Saturday, 27 October 2018

Find a Travel Buddy with XOXO



Have you always wanted to travel solo but were kinda worried about how will the people out there are gonna be and how will the locals there end up to be? 

OR are you a girl who's had a lot of trips with friends and family but still can't gather the courage to go solo? 

OR are you a parent who's cool enough to help your son/daughter find a travel buddy who'll end up teaching your kid how to travel solo. 

OR, do you just daydream about traveling solo one day, some day? 

If you answered YES to any of the questions above, this post is for you. 



Hello world, 


23rd October 2017, somebody told her, "See, stepping out of your home, out of your comfort zone is good. You should do it more often now". This changed her life. It was that day and today, a girl who was too afraid and uncomfortable about people outside her comfort zone has finally started to travel. I am that girl.


I took 24 years of my life to take this step, you shouldn't (Wink) especially in this world where if not your friends, if not your family, you could actually have a travel buddy. Wondering who this buddy is going to be? 

Let me introduce you with a one of its kind concept of travel dating. No, you are not forced to date somebody. No, it isn't a replica of Tinder. 

Meet, Xoxo Tours, a dating app for travellers. This basically is a combination of Travel Dating and Social Networking designed for travellers, travel enthusiasts, wannabe travellers or solo travellers to connect with locals or other travellers to date, meet or roam together while on a trip. People can connect and chat to decide to meet up/date & go on a trip. 




OR, you can just chuck off the meet-up based on your travel experience (This is especially for the female travellers). So, relax, let's travel girls

It is a free Indian dating site/app where you can actually find a like-minded travel mate and explore a whole new world with them together. Who knows, you might end up finding your soul mate on signing up at this website. 

If not, you might end up with a bag full of travel friends that you keep meeting on your trips till you gain the passion and confidence of travelling solo. 


Pros of the website


- It's free of cost. 

-‎ Easy to use, allow you the flexibility of selecting your language. 

-‎ Saves you from asking everybody on other dating websites whether they like travelling or not. 

- It's you who decide who you want to travel with. 

-‎ You can chuck off a conversation if you feel unsafe. Do not want another girl posting #Metoo. #Respectwomen 


Cons: Apart from some fraud humans, I don't think there're any. OR let's just try this first and then come up with some (if any). I am sure there aren't any. 




Dear Men,
In a world full of women crying about #Metoo, I hope some of you are decent enough who would be true and genuine to the women who look up to you for nothing but respect. 

Dear Women,
It would be great if we behave likewise and respect men as well and if not anything else, be smart and trust your gut more than the one on the other side of the screen. 

Dear humans, 
Irrespective of your genders, let's try to be kind on this platform and take India towards a time where fear and safety won't be the glitches in one's solo travel plans. 


Happy travel, happy dating.

-Lots of Love 
Mani


Saturday, 13 October 2018

Turning 25

Dear Soul Chutney,

It was a private ritual that I started some years back of writing birthday letters to my own self about the lessons that I learnt that year, about how I would like to move on, about how I was feeling at that particular moment and it was always amazing to read them again. This year, I had a thought of writing a blog post about it which made me write all of it. 


25th it was. Happy belated 25th to me. Wondering why I broke the ritual of writing a self letter and writing a public post? Even I am wondering about the same. But the reaaon could be the grown up feeling that I have, may be it is the maturity of voicing out my opinions publicly without the fear of being judged is making me do so. 

This year has been awesome in its own ways. I took years to understand one thing and then it just took a day to help me realise all of it. I learnt to keep moving on in life, to forgive others even when it's out of my principles, to listen to selective stories than all of them, to be a l'il more vocal about my thoughts, to know the difference between needs and wants, to know what's worth keeping and what's worth letting go. With the twists and turns that took place all emotionally and physically in the backdrop of my mind, I learnt to calm myself down, to relax, to understand that 'It's okay'. It's okay to not get everything that you wanted. It's okay if the world isn't fair as you are (C'mon, you are a libran, not everybody is that). And above all, I learnt that 'why' sbouldn't be the only question you need to ask, most of the times, 'why not' helps. It was this year that I finally decided to step out of home to explore what lies in the world outside I call home, it seems easy but it wasn't. Collecting all the faith on my own self, puking in every other city that I went to, learning different lessons every time, losing people in between has been the pros and cons of travelling. Hoping to be a l'il better of in health when I travel next. All of this was fine, tough but fine but this 25 days to go in my 25th brought another sudden change in my life which I never though would happen. Many of you might guess it right, I am working out on my diet. From an 'only junk-foodie', too much junkie, having junk every other day, I pledged to control on my habbit of having junk. I did it for 25 days straight before my birthday. Yeah! I deserve a big round of applause for that. But, okay, I am blushing now. 

Everyone, trust me, everyone around me wonders somewhere in the back of their mind why 2-months of celebration? Birthdays are cliche ageing process that just make you realise that you've completed one more year of your life. 

Frankly, I ask nobody to celebrate them with me. I love this personal space of 2-months that I spend loving myself to core. In the hustle bustle that we are a part of, we often forget to pamper ourself, to love ourself, I do it all in the 2 months. And, I have no regrets even if I look like a fool to everyone. I love my birthday, you should love yours too. ❤️

People who dance to the rhythm of my birthday beats with me love me the most, hate me the most for poking them that it's my birthday coming soon. And I don't do this to everyone. So, you must be very special to me to witness all of that. 

Cheers to all the lessons, beautiful memories of this year, some promises, new habbits, getting over some bad habbits, loss and addition of a few humans in my life, to the new me, the new inverted bob, fashion-conscious, still a crazy kid at heart girl who just turned 25. 

The clock seriously is ticking very fast, oh god, I hope I live up to my happiness goals & purposes in life and spread love. 

-Love
Mani


Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Lansdowne: Away from the hustle-bustle!

Mom: What all did you visit today?
Mani: Maa, I can't hear you. Networks here are weak. I'll text you what all I did as soon as I get the networks.

My mom was shocked as soon as I told her that I visited no places other than the resort I was staying at during my weekend trip to Lansdowne. 

Are you confused too as to why I am writing a blog about it if I actually did nothing there? Let's clear your thought bubbles. 

In the far off hills of Uttarakhand lies a not so populated hill station that is still undiscovered by most of the humans. Less crowded, unexplored, well maintained, full of peace with amazing natural attractions, Lansdowne is located around 40 kilometers from Kotdwar, district Pauri, Garhwal. If you'are travelling from Delhi, it will not take more than 6-7 hours to reach this peaceful hill station.


I went there with my colleagues (who are actually family) the last weekend. Most people I consulted told me that it is not the right time to visit this place because it would be all rains and we won't be able to roam around in the streets and visit the tourist attractions every traveller talks about after coming back. This 'not-the-right-time' actually made Lansdowne one of the best trips for us among the rest that happened till now in 2018.

You know what, there's this old-fashioned belief that one needs to roam and visit all the famous spots around a city or destination to call it a trip. To those who believe in that, Uhu uhu, times are changing now and I think a trip to relax, a trip where you find time to slow-down your fast paced life back at home is more of a requirement. So, dear new-age travellers, I know you understand this need for peace, I know you will love this place. Trust me, there's no right time to visit places, all you need is a will to wander.

We stayed at the resort we booked (Astre Vue Resort) for a day, enjoyed the clouds that were walking with us, stared at the valley underneath, played indoor games in a glass room built just above a cliff with valleys on both sides, sing along with the guitar player that the resort arranged during the bornfire time and made memories.









A few 'what all we visited and did' shots for old-fashioned travellers.


St. Mary's Church
This isn't tea, I am a coffee person, remember.

The old bridge enroute Lansdowne.

On the way to Lansdowne.

An unknown, natural, surprize waterfall found on the way back.


I am sorry if I am not entertaining people here who want to know of the places they can visit when in Lansdowne. Take me along the next time and we'll check out those places together. For now, these are the places even I googled before travelling. This might help. Hell yeah, thank me later.

1. Tip and Top

2. Garhwali Museum

3. St. Mary's Church

4. Tarkeshwar Mahadev

Lansdowne Look-book:

The most important part of a trip is to stay comfortable and dressed as per the demands of the weather. Because I visited this place in the rainy season, I tasted both the flavors of pleasant and foggy mornings and chilling evening and nights. Here's a look-book of what I wore and where.

1. While travelling from Delhi to Lansdowne

Okay, what's better than your PJs to have a comfortable journey? I wore this relaxed Pajama with a soft round-neck tee while travelling from Delhi to Lansdowne. Also, just the color and print on my tee changed while I was coming back. So, there's no while coming back look. Also, I was too tired and all lazy to click a picture in that. Hope you don't mind, right?



2. Day 1: At Astre Vue Resort

This is the day we reached our resort which was about to be our home for the next two days, Astre Vue Resort. (Visit this link to check out the resort, it was one heaven there that I will cherish for lifetime). I wore this cute l'il blue bohemian dress (from Reliance Trends) with a pair of tan brown bellies to complete the look. Does this look remind you of the Nirma girl? No, no, I didn't pose for them in childhood. LOL!




3. Day 2: While roaming around the city in rains.

It was out final day in the city and it was raining hard. The non-stop rains made the weather a l'il cool. I wore this woolen dress from 109F and paired it again with the same rain-friendly belly. 


Tips: If you are visiting this place in the season like this i.e. Rains, make sure you carry a jacket, an umbrella, some rain-friendly flip-flops, waterproof bags, polybags and a hand-towel with you.




Life here in cities is tiring, routine based and polluted. Amidst all of the hustle bustle we face everyday, a weekend trip like this can rejuvenate both your mind, body and soul. 

ये वादियाँ ये फ़िज़ाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें 
खामोशियों की सदाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें |

तुम्हारी ज़ुल्फों से खुशबू की भीख लेने को
झुकी झुकी सी घटाएं बुला रही हैं तुम्हें | 

PS: Let me confess something today. I have anxiety disorders that makes me restless and and unwell (upset stomach, nausea) a week prior I am about to travel till the trip ends. Talk about my last 3 trips and ask the people I travel with, they will tell you about all my 'we're not taking you the next time' stories with heart-felt disgust. I was almost convinced that I am not made for travelling (even though I wasn't ready to stop) when Megha (my love) told me, 'have you noticed that with each trip your nausea disorders are reducing, you don't need to 'not travel', all you need is a l'il more travel darling'. So, this post is dedicated to you Megha. Thank you.  


So, when are you planning your visit to Lansdowne, the Unexplored Natural -Habitat for the new-age travellers.

About the trip:


Total expense: 3500

Travel: 1600 INR (We booked a traveller, a car or a bus might cost you below or equal to this amount)

Stay: 1300 INR per night (tripple sharing)

Food: 600 INR 

Stay: Astre Vue Resort (Stay, facility, rooms, service: 5/5, Location: 5/5, Food: 1/5)


Also, a special thanks to my Manager/friend Sourabh Raj for these amazing shots. :)

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Hello Monsoon: A working woman's guide to rainy season.

Hola Ladies, 

Long time, no see. Did you miss me? I missed you all a lot.  

Rains are here. And, along with it comes the confusion of what to wear and what not to wear because none of us want a downpour or a light drizzle send our morning dressing routine go plain. Especially when you are a working woman, this desire to dress properly for humid mornings becomes a different ball game all together.

I know, we have to change our dressing preferences according to the season but c’mon who’s asking you to look boring and depressing just because humidity irritates you and the muddy roads out there are spoiling all your favourite footwear? 

Monsoon styling does not need to be all dull and gloomy. In fact, it is perhaps the time when you can have most fun with your clothes. It is the time to say hello to all your shorts, skirts, dresses, crocs, waterproof bags and slippers. It is the time to flaunt your colourful umbrellas and your well tied hair-dos (because hello, open hair will lead to hair fall!). 

So, are you looking up for options to light up your mood while mud and humidity all around bothers you? Don’t just let the rain ruin your dress-up routines, here’s a guide you can follow to look all rain-ready and fashionable. 

1. Bring on all your floral printed / colourful dresses 

Do you look up for opportunities to wear prints and quirky patterns that you otherwise do not prefer wearing to your work place? On this note, take a leap of faith and believe me that you won't find a weather so perfect to flaunt your printed collection.

 







2. Say no to well fitted Jeans ad trousers 

I can understand how jeans and trousers feels like in a season where sweat becomes an unwanted guest in the life. Let's pledge and ditch all these fit pants and fall in love with cropped flared pants. They not only are comfortable but a rich source of air that keeps your body cool.

 



3. Skirt it out to work and parties 

Remember the schooldays when skirts used to seem perfect for monsoons, you could easily cycle through the muddy water without the fear of spoiling them because of the sexy length that they provide. It is time to remember those childhood best friends (skirts) and you are all set to rock your work place. Also, you can go both formal and casual with this amazing piece of clothing. Try my advise and get ready for all the compliments that will come your way.





4. Let your heels hibernate for some time 

If you love your heels and expensive footwear as much as I do, you wouldn't prefer wearing them in a weather where you have 100% chances of spoiling them. Listen to me and pack them for a month or 2 in almiras you don't open so that you don't have the urge or wearing them because We Love Them. And, these comfy flats come in a different variety that you can easily match with every dress you wear.

5. Flaunt your umbrellas

Last, but not the least, how often do you get to accessorise your personality with amazing umbrellas that are available all over the market looking up for your attention. Let's pick atleast one this season and flaunt them as much as we can.
 


Quick tips:

-Keep a lot of polybags handy in monsoon so that you do not end up spoiling expensive items such as your mobile phones and laptops.

-Tie your hair into braids and quirky hairdos to prevent hairfall. I couldn't do it because I have really short hair but all you ladies with long shiny hair, I hope you don't want them to fall off this monsoon.

-Say no to make-up for atleast a month. Don’t worry you can still look stylish with your life saviour bright lipstics.

-Prefer waterproof bags and shoes to prevent the sensitive ones from getting spoiled.

-Wear light fabrics that are easy to dry.


Follow these simple guidelines and tips and you might never feel irritated with the prolonged rains that drench you without any warning. Also, rains are amazing, all you need is be ready for them to enjoy them.

Happy rains.

See you soon with another blog post. Till then, share your rain stories and don't forget to smile.

-Love
Mani <3



Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Luxurious Trips are boring, Adventurous Trips are trending.

"Bhaiya, tickets dikhaiye!"

"Ye bus Kalpana travels ki nahi hai. City Heart Travel ki hai."

"Utariye aap log, yaha sirf City Heart Travels vale jaege! Aap log kaha jaaege kaise jaayege, hume matlab nahi hai!"

When you are all excited and your journey begins like this, how would you react? 

Well, don't know about the rest, I was all excited and laughing over the situation when replies like these came.

"Suno, City Heart Travel ke office se yaha bheja hai Kalpana Travel ki booking walo ko."

"Utarege humare dushman."

"Police bulao, pakadvaao in s**l* fraud logo ko."

Okay, fine! Shit happens. And, complaining about shit is never a solution. But, facing it head-on is.

This is how I embarked upon my weekend trip to Rishikesh and Haridwar with my friends. The excitement of a 'Volvo se jaege" turned into "Oye idhar se paani beh raha hai, seat adjust nahi ho rahi" but the fun remained intact. And, all I realised was that a luxury trip might be exactly how you plan it to be, but the fun of an adventurous trip is something more exciting.

Rishikesh:

The Yoga capital of the country, this city has two entirely different sides of it. While the first one is the spiritual side, the other face of this city is a bit adventurous. Known for the best Yoga retreats to one of the best spots for Rafting and Bungee Jumping, the place has a lot to offer to its travelers. This is one of the reasons, everyone should visit this place atleast twice or for an extended time to experience both the sides. The 1st time I visited this place 2-years back, it was more of a spiritual journey with my family where we stayed at Parmarth Niketan, attended Ganga Aarti, visited most of the temples and Yoga centres in the city. This time, it was time to look at the other side of the city.



So, here it begins, my awesome journey to Rishikesh.



That bus, autorichshaw, 5 kilometers of trek and finally we reached our camp site. Camp Hill Brook it was.

And then you have days like that when you meet the biggest fears of your life. So yes, I am hydrophobic and I did rafting on 5th May. It was difficult for me to cope up with that fear because water water everywhere frightens me more than anything in this world (after lizards). But, not just good, it went great and I am glad I tried it. Vapas chale? *Sunglasses and swag on* ❤️


Rafting ready. Never miss it, I pardon, never!




Could you find any better snacks than Pakodas and Tea when it is raining heavily in hills. 




You will be missed forever Peelu <3


Look at the tired peeps!



Rest everything was fine. Haridwar went well and it was time for ua to come back when another mishap occured. 
Early morning expedition to find waterfalls and natural ponds.

Just look at all the tanned faces at Haridwar.
Oh no! This bus was fine!
No, no! We didn't miss it either.

This time, around 1.5 hours away from Ghaziabad, somewhere before Meerut, our bus brokedown and the driver ran away along with the conductor. At 2 in the night when I was sleeping peacefully on my seat, my friends out there were struggling to find another rescue bus for us to come back. 

They did it. We completed the rest of the journey sitting on the uneven floor of that rescue AC-Volvo, smelling the refreshing smell of people's feet who were sleeping on their seats repeating Jab We Met's dialogue 'Boring bana do ji ab is journey ko' but still smiling hard on the awesome weekend that we had. 

You know what, complaining is easy but embracing the loopholes, misfortunes and hurdles that come your way is tough and I have learnt to embrace it all. While I was having a bad time with life, this weekend trip (even if how mishappening the to and fro journey may sound) gave me the ultimate peace that was desired out of it from a long time. 

But most of all, I found myself there. I figured out my heart. Or atleast, I am hoping that I did. I've learnt to be kind to myself, to embrace the journey I am on. I am learning to be proud of the person I am and the one that I am becoming even if it isn't what I actually wanted to be. I learnt to fall in love with the process, with the messiness of life and the confusion of it all.


Check out the entire Vlog of this trip here:



And, at the end of this trip, I've actually found what I was looking out there. Peace out! ❤️



About the trip:



Expenses involved-


-Travelling: 1500 INR

-Camp-stay, rafting, bornfire party and 3 time meal: 1500 INR (package per head)



Things to keep in mind:



  • Never book KALPANA TRAVELS buses. No matter how cheap packages they offer.

  • Appreciate the ordinary over luxuries.

  •  Yes, you can wear specs during rafting and you won't drown. The life jacket rocks. 

  • ‎Do not carry more than one footwear. Comfortable chappals are all you need for everything. 

  • Must try 'Rajisthani' restaurant in Rishikesh. 

  • Camp-life is something one must try. It is a combination of beauty, peace and fun. 

  • ‎Planning for a girls trip or a solo trip, you can still stay at the camp. It is all safe. Trust me. 

  • Don't forget to write your name on the sand and click pictures. (I missed that! *sobs*)

  • Don't spend on sunscreens, you're gonna get tanned anyway. Lol!

  • And, keep smiling. :-)

I booked my travel package from http://yatrarishikesh.com/ and the experience was awesome. Check out their website if you are planning to visit Rishikesh anytime soon.