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Kumaon stories part II: Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun, we learnt!

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A former garden department official working with the Uttarakhand government used his knowledge to transform a barren hillock in Chaukori village into a Kaaphal orchard, an organic garden complete with six cows for dairy needs, and domesticated bee colonies for organic honey. His eldest son opened this property for homestay, while his mother -Neelam aunty -the only woman in the family -dished out home cooked food for the visitors.
Kaaphal Hill, the village homestay gave us a glimpse of the life in Kumaon hills, the cuisine, and left us wondering whether we are too meek to adopt the life in the hills.

Chaukori (Kumaon himalayas) We found Kaaphal Hill homestya on airbnb. Tarun, the eldest son in the family takes the bookings and coordinates with the tourists.
We traveled from Kausani to Chaukori in our self-drive ZoomCar -the Jazz. As we were coordinating with Tarun for directions, he was waiting for us near the closest landmark-Udiyari bend and the newly placed sign for Kaaphal Hill. Th…

Kumaon stories part I: Askote -When the king hosted us

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An Introduction
Askote was one of our most awaited destinations during the Uttarakhand -Kumaon roadtrip. It is a small village of about 2500 people, 30 km from the Indo-Nepal border. The main attraction here is  the Jauljibi mela -a 103 year old market where traders from China, Nepal, and India come together to sell their goods and the confluence of Kali and Gori ganga rivers...not to mention the mesmerizing mountain views.
While planning, Yogesh Sarkar of bcmtouring.com suggested that the current ceremonial king of Askote -Rajwar Bhanu Raj Singh Pal offers accommodation. We called him up and he agreed to give us a room. He refused to take any advance booking amount and reserved the room for us on just  sending our name and address.
No details of the accommodation -photos, description, or first hand experience were available on the web. And we were too awkward to ask the king for pictures or the room rates. Nevertheless, we took the risk of uncertainty.
We were travelling from Kausani…

Kumaon Calling

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This is the trip on which we have spent the least time in planning and packing as compared to our earlier trips...thanks to the busy jobs and endless family functions to attend before we leave. 
A trip of many firstsOvee's first trip to the Himalayas and also the longest till date (almost 3 weeks).First trip that we are not taking our own vehicle, but hiring a self-drive car.Ovee's first air travel (We are flying to Delhi and starting the drive from there).First trip when we'll be staying at a King's palace. Not a palace-turned-hotel, but an actual palace of the current king of Askote.The itineraryWe are covering only the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in this trip and sticking by the rule of no religious places and no shopping. We start on May 7 and return on May 25 after visiting the following places:

Two years after the remarkable 30s

For those following my blog, this title would remind you of my post "Being in my remarkable 30s"...the extremely grim post about Granulomatous mastitisand the counselling sessions.

Well, this one is about overcoming all of that. After six months of steroids and 1.3 years of homeopathy, the breast lump has disappeared.

Three important things that I learnt from this:
1. Say NO to pestering doctors
Six months through the treatment-in August 2015, my trusted breast specialist Dr Pranjali Gadgil was moving to the US and handed over my case to another breast specialist. Before leaving, she had told me that it was time to taper and stop the steroids. However, when I met the new doctor a couple of times and she had nothing more than steroids to offer.

In November 2015, we went to Tata Memorial hospital in Mumbai, did a check-up there and the doctor suggested to ignore the breast lump. However, I couldn't because I had to regularly aspirate from the lump.

The new doctor said I …

The roadtrip, the anniversary, and all that jazz

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The road trip
On a hot Monday afternoon, at around 11.45 am, we started our road trip to Jambulne jungle, 18 kilometers ahead of Lonavala. It was Ovee's maiden road trip and we were all excited.

We did away with our knee guards as that would have been too bulky for us. Tejas did away with the riding jacket as well, but I stuck to it since it has back and elbow protection. As always, we did not take any backpack. It was just saddle bags, tank bags and a sling bag for the essentials.

Initially, Ovee insisted on sitting on the tank. So I held the tank bag on my lap and she had her way.


Later, as we hit the highway near Dehu road, we shifted her between us and the tank bag went on the tank. That was our first break. After that, Ovee was sleepy and we had to remove her helmet so she could sleep well. During times when she was awake on the bike, we sang her favourite rhymes and counted the number of signals.

Since it was a weekday, there wasn't much traffic and we went steady at 40 …

Prologue to Ovee's maiden bike trip

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After that teaser almost a month ago, here are the details: Destination: Lonavala
Mode of travel: Our good old Karizma
Stay: The Machan
The preparations are done:

Safety first: Ovee has a new helmet for herself
The Karizma has a new MRF tubeless rear tyre.The "mother-daughter side of the saddle bags is packed: "If we can fit the luggage of two people for 21 days in these saddle bags, I can surely fit the luggage of three people for three days." Is what I kept telling myself looking at the stuff below:

No compromise on medicines, Ovee's toiletries, and Ovee's clothes.
Some compromise on bike's stuff, because help in Lonavala will be readily available.
A lot of compromise on mine and Tejas's clothes...And after about a couple of hours I managed the following result in our side of the saddle bag. The other side is the "father-bike"side, which is yet to be packed because, the father, is yet to complete his earlier trip!

You might have to wait until n…

Curtain-raiser for road trip 2016

November is the month of our road trips. It is almost the end of October and I haven't posted any plans on the social media yet.

A couple of friends actually asked if 2016 is going to be a vacation-free year for us. The answer to that will be yes and no. Yes, we might technically call it a vacation-free year because we are not going anywhere beyond 100-150 kilometers from Pune. And no, we cannot have a vacation-free year, no matter what! 
Although we will be vacationing near Pune, this road trip is going to be special as it is going to be Ovee's first bike trip! Two years ago when Ovee was 1.5-years-old, we drove to Rajasthan in our Honda Jazz for 15 days. We had our own checklist to make it a safe and comfortable trip. And believe it or not Ovee still remembers some of the things we did or saw there.

She will be four-year-old soon and it is the perfect time to start grooming her for bike trips. That means ensuring her safety on the bike, watching if she can enjoy the road wi…