Last year I entered into this crazy A2Z challenge hosted by Blogchatter without having any idea about the madness that was going to define my life April onwards. I also had no clue that my blogging journey was finally going to get a direction through this campaign. This year I voluntarily decided to go through the grind again to get myself back to regular blogging after a critical phase of health issues. If there’s anything that’s common between April 2018 & 2019, it is that last year my 2.5 yr old started his preschool on 3rd April and this year the boy who’s now 3.5 yrs is slated to begin his nursery classes in the third week of April.
Other than my sickness, the other thing that kept me occupied throughout the end of 2018 until now was my toddler’s school admissions. While selecting the theme for A2Z challenge this year, it was my husband’s idea to talk about the eye-opening experiences that defined our journey before making it to a coveted school in the city.
At the onset, let me clarify that the posts are going to be based on our experiences related to school admissions in Kolkata though the intent is never to demean any particular institution or the education system. Also, technically this is not an informative series but more of a relatable experience if one has been through the process anywhere in the country.
While I aim to keep my posts coated with humor, on some days they might make one think deeper. Probably by speaking about such thought-provoking issues, we might together come up with some ‘game-changing’ ideas. I hope you have a fun-filled ride full of laughter and joy as you read some rib-tickling and some eye-popping experiences associated with school admissions.
P. S. – Even if you aren’t a parent, you can still enjoy the humor quotient of these daily stories.
Here’s introducing the main characters of this school hunt saga –
The boy – Junior T Banerjee (aka Spiderman/Superman/Batman and also Hanuman)
His tormented parents –
Father – Senior T Banerjee -A hapless doctor posted in some strange town of Bengal. Mostly distracted, attained a level of acceptance towards the wife’s whimsical nature and son’s ability to cling on to him
Mother – A confused writer erstwhile Banker. Also holds two irrelevant postgraduate degrees and refuses to change the surname from Chatterjee to Banerjee. Shares a Tom and Jerry kind of relationship with the boy.
Location – Kolkata
Don’t forget to hop on as we begin this fun ride journey on April 1st and continue till April 30th through twenty six posts on everyday (except Sundays).
It’s been more than a month that I have written anything. The toddler and I kept falling sick and despite my frustration of feeling stuck in such hapless circumstances, I learned to slow down while convincing myself to adapt to the situation. March is a reminder of the hectic life that April with its A2Z challenge is going to bring. I had Bengal as my theme last year but I am still undecided about a theme for this year’s challenge. So I am going to request all those who read this post to leave their suggestion of a theme in the comment box.
The best way to restart any job is by beginning with something that is fun. And I have always loved photography and the layers of emotions that every picture can bring to one’s perspective. The theme for TPC this week is ’round’ and I couldn’t resist myself from putting up a wacky picture relevant to the theme.
So, those who know me are well aware of my love for momos. I can survive on momos and coffee for life. As a student, there were days when I had momos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and yet I never got tired of them. When we visited Shillong in Meghalaya in Oct 2017, I couldn’t miss tasting momos at Shillong Cafe famous for this delicacy. Since my husband doesn’t share my unnatural enthusiasm for this dish and the toddler was more interested in his strawberry shake, I had these soft and delicious momos arranged in a perfectly round shape on a white round plate all by myself. I feel grateful for such moments of little joy in my life.
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.
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.
The Godrej Camera in our house – Pic source: Flipkart
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 –
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 –
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 –
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(clickhere 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.
Places to visit –
The places for sightseeing includes
Umiam Lake– It is also known as Barapani and offers boating facilities to visitors.
Don Bosco Museum – The Museum houses and documents the various indigenous cultures, arts and crafts of North East India.
Elephant Falls – It is also known ‘The Three Step Waterfalls’ because it consists of three falls in succession.
Shillong Peak – It offers a panoramic view of the city.
Shillong golf course – It is one of the largest golf courses in Asia.
Butterfly Museum – It is a delight to take a tour of this museum
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.
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.
Local market –
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 –
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.
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 bridgeis the next most sought after tourist attraction. Cherrapunji also a few accommodation options like Hotel Polo Orchid along with a bunch of home stays.
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
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 –
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
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.
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.
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.
If you meet the following criteria, please fill up the form through the link given at the end of this post.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.