Babies & travelling light

Flying with the infant is always a challenge. With the stroller, baby bags, diapers, food and supplies for the trip etc. always make me end up paying baggage allowance. We as adults can switch brands & are flexible about what and when we eat. However our kids are not.

Solution: I order baby supplies (diapers, formulae feed, wipes, some clothes and toys) online and get it shipped to my travel destination.

This way I don’t have to carry them in the flight and pay excess baggage. Also I don’t have to face the inconvenience of trying to find a store nearby and hunt for these products. Also many of the products (even from reputed companies) have a localization factor. As a result, the flavor, color and texture might change a little bit. And with kids the closest substitutes often does not work and my worst nightmare would be that it worked so well that my kid would only want that flavor (even after coming back home)

Fortunately for me most E-commerce sites are ready to deliver for free.(or cost less than what airline company charge) Also concierges of reputed hotels are kind enough to hold the parcel for me.

Hopefully this Diwali, I can travel & enjoy for a week without turning into a porter carrying the provisions & supplies.

PS: Please share your tips for baby gear as well (bathing tubs, stroller & bouncer)


Against all odds

How many things do you think can go wrong in a single trip? And how desperate do you think the guys would be to still carry on?

It was Friday night and we 3 vacation deprived colleagues decided to go on a road trip
1. The plan was finalized at 1pm, but was followed by the usual dance of Yes and No… People agree to the trip, then start cooking excuses for why they are terribly busy and cannot make it. (sometimes I believe girls are less fickle minded than my friends) However by 10pm all were in sync.
2. First vehicle breakdown: Friday 10:30pm: My vehicle battery got drained due to insulation issue. (please note that all the 3 persons were in 3 different centers)
3. The never ending rains that evening making even the slightest logistic movement impossible due to never-ending traffic
4. 11:00pm finally we started, however within 200m the second vehicle was driven into a crater (3 feet wide pot hole without a bottom) It took us 30 min amidst heavy downpour to lift one of the tires of the car and slide it back to the road (getting a tow truck was impossible and the crater was too big and deep for a jack to operate
5. My shoe was a casualty of the entire exercise dooming me for the rest of the journey as I was not carrying an alternative.
6. The music system leads also got disconnected creating a lot of awkward silence
7. There was endless traffic at the toll gate followed by a second queue at the Tamil Naidu state entry resulted in us travelling a distance of ~40km in 5 hours on a 6 lane national highway.
8. At 3am when the road cleared up, I am getting frustrated as the car is travelling at 40km/hr. The driver is complaining that due to heavy rains, and possibly a headlight problem he is not able to have a clear vision to speed up.
9. BTW I forgot to mention, the 3rd friend was so delighted to find the back seat to lie down, that he started snoring (no stereo to drown the irritating noises)
10. So I forced him to park the car, with the clear intention of snatching the keys and commandeer the vehicle. However I discovered the tire that landed in that ditch is busted. It is wrong to call it a puncture when I can stick my finger in the hole.
11. We discovered that although there is a spare tire, the car does not have the right tools to switch it. So we traveled to the nearest mechanic, banged the door enough times to be greeted by the cursing of the guy who has just been woken from a deep slumber. (He changed our tire for less $2/- and yet we felt he was over paying him… God I love India)

One thing I must admire about my friends, they had been awake for the past 22 hours, worked hard the entire day and it’s almost dawn and we have another 6 hours of journey ahead of us. Yet in spite of all this mishaps (I would like to call adventures), nobody cursed the trip/planner/driver/car/weather/ location. I guess even the God yielded to our determination and it stopped raining and we could see the first rays of the sun.

We were back on the road, reached Kodaikanal by 12:30pm, slept till evening, partied at night, and drove back by 7am.
The remaining trip was also not boring. We had to literally drag our tired ass to 7 hotels before we could find one that had a vacancy. On the way back one friend had a minor case of motion sickness, while the other was so thrilled that the stereo was miraculously restored that he entered into an endless loop of breakup songs.

In short, I have been vacation deprived for the past 6 months and this trip was a real stress buster

ride vs drive

why is it that you drive a car but ride the bike?
you ride in a train, on the horse… but drive me crazy.

wonder what is the rule for selecting drive and ride

Brugge or Bruges trip

Walking in the streets of Belgium and rowing in the canals of Bruges make me realize how important history is for Europeans. Even the cities bombed during the World War have rebuilt their cities in the way it had been for centuries before the wars. Even in cities where there are new constructions, residents have tried hard to give it the same look and feel as the historical buildings. Not only has this reinforced the visual delight of living in history rather than making the entire city look like a concrete jungle.
India also has several historical structures that are older and more majestic than what is seen abroad. However I still don’t know of any city where walking on the old city gives the same pleasure. Most of the old city have so crowded and have narrow streets that navigating there without the threat of being stuck in the traffic jam or your pocket being picked. The sanitation level of the older sections of Indian cities are low and often the streets don’t have sufficient sunlight, fresh air or even clean. The smell alone can drive people away.
The solution Indian government has adopted is to evacuate people from the ancient structures in the same of preserving these structures or public safety. In several areas government has even torn down the sections of our heritage in the name of modernization and infrastructure. However why can’t our antique buildings and their inhabitants co-exist the same way they do elsewhere?

ABCD (American born confused desi)

One of the hardest things to be is being a second generation Indian immigrant. The parents still tend to have the same set of values and expectations that they witnessed in India 20-30 years ago, while the fantasy world of Bollywood movies show a kind of society that is quite similar to the west or their adopted country. They don’t realize that Hindi movies are a fantasy land and often bear little resemblance with Indian culture and society, while the parents don’t realize that over the past 20-30 years the culture and values in India have modernized quite considerably.

Indians unlike the folks from China and Middle East try extra hard to mingle with the local population of their new country. There a conflict of the values and culture which they need to have to be cool enough in front of their friends and what they are expected to practice at home.

Most likely it is a short transitional phase which most people in societies facing rapid changes and development face.