Monday, December 29, 2014

The Year that was - 2014 !

This has been an year of firsts. And the good news is, mostly positive !
I wanted to write this year end post last year, but new mommy hood kept me away from the blog. But this year :)

I think I entered this year cleaning a soiled bum and nurturing a wailing infant. At that time, I could have hardly imagined the kind of roller roaster this year was going to turn into. At one point when I was taking care of the little one alone during my maternity leave (as I was unable to find a full time maid), I was  quite proud of myself. Even though during the day, sometimes it led to frustrations as well. And then came the news of the husband travelling to onsite for a month. We were excited and anxious in equal measures. And then, I was literally all alone for a month with a 4- month old. And to top it, I had signed up for the A-Z blogging challenge before I got the news of onsite travel. So for that one month, I slogged the day with the little one, and wrote my blog post for the next day when she slept. I was and am so proud of finishing the challenge without any cheating :)

By this time, the husband 's stay in Germany got extended by 3 months. My maternity leave was already over. After a lot of negotiations, I was allowed to work from home for a month. Difficult days. The little one hardly slept at night. I worked during the day when she slept. Finally it was time for me to join office full time. I shifted to my parents' place. I drove a 100 kms to and from the office while my mother took care of the hyperactive little one. The stress of it all gives me jitters now. The weather unbearably hot, the traffic jams unending, work at office and a hyperactive toddler at home. In the meantime, I also started the process to get our papers in line so that both of us could visit the husband in Germany.

The story of how actually I got done everything alone, running around government offices all alone is  albeit a long one, and long overdue. I will definitely be sharing it in another blogpost. And then came our much awaited Euro trip. We traveled around Germany, Paris, Switzerland and Amsterdam. Needless to say, it kind of made up for all the past months of rigor.

This year also saw us celebrating little one's first festivals. She has brought so much joy in our lives...it's hard to express. The husband finally came back after 8 long months. I think this was also our first long separation after marriage. And that too when our baby was so tiny. We could have hardly ever imagined it.

And then, finally, came the little one's first birthday. Everyone in the family was so so excited about it. I have already written about it here. It was also our first party as hosts. And I am glad things went as planned. It makes me so happy even today, as this was the first time we contacted decorators, bakers and go everything customized. Thankfully, everything turned out to our taste as well

I think this is also the first time I have realized my own potential. Of taking things in my stride and doing them well. Of my strengths. Of my patience and love. This year, I am really proud of outdoing myself in every which way. And for the first time, I am not going to be modest about it.

I already told you, "this was an year of firsts"!! :)

The year end, although, has brought in a lot of introspection. Let's see where it takes me next year!
Adieus amigos until then. See you all on the other side. Keep up your awesomeness until then :)


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Birthday party continues.... :)

I had wanted to do something special for my daughter's birthday. Partly because it was her first, but also because I wanted to set a trend for her for the years to come. It is something that I really believe in. To spend her birthday with the girls at Udayan Care. But we also wanted to have a "normal" party, to invite friends and family to bless her and spend some good time together. I also wanted to make this party a no-gifts party. But I knew no one would adhere to it simply because I was asking it. So instead, we planned a birthday party for little S and requested all our guests to not bring any gifts for her, but instead for the girls at Udayan Care. That way, we would be saved from hoarding unnecessary gifts for S, and in turn, helping other kids get something they need!

But it didn't really go as planned. A majority of our guests gave us money since they could not decide what to bring for the girls. And so, we used that money to organize a birthday party for S with the Udayan girls and bought stuff that would be of use for them. We went to the Udayan care house this Sunday, met the girls and the super woman Kiran Modi ji who spearheads the entire thing. Little S was quite happy happy in the company of so many didis (elder sisters) and the girls too gave her all their attention.

I am really happy at the way both the parties happened. We met and entertained all our near and dear ones and little S got so many blessings. And most importantly, without hoarding on to things she didn't need. And at the second party, the kids were so happy to have the little one celebrate with them. And we were happy as well to share her birthday gifts with them.

Leaving you with a few pictures from both the parties :)

Little S enjoying with the girls :)

The cake cutting

A group photo with the lovely kids!

















The other birthday party :)
PS: In reality, I do not like to share my outings with any NGO on a public space as it seems too arrogant/immodest to me. But since for this birthday party, we had already told our guests about our plan of donating the gifts to the girls at Udayan, I felt like sharing this update with all of them through the blog.
And if this inspires you to do something similar, it would be the most precious "return gift" of this birthday party :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The party update!

And so, we cleared our first test as hosts with flying colors. The little one's party went off well without any hitch. It feels really nice to have planned the party, and all its smaller details like selecting the venue, menu, getting the cake designed, the decoration done and selecting a photographer, all within our budget. And all this amidst the normal routine of going to office, taking care of home and the little one, and having caught a bad viral infection myself.

The little one, as expected, had a blast on her birthday. She is quite a social bee and enjoyed all the attention she got from everyone present. She didn't mind the numerous photo ops or just about anyone picking her up and having a conversation. She obliged everyone with a smile and some of the smaller kids with a shout and shove too :-P Quite a badass she is that way ;-)

But, as of now, I won't be sharing any pictures here, or on FB, as S has caught a really bad infection just a day after the party. We have had to rush her to the doc last night at 1. Till date, I have not been much into this "nazar" thing and all....but now I think I have. I believe "usko nazar lag gyi hai". Go on and judge me if you like. But such a high fever, exactly after the party makes me think that way! And the pictures would mean more oohs and aahs. So let's wait for her to get well and then may be we can see my gorgeous precious :)


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Guest Post : Return of the Traveller

If you haven't read the first 2 parts; you can read them here and here.

I had precisely 2 months left to return to the motherland. Also, 2 days left for Oktober fest .What does one do? Yeah! Exactly my point! :)

Munich – I survived the Oktober fest  and lived to tell the tales of 1 liter beer mugs , roasted chicken plates, hurried waiters , dancing on tables, lines for entry in tents and empty pockets in the end .This one just got checked off from the bucket list.



Fussen - Neuschwanstein castle -  It is called fairy tale castle for a reason. Once I went there, I just nodded in affirmation . It is  awe inspiring, surrounded by a forest, waterfall and crystal clear blue lake. Heaven must look something like this.



Heidelberg -  Philosophenweg translated unto philosophers' walk . It is a steep hike of about 1 Km up the
mountain besides a flowing river and famous castle. It really tests your stamina .With the beer belly it was all the more tough. But I managed to conquer it and got the best landscape shots which I think I can sell for wallpapers. Yup...they are that good!



Black Forest-  I went to place which is famous for making cuckoo clocks - Neustadt Titisee.The clocks' prices start from 50 € and go up to as expensive as 1000$ . One of the craziest thing I did was to rent a cycle and drove into the black forest even as there was a mild drizzle. And I think this is the best way to discover nature if you are not time bound. I drove about 20 km inside out and had their famous alcoholic black forest pastry to end the day.



Barcelona – Hands down this beats all the beaches and sea food one can see or have in a lifetime. My
wonderful moments were the dip in the Mediterranean sea, and watching Barcelona soccer match which was completely coincidental.One of the local markets had huge crabs,lobster,sea urchins,eels, jumbo prawns and whatever lies beneath the sea! Terrifying experience to see but a wonderful one to eat them ;-)



Istanbul – It is  true that it is a melting pot of cultures . With sea, sand, majestic mosques, rich history and
bright markets covered with spices, earthen lamps, jewelry and baklavas (a Turkish sweet) this has to be a  special mention and a befitting end to my Euro trip.My favourite moments are actually more than one – a walk down the spice market , Topkapi palace tour , Hagia Sophia  and Medussa head . The food was very spicy like in India . Their local food is a must try. I had kokorech (pronounced as cockroach), which is nothing but a simple grilled meat sandwich. I also tried their Menemen (omlette cooked in onion gravy with breads).
TIP-exchange currency at spice market with best value and no commission.



Belgrade –  This was a stop over while returning to Germany from Istanbul. 10 hours was a decent time and so I visited the lesser known tourist destinations. It is one of the few countries which have their prime attractions open 24 hours and  have free entry. The first stop was Belgrade Fort . This is a huge fort with exhibitions and tanks, anti –aircraft guns, torpedos kept for display from WW-1 times. Plus it hosts a man made Jurassic park theme restaurant and kids play area. It boasts of a bohemian street – Skarlidkja . It has some overpriced restaurants but food generally tastes good even though different.



And with this, my seemingly never ending journey came to an end, and now seems like a beautiful dream.
8 countries - a total of 22 cities – pretty much sum up my Euro travel tales .Some good memories to live with – until we make the next one! :)

Thank you reading the posts . Signing off with lines from Robert frost – Miles to go before I sleep …..

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The 1 year waali feeling :)

Next week is my little one's first birthday. As easy as it sounds, it feels as unreal to me. On the outside, we are really excited and pepped up and arranging her first birthday party. But on the inside, I am just freaking out. If I may say so.

Just this time last year, we were impatiently waiting for "something to happen". Because I was already past my due date, even though  "It can happen anytime now" was what I was hearing since a month. And 1 year already to that day. And what a day it was. I have written about it here. But somehow since yesterday, I can almost feel an excitement building inside of me. Of the D-day approaching. As if something as earth shattering is going to happen again. It's not. And thank God for that! I have had an experience of labor and child birth once. And I think I am covered for life.

If you are fond of birth stories, read this one. It just reminded of all that I went through too. Minus the epidural and the c-section part ;-) I think I couldn't do as much justice to my labor story as this woman ;-)
I almost got the chills as I remembered my own time and the hours ticking away on the hospital clock during labor. But am so so glad all that amounted to something :)

This is her first milestone of the many many to come. I am excited and proud and happy and generally nervous. Of how time is just flying away. I look at her pictures when she was days old, and now. I just can't seem to place where the time went. And this I feel after having spent most of my year with her (during maternity and vacation)! Imagine what's going to happen now that I have resumed work and soon after, when she starts going to school!

Anyway, wish us luck for the party. Our first as parents :)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guest Post : The Two and a Half Travellers!

Continued from here....

Since my stay had been extended, I just relaxed for the first weeks. Also since the family was expected to visit me in a few months, I decided to save some money :P But! I didn't save all of it. I did visit a few places before the Ms. and Mrs. arrived. Talk about the wanderlust bug!

Duisberg,Wuppertal – hanging train ride in schwebebahn.  It is a beautiful ride over the river. Apart from the train ride, there is nothing much to see here. It is majorly a time kill.

Nuremberg-is mainly about forts. It has a central square and all international brands store that one can only window shop from. But I liked the forts as they made up a major chunk of the to-visit-places and was good with guided tour.


Erlangen – It is a small town near Nuremberg mainly famous for hosting mini Oktober fest in month of July. I  had to get acquainted before the real deal , so here I tried the famous 10% vol BEER :P


Mettman – It is small town an hour away from Dusseldorf .It is built on a
mountain and forest. Neanderthal museum was the highlight of this trip. Walk to the museum from metro station is WILD and unforgettable. It is almost 1 ½ KM among dense forest and directly opens to the entrance of the museum. Museum itself is a walk down the science class and shows history of man . 2 hours inside and I had existential crisis.The Neanderthals also had their own beer. But bad taste, don't buy it ;-)


Frankfurt - Senckenberg Museum – I am big fan of Jurassic park and this museum has a lot of prehistoric
era fossils of dinosaurs shown in the movie plus pretty bad ass stuff like fossils of fishes, reptiles,
animals and men. Big fan, bought a t-shirt as souvenir. And Frankfurt is famous for Applewine .A must try though I wouldn't recommend it much.


Rudeshiem/Geisenhiem - Vineyards. This region is famous for its wines. Since my client owns a wine
making machine, I got complete knowledge of wine making process ,different types of wine and also went to a local wine and cheese tasting festival. It also has round trip with walk into the forest mountain , coming down on on open chair lift and back to starting point from a cruise. The food was good and wine delicious on Drosselgasse lane. One of the less discovered places in Germany. Highly recommended.


And then my lovelies arrived and we planned our expeditions to rest of the Europe starting with Swisss.

Zurich – It definitely has to be Mt Titlis .With the little one tightly cupped in arms I climbed about 20
meters up and down in 2 feet deep snow. It was dangerous and daring – I was like SnowCrusher! But
when everybody else was trying to walk straight in the snow I did the complete round with my arms
full. I might sound arrogant but it is the craziest thing and I am proud of it. Coming to food, Swiss chocolates were to be found everywhere (no points for guessing that). I gorged on a full box of Macaroons from Luxemburgerli, one of their oldest confectioneries. And their local wine – Appenzeller is a delicacy worth tasting!

Paris – Louvre ! Louvre ! Louvre . I would like to spend a week looking at each and every painting, art, carved rocks , listening to a guide and gorging on the croissants and coffee. I spent only half a day but it
was mesmerizing .

Amsterdam (with family) – This was second visit to Amsterdam, the one with the family. Of it, I have everlasting memories of the Anne Frank house and Nemo science center. My daughter fell asleep while entering Anne Frank house and I covered the whole trip in about 2 hours carrying her in my arms. It was both emotionally and physically tiring. Nemo science center is so advanced that I felt like raising my child in that country which gives such good exposure and learning.

Berlin – Berlin has history unfolding in every corner of the city. You have to be with a guide to know and
appreciate it. It is for culture vultures. I liked The Berlin Zoo and specially feeding time for lions. We were
there at the perfect moment when a pair was fed with meat and they growled and scratched at it. They were just being defensive but we got our doubts cleared – Why they are called king of jungle.

And that’s how 45 days ended and 2 ½ travelers got richer or poorer however you want to take it.The week when my family was leaving was definitely making me home sick. And so I booked a trip which
would make me feel at home :P

 To be continued.....

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guest post : Fellowship of travelling!

I have missing in action for almost a month now. And I am not liking it AT ALL! There have been so many things to tell, half of my Euro tales still untold, and the exciting travel back home. But the office has been super hectic post vacation and combined with the festivals, it has left with no time to write.

So, the other day, I jokingly told the husband to ghost write my blog for me since I don't have the time to do it these days. Also, considering that he, being the travel junkie that he is, has been on a Euro trip for almost 7 months now, he has SO much to tell. And so he agreed to do a guest post for my blog. This is the first post of a three part series of the husband's Europe travel experience. He is as excited about seeing this in words as much as he's been on the trips :)
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I love the Quote from the movie “ UP(2009) ” which goes #Let the wilderness be explored , and I got a fair chance to apply this quote on my first onsite assignment . Modesty be damned,  I made sure no weekends got wasted in the comfy service apartment.

We all know how onsite assignments come our way. It is combination of being at right place at the right time and most importantly saying the right thing ! And voila, my company decided to send me to Germany , Dusseldorf in the month of April for strictly 30 days.

I landed in Dusseldorf on Saturday and so obviously, Sunday was wisely used ;) The nearest happening city is Koln(Cologne)- city from where EAU DE COLOGNE originated. I can go writing about my crazy experiences but I will keep it short to 1 special thing I liked about each of the destinations and may be about their food and beer.

Koln is all about Churches – they are magnificent and I have a lasting impression of all the churches I visited.It is also famous for Kolsch beer. I could tell it was different from the ones I had before . It had to be good. After all its coming from Germany, the land of beer! :P

Koln's oldest church....still under construction. Irony?


Amsterdam <Holland>– Heineken brewery experience – Being a beer fan I could relate to Darwin’s theory of origin. Food is about big French fries called Pommes Frites . In the chilly summer it was a perfect snack. I'd prefer to write about the (in)famous Amsterdam nightlife in an anonymous blog :-D

The Heinken brewery in Amsterdam!

Brussels <Belgium> Autoworld – Most comprehensive and live models of cars from 1800 . I could relate to most of models as I have played them in NFS and midtown madness video games. "When in Belgium, do the chocolate", and so that’s the first thing I had when I landed there - Chocolate waffle beside Mannekan Piss. That boy was pissing and I was gorging hot Belgium chocolate ;)

With THE cars!

Hamburg<Germany> - 1 hour ferry ride by Hamburg docking station. Amazing view of gigantic ships,city and sunset on far side of the river. 



Dusseldorf <Germany>– Visiting the Alstadt old town and Uerige brewery which over 150 years old .And ordering food by the Rhine river marks the day complete. Been staying in this city for 6 months now, and there is nothing much to do except have beer with locals and admire Germany’s weather and their perfection of trains, metro and clean roads. 

Snack served with the local beer- a piece of meat, loaf of bread, onion rings and spicy mustard sauce!

And that’s how a month got over - sweating it out in office 5 days and wandering endlessly on weekends. I returned to India with chocolates for colleagues and stories for family. My assignment got extended for next 3 months and I flew back to Germany again in May .This time determined to explore more than the natives have done. 

To be continued …..

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Swiss bliss - part 2!

Continued from here....

Mt. Titlis is one of the highest mountains of Switzerland. Permanent ice and snow all through the year. We reached the foot of the mountain after a breath taking beautiful view of the country side on the way to Lucerne. Our guide asked us to look up. The mountain was so high up, you couldn't even see the top. Yeah, we had to go there. First there is a cable car ride that covers a major part of the altitude. You can imagine the steep climb given the height we had to cover. The view as you ascend is like nothing you have ever seen before. I cannot express enough how beautiful everything was. Miles of greenery, snow laden mountains partially covered with clouds and the famed swiss cows quietly grazing. It also meant a lot of anxiety and fear for someone like me who has altitude phobia. I was torn between the desire to take in the view or to just keep my eyes closed and pretend nothing was happening :-P

see the angle of ascend here?


Isn't this view breath taking?

Once we could start seeing some of the peaks surrounding the mountain, we had to alight. The trip to the top of the mountain was even more interesting. A gondola that spins 360 degrees takes around 30 people to the top, at once. So as it ascends, it also spins so everyone can have a look around the mountain and its peaks and the snow. This one was even scarier and yet, incredulous. The top is blinding white. There is snow and clouds everywhere. That is one place you just can't do without your goggles. I fell down quite a few times going up and down the snow mounds. Even though it sounds funny now, at that time, I had my heart in my throat for the fear of just sliding down and going off the mountain edge. It was so cold at that height and I was also petrified for the little one. But she did well :)

Yes, the gondola has it written in Hindi, considering how much we Indians contribute to Swiss tourism :-P

Blinding white!

The husband was as usual his excited adventurous self. I fought with him and accused him of trying to kill me when he tried to take me to the other side of the mountain via the sky bridge. Now that bridge is the highest suspension bridge in Europe at a height of 10000 ft. And as soon as I would walk a little, he would start shaking the bridge vigorously. Imagine the plight of  an already petrified altitude phobic. Anyway, once we had a screaming match right there, we both decided to behave. We held hands and crossed the bridge. Don't even ask me how my legs were shaking with fear.

After all the adventure, we had some nice and very hot "hot chocolate" at the restaurant also located at 10000 ft. Trust me, it has never tasted better. The ride back to earth felt much less scary after the extreme weather and sights :)

We also visited the Rhine falls in Switzerland, which are actually the source of Rhine river that flows in Germany. Since it rained heavily that day, we couldn't stay at the falls for a very long time but it was beautiful as well.


Did you know that in all of the cities that we visited in Europe during the last one month, we came across the most number of Indians in Switzerland. No surprises there, yeah? I mean everywhere we went, we would find people - couples, families speaking in Hindi. And would you believe,at the foot of the mountain (Mt. Titlis), there is a chai ki shop, run by an Indian family who sell samosas and vada pavs and masala tea. You wouldn't believe the rush. Felt like mini India. And having hot samosas and masala tea after a freezing rendezvous was definitely the next best thing.

The little one also made a lot of friends during our visit to Mt. Titlis as she was the youngest child there. Some people even sent "looks" our way. Irresponsible parents waale! I don't blame them though. I had no idea the weather and surroundings would be so extreme. But she thoroughly enjoyed herself - laughing and waving to everyone. So many people took her pictures and posed with her and also promised us of sending us those. We are still waiting :\

I know this post is getting excruciatingly long but Swiss deseves that, trust me. Swiss chocolates were had at every oportunity we got. Melting in the mouth and oh-so-yummy! The only thing that pinched were the prices. Swiss is very expensive, even by European standards. The food, travel everything. But I guess, best deserves the best! Swiss lived up to eery bit the hype it is :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Swiss bliss - Part 1!

The Swiss is a dream destination for travelers. Especially Indians. Blame it on our movies showing the beautiful Swiss Alps in the background with the hero romancing a chiffon clad heroine in the front. Which one of us hasn't imagined ourselves in their shoes?

Our Swiss trip started soon after coming back from Paris. We were quite skeptical of traveling again, because of how the little one had completely refused to sit in her pram. We had been so tired of carrying her and her pram up and down the stairs all the time in Paris. Thankfully Swiss was way better in that regard. Only.

We had an early morning flight so that we could utilize a half day for sight seeing. So we boarded with the little one just having woken up. She decided to poop as soon as we had the seat belts on for the take off. And you would know that the use of lavatories is not allowed until the plane is safely in the air. So there. H and I sat with our noses crinkled up and just waiting for the damn plane to get in the air. Fast. But the runway was not clear. We waited a full 15 minutes before I ran with the little one for a diaper change. And no, the adventure didn't end there. While I laid her on the table, removed the soiled diaper and was beginning to take out a tissue to wipe her bottom, she decided it was completely OK to get her hands on the soiled diaper and fling it around. Don't ask me what happened next.

After reaching the hotel, we immediately set off for a city tour. On foot. We took a map which had the city metro and tram stations' directions with the must visit places marked out. Zurich is beautiful. There were beautiful old churches with clock towers and domes that touched the sky. The roads meandered into narrower by lanes and suddenly opened up into a vast road with the river flowing on two sides. The weather was just perfect. The little one still didn't cooperate with the pram, but we didn't mind. I think we had developed enough muscles in Paris :-P




The next day we decided to cover Mt. Titlis. We booked a guided tour since it involved traveling to Lucerne which is a good 1.5 hours away from Zurich and then the hike from the foot of the mountain to the top (10,000 ft)  is another journey altogether. The journey from Z├╝rich to Lucerne via the city outskirts has breathtaking views. You can literally see the mountains up so close. And you are already at high sea level, so the clouds are all over the mountain peaks. The sky is so clear and blue, covered with pristine white clouds, it is like a scenery out of a painting.



To be continued...


Monday, September 29, 2014

Travel that makes you richer !

So while we are on the topic of travel these days, which is a lot by the way, the husband and I have been doing a lot of research on the internet. Since euro is quite expensive against the rupee, travelling without proper planning might just burn our pockets through to the last thread. And so before we actually embark on a travel, chances are that, atleast 2 weeks prior, we have done a thorough research of the city, it's central station, hotels and bookings, distance of hotel from the central station and so on and so forth.

Here in Europe, the train fares are as competent as airfares. And they also keep changing (read increasing) as the travel dates near. So during our research we came across some discount schemes (only for german trains) that slashed our travel cost by as much as 100 euros, which is a lot. We also came across another website that had a lot of interesting deals. The good part is that the deals are available on national as well as international travel, covering flights, buses, cabs and hotels. There are a plethora of options like cash savings, discounts, cashback and reward points. If you are planning a travel soon, you must must check out Makemytrip coupons only at CupoNation first. You can also transfer a portion of your savings to me as a token of thanks ;-)

Since we discovered this website only during planning our last destination, we haven't used any of the coupons yet. But since I really liked the deals I saw the last time, I went back to travel deals at CupoNation and was pleased to discover that they provide such amazing deals not only for travel but also for almost every other thing you can think of! And the best part is, you don't really need to do anything to use their vouchers or promo codes. Just check out the deal that suits you the best and you are good to go :-) Sounds fun, right?


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Website review : Collegedunia !

Do you remember the chaotic time just before our college admissions? I am sure each one of us have lots of stories to tell about that time. There was not much information available online at that time. The only way to know about colleges and their cut offs was either word of mouth or a visit to the college or our newspapers. Everyday was a day of more anxiety and confusion. Would we get past the cut off? If we did, is the college really that good? What is their placement percentage? A ticking clock and tons of unanswered questions.

I recently came to know about this new website Collegedunia.  Pretty much like a education shopping mall. One stop centre for all your college queries. The website was launched last month and provides information of up to 15000 colleges and universities across India. They claim to take that number to 30000 by the end of this year. Good news for all college aspirants out there.



The website is pretty clean in navigation. On the top, you can see all the verticals they provide information about like Engineering, Medical, MBA, Law, Arts, Science etc. Once you select your vertical, you can see a list of all the hundreds of colleges catering to it. You can further boil down to your choice by selecting your preferred city, state and course Information from the left side menu. You can also click on the college to get a lot of details like courses offered, their duration, the fee structure, hostel facilities etc. Phew! I don't think you would have any questions that this website won't answer!

Collegedunia looks like a promising upcoming education portal for students and parents alike. You can also follow their blog for latest news on colleges and admission procedures. If you have something to say, do go to the college link and give out a review others can benefit from. If you have nothing to say and are impressed with this information, do share it on your social media. You won't know who you end up helping!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Antics!

The little one has become quite an entertainer these days. She has been naughty right from the beginning, but now with babbling words in the mouth and actions that she picks up and the crawling, she is a treat to watch. Even though at sometimes you can call certain actions gross too.

She likes to eat her vomit :-( I would have never believed this had I not seen her doing it. She was playing after lunch and suddenly vomitted a little of the food. Before I could reach her she had put her hands in the mess and had almost put those hands in her mouth. Ewwww. Don't even try and picture it. She has repeated this several times till date!

Also, she has become quite an attention seeker. The husband and I call her "chep" ( sticky in English). Coz every time we go out in the tram, she has to talk. Most of the times, there is some nice lady/guy who says Hi to her and then she says Hi and then they smile and laugh until one of us has to alight. But there have also been times when no one has looked at her or spoken to her. So randomly she looks around and starts staring at whoever catches her fancy. Then she will wave her little hand to say Hi and smile or laugh. Needless to say, any normal person will melt at such cute antics of a kid directed at them. Only we know she does it with everyone ;-) Quite a social bee she is abhi se.

And then there is the toilet story. She doesn't like Mommy, I.e. yours truly, to close the door when using the restroom. Initially she would run towards the restroom as soon as I opened the door. Then she resorted to crying after I went in. Then one day she sat outside the door and screamed at the top of her lungs. Also she kept me locked inside for a whole 10 minutes because she just wouldn't budge from the door and let me open it :-( So now, you can guess how the truce has been reached. Mummy either keeps the door open or takes her inside. Sigh :-(

The cutest of the lot is her love for our food. She always wants to eat what we eat. So most of the times I keep her food in my plate and make her believe ;-) But every time there is even a slight sound of a plastic bag, she drops everything and runs towards me. For her that sound means a bag of chips being opened or a candy being unwrapped. The urgency on her face when she comes running towards me is just priceless :-D
It also means that at 9.5 months, she has made her parents eat chips and candies like a thief :-)


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trip to Paris - part 2!

Continued from here..

Next morning, we had to visit the Eiffel as the next day we were flying back to Dusseldorf. The rain played spoiltsport again. It was raining by the time we left the hotel. When we reached,it was pouring. Since S wouldn't sit in the pram, H held her in one hand and an umbrella in the other. I pushed the pram around soaking in the rain (while also searching for someone selling a raincoat). No raincoat found, and reached the foot of the tower soaking wet. God finally had some mercy on us and the sun came around from behind the clouds.  And so, the mandatory Eiffel tower family pictures were taken. The trip to the summit needed tickets for which there was a long long queue. We decided to chuck the summit tour, and instead spent time sitting there, enjoying the magnificent view.

The Eiffel tower on a cloudy morning!
In the evening, we visited Sacre-coeur, also known as the Sacred Heart Basilica. It is a beautiful Roman Catholic Church built on the top of a hill. At the top, it gives a beautiful view of the city. You can climb up the stairs to the top or take a paid small cable car train. Of course, we took the train ride to the top. The church and the view from the top  was beautiful. The way to the Basilica compound is a small street that is like a climb to the hill. It is dotted with a lot of small and coffee shops and confectioners. We had some of the finest cookies there.

The sacred heart basilica :-)

Oh yes, and while going back to the airport, we took a taxi ;-)

Some points that stand out for me from this trip-

1) No lifts /platforms in the metro stations - not happening at all, considering it is such a big tourist destination and all.

2) I think Paris has more souvenir shops than people and the tourists combined. I mean, every little space in the city is covered by a shop or a guy selling Eiffel replicas. I got so sick of them during the 3 days that I didn't buy a single one.

Imitations! Imitations!
3) Some of the metro stations in the city even have people selling wares on the floor. Pretty much reminded me of Delhi ;-)

4) Paris has become more like a tossed salad. You will find fewer French people there,and more of immigrants from Afro Asian countries.

5) We had some of the best French crossiants there.

6) The old world architecture around the main city, with the river Seine flowing through, lends it a very old world look.  Pretty much feels like being in Disneyland with castles all around !



7) Paris, the Fashion Capital! Yes. Almost everyone on the street is carrying a Louis Vitton or Chanel or Fendi. Even if they are rip offs, you cannot really tell.

8) We saw a lot of the original "French kiss" ;-)

In all, Paris was an experience. Good or bad, I cannot decide. But something that I will always look back at and laugh about.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Trip to Paris - part 1

The trip to Paris started very uneventfully as we had an afternoon flight. So even though we got up late in the morning, we made it in time to the airport. But that was in no way suggestive of the eventful trip that was to happen.

We reached Paris on time and then began the adventure. The airport was huge and the little one refused to sit in the pram. We tried bribing her with her favorite toys, our beloved phones and as a last resort, to let her eat paper, an activity she enjoys the most! But she had her heart set on standing. So while I carried her, H pushed all our luggage and the empty pram around. After much walking and asking around for directions, we reached the metro station. Here was the surprise. Paris' metro stations only have stairs and some of them have escalators, albeit very narrow ones. No lifts or platforms for people in wheel chairs or kids in strollers. Since we didn't know this, we carried our super heavy pram over the stairs thinking that the next metro station might have one. We reached our hotel after changing, mind you, 4 mteros, going up and down their platforms with the pram and luggage and the little one in our arms. It took us one hour from Dusseldorf to Paris, and 2 hours from the airport to the hotel. Needless to say, we were dead tired by the time we reached our hotel.

Then, the room we had booked was not available and we were requested to make do in a smaller room just for the night. At that moment, all we wanted was a place to dump our luggage and the pram ;-) but we should have bargained better. The room was a matchbox. No baby cot. A small bed. We didn't have the energy to go down till the reception again. So we just crashed. Also crashed were our dreams of visiting the Eiffel tower that evening as the thought of taking the metro again was nothing short of a nightmare.

The next day, with renewed energy,we decided to hit Paris. And then came the rain. The first stop of the day was Mueseum Louvre. The architecture of the building is beautiful. Carvings and sculptures everywhere. The mueseum inside is HUGE. You cannot, by any means cover it in a day. The best way to enjoy it is to choose the galleries you think you'd enjoy and cover those. Art and time management don't go together :-P

Musee' De Louvre !

The next stop was the Notre Dame church. It was raining heavily by this time and we reached the church all drenched. I am not much into European history, but the church was beautiful. Please don't ask me who built it and why!

An inside view of the Notre Dame church!

 By the way, in the morning we had travelled by bus and intended to take the same route while going back. But. When we got out of the church, there was a procession going on due to which some streets had been closed. And so we kept walking andwalking ,trying to avoid those streets and reach our bus stand. After a really long walk,we reached our bus stand only to find out that the bus service had been suspended. Great! And so, we walked and walked again,mind you, with a diaper bag, a baby and the pram! We reached the metro station, changed 3 metros and reached the hotel. Phew! The good part of the evening was that our room was ready. It was bigger, had a cot and a king size bed. We crashed again!!

To be continued....

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Travelling with the baby!

The little one is quite an enthusiastic traveller. Now this comes as no surprise to our close ones who know our love for travel. I knew S had a penchant for the outdoors as she really enjoyed her evening outing to the park when she was in India. But that happened only once a day. So we were not quite sure how she would like it outdoors for whole days when we would be on vacation.

But this girl surpassed our expectations. She loved the days when we would be out the whole day. She wouldn't feel hungry or tired. We just kept feeding her at her mealtimes and changing the diapers when needed. She would be happy looking at her surroundings and soaking in the new world. She has also become quite a social bird here. She insists on talking to everyone in her sight range in her baby language. Most of the people are kind enough to indulge her. The ones who ignore are shouted at by her, which means they are forced to look at her and smile and talk to her. Quite an attention seeker she has become  :-D

Also, she insists on standing, and not sitting in her pram :-\ now who can drive a pram with a 9 month old standing ? She looks quite daring like aamir Khan in dhoom 3 ;-D
But that means we have had to carry her in our arms all day long. She could only be put down when she was sleeping. So all day long, one of us would carry her and the other person would push the empty pram around. That got us all the more tired than we should have been.

But in totality,she has been a great sport. A fitting addition to our travel happy feet. People love her all smiles and all happy nature and we have been congratulated for such a lovely baby at all the places we have visited. Quite proud a parent I sound, no? ;-)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

I am.not dead. Yet!

There was a time when I had a lot of time to write.  But then I didn't write enough because I was just lazy sometimes. Or didn't really have anything to say. Now that I have so much to say, there is never a free time. The little one is 9 months old. Yes, already!  Phew!  And she talks more, crawls all over the place, gets inside places she shouldn't and doesn't sleep as much as she should.  I had planned to write a good deal about my stay in Germany but all thanks to her, all I have done in the past fortnight is a single post :-(

Today I am foregoing my bath time as she is asleep right now and this is the only time I can get my act together.  Lol.  The last 15 days I have been here, we have visited a couple of places in and near dusselsorf (where we stay). But the highlight of the trip so far has been Paris and Switzerland. I plan to write detailed posts about the place and our experiences,  more so interesting because of the hyperactive little S :-)

Stay tuned!  And please pray for more sleep for her !! I want to come back and write before I forget the little details ;-)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

And.....arrived!

I have been away for a while.  That this post is being written from a quiet cafe by the Rhine river in Germany should explain that. Yes,  I have reached here finally.  I say finally because the journey quite followed Murphy's rule. If anything can go wrong,  it most probably will.  And so things did go wrong as much as they could.  I will write about it as soon as I have settled down a bit!

About the current scene! We are staying in a apartment just 100m away from the Rhine riverside in Dusseldorf. It's a small city and our neighbourhood is quite peaceful.  Today, almost a week after having arrived,  I have seen the sun. Needless to say, there are so many people out for the first time today :-)

The city is quiet and beautiful. The roads are lined with coffee shops and bars. There are trams and metro running everywhere.  One seriously can do without owning a vehicle here. And most importantly,  the roads are smooth and friendly for kids in strollers and people in wheelchairs.

So far I am loving the European summer, even though I could do with a little more sun :-)

The Rhine riverside! 


To be cont'd. ..

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things Children Teach Us!

We, as parents, think that it is us who teach the children the nuances of life. We go about reading parenting books while we are expecting and smugly think that we won’t be making any of the “mistakes” we think the other parents are making. In our heads, our child is the best behaved, well mannered, widely read and a delightful child. But just the first few days after childbirth makes sure we discard any such thoughts. The advertisements showing a cherubic infant happily suckling away and a mother who looks almost angelic are, well, just adverts. Real life is not like that.


Read more....

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dream Diary (continued)

I don't know if it's the heat that made me dream like that. Or the fact that now that I have a child, I have a soft corner for every mother-child duo that I encounter on the road. I watch them intently and try to fathom the kind of relationship they have. After all, living in the kind of dearth that they do, a frustrated mother with scanty means, and a child cranky of hunger, would not really make the lovey dovey relationship that we perceive every mother child relationship to be.

So I am walking down the road with a friend. I am talking to her while pushing the pram little S is in. We near a bend and I see two other people coming from the other side. Since the bend is quite narrow, I try to steer little S's pram into a corner so the people coming in from the opposite direction can pass. I am quite engrossed in talking and haven't even noticed these people. Suddenly I see that I cannot move the pram. So I try to maneuver it to move it along a different direction. Again, I am unable to do so. It is then that I stop blabbering whatever it is that I am trying to tell my friend and actually notice these people. There is a lady who is carrying a very young baby in her arms. Holding her hand is a little boy, aged not more than 5 years. They look haggard and very poor and probably they haven't eaten in many days. Suddenly the boy collapses on the road. I see his legs have turned blue up to his knees. In my mind (in the dream), it is due to dehydration (not sure if it's true). I throw a panicked look at his mother's face. She is about to cry. Before she can do that, she collapses too. Her sari is hitched up to the knees and her legs have the same bluish hue, like the boy. There is a rickshaw puller coming from behind them. I holler to him to come and help us take these people to a nearby hospital. But the rickshaw puller, without saying a word, turns the rickshaw around and moves away. I ask other people passing by, but they pass by as if they haven't heard my cries for help! I decide to take matters in my own hands. I try to push little S's pram forward so that I can run and call someone from my neighborhood for help. Again, the pram refuses to budge. It is then that I notice the little baby from the lady's hand lying on the road. (S)he is not moving nor crying. I freeze. My heart breaks into a million pieces.  I am still wondering what to do when.....

When little S started crying and woke me up. I was quite distressed on waking up to such a dream. To having to start my day on that note. Even though my mind asked me to cheer up as it was "just a dream", my heart told me it was someone's reality.  

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Practice What You Preach!

I don’t think there is anyone in this world who has not heard this from the parents – You don’t listen to us. You have bad manners, you have no etiquette etc. Also, somehow, others’ children are always better behaved and well-mannered than ours. We always tend to believe that it is the children who are the problem. That no matter how many times we tell them, they just don’t seem to learn. But wait. Have we ever heard of “practice what you preach”?





Read more.....

Friday, July 4, 2014

CarConnect - A one stop shop Car Mall !

Do you love cars?
Do you love technology?
Do you know that there is something that combines these two? Something I am sure you will love.

CarConnect

This is a website that literally "has it all"


Navigation is super easy. You can login through your Facebook account and make a profile.
Later, you have loads of information at your click to explore. You can find your virtual friends here who share your passion for cars. You have the luxury of sharing your experiences and reading about others'.

There are "Car News" and "New Launches" sections that I am sure, will ring a bell with all car enthusiasts. I can vouch for this as the husband is a car fanatic. He knows all the specifications of all the latest cars in the market. What better than a "one stop shop" to find this information?

Not only it comes in super handy when you are looking out for new cars to buy, but also when you are looking out for information on the already launched cars.

But the one feature that totally "seals it" for me is the "Compare Cars" section.

You can select any brand, and it's model and variants and compare it with any other car of another make. I tried this feature and it said the comaprison PDF would be mailed within 48 hours. I think, some instant information would be even better. What do you think?

I think CarConnect is a website that is nothing short of a Car Mall experience for people who have a passion for cars. It not only helps you to keep updated with the latest trends and news in the automobile industry, it will help you a great deal while you decide to buy a car. Not only you get all specification and features reviewed, you also get some "real" reviews and experiences to help you make a better decision. Do check it out!