19 June, 2021

Grand Teton National Park trip with kids - What you need to know

Grand Teton National Park trip with Kids

Grand Teton National Park with the majestic Teton mountain range, lush green valleys, and alpine lakes attracts millions of visitors every year.


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What you need to know:

This park is located to the north of Jackson in the Wyoming state of USA. The entry fee per vehicle for a seven-day pass is $35.

The Park can be reachable by flying to Jackson / to Salt lake city and driving around 4.5 hrs on road. 

Top things to do in Grand Teton National Park with kids:

Drive the scenic loop:

One of the must-do things is to drive the scenic loop. We took the scenic drive from Moose Entrance. 

One great thing about the park is that we can see the zigzagged Teton mountains everywhere from the park.


Teton Peak



Some viewpoints with great overlooks are Windy Point Turnout,  Mount Moran turnout, Chapel of Sacred heart, Cascade mountain overlook, Jackson dam, Schwabacher landing, Oxbow bend overlook, Cascade Canyon overlook, and Snake river overlook.


Jackson Dam



This 42-mile long drive takes around 1 to 2 hrs.

Take a boat ride on Jenny Lake and Hike to Hidden Falls:

Jenny lake is the most popular site in the park and parking gets filled pretty quick. 


Jenny Lake



We can either hike around Jenny lake / ride the boat shuttle which runs every 15 mins from South Jenny Lake Junction. With kids, it's better to take a shuttle so that they can hike to hidden falls easily.

The boat ride (round trip) costs $18 for adults and $10 for kids above 2 years.


Hidden Falls



We took the shuttle in the afternoon, hiked to Hidden falls and to Inspiration point. The views are awesome during hikes and boat rides. 

The hidden falls are excellent with a magnificent flow of water. The hike to Inspiration Point is not easy with more elevation and steep path, but we took more breaks and could make it. The view of Jenny Lake from the Inspiration point is unexplainable in words. 

Take a hike to Taggart Lake:

This hike came well recommended for families with kids. Taggart lake trail is around 3.3 miles out and back trail. A few people hike to Bradley lake as well. The trail is an average difficulty level with mostly flat and less elevation.

The lake gives the best reflection of Tetons in the water. We could even get our feet wet and relax a bit with snacks at the lake. 

Click a Photo of photogenic Mormon Row barn:

Most of you might have seen this beautiful barn with the background of the majestic mountains. It's so popular that people set up their cameras with tripods in the early morning and evenings and wait for hours to get a better shot with different lighting. Artists even paint there to cover the gorgeous scene.

Mormon Row is on the Antelope flats road near Moose entrance.

We visited this place in the evening when the sun is still bright. But, photos might be better in the evening.


Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 



Enjoy the food and facilities at Dornan's:

Dornan's near Moose Entrance is a great place to have a quick lunch/dinner or stop by for ice cream and snacks. Chuckwagon Grill provides lunch and dinner options. 

There is a gas station here as well. 

Other Food options:

  • Leek's marina near Jackson lake - Northern part 
  • Mural dining room, Jackson lodge
  • Pioneer Grill in the Jackson Lake Lodge for the best milkshake


Other things to do with kids:

  • String Lake - 4.4 miles - slightly difficult with kids - but possible with many rest breaks

  • A drive through the Jenny lake loop to get Jenny lake overview

  • A drive to Signal mountain

  • Relax at Colter bay - one of the highest alpine lakes in the USA

Hope you liked our itinerary and I would be glad if this helps in your planning.

Please do let me know in the comments how you plan to visit this national park. 

More travelogues on Yellowstone and Idaho follow soon in the coming posts.  

Until next time,



06 June, 2021

The Winter Song by Saurav Dutt - [Book Review]

Book Details:


Title: The Winter Song
Author: Saurav Dutt
Print Length: 171 pages
Genre: Memoir, Contemporary Literature
Source: A free review copy through Rachel's Random Resources





Blurb:


From the acclaimed Author of 'The Butterfly Room' comes a powerful afterlife drama conveying how great gifts can be hidden in death and how they can bear fruit in our lives if we have the faith to let them unfold.

Somewhere between the mountains and the mist in Simla, India a widower must reconcile himself to the loss and grief that haunts him after the recent death of his wife.

Unhinged by grief, anger, and guilt, John Perera has set off on a journey, a journey to honor the love of his life and to fulfil the promise he made to her to uncover the truth behind the mysterious death of their son. It is a journey of extraordinary self-discovery that will take him to the extremities of his soul and question all he believes about life, death, and faith.

Purchase Links


UK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winter-Song-Saurav-Dutt-ebook/dp/B08NFD2ZNS

US - https://www.amazon.com/Winter-Song-Saurav-Dutt-ebook/dp/B08NFD2ZNS

My Review:


The Winter Song is about how death impacts loved ones. It is a poignant story of John who embarks on a journey to fulfill a promise given to her dead wife Asima. On this journey, he realizes the mistakes he made in his life. He also thinks of the opportunities he missed to change some circumstances.

This is the story of grief and guilt. The message is clear - we love our family a lot but we don't show it enough to the family members when they are alive. Of course, the guilt remains when they are no more to express our love and care.

What's great?


The writing is beautiful. A great literary work. But, it is emotionally wrenching and it is a sad read around the death. So, if you are mourning for someone, you will immediately connect to it. If not, it will definitely give you an emotional ride.

The book cover is beautiful and well done. The title is apt too.
The emotions are well expressed - grief, guilt, and love.

What might have been better?


The sequence of events seems abrupt. It would have been good if they had a smooth and clear transition when the narrative goes between current and past. This part is a bit confusing at some times.

It is a slow read and it will take time to get into us (if that's a concern to you as a reader).

My Rating: 3.5/5


PS: I am thankful to Rachel's Random Resources for a free review copy and this is my honest opinion on the book.

About the Author:


Saurav Dutt is an Author, Political Columnist and Human Rights Campaigner. A journalist in three continents, his acclaimed debut novel 'The Butterfly Room' explored issues of domestic violence and homophobia within South Asian communities and has been showcased alongside leading political figures and human rights campaigners. His work for human rights and charity campaign work has taken Dutt to speaking engagements at the WEF, IKWRO, IWN, Houses of Parliament and TEDx.

After exploring the issue of psychological abuse and domestic violence in 'There Is A Light That Never Goes Out' Dutt was commissioned by a major Hollywood production house to pen the official novelization of the major motion picture 'Tiger' (starring Golden Globe winning and Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke) and he commemorated the centenary of the infamous Amritsar Massacre in India with 'Garden of Bullets: Massacre at Jallianwala Bagh' which was featured in TIME magazine. TIGER is the biographical account of Parminder Singh Nagra, a trailblazing Sikh boxer who fought successfully for the right to compete in the ring with his beard, an essential part of his faith.

A syndicated political columnist, Dutt writes for the International Business Times, The Times of Israel, Human Events, and American Herald Tribune. He has featured on CNN, GQ, Huffington Post, Business Insider, BBC television and radio, RT (Russia Today), Press TV, Sky News, and more. He has been shortlisted several times for the Asian Achievers Awards and Asian Media Awards. He resides in the United Kingdom, Los Angeles, and India.

Social Media Links – @sd_saurav on Twitter

Until next time,


31 May, 2021

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America by Janet LoSole - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title : Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey through Central America

Author : Janet LoSole

Genre : Memoirs, Non-Fiction

Publisher : Resource Publications

Print Length : 217 pages

Source: A free review copy from the author






Blurb:

Embarking on a homeschooling field trip to Central America is stressful enough, but add in perilous bridge crossings, trips to the hospital, and a lack of women’s underwear, and you have the makings of an Adventure by Chicken Bus…a tale of one family, buckling under a mountain of debt, who sells all worldly possessions and hits the road.

Adventure by Chicken Bus demonstrates how to travel sustainably, but more importantly, how to nurture the next generation of environmentalists and social justice activists by exposing them to the conditions faced by those in the developing world.

From a remote monkey sanctuary tucked into an enclave on the Panama-Costa Rica frontier to the overdeveloped beaches of the Mayan Riviera, we endure chaotic border crossings, infections and injuries, learn about the history of the civil war in Nicaragua, visit UNESCO heritage sites, and hike the ancient Mayan temples of Tikal in Guatemala.

For the sake of safety, we plan our route down to the kilometer, navigating the region by chicken bus, an eye-opening mode of public transportation ubiquitous in the developing world. Along the way we re-connect with each other, re-kindle our commitment to the environment, recognize the privilege into which we were born, and become compassionate global citizens.


My Review:


A couple leaving their jobs as school teachers in Canada travel to Costa Rica with their 2 kids to work at an organization that saves endangered sea turtles. This is their story of homeschooling their children while learning the native cultures of the places they visit to live like a local with meager income without any luxuries like electricity and a refrigerator.

This is about their travel experiences and their hurdles. This is kind of a homeschooling field trip but a long one to Central America.

While reading the book, at some points I got a chill in my spine, when they had to stay in musty, Narrow rooms, travel in overcrowded buses without enough air to breathe, when their daughter misses an accident in seconds, etc.,
I appreciate and understand  Janet and Lloyd's interest in community-based travel supporting local businesses and homeschooling their kids.👏

Why the name Chicken bus? 🐔🐣

Chicken Bus is a colloquial term used to describe the run-down, discarded school buses from North America sold to Latin American countries, where they are repainted in bright colors, outfitted with stereo speakers, and upcycled with more seats to accommodate more people with their potatoes, avocadoes, and chickens. 

What's great?

Loved the book cover and the title is appropriate. The map at the beginning of the book is very helpful to understand the route they travel and the places they visit.

The Author's passion to homeschool their kids by showing the local people and their culture are worth an appreciation. 

What might have been better?

I felt the book is too verbose. Some photos might have made reading easier.

The font might have been larger.

The book ends with this line which I agree 100%
" Yes, The Chicken buses, crammed full and whistling down a bumpy road, unveil a great deal indeed"

My Rating: 4/5


About the Author:


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 18 books, 11 of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 54 languages. Her latest novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and chosen Blackwell's Book of the Year. Her previous novel, The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.

Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature. She is a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). An advocate for women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice TED Global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people "who will give you a much needed lift of the heart". Shafak has judged numerous literary prizes, and chaired the Wellcome Prize and is presently judging the PEN Nabokov Prize.
www.elifshafak.com
Twitter @Elif_Safak
Instagram @shafakelif

Until next time,




28 May, 2021

5 ways to reduce stress

 Stress, Stress, Stress..

We have been learning more about mental health, anxiety, and stress these days. 

What is Stress?

Stress is the body's reaction to a challenge. It can be positive like when we have to avoid some danger or accomplish any task on time. But, too much of it can negatively affect our health. Stress is the way we react to a difficult situation like anger, frustration, etc.,. 

Even when we train ourselves to be calm, it's not easy to handle all kinds of situations and maintain cool. 


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Signs of Stress:

As per the article from MedlinePlus, the following are some signs of stress:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Frequent aches and pains
  • Headaches
  • Lack of energy or focus
  • Sexual problems
  • Stiff jaw or neck
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Upset stomach
  • Use of alcohol or drugs to relax
  • Weight loss or gain
In long term, stress can cause harm to the body and can be a reason for many diseases.

So, here are 5 ways that I learned from my experience which help in reducing mental stress.


5 ways to reduce stress:


1. Excercise


Exercise found to have many benefits and reducing stress is just one of them. 

Exercise need not mean hitting the gym and working for hours. It can be as simple as dancing to your favorite tune, hiking to explore nature, trying swimming/karate lessons, biking/jogging etc., 

If the activity is something you love, chances are more for you to continue the activity and even enjoy the experience.

PC: www.pixabay.com



2. Explore Hobbies and Fun Activities


Ensure you spend time on your hobbies at least 30 mins a week to start with and increase to more days in a week slowly.

Reading books, painting, even playing simple games online like word search, candy crush, playing board games like chess / Chinese checkers with family can relax your mind.

How games have changed these days? From Tetris, Pacman to PubG, Pokemon.. There are so many games available online and even free on Plays.org. (By the way, this site has no ads, that's a relief :-)). While I liked Arcade games, my kids loved games from the Base Defence category.

Listening to music/ singing songs, learning different types of dance styles/music instruments, etc., are very helpful in reducing anxiety.

3. Enjoy the Outdoors and Nature


Our Earth is gorgeous. Traveling outdoors and discovering different places is relaxing and also a learning experience. 

Experiencing different foods, meeting people from different cultures, traveling to new places, staying near the beauty of nature like forests, mountains, and beaches are definitely mood changers and can brighten our souls. Agree?


Image by Leonardo Valente from Pixabay 



4. Spend time with people you love


Humans are social animals. Love and social interactions are essentials in our lives. It doesn't matter how much we earn, but how many good friends we earn is important. 

Due to Covid, we are not able to meet people in person. Since most of us are getting vaccinated, it's not far when we can go back to family dinners and parties with friends. 

Happiness keeps the stress away. Spending time with loved ones gives us security and satisfaction in life.

5. Practice Mindfulness and Gratitude

I came to understand the importance of mindfulness and gratitude a bit late in my life. But, these 2 are great ways to have positive thoughts in our mind which, in turn, reduce stress.

Mindfulness means appreciating the moments in the present. Gratitude is feeling thankful for what we have than worrying about what we don't have.

Image by Alfonso Cerezo from Pixabay 



Enjoying the beauty of flowers blooming in our garden, appreciating the help from a stranger, relishing the smile of our children when they are playing, gorging the delicious food made at home, enjoying a hug from a close friend, etc., - These everyday small things make our day.

Yoga and Meditation can improve mindfulness and positive thinking. When we can stop overthinking and reduce negative thoughts, the mind feels relaxed.

Thus, there are many simple ways to reduce stress in our daily lives. Always remember, for a long-term impact, we should eat a balanced diet, meditate and try to think positively. 

How do you cope up with stress? Would love to know your suggestions in the comments.

Until next time,





Happy to collaborate with Plays.org to write this article on some simple ways to reduce stress. 

27 May, 2021

The Forty Rules of Love by Elif Shafak - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title : The Forty Rules of Love

Author : Elif Shafak

Genre : Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Publisher : Penguin

Print Length : 370 pages




Blurb:

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

* One of the BBC's '100 Novels that Shaped the World'*

"Every true love and friendship is a story of unexpected transformation. If we are the same person before and after we loved, that means we haven't loved enough . . ."

Ella Rubinstein has a husband, three teenage children, and a pleasant home. Everything that should make her confident and fulfilled. Yet there is an emptiness at the heart of Ella's life - an emptiness once filled by love.

So when Ella reads a manuscript about the thirteenth-century Sufi poet Rumi and Shams of Tabriz, and his forty rules of life and love, her world is turned upside down. She embarks on a journey to meet the mysterious author of this work.

It is a quest infused with Sufi mysticism and verse, taking Ella and us into an exotic world where faith and love are heartbreakingly explored. . .

'Enlightening, enthralling. An affecting paean to faith and love' Metro

'Colourfully woven and beguilingly intelligent' Daily Telegraph

'The past and present fit together beautifully in a passionate defence of passion itself' The Times

My Review:


First of all thanks to the fellow book review bloggers and bookstagrammers who suggested this book. Else I would have missed a gem in my life.

The forty rules of love is about the life of Shams, a sufi, his relationship with God, his friendship with scholar Rumi, his compassion and love. We get introduced to Shams by a novel written by Aziz. Ella is given this book by their publishing office to read, review and write a report on the book. It is interesting how the lives of Aziz and Ella are influenced by Shams in the novel.

The story flows smoothly covering 3 lives in parallel- Shams, Aziz, and Ella's. The narrative is very interesting. The whole book is full of beautiful quotes in the form of forty rules of love. I have never used the kindle highlight feature as much I used for this book.

This book in some way might change you, beware! We learn The principles of Sufism, the importance of selfless love, the feeling of oneness with God and other human beings, and a lot more.

I seriously think I cannot rate this book. Is there any option to rate more than 5 out of 5?

I suggest this book to readers who would like to understand the deeper meaning of life without getting bored by religious lectures. 

About the Author:


Elif Shafak is an award-winning British-Turkish novelist. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 18 books, 11 of which are novels. Her work has been translated into 54 languages. Her latest novel 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and RSL Ondaatje Prize; and chosen Blackwell's Book of the Year. Her previous novel, The Forty Rules of Love was chosen by BBC among 100 Novels that Shaped Our World. Shafak holds a PhD in political science and she has taught at various universities in Turkey, the US and the UK, including St Anne's College, Oxford University, where she is an honorary fellow.

Shafak is a Fellow and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature. She is a member of Weforum Global Agenda Council on Creative Economy and a founding member of ECFR (European Council on Foreign Relations). An advocate for women's rights, LGBTQ+ rights and freedom of speech, Shafak is an inspiring public speaker and twice TED Global speaker, each time receiving a standing ovation. Shafak contributes to major publications around the world and she was awarded the medal of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In 2017 she was chosen by Politico as one of the twelve people "who will give you a much needed lift of the heart". Shafak has judged numerous literary prizes, and chaired the Wellcome Prize and is presently judging the PEN Nabokov Prize.
www.elifshafak.com
Twitter @Elif_Safak
Instagram @shafakelif

Until next time,




24 April, 2021

Short Horror Stories Vol.3 by Brendon Faife - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title: Short Horror Stories Vol.3: Aliens, Reptiles, Paranormal & Supernatural Hauntings (World Creepy Tales Collection)

Author: Brendon Faife

Genre: Horror, Supernatural, Short stories

Print length: 58 pages




Blurb from Amazon:

Not all Gods are benevolent….

I am thrilled to put together this collection of creepy short stories set in different parts of the world!!
From the pristine beaches of the Andaman Islands, a quaint seaside town in Bali or the rugged plains of Oregon — the locations are as beautiful as the horrifying events which unravel in them!

This volume contains 3 horror stories that will have you feverishly turning pages, wanting more—

Whether it is the mysterious tribe of the Sentinel Island who violently reject contact with outsiders , an abandoned theme park in Bali that holds a dark disturbing secret, or the sinister undertones of mysterious cattle mutilations that take place in Oregon, I hope you find every story as creepy and exciting as I imagined it in my mind’s eye!

The fast-paced, simple narration will keep you hooked until the chilling climax!

So, settle down in a quiet place, dim your lights and let the stories transport you, across different cultures and continents, into another world!

This horror short story collection contains:
1.The Island
2.The Theme Park
3.The Visitors

Purchase Link:

Amazon


My Review:

This book is a collection of short stories mostly themed around horror, alien, supernatural, reptile / alien creatures. I would say, the stories are mysterious, not gory or scary. But, only 3 stories in a collection felt very short.

By the way, the book cover is amazing!

The island

This story about a mysterious creature on a remote island is riveting and well written. But, it felt a bit predictable and fell flat at the end. 

The Theme park

This story is interesting throughout and has a good unpredictable end.

The Visitors

This alien suspense is my favorite in the book. The suspense build-up is good till the end. The theme of the story is unique and the ending is not predictable. 

My Rating: 4/5

About the Author:

Brendon Faife is an engineer by profession and works for a leading MNC in Bangalore. If he was not an engineer he would have been a teacher! He is passionate about writing short stories and is inspired by the works of Ruskin Bond, RK Narayan and Kenneth Anderson. His short stories are a mix of supernatural events, human relationships and everyday life. He likes to think of himself as a free thinker, a dreamer and a great singer when no one is listening!

Until next time,


The Institute by Stephen King - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: The Institute

Author: Stephen King

Genre: Mystery, thriller, suspense

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Print Length: 577 pages





Blurb:

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

Purchase Link:

Amazon

My Review:

My Review might be biased as this is my first audiobook ever. So, there will be a lot of difference in the experience while reading a book Vs listening to the book.

Coming to the audio narration, it is excellent and the narrator's voice brought life to the author's words. The story is unique and the concept is about psychic kids which is interesting for me to pick the book. 

I loved the characters and the details the author has put in. The research about psychic abilities and how they can help mankind is interesting to know. The pace of the story is perfect making it a good thriller. But, I felt, the last part after Luke reaches a small town in South Carolina is too much dragging. 

The story is thrilling for sure, but dragging at the end made it less interesting. The last few pages might have been edited and cut short. Other than that, everything else is just perfect for a mystery story.

Avery Dixon and Luke steal the show for their bravery. Overall, a bit lengthy but a satisfying thriller.

My Rating: 4/5


About the Author:

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His first crime thriller featuring Bill Hodges, MR MERCEDES, won the Edgar Award for best novel and was shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award. Both MR MERCEDES and END OF WATCH received the Goodreads Choice Award for the Best Mystery and Thriller of 2014 and 2016 respectively.

King co-wrote the bestselling novel Sleeping Beauties with his son Owen King, and many of King's books have been turned into celebrated films and television series including The Shawshank Redemption, Gerald's Game, and It.

King was the recipient of America's prestigious 2014 National Medal of Arts and the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for distinguished contributions to American Letters. In 2007 he also won the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. He lives with his wife Tabitha King in Maine.

Until next time,


Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag - [Book Review]

 Book Details:

Title: Ghachar Ghochar 

Author: Vivek Shanbhag

Translator: Srinath Perur

Publisher: HarperPerennial

Genre: Fiction, Family drama

Print length: 130 pages





Blurb:

A young man's close-knit family is nearly destitute when his uncle finds a successful spice company, changing their fortunes overnight. As they move from a cramped, ant-infested shack to a larger house on the other side of Bangalore, and try to adjust to a new way of life, the family dynamic begins to shift. 

Allegiances realign; marriages are arranged and begin to falter, and conflict brews ominously in the background. Things become “ghachar ghochar”—a nonsense phrase uttered by one meaning something tangled beyond repair, a knot that can't be untied.

Elegantly written and punctuated by moments of unexpected warmth and humor, Ghachar Ghochar is a quietly enthralling, deeply unsettling novel about the shifting meanings—and consequences—of financial gain in contemporary India.

Purchase Link:


My Review:


It is the shortest novel that I read recently. This can be considered as a family drama with mystery.

The story is a reflection of how people change with a sudden source of income. The author imbibes the culture, local traditions, and the everyday problems of a lower-middle-class family in the story. 

This author has a unique writing style. He seems to tell the story in a simple way while leaving clues making us guess how those clues are relevant. The climax is a bit confusing until you read the first chapter again after the ending. 

The author doesn't end the story in a very clear way and leaves the reader to join all the clues as puzzle pieces to understand the ending. 

At the end of the story, we wonder what happened to Anitha and why the whole family behaves as if nothing happened. Every small scene in the story has some significance. For example- when the narrator watches a couple fighting in the cafe, he breaks the glass which he is holding tight. Maybe, he is thinking, he is not good enough for Anitha or it's an indication that Anitha might have decided to leave him. 

While the narrative is interesting, I hated most of the characters except Anitha and the narrator's dad. I couldn't understand the situation of the narrator who doesn't want to earn on his own and will do anything to support the earners of the family, even it means injustice to someone else. 

My Rating: 4/5


About the Author:


Vivek Shanbhag writes in Kannada. He has published five short story collections, three novels, and two plays, and has edited two anthologies, one of them in English. For 7 years from 2005 to 2012, he published and edited the literary journal Desha Kaala. Vivek’s books are translated into many other Indian languages. His acclaimed novel Ghachar Ghochar was published in India in English translation in 2015.

Vivek's writing has appeared in Granta, Seminar, Indian Literature, and Out of Print.

Until next time,




Train to Pakistan by Kushwant Singh - [Book Review]

Book Details:

Title:  Train to Pakistan

Author: Kushwant Singh

Genre: Historical fiction, History

Publisher: Normanby Press

Print Length: 236 pages





Blurb:

“In the summer of 1947, when the creation of the state of Pakistan was formally announced, ten million people—Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs—were in flight. By the time the monsoon broke, almost a million of them were dead, and all of northern India was in arms, in terror, or in hiding. The only remaining oases of peace were a scatter of little villages lost in the remote reaches of the frontier. One of these villages was Mano Majra.”

It is a place, Khushwant Singh goes on to tell us at the beginning of this classic novel, where Sikhs and Muslims have lived together in peace for hundreds of years. Then one day, at the end of the summer, the “ghost train” arrives, a silent, incredible funeral train loaded with the bodies of thousands of refugees, bringing the village its first taste of the horrors of the civil war. Train to Pakistan is the story of this isolated village that is plunged into the abyss of religious hate. It is also the story of a Sikh boy and a Muslim girl whose love endured and transcends the ravages of war.

Purchase Link:

Amazon


My Review:

Train to Pakistan depicts the partition days of India and Pakistan. It clearly covers that period,  the people, and the circumstances in rural Punjab.

I felt the story or depiction is raw without polishing or covering up the real circumstances and emotions during partition.  The writing style is easy to follow, but I find many Indianized English words (if I may say so) whose meanings we cannot find in Dictionary.

I love the way how the author depicts the normal life of rural people. The harmony between different religions, people respecting each other in villages, and their moral values are worth an appreciation. The book also brings in the reality of that period,  killings without logic, etc. The mass killings across the border and cruelty brought tears while reading the book.

The climax is unique and very satisfying. We see people like Iqbal and Hukum Chand in real life, who preach morals but don't dare to follow them completely. We also see people like Juggut Singh who shine bright against circumstances and sacrifice their lives for good when society least expects good from them. 

By the end of the book, I realized why this book is a classic. A classic is not only a great literary work but also which mirrors society,  people, culture, and complex human emotions.

My Rating: 5/5

About the Author:

Khushwant Singh,  born on 2 February 1915 in Hadali, Undivided India, (now a part of Pakistan), was a prominent Indian novelist and journalist. Singh's weekly column, "With Malice towards One and All", carried by several Indian newspapers, was among the most widely-read columns in the country.

An important post-colonial novelist writing in English, Singh is best known for his trenchant secularism, his humor, and abiding love of poetry. His comparisons of social and behavioral characteristics of Westerners and Indians are laced with acid wit.

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17 April, 2021

5 Best things to do in Albuquerque with Kids

 Albuquerque is the largest city in New Mexico. It is abbreviated as ABQ and gets its name from Spanish. ABQ is a great place for a family vacation due to its unique landscape and mild weather throughout the year.


5 Best things to do in Albuquerque with Kids:





1. Experiencing the International Baloon Festival

The International Baloon Fiesta organized every year in October is the most anticipated event in Albuquerque. In 2021, it is scheduled for October 2nd to 10th, and usually, the tickets start selling by June itself. 

The colorful balloons in creative shapes dotting the skyline during Sunrise / SunSet are considered to be a wonderful sight. Balloon rides also will be available to see the city from the air.

We are planning to attend this year, but have to see if we can make it.

There is a hot air balloon museum in the city if you want to know more about balloons!


Image by Thaddeus Moore from Pixabay 



2. Hiking the Petroglyph National monument 

This is a must-visit place if you are traveling with kids. Petroglyph National monument protects a landscape of 17 miles with designs and ancient symbols carved on volcanic rocks by Native Americans from 500 to 700 years ago.

The Park is split into 3 areas - Boca Negra Canyon, Rinconada Canyon, and Piedras Marcadas Canyon.

 Mesa Point trail in Boca Negra canyon is an easy 0.4-mile trail with a little bit of climbing to the top and is a good introduction to petroglyphs. The cliff base trail and Macaw trail are both easy.

Rinconada Canyon and Piedras Marcadas Canyon have options for longer hikes with more petroglyphs to view.






3. Ride the Sandia peak tramway

Reaching the Sandia peak of 11,000 ft elevation on the tramway in mere 15 mins is great to relish the views of this desert city. 

While the top of the mountain is 20 to 30 degrees cooler than city temperature, there are hundreds of hiking trails to access from the peak. There is also a restaurant TEN3 on the peak.

Watching Sunset riding on the tramway is considered the most memorable experience for any.

We couldn't ride the tram due to high winds when we went in February, but we drove to the peak. We came across the ski area and hiking trails on the way.


Photo courtesy: Flickr



4. Enjoy the Mexican Food

If you are like us who love Mexican food, Albuquerque seems like a paradise for food lovers. El pinto restaurant in North Valley is unique in the interior and exterior decoration and famous for the authentic and tasty Mexican food.







It's difficult to get a table on weekends and weekdays alike, so we reserved ahead for dinner. We loved the experience and 100% recommend it to all visitors.

Be prepared to answer if you want green chile or red or Christmas(a combination of both red and green).

Some other highly recommended Mexican restaurants are Flying star Cafe, Papa Felipe's Mexican Restaurant, Padilla's Mexican kitchen, Little Anita's, Cocina Azul, and Church Street Cafe.

5. Walk the Old downtown Albuquerque 

No trip is complete without understanding the culture and history of the place, right? I suggest you don't miss a walk downtown.

Church street cafe is famous in the downtown which you can consider for lunch. San De Felip Neri church is the oldest standing church. This church has an interesting Virgin Mary sculpture carved in the tree which is known as the Virgen De Guadalupe tree Turquoise jewelry is famous here! Don't forget to shop downtown.


San Felipe De Neri Church PC: Creative common license



  Bonus tips:

1. We loved exploring the National Museum of Nuclear science and history. It takes 2 to 4 hrs to cover the museum, but kids will love this. ABQ Bio park is another recommended place for kids.

2. Someday trips to consider from Albuquerque : 

a. Jemez Mountain scenic byway with hot springs and waterfalls

b. Santa Fe - Read this travelogue for more details

c. Sky city at Acoma pueblo (the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America) - around 1.5 hrs from Albuquerque 

d. Bisti Badlands near Farmington - 2.5 hrs from Albuquerque 

e. Chaco culture national historic park - 2.5 hrs from Albuquerque 

3. Read more about our New Mexico Road trip if you want to extend your trip from Albuquerque to Four corners monument, White sands National park, Roswell and Bandelier National Monument, and Kasha- Katuwe National Monument.

The weather is getting better, are you planning for any trip? Would love to know your travel plans. 

Feel free to comment.

Until next time,






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