Let me be ME

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Jani Dushman: Sibling Rivalry

Whosoever said that having one child makes you a parent and having two you are a referee, was so correct.

Mommy, he is staring at me
Mommy, he is saying bad words to me
Mommy, he has taken my pen
Mommy, he is very selfish
Mommy, he is a dumbhead
Mommy, he thinks he knows everything
And it goes on!

The house is no more a lovely and peaceful place: fistfights, power play, teasing, bullying, nasty words, provoking, and then the blame game.
No matter how hard I try, I am always bad. The comments, “you favor big bro more than me,” or “he is young so no one will say anything to him” come dashing each time.
I am the youngest sibling of two elder brothers, and I’ve been tried and tested of all WWF moves, so it’s fun to watch a bit of my childhood but, it isn’t delightful, especially when heavens break loose at bedtime.
I completely disown them and even their sight is a sore to the eyes.
At times I wonder that I gave birth to two enemies who have come to this world to fight their animosity with each other than two loving siblings.

Abhi trying to push away Sid

Sibling rivalry is a natural behavior, and we, as parents, have to bear the brunt of it regularly. One child will always blame for favoring the other one.
Can we say that our right arm is better than the left or vice versa? But children don’t understand this, and at times more than anyone else, people around make us feel guilty.
Every child is different, and every family is different. Parents know the best how to handle their children. We may be wrong at times, but we are also graduating as parents and have our own set of learnings.
Sibling rivalry at one point is healthy, but when not appropriately addressed can lead to extreme results like hatred or jealously.

Sharing a few tactics which I adopt and keep tweaking them constantly, see what suits you the best:

Praise tactfully
The child who is doing well, be it in academics or extra curriculum, will surely crave praising be it in the social circle or from the family. It is also advisable to appreciate to build up the confidence and trust in your child. But you have to define your limits here. Like, “darling, your paintings are commendable, and we are very proud of you, but I was also wondering that why don’t we start with our evenings walks regularly?” (or any new habit which you think will benefit your child)
you are also allowed to ignore the accomplishments once in a while.
When the child points out that, “mom, you don’t even appreciate my work.”
You have to reply with a smile and hug, “dear, I definitely do, but if you are seeking appreciation each time, then I am not game. I want you to do stuff for your happiness and not to gain recognition. You are my child; I believe in your capabilities.”

Here it is crucial to involve the other sibling in all these conversations and give him/her constant attention.

Set boundaries (I fail here -majorly)

My boys get too much into a fist fight, throw, drag, punch mode. Many times it takes a nasty turn. They also get into the teasing-to-a-limit phase, where the other one gets wild and then becomes uncontrollable. Here I have to set boundaries not to use hands and legs to talk, or if the other person is not liking, then the tussle has to stop or total ban on the usage of few words.
Children need to be reminded continuously that one has to respect other persons tolerance limits. They forget it, miss it, do not register it, but they’ll remember it subconsciously(I can only remain hopeful-pun intended)

Do not get involved
When children fight, let them. Like I always tell me, boys, fight until the blood oozes, or if they start any argument in a public place, I suggest to “fight like hooligans, roll on the floor and get into a punch-me-hard game it’s much fun to watch then.”
If they come to you to sort the issue, then you must have a simple answer, “I didn’t ask you to start the fight, then why should I resolve”.
Be ready to hear harsh things after this.

Expectations vs reality
everyone loves a high performing, well mannered and above all a pleasing child. But each child is different, so if the other child doesn’t fit into what-the-society-demands, then be it. We expect both children to be cordial and work in unison, but the reality is different, accept it, and respect your child’s individuality. It would help if you corrected him/her subtly for the unruly behavior in the best possible way your child will understand.

respect your child’s individuality
Doing crazy things together is important

Lets-be-together-time
Involve children into a common activity which they like or as a family. Here I do not mean watching a movie or a seven-star holiday. An activity that involves conversation motivates each other and has lots of laughter. Go for short walks, cycle ride, play a game, go hiking on trails, do wall painting, activities that involve body movement.

There are several sub-tactics as well, which we keep trying and testing. We all want to raise happy children, and if we have to do that, then the base criterion is that we as parents should be happy first and emote that joy and happiness on our children.

लड़ते झगड़ते कब यूँ ही बड़े हो गये

पता ही नहीं कब बड़े हो गये

अब लगता है वो झगड़ना ही अच्छा था

रो लेते ,मार पीट कर लेते

फिर भी कोइ बुरा नहीं मानता था

भाई चिड़ाहकर और माँ प्यार से मना ही लेती थी

बचपन के वो झगड़ते ही अच्छे थे

रूठना मनाना हंसना रोना बस चलता रहता था

Happy parenting and chin up referees .
Boom bang…there is a battle on yet again.

Vietnam: Coffee and beyond

I was searching for a cycling trip, and as ever, my focus was on my favorite destination, Europe. But by the time I decided and finally made up my mind, it was already winters, and Europe was ruled out.

The extensive search began again for the best countries to travel in December. None other than south-east Asian countries reflected in my search.

My cycling friends suggested doing Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam.

And I was back in my exhaustive search. 

I was mailing to cycling touring companies, getting the best tour deals, searching for best deals on flights, AirBnB options, checking on reviews, bike hire, planning an itinerary. Phew! I was exhausted.

But finally, the plan was laid we were set of our trip, cycling in Vietnam

Excited as we board the flight

Day 1

With fewer flight options, we took a flight to Hanoi via Kolkata from Mumbai.

No one knew what was in store. Not even me, even though I had planned for the entire trip.

We reached Hanoi in the eve, and after a little glitch in coordinating with the pickup guy(as language was an issue), we were heading towards our stay.

We reached the small bylane, and our host leads us to our apartment.

With our host Thang

All the hotels and buildings in and around our stay were more vertical than horizontal, same as Hongkong. Our apartment had two rooms on each floor with three stories and a swirled staircase. We all captured one place each, luxury of staying in a condo than a hotel.

After a quick freshening up, we were out in search of food and beer. As we were walking around the street, we realized that we were staying in the central city, and we had lots of eating and drinking options.

The cosy Czech Bar
Happiness is BEER

We spotted a Czech bar and headed straight in without wasting much time.

Day 2

According to figures by the Ministry of Transport, there are 45 million registered motorcycles. For a country with a population of 96 million, that’s close to one bike for every two people. Hence our guide,Tom suggested we move out of the town and then start the ride.

All set for the ride

We reached our ride venue, assembled and checked our bikes, and were all set. The weather was terrific, and we traversed through beautiful small villages, rough patches, dirt roads, canopied trails, and places where you’ll not find tourists. We loved it. It was just our group that was riding on those beautiful trails.

We crossed Nin Bingh, did not go for the caves ride because it takes three hours for the tour, and we were running short on time. The ride around the mountains was breath-taking: beautiful, serene, and no traffic. 

Nin Bingh
All geared up

We carefully saw the banana and pineapple plantation.

Pineapple plantation

After a great riding day, we packed our bikes and cushioned ourselves in the van to ride back.

Day 3

We were up early and about for another riding day. Today we were to start our ride from the city and then move to the outskirts. While crossing the road, our guide was pretty impressed by our ability to crisscross the streets, after all, Mumbai traffic has taught us all!

We picked up the bikes from the cycle store and started our ride. We rode past the narrowest bridge I have ever seen, explicitly meant for two-wheelers. It rumbled, shook, and rattled as if it’ll breakdown any moment. I held my breath all through until I crossed it.

Resting after lots of Orange stealing from the farm
Crowded streets of Hanoi

We then rode across the periphery of the city, crossing the cabbage fields, talking to farmers (google translate came handy here), flower fields, stopping now and then for clicks or just soak in the beauty around. Weather played a significant role in making the ride favorable.

Sunflower fields behind
Chor chor.. Oranges Chor !!

Another fantastic riding day, and we were back with all smiles.

This eve we also went for a little stroll and watched the water puppet show. It’s just a 45mins show, and the artists clad in traditional dresses, playing traditional musical instruments narrate different scenes which are common in Vietnamese culture. Go for this show ONLY to experience the music. I booked the tickets in dance via Viator; you can choose your preferred timing and seating. Opt for the first row if possible to get you a clear and uninterrupted view.

Chilling at the night market after the water puppet show

We then chose to sit on the rooftop café and sip our coffees and also roam around the night market. The place was vibrant and lively. We loved the vibes around and spent almost entire eve here.

Day 4

It was a day to fly to a close-by island. We packed our backpack (as Veitjet Air allows only 7 kgs of handbag and you pay for everything else – that’s how low-cost airlines work) and headed to the airport. There are very few domestic airlines that fly between the islands; also, they are very poorly schedules and unorganized.

Off to Hoi An

But we had no choice, and with few glitches, we landed in HoiAn. Our host was excellent and very prompt in communication, and she also arranged a vehicle for the pick up at the airport. We enjoyed all these luxuries because Vietnam is not an expensive country to travel, and we were paying bills like a multi-millionaire in lakhs and billions. Uh, la la !

Our apartment was a beautiful two-floor bungalow and all to ourselves. While searching for lunch, we landed at a beachside restaurant with a breath-taking view. Vast, beautiful sea with lovely breeze made the environment all the more soothing. We had a heartfelt meal and were not at all keen to go anywhere else but just plonk ourselves on the couch.

The food and drinks- that’s all !
The beautiful sea

We somehow forced ourselves and landed on the cycle seats. We decided to explore the night and lantern market that day. It was a beautifully lit market with well-placed shops and neat lanes. 

I would suggest visiting the night market at HoiAn than Hanoi. 

Lantern Market- Hoi An

After exploring almost every lane and tasting the food and drinks, we rode back to our apartment.

It was a beautiful eve as we sat and chatted for a very long time and ended the day with a great spa.

Another amazing day 

Day 5

We took the day easy as the weather also demanded the same. We went for a stroll by the beach and had a sumptuous breakfast cooked at the apartment. We then got on to our bikes and, after a little discussion, decided to head towards the pottery village and coconut village. Knowing nothing about the route, we started riding. Our google map showed coconut village closeby, so we obeyed every direction instruction.

Cafe enroute coconut village

While on the way to the coconut village we saw a beautiful café and we stopped there to have a coffee. We chatted with the host and sipped our coffees. We then continued our ride in search of the coconut village. A lady midway guided us to the village, and we were there within no time. We hopped on the round boat and went an hour-long ride. The experience was terrific. A must-do when I Hoi An.

Making friends on the way

We had our lunch, which was the toughest part for me. Myself being the only vegetarian in the group found it challenging to remove chicken from the chicken fried rice and eat, but I had to as there was no other option. That’s how travel makes you learn and adjust to all types of situations.

Here and there, somewhere
Pottery Village

We strolled all through the town and were back to our apartment by evening to board the flight back to Hanoi.

Day 6

Cheers to not just one but many more rides to come

We planned for a short ride around the town but visited the local cycling shops instead. After a hitch start as there was an ATM fiasco that took time to get sorted, I left the situation as it is and headed for our destination. Another learning, struggle until you can else leave the issue and move ahead. We then walked around local markets and shops until it was time to leave for the airport.

The beautiful, mesmerizing, filled with laughter, secrets revealed, countless beers and so much chatter in this trip.

Our last lapse of the trip was here.

Day 7

Back to base

Back to the pavilion and reality.

Must do when in Vietnam:

  • You can land at Hanoi or HoChiMinh city; both are crowded and chaotic
  • Don’t expect clean and organized lanes. You’ll have a Bangkok and Mumbai feeling there
  • Do use google translate, and it helps a lot
  • People are amicable, sit with them, and talk. It’s a beautiful experience 
  • Leave the central city as soon as possible (if you are keen for main tourist attraction then visit water puppet show, night market and center of the town)
  • Look out for experience tours where they take you to local villages showing you the essence of a country. You can opt for walking or biking tours
  • Cave boat ride to Nin Bingh 
  • Halong Bay Cruise
  • Try egg coffee, coconut coffee and even other flavors of Vietnamese coffee
  • Eat local food, also if you are vegetarian like me do try the regional cuisines
  • Two days at each place is more than enough
  • You can club Myanmar and Combodia too
  • Check for hot air balloons over golden pagodas in Maynamaar
  • Hoi An has lots of high-end hotels as well so if you are keen for luxury can check those too
  • Shopping, eating is very cheap there so look out for pieces of stuff made out of bamboo
  • You can easily create a week’s trip in less than 60-65K, which will include your flight, stay, eating, shopping, and roaming around.

Useful sites

  • Skyscanner
  • Trip.com
  • Viator for local tickets
  • Airbnb for stay

Useful links for stay and local restaurants

Quote

Donate: coz’ someone needs it

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Giving is a gesture which one should have, and we must ensure to teach the same to our children as well.

Donation, be it in kind or otherwise, should be done generously and with all the positive feelings.

When I was young, I always used to ask my mother why the food which she cooks taste so yummy? 

Her reply was simple, “I pour my love into the food.”

Now that I am a mother, I understand what she meant then.

Although I don’t get much opportunity to cook and I not a great cook as well but whenever I do, my boys relish the food.

I can recall another similar thing from my younger days. My brothers and I were always instructed to ask for water for anyone who comes to the house. We never had housemaids to serve then. Several times, it used to get embarrassing for the parents because we used to insist the guest to have water even is they were unwilling.

We were also told always to bend down gracefully rather than a straight back, put a smile, and then serve.

Back then, like a stubborn teenager, I always thought that my parents are overdoing things. Now, when I try to tell the same things to my boys or practice on my own, I can understand the essence of that gesture.

When you give something to someone, you are transferring the energy from one body to the other. It also the transfer of emotions, feelings, and willingness.

Recently, we had a food grain donation drive in our building, and the organizers were seeking volunteers, especially children. Why children? Because I believe that children are the most innocent souls, and they can be molded, taught, or exposed to all good things easily.

Without even asking my boys, I enrolled their names. I explained to them about the drive. The organizers were collecting food grains to distribute in flood-affected areas of Maharashtra. Children were supposed to go and ask for a donation, receive it from open arms, and keep in the trolley. After the drive, the organizers told me that my boys did a fabulous job, and the younger one anyhow being a chirpy chatter did a great pitch too.

When I asked my boys about the experience, they were thrilled too.

I wasn’t aiming for a HUGE transformation but to instill a subtle feeling of humility.

One step at a time. That’s what parenting is all about, and we are continually growing and learning with our children.

At my recent IDBI half marathon on the expo day, there was an option to donate old shoes. I liked the idea and replicated the same at my workplace, and initiated a shoe donation drive. We collected shoes, then refurbished and repaired them. Once done, we packed them neatly in carry bags along with shoe size and donated in the nearby slums with the help of a local NGO.

It was an enthralling experience as children were very excited to get the shoes that too so beautifully packed and like new ones.

I also like the concept of Goonj, where the rules for donation are very well defined. They ask the donors to wash, iron, and fold the clothes adequately and then donate.

Donation is not about discarding the waste from your house and making it clean. It’s about making someone else privileged by what you think is not essential for you anymore now.

Donate a smile

Donate a gift

Donate your love

Donate your time

Donate your skills

And the gratification is immense.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” ―Albert Einstein

Women- Pack your bags!

Travel, the word is quite a buzz these days.
And it comes in various forms.
Adventure, luxury, experience, exploration name it the way you want.
Nowadays, everyone loves to travel as can be seen in the status updates!
Each one has their way of traveling and exploring places.

But, I am precisely writing this piece to target women moreover moms.
I want to suggest, recommend, and tell each mom to pack their bags and move out.
Ok, now I’ll surely get lots of bashing from all categories here,
Men– “why just women?”
Husband: “bigad do hamari biwi ko”
Parents– “hum toh kabhie nahin gae”
Neighbors– “Look at her!”
Others– “Batao, Kaise Chali jaati hai” (this BATAO variety is amazing-humor intended)
Well! Whatever anyone says, I would still firmly say to pack your bags!

Why am I adamant on mommies to travel?

I feel motherhood is a very tedious job, and a mom is automatically the worst person in the house.
Mom is a creature who is checking, correcting, scolding, getting hyper on even small issues, and is found screaming most of the time. We are never good leave aside perfect in anything.
For instance,
Kids,
got bad grades
getting complaints from the school
fighting with other children
health being bad
not learning new hobbies
-Is always mommy’s fault.
With all this, we go on the guilt trip quickly.


Thus, to overcome all these I-am-not-at-all-worthy feeling, pack your bags.
Planning a trip for yourself will help you in lot many ways.

Let’s see how?

Know yourself more

You will explore the options for travel and will conclude on one which is closest to your liking. Here you will get a chance to know your liking as an individual and not a collective as a family.

Better decision-maker

You will choose a trip and then convince yourself that you are going to make it. You will also convince your family about your decision. Making a decision and then executing it makes you a great decision-maker. When you are on your own then taking quick decision during the trip also helps you building your skill as a decision maker.

While in Goa we had quite a few changes to make in our plan and we were able to do it without any hitch

Efficient manager

You will ensure that everything runs in the house the same way even when you are away. You would instruct your maids not to take any off, inform the grocery guy to deliver things whenever asked and many more such things. Like, I write down every single thing right from the menu to essential phone numbers for easy accessibility. My maids do not take any off when I am away, and children have a set of instructions to follow.

Financial planner

Working or not working, each woman has to manage her finances very well. When you travel on your own, you will use either a part of your salary or your pocket money, in either way you have to manage funds very well.
Like, I go frugal whenever I am planning a trip. I am a back-to-work-mom and unable to get to the mainstream. Hence my income is every restricted. I have to manage both my athletics training and travel expenses efficiently. Much before my travel dates, I stop my coffee at Starbucks, cut down majorly on eating out, look for Zomato discount options, and opt for early hours to watch a movie. I have not bought a new dress for months now(which is like Arghhhhh…) not even a single piece of new jewellery(BATAO!!!) I even have to cut down on my beauty parlour visits. Sound crazy? But I have to prioritise things-can’t help.

Making family members responsible

Each member of the family must have their share of responsibilities. Children and other family members often take us for granted when we are always around .Let the children learn to get up on their own for school, put their tiffin boxes in their bag, serve food from the kitchen than maid or mom giving them and many more.
Let them learn to manage things on their own and take small decisions too.

A better version of you

Once you are out and on your own, you learn a lot of things about yourself which in general you miss observing. For instance, in all my travels, I have realized that I love walking far and wide to explore. I also don’t like going to all world famous places instead I like walking in the countryside or not so known places. The famous places we have already seen either in books or on social media; hence, it doesn’t feel,” Wow! I am seeing this for the first time.”

At the leaning Tower of Pisa. No sooner I reached I saw myself moving out of the rush

Builds up confidence

Planning and executing everything by yourself immensely builds up confidence, which withers away in many women after a while. I have observed this mainly in homemakers, where dependency for each and everything is too high, and they keep seeking “time” from their partner which generally doesn’t happen thereby making them low on confidence and left out.

Dear mommies, imagine your smile when you’ll enter back home after your trip and with a head held high that you managed every minute planning for the journey on your own and not even airport or station pick and drop.

Lookup for destinations, book your tickets, apply for the Visa, pack your bag, book uber, wear the widest smile and off you go!

Need not be far and wide but GO


Adios Amigos !!!

Nothing comes easy!

“You’ve lost so much weight!
You look so toned
Your abs are finally showing
You look super fit”

I am overwhelmed and accept all the above compliments in absolute humility.

But let me say this- Nothing comes easy, just nothing.

Few are lucky to get everything on the platter, but I don’t fall into that category. I have to struggle hard and very hard for every single thing, same applies to shedding weight and getting into shape.

And it burned my arse to attain the body I wanted although the journey isn’t over yet.

Trust me, it ain’t a cake walk!I am writing this piece precisely for those who have started following a proper regime, picked up running, have got into a routine, or have started with a diet plan after seeing my results.

I feel good that my little contribution has got a few if not many, into a healthy lifestyle.

So, let’s start with the journey,
2005- 84 kgs after Sid was born, age- 26 years
Did nothing towards a healthy lifestyle as I was reeling under severe postpartum depression(which went unnoticed)
2009- 86 kgs after Abhi was born, age – 29 years
No clue about myself leave aside following a healthy lifestyle, post-partum depression worsened.
2015- 79 kgs, age-36 years
Went for Bhutan mountain biking trip was and ended each ride in the support vehicle.
This year I started running and also followed some basic workout routine
2017- 72 kgs, age 38 years
I realised something was missing hence contacted a dietician and began with the plan. I also got a personal trainer at the gym and got into serious training.
2018-62kgs, age 39 years
Now the triathlon bug was already in so I was now following baap-of-all training plans. Gym, cycle, run, swim without missing a single day.
2019-59kgs, age-40years
I still have a long way to go as my body needs more effort to build up the stamina and come into shape.I can blame it on my genes.

All this required great mental strength.

Following a proper workout plan and that too for a triathlon was not easy at all. I had to discipline myself further and schedule my day according to work, travel, and kids.

I followed the diet plan for a year, and afterward took things in my stride.
No processed sugar, not even on any festivals, no late dinner, no late nights, no carbonated drinks and a lot more.

During my work travel, I did not miss my workout. Being a vegetarian foreign country doesn’t leave you with many options, but I was mindful of what I was eating and never gained weight.


There were several personal battles to be won as well,
I am asked time and again, why training so much? Stay at home, look after children, take care of the house, why do you have to go to another city or country for a race? What will you gain out of this? Take your children along for runs. Why are you spending so much on your races and training?


“IT WAS NEVER EASY, IT NEVER WILL BE”

If you are looking for a transformation, physical or mental, then discipline and hard work is the key.


Just keep going, pause, restart but keep going

There will be plenty of setbacks to stop you, but the choice is yours to look beyond them or succumb to them.
Each body, stamina, genes, metabolism is different so listen to your body and then decide what suits you.

Following a regime is not about fitting into the a glamours dress but to tame your mind. After all, it’s all the mind game.

I wish you all the best!
Thanks again for keeping me as an example to lead a healthy life.

That’s all !

Education System: Rat Race

Board results were just out, social media and WhatsApp filled with accolades, praises for children scoring well, and parents claiming their happiness and proud feeling. I also came across posts where few children could not make it to the 90s club, but still, parents were happy and satisfied.
Most of the counselors played a significant role here. Few preached on not putting the burden on the children, while few asked parents to cool down, few even asked children to take it easy.
Well, after acquiring my diploma in counseling psychology, I’ve started a few ProBono counseling sessions. My advice to parents and children is quite straightforward.
For this entire number game and grading system, of pressurising children and children feeling exhausted, I had a great conversation with few parents. Sharing some experts,

  • Children should not feel burdened
    Pull them out of the school . It’s a simple solution and makes everyone happy.
    Dear parents, if your child is under a particular education system(read school), then he/she has to follow what is needed. If the school is rushing to complete the syllabus, then we as parents have to have Plan B.
    Approach, prepare a systematic study plan and follow the pattern strictly. A study plan will enable the child to be at ease when the exam approaches and will not feel burdened. Act smart and don’t get carried away by your child’s whining.
  • Don’t pressurize your child
    I say, why not?
    If you have accumulated enough wealth and are sure that you’ll be able to fulfil all the needs of your child even if he/she is unable to earn on his/her own, then our discussion ends here.
    But if not, then the study is the only key.
    Approach, don’t let your child ever feel that things are easy. Pressurize them constructively. Tell them that hard work is essential, and nothing comes easy in life. Give them examples from your friends’ circle and relatives. Few might have studied in best colleges and doing very well while few might have attained success with hard work. Children need to understand the significance of hard work and discipline.
  • Grades are essential of course! They are!
    Oh ! common we are in the Indian education system where grades are essential and no matter how much your claim to defer but you know the fact.
    For a working class, family children have to do well at studies, and a common approach is challenging to absorb. Will you panic if your child flunks or you’ll be just fine?
    Approach, tell them the significance of good grades categorically. Give them a clear view . For instance, good grades will get you into a right college and choose a professional line which will make your life easier. If you get poor grades, this doesn’t mean your life is tough, but you may have to work harder to make your ends meet. Give them a practical insight and nothing flowery. Talk to them like adults. Career counseling may help here. We as adults and with more than half a life done, still can’t figure out what we want in life then think how a 15-year-old kid can decide?He/she will need our guidance.
  • There is always a second chance
    Really? Will they appear for board exams again?
    You have to tell them that this is their chance to do their best and put in the best efforts. The climb to the tallest mountain is tough, but the view is fantastic.
    Approach, guide, counsel, reinforce point number one and two repeatedly. Children will rebel, but that’s why they have parents. We are here to hold the leash tight when needed. They cannot take chances for granted. It’s a way of upbringing and preparing them for later stages of life.
  • Then to lead a good life, only money and good grades are essential?
    “Yes, darling, these are the basic needs. Let’s do one thing, you don’t put effort, and I don’t go to the office, how is that?”
    We can stay happy and stress-free when our basic needs are met else the struggle to survival will make you depressed, anxious, less on confidence and self-esteem, miserable at handling relations.
    Approach, tell them that you do not need lots of money to be happy, but you need to have something to cater to your needs. Parents can support children up to a certain level, but afterwards, they have to manage on their own.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
Albert Eistein

Parents who worry too much on “pressure” burden” “number-game” terms, I always ask them to reply to the following questions:

  1. Are you okay if your child doesn’t do well in academics?
  2. Are you alright with your child on not showing seriousness towards his/her studies? This is also a behaviour trait for being responsible.
  3. Are you alright with lack for hard work from your child?
  4. Will you able to provide the same facility and lifestyle life-long to your child?
  5. By supporting your child always, do you think he/she can sustain the pressure once you are not around?

Parenting is a tough job, and each one of us is striving to do our best.
We need a holistic approach for their upbringing. Children observe us very, so we have to be very patient to understand our child.
Their happiness depends on how we handle this entire rat-race of our education system. We, as parents, need to give our children constant positive reinforcement, believing in them, catering for the inner well-being and continuous mental support.
Give children a practical approach towards life, talk and discuss like adults, they will do wonders when they grow up.
Our children are the proud possessions we need to handle them with care and prepare them well for life ahead.
All the best to us!

Girls trip to Netherlands

If you think that only big money, plush seats, a comfortable hotel can give you an enjoyable experience of travel, then you are wrong.
You are then just visiting a particular place as a tourist and not experiencing it.
Myself being an avid traveler is always careful and stringent on the budget.
Have a look at our five day trip to the Netherlands along with my partner-in-crime Deepa.

Preparations
A trip which we decided four months back due to several home and work, factors got finalised only a month before the travel; hence we faced slight higher flight tickets.
Nevertheless, we compensated it by booking a lower price, off-the central city Airbnb stay.
We bought Maggie packets, dry snacks and I packed some poori and parantha with achar as well.

Day one – Take off and Tulip garden
Both of us finished our day’s job both at work and home, did all the background preparations and started packing our bags in the evening for an early morning flight.
Earth came shattering down when Deepa could not find her passport. It was only after an hour or so that things were in place and finally we were going!
We boarded our 2 am flight.
Twisted, walked, stretched, tried to sleep, watched back to back movies and finally landed in Paris at 8 am.
We were not keen to waste a day hence thought of taking a quick shower at the airport, but after searching a lot, we could not find any FREE shower facility at the airport other than business lounges. We are very frugal travelers, so we decided that we are fresh enough to carry on with the day(good realisation 🙂 )
We then boarded the flight to Amsterdam and reached Schipol airport at 1 pm.
We changed at the airport, grabbed our day bag and deposited our suitcase in the locker (6 Euro for a cabin size bag).
We then enquired about the best way to commute to Keukenhof (Tulip garden) and got the details right outside the airport.
We took a map, bought the tickets(52 Euro for two) which included day-long site seeing and bus transport to and fro from Schipol airport.

Keukenhof- Tulip Garden

Much before reaching the place the Bollywood lover in me was visualizing Rekha and Amitabh in “Dekha Ek khwab” song from Silsilay.
Ufff, the Goosebumps.
But in reality, it was myself and Deepa admiring the tulips, sipping coffee, clicking pics and collecting souvenirs. This place is beautiful, do not forget to grab a coffee, walk as much as possible and sit for a while to soak the array of colors.

Tulip garden
We had great fun running around this maze and finding each other i
Walk-Rest-Walk

We came back to the airport picked our bags and then took a train to Utrecht, that’s where we were staying.
Our apartment was a kilometer walk from the train station hence we dragged our trolleys and walked to the Air BnB
We faced a different type of traffic jam here with no honking or pollution. The streets filled with cyclists and we had to be careful not to bump into one.
We picked some grocery items for breakfast from a nearby supermart(again a tactics for cost-cutting).

Train to Utrecht , Deepa trying to figure out if we were on the right track
Traffic jam of a different kind

Our apartment was small but clean and had all the essential stuff needed to make ourselves comfortable.
It was a long day; hence we slept off within no time.
Not to miss: sipping coffee by the garden and admire the colors
Can avoid: canal boat ride

Day 2 – I Amsterdam

We were up at 3.30am, being school drop timing in India, but we forced ourselves to sleep more reminding that WE ARE ON A HOLIDAY!
After having our breakfast of boiled eggs, bread with peanut butter and a glass of milk we were all set for the day(our standard breakfast every day)
We took a train to Amsterdam(8.60 Euro one way). We had booked a tour of Van Gogh museum (23 USD for a day-long pass). We spent a good time walking around the museum. The walky-talky came handy(10 Euro) as it gave a better insight into his paintings, work, and life.
We then strolled around the city, through the gardens, by lanes, sitting by the lake, chatting and just being ourselves.
By early evening we headed to Dam square as we had booked a FREE Red light district tour (we researched a lot for Free Tours- saves a lot of money).
The tour was fantastic. We learned a lot about the history of prostitution, the significance of red windows, chapel in the brothel and much more.
Prostitution and drugs are way too hyped in Amsterdam, but when we did the tour, it appeared that it is just a profession. Well, I must write a separate blog on this subject.
We strolled at leisure all over Amsterdam and finally took the last train back to our apartment
A day well spent
Not to miss: Red Light District Tour, Dam square, Bagel with cheese, VanGogh Museum
Can avoid: Anne Frank’s house, Canal ride, expensive tours

Van Gogh Museum
Relaxing by the lake
The famous fries shop in Amsterdam
Poori achar ,imported from India !!

Day 3- Zaanse schans windmills , Volendam ,Marken , Edam and Haarlem

We took the train to Amsterdam and then boarded the bus to Zaanse Schans (all the information is readily available on google, and also at the train station, you need to walk around and enquire)
We reached the windmills and walked around. We goofed up a little on the return bus but finally made it to Marken.
Marken is a small laid back town, and I wanted to cycle around. We hired a bike and cycled from Marken to Edam and back. It was at this point when Deepa admitted that cycling was the best way to explore Europe, and I agreed.
We took a ferry ride to the harbor city, Volendam, walked a bit and then came back to our apartment via Amsterdam
A beautiful day by the countryside and also cycling around, my kind of a day!
Not to miss: Cheese shop at Zaanse Schans, cycling around Edam, smooth and quiet walk around Volendam, waffle with cream
Can avoid: street shopping at Marken(we faced racism)

WindMills at Zaanse Schans
Cycling from Marken to Edam
Harbour city

Day 4- Hague and Delft

As per our itinerary, our day four was dedicated to cycle to the countryside but as we did that earlier we were open to anything.
After a lot of research, we decided to do a tour of North Holland which is, Hague, Delft, Rotterdam, Gouda
After reaching the station, we realized that our to and fro cost was too high. With the help of the ticket attendant, we decided for a whole day ticket which allowed multiple entries in the train, tram, and bus (48.8 Euro for two of us).
We exploited the ticket to the maximum and left no mode of transport to use under the offering (use, use, reuse)
As we reached Hague, we were delighted to see the universities around and also excellent shopping. But as we are very, budget travelers hence shopping and that too euro was not on our agenda.
We came to know about a beach close by, and we headed there. The sun was finally our after chilly days; hence we sat there for a long time, soaking ourselves in the sun and sinking in the sand.


Once satiated we were now heading towards Delft famous for its blue and white pottery.
We walked till the centrum, had our coffee and snacks and then took the train back to our apartment.

Soaking the sun at the beach
The blue and white pottery at Delft
Somewhere in Hague

At night, we had a heartful of Maggie(imported from India), wine and chatted with the owner of our apartment. It great to exchange the culture, upbringing, outlook towards life and the belief system of people of different countries.
It was a beautiful evening.
Not to miss: Walking around Hague(you’ll be surprised at budget supermarkets and branded shops), beach, blue and white pottery in Delft
Can avoid: overindulgence in the pottery(it’s too beautiful, and you’ll end up buying a lot)

Day 5- Adieu

We packed our bags, had breakfast and went for a quick stroll around the city. We finally took the train to the airport. This time we were flying directly from Schiphol to Mumbai.
With all the beautiful memories of tulips, cycle ride, cheese, wine, walking, red light district, windmills, ferry ride, stroll across a deserted town, missing the bus, going on the wrong route, late-night Maggie, we bid adieu to Holland.

Bye-bye to all the madness and fun

Some tips for a budget travel (detailed blog soon)

  1. Select a destination in advance as per your wish list
  2. Look out for best ticket rates across all airlines and websites
  3. Plan your savings as per the target. Like I start putting a particular amount from my earnings for my travel so that last minute expense doesn’t burden me.
  4. Select a budget and be very strict on it
  5. Use public transport as much as possible
  6. Walk as much as possible it serves two purposes: first, you don’t miss your workout keeping the calories in place second, it is the best way to explore any area
  7. Travel less and light, two jeans, two tees, that’s it – no garment, not even human beings get dirty in Europe.
  8. Research-research and google as much as possible for best tours, free tours, train tickets. Deepa is an avid traveler, and I learned this habit from her on this trip

Our expenses :

Flight tickets – 50K (you can easily get a 37K return if you book in advance )
Stay – 24K (I always prefer Air BnB, saves a lot of money)
Miscellaneous – 13K(train tickets, tours)
Shopping –(not counting as it is very subjective)
Total: 87K

Take away: Be a local when going global.
choose experience over luxury

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