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Undiscovered Honeymoon Destinations in India

In this age of ‘frenzied working hours and mad chaos’ planning a marriage has begun to take up more time and energy than ever before. Marriage parties are becoming more lavish and there are so many things that need to be put in place. Naturally then by the time the last ritual is done, couples are exhausted and have had precious little time to spend with each other. I bring you some undiscovered honeymoon destinations, that will provide the much needed relaxation, seclusion and romance required by the newly-weds to start a wonderful life together.

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Visit Tarkarli Beach – an unexplored destination in Maharashtra, which is the perfect ‘secret’ getaway for a new couple. It offers hushed silences and relaxing breezes that gently caress the skin. The shimmering silvery sand and crystal blue waters are lined by the shadowy Casuarina trees. This beach is vacant most of the time allowing couples to enjoy some intimate moments amongst the picturesque settings.   Morning and evening are perfect for long romantic walks on the beach. Indulge in exciting adventures like scuba diving and snorkeling with your partner for an added adrenaline rush. Around this beach there are other locations that you can visit like the Sindhudurg Fort, Malvan Market, Dhamapur Lake and the Nivati Fort. If you are the outdoorsy type of couple, then indulge in activities like parasailing, jet-ski rides, bumper ride and kayaking. Explore wildlife through the different safaris including Dolphin Safari and a visit to Crocodile point.

If as a couple, exploring historical sites enthralls you then set your honeymoon at Hampi, Karnataka. Sitting adventurously between rocks and waterways, this is a grand and unique destination perfect for time of history and adventure with your special one for company. Hampi has a number of old and beautiful temples, some of which are adorned with breathtaking sculptures created by the rulers of Vijaynagar. Visit the Virupaksha temple, the Vitthal temple, Vithalswami and Hazara Rama temple to witness not just peace and calm but also some beautiful sites. Do not miss out on the 6.7meters tall statue of Lord Narasimha, the Lotus Mahal and the Matanga Hill. Just 15kms from Hampi is the Daroji Sloth Bear Sanctuary for a wild experience. Great locale, tranquility and awesome sites!

Feel the rush of your pulse and experience the growing excitement when you enter the Thalon Cave, Manipur. It’s an unusual and exhilarating feeling to enter the dark cave lending a feel of going in to an unknown yet peaceful world. This cave was discovered only in 1946 by the Maharaja of Manipur, Budhachandra. Now part of the Manipur tourism festival the cave expedition is only open for 3 weeks. These long dark caves resonate with the mystical sounds of the sea. The intrigue, sensual darkness and spooky excitement of these caves makes it a must visit for ‘high octane’ couples. What’s better than to have an ‘adrenaline high’ together in an activity that is rare and distinct!

Beaches have a romantic and sensual feel to them. Add to this a heavy dose of mischief and you have the Hide and Seek Beach, in Orissa. The beach gets its name from the activity that happens during high and low tide, and is a rather mysterious and exciting phenomenon. In the low tide, the water of the sea recedes approximately 5 kilometers revealing the beach. During high tide, the waters flow back, and cover the beach entirely. This playful behavior of one of nature’s most beautiful yet powerful resources is rather amusing yet enticing and must be experienced.

Forests that appear like magical lands are like one’s childhood dreams come true. The Living Root Bridges of Cherrapunji is the quintessential ‘magical land’ that has never failed to entice us. The ‘bridges’ are formed by the roots of the Indian Rubber tree and the local Khasis use betel nut trunks cut through the middle to ‘guide’ these routes in a particular direction. These roots, in the protective covering of betel nut trunks, grow out straight and take root in the soil. Some of these ‘bridges’ are over hundred feet in length and take around ten to fifteen years to become extraordinarily strong. Their strength keeps increasing with time since they are alive and continually growing. Some of these ‘bridges’ are well over 500 years old. The most interesting root bridge, and possibly the only kind in the world, is two bridges stacked one over another and is known as “Umshiang Double-Decker Root Bridge.

Start your life’s journey by building a lifetime of memories with trips to the ‘exotic, because of being extraordinary’ places. You can thank me later!

Winter Holiday Destination Jewels

Can hardly contain my excitement – winter just puts one in that mood. The warm fuzzy feeling, that touches every sense, you get from the ‘winter smell’, steaming bowls of soup, the fresh smell of a quilt and the heady aroma of warm peanuts. Does it get any better? Surprisingly it does – you are taking time off work and we will help you decide where to go for a winter vacation to escape the dull office and home chore routine. Check out these destinations that have options that range from skiing and sightseeing to birding and ‘doing nothing’ and have a cracking winter holiday:

WInter Holiday JewelsSattal is located in the top most recesses of Uttarakhand and it favors this season of intimacy and being in touch with the finer things in life. It offers its visitors the opportunity to savor the warmth of the brief sunlight through treks, walks, angling, birding or simply cuddling up with hot beverage in a lazy bed. Sattal is picturesque and abounds with nature’s beauty. It is an idyllic winter destination to wallow in the golden morning sun, misty evenings and cozy nights. There are places in which you can stay to experience the winter charm with rooms that afford you outstanding views without leaving the folds of the warm bedding. Friendly and adept staff would be at your service. They would know when you would need something or when you would rather be left alone with your imagination.   The resorts also have roaring bonfires with delicious snacks for those who just cannot get enough of the wintry chill. Sattal’s locales are enticing and would leave you feeling satiated but not enough to keep you from coming back.

Then there is Pauri. It is a tiny emerald village snuggled comfortably amongst 7 Himalayan ranges that are snow-bound during winter, scenic valleys, lush forests and sparkling rivulets. The locals are shy yet extremely hospitable and are steeped in the rich culture of the region. The tolling bells from the large number of temples, confirm the traditional and religious heritage of this region. Pauri is not only ideal as a winter vacation destination but also has an abundance of the much desired calm and tranquility for the tired city person. Matching Pauri’s sweet serenity are the unpretentious resorts that offer you a comfortable and wholesome stay. The ambience is one of gracious hospitality that is surprisingly ‘natural’ (pun intended) and no one betrays any signs of being hassled or ostentatious. Leave your worries and stress when you stay here amidst the innocence of Pauri.

Ramgarh is completely relaxed and serene – enough to hear the myriad thoughts that race through your mind and even has the capability of shutting out the unwanted ones! The sun’s favorite game during winter is ‘hide and seek’ – playing so with the fog. Its brilliant rays peep through the trees of the lush forests and verdant hills only to be overshadowed by the willowy fog that takes over. You could take an excursion to what is known as “The Writer’s Bungalow” where Rabindranath Tagore put to paper some key portions of his ‘Geetanjali’. If hearing the sounds of the forest is your idea of relaxing, then a leisurely walk in the orchards is for you. A visit to the tea gardens and sipping some freshly brewed tea adds aromatic warmth to the chilly weather. Noise and sharp sounds are conspicuous by their absence and Ramgarh lays out tranquility embraced in nature.

Winter thrill gets multiplied times over when you visit the snow laden Narkanda. It is only 65 kms from Shimla and yet remains unrushed, serene, beautiful and relaxed. The entire region is covered in the charming pristine white snow making it the ideal skiing destination. Don’t fret – the slopes offer easy terrain for first time skiers while the experienced skiers can challenge the slopes with their skills on higher descents. The majestic mountains seem so inviting despite their formidable height and tall sentinel like trees too seem happy donning their coats of white. Can winter be more fun?

Rajaji National Park boasts of a thick canopy of lush greenery, the chuckling of water bodies and the happy sounds of the wildlife. Winter is undoubtedly special here as the mist moves along delicately with the wild lending an aura of calm and serenity that is not even broken by the loud trumpeting of the majestic pachyderms and other wild beasts. The Park is the playground for birds too. During winter stream birds like The Himalayan Pied Kingfisher, White Capped Redstarts seem more at home. Migratory birds descend in large numbers and the orchestra of their tweets fills the air.

With so many alluring options, breaking away from the drudgery of the heavy laden city life seems even more necessary. Enjoy the gossamer winter in the midst of nature that touches every nerve and sense and will leave you feeling rejuvenated and upbeat ready to take on the next set of city challenges.

Lessons in the Fine Art of Rudeness

Mr. Rude

I don’t want to sound overly cynical or critical, but some experiences (more than one would have thought possible) over time have forced me think about getting (and giving) some lessons in the fine art of rudeness. There is an adage – ‘do in Rome as the Romans would do’, so it would make sense to learn the ‘art’ of rudeness to fit into the world today. If you don’t agree, then stop reading! (Here is your first lesson – see how easy it has become to be rude!). People seem to perfecting this ‘art’ by using it whenever they can, and even creating opportunities to sound as brash and curt as is possible. After all – practice makes one perfect, right!

  1. Always, always interrupt when someone else is speaking. Tell them you don’t mean to, but always intrude and cut in on someone when they are trying to get a word in. You need to be heard – doesn’t matter what anyone else has to say.
  2. Okay – if you are unable to master the interrupting bit, then you can most certainly speak in a decibel way louder than the person who is talking. Some people have mastered this art – sometimes being so loud that their voice continues to ring in the hearer’s ears for a very long time post the ‘conversation’.
  3. Patronize – be as arrogant and supercilious as is possible. This goes extremely well with interrupting and talking over. After all, you do know every topic and subject better than the person talking or anyone else for that matter.
  4. Make the other person / persons feel stupid and idiotic, by continually telling them that they did not comprehend what your smart self was trying to convey. Tell them constantly that they have misunderstood and misinterpreted everything you said – for example, label a person with the ‘choicest adjectives’ and then say, “that’s not what I meant. Is that what you got from what I said”? Ensure they feel that they can never understand anything correct.
  5. Never make the ‘mistake’ of saying please and thank you. God forbid the use of such poor language! After all these words should be reserved only for when people address you, or when you do something for others (that is if, your high and mighty self, would ever do something for others)
  6. Ensure that punctuality is not part of your life. Arrive late – for everything, especially for meetings that involve the time and effort of others. When you do arrive, follow rules 1-4 – if you are doing something do it well – perfect the art of rudeness. Remember also that apologizing for your lateness or anything else is not for you. Never say sorry for anything. Never.
  7. Always be as vague and non-committal as possible. The acronym ASAP for example is one of the finest examples of ambiguity – use it often. Miss deadlines and never apologize (part of rule 6), never answer or return calls, if you answer a call, do not let the caller speak but cut in and say that you are busy and will call back. Of course, you should never call back even if you said so. Always appear busy – so responding to messages, emails, and other forms of communication would not be expected of you. After all, it is not your job to be courteous and thoughtful, that’s for everybody else.
  8. Try as you may, there would be topics being discussed that do not catch your fancy, ones that you consider boring or irrelevant to you. Don’t stand for it – start speaking about something that does interest you, even if it is completely irrelevant to the topic of discussion. If you don’t have a topic, just stroll out of the room while a person is talking, or use your phone to send messages, check your emails, or better still to play a game. Remember to keep your mobile phone on ringer mode – silence is not for you. You don’t need to respect the others or listen to their opinion.
  9. Lastly, and most importantly, if you are ever at the receiving end of 1-8, stand up and proclaim that it is RUDE.

We are all guilty of at least one of these rules and the perfecting the art seems to continue unabated. What do you think? Am I right, or am I right?

 

 

Giving Back

Giving backThis article is not meant as an instruction or lecture, rather it is my endeavour to share my life’s experiences and how giving back has helped. Life for everyone is tough – yet it is human nature to consider one’s own life tougher than anyone else. The reality however is that there are people ‘out there’ facing far greater trials and tribulations and lead a much harder life than you do.

People face challenges daily – in some of the most basic areas of life – not making enough money to meet expenses, not having enough to eat or having a place to live and not having access to education. Giving back is about easing someone’s problems – not by offering some cheap product or helping them in exchange for something. Giving back is meant to be selfless – it is giving without expectation of any benefits, reward, recognition or any other such tangible something. Giving back is being happy in the knowledge that you have done something for someone in need – touched their life and made a significant impact for then. Your action has made them more positive and spread some happiness in their life.

There is really no way to describe the feeling you experience when you give back. For us it may be a small insignificant act of kindness and thoughtfulness but for the receiver it would make a world of difference. Don’t shy away from doing even the smallest act of goodness and kindness – it always brings about a transformation. Giving back in the form of volunteering for example – brings about a sense of belonging, enables the sharing of ideas and thoughts amongst people from different communities and backgrounds and enriches one’s life due to the lack of expecting anything in return. It is a feeling of gratification and self-development.

I have done some volunteering work too – which began with the thought that I would help others. Initially, it helped me gain vital experience, meet like-minded and sometimes influential people and gained for me new insights and skills. However, with time that inexplicable glow I would feel on the inside when I helped someone and received a wide eyed expression or a 500 watt smile in return, made me realize the actual importance of giving back. It built character and thankfulness for my own life and the people I cared about. Giving back without expectation gave me a sense of purpose, optimism and a feeling of being useful in more ways than one. I was able to keep many negative thoughts and depressive behaviour at bay – I stopped fixating on problems that I seemingly had and instead felt a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Each time I am able to make a positive difference, I feel uplifted and empowered and it fills me with more confidence to face the challenges and problems of life. It leaves me with a feeling of well-being, of knowing that I can take on more. I also feel more alive and my physical and psychological states are boosted with vibrancy and energy.

Giving back returns to you much more than you give – it gives life meaning and you feel fired from within and you are filled with an overpowering sense of freedom, joy and usefulness. This feeling is irreplaceable, priceless and is not one that money or business success can get for you.
 

Ability to Say NO

The phrase time is money is held with deep regard by business owners and other successful people. They guard their space and time zealously and refuse to let anyone step in unless they want. Of course, the reality is that one person or a few persons cannot completely manage the entire operations of a business and it becomes essential to hire people who would do that for you. Every business has its share of roadblocks, distractions and upheavals but it those businesses and people who can manage these, who are successful. One of the main causes of being able to deal with these diversions is their ability to say no. The quote by Anne Lamott thingsicantsay.com – “No” is a complete sentence. It does not require justification or explanation” – amply sums up why saying no is a perfectly acceptable standard and norm.

Saying NO is FineI have met a number of people who actually feel debilitated because they are unable to say no. These people are highly stressed, frustrated, have trouble maintaining relationships and often face failure because of their fear of saying no. While they realize that this inability robs them of priceless time to do value-added activities, they are powerless. The fact is that most people seem rushed and frenzied because they probably do a number of activities in the day that they could just have easily said no to.

So why are people so afraid of saying no? Why are they unable to resolve to grow and develop this capability? It would seem first and foremost is the lack of faith on the capabilities and intentions of those around them. It is a mental block of sorts, which disallows a person to entrust or delegate tasks that they have been doing themselves. They believe that managing everything on their own is the best way. Such people must develop the capability of saying to no to the desire to do every task on their own. No one lives in a vacuum or silo and hence cultivating the habit of inter-dependence is the most crucial first step towards success.

Each single day brings with it challenges, diversions and other tasks that we may not be prepared for. While this is the reality, it is not necessary to respond to each such distraction – developing the ability to say no to such demands will leave one a lot more peaceful, happier and with more time to do things they want.

The inability to say no is an offshoot of fear and feeling guilty that one might hurt another’s feelings – especially of those who are dear to us. Cultivating the habit of being honest and polite helps – saying no does need to be aggressive. Instead, it is best that the truth be told as to the reason for saying no – if you are unable to comply with a request – be upfront and let the person know. People who care about you will understand your need to attend to priorities and other important tasks – those who don’t – well, you are better off without them.

Saying no may seem hard – but it is absolutely essential that it is developed and used appropriately. It is a skill, that thankfully can be learned and over time it can be mastered leading to less stress, more time and better management of relationships.

 

Commitment – you either have it or don’t

Would you say that as a person you are true to yourself and to others? This translates to – are you someone who believes in commitment and also upholds the view that the very act of being committed means that you are into something for good. Commitment could be towards anything or anyone and requires a person to believe in this thing or person from the core of their being. Being committed, I know, is like an anchor – it keeps you grounded and opens up your mind and heart to have the capacity to listen, be there for others and yourself and also to be completely present – not just in words but through your actions and thoughts. Just reading what commitment can do for you, is consoling and comforting – right!

Commitment

In my view, true commitment begins with oneself. It is crucial to develop a deep and unflinching relationship with oneself – remain committed to being happy for instance – before you can reach out to others. When you are committed to yourself, it will show in your relationships with others. You will be more aware of how another person feels and what you should do in order to develop, build and sustain meaningful and committed relationships with them. Being committed to oneself means being aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes. It is also an awareness of anything that contributes toward making you who you are. Such awareness will be the first step towards understanding and being committed to those we care about and to people in general.

The world has changed and as resources shrink and people increase, the whole attitude of people seems to have undergone a sea change too. Everyone is focused and committed to only their needs and those of their loved ones. This is not a right or wrong situation – it just is so, but it must be remembered that hurting someone in the race to move ahead, will always be wrong. This could be just my opinion of course!

Is there some magic formula / mantra to build commitment? Not really – you either want it or don’t. Read on just for information if nothing else:

– Commitment can be built by secretly inquiring to oneself whether your friends and family are truly happy. How do you think they feel emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and are there any ways you can help to make them feel better? Such thoughts will only arise and you will find solutions only when you are committed to their well-being. Pay attention to them, to your thoughts and with time you will find that you do have the power to change things – this is commitment at its best.

– When you are committed, you will find time to do things that you truly care about and do things for those you care about. Watch cartoons, sing even if out of tune, cook something special, ‘talk’ to your pet and other such things calm your mind and you will find yourself being more committed and relaxed while facing the daily challenges and vital chores of life. Do something for your mind and soul and when you make them truly happy, you will be led towards being committed and then nothing will seem like a chore.

These are just my experiences and thoughts – open your mind and hearts to understand what you feel truly committed to and go ahead and express yourself without restraint and in the most authentic manner possible.