Category: Visiting Places

Love Affair

The first time we were planning a beach vacation Bhaiya and A said they would join in as well. For convenience of lounging around, talking late in to the night and feeling a home, all of us decided renting a condo made much more sense than taking individual rooms in a hotel. Since the cost would be split two ways we also agreed it made more sense to pay a little extra but stay on the beach. We looked for ocean front condos only. First step in to our condo all those years back and I was in love.

Closing your eyes as the sounds of the waves lull you to sleep, the cool ocean breeze soothing you, waking up to the peace and quiet, leaving first footprints of the day on the sand – LOVE!

The one time we stayed in a resort, the crowd, the beach lined with recliners and umbrellas, the distance from room to the beach – all things considered it was not my idea of a beach vacation.

This time around we booked a ground floor condo. The kids had to walk the patio, grass and sand to get to the water. The look on their faces – priceless! With almost no one around, they ran along playing with boogey boards, collecting flowers and leaves from the garden, collecting stones and shells from the sand, swimming in the water looking for fishes, making sand castles, coves and dams.


Endless games and they would step home the minute they were tired. There was food cooked per their taste, there were naps when they were sleepy, there were very few long rides in the car. It was all about staying put and having fun.

We added another snorkeler to our family and she could not have enough. Buzz and D would head out to the ocean every morning with smiles and come back excited about some fish they saw.


Bugz, our little stickler for order and cleanliness, did not like having her feet dirty. She decided very quickly that the grass and the water were for her but the sand was not. Which meant someone had to ferry her around on the sandy parts, till she saw the rest of us having fun making sandcastles and would forget all about the dirt and join in.

D, got to snorkel to his heart content. He was happy with the fishes he saw, excited about the blue, green, pink, white corals but that he came across a giant turtle on our last evening there was the highlight of his trip.

As for me, I had my early morning runs on the beach, I had my time playing with the kids in the water and in the yard, I had my snorkeling trip, I had my sunsets, I had my perfect relaxing vacation!


As we left the airport, I looked down at this view. It is breathtaking and I am glad we got our little peace of paradise in the paradise islands.


As I told D “My love affair continues!”

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

“Let’s go skiing on Saturday,” he said.
“I am done for the season,” she said.
“We will have fun! Come on,” he said.
“The day trip tires me out completely and I need some rest,” she said.

Back and forth, they went and a compromise was made. Weekend trip to the mountains, a place to stay the night, no TV, no internet.



“Mandola! Me go mandola pe!”
“Gondola baby, Gondola!”
“Noooooo, madola!”


The look in their eyes, the smile on their face, the bounce in their steps as they enter the Gondola, the chant of “Mandola..Mandola..Mandola!” which of course resulted in me singing the song and the two every excited kids asking their questions:

“What is Matru?”
“and Bijlee?”

Mandola, needs no explanation!


The Gondola climbed up at a steady pace and Buzz finally looked around and saw the slope. Her face dropped immediately

“This is a big cliff. I will fall coming down.”
“We will come down an easier slope,” D told her with a smile.


While Buzz and D did their trips up and down the mountain, Bugz and I build snow castle and snow car and snow bus and snowman, all while I took in the view and iced …errr snowed my backside (which I hurt in a fall down the stairs that morning)


The evening was spend fighting over a place to sleep

“I want to sleep on the high bed,” she said.
“It does not have a protection bar, you will fall!” they said.
“I will not! I want to sleep up there,” she stubbornly repeated.

“Me sleep on baby bed,” she said.
“Yeah ‘me’ can sleep on baby bed,” they said.


Finally Buzz did sleep on the top bunk of the bunk bed while we stuffed pillows around her.

Bugz, who wanted to sleep on the trundle bed was forced to sleep on the lower bunk of the bunk bed. And the trundle was left outside to catch either of them, if they fell.


Somewhere in the middle of night, I woke up with a *puduk*. I looked up to see Bugz on the trundle but continuing to sleep. I poked D and he switched her back to the bunk bed.

Next was some *bump*.
“I did not fall, I did not fall! I jumped because I wanted to go to the restroom,” Buzz kept repeating as she ran off.


Morning came with breakfast of eggs and pancakes and it was back up the Mandola. Back to singing, back to skiing, back to playing with snow and back to the amazing view.




All the world’s a stage

Act 1:

Buzz and I were having a conversation as we waited at the airport to board our flight here. An old Indian lady commented on how well Buzz spoke Hindi. Buzz has to chime in of course,

I know English, Hindi, Spanish and Chinese.

‘Chinese?’, we both exclaimed at the same time.

Buzz went on to say a couple of words in Chinese to prove her language powers.

She has a few kids who speak the language in her class and has picked up a handful of words from them.

Act 2:

We were at Delhi airport waiting for our flight out. There was an Air India plane standing at the terminal we had to board our flight from. When boarding started Buzz wanted to board as well but we told her we were flying another airline and we had to wait for the Air India airplane to fly off and ours to come before we could board.

Why are we not flying Air India, Mumma?
It does not go to the city where we have to go?
The pilot does not know the way to our city?
No, only our pilot knows how to get to our city.
Which city can this pilot fly to?
London (it was a flight to London)

Act 3:

Buzz’s class got introduced to the concept of Maps. They looked at the world map and the country map. Their homework for the month was to mark on a map all the places they had visited and may want to visit. I printed a world map and a country map, sat Buzz down and we marked the placed Buzz had visited, starting from the latest thinking it would be easier for her to remember. We were half way done when Buzz was done. With so many other interesting things that go on in her life, sitting still for homework was a bit much. Any future attempts for moving forward with the homework were rejected for the rest of the week so that is how the homework was submitted.

One evening a week or so after the homework was submitted, during pickup from school, Buzz was mad at me. I asked her what was wrong.

We had to mark places we want to visit on the map too. I did not mark those.

Aah! so she had presented her homework in front of the class and was mad.

Which place did you want to visit?
China and London.

Act 4:

Which airline goes to China, Mumma?
err..Air China maybe (praying there is an air carrier by that name)
Which one goes to London?
I don’t know.
Air India, Mumma, Air India!
Oh yeah, from India Air India goes to London.
When can we go to London, Mumma?
I don’t know, during our vacation?
You always say that! You never take me to China and London!

Closing Monolog:

London and China you will be the end of me. Need to find ways to get to you two sooner than later. Or pray real hard that she gets over her visit places phase.

On this world’s stage we travel on!

Through their eyes

– In the land of straight straight haired people, Bugz with her head full of ringlets that fall in every which direction was an instant celebrity. #WhyIsMaaTryingToFindWaysToTameTheMess#

– Bugz, who has ordained that Maa is the only one who can pick her up and that her feet shall never touch the ground (two of which combined means Maa’s back and shoulder are giving away completely), let go of the first part and was seen getting her pictures clicked with the hordes that lined up for the honor. #WhereAreThesePeopleWhenMaaNeedABreak# #NightmaresOfParanoidMaa#

– In the land of super well-dressed people with designer clothes and immaculate makeup, Buzz turned to me and asked, ‘Unhoin ne apne eyes pe pain kyoin kiya hei, Mumma?’ (Why have they put paint on their eyes, Mumma?) #ThisIsWhatHappensWhenMaaDoesNotOwnSoCalledPaint#

– Buzz, who would be quite a fashionista if not for evil Maa, looked at women in 4+ inch heels on the airplane and asked, ‘Aap ne to kahaa tha plane mein party shoes nahien pehan sakte!’ (You said we can’t wear our party shoes in the airplane!) *insert accusing look* #SoMuchForTryingToKeepHerComfortable#

– In the land of bright sun, water, sand, not a cloud in the sky, Bugz refused to stop crying and get off the floor to step outdoors till she had her bulky jacket on. #PerksOfKidsGrowingUpInColdPlaces#

– Buzz, who was every ready to step out with her sand toys, played endlessly in the sand but was seen screaming and running away the minute she spied a wave coming her way. She stepped in the water on her own on the very last day. #BeachIsForTheSandNotWaterYouDodo# #ThereIsASwimmingPoolForThat#

– In the land of fresh juices galore, Buzz figured out real quick that asking for juice was OK every time we went out for a meal. ‘Aaj kon sa juice peyenge Mumma?’ (Which juice will we have today, Mumma?), she would asked as soon as we were seated. #DeprivedKids# #EvilMom#

– Bugz, the smart one, fought for every straw on the table. #WhoNeedFoodOrDrinksWhenYouHaveStrawsToChewOn#

– In the land where communication was very difficult because of language issues, Bugz made herself understood completely using her expanded vocabulary of ‘enh’, ‘aaeesht’, ‘duttttsss’ and pointing her fingers. #SeeSheGetsOnJustFineWithoutWords#

– Buzz figured out food options in grocery stores while Maa and Paa struggled with their inability to read food labels. #WhereDidWeLoseOurAssociationOnSightAndStartRelyingSoHeavilyOnWhatWeRead#

From the first part of (not so) recent trip

Packing for a trip – Tips

As learned after looking at pictures from the recent trip:

When visiting a cold place, worry only about outerwear and take at least a few different variety of – scarfs, coats, hats, gloves. Does not matter if you have to wash and wear the same T-shirt every single day because it WILL NEVER BE SEEN. And if you are dumb like me and take only one coat and scarf along because you fill the suitcase with random things like diapers, multiple change of clothes for the kids, food for the kids, various medicines (just in case) then don’t pout when all your pictures come out looking the same. What else do you expect with same coat and scarf.


Of Airports

We were sitting in the McDonald’s at Frankfurt airport. Not because of the food but because one complete wall of it was glass and faced the runway. Airplanes taking off and landing was the only thing that was keeping Buzz entertained during the 5+ hour transit time.

Suddenly D pointed out,

Look at that, even their luggage carrying trailers are Mercedes.

Sure enough every single ground control vehicle was a Merc. Now in my mind Mercedes is one of the ultimate in high-end luxury cars and to see grease covered trucks and dirty trailers at the airport from that brand was a shock to begin with. D probably felt the same way which is why he pointed it out. After we got over the shock, overload of Merc at Frankfurt airport made sense of course. German company vehicles used at the Germany International Airport.

After which the talk moved on to making guesses on what vehicle manufacturer some of the other countries used. Having never paid any attention to them anywhere before we guessed it was probably Ford in the US and Toyota in Japan. India – Maruti?

Can anyone guess or remember what India uses?

We landed in India and the answer was in front of us. And to be honest, I loved it over any other country. In India we use ‘Mahindra and Mahindra’ bright red tractors. I could not stop the grin on my face when I first saw them. To my mind if was just so perfect, so India.

Have you noticed the make of ground transport used at any of the international airports, if so please share so that we all know a little bit more.

On a side note: Have you seen the Delhi (Indira Gandhi) International Airport? If yes, is it not just amazing. If not, you should. You so should. It hands down has to be the best airport I have ever been to. So what if a milkshake there costs Rs. 700 (no kidding, it was a Häagen-Dazs shop) and I just can’t get myself to spend that much money on a milkshake, the airport is out of this world. Loved it.

Trip report

  • Talks about doing something together one late evening after dinner with friends.
  • Email confirmation on who all would join.
  • Two amazing women search, call, repeat to find a place to accommodate everyone.
  • Hope given up, owing to lack of place to stay.
  • One place found.
  • Let the planning begin.
  • While the guys sorted out drinks and things to do, the women got down to the most important thing.. ‘What to eat’.
  • Endless emails.
  • 15 adults, 7 kids, 6 cars, 4 hours road trip, 3 houses close by, 1 house designated the central meeting place.
  • Grill cleaned and manned to produce grilled – corn, burgers, pineapple, chicken, paneer, onions, bell pepper.
  • Sitting in front of the bonfire late into the night playing antakshari with gems like ‘Nain ladjayehe’.
  • Marshmallow samores for company.
  • Breakfast of eggs, pancake, hash brown, bread, cereal, poha, cut fruits.
  • Packed lunch of cold sandwiches with different kinds of spreads (pesto, mayo, butter, roasted garlic, chocolate peanut, green chutney), cheese (cheddar, american, pepper jack, fresh mozzarella) , bread (white, 8 grain, baggette), veggies (tomatoes, onions, basil), phel puri mix to be made on location.
  • Dinner of chicken biryani, veg pullao, dahi wada, papdi chat, pineapple + suji halwa.
  • Fireworks of all shapes and sizes.
  • Ending the trip with breakfast of potato sandwiches, waffles, fruits and anything and everything leftover.
  • Trips to snow covered mountains.
  • Hiking in the snow
  • Kids snow sledging their way up and down a small slope with parents for company
  •  Impromptu stops at lakes to sit, talk and relax
  • 3 days of not knowing where your kids were.
  • Bigger kids taking care of younger ones.
  • All adults keeping a general eye on all the little people.
  • Buzz becoming a tail of a 8 year old didi.
  • Didi’s little sister and Buzz arguing over didi where ‘My didi’, ‘No my didi’ were heard about 100 times a day.
  • ‘This one cries anytime she is hit’ (as in even lightly touched) heard from the mouth of a 6 year old. Buzz sweetheart, very true that.
  • Buzz just as she is about to sleep, ‘Star, mere tim tim star?’, as she remembers the glow stars glued to the ceiling of her room.
  • Kids laughing out loud while watching Mickey Mouse on VCR while Buzz, the lone ranger, hording all the colors and scribbling non-stop on a paper, carpet, her t-shirt, hands, mouth.
  • No cable TV, cell phone reception, internet connection.
  • Good friends, drool worthy food, calm of the woods, gorgeous vistas, happy kids, laughs all around.
  • Perfect!

Sun + Water + Relax = Vacation

As we work on getting all the sand out of our hair a quick look at the wonderful vacation that was:

Day 1: D and Comfy  are all smiles for how good Buzz was during the 6 hours ail-pain (now upgraded from a-pain) ride and are looking forward to the warm sun soaked days after all the cold and rain and snow, land at the destination. Buzz less than an hour in to the grand vacation: ‘Aaaa Daaann Sun, no Sun’.
After dealing with car rental and grocery shopping they get to the condo to find that the patio opens to a cove of a secluded beach. And just as they look on the sky turns brilliant red with the setting sun.

Day 2: Super excited about the almost private beach D and Comfy walk out the patio and on to the sand and towards the ocean holding Buzz’s hand. Buzz: ‘No Paani..Mumma no paani’

Day 3: D gives Comfy a kiss as he gets ready to head out for his jump from a plane. Buzz who watches the exchange pouts her lips for a kiss as well. Never faced with any of this, a perplexed D gives her a kiss on her cheek. The pout stays in place. He then gives her a kiss on her nose which she deems is all right and smiles big and says ‘Bye Bye Papa’.
D and Comfy think it is time for l’il Buzz to don her swimming costume and lap up the waves. The costume part goes of well and Buzz is all excited. The lap up the wave part not so much, ending with Comfy having to wash the costume ASAP.

Day 4: Sees Comfy going in to the water, snorkeling mask and fins in place, for the first time during the vacation, while Buzz watches on, only to have Buzz cry out ‘No Mumma, no paani’ the minute she takes the first plunge. With the crescendo of the cry rising with every second she spends in water, snorkeling is given a miss.

Day 5: D is out snorkeling longer than usual. Buzz goes as close to the water as she thinks is safe every few minutes and screams ‘Aajaao Papa. Aaaa Daaann’. When D finally comes out he is grinning ear to ear. ‘I found a turtle and swam with it back and forth. I even saw him fart. There were a lot of bubbles’ Comfy is told.

Day 6: Comfy family head out for a trip to see a little more of the island. D makes a game out of kicking the water every time a wave comes and Buzz joins in. The one and only time she goes in to the water of her free will.
Comfy finally gets to snorkel in this place with shallow shallow water as D holds Buzz up and walks in the water showing Buzz where Maa is at all times.
The day ends with Buzz chanting ‘Phasta’ as the family makes their way back home only to fall asleep before getting there. D and Comfy make and eat the said ‘Phasta’.

Day 7: Is about heading out of the condo and in to the main town for a couple of days of real touristy part of the vacation. And about watching the ocean and it’s waves, sunset and it’s colors, the main beach and all the people there from their 19th floor hotel balcony.
Oh and uber spicy but amazing Thai food.

Day 8: D heads out for Surfing lessons and catches waves after waves or so Comfy is told, while Comfy hits shopping stalls with Buzz for company. An oyster pearl pendent, a silver turtle pendant, four bookmarks, a Hawaiian dress and 3 T-shirts for Buzz are bought is less than an hour.

Day 9: Comfy and Buzz sit and watch D try and catch some waves on his own with marginal success before it is time to pack up and head back home.

Days spend relaxing in the sand with Buzz pulling her sand toys basket to the beach shouting ‘Outside’ every time she wanted to go out and ‘Aaaa Daaann’ every time she had had enough of the sun which happened every 20 or so mins. Candle light dinner for two to the sound of waves crashing on the sand after the little hurricane was put to bed. A perfect vacation 🙂 🙂

Tataie watching

One of the first words Buzz said besides the customary Maa, Paa was Tataie. Since the first time she saw a picture of a butterfly in one of her books she has been fascinating. From all the pictures on a page, tataie is the first thing that she points to. And tataie is what she points to every other minute.

We got to know about a ‘Tropical Butterfly House’ exhibit from some friends. Promptly plans were made to visit. We could not wait to see how Buzz reacted to seeing real, vibrant, flying tataies.

Fighting traffic, struggling with parking, we got there. We stepped in to a small, dark room with doors on both sides and smell of tropical flowers strong. All of it made Buzz really uncomfortable and had her scrambling to be picked up. With D holding her we stepped through the next set of doors in to the Butterfly house. He walked to a red and black butterfly, talking to Buzz all the time. The minute it registered what she was looking at, she wanted down. There was no stopping her. She clapped, she ran, she laughed, she pointed, she chanted

‘Hi Tataie’..’Bye Tataie’.

I was on camera duty while D followed Buzz around. There was this beautiful Blue/Grey butterfly that I was trying to capture, when I saw a wing flutter from the corner of my eye. My right arm became the landing spot for one beautiful butterfly. All excited, I headed to where D and Buzz where. While D took the camera from my hand to take pictures, I bend down to let Buzz have a better view of the butterfly.

No tataie. Aaaa Daaaa

Demand to be held, crying for the tataie to go away followed. That was it. She wanted out of there with her Maa all to herself, much to her parent’s amusement.

The visit to Tataie house has been a while, but she still points to my arm every now and then, when talks of tataie come up. A fun day with beautiful, delicate, patterned, colored butterflies. 

Travel Thrusday – Golden Gate Bridge

A nice, clear, warm, blue sky, not a cloud in sight day. We make our way to the Golden Gate bridge. Drive over it and park at the viewing area on the other side.

Then starts the wait and tactic of finding a parking spot and actually muscling the car in the parking space before anyone else can. By the time we accomplish the feat and step out of the car we see clouds literally pouring in from the small hill above.

A mad dash to take a good look at the Golden Gate before the clouds obstruct the view completely, only to figure out this is the famous SFO fog we are looking at. Which seems to be coming in waves. One wave each for the two towers of the bridge.

A windy, huddle inside your jacket, walk on the bridge. The tower looks amazing covered up by the fog.

As you step up to the tower, fog in sight. The tower stands tall, impressing the hell out of everyone.

Turn around time. Fog is still on the little hill but nowhere else.

Back to the car. No fog to be seen. Only the impressive Golden Gate bridge in all its bright red glory.