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Friday, May 31, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt Day 5 - Spicy!

Today is D's birthday - she turned 8 :). We have a lot of family around, so spent most of the day outside, and really not feeling like writing too much right now.

In any case, the first thing that came to mind is the simplest thing for me to post :). This chilly that has started appearing on my plant that I originally thought to be scotch bonnet, but now seems to be a kandhari variety or related. Whatever it is, it's lovely :)

The theories have been white gandhari or "ari milagu"

Yes I don't know what I'll do with all of them :)
Till tomorrow and the next prompt then :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt Day 4 - Disaster

It's the end of a long day, and I was nearly about to give up on writing anything today.. but seeing the lovely posts of my fellow bloggers at the Marathon Bloggers group, and remembering how sweetly they have been dropping in here, egged me on a bit :).

Somehow the first thing that comes to mind on seeing this prompt was a certain birthday party of D's. Now I am this absolutely let's-leave-it-all-to-the-last-minute-and-see-how-that-works-out kind of person. Or rather I was, and this incident changed me a wee little bit (no major turnaround yet though ;)).

So the idea was to invite the kids from her school, so that she would have familiar faces around rather than a group of grown-ups that she didn't know, and a motley group of children just because they belong to aforesaid grown-ups ;). Bad idea in retrospect, as I didn't know most of the parents personally. I requested the school for the numbers (it was a close knit montessori place, so no issues there) and set about calling everyone - I think this was a few weeks in advance of the day. Most of them were polite, said of course they would make it and so on, and I naively took their word for it.

Day of birthday arrives, hubby requests I call and check/remind people, but I am blissfully in my bubble, and believe that people will land up just because they said so. Of course you know how this ends, other than my loving family, and a couple of the invitees, no one else arrived. The magician performed to a much reduced audience, and tons of food went waste/hopefully got donated.

Well, end result was - I am older, wiser, think a lot more about whom it makes sense to call, and make sure to reconfirm!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt Day 3 - Monday

With the school holidays coming to a close with this week, the word "Monday" can only bring next week and the first day of school to mind. Now I've always been a "hate to wake up in the morning" type of person. I remember my mom used to have a tough time with me with the habitual "2 more minutes" stretching to half an hour even!

The weird thing is, there has been no karma involved, at least where D is concerned. She's a dream to wake up in the mornings, needing a max 5-10 minutes to shake herself awake. It's still me who's the drowsy one, and the one to hit the Snooze button one too many times ;). So I'm still the one who moans and groans about Monday and about waking up early in the mornings. Oh I've enjoyed the holidays and the snoozes soo much!!

I also have a suspicious feeling that if S goes to the same school, that particular karma is definitely coming back to bite me, and I'll have quite a time of it. It's tough enough to get him ready for a 9 O'clock start!

Hmm.. not sure if I've addressed "Monday" or "Sleep" here but here it is ;).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt Day 2 - Thirst

I am a very literal person I am afraid, and once I saw the topic I have the issue of drinking water set in my head, and nothing else comes to mind so I'm going to lead with that :).

I wish it was enough to just drink as much water as how thirsty you feel. But Alas! That doesn't seem to be the case, as the recommendation for skin and health and digestion alike seems to be 2 litres or so. And I have this "sparrow" thirst that can be quenched with just a mouthful of water, which takes my total water intake for the day to about half a glass :P. I have tried various strategies, recommended by someone (mostly online of course :)) or the other. Here are some of them:

  • Heard a lot of stuff about drinking water first thing in the morning helping out the "system" a lot, and I thought it would be a good start to my water intake. Tried jeera water, warm water with honey and lime, just warm water or erm.. even just water but no habit sticks for a long enough time!!!
  • Put a series of rubberbands on a bottle of drinking water, and move them down every time you finish it. This way you'll know exactly how much you've been drinking. Worked for a few days, and then rubberbands went missing, schedule went haywire etc etc.
  • Use a "special" water bottle that you like and will remember to drink from - Yeah right, worked for about a day.
  • Keep a filled bottle of water next to where you are working (or on FB ;)) so that you can reach out and drink every 5-10 minutes and finish the bottle gradually. This has been the best strategy for me, now someone remind me to keep that bottle nearby!
All you wonderful water drinkers out there, how do you do it?! I know people who can glug down an entire bottle at one go (you know who you are!), but even trying to drink 2 glasses or half a bottle at one go makes me feel like I'm about to explode! Wish me luck for my next strategy ;)!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blog-a-Prompt Day 1 - Colours

As if one blog a week wasn't enough, we have taken up the blog-a-prompt week thanks to Monika ;). So here goes!

When I see the topic "Colours" the first subject that came up to me was my garden. The transition from being fascinated with flowering plants to becoming nearly completely a "kitchen" gardener came very quickly for me. I still love to see my flowers, but I get to see so many colours in my garden anyway, that I don't miss purely flowering plants all that much :). 

The vibrant yellows....
Cherry tomatoes
Zucchini flower

One of my all time favourite pics
The lovely reds and oranges...
Cherry tomatoes

Sometimes a pretty pink

The flower of the black guava
And Purples too!

Different types of brinjal/aubergine

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Final leg at Binsar - Holiday Part IV

After our 3 days at Corbett, it was time to head higher up the mountain ranges to the hill station of Binsar. We realized how many resorts Club M has all over the place, when we actually passed another of them at Naukuchiatal on the way to Binsar :).

D used to be the badly car sick one in the family, but on this trip I started off the trend! The roads took some getting used to, but the view all along was lovely. It took us about 6 hours for a distance of about 240 kms.

And then we reached our room in the resort that had these beautiful climbing roses growing near the door! The whole resort had a profusion of the prettiest flowers I have ever seen, lots of close ups in my FB albums, but here are a couple of them.

The rest of Day 1 was at the resort as usual, and after a restful night we made a late start to go see Zero Point. This was the highest point of the mountain, from where we might (and that was a big might) be able to see the snow clad peaks of the Himalayas in the distance. This was situated inside the Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary where there is also a rest house right at the peak that you can stay in. Without too much trouble, we reached close to the top where we had to park the cars and trek about 2 kms to reach Zero Point. Thankfully we knew about this and we were all in our shoes, else that would have been quite a terrain to walk on in anything else. The kids were pretty good with the walk, and we reached the top, only to find that the view was completely covered up with clouds!! I had been half expecting it, so we just sat in the peace of it all (we were the only ones there at that point), chatted along for some time, and then made our way back.

I had checked earlier about the sightseeing options and there were quite a few, but only on reaching there I realized that going somewhere 60 kms away from the resort was not quite the same as on roads that are on the plains. And also the locations such as the Paataal Bhubaneshwar temple which sounded interesting to me might not be as exciting for the kids, so it seemed unfair to subject them to the mountain roads. So we decided to make a quiet couple of days of it, only venturing upto Almora on Day 3 to check out their bazaar. The only interesting thing I saw was wool, which I picked up some of for my mom :). Anyway I was all shopped out from Delhi already ;).

One more day of uneventfulness and we were ready for the return journey. Just as I looked out for the tiger or lion in any safari I've been to, even when I know in my heart that it's an improbability, this time I looked out for the snow clad peaks. And imagine my excitement when I actually caught sight of them!!! The majesty couldn't be captured in a photo, which usually happens with natural scenes like this one, so though I clicked a few pics, the best picture will have to be in my memory (how corny!).

Back to Delhi for a day just to break the journey, when we actually managed to catch Iron Man 3 that had just released ;). And back to home sweet home by the Rajdhani once more.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Still at Corbett - Holiday Part III

And now it was time for that Canter Safari that was in a large 16-18 seater open vehicle.. we started off with a bit of hesitation as we were in the last row, and the seats and the state of the vehicle in general did not inspire confidence. Unfortunately our fears were confirmed and the next 6 hours were the most uncomfortable I have spent in recent times. I don't have any diagnosed back problems but have neck issues due to spondylitis, and I can't imagine what someone with an acute problem would feel like. Noisy vehicle, somewhat noisy (though not bad) co-travelers made it nearly impossible to come close to any animal except maybe the deer who were used to it all. 

I would definitely not recommend this for elderly travelers, there was a lady in the other vehicle who was finding it tough to even get in and off. Someone definitely needs to be held accountable for posting some health warnings here. It's just so easy to get away with stuff like this in India :(.

The male Chital is the one with antlers
Tailor bird nests if my memory serves me right

Desolate trees always seem to make for nice photos :)

Gharials sunning themselves, photo taken with super-zoom  as we were really far away

Large flocks of deer by the side of the water body
My back was feeling so stiff after this that I knew there was no way I could put up with a long drive to Binsar the next day(even in a comfortable Innova) if I didn't take some rest! So that's pretty much what we did :). All in all, with the absence of ever spotting any tigers or lions on all our holidays, and the discomfort caused by this one, we have decided that our next Jungle safari shall be a few years from now, and definitely in Africa ;).

While on the subject of the resort, I must mention that we have been blown away by the food in a couple of the Club Mahindra destinations, especially Coorg & Munnar. The Zest resort at Pondicherry also had an exceptional spread. At Corbett, our experience was that while the rates for the "Fun dining" that is offered only to members remains the same, the quality and spread of food definitely doesn't. Maybe the rates should also be based on what is actually available? Just a thought. On the positive side though, they do not charge for young children upto the age of 5, and though S has turned 5 and we told them that, they took one look at his size and courteously charged us only for D.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

At Corbett National Park - Summer Holiday Part II

So it was time for Leg 2 and we were going to spend that at Corbett National Park, at the Club Mahindra Resort located close to it at a place called Garjia. I had booked a cab from a company called Incredible Routes, whom I got to know of through (where else?) Facebook :). Kripi, who runs the company, was very polite and responsive to all my queries, and we struck a deal completely online, again a first for me. The very courteous driver along with his Toyota Innova were at our doorstep in the morning, and we were off. It took us close to 6 hours for the drive, along with a stop for breakfast. We made it a point to take it a bit slow, due to the kids having a bit of a history with car-sickness, and the bad roads at many points didn't make it any easier.

Our room was at the far end of the property, but the lovely view from the window made the walk worth it :). That is the Kosi river, which apparently has a lot more water in it after the rains.

As is usually the case with us, the rest of the day after a journey was spent relaxing at the room and the surrounding areas of the resort, to be fresh for an early morning safari the next day.

I had booked the safaris a month in advance, as this was recommended when we made our booking at the resort. There was a choice of a gypsy safari, something called a canter safari that was for a longer time and in a larger 16 seater vehicle (I got a warning about this from a cousin, but had already made my booking by then!), and an elephant safari. Now the last option was a big no-no for us as the elephant rides we have taken at various destinations have been no fun, not just in terms of comfort for us, but feeling very very bad for the poor elephant.

I should mention in advance, that this was our 3rd jungle/safari destination, and we knew that hoping to see an animal like a tiger or leopard was pretty futile, but did that make me hope any less? Of course not! Looking behind every bush, rock and clump of grass is what makes it interesting, isn't it :). Unfortunately the closest we got to the tiger were some pug-marks, which we were told were "fresh".

Hmmph.. that only made me search all the more and I finally found a stone that resembled a tiger ;).

On browsing through my photos, I find this eerie similarity to my pics from Kabini. Honestly in a few weeks, I think even I won't know which were taken where! Many instances of the 3 types of deer most commonly seen in Indian jungles - the Chital or spotted deer, the bigger sambhar and less common and very small barking deer. I think the most interesting event we saw that morning was a group of wild elephants drinking water from a watering hole. The news passes from one gypsy driver to another and I am sure every group that morning must have had a glimpse of these majestic creatures :).

The afternoon was spent visiting the local Garjia temple - we didn't actually go inside as there were these long snaking lines of people waiting to go in and then at the resort with such simple joys as the trampoline. Phew, seems like this travelogue is going to have more than 3 parts, rest of the Corbett leg coming up soon :).

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

At the Nation's Capital

As announced on the blog a few months back, our much awaited summer vacation has come and gone.. We had a whale of a time.. divided between Delhi and the beautiful state of Uttarakhand. First some reminiscing about part I at our nation's capital..

This year, we decided it was about time we ventured to the north of our country. In previous years, we have confined holidays to the south and nearby "drivable" places as the kids were too young. But with S turning 5 in March, seemed like a good time to be a bit more adventurous. I did have a fleeting thought whether to make a long drive of it, but considering we didn't know anyone along the route that we could stay with (except Hyderabad maybe) it didn't seem like a viable option. Since adventure was the theme, I also took the plunge and booked train tickets by the Rajdhani to give the kids the experience of a long train journey that is not something we ever seem to get around to. And we were off!

The food was decent, and I also had some home made chapathis from mom to supplement it so we survived ok. Did get a bit monotonous though, I could have done with a change to the standard paranthas they gave with every meal, and the similar looking chicken curry.

Our usual place of stay is a Club Mahindra resort(have to use up those weeks!), and the later part of the trip was planned around those. But in Delhi, I went out on a limb and booked a place completely based on online reviews on tripadvisor. Point 1 in their favour was that they were amazingly responsive online too, I just had to send them messages on Facebook to clarify any doubts before making my booking. And the feeling didn't change, everything was as expected and as mentioned on the site including photos of the room. Their value triple room is a great VFM option for a family of 4, and the bunk bed is fun for the kids too! Check out the bloomrooms page on tripadvisor and their webpage here.

One of the highlights of the time spent at Delhi was the great coincidence that a good friend stayed very close to the hotel, so our families were able to spend a lot of time together. We had a lovely time catching up, and the kids hit it off as well. It's really comforting to have a home environment when you're traveling with kids, and we took full advantage :).

Hmm.. as usual this is getting longer and longer and I haven't even mentioned sightseeing ;). We didn't do too much, spent an afternoon shopping at Lajpat Nagar where I went a bit crazy. Also explored going around a bit on the Metro which is a new experience for the kids. The main bit of sightseeing we put in was at the Jama Masjid and Red Fort, along with a quick lunch at the famous Paranthewali Gali at Chandni Chowk. Some photos on my photo blog already so just repeating one of them :).

And we were ready for the next leg. To continue in Part II :)