Turning 40…

If ageing gives me an opportunity to indulge more and more in the warmth of the wonderful family that I am part of , I am happy to age !

If ageing gives me many more occasions to laugh like crazy and talk forever, like there’s no beginning or end , with dear friends, I am happy to age !

If ageing gives me chances to read more books, travel to more places, enjoy more foods, I am happy to age !

If ageing gives me more avenues to keep learning something new and experience that nice feeling, I am happy to age !

As Groucho Marx said, “Anyone can get old; all you have to do is to live long enough”, I am happy to age and I am happy to have turned 40 last Sunday !!!

Although we had different plans of celebrating turning 40, the birthday partner of mine, V, was down with cough and fever and the plans couldn’t get executed. Nevertheless, the ecstasy of turning 40 remains in tact , thanks to all the beautiful people that are part of my life ! Words fail to convey the gratitude I feel towards each one of them. Love you all to bits !!!

Some highlights of the milestone…

Pre-birthday :

V gifted these about 10 days ago to mark the milestone !

On the day :

College friends sent a surprise through Dunzo services on the day !

Post-birthday :

Dear friend N placed this surprise at my office desk today !

Strict mom ?

I try to meet as many teachers of A as possible whenever I go to school to either check the answer scripts or collect the report card. My questions to them mostly remain the same, asking any feedback about A and their recommendations / suggestions for her in general. I met her Biology teacher for the first time last month as she started teaching A’s class this academic year only. She looked at me and told that she could infer that I am A’s mother without stating it. ( I was surprised to hear that !! ) I requested her to help A to change her attitude of feeling tensed for exams. And then she told me that she thought I was a strict mother 😳 I clarified that I have debates with A when I urge A to sleep little early and wake-up little late but A wants to do the contrary so that she could read more.

Dear A, if my debates of these nature categorise me as a strict mom, then yes, I am one because I believe that proper sleep is the right thing for everyone. I know many of your classmates study late into the night, around 12 and more and wake-up too early, around 3. I believe this isn’t essential as long as you plan your stuff in advance.

A participated in basketball tournament last month and she was a substitute in the team. She practised for the matches and did play in multiple matches during the tournament for varying amounts of time and contributed to the team. The team that she was part of won second place in U-17 category. I shared the photos of the event with family happily and my brother commented out that A is an all-rounder. When I responded that she was lucky to be part of the team which had some of the best players , he said that I was a strict mom !

Dear A, I do not want to give any undue credit to you. A fact is a fact ! If this makes me a strict mom, then yes, I am one !

During some random conversation with A, which I am not able to recollect entirely, I asked her why she didn’t buy something. She immediately answered that she knew that I wouldn’t approve of it as I advocate the idea that things should be bought only when necessary and she should buy stuff only when she has used up similar stuff that’s already present at home.

Dear A, I do not mind spending to use something but I sincerely object to wasting anything. If this makes me a strict mom, then yes, I am one !

Loads of love to you from your strict mom 🥰

Darjeeling – Day 5

We booked accommodation for 2 nights at Riverside Dwelling homestay in Tabakoshi, which is located approximately midway between Darjeeling and Bagdogra.

It was a very impulsive, last minute, unplanned decision that we took , which is not the usual case on our trips but it proved to be a very good choice. This homestay is in a very small village where the usual tourist crowd is absent and everything is pure, clean and simple giving one an opportunity to just relax and do nothing else. The homestay premises are immaculate and the rooms are very well maintained . The staff is extremely hospitable and the food is simply scrumptious. It felt so good to be taken care of by them, asking us our choices and serving with so much of personal care. It was a perfect place for us to end the vacation. I would strongly recommend this for anyone who is looking for a place where one could stay very close to the nature and very far from the crowds.

Some of the many beautiful spots of the home stay
Some of the many wonderful dishes served by the staff

For most of the time that we were here, we focused on eating, sleeping and relaxing which is our definition of a perfect holiday. For a little time, we walked over to the village and visited temples of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Rangbhang river and Tabakoshi park, all of them next to each other and at a walking distance from the home stay.

We checked out the next morning and drove to Bagdogra airport and flew back to Hyderabad, completing our long pending trip.

What was your recent trip and what were your experiences ? I would love to read them…

Darjeeling – Day 4

We couldn’t experience the Toy train on our vacations to Ooty or Shimla. We wanted to experience it at least on the Darjeeling trip. We read some reviews that the tickets weren’t available for them when they tried on the day of the travel and suggested to book in advance. Some others mentioned that the ride wasn’t that great. So we lowered our expectations to the minimum and booked tickets for steam joy ride through IRCTC.

The plan was to check out from Dekeling in Darjeeling, take a ride on the toy train up to Ghoom and then head to Tabakoshi, where we had made a booking in advance for 2 nights. The travel desk at Dekeling planned everything and made all the arrangements that suited our requirements. The cab driver picked our luggage and waited for us at Ghoom at the time we had planned to reach there.

The ride on toy train goes through the towns and one cannot expect to view scenic locations. But the experience is definitely a worthy one. I got reminded of all the Bollywood movies which had scenes on the toy trains.

Stop at Batasia Loop

The train stops over at Ghoom museum which has got quite a nice collection of various things and portrays history of the place.

As planned, we completed our ride on the toy train, covered Ghoom museum and then headed to join the cab driver who would take us to Tabakoshi. But what’s a trip with no twists and adventures ? The cab driver was waiting at some place and we were looking for him at some other place. We walked and walked in the directions that we understood after speaking with the driver and the locals but we got lost completely. Good thing was that it was during the day and so we did not get worried except for the fact that V got frustrated while trying to locate the driver. We finally reached some place and asked a local to communicate to the driver the whereabouts of it so that he could come there and we would just wait for him over there. Finally we got into the cab and resumed our trip. In the cab, the driver handed over Darjeeling special Tea leaves, a gift from the owner of Dekeling hotel. It was a very sweet gesture and I was blown away by it.

We had our first stop at the place that has got one of the borders to Nepal. We didn’t enter the lands of Nepal but strolled around in the No Man’s land doing some souvenir shopping. We had one more stop at Gopaldhara Tea estate and bought souvenirs and different kinds of tea packets for family and friends.

We had lunch by the Mirik lake, a real beauty !

After strolling around the lake for a while, we completed the last part of the trip and reached Tabakoshi. We spent the evening exploring the home stay and basking in the beauty of it and had an awesome dinner served by the very sweet staff over there !

More on the awesome Tabakoshi in the next post !!!

Memory medley

Ex-team mate whom I haven’t seen in the last 18 years

College junior cum ex-colleague with whom I had no interaction in the last 13 years

Super senior at college cum ex-team mate whom I last saw around a decade ago

Classmate cum ex-teammate whom I met around 4 years ago

Super senior and colleague whom I keep meeting at a frequency of once a week

I had lunch with the above set of people this afternoon and what else could be the output of it, if not a big medley of memories ?

We chatted about times ranging from two decades ago to the contemporary ones, different milestones in our lives, the varied professions and the routes that each of us took, the times that we shared, the common friends, the stories of college, work, professors, bosses and what not !!

Going back in time and cherishing those memories does recharge me in an unexplainable manner. I hope to experience many such moments and wish you too many more wonderful ones 🙂

Have a great week ahead…

Darjeeling – Day 3

Sometimes all you need is a strong push to do something and most times it comes from the most unexpected places.

Catching a glimpse of the mighty Kanchenjunga, as the sun rays bring the peak into light, at the time of sunrise from the Darjeeling town is a much talked about activity by almost everyone who has ever visited the place. Tourists usually book a cab at around 4 and start from the mall road to travel for around 30-40 minutes and walk down a bit to reach the spot where the wait can happen. We calculated the timings and arrived at the conclusion that we have to wake up at around 1:30 and walk in that freezing temperatures and the end result might be that we may not even be able to see anything because of the clouds according to the weather forecast. Evaluating the ups and downs we started inclining towards dropping off the activity.

It was then that A started to push us saying it would be foolish to not experience the feeling after coming this far. So we decided to go ahead with the plan and booked the cab. We got up, got ready, put on some winter wear and packed the rest of the winter wear that we had brought into a backpack so that we could use them on demand.

The drive happened in pitch dark, we didn’t know where we were heading to. The cab driver dropped us off at a location which is farther than the usual dropping point as there was a VIP visitor that day and certain protocols had to be observed. We started walking and as we kept covering little distances, we kept transferring winter wear from the backpack on to our bodies. The temperatures were horrible and we had second thoughts about continuing further. But we saw people of all ages moving ahead of us and we didn’t want to miss the chance.

We finally reached the place of waiting point and it was literally filled with people. There were so many people over there that the energy vibes were automatically felt. I had a similar feeling when we were at Wagah border near Amritsar and I wish to experience similar feeling at a live concert. Coming back to the current context of Darjeeling, everyone waited for a sole purpose, for the sunrise to happen and to catch a glimpse of the mighty peak.

We couldn’t see Kanchenjunga but I loved the whole experience !!!

We came back to the hotel, had breakfast and spent a lazy last day at Darjeeling.

Since we couldn’t complete our stay at Darjeeling without having visited Keventer’s, we stopped there for lunch. I felt the place was hyped up, the service wasn’t very great, the food was like at any other place. We were there just to tick that item on our list

Keventer’s !!!

The journey

As I wait here in the grounds of A’s school for the Investiture Ceremony, the many memories that have been built up over a decade come flashing by, bringing a smile to my face.

Where do I begin ? From the times of searching for a school and talks with neighbours and parents of other kids about the pros and cons of each school to submitting applications at various schools and seeing our name on the waiting list of this school of A. I vividly remember the time we waited at this school for the dental examination along with friend N’s son before we officially got the admission into this prestigious school . We have travelled a lot from that point in time to this day, completing a decade and building memories to cherish for a lifetime.

The investiture ceremonies, sports day celebrations, annual day concerts, science exhibitions, literary fests and every other event that I have attended at this school will remain etched in my memory.

Dear A, I have enjoyed being associated with this school as much as you have been and cannot thank our stars enough for making this happen. I wish you to make the most of this association, make unlimited memories, learn as much as you can, build a character and personality that reflects the teachings of so many wonderful mentors that you are blessed with.

Fly as high as you can but don’t forget the roots and be grateful to each and everyone , that have been associated with you directly or indirectly, in this incredible journey !!!

Darjeeling – Day 2

“Can a trip to Darjeeling be a complete one without a visit to Glenary’s ?” This is the impression that we developed upon reading and collecting all the information about the place. We wanted to cover this place desperately and so we were at the place by 8 in the morning. Be prepared for a big queue of people waiting to get seated, if you are here during the season. The prices are on the higher side but the management of heavy inflow of customers is pretty good !

Darjeeling Tea at Glenary’s

We had booked a cab through the travel desk at Dekeling to view all the local tourist attractions (the staff is amazing in the way they had provided us customised and detailed options to our liking). Peace Pagoda was the first place on our list.

Next on the list was Rock Garden. I fell in love with the beauty of this place. We were wise to reach here early in the day and get out before it got heavily crowded.

Walking over to the top and then coming back on these tracks in the midst of rocks, trees, water streams was a beautiful experience !

After a lunch fiasco at Frank Ross Cafe ( the reviews that we read about the place and the experience we had were totally out of sync ), we headed to Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park.

Our last stop on this day’s list was Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and Tenzing rock. We got to watch some inspiring documentaries on mountaineering at the institute and A tried to pose at the Tenzing Rock !

Our Day 2 ended with dinner at Dekevas, which is one of the places that serves most delicious and authentic Tibetan food. The place is pretty small and hence has got long waiting time but the wait is definitely worth the food. Do not miss a chance to visit this place if you are in Darjeeling.

Momos, Noodles, Gyathuk and Blueberry Panacotta !

Darjeeling – Day 1

The drive from Bagdodra airport to Darjeeling has been a visual treat . We got to book a cab at the airport counter with no hassles unlike the case with some others who struggled to book a cab to Gangtok which could have happened partly due to the fact that we had landed there on the day of Holi. About half an hour drive from the airport, we found ourselves entering the lands that looked promising enough to lead us to the experience that we were longing for. The places started showing up lots of small eateries where we stopped by and had a simple lunch that marked the first meal of many of our gastronomical memories that we were about to build up over the next couple of days.

We found some great places to stay at Darjeeling, thanks to all those wonderful people who took time to share their experiences and feedback on various websites. After eliminating all those places that were not falling under the budget of our consideration and the ones where the rooms were not available during the dates of our choice, we zeroed in on Dekeling. Since we made last minute plans of splitting our stay between Darjeeling and Tabakoshi, Sangi from Dekeling was kind enough to help us in cancelling our booking with Cleartrip and making a fresh booking with them for reduced number of days.

Dekeling is a perfect place to stay as it is located right on the Mall Road, making it very convenient to stroll around, has got staff who are very hospitable, serves great food, arranges local cabs to plan your tours perfectly to suit your needs and is very well maintained. The only downside is the stairs that one has to climb to reach the place but it can be considered a good exercise 😉

We stepped onto the Mall Road after having tasted the much talked about Darjeeling Tea !

Mall road of Darjeeling is not as marvellous as the one we experienced at Shimla but it is worth walking around if you are over there. There aren’t too many varieties of food to be tried out on the road but you find quite a lot of people selling those limited varieties. Non-vegetarian food can be found in abundance when compared to the limited vegetarian options that include momos and jhalmuri

Jhalmuri, Momos and the countless sellers and buyers !!!
Darjeeling Clock tower – right on the Mall Road (can you recollect watching it in Barfi movie?)

Our first day at the Queen of Hills ended with a dinner at Lunnar restaurant. This place too serves great food that is quite delicious and the place seemed to have maintained good hygiene levels and the prices that are slightly on the higher side can be accepted for these factors.

More of Darjeeling would be coming soon….

The trip that we longed for

Nestled in the mighty Himalayas, offering picturesque locations and giving one an opportunity to feel the Mother Nature in a way that is one of it’s kind, the town of Darjeeling has always been on our to-do list.

V and I have tried to plan a trip to this place for close to two decades. Distance , frequency of flights, the travel included, cost and time could be some of the factors that attributed to the fact that we couldn’t make the trip happen for this long. Over the last two years, travel was considered only when it was absolutely necessary and naturally this didn’t happen then too. This March, things started to clear up a little, we wanted to have a proper vacation after having stayed home for so long, A completed her 9th grade and would soon get busy with her further academics. This seemed like a perfect time to execute our long standing plan of visiting Darjeeling and tick that one off our bucket list.

We started our research and decided to plan the trip spanning six days including all the travel. We considered to cover places that are closer to Darjeeling and that didn’t include too much travel and so we ruled out Gangtok though it sounded very very tempting. Bagdogra airport was decided as our starting point and we didn’t want to travel beyond Darjeeling and so we started to focus on the places that fell within this route. A little surfing on the web and a chat with V’s mama who worked in Calcutta for couple of years emphasised the fact about how much commercialisation has gone into the place and how crowded it was at the moment. This made us tweak our initial plan of staying at Darjeeling through out the trip to splitting the stay between Darjeeling and Tabakoshi, which falls between Bagdogra and Darjeeling.

With air tickets booked to Bagdogra, accommodation booked at both Darjeeling and Tabakoshi, notes filled with places to see, food to try out, the minds longing to take a vacation, the enthusiasm to touch the lands that have been calling for so long, we set out on third Friday of March, the day after A completed her ninth grade exams.

Stay tuned to follow the details of the trip 😀