Landour: Of Stunning Views and Steaming Khao Suey

With steep hill climb, sweeping history lessons, stunning scenery, pinewoods, old churches and Ruskin Bond’s house around the corner. Landour is probably the oddest destination one could have picked to travel with kids (10 months and 4). Odd because of the sheer amount of uphill walking one has to do ( with kids that could be a pain). Plus, there’s nothing much to do as said by many friends. However, husband and I wanted to runoff to a quiet and non-touristy place; so on a gorgeous summer afternoon we landed up in Landour, a small cantonment town roughly 4 kilometer away from Mussoorie.

As I stood in the gate of Ivy Cottage, a sense of calm descended on me. How do you describe a feeling you don’t have words for? With clouds touching my nose, I hugged the baby and descended down the stairs to reach where our cottage was.

…and the sight just stole my heart.

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The 180 degree view of the hill, nestled Woodstock school in the distance and a small window with colorful hanging flower pots (I was told that is Ruskin Bond’s balcony) held me in spot. I had seen different shades of the sky, but never before have I witnessed the magic of green, blue, aqua and white mingle in a manner so cohesive that you can’t help but get teleported to the fantasy world of your childhood.

The next three days were spent doing that– staring at the hills for hours, playing peek a boo with the sun and clouds, amidst lots of laughter, diaper change, baby food and conversation.

Plus, we abandoned all the plans of usually site seeing that our driver suggested.

Kempty Falls, Gun Hill, Mall road…NO.

Instead, we did this.

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…spent hours staring at the horizon.

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over many cups of coffees at Cafe Ivy.

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and many heated arguments on world politics.

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There were discussions on experiencing Landour in winters, just so we can curl up in bed with a book under the glowing orange flame from a fireplace.

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Not to mention, how unashamedly we posed for pictures in every possible corner of Rokeby Manor

Tell me why, the food taste so good on holidays? or was there something special about this Khao Suey at Doma’s Inn.


and this Salmon at Rokeby Manor

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What can I tell you about this old-fashioned library at Rokeby? Just pick any book from here, and find your favorite corner.

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and this oh-so-inviting living room which called for cuddles and hot-chocolate.

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Did I mention, how often we huffed and puffed like a dragon in Landour?

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There were times, when the pebbled streets looked far too quiet and spooky near Stubli, The Stray Dog.

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We saw other interesting things..

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Landour stole my heart; we couldn’t help doing the touristy things.

Landour taught me what slowing down means.It taught me, I don’t have to tick items out of my bucket list to be happy, I need to appreciate life for what I’ve now.

#Travellingwithkids #Travelogue #Landour #Mussorie #Ruskinbond #RokebyManor #IVYCottages #CafeIvy #TheStrayDog #Stubli #IvyCottages #CharDukan #Travelling #slowingdown

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6 Books to Pick this Summer for Your Kindergartner

We are going to the hills next weekend. The idea is to just soak in the Mountain View, take a hike through forest, dip our feet in pristine streams, read good books and come back rejuvenated. This would be our first family vacation after the birth of our girl (she is 6-month old now). Although, we’ve been traveling since her birth, but that was more work than vacation.

For me vacation means unplugging, it means spending quality time with your loved ones, communicating, reading, watching the sunset together, and just absorbing the sight and sound of Mother Nature. I usually carry a book while traveling or end up buying some as a souvenir. Actually books make a perfect souvenir, it reminds you of places you have touched upon, cafes you have visited, views that made you pause and ponder.

I have compiled a list of story books for the child to indulge in this summer and I am definitely packing few of them in our upcoming trip to the hills.

Take a peek at these essential summer-reads for under-five year old

Where the Wild Things Are By Maurice Sendak

This one’s GOLD. If you haven’t yet bought this book for your kid, you are doing him/her a great disservice. The book narrates the elegant simplicity of the childhood fantasy. The illustrations are beautiful. Aurko and I are literally reading it every night. So Max goes off into his own world to escape his parents and explores “wild things” but ends up missing his loved ones and decides to come back to the real world. I guess both kids and adults will relate to this story. This one’s for keeps.

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David Series by David Shannon

“No, David!” is David Shannon’s first book of the “David” series. This is Aurko’s current favorite. The book details the adventures of David being bad while his mother continually tells him: “NO, DAVID”. Shannon writes in a simple preschool format that makes reading easier for young readers. This book has won the Caldecott Honor Book Award. We can’t wait to read the other book in this series.

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The Usborne Baby and Toddler Treasury

I bought this book when Aurko was a baby and apart from few torn pages, this book has survived 3 years. Aurko still can’t get enough of it, especially the stories—The Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The 3 Little Pigs story. It also has an art & craft section. This book is also serving my little girl, talk about killing two birds with same stone.

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My Dinosaur Backpack

Aurko recently picked this book from his school library. It’s a sticker activity book full of themed activities and fun dinosaur stickers. With over 250 stickers to use in the book or anywhere else, this is my go-to book this summer to keep my boy all tamed, as I run errands or enjoy a cuppa overlooking the mountains.

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Folk Tales Around the World

We picked this one from Kolkata International Book Fair. It is a compilation of short stories from around the world, such as, The Sun and The Moon (Siberia), The Woodcutter from Gura (Ethiopia), Water Lilies (Wales), The Bright Pearl (China). This one is for older kids; although, we have read The Sun and The Moon and Aurko thoroughly enjoyed it. But he never really asked for a repeat. I am sure he will come around in a few years.

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Little Spider and Geeta by Parthasarathi Chakraborty

I bought this one as I was a little fed-up with Aurko’s obsession with Spiderman, and wanted to show him the real deal. This book narrates the life history of spiders in the form of storytelling. Observing a spider make a web makes for a fascinating read and with my boy anything involving spiders always work.

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Have you read any of the books mentioned above? Do you have any other book to add to this summer special list? Do write in the comment section.

 

 

 

Toddler’s Play – Butterfly Kiss

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Actor: Hagar Tishman; Director: Elinor Agam Ben-David

As a kid growing up in the 90s, my first recollection of summer vacation is a day of chasing dragonflies with my friends. The bratty-ones use to tie a thread on the tail of the flies (sounds brutal, I know)—they were the expert in the game—much-respected and lauded among their peers. Such was our obsession of catching the flies that even games like pitthu and hide-n-seek took a backseat that summer. We all use to start early so that we get enough flies to practice and master our art. Fast-forward today; my 2-year old first introduction to the concept of the chase has come from The Temple Run or Subway Surfers.

So, when a few weeks back Israel-based director Elinor Agam Ben-David’s toddler play Butterfly Kiss came to The Indian Habitat Center, Delhi, I knew that I wouldn’t miss it for life, for my sake as well as Aurko’s. The concept of the toddler’s plays being non-existent in India, I was eager to find how they would hold the attention of a 2-year old.

Butterfly Kiss narrates the tale of a young girl who catches butterflies in a jar and finally decides to set them free, but only after getting the last butterfly’s kiss. After watching the first scene, I knew that only a mother—who knows the psyche of a child—can come up with a concept so simple and innocent. The use of hand puppets, digital artwork and toys made the show visually appealing and interactive at the same time.

The play was recited by the beautiful lone actor Hagar Tishman, who effortlessly formed a bond with the audience the moment she entered the stage. Dancing, playing and sharing butterflies, Tishman made sure that the backbenchers also get the same attention. Kids were allowed to stand very close to the stage so that they can participate. Unfortunately, all the kids in the front where way older than toddlers, but nonetheless the interaction was not limited to the front rows.

Now, how Aurko perceived the show is all together a different ball game. I would say the experience of sitting among 50 kids was something new to him. He was very coy and shy to start with, but warmed up to the show in the end, much to my surprise. It’s just a start for him; we are taking tiny steps now. Though, I have not seen a dragonfly in Delhi yet. I hope to find few butterflies in our small garden for him to chase. At the end of the show, we all received a handful of little butterflies, which the actress tapped on our cheeks—like a kiss.

Altogether, it was a wonderful experience, and something I would love to see again.

This is an old post firstly written for my previous blog Idle Tusser.

#thingstodowithkids #toddlerplays #toddlertheater #oneofitskind

 

Heritage Transport Museum: A Photo Diary

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If you are vehicle enthusiasts, head straight to this one-of-its-kind Heritage Transport Museum. Housed about 40 KM from Gurgaon, this stunning and well-maintained Museum is a goldmine for transit junkies, packed with information and dozens of the actual vehicles used to transport high-flying Indians over the past 150 years. Run by Mr. Tarun Thakral of Le Meridien, New Delhi, the museum houses an eclectic collection of vintage cars (from IMPALA to Pontiac), hand carts, palanquins, boats, a train compartment, Pakistani truck-art by famous artist Anjum Rana, and even a bi-plane. Built on a 3 acre complex, the museum is spread over four air-conditioned floors that offer over 100,000 square feet of exhibition space, library and reference centre, mini auditorium, souvenir shop, and cafeteria.

What’s on offer?

Take your kids on a walk through time and explore the history of transport in India, although I felt they need to make it more interactive for the kids. Lots of vintage cars, buses, mini Vespas to see; but they can’t really clamber or touch it, and that could be a little disappointing for little kids. (Disclaimer: I am not endorsing touching the displays here, in India you can’t really allow that). I felt a nice play area where kids can indulge in a vehicle-related activity would have been nice. Though, after checking the four floors of the museum kids can enjoy a day of painting, pottery, horse and camel ride in the outdoor plush green area—but they can do that anywhere, right?

Getting there

Finding the place was a little taxing for us as it is a bit far from Gurgaon, and the GPS showed 2 approaches— via Sohna or NH8. NH8 is recommended, and a possible landmark could be GITM College. The place itself is in the middle of nowhere so that made it a nice little road trip for us.

Mommy Tips:

  • It felt great to visit a museum like this in India with great exhibits, informative displays and without any jostling for space.
  • Cafeteria is running but there are limited things on offer (Pastas, Popcorns and Yippee noodles are not my thing)
  • One can spend 3-4 hours easily exploring the museum
  • Souvenirs are expensive as all the cars and trucks are designed and decorated by famous artist Anjum Rana. However, it’s worth paying for if you are into that kind of stuffs.
  • The entire place is accessible by stroller and wheelchair

Verdict:

Highly Recommended.

#destinationunlocked #eyeforluxury #kidsdayout #daytrip #everythingvintage #parenting #placestovisit #mustvisit #museum

A version of this blog post also got published in Huffington Post India under my name. Here’s the link of that post.

http://www.huffingtonpost.in/mousume-roy/heritage-transport-museum-gurgaon-steer-the-kids-here-for-a-fu/?utm_hp_ref=in-

 

 

Toddlers’ Theatre : Bends & Flows

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Picture Courtesy http://www.Headstart.edu

I’m sitting in the base of S-47* Pansheel Park (a residential area) in South Delhi on a Sunday morning. On stage, Samta Shikhar & Bikram Ghosh is performing a new play, Bends and Flows, directed by Subhashim Goswami. But it’s the audience that is really striking. Toddlers and preschoolers all below the age group of three are seen bouncing on their parents lap with their eyes glued on the performer.

Family-friendly and delightful, Shikhar and Ghosh’s performance is thorough and well-researched work designed specifically for audiences this young. There is a clear dearth of plays and theatre for toddlers’ at least in Delhi (I don’t know about Mumbai & Bangalore), and this wonderful initiative is a welcome change. After becoming a parent, I’ve never taken our toddler for any LIVE show (even movies); I am very prickly of sideway glances and eye rolling. The thought put in by the Bends and Flows team is highly appreciable; firstly, the timing (11 am) perfectly suited a toddler, the venue (a no-nonsense room), and the exclusivity of the play and safe knowledge that everyone else in the theatre will have a baby made the show special for me as a mother. SO even though there were few wailing cries in between the performance—no one batted an eyelid.

My first experience of toddler play was Butterfly Kiss, a play directed by Elinor Agam Ben-David—performed by actor Hagar Tishman, last year. Though it was a wonderful play, what spoiled it for me is the presence of older kids. The children (above 5 years) filled the Stein auditorium in Indian Habitat Center with their parents and grand parent, and took the centre stage away from shy toddlers—the main addressee. Barring that the concept of the play was so simple and beautiful that it was actually a shame that the audience could not get the most out of it. In a more intimate setting, that show would have worked!

From what I reckon, the toddler requires more intimate settings and less distraction as they are yet to join schools (only few go to playgroups) and that the idea of too many people and a foreign environment can be intimidating for them. The slow and subtle approach with a check in number of attendees can make a huge difference.

This is where the Bends and Flows team scored. The director Subhashim Ghosh was standing right outside the auditorium, and he clearly made me feel at home even though my son got scared by seeing the new settings. So hats off to the Bends and Flows team, it is clearly a step in the right direction.

The cherry on cake for me was when out of the blue, Bikhram Ghosh started singing “Aha ki anondo akashe batashe” and it teleported me to the land of my childhood where Gupi and Bagha played a very important role.

Presented in collaboration with the Tadpole Repertory.

Performed by Samta Shikhar & Bikram Ghosh

Direction: Subhashim Goswami

Assistant Director: Neel Sengupta

Costume: Divya Jain and Virginia Rodriguez

Production: Anuj Chopra and Ankit Pandey

Lights: Anuj Chopra and Neel Sengupta

*S47 is an initiative of The Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Trust

P.S. I saw this play few months back and putting it on the blog now. But as they say better late than never. This play deserves more reviews and coverage than it got.