January Update

It has been a month of too much on my plate. Mainly because there were almost 3 trips that I took, thus, leaving no weekend for just being. I am sure all of you have seen those memes about ‘this is the fastest January ever’ and right now, I am feeling exactly that.

So, where did I travel to?

Before 2022 ended, Rahul and I took a quick trip to Rishikesh with two of our friends. It was quite impromptu as Rishikesh is only 6 hours drive away from where we all live and Rahul & I were anyway visiting my parents, who live even closer to Rishikesh. Our friends decided to pick us up on their way and it was a very smooth and chill trip. I’ll write about it in a blog post and link back here.

After that, my friend and I took a much awaited trip to Banaras, the ancient, holy city in India. I don’t remember properly but I am very likely to believe that she and I have been thinking about making this trip since 2016 and so glad that we finally made it. Again, a post is due.

Then, this weekend that just passed us by, Rahul and I went to Jim Corbett National Park with my parents. I would probably not dedicate an entire post to it as it has very limited things to do, so let me just get to it here. Basically, its a national park where you can be one with the nature – flora and fauna both. The place is famous for tigers and there are regular forest safaris arranged for tiger spotting. I have been here once more before with my engineering friends and there used to be only early morning safaris back then. This time, there were afternoon safaris as well, which is what we opted for to avoid the early morning cold. Literally no one I know has ever spotted a tiger in the Corbett Safaris and so was the case this time for us. πŸ˜€ There are very less tigers in the entire national park region anyway. We did, however, spot tiger paw marks. My trip highlight was the Kosi river that flows from this place. When I had been to Corbett the last time, I didn’t know about the river, neither was my resort situated near it. My husband researched and told me about the river and that there are resorts next to it. Hence, I spent time looking at the river from my room’s balcony and we also went to sit there. It was really peaceful and calming.

I am then taking cue from Lyssy’s post here to take stock of my month, she calls it “What’s Up Posts”, it was started by her blogger friend Shay 8 years ago it seems!! Let’s see if I manage to do it every month.

I am going to answer all the questions in the below card for the post then.

What We’re Eating?

I mentioned here how I am trying to eat healthy in my daily routine. The only thing is that this month didn’t have a lot of routine days, but that also means I loved so many things during my trips. Banaras trip was exceptionally good when it comes to food. I have written all about my Banaras food expeditions on my Instagram here, in case you would like to know.

What I’m Reminiscing about?

I am in general someone who reminisces a lot, so its difficult to keep a track of this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Loving?

Absolutely loving my rhythm and carving a routine for myself in all the chaos. I should also mention here even though I hadn’t considered it while writing out this post that I am thankful for the chaotic but fun travel opportunities.

What we’ve been up to?

Work, travel and finding moments for myself and even for me and my husband.

What I’m dreading?

I am going to meet a lot of a particular side of my extended family in the upcoming days, dreading is too strong a word, but I am cautious of it getting too overwhelming.

What I’m working on?

Snail’s pace but I am trying to work on this. Trying being the keyword, haha!

What I’m Excited about?

Even though I mentioned I am worried about getting overwhelmed about meeting the said side of my extended family, I am looking forward to enjoy in the wedding this is for. I love Indian weddings more than anything!

What I’m Watching/Reading?

I just completed my first read of the year – The Hindu Way by Shashi Tharoor. It was a roll over from 2022, now I am onto my second one – The Accidental Prime Minister by Sanjay Baru, I have never read a book on politics and, surprisingly I am quite enjoying it.

I am watching ‘The Crown’ every now and then, mostly with my meals. I am not able to binge watch it because a) I cannot play it as background music while working since it requires attention the first time, b) my husband does not enjoy it, and a couple of hours at night is the only time we have in common apart from breakfast so I don’t want to watch such a long series during that time.

I recently concluded ‘Emily in Paris’ and man do I love it! I never expected to enjoy it so much. I might do a post on it, you know.

I am also watching the Indian version of Shark Tank, not enjoying it as much as the Season 1.

I may have re-watched a lot of stuff, and I am also looking forward to watch SRK’s latest movie Pathaan after 4 years in a movie hall. Although I don’t have a lot of hope from the story, but just for the heck of watching SRK on big screen.

What I’m Listening to?

Oh, this is a good one for me. So, I may have mentioned that I am not into any specific music, mostly anything nostalgic Bollywood or any famous Punjabi songs float my boat. Every now and then I listen to random podcasts but I haven’t found one that I love and its very random and also very infrequent. However, very recently, I have kind of started building my podcast listening habit to avoid looking at my phone in mornings and right before bed. I am liking it not only to avoid screen time but also because I am leaning to informative stuff. I won’t share which ones I am listening to because I don’t have a strong opinion yet on this. πŸ˜€

What I’m Wearing?

I am sad that I didn’t use a lot of my winter stuff on my trips, but kind of repeated the same things. I just wanted to be super comfortable and not try at all. I am also sad that my two boots that I love have started to chip, because I definitely wanted to use them more. I’ll probably check with a shoemaker who sits outside my house if something can be done.

What I’m doing this weekend?

The coming weekend, i.e. Feb first week, would be the weekend I would want to chill completely. Let’s see how that goes, although knowing some upcoming things, I think it would be busy again.

What I’m looking forward to next month?

The said wedding fun.

Planning for more travels, especially a big one, fingers crossed.

Most importantly, improving some things about my work.

What else is new?

I had to think hard for this, so I am just sharing a silly thing that came up in my mind – I am soon going to try a fun takeout and planning to convert it to date night. Let’s see how that goes.

Travel in 2022 | Taking Stock

2022 is a weird one for me, I cannot classify it as good or bad. It had some pretty big sad events for me, mentioned here and here, however, with much gratitude, I can say that my mental strength was alright this year. Additionally, this year I didn’t bother a lot about my unfinished goals (wishes :P) from 2021. They are bothering me now and, let’s see, I would probably need to make another post for it (heads-up – won’t be comfortable sharing all the wishes).

This post is meant to be fun and take stock of all the travel I did in 2022. Albeit less, I have gratitude for this, because I missed traveling only a little bit. I had a lot going on from a family standpoint, Rahul’s father passing away, my father’s retirement event, and later on the year, I was so busy over the weekends too with some or the other social engagements. I am not someone who likes to be on the move all the time (none of the digital nomads, wanderlust etc etc for me please), but I see travel as a change from my very much loved routines. (I say routines in plural because the past pandemic years have made me work from different locations & I am proud to say that I have managed to carve out a suitable physical as well as mental space for me. Also, acknowledging the privilege to do so here). I would definitely like to increase my travels in 2023.

Moving on to the trips:

  1. Jan’22 | Shimla, Kasauli & Naldehra: The year started off with a very fun trip to the mountains with my cousins. For me, the highlight of this trip was the old, colonial style villa we stayed at which also gave us an opportunity to sit in the sun and eat breakfasts at a leisurely pace. Also, this was my first time to the quaint town of Kasauli which seemed like a very laid back, colonial town but i got the symptoms of big C the next day of arriving there and my husband and i just drove back home post testing.
  2. Feb’22 | Jodhpur, Jaisalmer: It’s going to be funny when I mention the highlight of this trip as food again – I loved the hing kachoris at a random shop and also the gol gappe. However, there’s one thing that stood out in this trip. I had been to these cities before and done the forts, sand dunes etc but I hadn’t been to the Golden Fort city in Jaisalmer. It’s basically a proper city dwelling inside a fort! It has markets, cafes, people’s houses – all inside a fort.
  3. Mar’22 | Mussoorie & Nag Tibba Trek: I planned this for my husband’s birthday, but since i am the one who hadn’t been on an overnight trek before, it was more of a gift to me. Of course, I am scared of heights and on the way down, my feet gave away which kind of ruined it for my husband. However, the feeling of reaching the peak was something else and totally indescribably beautiful.
  4. May’22| Baroda: Was here for a wedding and i liked the idea of experiencing a very different Gujju city. how you ask? Baroda has a very service class vibe but combined with a small town vibe. Usually the cities which have a lot of jobs are the metro cities, so Baroda has a very different vibe. Its almost like a town but usually in such places, you see business class more often while that’s not the case here. It’s also where my husband did his first job so it was quite nice to visit his old haunts.
  5. Aug’22 | Bangalore: This was the time when my husband had his office offsite to Spain and I had planned to go with him but had to drop it. Then, I ended up visiting my brother in Bangalore with my parents. It was good to be back in Bangalore after so long. Also, this time we visited IKEA which was good.
  6. Oct’22 | Jaipur: Rahul and I made this trip for a wedding and the wedding was quite fun. However, this trip was fulfilling in many ways. I got to stay with my cousin after a long time and it was good to spend time together. I also got to visit the gorgeous Bar Palladio which I had wanted to visit since long in Jaipur.

Aside these strictly leisure trips, I made two business trips to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), multiple trips to Surat to my in-laws and multiple trips to Raipur too where my dad was posted before his retirement. I tried a lot of food places in these cities which I love. I may make separate posts on places i love in surat, as there are a lot of good places to eat in Surat and I’ll love to document those.

Kasauli
Jodhpur
Nag Tibba Peak
Bangalore
Jaipur
Bar Palladio, Jaipur
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Less than 48 hours in Vietnam | First impressions | Diwablog 3

I recently went to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon) on a quick work trip, literally less than 48 hours! Funny thing – Vietnam has been on my travel radar for a while now, but it fizzled out quite recently too. Maybe sometimes watching something over and over on social media does it. Anyhow, I’ll be making more trips to Vietnam and I am pretty sure I would love many things there. Here are some things I noticed on this first trip to Ho Chi Minh City that I am itching to share:

Women clothes appear awesome in local shops: This is the number 1 pattern I literally saw from afar in so many streets. Vietnam, like India, has lot of local shops around rather than just global brands. Whenever I was sitting in a cab or on a scooter, I just kept noticing that how many random shops have such amazingly beautiful clothes. I have such deep regret in not getting the time to go venture in. 😦 This is my must do activity when I go to Ho Chi Minh City next.

Street food vendors sit near their carts! In India also, street food is pretty big. However, vendors keep standing next to their carts. I don’t know why it never happened that anyone brought stools to sit next to their carts like folks in Vietnam do. My assumption is any of the below reasons:

  1. Vietnam is not as densely populated as India so its not like that the cart is having customers all the time without any breather and the vendor cannot do without standing.
  2. Indian street food requires a lot of live cooking, while Vietnam I guess has more of assembling. Hence, the vendor can just stand, serve and sit down again till the next customer comes.

It was a fun thing to observe and some vendors were even wearing the traditional Vietnamese hat (Google it if you don’t know).

I was shocked about the food! I expected to love Vietnamese food since I thought there will be many readily available vegetarian options. Especially since I read online that Vietnam has a lot of Buddhist population who eat vegetarian food on certain days. Anyhow, Ho Chi Minh offers a lot of varied international cuisines but what I meant was vegetarian food was not mainstream at all. That was quite a shocker and I didn’t like the taste as much as I like Vietnamese food in Indian Vietnamese restaurants! Hahaha.

Ao Dai is so pretty & so easy to get made! Its a traditional dress for Women and I found the modern, minimal version quite pretty. It can actually be styled in various ways I feel and it accentuates people’s body structure it seems. However, what made me sit back and take notice is that there were a lot of tailor shops which means its pretty easy to get one made as per your desired customizations!

I think this post has turned more interesting than I imagined. I hope the readers also feel the same. πŸ™‚ Would love to hear from you!

Monthly Favorites | February

I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting. Hence, I started with this monthly favorites series (literally the second post in a year but that’s because I didn’t have media storage space, I’ll hopefully be regular with my favorites now!). Don’t think I remember my Feb “favorites”, its just that I had this post in the drafts.

For my previous monthly favorites, go here.

Diving right into it, I do realize there’s a lot of personal care featuring here this time around:

  1. Coconut oil by The Moksha Life: As some of you would know, it is my friend’s brand, so you are bound to think that I am biased. It may be difficult to believe but its actually one of the best coconut oils I have tried. Admittedly, I didn’t go beyond a certain price range but within my preferred price range, this one truly stands apart. Its taste is incredible for using in dishes and when i apply it on hair, the fragrance and feel is better than any that I have used.
  2. Wide tooth neem wood comb by The Moksha Life: For this, I don’t really have a comparison as this was my first time using a wooden comb. However, I was expecting a lot more issues with getting used to a wooden comb. This didn’t take me any time to adjust and the best part which led to it being in my favorites list is that it has a very mild and soothing fragrance. I don’t know if its the fragrance of the wood or what but I love it!!!
  3. Boroplus cream : Completely clichΓ©, iconic Indian moisturizing cream! I mean its a child product of the old product, Boroline. Boroline works very well for moisturizing lips and so does Boroplus cream. I should not have actually listed it as a favorite because its not, but it reminded me of Boroline, which I love, not just for what it does but also because of the iconic packaging that stood the test of time!
  4. Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: It was my favorite scent till I tried more of Jo Malone’s scents. I have not tried many designer scents, but I think Jo Malone is always going to be my favorite. I am loving all the new ones that I am trying.
  5. Jodhpur Jaisalmer trip: I think I should do a separate post on all the travel that I have done since some time, since not everything is documented here and I hope I don’t forget!
  6. Club Iraa: My dad was posted in Raipur since more than one year, he recently got retirement. So, we had visited this one restaurant/pub there when we were visited him once. It was so good! I mean, such an amazing vibe this place had and, in India, since usually tier 2 cities don’t have space issues, it was a huge place. We loved it. I wish we had gone there again in any of our follow-up visits but we did not end up doing that.

I know these are really old favorites, but I would love to know your current ones! πŸ™‚

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Monthly Favorites | January

I talked about my impulse to share about some things I am loving here & got some really good suggestions on how I can make it interesting.

One of the suggestions by Moksha was to do monthly favorites like the YouTuber Sherry Shroff. A little interesting fact – I have loved Sherry’s monthly favorites videos since a long time. In fact, they are some of my favorite videos on her YouTube but I find doing monthly favorites myself scary. My reasons are no doubt petty, but they matter to me. πŸ˜€ First of all, I am not someone who goes through a lot of products to make a good enough monthly favorite products list. However, I am now seeing this as a boon – it means my monthly favorites will be a good mix of experiences & how the month went, instead of only ‘products‘. Secondly, I also fear getting too much into the groove of tracking your favorite stuff throughout the month which may take away the joy of just being, but I hope that doesn’t happen, and, therefore, I am just taking the plunge here.

I now present to you my monthly favorites for January ’22. πŸ˜€

RiteBite protein bar: Ritebite is my new favorite snacking brand. You will know when you read my favorite #2. I keep trying a lot of snacking brands and I think food will always be a feature in monthly favorites one way or the other. The biggest reason I like RiteBite is because of favorite #2. Chips is a food category where its difficult to make a healthier alternative for regular chips that just tastes as good. I love their chips & if I go by their claims, one packet of their chips has ~10g protein. As for their protein bar, I like it for a very straight forward reason. It tastes good & is not as expensive as other protein bars available in the online space. Just to be clear, I don’t consume these products as any supplement or meal, its just that I snack a lot and I understand no packaged food is as good as home made, but I just look for healthier alternatives to the regular snacks I am addicted to.

RiteBite chips: I have already explained this.

Crax: Do you remember this brand we grew up eating? This particular variant is very tasty and a good snack for chilled out things like watching a movie. You know, like popcorn.

Cheesecake from ‘Salt & Sugar’: Its a cloud kitchen in Gurgaon that you can easily find on Swiggy/Zomato. We recently got their blueberry cheesecake for our friends’ wedding anniversary & it was a hit. I have had better cheesecakes, but it was a good mix of everything – product, price, promo & packaging. πŸ˜€ The taste was such that four of us demolished a full cake in half an hour.

Himalayan Ciders: We recently went on a trip to Shimla & again had the famous Himachal Ciders. Its a lovely drink to try out if you like trying out new things in alcohol. The apple one which is the most common is not that great for me, but I love the ginger ale variant.

Kurkez: There is a famous bakery on Shimla Mall Road called Krishna Bakery. I am not sure what their claim to fame is although most of the stuff I tried, I loved. They have this specialty item called ‘Kurkez’. I really can’t explain what it is. It is such a desi colonial hangover dish. It is a completely Indianized cutlet but looks like a seekh kabab. Just have it with the ‘white sauce’ they give the next time you are there. I don’t know whether you will love it or not, but I for sure miss it!

My new Kaftan: My massi (maternal aunt) gifted me this Kaftan which is a traditional Kashmiri dress & I love it to bits. She is selling Kashmiri clothes until 28th of Feb after which she would move to another handloom product that is seasonal for the North India. In case you want to buy what I am wearing in the picture, please reach out to her – +919216745142

Kindle Cover: This has nothing to do with January and I got it a long time ago last year but its one of the best purchases ever! I was very torn for the perfect Kindle cover and I was being too critical of all the options I had. Finally, went for this one and its so sturdy but also feels good to the touch. I love it!

Aroma Therapy sunscreen: Sunscreen is one thing I am always experimenting with. Reason? I am yet to find a perfect one, but this one’s close. First of all, it smells amazing to me, a fresh herby smell but nothing overpowering. (I have a very sensitive nose). Secondly, it glides on my skin so smoothly and while it may be light for parched skin, but I also have normal to dry skin and this is decently moisturizing for me. To me, the texture seems like it would work for most skin types.

B&BW Vanilla Lavender Candle: This is my first ever Bath & Body Works candle and its a bit controversial that this product is on my favorites list. Let me explain. I have used some of their cosmetics in the past & they are known for having amazing fragrances. This also means that most of their products are heavily fragranced, I have ended up loving some of those fragrances, but the fact that they are heavily fragranced made me feel uncomfortable about using them a lot. Same goes for the candles. They smell amazing and the fragrances are very long lasting. However, no doubt they are overpowering and in this age of soy candles which are more environment & inhaling friendly, they continue to be made of paraffin. I don’t think I’ll be repurchasing these any time soon but there are 2 reasons why its on my favorites list – 1) I love this fragrance & since its long lasting, I use it very, very often to create an ambience. this itself is a good enough reason, but 2) I have tried a couple of Indian newer brands for candles and my experience hasn’t been even decent, forget being good. So, if you are completely satisfied with any soy candles that smell amazing & are available in India, please share your suggestions in the comments.

Trip to Shimla: We recently did a cousins trip to Shimla which was a lot of fun. This trip came with its own challenges due to the friction of finalizing plans, this and that. However, Shimla is one place I always love to be, no matter how crowded and commercialized its getting. The weather was chilly but with that sweet sunshine and we also got to witness snow at Narkanda (although not snowfall). However, the biggest highlight of this trip was the place we stayed at which brings me to my next favorite.

Marley Villa: This was your typical villa with a swing, tiny garden to play cricket in, wind chimes, creaky floors and a colonial interior. So heritage feels, such beautiful bar glasses. They have a functioning kitchen from where two caretakers & a cook serve all meals. The view from the garden is top-notch. The best part – its located slightly away from the mall road so you don’t witness the typical crowd but its close enough for an appetite building walk up the mall road. My favorite part was the garden. If I had to find cons with this place, one is that its not completely private. It is basically a set of two villas that are connected to each other, which didn’t bother our group in any way by the way but parking gets tricky up the hill. The other con is that we stayed in a 5-room villa as we were 9 people and there are two rooms in that villa which don’t have a door separating them, only a curtain. Depending on who you are travelling with, this may matter with regards to privacy.

So, these were my monthly favorites and I would love to know some (or all) of yours now. Please comment your favorites or leave a link to your blog if you do similar posts.

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