Sunday, January 14, 2018

LEGO Theme Birthday Party - Avika

We suddenly got into panic mode in Oct 2017 when realized just 30 days left for Avika's 5th birthday on 6th Nov. Started searching for theme and zeroed down on Peppa Pig. Researched further and realized that Peppa pig theme would be difficult to manage logistically. There were common themes available like Barbie , frozen etc. We have raised our benchmark by beautifully organizing Avika's 3rd birthday with Balloon theme party. Got an idea to have Lego theme party. Started searching for place , invitation list , party planner , return gifts , Avika's dress and cake. We decided on Club 26 Noida as venue and "Birthday Surprise " as party planner.  

Feedback form designed by Aakriti

Aakriti started preparation and created return gifts handbags , writing pads , message frames.

Considering 6th Nov being Monday , we were apprenhensive about guests coming on time. We reached the venue in afternoon and met Simran (party planner). First reaction of the d├ęcor was superb. I was very particular about finishing quality of blocks. They looked well packaged and in all sizes. 

Guests started coming in by 6 PM and we were all ready to welcome them.

Family Pic(Aakriti , Avika, Gaurav)

Shoot the cans (Game for kids)

Lego games
Navya , Avika and krishank)School friends)
BFF(with Meher)

Master Builder

Loved her expressions

Attititure , swag and freedom (Expressions)

With lots of gifts , fun laughter and memories , we wrapped up Lego party at 9 in evening. 

Avika's happiness was priceless and would cherish for lifetime. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Trip to Amsterdam , Spain & Greece in May end 2016

From Western to Southeastern Europe ; traveling by plane , bus, train , metro , tram , cycle , ferry , ship ; total travel distance of approx 15,000 KM;walking of 1.3 Lacs Steps & 89 Km ;it was a fun filled and adventurous holiday for 6 and half of us. (half here is the stroller without which this trip could not have been possible).

From sleeping overnight at Barcelona airport and still near miss flight  ,to almost losing passports in athens airport , to riding cycles in countryside of Amsterdam , to skydiving in Spain ,to scuba and cliff jumping in santorini , to swimming in open sea , tp smoke filled coffee shops in Amsterdam , to loads of beer, wine and sangaria , to driving to Spain border to explore vegas of spain , to caught by Spanish police , to living the Zindagi na Milegi Dobara moment , to watching the most beautiful rainbow of my life , to visiting th all possible non touristy places , this vacation was memorable.

If you like a planned holiday , can't sleep without eating Indian curry in night , like visiting all places which are there in typical tourist map , can't take risks , scared of traveling in local bus/metro , don't like to talk to locals ; this blog might not help you. I have also visited EUROPE in 2012 in Group tour with SOTC and you see a comparison in various places .

10 Travel Tips of traveling in Europe:

1. SIM Card - Buy from local airport
2. Communication in Spain - Learn few basic communicaiton sentence
3. Travel Light
4. Stay in apartement ; local advice (airbnb types)
5. Plan in advance
6. Skip museaums some time and do relaxing afternoon
7. Buy a day pass in Europe for unlimited travel in Metro /Bus
8. Supermarket /Grocery shops are much cheaper to stock breakfast/beer/wines

HOW much should I budget per day?

I will only list out the basic expenditure per day per person as a guideline for you. This guideline will allow you stress free travel with occasion indulging in fine dining or pampering. Feel free to adjust according to your needs.
Food – €20
Public Transportation In the City – €7
Accommodation – €40 per person for twin sharing / €80 for 1 person
Sightseeing – €20
Emergency Use – €8
Therefore it is about €95 per day per person to be comfortable. By budgeting on some meals, around €10 per day, you will be able to enjoy some fine dining as well.
This budget does not include shopping as it is very subjective & intercity transport as it depends what mode of transportation you plan to take & how many places you will be visiting.
Pro Tip for Airlines - Budget airlines - Ryanair and Vueling
Not To Miss - GYROS and Crepes in Fira santorini
Massage in Amsterdam airport (2 Euros)

 The cliffside towns of Oia and Fira are the two main towns on the inner side of the island. Both towns overlook the famous caldera. Both these towns offer great sunset views and angles to get photos of blue-topped churches and blue-rimmed houses. 

Amsterdam – There’s more to the city than just coffee shops and red lights. I love this city so much, I lived here for a short period of time in 2006. Cobblestone and brick streets weave around lovely canals. Amsterdam has a vibrant art and music scene and friendly locals willing to help you out.

Finally, Ryanair’s check in luggage policy, hand carry policy &flight policy are very stringent and stingy. The hand carry luggage is smaller than Easyjet and when you miss your flight, it is all over ( new tickets are very expensive ) where else Easyjet allows u to change flight with some charges. Worst, for Ryanair, you need to check in online, if not a hefty charge is imposed!

And my biggest culture advice is to not expect everyone to speak English to you. Many people do as it is a universal language, but we had a much better experience and response from the locals when we tried to speak in the native language first, no matter how dumb we sounded. It is not only smart, it is respectful.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Skydiving in Empuriabrava - Yessss I did it!

Up here we’re all equals.
We all float. We all feel. We are all intensely alive.

Shall we fly? Shall we jump?YESSSSSS
Jump from 4000 meters and free fall of 50 sec

Skydive Empuriabrava is the world’s most popular skydiving zone, is set in unique, natural surroundings: Empuriabrava (Girona).We drove for 150 kms from Barcelona to Empuriabrava. Its a drive of about 90 minutes. This is the same place where shooting for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara took place. 

They have 3 packages; Silver, Gold and Platinum . We opted for Gold Tandem Package. If you book it on the venue , it costs Euro 365  that includes Tandem Jump, Pics, Video and a Tshirt. We booked it online and it costs Euro 350 (100 Euros for the Video and Pics). So Ankit, Kunal (My Brother in Law's) and we got the jump confirmation for 1st June 2 PM. We all three were nervous, however Kunal was the most vocal about it. It was in my bucket list for a long time, and I thought that If I have to do it, have got do it now. 
The instructions were not to have alcohol or heavy breakfast before the jump. Also one should not do air travel or scuba 24 hours after the jump. We reached there at 1:30  pm on 1st June. Had a quick breakfast of spanish Omlettes in Windoor. This is a indoor skydiving and wind tunnel flying. Professional practice or beginners learn to fly. We were at the reception at 2 in the afternoon. At reception, the counter staff asked us to fill up and sign the mandatory forms. This was a basic form which says that organization is not responsible for any mishap etc. Also mentioned there was ideal weight for tandem jump is 90 or less. Kunal weight was 88. Perfect. Ankit and I were overweight. Overscared. and obviously over nervous. There were few frantic calls in spanish by counter staff representative and some one from the authority. We could only understand our weight and name. Then a lady official appeared and told us that the best time for over weight Tandem jumps are between 1-2 Afternoon depends upon the wind. She asked us to wait at the reception itself. After few minutes, counter staff got the confirmation that wind condition is good and we 3 can jump together. We were happy. We got the T Shirt and all three of us were ready. They gave us a remote device and asked us to wait for the buzzer in the open area. About 2:15 PM it buzzed and it was our turn.  

Marcus was my instructor. He had jumped 7000 times. Kunal's instructor had 14,000 jumps to his credit. We felt relaxed that we are in safe hands. The person who was taking our video told me that I looked nervous. I was not at that time actually. But there was a sense of uneasiness. Our wives were busy finishing the breakfast until then. Marcus and other instructors took us through safety instructions and steps to do. It was a 5 minute training and after that we started walking towards our plane. 
We were 5 jumpers, and with each, an instructor and photographer jumps. So there were 15 of us to fit into a small plane. There was one photographer, sitting on the edge of the opened door. It was like people stand on the Mumbai Local Train door. We were smiling and chatting inside the place. And then we reached the 4000 meters altitude. Ankit to go first and then it was my turn and finally Kunal's turn. Ankit had been asked to jumped sideways . Marcus told me not to follow Ankit style. I had to jump from front. Plane door opened. I could see sky and small rectangles downstairs. Marcus had given me last minute instructions. My heart beat was fast and could hear my heart pumping. I asked him to repeat the instructions as I forgot completely. He told me now no time. Ankit just jumped.  Now it was my turn. I was on the edge and jumped. Didn't get time to think and decide whether I should jump or not. Not jumping was anyway not an option. It was a 50 sec free fall. First 5 sec, I could not feel anything. I saw underneath. After that I noticed the Video/Photographer in front of me. I was trying to recollect the steps which Marcus instructed. On time realized to smile and thumbs up for better photo. After all we paid 100 Euros extra for video. They were the life changing 50 seconds of my life. Then Marcus opened the Parachute. It was an experience of a life time. I felt still in the sky even though we were still coming down fast. Marcus told me that I did a very good job and followed the instructions perfectly. 

The view was amaaaaaazinnngngng. I could see canals, open sea, farm fields etc. Marcus and I did a landing rehearsal to bend knees. We landed smoothly. I was so excited . And immediately, Kunal landed. We were so excited. I had the muffled ears. Also my throat was dry. 

With Marcus

Bottom's UP

It was a life changing event. I am glad I did it and craving for more. Even today , when I think of the moment just before the jump, a smile comes on my face and I feel like closing my eyes and want to cherish that wonderful memory. Please share your view, comments and experiences in the comment section below.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Biwi Chalisa

Please note: This has nothing to do with the writer personal life. This note has already passed by Internal Biwi Board for potential domestic violance.
Resembalance to any one is coincidental.
Please also note : This is written in good humour and not to hurt religious sentiments



Jai Biwi gyan gun sagar
Mr. Pati tum Baitho door jakar

Shopping loot , har samay bas drama
Joru, Wife ,Patni , sut nama

Morning Rant shuru subah -se
Pati bechara jiye to jiye kaise

Vidyavaan guni ati chatur
Sarcastic Remarks karibe ko aatur

Romantic roop kabhi kabhi dikhava
Jewellery , diamonds ka meva chadava

House , family , in laws sambhale
Office ke bhi ke kaj sanvare

Sari groccery pati ko Likhan Jiyaye
Tum aaloo pahadi kyon laye

Pati kya jaane pahadi aaloo
Tamatar , pyaj , tinde se shadi karvaloo

Raju , pappu aur munni ke papa

Ghar main khatam ho gaya hai aata

Shadi main pandit ne 7 kasmain padai

7 janmon ke liye taang adayi

Shak , gussa , tevar tum laave
Tum office se der se kyon aave

Tum office main kya kar rahe te

Phone kyon nahin uta rahe te
Tum upkar bas ek hi keenha

Pati ko Sunday ko sleeping allow kar deenha

Tumharo mantra “Crying” maana

Ab to credit card company ne bhi jaana
Zyada card swipe hua jab din bhar ,
Message aaya – “Sir ,
thanks for shoppin. Ham samajh sakte hain aapka dard” ,

Biwi ke bina koi sukh nahee

Multi - talented hai achraj nahee
Durgaam karya jagat ke jete
Life cotrol tumhare tete

Sub sukh lahae tumhari sar na

Tum ek insaan , kahe ko darna

Nakhun tej tumharo aapai

Scratches , bruises dekh ke kampe

Bhoot pisaach Nikat nahin aavai

Biwi – Biwi , jab naam sunavae

Sare rog harae sab peera

Japat nirantar caring beera

Jo Biwi ki pooja karvai

Sara jeevan meetha phal pavae

Baal - Bachhon ki tum Rakhware

Proud to be hum pati tumhare

Locker, bank a/c ke key tumhare pasa

Sada raho hum tumhare dasa

Karva Chauth par vrat rakh jayee

Chand dekhkar ke hi khana khayee

Sankat kate-mite sab peera

Bolo Biwi and leave shakira

Jai Jai Jai Biwi Gosahin

Biwi ki ho jaise 10-11 Bhujaayain

Jo yah padhe Biwi Chalisa
Saath main travel , mile jaldi Visa


Monday, January 2, 2012

Chitradurga - The road never* travelled

Chitradurga - The Road never* Travelled

*by me

The date was 30th Dec 2011 (Saturday)and time was 2 PM. Since aakiti was in delhi, I didn't want to spend partying in Bangalore. Desparately wanted to go out of Bangalore. So decided this trip.

Sometimes you intend to ask for unpredictability . Nothing sure. Absolutely nothing. Intentially no research done. No planning. Just pack my bags( extra T shirt, shorts, Tooth paste and charger) and at 2:30 Pm , i was sitting on the Volvo which was going to Majestic Bus stand in Bangalore.Still not sure where I am going but was equally aware that have to join back in office on Monday morning.Meanwhile I have sent an SMS to Siddharth that I am unwell and couldn;t attend his new year house party(apologies for lying but I hope you can understand).

I don't know but I certainly like Bus stands. At 3:15 I was at Majestic bus stand. First step in these type of trips is to take a full round of all buses ready to go.

I had 2 conditions in mind before taking the bus :

1. Bus should be delux and comfortable (where it is going- doesn's matter)
2. The distance should be maximum 6 hours so that I can reach the destination by 9 PM.

Though there were all Karnataka state transport buses , there were 2 volvo types one. First on was going to Pune( 12 hours) and other one was going to Davangire.

Liked the Davangire bus , liked the comfortable seats , and Bangalore - Davangire by bus is 6 hours. Sat in the bus since it was completing both the conditions.

Bus was going via Chitradurga to Davangire. Till now no clue completely that what is there in Davangire. Never heard before as well.

Task 1 accompalished. Always divide your goals and enjoy once you achieve that.

I was reading a book " The winning way" by Harsha bhogle. Would like to quote an interesting point from that book.

If a cricket team has to score 350 runs in 50 overs, the team must divide the targes. Like first try to achieve 100 in first 15 overs with losing 1 wicket. 30 in another 5 overs.

once they score 250 in 40 overs , then go for a kil of targeting 350 overs.

Sometimes life is also like this. you acheive goals step by step. Sometimes you make life unpredictable and enjoy the flavour of uncertanity. The later is true for me for this trip.

Once I sat in the bus, i started interacting with fellow passengers then is there hotels in Davangire.found out yes. Is there any good places to see? Found out No.

the pther fellow passenger told me that there is one fort in Chitradurga.

So I called up Aakriti to check on the internet about these 2 places. So not next important question was to get down at Chitradurga or Davangire. the distance between these 2 places is 60 Km.

After some basic research , decided to get down at Chitradurga. Any way ,there was always an option to take another bus and go to Davangire. but could save 1 hour.

Time was 7:15 pm and got down at Chitradurga bus stand. Surprised to see branded outlets , consumer durable shops and market was extremely crowded.

Next goal was to find out a decent hotel to stay. Near to the bus stand, stayed in a decent hotel - Hotel Amogh International. he room tariff was 500 for 24 hours check out. Nice room with TV, gyser and pillows. What else you need.

Place done. Stay done. NOw to find out where to party in Chitradurga.

another interesting point is to interact with localities in Hindi. ANd the awkard moment for them wherein they try to listen , understand and help you out.

The hotel front desk guy told me to go to Aishwarya fort hotel. Looked like a decent name. So here we go.

loud music, DJ , dance floor big speakers. Seems like perfect place for a new year party.only hitch was they were playing kannada songs.

Spoken to DJ , cajoled him to play atleast 1 -2 english /hindi songs. Amazing bonfire open restaurant. Could see all local families . Ordered liquor, and starters.

You won;t believe that by 10 Pm , the restaurant was completely full. I was slightly drunk. DJ now played hidi songs - Tu tu tu mera hero , tu mera hero... Respect for DJ. Place full of Kannadiga's , DJ was playing songs of my choice.

I joined the local group and danced till wee hours. Was a memorable new year 2012.

Next day morning on 31st , got up late at 9 am. Plan was to see the fort .

After managing the language challenge and explaining to the Auto guys, I reached the Chitradurga fort. It happened to be one of the 14 historical place in Archealogical survey of India.

Entered in and started trekking. it was a huge place and didn't know what's in store ahead.

The fort was full of local people, school kids etc.

These people were looking at me as unexpected alien.

Ony guide asked me :

That guy - Saaar
Me- Yes
That guy - Which country
Me - America (just for fun)
That guy - India..When?
Me - 2 days back
That Guy - Cold haan?

I didn;t want to extend this conversation. So i told him that I am an Indian and from Bangalore. He didn;t believe and followed me for sometime.

There was a huge hil and was on a 60 degree incline. there were small steps, but you need crawl like a monkey. It was quite difficlut to reach on top but got the sense of acheivement.

Identified a small place to sit in between 2 big rocks. slept while gazing the slightly cloudy sky. Then got up , read a book for couple of hours. it was coming into a dream new year.

Accepting every challenge and be ready for the next....

Taken a KSRTC bus back to Bangalore at 3:10 pm and reached Bangalroe at 8PM.

Would you like to do these kind of trip???????

Sunday, September 4, 2011

SOTC Magical Europe - Italy Venice Day 10

1st Sep 2011

It was the last day of our holiday and off course lst day of Italy. Before I start writing about Venice and its amazing Gandola ride , let me point out my observations on this SOTC Europe trip:

  1. Don't try to convert from Euro's to INR on every purchase. Europe is expensive wherein water is of 2 Euros and Beer is of 1.5 Euros. A banana will cost you 1 euro which means 65 Rs. So no point comparing. But I can't resist writing that using public Toilet is not free and cost as hish as 1.5 Euros means 100 Rs.

  2. I must credit our SOTC tour manager Saif for hih attention to details on the toiletology.He knew exactly where to fing the toilet, whether it is paid or free , how much to pay and how to pay i.e a black guy or a lady in the yellow jacket. It goes upto the limit that our meeting common point after photo shoot was near the toilet in Vatican city.

  3. After Indian dinner every day ,ocassional Burps and Farts were complimentaty from the group members.

  4. Since it was a mixed group , one enjoy interacting with different cultures , people etc. Aunty/Uncle from Ahemdabad were carring their favorite Dhokla, dhepla, and imagine -- please imagine making bhep puri with onion , tomoto and lemon in venice. How romantic. Pun intended.

  5. There is no hidden cost.

  6. Please mind that you travel in a coach from one country to another. And eating is not allowed in the coach.We have traveled approx 4800 Km in 10 day including 2200 Km in Italy in 3 days.

  7. Walking is mandatory and in few places , we even walked for 4 kms at a stretch But cobbled streets are pedastrian firendly and whether supports walking.

8. European hotels have no concepts of Porters. We need to take our luggage from our coach to the room and back on our own. It is advised to travel light. And we had changed 6 hotels.

Our days starts with the magical numbers. 6,7,8 number means 6' O Clock wake up call, 7 'O Clock Breakfast and 8'O Clock in the Bus.
So we have started at 0800 AM after taking group photo shoot. .Lago Verde was our hotel was in Florence. It is surrounded by a lake and mountains. Lago verde is an Italian word which means Green Lake in english.rooms were confortable , even had extra room and two beds for kids. Breakfast was simple consists of Brad , Butter , Jam , Juice, Yogurt.

We reached Venizia or Venice at 1200 Noon.

History of Venice

Situated on the Adriatic sea , Venice was the most prosperous sailors in all of Europe. The buildings of venice are constructed on the closely spaced wooden piles. the foundations rest on these piles and bulldings of brick and stone sit above these footings. Most of these piles were made of alder trees , a wood noted for its water resistance.

The best part of Venice was the Gandola ride. This is the best way to see venice from inside. the most romantic place on earth after Switzerland is Venice.

The Gandola ride was not part of the package . It costed us 105 Euros for 6 person.

Our free time ended at 1600 hours and started back to our hotel in florence. We started our journey to Milan ( The fashion capital of Italy) . The day ended at 2200 hours at our 4 star hotel in Malpeza.