Monday, October 27

I am...

Hiya!

I am laughing at silly things until tears roll down my cheeks. 

I am getting heavier and life is getting a tad tougher.

I am forgetting things; for someone as organized and reliable as me, this can be quite disturbing.

I am finding it difficult to sleep, and yet I can nap at most times. 

I am getting clumsier by the minute, dropping things and tripping and slipping for no apparent cause.

I can't concentrate, and I drift away into nothingness ever so often. 

I am finding the simplest of actions is turning out to be a challenge.

I am becoming more of a sweet tooth than usual, yearning for chocolates and sweets and ice creams every other day.  

I am sweating like I never have before, and I find the coolest rooms warm. 

I am able to control my temper a wee bit better, but I also get emotional and detached at times. 

I am more careful about my exercise routine, but I cheat on my drinks and junk food. 

I think my hearing and vision has slightly diminished, and my sensitivity has slightly increased. 

I get tearsome at the tiniest of stuff - when something is genuine, when someone is upset, when I am touched or hurt, or just about anything at all. 

I am meeting more and more pregnant people. 

I am being pampered by family, and my friends and colleagues are taking good care of me,

I am excited... and nervous... and scared... and hopeful. 

All at the same time. 

I am not going to be a child anymore, though my kiddishness will remain intact and become even more expressed now. 

I am 9+ months pregnant, and going to be a mommy soon!!

It's a new world, and a new experience. 

I am loving this feeling, this warmth, this affection and softness inside me.

Wish me luck! 


Cheerio!
Princess



Wednesday, September 3

Customer Service - A New Creed of Horror Stories

Hiya'all...

Just saw that my blog is 7 years old. Quite a thrilling thought! Thanks to you readers. Restekpa (= respect). And lots of love to you. 

Have been wondering about customer service for a while, and really wanted to write to you about some of my latest experiences as a consumer of various products and services. It's quite an alien concept in India to care for your customers, and you are viewed more as an inconvenience than God as the famous proverb goes. 

The first one is about my Thailand trip arranged by Flight Shop Pune (Phoenix Market City). This was a new agency that I tried, a change from my regular Makemytrip, Kesari and Yatra vendors. The reason primarily was cost, and also I found the itinerary better suited for my needs. Unfortunately, expectations were not met and I ended up pretty hassled during my leisure vacation. My travel executive Swapnil, who was very diligent during the entire planning and payment process, took off on a trip days before my travel and directed all my correspondence to his supervisor - an extremely unprofessional chap called Saurabh. It was all downhill from there. 

I reached Bangkok with no clue where our host was parked, and my husband sensibly bought a SIM card due to which we could connect with our India and Thailand travel representatives. After wasting quite a good amount of time and money, we finally figured out where the host was, and we set off for our first destination - Pattaya. The driver refused to stop enroute for lunch as was promised by Saurabh, and I was fuming throughout our drive famished, munching on some biscuits and fruit that I had packed for the journey. 

We reached Ibis Pattaya and met our local host who was pretty decent. You can read about my sightseeing experience here . 

However, what was really annoying was that they prohibited me to go to Coral Island owing to safety reasons. Now that should have been informed to us earlier so that we could have planned our trip better. The refund they offered was also not fair, and I was extremely pissed with this turn of events; I hate it when my travel plans go haywire. My husband and I did manage to make the most of our trip, though, but it was considerably tedious and upsetting.  

At Bangkok, we were told that there would be a city tour and we would be shown two famous temples - the Reclining Buddha and Golden Buddha. What actually happened was that we were only taken to the Jewel store, an exact replica of the Pattaya one which did not interest us one bit, and the Golden Buddha and Garuda temple. This made absolutely no sense to us, and we saw the planned destinations anyway, albeit on our our expense. Calling a hundred times from Thailand to the tour operator was absolutely useless and we wasted a lot of time and money, along with peace of mind on conveying our displeasure to Saurabh - who could not be less interested. 

After our return to India, I tried communicating with Swapnil, but that turned out to be like breaking my head on a brick wall. Obviously, since Saurabh was his supervisor. So, I had only one option left - I reached out to their manager - Jatin Sharma. Thankfully, this chap was more sensible and customer-centric. Not only was his manner polite, but he also offered me a just resolution. My decision remains intact despite that - I would not want to use Flight Shop again to plan any of my travel needs. 

Another experience, was at Just Baked on DP Road - a cake shop that I used to love during my teenage years. The joint served fresh and tasty pastries and snacks, expensive yet worth it. If you know me, you know that I have the majorest sweet tooth in the entire universe. When I last went to JB, they served us some stale pastries and I was not surprisingly disappointed and upset. Most people generally offer a refund or another pastry to appease a dissatisfied customer. Not this obnoxious man - he actually started calling me names. I cursed him loud and clear, and have not set foot in his store since. What a disgrace, how the mighty fall. I would not be shocked to know that they are out of business given that other cake shops serve much better ware at the same price and offer good customer care as well.

I could recount so many more to you, and I am sure you have your own set of stories to share. Go ahead! Let's all join our hands in mercy and pray that consumers get better treatment. Agreed, customer is not always right, but there's got to be a more courteous way to deal with them than hurting and losing them for life. 

Until we meet next!

Cheerio!
Princess




Wednesday, August 6

Thailand Sojourn


Ahem.

Yes. It HAS been 6 weeks that I haven’t written to you. Sorry. Big sorry. Like the super mammoth one. Guilty as hell, but all with good reason.

Being busy at work is stale news, but what’s absolutely taaza maal is that I was nominated for a popular award “Rookie of the Year” and I won with a thumping majority. My colleagues voted for me with all their love and goodwill, branding me the most talented, inspiring, motivated recruit of the year 2013-2014. Ten months in Hitachi Consulting and I thank God I came here every single day. My work and team are great, and as I enjoy what I do, work pressure is totally absent in my life. Good thing, I don’t need stress right now anyway.

Another piece of news is that I celebrated my birthday in July so my hubby and I took off to Thailand to celebrate. I brought in my last birthday in Goa so we had to make it large this time. While Thailand appeared an off choice to most people, we realized that we could do an international tour for the same cost as a domestic package. The only venues I am interested in India are Kashmir, Agra and the North East. July is not the most ideal time to visit any of these locations and voila, Bangkok-Pattaya it was!

A week in Thailand and let me tell you it was relaxing for sure if nothing else. Food and communication were a challenge even to a non-veg loving avid traveler like me, and that could be a serious concern for traditional, vegetarian tourists. KFC and McD’s abound there but none of them serves even one vegetarian option apart from the drinks and fries. Seafood is cooked and sold right on the streets of Bangkok, while the fancy restaurants are expensive and serve limited veg options. Akhilesh thoroughly enjoyed the chicken at KFC, but I did not relish it much. My birthday Thai lunch in Bangkok, I must say, was exciting – a Thai chicken curry with steamed rice and Crab spring rolls. Apart from that, I had to rely on the snacks that I had carried from India – my mum’s homemade delicacies and some other packed stuff.

To tell you the truth, Bangkok resembles Mumbai and Pattaya is like Goa, even the Bangkok-Pattaya motorway is identical to the Mumbai-Pune expressway. Shopping and sex are the main sources of income throughout Thailand, and that is evident on the billboards and streets. Semi-nude women (none of them sexy or alluring in my opinion) dancing and luring tourists embarrassed my loyal, loving hubby in Pattaya and the Alcazar show was also quite repulsive to him. Sadly, I was looking forward to it and it turned out to be disappointing.

Indians were not rare, and the loudest hoots and cheers came when “Nach Le” was played in the theater. Even in Bangkok, Indians came running to dance on stage when they were welcomed at Safari World… Some enthusiasm our lot’s got! And lack of hygiene as well. There were signs specially put up for Indian tourists to keep toilets and surroundings clean. It was shameful, but I was compelled to agree. It’s sad really, to see that we have absolutely zero bathroom etiquette, even the educated ones amongst us. These things need to be taught at home right in childhood, else we grow up and bring disgrace to our country and fellowmen.  

So, on to more pleasant topics… What did we see in Thailand?

Mini Siam, Pattaya – This lovely place has miniatures of a lot of famous spots around the world on display. While the absence of Indian monuments is striking (they only had a poster of the Taj Mahal), they have a lot of international and local attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, London Bridge, Opera House, Colloseum, and Thai places of importance. This sprawling garden can get tiresome to tread, but the displays are beautiful, and the maintenance mind-blowing. We also discovered that Ramayana has a parallel story in Thailand as we were browsing the souvenir shops.      

Underwater World – This is one attraction you absolutely can’t miss in Pattaya. There are a variety of marine creatures here and it is very exciting to watch them all surrounding and floating around you. Scary, too! We went berserk taking pictures. Thank god for cams on cell phones! Since we were not allowed to go for the Coral island tour, this was certainly a must-visit for us.

Alcazar Show – The highlight of Pattaya, meant to be a cabaret, but it was sadly low on energy and enthusiasm. The colors, costumes and glamour were intact, and dance forms from around the world were included in the show. Indians, needless to say, were howling like idiots and taking pictures, even video-shooting the entire show, desperate buggers.  

Pattaya beach – Very clean, that is what I remember about the seashore. The water was transparent and crystal-like, and it was such a refreshing change from what we see in India. No rubbish in the water, no garbage on the sand. No shacks either, for that matter. There are some beach chairs, and you can only sit on them for a fee. That part was ridiculous, but I guess that’s the price you pay for the maintenance.

MBK Mall – This is a famous electronic and garment mall, similar to several other malls in Bangkok like the Platinum Fashion Mall and Golden Plaza, etc. While items are not dirt cheap, they sure have a lot of variety for smaller sized women and men. The worst bit is that all shops shut by 8 pm so you can’t saunter around leisurely. Street markets are on until late, but the malls will be deserted as soon as dusk sets in.   

Safari World and Marine Park – Another attraction you cannot miss at Bangkok. This is a zoo cum circus which offers full day entertainment to children and adults alike. We thoroughly enjoyed the Orangutan show, Elephant Show, Dolphin and Sea Lion Show. The ride around the Safari Park was quite amazing as well and I was reminded of my thrilling safaris in Africa as a teenager.

Bangkok Temple Tour – While Bangkok has over 4000 temples, there are some that are hot tourist destinations. First among these is the Golden Buddha temple which has an 18 carat golden Buddha statue that is about 10 feet tall and weighs 5.5 tonnes. It is quite a mesmerizing sight, this dazzling glowing piece of work, and you need to walk all of 3 flights of stairs to gaze upon its marvelousness. The second is the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. This temple is known to be the birthplace of the traditional Thai massage (but I only realized that while browsing just now). The temple has more than a thousand Buddha images, the most significant among them being the reclining deity 160 feet in length. It is stunning to say the least, and should you be interested, you can check this link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wat_Pho
We also saw the Garuda temple in Bangkok – honestly all the temples and idols look the same, and I am not the historically inclined types. But yeah, the 2 mentioned above, surely were worth a dekko.  

We stayed at the Ibis in Pattaya and the Best Western in Bangkok, both very decent hotels right in the heart of town. Indian restaurants are many in Thailand, but the food was pretty average and obviously costly. Shopping for clothes and souvenirs was all we did, as neither Akhilesh nor I are very fond of this expensive pastime. Besides, you find everything everywhere these days so no item is a novelty.

A four hour nonstop flight brought us back to Bombay from Bangkok and we got back the 1.5 hours that we had missed while flying to Thailand. I managed to catch up a bit on my reading (“Only Time Will Tell”) but I could only finish the book a few days ago back in Pune-land. My fingers are now laid upon A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, and I have enjoyed watching movies like Hercules and Kick. Of course, family engagements and other domestic chores are back on…

So now you know what I have been up to these past couple of weeks. See you sooner next time. Hope you are enjoying the rains!


Cheerio!
Princess

Wednesday, June 25

Good, Bad or Just Meant to Be...


The sun grabbed a cushion of billowing white clouds and lazily opened one eye to the world. How would it be if he refused to get up and follow his daily drill today?

Humans despised monotony, hell, he was a god more powerful and free. But with great power comes great responsibility, as a famous movie said. And he was all ready to take on all the duties that he was bestowed with (hell, did he have a choice?)

She awoke with a groan, waking up early had never been easy for her. But she had to, coz he needed to get up and get ready for work. 

She was the proverbial black sheep, not good for the family reputation and community, but she was what she was. And she had no intentions of changing for anybody or anything. And yet, when she married the man of her dreams (or so she believed), she had to lay down to rest some of her dreams and lifestyle habits.

She was prepared for it, she said. And everyone believed her, since that is what she screamed she wanted. When someone raised a concern about how much her life would change, she convinced hem (and herself) tha it was all for the best…

She got him all that he wanted or desired. And that soon turned against her, as he started devoting more time and attention to those objects than to her. Such is life, when you try to fulfil the wishes of the one you love, he starts loving those objects more than you yourself. And then he claims, he never really wanted anything anyway, and that you have been an obstacle in his achievements, personal and professional.

She wondered how and where she was going wrong. Was it wrong to fulfil the wishes of the one you loved? Was it better to have him yearn and wait for his dreams? Coz her sacrifices were going to waste either way. There was absolutely no appreciation or thankfulness on any front.

She had always been independent, in thought and action, financially and logically. Yet, her biggest failing was her emotional dependency on the people that she loved. Him. More since they had committed to being each other's. And he either did not understand that, or he enjoyed making her feel lonely and empty inside.

She was confident, and yet in some situations, she felt as naïve as possibly Shashi (from her favorite Bollywood flick English Vinglish) on her maiden trip to the US. Her husband, who prided himself on his many qualities supported and loved her, and made her feel inadequate in turns. Making her hate him and their relationship ever so often. Her confidence was not as great as she thought when he was involved in the situation.

But then, that’s how some things are… You think you know what you want, and you struggle for it, and then you wonder if what you fought for and achieved was really the best that you could have got. Can we be assured of a better future if we refuse what is in front of us?

And what was in his heart...? Was it the same turmoil, or did he simply not care...???


Cheerio!
Princess

Friday, June 13

Beauty has an address! - Awesome Oman

( Psst.... !! This is an entry for the Indiblogger contest: Beauty has an Address... Please vote for me by going to this linkhttp://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=364596 and click "read post". Even if a handful of you lovely 115 followers do this, I could win a trip to Oman and share my actual, completely non-fiction experience with you!! )



What do you do in a country that boasts of a coastline of 1600 km? You take morning walks on the seashore, relax in the calm waters in the afternoon, engage in adventure sports in the evening and lounge around in the rocking restaurants at night! For a beach lover like me, this spells absolute bliss.

But the magical country of Oman has so much more to offer than just a beach experience.

Be it the majestic mountains that are a photographer’s delight or picturesque forests with wildlife galore. There are imposing forts with awe-inspiring history and there are friendly people in colorful markets. Bask in “Arabia’s jewel”, the royal capital city of Muscat with tall, golden minarets and peaceful lawns and flowers. The old capital Nizwa also has its quaint historical monuments and handicrafts that appeal to all culture loving tourists. Step into the magical world of Bahla and listen to the mysterious myths and legends. Or feast on the sight of the Wahiba sand that dissolves into the Arabian Sea. Finally, get away from it all at the idyllic Masirah island. And these are just a few of the many things to do in Oman… Beauty does have a marvelous address!



No wonder then that the tourism industry is flourishing in Oman. Being a travel enthusiast, it would be a dream come true for me to win an all-expense paid trip to this exotic destination. Amen to that!

So, if I were to indeed be the lucky one chosen for a holiday in Oman, here’s how my vacation would look like…

I would start my sojourn at Sohar, popularly known as the birthplace of Sinbad the Sailor and not just because the Arabian Nights is one of my all-time favorite books! This place was an ancient capital of Oman and is now a bustling port and marketplace (locally called “souk”). I would then head to the vacation capital of Salalah and spend some lazy time on the beach and explore the archaeological sites. Camel racing will be on my agenda as well. The traditional hospitality typical of Oman would welcome me and make me feel at home instantly, and I would continue my journey to Sur to taste the culture and traditions Omani style.


 After some bargain hunting for jewelry and souvenirs, I would move on to Jebel Akhdar, 'The Green Mountain' with scenic terraced villages. The highest point on the Arabian Peninsula would be the perfect location for a camping trip! Nestled in the lap of nature, I would then visit the beaches of Ra's Al Hadd, the nesting ground for the endangered green sea turtles.  

How can I not visit the capital city of Muscat? Of course, I would not be able to enter the beautiful mosques for religious reasons, but the museums, parks and glorious forts in Muscat would more than make up for it. I would like to watch the dolphins and go snorkeling while in Oman, and also enjoy a lovely barbecue on the beach at Marina Bandar Al Rawdah.  



I would also be glad to participate in some of the famous Oman festivals if the timing is right, such as the Muscat Festival, Salalah festival, Sindbad Classic or Offshore Sailing Race.

All in all, it would an escapade of my dreams.

As-salám aláykum, Oman. When do we meet?!!

*** 

This blog post is an entry into Indiblogger’s "Beauty has an address!" contest in association with Oman Tourism (http://www.omantourism.gov.om). Pray I win and thy prayers shall be answered, pretty people !!! :-)


Cheerio!
Princess