Of Bookworms and Jelly Bellies

 Book: Bookworms and Jelly Bellies

Author: Rajini Rao & Ruchira Ramanujam

Genre: Cookbook

Publication: Hachette India

You may call me pompous and a brag,  but I take pride in being a good cook. I don’t innovate or concoct new dishes but I do follow the cook book instructions to the T and hence have successfully hosted elaborate parties and several surprise visitors ‘bouncers’ as we call them in fauji lingo.

I have a hoard of cook books tucked away in kitchen shelf with tell-tale signs of spills and subsequent successes. So when this book arrived at my door step, I was quite excited.

The colorful cover even caught my daughter’s eye instantly. Looking at her eagerness to flip the pages, the title ‘Bookworms and Jelly Bellies’ aimed to attract kids of all ages lives up to its expectation.

There are very few cook books that solely target young cooks who are entering that curious phase of making something on their own and the usual cookbooks even have some recipes whose ingredients might not be easily available. The end product after following all the instructions most often does not even look like the big glossy picture. This one however aims to make kids love kitchen work. It looks real and comprehensible for kids.

Divided into various sections for age groups ranging from three to fourteen,the book has some cute recipes with varying degree of execution difficulty.  From a twisty curvy cucumber slices caterpillar to baked scones to pasta dishes all the recipes are easy and create a curious enthusiasm in the kid…well my kid is enthusiastic to try her hand out. So I assume kids her age would be too.

Another adorable twist in the cook book is this reference to children’s stories. Each recipe has a corresponding children’s book with little trivia for that fun element. So if the recipe is of  ‘cookies’ the corresponding story is ‘If You Give A Mouse A Cookie’ by Laura Joffe Numeroff…a recipe for ‘Avalakki Pavalakki’ has devdutt Pattanaik’s ‘An Identity Card For Krishna’ for company…’Chocolate Snow’ recipe is paired with Roopa Pai’s stories ‘The Taranauts Series’ and Asterix in Switzerland is obviously for ‘Cheese Fondue’ recipe which even I fell in love with!

What this book is doing is killing two birds(…not for eating!)… One it attracts the kids to try something new with new name perhaps and two, it introduces many story books which the kid may or may not have read and after seeing it here would be curious to read. So it’s a win-win for the parent, I suppose. I quite liked the idea of this cookbook.

Some of the recipes are even good for serving as snacks during parties that I host. Now till my daughter finds time to experiment and play little chef, I, myself shall start trying some of these for may be her tiffin!

The book is a wonderful experiment of putting up recipes with a spin. It would be good thing to have on your kitchen shelf.


A Little Bit Of Love….

“MAHER” in Marathi language, means ‘mother’s home’…a place where a child finds safe haven, love and joy. Blessed I am to have had a home where I received all the unconditional love of the world, pampering, education and freedom. But this world is a cruel place and there are many who have been abandoned, abused and left to fend for themselves.

And it is for such destitute women and children that Sister Lucy opened her heart through an NGO ‘Maher’ in 1997. This NGO, registered with United Nations, tries to help children and women to learn life skills and stand on their feet.

In day to day life, we are often busy fighting our own wars to regularly give time to lesser fortunate people of the society. But a little love, even sometimes brings immense joy, not only to people who are thirsty for a little compassion but also to us if we care enough. Recently, a celebration of Mother’s Day at ‘Maher Ashram’, Wadgaonsheri, Pune, did just that for my teenage daughter and me.

After taking a few wrong turns, I did land at the right place and was greeted by Rakhi from World Of Moms. She (and her team) had asked me to join her in spreading a little happiness in lives of kids at ‘Maher’ through coloring and other fun activities. Palmers, a US skin care company, was the associate partner for the celebration. Little did I know that two hours will fly away soon and it would be an effort to pull away from such adorable, wide-eyed and eager to learn kids.

Yes, they were eager little kids…and no sooner we announced that they could choose between playing with clay-doh or indulge in some drawing and coloring than they clamored for the Camlin Modeling Clay packets! Armed with a clay packet myself, I sat crafting shapes after ages…I had last handled clay when my own daughter was a toddler. This time even she sat down amidst kids feeling all important and grown up at 14 years of age.

Kids engrossed with Camlin Play-doh

Creativity was overflowing and out came blue elephants, purple brinjals, green caterpillars and yellow snails followed by butterflies, cars and robots. Imagination took wings taking the kids to a wonderland with multicolored objects taking shape in their tiny hands. Someone wanted to make train and other wanted us to help with a ball of dough while some were just too shy to put a name to balls of clay that they managed to create…

Clay creations

Enthusiasm soon spilled over on drawing sheets. With Camlin art kits that included safe to use non-toxic oil pastels, color pencils, paint brushes and poster colors the room seemed to suddenly fill up with young Picassos and MF Hussains all ready to outdo each other! Cartoon characters began coming alive on sheets; ‘Chota Bheem’, ‘Chutki’ and ‘Raju’ stared at us from the drawing books; a rainbow of colors emanated from the little excited hearts spreading laughter, satisfaction and sense of achievement on their faces.

Little Picassos at work…

While I did manage to entertain and teach kids some clay craft, it was my daughter who became their go-to-person in the drawing activity. She helped the kids draw and paint, and time just flew…

Kids are the most truthful beings. A few hours with them left a deep impact on me. I am so glad World Of Moms asked me to join them in their Mother’s Day celebrations this year and some of us mommies got the chance to spread love. My thanks to Palmers too, for helping make this event possible.

The best and most unexpected reaction, however, was from my daughter. She exclaimed,“This was the best summer vacation activity that I did, Mumma!” Not only was I elated at her reaction but also felt proud of the compassionate streak she displayed. Being a kid herself, she connected well with the kids at Maher. And it was her reaction that perhaps taught me my biggest lesson.

The adult world’s boundaries of religion, caste and status do not stop kids from having fun. The uninhibited simplicity, uncomplicated trust and carefree attitude of children is what the world needs today.

Let’s all become kids again and make this world a better place!


All Women Bike Rally: Reiterating The Women Power

Women have come a long way from being confined to four walls of home. There is no denying to the fact that women are as great achievers as any man…sometimes even better. We have women doing all kinds of jobs which earlier were considered a male bastion and so we have astronauts, pilots, doctors, professors, scuba divers, spies, military personnel and taxi drivers too. A few days ago I read about a Pakistani truck driver who happens to be the first woman of her country and an old woman at that.

Men have tried limiting women in stereotypical roles; they have tried to set rules of dos and don’ts; they have raged, ranted  and labeled women to scare and dominate but women are tougher than that…we soar new heights every day…we scale new horizons every minute…we achieve greater heights every second.

In keeping up the undying spirit of women, Times of India organised All Women Bike Rally on 5th March across 21 cities of the country. Now in its fourth year this event has bagged a mention in Limca Book of Records with the number of women, participating in this unique rally, increasing every year.

Breaking the shackles of naysayers, women of all age groups participated in this fun rally with full vigour. Some rode Harley Davidson and Royal Enfield bikes and many rode on their non-gear bikes and scooters.

I joined in too on my scooty and was amazed to see the sea of women who had turned up for the event.

Ready for a fun ride

I was participating for first time and had no idea how enthusiastic women were in making a statement. Women were dressed in all kinds of attires….the sari didn’t stop them and neither did the traditional ‘nauwari’ or the nine yards of typical Maharashtrian Sari. The younger ones wore western attires and some stuck to salwar kameez.

Decked up in traditional ‘mangalsutras‘, ‘nath‘ and armful of bangles, some even had typical Mahrashtrian head scarf, the ‘pheta‘ adorning their heads.

Nine Yards of sari and pheta for a bike ride

They came in pairs and they came in groups, some advocated social messages of saving girl child and some declared that women were no less…

Biking Divas

Girl power

Age did not deter women to participate either. I was particularly blown over by a granny Asha Patankar of 73 years old who had her daughter-in-law for company on another bike. Not only were they defying the clichéd MIL-DIL equation with their camaraderie but also their enthusiasm was infectious.

MIL-DIL biking duo

The rally was flagged off by the DCP of Traffic Police, another woman of grit. We rode for an hour with bikers shouting on top of their voice ‘Jai Bhavani, Jai Shivaji‘. Traffic police managed to provide an uninterrupted passage for all the bikers throughout the 18kilometers of road.

Rally Route

The event ended on a high note with participants getting prizes for their attire, bike decor and historical character representations. And then there was song and dance too….

I would have preferred if women were encouraged to wear helmets instead of only decking themselves up….after all safety should be paramount concern along with empowerment of women. A rule-abiding woman can bring about change better than a woman who falls victim to unsafe driving!

All in all the event was a fun-filled morning…an attempt to reiterate woman power…that women will never back away now…We have fire in the belly and wind under our wings…

A very happy International Women’s Day to my fellow wives, moms, sisters, daughters and grandmas.


Book Review: Finding Juliet

Finding Juliet

Author: Toffee

Publication: Srishti Publishers

Genre: Fiction

finding-julietSo a new book came at my doorstep… Finding Juliet, sent by Writer’s Melon.

 This is a story of a Arjun who seems to get attracted to lot many girls. He gets close and emotionally attached to three girls in succession but eventually loses his ground with each of them.

Dejected, heartbroken and confused he leaves his job and changes cities where his childhood friend Anjali becomes his shoulder to cry on. An office colleague seems to enlighten Arjun of ‘what women want’ and gradually Arjun turns himself into an irresistible flirty hunk.

Eventually, Arjun realizes the futility of one-night-stands and ‘no strings attached’ sexual escapades. It dawns on him that his true love was his ever supporting childhood friend that he had been searching for a long time. All ends well with Arjun finally Finding his Juliet.

When I started reading through, I kind of guessed who the Juliet would be and there was no surprise. The story though well written seems to be a concoction of some of the new age Hindi movies. At one time the main protagonist seems to be floundering with every thing and every girl and then every thing seems to fall in place with him romping around with every female in his vicinity…from young just in college girl to married woman are just blown away by his charm and he lands a lasting gig in the film industry writing lyrics!

Also the author keeps mentioning about the character being an engineer…it looked forced…as if he needs the world to believe of his geeky intellect! His romp  with every girl he meets becomes little boring because every time there is a mention of a new girl…you know what is coming!

Thankfully author decides to wake up and do away with his character’s Casanova lifestyle or else I would have stopped reading more of his amorous activities….too much of something becomes boring isn’t it? Or then may be I am old school.

The story is fast paced and holds attention. In fact if someone wants to make yet another new age movie where everyone is cool about casual sex and there is no guilt baggage…this story fits in.

The story is very today. I may have outgrown such love stories…I now kind of incline towards more mature real meaningful relationship stories but I am sure people would love to read this book and imagine themselves in ‘Arjun’s’ shoes.

Go ahead and read for yourself…

‘I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.’

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#BergerXP Indiblogger Meet, Mumbai

Mere color, unspoiled by meaning and un-allied with definite form can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways.”

Oscar Wilde

Ever notice how peaceful it seems amidst blooming flowers of myriad colors….how playful it feels snorkeling among the colorful fish in the sea…how royal a colorful peacock dancing with its feathers spread in gay abandon looks….how the flirty colorful butterflies make the heart flutter..?

Imagine if everything instead were dull grey…or only white…or black!!

How would have we distinguished between happiness and sadness….

Colors are known to be the mood up-lifters…that is why nature has a rainbow after the monotonous gloomy grey of rain clouds…. Even our dreams are not in dull Eastman colors but always in technicolor!!

But we live in cities with not necessarily an access to a well laid out private garden to have flowers bloom or butterflies to dance and birds to sing…so what is the next best thing to do?  Of course…fill our spaces and life with colors!

And here is where Berger Paints step in to make our spaces brighter and beautiful with their Express Painting which is faster, cleaner and better!

Meet the Paint

Together with Indiblogger, Berger Paints organised a bloggers’ meet at Vivanta Taj, Mumbai to introduce the pioneering concept of Express Painting and I became an enthusiastic participant of the meet.

Berger paints was founded by Lewis Berger in 1760 with the paint Prussian Blue and the brand arrived in India in 1923 with its headquarters in Kolkata. With its presence internationally, Berger has also been named among 50 unusual billionaires by Forbes.

Armed with the concerns of a common-man who finds the conventional methods of painting his home cumbersome because of time factor, dust and quality of finished product, Berger has introduced automated methods of painting and claims to be faster, cleaner and better.

Berger Paints came up with a tinting process and introduced tints and paints which could be mixed with a base of white and with each other to create a new color shade as per the user’s choice….as simple as a painting on an art paper…paint your imagination!!

All hues and tints

All hues and tints

With a painting project coming up soon at home front, I am quite tempted to use the services of Berger’s trained painters. And why not…. If someone is there to clean up and finish the paint job within few hours all the while taking care that none of my furniture and furnishing is dust laden?

And the tools

While the high-speed sanding machine fixed with a suction motor prevents the dust particles from escaping in the room, the automated paint roller, mixer and airless sprayer finish the painting work almost 40% faster. The best part is that there is no extra cost !

Paint the Meet

Well, it was not all shop talk…we had oodles of fun too!

Once the registrations were done, the bloggers were up for a sumptuous meal and umpteen photographs before the meet session began..some new friendships were forged and some old acquaintances renewed.

To emphasise on how difficult the manual wall sanding process was, each team was asked to sand a board painted white. We were all game and rubbed away with the sand paper.. Only when the last of the teams had created enough dust and the room wore a dusty look, did the Berger’s service head, Mr Chandranath Banerjee pointed out again how efficient Berger’s sanding machine was!

Sanding selfie

Sanding selfie

The tints had been displayed and talked about so once we learnt the lesson of sanding it right, it was time to paint the meet red….umm…the art sheets in colors depicting a theme ‘Mumbai meri Jaan’.

Done with playing with colors

Done with playing with colors

Like small kids all of us were eager to get our hands messy and paint away. Various concepts sprung up in colorful splashes…pinks and blues, yellows and oranges, browns and blacks, greens and whites…lofty thoughts emerged in a bid to outdo each other… As each team came out with its idea, surprise gifts greeted the unsuspecting bloggers…the atmosphere was laden with high-spirited gaiety and no one realized that the meet had sneaked past its schedule.

All is well that ends well….a happy fun meet concluded with all of us leaving a bit wiser as far as home improvement and paint job was concerned. It was a first for me and though I was bit shy and could not make my presence known but I connected and made new great friends!

That was what the meet was about I guess and I look forward to next such event…

The Bloggers Lot

The Bloggers Lot


For The Love Of Writing….

To be able to let your emotions and deepest thoughts flow on paper(or on keyboards these days) in coherent words is what writing is all about.

Quote on my art work via

Quote on my art work via Text-As-Image

Encouraged by an Anglo-Indian English language teacher at school, I fell in love with words. Every new word that was added to my repository had to be used at least once in prose and absurd little five-line rhyming poems that my young mind conjured up.

A second-hand book of quotes with frayed yellow pages, picked up from a footpath shop, became my prized possession. I would often scour through its pages for that perfect quote that would become an embellishment for my essays.

The progression to journal writing was a natural course in my love for writing. Writing became a cathartic experience for me…I would pen down everything from my annoyance at being scolded by parents, fights and make-up with friends, crush on the handsome new boy in school, pulling a prank on the snobbish girl and getting away with it, heartbreak on discovering the new guy had crush on somebody else to school farewell, dreams and aspirations, special requests to the almighty and happy feelings when the wishes seemed to get fulfilled….

And though appreciation for poetry was my most desirable little secret but self-criticism made me shy away from sharing with people.

image-as-text (3)

Clipart of my choice coupled with quote and added filter for image via Text-As-Image

Blogging came to me much much later. By that time I had overcome my inhibitions and the desire to be read and lauded had taken roots. The love for seasoning my concoction of words with words of literary greats drove me to surf internet for ‘quotes and sayings’. It afforded me a plethora of options…..some quotes were available as text but I found a huge stash of quotes in image forms too. These text images made me fall in love with writing all over again….

A new desire however tip-toed in the subconscious mind…that of using words of my choice in text-image or using my photographs for displaying famous quotes as text-images. The help was at hand in the form of Text As Image site.

This is one-stop site actually. All I had to do was open a free account and start making image of text of my choice. I even had the choice to select font style, size and place of text on the image. I could change the background colour, select from gallery of background images or upload an image from personal collection, add filters, change the size of canvas and play around with words!

The pro-account bought at a little price gives a little more freedom. With a pro-account I could do away with the site logo that appeared at left corner of the text image with a logo of my own! Alas but, I have yet to learn how to make my own professional logo… I could not really use the feature. Instead what I did was to opt for switching off the display of site logo.

And the best part is that once the image was ready to my satisfaction, I could not only download it to save for future use but also share it on my social media!

Writing is but a lonely journey and nobody really understands if you sit staring at white page and pencil in hand or at a blank white screen….you are playing with words in your mind arranging and rearranging them, trashing them and formulating the succinct beginning and people wonder whether you are fooling them or avoiding some work.

Above all a writer can never boast of knowing everything that is to know about writing….you can just have a love for writing and keep reading more and more to learn writing better and better.

Writing is as vast an art as the Pacific Ocean beyond... (photograph from my collection)

Writing is as vast an art as the Pacific Ocean beyond… (photograph from my collection)

But like me if you have a love for writing and want to glamorize your own golden words and thoughts as an  image with your logo to boast for eternity Text-as-image is your go to site. Try it…you will fall in love with writing over and over again!!


Spotlight: That’s News To Me – A Presswallah’s Journey


An interesting title “That’s News To Me” by Manjula Lal who has been associated with journalism and media for some time now is set to be officially launched at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi on 17th June. Readomania had organised a cover reveal and author chat on Facebook on 2nd June which was a success.

I await reading the book because the title sure attracts me. The question is whether the journalist are or should be treated as a dog fetching the newspaper? And the cover very wittingly compares this thought. Written by someone who knows journalism inside out, the book might be just the right dose of wit.

About the Author:

Author Manjula Lal

Image Source:

Manjula Lal now works as Dy Editor with Tehelka. In a career spanning 30 years, she has worked for Economic Times, Pioneer, The Times of India, Indian Express and a host of smaller banners. Born in Ballia, a remote village of Uttar Pradesh where her father was a district magistrate, the author spent 11 years in a convent boarding school in the hill station of Nainital. After attending college in Lucknow and getting her master’s in political science from Jawaharlal Nehru University, she went to Pennsylvania State University as a teaching assistant. Her stint as the first columnist of foreign origin for the local newspaper gave her a taste of celebrity that made her impatient to return to New Delhi and plunge into journalism.

Book Cover:

That's News To Me

Book Blurb:

Dogs can be trained to fetch newspapers for their masters. Should a journalist be treated as a retriever of news by his masters? Told with verve and wit, this is the story of Manush, a talented, independent-minded journalist who tries to stick to the core values of his profession while keeping body and soul together. Out in the field, he enjoys the adrenaline rush of getting scoops and the challenge of solving real-life mysteries.

Back in the office, he has to tackle toxic bosses who don’t give a toss about talent and are insecure about their own jobs. And at home, there is emotional distress from a marriage only in name. As the action shifts from a magazine in Noida to a newspaper in Delhi to a website in Gurgaon, the world around Manush changes while he continues his dogged pursuit of career goals and fascinating women. Will forces out of his control make him go into a free fall? Will friends and family give him the respect he deserves? Or will he realise redemption lies elsewhere?


Gifting love…

It is at such times, during festivals, birthdays, anniversaries of near and dear ones, that staying at far off places, which are not conveniently connected to rest of the cities, hurts the most. You miss out on so many occasions of getting together with friends and family, on fun and quality time spent together…..

Due to work, I am staying in a small town in Tamilnadu among people who do not speak the language I do, do not celebrate the festivals I do and because of the language barrier I have not been really able to forge a strong friendship either. In all, the only interaction I have with locals is for small talk… a smile, a hello or for asking directions. I miss my friends and family terribly.

The only thing that I can do to let my loved ones know that they are being missed and remembered is call them up often and send them gifts on their special occasions. Thank God for technology….not only can we stay connected with chats, social media but also surf for that perfect gifts on-line and get those delivered anywhere in the country.

When I search for gifts, I am biased towards handicrafts and home décor. My obvious choice for a go-to site for my kind of stuff is CraftsVilla. This is one portal which is a storehouse of Indian handicrafts that are both reasonably priced and appealing to the eye. They have a variety of items from paintings, wooden, metal and fancy photo-frames to painted and enamelled vases, mirrors, candles, clocks and many more….

That reminds me, mother’s day just around the corner. She has insisted on a CV-MTHE_75880156990-Home_Decor-The_Woods_Hut-Craftsvilla_1complete family photograph with me, my sister, our husbands, kids and ‘nan-nani’ for her dining room wall. It would be a pleasant surprise for her to receive it framed beautifully….I think this might be just the right one as it goes with her home decor too….

Portal has lot of home decor stuff including furniture. In fact the whole house can be beautifully decorated from home decor section of the portal. Don’t believe me…? Go check it out yourself….


The Unsung Hero…

When people visit the Bahái Lotus Temple, they are taken in by its beauty and amaze at the peace it exudes.

Lotus temple, New Delhi

Lotus temple, New Delhi

Or when people travel on the Bombay-Worli Sea link, they are awed or when prices of shares go up or down at Bombay Stock Exchange, people are worried about their own profit and loss or when Delhi metro is delayed, people create a fuss….

Though we often take pride in the iconic structures like Lotus Temple and Bombay-Worli Sea Link, which have none other than Tata Tiscon rebars running in their veins, but not one of us gives a thought to the effort that goes in and hardly do we think of the bones and skeleton of these magnificent constructions…the invisible steel that holds and strengthens the complete structure.

Even I, as a fresh architecture graduate, though fantasized myself to be the next Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe…the Howard Roark of Fountainhead…the unassuming iron bars that would go in silently in my buildings however never found themselves in my dreams….

Eighteen years ago, I was excited to put my newly acquired knowledge of designing and planning into the construction of a house for my parents….my first project. I was of course in love with the idea and had a dream to fulfil…the house even before it was built was my baby and close to my heart.

home 1

Clinic cum home under construction

There was not much of a difference between me and others, common people who dreamt of getting their house constructed. The only advantage I had was the basic knowledge of the structural design. It was easy for me to point out the anomalies and rectify those in the structural elements like beams, columns, footing and the slab.

Finally the house cum clinic was completed in about a year and in fact it was where the guests during my wedding first assembled but the amount of stress that me and my father went through during the entire process of building our home was actually nerve-wrecking. I remember when the first slab was under construction and it rained…it was a frantic morning and humongous effort to cover the entire grid of iron rods for the slab. A whole day later when we rechecked the bars for displacement, re-tied some of the binding wires…the slab could only be laid the next evening…

The only time concern for the quality of steel bars crosses an individual’s mind is when he/she is involved in making their own house of dreams!! And it was no different in my dream project either…I was concerned about rusting and breakage of binding wires or failure of the structure…

It was then that I, for the first time, woke up from my world of dreams and glamour of the glass façade buildings and ‘saw’ the real hero…..

The humble TATA TISCON Rebars


Few weeks ago, I was at TATA CENTRE, Kolkata attending a presentation on structural steel for building construction. I couldn’t help but agree about the time it takes for unskilled labour to cut and bind the bars during construction or about the margin of error in accuracy by manual bending or the wastage of steel during construction.

Come to think of it, back then if I had access to a reliable, branded corrosion resistant steel bars, stirrups and wires of standard sizes and consistent composition like those of TATA TISCON combined with services of trained local thekedars (local contractors), masons and rod binders half of my worries, time and effort would have been reduced…..

The steel bar is the unsung hero….the embellishments which attract our eyes to a built space…the paints, tiles, marble floors all come later. When Maya Angelou said “There is a kind of strength that is almost frightening in black women…It’s as if a steel rod runs right through the head down to the feet” she unknowingly also commended the role of the humble steel rod that goes in the concrete structures strengthening them to stand for years.

Its importance is realised only when structures fail…One wrong bone…displaced, added, ill fitted…and the entire structure comes crumbling down…slabs cave in, columns bend, floors sink or at times entire building tilts….I am reminded of a tagline from a popular advertisement here…“ye banaye andar se strong (it gives you inner strength)”

We often overlook and forget the silent crusaders, the good Samaritans….the real heroes. May be it’s time now we give credit to all unsung heroes….be it our men with guts of steel guarding the borders or be it the steel rod itself.

So next time somebody compliments you for what a wonderful house you made, you could humbly say….

“Ye andar ki baat hai…” 😉

This post is a part of the #BuildingBlogsOfJoy activity of TATA TISCON  in association with

What Not To Do: Three Silly Mistakes and Narrow Escapes

Goof ups during travel are inevitable and the best made plans may also go haywire. Sometimes things just happen without any ill-intention but more often it is because of the ignorance…

On our maiden trip to USA, we were confident of our habits. We knew we would not be the kind of tourists who create unnecessary nuisance, complain about every possible thing and are generally pain in ….!! We definitely did not want to let anybody think that Indians are bad visitors so we tried to follow the system as much for our month-long vacation.

Inspite of arming ourselves with all information that included driving a rental car across the country we could not prevent few silly mistakes and man, were we glad to have narrowly escaped some serious altercations with law enforcement guys !!

So here are our silly mistakes…Laugh all you want at our goof ups..but luck might not favour you always as it did us..

Mistake #1: Discharged battery translates into a lost GPS signal

My husband Aby, being a pilot swears by the GPS. I, however, am little less into using the services of an accented girly voice who confuses me with ‘Naaeee Sarrack‘ instead of ‘nai sadak‘… after all there are enough ‘bhai-sahabs‘ and ‘bhabhi jis‘ on our roads who will guide us to a shop or an address…better still one odd might even offer to direct us to the address personally if only we were willing to give them a ‘lift’ till the ‘kone ki dukan(corner shop)’or the next ‘chauraha(crossing)’

Any ways, there we were enjoying a ride, marvelling at the sprawling meadows that lingered past our car, the early fall colours that peeped through the green foliage, the huge trucks with shining chrome, cars with boats trailing behind them… our cell phone guiding us through.

Past the open lands and colourful trees

Past the open lands and colourful trees

In all our wide-eyed fascination that usually affects people visiting America for the first time, we failed to check whether the charging cord was connected properly to the cell phone.

Last leg to Niagara

Last leg to Niagara

As we neared Niagara, it started pouring and simultaneously our phone battery drained off. Cars whizzed past us…there was no ‘bhai sahab‘ willing to stop by and help us, no auto -rickshaw walah to pull over along side our car to ask ‘kidhar jaana hai saab?‘ We kept driving, crossed the huge flyover and got LOST! A small insignificant board with words ‘Niagara lane’ pointed to our right. Since there seemed no other option, we took the turn only to find ourselves in a residential area with not a soul in sight.

We drove into someone’s driveway and after much thought decided to ring the doorbell unaware of the law against parking in stranger’s drive way. The house owners were away for the weekend and nobody answered our call. By then our phone which we re-plugged for charging showed just enough activity for us to call our hotel and ask for directions. but since we could not tell them our location properly, they could not help us!!

We sat there panicking and at our wits end… Only after half an hour or so when the cell phone revived and GPS signal was re-established then we realised that we were just few minutes away from the hotel. The rain had stopped by the time we reached our hotel but it was late evening and we missed the last boat ride to the Niagara falls, for the day.

lesson learnt: 

  1. When travelling abroad with family, it is better to take two cell phones with GPS and keep a check on charging!
  2. Never park in someone’s driveway. Had the home-owner been there that day, he could have charged us with trespassing or worse shot at us if he felt threatened by our presence( I was told about such incidents later by my cousin)
  3. It is always better to contact local police if in trouble.

Mistake #2: Sleeping in the rear seat

On every road trip that we took within India, our daughter used to doze off on rear seat and free herself from the seat belt to lie down on the rear seat because sleeping in a seated posture was uncomfortable. I most times ignored it…

On our second road trip from San Jose’ to Los Angeles, the various stops along the picturesque Pacific Coast highway, tired her and she dozed off again. Being an outsider in a foreign land, I had instructed her not to remove the seat belt but due to habit she did take it off.

Cruising along the pacific coast highway

Cruising along the pacific coast highway

And then we were stopped by an officer of Highway Patrol(full story here). After confirming our credentials he left us with a warning.

lessons learnt:

  1. Never ever forget to wear seatbelt even in the rear seat!
  2. Be HONEST and ACCEPT your mistake when dealing with police.
  3. Have all important documents including driver’s licence, rental papers, hotel bills and itinerary details in order when travelling abroad.
  4. Do NOT argue when in a tight spot.

Mistake #3: Domino effect?

This one caught us off guard. Who knew x-ray machines get fooled by a harmless playing stuff?

While in San Jose’ my cousin gifted our daughter a box of domino tiles ‘Jenga’ which stacked up make the basic column and each player has to retrieve a tile taking care not to topple the column. With our suitcases packed to their teeth, we really did not have enough space in the check-in baggage. Running out of time to reach the airport I stuffed the game in the hand baggage.

At the airport, first the self check-in machine malfunctioned and by the time the airport staff helped us we were quite late and ran for last hand-baggage clearance before boarding. While we were cleared one of our bags, obviously the one with domino tiles was held back.

Game ?

Game ?

People had started the boarding but we were called back. A huge security personnel in army fatigues stood along with the airport staff near the bag. Panic clutched my heart and when asked to open the bag I kept fumbling. They took all things out scanned the domino box again through the X-ray and finally with a broad smile waved us off!

lessons learnt:

  1. No sharp items allowed in hand baggage stands true for toys too 😦
  2. Keep enough extra space while packing for souvenirs, gifts or last minute purchases.
  3. Whatever things are not needed for immediate personal use should be sent with check-in baggage.
  4. Obey when asked to show contents of your baggage at check points.

Lady luck was on our side may be because we met only people who understood our predicament and were ready to help in restaurants, in airports, shops. But with our lessons learnt, I am ready for another travelling experience…

Have you made some silly mistakes on your travels? How did you escape from consequences?