inviting on first glance, will have some guaranteed hidden treasures. One difference between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne for me are these cool narrow streets of art and great cuisine that we have here, giving Melbourne a very unique feel. It’s exciting, and every walk feels like an adventure and it is actually fun to get a little lost.


And what better way to enjoy this other than having a job and an actual income? Today I had my first day at work after being transferred from Brisbane. I had a couple of interviews however one hotel offered full time work and this was the deciding factor. Today I walked with the concierge through the nearby streets and within probably one hundred meters already rattled off more places than I could remember. It was then that I realised I will need to do a lot of research as to what I should be recommending, and how much of an impossible task it will be just to scratch the surface and try many of these places myself. But I will do my best.

The cool weather helps too. Instead of focusing on drinking enough water, Melbourne’s weather is currently perfect for me. Fairly hot during the day and I can wear a jacket at night. A comfortable mix and the recent low clouds have glowed as they pass around the skyscraper lights. Another thing I learned today is that black swans exist. This guy was happy chilling with them. I thought it was just the name of a movie… not the case.

Australia again blows my mind with it’s animals. They’re probably venomous though.

The food is certainly what I am most excited about here. And my bank balance is my biggest fear. But it is all about the balance and I will actively try not to go crazy and actually save a little. If anything this will be a big test for me, if I can keep in shape here I can keep in shape anywhere. We will see if that happens.

I get a good vibe when I am walking through the streets. So far the crowds haven’t stressed me out and if I can live close enough to work without long commutes on crowded public transport, even better. But for me to get sick of this place will take a lot. There seems to be many more pros than cons and my aim is to tell you all about them as I discover.

More to come!


On another note, I took the featured image on Monday 18th, next to the State Library of Victoria in a square. The statue is of Sir Redmond Barry. I do not know what this protest was about (if it was one) and have had no luck finding out.


If anyone happens to be from Melbourne and know, I would greatly appreciate finding out what it was as it is bugging me. There were a few police kicking about but didn’t seem to be any tension or violence. I kept walking however as I look back I have started wondering.

Hopefully I will gain some answers!


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section and Travel Diary

Follow me @samest89 on Instagram and @octstw on Twitter

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.




I have often seen protests in this square, some more visual than others. This one certainly caught the attention of passers by.

One of the signs reads ‘Milk comes from a grieving mother’, so I’m assuming a vegan protest. I didn’t stay long, just long enough to take this shot. I’m not vegan, although I do understand why such protests occur.

When it is visual, it certainly hits harder. I just wanted to share this as its been a while since I posted something from my daily walks.

Blog, eat, blog, eat… (a post from 2016!)

What I love finding in earlier posts is that I haven’t lost my love of blogging. From the title of this post from 2016 I can see that blog, eat, blog, eat was a ritual that I have kind of stuck with to this day. The only difference is back then I would have bouts of frequent blogging and times with little activity. One of the reasons was episodes of anxiety and depression that had me lose all motivation to blog. But since then I have morphed my blog into one with more optimism and bright colours. This has helped a lot.

This post was a quick one. It was from the Botanist, one of my favourite bars in Newcastle, England. This gin tasting session was in fact a reason why I found a new love for gin, as learning more about how it is made convinced me to give it another chance. I just learned not to drink it at parties.

In fact, as my book writing remains dormant as I build my blog, this very moment at the table in the Botanist is the opening lines to my book. Will it remain there? I am not sure but I guess we will see.


From January 21st, 2016…

It’s restaurant week here in Newcastle, so the pounds that leave my wallet are being added to my gross tonnage.

It’s a great idea for the difficult weeks after Christmas, but bloody hard to make a booking. Oh, there was a little gin tasting session thrown in too yesterday. I really don’t like gin (probably more psychological than anything after what I can only describe as the hangover of all hangovers, and waking up in my friends parents bed to be sick all over their sheets) but I didn’t have the heart to tell him and it was an interesting talk to say the least.

BBQ yesterday, Italian tonight?

That’s all I can type for now, I’m getting out of breath.



Just a quickie, how would everyone feel if I was to upload throwback posts into my blog every so often? I know I have asked this previously with positive results, however I may blog during the day and find an older article to talk about on an evening, as I like posting twice a day and it gives me a chance to repost some of the thousand+ posts that have hardly been viewed as I got used to blogging. It’s like a little time machine that helps me remember how this blog formed and I think you will enjoy some of the posts.

Let me know what you think!


Originally posted 21/1/2016

Re-posted 07/02/2019


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary or follow me @samest89 on Instagram

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,


Eat Street

There is a place in Brisbane that I have been to three times now however need to revisit at least another fifty if I am to get the whole experience. You know like unlocking all those trophies in a video game to get 100% completion, that’s the feeling I get.

That place is Eat Street Northshore just outside of Brisbane, I gave you a little teaser a week or so ago when I was there and said I would blog about it again as I had taken a few photos. I may have blogged about it in the more distant past as well I am not sure, I have definitely posted to Instagram from EatStreet so the chances are I gave a little upload to WordPress too. But these are certainly fresh pics and who doesn’t like fresh pics?

Now I am unsure what that trophy would be for eating at every single one of the stalls here, maybe a donut the size of a car tire or something. I also wonder if any of the locals have achieved it, that sure is one epic man vs food style challenge considering how big this place is.

So far I’ve had Thai.

I’ve had Brazillian.

I’ve had an epic ice cream the size of my head from this dessert section.

But with the sheer amount of food stalls on offer, I am nowhere near satisfied enough to tick this off the list just yet.

It is easy to get to from the city centre, roughly 15-20 minutes depending on traffic or a 50 minute journey up the Brisbane River on a fast boat. This time round we took the fast boat and it was a really good journey.


I like the atmosphere, there are bands performing on the two stages here over the weekend (it’s only open Friday to Sunday), pets are allowed in which is cool, it’s in the direction of the airport so planes are flying overhead however not too loud… It just feels very active and I like that.

And the food is as good as the sunsets over the Brisbane skyline that can be seen downriver. Every now and then they will have fireworks, I have seen them twice in the three times I have been so I am unsure why some days have them and some don’t. Maybe you know why this is? Let me know if so.

Perfect doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t settle for damn near perfect with anything in life really. Just don’t be like this skeleton and wait too long.

I agree the candy floss is Instagram worthy as it states below, however warning it melts very fast. And it incredibly sticky. Australian summer isn’t the place for candy floss it seems.

So if you’re around Brisbane as a local or visitor, this place is well worth a visit. Just don’t eat beforehand as there is plenty choice here and that is the main focus of the venue. However if you are one to get full easily don’t worry, the live music makes it worthwhile.

You never know, there may be a surprise proposal too…


Thank you again to all my followers and regular readers, and hello to you if you are new to my blog!

New to this site? Click here to visit my About My Blog section

Want to keep up with my travels? Click here for my Travel Diary

Want to introduce yourself and your blog and discover new ones? Click here for my meet and greet page.

Happy blogging,