Friday, February 22, 2019

My first trip with My Little One -Pondicherry

Diwali vacations were approaching and I wanted to utilise these two weeks rather than sitting at home, getting bored by doing household chores and trying numerous ways to keep my little one engaged. When the little one is at home, I just cant do any productive work like reading a book, working on my laptop etc. 

As my husband was busy with work and traveling, I decided to take a trip with my 3 year old son. The thought of traveling with kids is enough to make you sit at home and regret the days lost. I challenged myself to take this trip as it will be a kind of experiment  with Agniv as I will know how to keep him entertained/occupied and the difficulties that comes our way which will help me `in preparing our next trip. The fear of what if they….will not let you travel.

Agniv has shown keen interest in traveling in whichever mode of transport we have taken. He observes his surroundings, enjoys watching what is happening around him. Kids at this age can`t be at one place even for a minute, so I keep him engaged by talking to him about everything and anything happening around us.

I decided to visit Pondicherry. Pondicherry officially known as Puducherry, is the capital and the most populous city of the Indian Union Territory. Though a very small, it was the largest French colony in India and the city has a long and interesting history of trade and war. Did all the bookings well in advance.

Two weeks before traveling, I prepared a list of items to carry in my handbag and what to pack in the suitcase. Flying with kids could be disastrous if you don’t plan and prepare in advance and you can`t travel light with kids. The handbag mostly had Agniv`s stuff like: water bottle, coloring book with crayon colors, few toys (1 or 2 new toys),cloth towel, extra set of clothes, hand sanitizer, old newspaper, snacks in different small containers, tissue paper, paper bag, spoon, straw, stole etc. (I prefer a backpack over shoulderbag) Planning and making a checklist of items to carry has always helped me in taking a trip.

Basic Essentials
For Agniv

Day 1:
Our flight was at 7.25 in the morning from Mumbai to Chennai which would take around 2 hours. The day before traveling I didn’t let Agniv sleep in the afternoon (he sleeps in the afternoon after coming from school for about 1.5 -2 hours). As he didn’t sleep in the afternoon he went to sleep at around 7 in the evening. On the day of our journey, I got up early, took bath, made breakfast, packed some snacks.
Took some effort to wake up Agniv. His father had to wake up also who just came at night from Guwahati.

Inside The Aircraft
Sleeping Peacefully

I have been telling this to Agniv since quite a few days that we will be traveling on a plane soon. Agniv already had experience of flying and was excited to get into a plane. Few minute after takeoff he went off to sleep and got up just before landing. And I was sooo.....happy, what else do u need? After reaching Chennai airport we took a cab to PMBT(bus station)and from there we took a bus to Pondicherry. The bus ride took almost 4 hours. Agniv enjoyed his bus ride,looking out of the window, munching on some snacks. He slept for an hour also then he kept popping through the window and would ask me every 15 minutes is the bus ride over?

We reached at around 3.30 in the afternoon, checked into the hotel, freshened up, had our food and after that we stepped out to explore the nearby places. Google map was our constant companion. Our first visit was to a nearby café called ZUKA CakeShop.
Before commencing this journey, I checked where is the hotel located, which are the nearby cafes and restaurants, how far are the tourist places from the hotel with reviews online. I ordered one Hot-chocolate after reading the reviews online. They served in a tiny cup of coffee with 2 pieces of chocolate block and one spoon made from chocolate. Never seen or had chocolate spoon before. Agniv was looking at me with amazement when I took a bite of the spoon. 

Hot Chocolate

From there we went to Sunday bazaar, which was at a walking distance. It is flocked by locals and tourists who come here to buy the wide range of products which are available at very affordable rates. Didn’t spend much time here as there was nothing of my interest and market was very crowded. We hardly spent around 30 minutes and from there we headed towards Xtasi café. Heard so much about this place online. Cant afford to miss visiting this place. Ordered one woodfire pizza. After a long time I had an amazing pizza. Agniv also enjoyed his share of Pizza. It was an early dinner for us as I was tired and sleepy and I wanted Agniv to get proper sleep and rest so that he won`t get cranky the next day. It is very important to get proper rest to children and better to sleep early and set out early the next day. Walked down to the hotel and went to sleep at 8 o`clock.
Selfie Time

Slice of Pizza

Day 2:

I got up before Agniv, had some tea, took bath, packed the bag for the day, which had some snacks like biscuits, dry fruits, cake, 2 water bottles, 2 stainless straw, one empty tiffin(to pack any leftovers), cash & card, sunscreen, a set of clothes for Agniv, tissue/towels, an antiseptic cream for minor bruises.

Eat Like A Local
After Agniv got up, took him for bath, got dressed and we were all set for the day. Agniv was very excited and I was praying everything to move smoothly. After breakfast at a local road side restaurant we took an Auto for the day, which was waiting outside tourist information center.
Our first stop was at Aruimigu Manakula Vinayagar Temple, a traditional Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Ganapati. My auto rickshawala Mr.Murugan guided me through the temple, explaining me about all the deities placed there.

From there I went to Auribindo Ashram which was nearby only, the favourite tourist destination. Though Agniv was about to turn 3 they didn’t allow him inside as kids below 3 years are not allowed. I left Agniv with Mr.Murugan (I took a risk here) and quickly finished off. I wanted to spent more time here but, may be next time. I was worried for Agniv and came out in 10 mins. And there he was with Mr. Murugan, such a relief.

From there we headed towards Auroville. The main attraction here is the "Matrimandir". After reaching Matrimandir a shaded 10-12 minute walk leads from the Visitors' Center to the Viewing Point. A free electric shuttle service is available for those who may find it difficult to walk the approx. 1 km distance each way. Free bus service is available for the return journey from the Viewing Point to the Visitors Center for all those who wish to avail of it. We took the shuttle services. We spent about 45 minutes there looking at the dome covered by golden discs, reflecting sunlight. Clicked some pics, went to the washroom and refilled our water bottles.
At MartiMandir

From here we went to a local restaurant for lunch and then to paradise beach. Agniv went off to sleep after lunch and I had to carry him till the booking counter for boat ride. He woke up before getting on the boat.

Paradise Beach is situated in Chunnambar, close to Pondicherry town. The beach is very clean with beautiful view. The boat house Is the entry point to the beach. The tourism department runs the cruise with capacity of about 15-20 passengers with the interval of 30 minutes. It takes about 15-20 minutes to reach the beach from the boat house. The cost per person both ways is Rs 300. Agniv was enjoying this ride with beautiful back water all along.
Ended the day`s tour after visiting The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Eglise de Notre Dame des Anges and Immaculate Conception Cathedral. Mr.Murugan dropped us near Rock beach. Did some shopping at Handicraft Emporium.

 For some quick snack we stopped at Lecafe which is located overlooking the beach. Great location with options to sit outside and inside. After spending an hour around rock beach we headed back to our hotel.

What an eventful day it was and I am surprised to see that Agniv enjoyed more than me and he didn’t trouble me at all.

At The Beach

 Day 3:

After having breakfast at a local restaurant, we went to see the museum which was closed yesterday. The museum is especially noted for its collection of fine lost wax bronzes form the period of the Chola Empire.

The Museum's collection includes 81 Chola bronze sculptures, ranking as one of the largest collections of Chola bronzes. We spent around 15 minutes there and from there went to bharti park. Bharti govt. park is at a walking distance from the museum in white town. A good place to sit and relax in the midst of mother nature. This park is surrounded by Government Hospital, Pondicherry Private Club, the Legislative Assembly and Lt. Governor's Palace. From there we walked down, exploring the by-lanes of white town, visited 2-3 shops, enjoying a stroll.

We slept for some time then in the evening I decided to visit Indian coffee house for some quick snacks. The place was packed, but we managed to find one table at a corner. Its a restaurant chain in India, run by a series of worker co-operative societies. It has strong presence across India with nearly 400 coffee houses. Our day ended with an evening stroll along the wide pavement of rocky beach, followed by dinner at Café Xtchi.

Dinner At Cafe Xtchi

The next day we took a bus back to Chennai and from Chennai to Mumbai we flew down With that our trip came to end and I am so glad I took this trip with Agniv.
What i learned from this trip is that the key ingredients to a smooth vacation when traveling with your little ones are to pay attention to their needs. Kids can adjust to any situation very easily provided there is right balance between rest time and activities. Now I am very confident to take up any trip with just two of us.

Way Back to Chennai By Bus

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Traveling with my Baby

My husband and myself love to travel on any given day. After traveling to different places in India and US between Nov to Feb(4 months) including visits to our native places in Assam (including some solo trips ), it was time to take rest.
And within a month I conceived. I guess traveling helped my  mind and body to relax, as were trying hard for last one year for a baby, followed by a miscarriage.

My pregnancy went smoothly and we had a lovely baby boy. Life became roller-coaster ride for us. But the travel bug was crawling inside me  and pinching me from time to time. Travel bug doesn’t come and go, it resides permanently inside you.

I desperately needed a break from the daily routine. Oopss did I say daily routine? Daily routine doesn’t change whether  you are at home or on a vacation, when you have a baby.

Our son was approaching his 1st birthday, and 10 days after that we had to leave for for our native place in Assam. Before going home, we took a short 3 days trip to Goa.

A week before the trip

One week before our trip, I introduced my son to formula milk (he didn’t have outside milk before). So in public places , I don’t have to cover him  or look for secluded place to breastfeed him.
I even made a checklist of items like his daily essentials and food items to carry. This helped me in what to pack and when to feed him what.

Checklist of Food items:

Day 1:
 Breakfast: Bread dipped in milk/warm water or cerelac or oats or powered cornflakes
Mid morning: formula milk
Lunch: MyLittleMoppet  Baby Foods instant Bajra Moondal powder
 After noon: breastmilk/ formula milk
Evening: scrambled egg
Dinner: dal rice/ khichidi

Day 2:
 Breakfast: same as day 1 or fruits
Mid morning: formula milk
Lunch: MyLittleMoppet  Baby Foods instant rice khichidi powder with  Moondal
 After noon: breastmilk/ formula milk
Evening: banana or  other fruits
Dinner: dal rice

Day 3:
 Breakfast: same as day 1and 2 or other alternative
Mid morning: formula milk
Lunch: MyLittleMoppet  Baby Foods instant Bajra Moondal powder
 After noon: breastmilk/ formula milk
Evening: cakes, biscuits, fruits
Dinner: khichidi or dal rice or roti

Below is the list of items to pack for a short trip:

  • ·                      Baby essential:
Diapers, extra set of clothes,
  •     Medicines:
  •   Toys and books
  •   Water boiled and cooled
  •  Containers and spoons
  •   Bibs
  • Formula milk powder
  • 2-3 feeding bottles
  • Electric kettle
  • Cloth bag

Below is the list of items to carry when out for the whole day:

  • ·      Milk
  • ·      Food items like fruits, cakes, biscuits
  • ·      Water boiled and cooled
  • ·      Warm water in a flask
  • ·      Diapers, wipes, 2-3 bips
  • ·      Extra set of clothes
  • ·      Medicines
  • ·      Sunscreen lotion
  • ·      2-3 toys or books to keep him entertained

I tried to maintain his schedule, which includes his meal time and nap time.
One the day our our journey our flight was schedule to depart at 4.30 in the evening from Mumbai airport. Our son got up at his usual time in the morning, had breakfast, played for some time, took bath and went to sleep. While he was sleeping we had our lunch, washed the utensils, got ready and everything was done. In the mean time he also got up, dressed him, breastfeed-ed him and we were ready to leave for the airport.

After checking in he had a banana. At this age they need to eat something at a gap of 2-3 hours. We still had time for boarding. Before boarding the flight I prepared his formula milk which he had during take off. And he slept and got up just before we landed.

We had a nice time together, though most of the time my concern was, whether he is enjoying or not, is he hungry or sleepy? .

What I understood from this trip at this age is that, we need to maintain his meal and nap time, so that they don’t become cranky and we all have a memorable vacation.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Halong Bay Trip

My husband and myself left for Halong Bay from Hanoi in the morning. We had no idea about this place before. The trip was arranged by Mrs Ha Thao –sales and Marketing manager of Joy Journey Hotel,our place of stay in Hanoi. And we are so grateful to them for suggesting us this trip. I guess a trip to Vietnam would have been incomplete,if one does not visit Halong Bay.
Halong bay is 4hours drive from the city of Hanoi. The consists of a dense cluster of some 1600 limestone monolithic islands each topped with thick jungle vegetation, rising  from the ocean and is one of Asia`s vast spectacular wonders. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994,it  is a vision of ethereal beauty and northern Vietnam`s number one tourism hub.

We reached in the afternoon. After waiting for sometime, we were taken to a large boat. Welcome drinks were served on our arrival on the boat. Here we met our Guide  Mr. Thang(not sure with the spelling), who briefed us about our schedule and things we will be doing at the Island. Here we met people from different parts of the world.
Janice and May mui are from USA of Chinese origin, Beate from Germany, Tamar and Lital from Israel.
After hogging on some delicious Vietnamese lunch ,we checked our rooms and freshened up and headed to Thien Cung Cave.

 We were astonished by the very animated and splendid beauty which is made from stalactite. It is one of the most magical caves as its name we have seen. Once visiting Thien Cung cave you will have a sensation of just having seen a unique and interesting fine-art museum which is created by nature. It is a perilous one and pictures are beyond imagination and intellect of the human beings.

Evening time was for kayaking. It was another experience of a lifetime. We went  Kayaking around hidden caves, secret lagoons, going where big boats cannot. Its an absolute paradise for nature lovers.
After kayaking for about 45 minute, we were back to the boat. Talking to our new friends and Watching a magnificent sunset from sundeck was so relaxing for the body and mind, I wish we could spend some more days like that.

The real beauty of Halong bay is best experienced abroad an island cruise. There are many cruise boats ply the emerald sea and spending at least one night on the bay is a must. Ended our 1st day with delicious Vietnamese dinner.

Next day morning we were taken to another island. Upon reaching we were given bicycles to explore a nearby village. I have not ride a bicycle for ages, so was not comfortable riding one and it was same with my new friend May. So we got hold of a local guy, who took us there and back in his scooty. The village propitiously welcoming us with its curvy mountain lane. We felt as if we were at our village back home.

Later in the evening we reached Catba Island. We all stayed at different hotels. After resting for some time, we went for an evening stroll, visited the local market and said our final good buy to Jenice and May. It was so wonderful meeting them and hope we meet them again very soon. (In fact we did plan to meet May on our visit to Sanfransisco, she invited us for dinner also, but things didn’t work and we couldn’t meet.)

With Jenice and May Mui

Next day morning we left for Hanoi with a stopover at an island for lunch with around 20 strangers.
Finally we reached Hanoi at around 5 in the evening. It was one of the best tour and the best part was meeting so many new people.

Halong bay and Cat Ba Island is photographers paradise. It has stunning natural scenery and ideal for capturing magnificent photos, specially during sunrise and sunset.
The Boat Family

Thursday, July 5, 2012

IIFA Diaries 2012,Singapore

IIFA Award for Best Sound Design for the movie Ra.One.

Mr.Amrit Pritam Dutta With his IIFA Award.

Mr.Amrit Pritam with his Wife.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Malacca Tour


We headed for Malacca aka Melaca, after spending a splendid week in Singapore. Melaca was not on our itinerary list as we had not heard of this place before. It was our friend who suggested not to miss this third smallest Malaysian State.

And I am glad we took the decision of visiting Mallacca. Malacca is 245 km from Singapore and 148 km from Kualampur. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7th July 2008. The state capital Malacca town, is strategically located between the two national capitals in Malaysia and Singapore and connected with excellent roads and highways.

About Malacca:

Malacca is 245 km from Singapore and 148 km from Kualampur. It has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 7th July 2008. The state capital Malacca town, is strategically located between the two national capitals in Malaysia and Singapore and connected with excellent roads and highways.

According to a popular legend, when Parameswara stopped under a tree near a river (Malacca river) while hunting,  one of his hunting dogs was pushed by a mouse deer when the later was defending herself, the dog fell into the river. Impressed by the courage of the deer, Parameswara took this as a propitious sign of the weak overcoming the powerful and decided to build his new kingdom on that spot naming it Malacca after the tree under which he had been resting.

We took a bus with only 4 passengers on board. My husband and myself and two gentlemen. The bus left at its scheduled departure time. There was no stoppage in between except one at the check post, where we had to get down to the immigration process. The bus was waiting for us while we clear customs and immigration. It took 3 hours to reach the Malacca Sentral bus station. From there we took panorama bus no. 17 to Stadthuys. We followed the directions mentioned in to reach our guesthouse which we had booked at Riverone Guest House over the internet.

At Malacca Sentral Bus Station.

About Riverone Guesthouse:

Riverone guesthouse is located along the Malacca river and it is only 10 minutes walk to most of the tourist spots. The guest house provides shared dining area with kitchen utensils and free coffee & tea 24hrs, free WiFi, shared bathroom with 24hrs hot and cold shower, free bicycle rental and currency exchange upon request. The rooms are very clean. 

Inside view of the guesthouse

                                                                                 View of Malacca river from the guesthouse.

The kitchen

The kitchen.

Day 1:
After resting for some time, we went for an evening stroll along the Malacca River. We enjoyed the fantastic street and artistic view of houses with amazing, vividly colored murals by local artists.

With a local artist.

With a local artist.

There are many bars and cafes along the river. We were lucky to find a wonderful restaurant beside the river. Little moma`s restaurant. We spent our evening at Malacca, relaxing in the restaurant over some drinks followed by dinner. 

Dinner at Little Momma`s restaurant.
At Little Momma

Day 2:

Breakfast at Little Momma

Breakfast at Little Momma

Glimpses of the great city had us intrigued & ready to explore, next day. Beauty of Malacca city lies in its beauty and historical background and architecture.

Heavily decorated bicycle rickshaw in Mallaca

The famous places to visit are:
A famosa: fortress built by the Portugal admiral, Alfonso d` Albuquerque in 1511.
Christ Church

In front of Christ Chruch.

Stadthuys: it was built in 1650 as the official residence of Dutch governors and their officers.
St. john`s fort.
Taming Sari tower

View from  Taming Sari Tower

View from the tower

Inside Taming Sari Tower

Malacca Sultanate Palace (cultured museum).

       Malacca Sultanate Palace

As dusk fell, it was time to go for a Malacca River cruise. Malacca River cruise gets a feel of as if we are in Venice.. One can see the multi-cultural and historical fabric of the country. Diverse architecture, along its banks, warehouses, temples, churches, mosques and Malay village can be seen. Touring time for Malacca River Cruise is about 45 minutes, covering a distance of 10 km. The boats are available daily at every thirty minute interval between the following times: 9.30am to 5pm and 6pm to 12 midnight. The cruise boat passes under many bridges.

Day 3:

Night Market

Visit to Malacca would have been incomplete without visiting the Jonker walk night market. Malacca night market opens only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6 pm to 12 midnight. There are lots of stalls that sell unique arts and crafts, souvenirs, jewelry etc along the Jonker street. Delicious food and entertainment can be enjoyed over there.

Spending 3 days was not enough as we couldn’t cover all the tourists’ places, but would love to come here again and again. It was indeed the kind of ending we had dreams of.