Living life the smart way today #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution

February has been an extremely difficult month for me on a personal level. With the toddler and me falling sick every alternate week, my writing journey had almost come to a standstill. I barely managed to write one single travel post related to Shillong this month. In one of the lowest phase of my writing career, the only good news that brought the much-needed respite and happiness was this post winning the Indiblogger Pan India #GetfitwithFlipkart contest. Probably this is a cue for me to get a grip on life and restart my writing journey.

I promise to return with some delightful posts in the month of March. Until then, I leave you with this winning post that will always stay special for being my first post in the genre of technology.

soniasmusings


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samsung-galaxy-grand My first SmartPhone – Samsung Galaxy

The first introduction to smart technology

I have always been a little old-fashioned when it comes to embracing technological advancements. In my family, I was the last one to own a smartphone. Seven years back, my senior citizen father chose to welcome his new Samsung smartphone as a treasured possession while I still preferred my qwerty keypad mobile. Strangely, today I can’t even think of surviving without my smartphone since it has become such an integral part of my existence. In the present scenario, innovation in science and technology is essential for survival in a rapidly evolving environment. With the changing times, products which were earlier considered as luxury goods eventually decided to rebrand or reposition themselves as essential commodities.

godrej security camera The Godrej Camera in our house – Pic source: Flipkart

Smart Security Camera – touching many lives

One of the first smart products…

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Serene Shillong as the next stop in the #XploreBharat series


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Hello travelers, hope you are enjoying the ride on #XploreBharat express that has covered eight destinations until now with the most recent trip to Kashmir by Saba yesterday. Today it reaches a part of the country famous for its natural beauty and unique customs – Meghalaya in the mesmerizing North East.

The backstory –

Mesmerizing Shillong
Mesmerizing Shillong

In 2002, my first post-graduation took me to Delhi. My address for the two years that I lived in the city was the North Eastern Students Hostel/House for Women. It was here that I was introduced to the variety and richness in our culture. The North East stands out from the rest of the country for being a matriarchal society where the man leaves his premarital home to stay with his wife and her family and also takes up her surname. It took me more than one and a half decade to start exploring this part of the country but I am glad that it began with a family trip to Shillong in Meghalaya in Oct 2017. 

In Sept 2017, two things happened – I started this blog and my son turned two. While junior T has been traveling with us since he was one and a half months old, it had mainly been to sea beaches and places of historic significance. So, my husband and I decided to make Shillong as the first hill station destination for him. Needless to say, the excitement of an unexplored destination was equally appealing to both of us.

The journey –

Enroute Shillong
Enroute Shillong

Shillong has a fully functional airport though Air India is the only flight operator that connects Shillong to a handful of cities. Though there was a direct flight from Kolkata airport to Shillong, we felt that the best way to travel was to take a flight to Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati first and then cover the rest of the distance by car. It takes three to three and a half hours from Guwahati to reach Shillong by road. Most of the resorts usually arrange for a pickup and drop facility on request though cabs are also available on hire. The journey is quite comfortable because of the four-lane roads which never get too steep. Also, the entire stretch is filled with a gorgeous view. There are a couple of eateries on the way for a quick meal like Jiva restaurant.

The stay –

Ri Kynjai resort
Ri Kynjai Resort

While there were multiple options available within the Shillong city namely Hotel Polo Towers, The Habitat, Tripura Castle among others, we decided to stay in the boutique resort Ri Kynjai (click here for detailed review) in Umiam district, a little away from the main city of Shillong. The location of the resort is its biggest asset. It is just opposite Lake Umiam also known as Barapani which is one of the main tourist attractions in the state. Overlooking the Umiam lake and mountains, the resort had all the modern amenities without compromising on the feel of royalty and tranquility. 

The lounge area
The lounge area of the resort

Places to visit –

Shillong Church
Shillong Church

The places for sightseeing includes

  1. Umiam Lake – It is also known as Barapani and offers boating facilities to visitors.
  2. Don Bosco Museum – The Museum houses and documents the various indigenous cultures, arts and crafts of North East India.
  3. Elephant FallsIt is also known ‘The Three Step Waterfalls’ because it consists of three falls in succession.
  4. Shillong Peak – It offers a panoramic view of the city.
  5. Shillong golf course – It is one of the largest golf courses in Asia.
  6. Butterfly Museum – It is a delight to take a tour of this museum
  7. Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians also referred to as Shillong Church – The Cathedral is the principal place of worship of the over 300,000 Catholics of the Shillong Archdiocese which covers RI Bhoi and East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya. 
  8. Lady Hydari Park – This place offers a spectacular view of flowers, birds, and animals. A portion is allocated to the Zoo that houses animals like bear, deer among many others. Fishes in the ponds, variety of birds and a colorful and well-maintained garden with flowers in full bloom is a sight to behold.
Lady Hydari Park
Lady Hydari Park

Local market –

Police Bazaar
Police Bazar

No visit to Shillong can be complete without a visit to the local market known as Police Bazar. Shillong is famous for its bamboo handicrafts, cheap electronic goods, and woolen clothes. This market provides ample option for each though I would like to advise that almost all the prices are negotiable and thus bargaining is a virtue to shop here. The market also has a huge sweet shop Delhi Mistaan Bhandar that caters to the taste buds of people from every corner of the country (their jalebis are definitely a must-try). There’s also a movie theatre Gold cinemas at the end of the street.  

Local cuisine –

Cafe Shillong
Delicacies of Cafe Shillong

While Sao Aiom, the in-house restaurant of Ri Kynjai provided us with the option of a Khasi cuisine along with Indian and Chinese varieties, we ended up having Bengali cuisine like Prawn Malai Curry instead. In fact, there are multiple restaurants in and around Police Bazar that serve different varieties of dishes, especially Chinese and Tibetian. One place that is a must visit is Cafe Shillong overlooking the buzzing Don Bosco Square with a beautiful ambiance and serves the best Irish cafe along with a host of continental dishes (I loved the steak here). Another place that serves good pork dishes and momos is Cafe Shillong Heritage inside the Tripura castle.

Cherrapunji – 

Enroute Cherrapunji
Enroute Cherrapunji

The road trip from Shillong to Cherrapunji takes approximately two to two and a half hours but for someone like me who gets enthralled by the beauty of nature quite easily, I ended up asking the car to stop at frequent intervals for capturing some gorgeous sights.  This is the kind of experience that stays with one forever because the emotions felt while walking amidst the clouds is something that goes beyond words. The entire stretch of the journey is picturesque with the Sun playing hide and seek. Cherrapunji has multiple waterfalls worth, notable among them being the Nohsngithiang Falls, also known as the Seven Sisters waterfalls. The double-decker living root bridge is the next most sought after tourist attraction. Cherrapunji also a few accommodation options like Hotel Polo Orchid along with a bunch of home stays.

Seven Sister Falls
The Seven Sister Falls

Two more places around Shillong that deserve special mention are Asia’s cleanest village Mawlyngong and the crystal clear Dawki river

Best time to visit

Sao Aiom
Sao Aiom restaurant of Ri Kynjai

The best time to visit Shillong is between October to April. Ideally, the weather is most pleasant during October-November and in the month of Feb – March. We traveled during October 2017.

Recommended Itinerary –

View from the balcony
View from the balcony of our Lakeview room

A trip to Meghalaya can best be scheduled keeping two days for Shillong, one day for Cherrapunji, one day at Mawlyngong and the last day, rather a night for camping near the Dawki river.

Shillong gets quite crowded, especially during the peak tourist season and the roads are filled with traffic, causing an unnecessary delay in movement. Hence it is advisable to start the trips a little early so that the crowded roads can be avoided before vehicles start crawling at the pace of a snail.

My two cents

A memorable visit to the mountains
The first memorable visit to the mountains

Shillong will always be memorable on a personal level for being the first hill station journey of my toddler. However, the emotions run a little deeper since it is the simplicity of the Khasi people and the serenity of the place that has ensured a permanent place for Shillong in my heart.

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Hope this destination leaves you with a smile on the face and a desire to plan a trip to this city very soon. Tomorrow the express will leave for its next destination as Sanjota take control to direct it towards Hampi. Until then, have a safe journey and don’t forget to read, comment and share this post.

Author’s note – 

This post is a part of the #XploreBharat Blog Train hosted by
Aditi, Esha, Maheshwaran, Preeti, SabaPragun, Sanjota, Sonia, SudipSuhasiniand Supriya

xplorebharat1 (1)
#XploreBharat

A big shout out to our sponsors KAIV and FABZANIA for taking this Blog Train experience even further.

KAIV

KAIV is a personal grooming accessory and appliances brand offering a wide range of world-class products.

FABZANIA

FabZania is an upcoming food, travel, entertainment, and lifestyle web portal.

#XploreBharat – a travelogue of the cities of India


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Yesterday we celebrated India’s 70th Republic Day. The hoisting of the National Flag followed by the singing of our National Anthem and remembering those who laid their lives for the sake of our country made us all feel proud. But why should we limit this feeling of patriotism to just a few days of the year? Our team of eleven bloggers as part of #BlogBoosterIndia has decided to come up with travel diaries highlighting the essence of various cities of India. From a small town Murshidabad in the East to the gorgeous Goa in Central India, from Delhi in the North to the picturesque Varkala in the South, we aim to cover seventy cities through seventy different posts as a tribute to our motherland. We aim to take you on this memorable trip through our articles and pictures. We hope that you will enjoy this ride as much as we love brainstorming about this series.

However, if you want to board this train, not just as a mere spectator, but would also love to share your travel stories and experiences with the world, we would love to have you on board.

Rules & Regulations:

To commemorate 70 years of Republic India, ‘BlogBoosterIndia’ group is hosting #XploreBharat blog train from 1st February 2019. A total of 70 posts will be posted by different travel-loving bloggers touching 70 beautiful and unique places of India.

All you need to do is write a blog post on your chosen city of India as part of Xplore-Bharat on your own blog(you need to have a blog to be a part of this journey).  And share the post with #XploreBharat hashtag on all social media platforms. To showcase your association with this blog train, this image needs to be a part of your blog post.

xplorebharat1 (1)
#XploreBharat

If you meet the following criteria, please fill up the form through the link given at the end of this post.

Continue reading “#XploreBharat – a travelogue of the cities of India”

Passing on the love of traveling – a nomad’s perspective


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“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

I was five years old when I went on my first trip to Darjeeling with my parents. Higher studies and corporate stints made me a resident of cities like Delhi, Bangalore, and Mysore. This was also the period when I traveled with my gang of girls to places like Chennai, Pondicherry, and Ooty and groups of friends to Pune, Khandala, Lonavala, Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar, Ahmedabad, Agra, and Goa. Once I discovered that I was essentially a nomad at heart, my solo trips took me to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Mangalore, Coorg, Madikeri, and Chickmagalur. 

Chennai
Chennai

When T and I got married in 2011, it was a delight to discover that we shared the same enthusiasm for travel. Munnar was the first place that we visited as a married couple. Unfortunately, I lost my mother in the same year and life came to a stand-still. In 2012, an impromptu road trip from Trivandrum to Varkala and Kanyakumari helped me get a grip on my life again. Together we managed to visit Thekkady, Periyar, Alleppey, Athirapally, Cochin, Wayanad, Goa, Coimbatore, and Kodaikanal. If writing helped me cope up with my mother’s loss, traveling gave me the reason to live.

Mumbai
Mumbai

Three years back after my son was born, the trips became more planned and less on an impulse. From Goa and Mumbai in Central India, Mandarmani, Tajpur, Shankarpur, and Digha in the East, Delhi and Noida in the North to Guwahati, Shillong, and Cherrapunji in the North East, the three of us have explored both the tranquility of nature, humdrum of the city, sea and mountains alike. 

Continue reading “Passing on the love of traveling – a nomad’s perspective”

The ‘little’ reason that inspires me to become better


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wowbadge
WOW Post badge

2018 ended on a high note for me. I was hoping for 2019 to have an equally great start. After welcoming the new year by organizing a picnic with friends followed by a family get together, we returned back to Kolkata in the first week of this month. The pending writing assignments got me busy immediately after and then it was time for the toddler to get back to his preschool post the holidays. My 3.4-year-old happens to be one of the most gentle, caring and compassionate souls in my life till date. In an era of eroding humanity and decaying conscientiousness, he is unbelievably empathetic and understanding for his age. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that I am learning to be a better person through his actions.

The sick toddler cudding his new friend
The sick toddler cuddling his new friend

Within three days of joining back preschool, he fell sick because of a stomach infection. We had to coax him to skip classes on Thursday and Friday to help him recover. It saddened me to think of the consequence of this sudden illness. In all probability, he was likely to miss the preschool carnival scheduled on 12th Jan (yesterday). When he woke up yesterday morning, I was furiously typing on my laptop trying to attempt writing a few words for my second novel. I had expected him to start nagging me to stop working and attend to him instead. But to my surprise, he asked me if we could go to the carnival for a little duration.

The kite made by him with Aunty M's help at the carnival
The kite made by him with Aunty M’s help at the carnival

Continue reading “The ‘little’ reason that inspires me to become better”

Living life the smart way today #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution


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samsung-galaxy-grand
My first SmartPhone – Samsung Galaxy

The first introduction to smart technology

I have always been a little old-fashioned when it comes to embracing technological advancements. In my family, I was the last one to own a smartphone. Seven years back, my senior citizen father chose to welcome his new Samsung smartphone as a treasured possession while I still preferred my qwerty keypad mobile. Strangely, today I can’t even think of surviving without my smartphone since it has become such an integral part of my existence. In the present scenario, innovation in science and technology is essential for survival in a rapidly evolving environment. With the changing times, products which were earlier considered as luxury goods eventually decided to rebrand or reposition themselves as essential commodities.

godrej security camera
The Godrej Camera in our house – Pic source: Flipkart

Smart Security Camera – touching many lives

One of the first smart products (other than the aforementioned smartphone) that made its foray into my house was a smart camera. A couple of years back, our rented apartment in Bangalore had been burgled. Despite the fact that our complex had CCTVs installed within the premises, the images weren’t clear enough for the police to nab the criminals. After moving back to Kolkata for good, my husband’s remote posting required him to travel a lot. Since I had ventured out to start my home office as a blogger while also taking care of my newborn baby, I had to ensure that the security and safety factors of my flat were well taken care of.  We purchased a Godrej camera which gave 360 degrees horizontal and 90-degree vertical view. The picture was of HD quality which meant that the images were clear even if the lighting was poor. Over the years, I have been thankful for taking the decision of purchasing this wi-fi enabled camera at home. Because of my writing assignments related to travel, we take a lot of trips throughout the year as a family. It is such a relief to be able to check for the security arrangements on the go without having to lose my peace of mind.

Continue reading “Living life the smart way today #GetFitWithFlipkart #SmartHomeRevolution”

Happy New Year – 2019


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Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

If I had to define 2018 in a single sentence, I would say that it was a year of solopreneurship and mindful breaks. My writing found a new direction through my blog and book. And I discovered the beauty of listening to the needs of my mind and soul and nurturing them well through multiple breaks. 2019 is going to be my year of ‘A little more’ since I have consciously refrained from making any new resolutions this year. Instead, I’m going to focus on doing a little more of those things that have become an integral part of my existence – writing, spending time with my family and staying happy by choice.

Happy New Year 2019
Happy New Year 2019

I wish you all a very happy and vibrant New Year. May 2019 be the year of bringing out the best in ‘you’.