First Impressions Last

Fiction

Festivity was in the air, in our home. My father couldn’t stop beaming and my mother’s happy tears wouldn’t stop. I had finally given in to their wishes. After all, for how long can one bear the weight of permanent worry lines on your father’s face and premature greys on your mother’s head.

Yes, I gave in without any tantrums. I gave in to their dream of arranging marriage for me. It was a dream that they had been nurturing since the day I was born. They wanted a groom who had some super amazing stats… good family, lots of money, well settled… All things considered, that is how it worked for them. My parents had seen each other for the first time during their marriage ceremonies!! So, the idea of marrying without love is perfectly ok with them. Love and all that jazz can happen after marriage, they believe. Their long healthy marriage bears testimony to that.

To their misfortune, my education was coming in their way of realizing their dream. I was no longer the sweet and nice little girl but, a woman of 25 with a mind of her own. They can’t trust me to find a ‘life partner for myself and also that I am a bit picky does not go down well with their sensibilities! Plus they have societal pressure to marry me off as I would soon be considered past marriageable age.

I understand the stress my parents were under and I understand their motivation too. For this very reason, I am agreeing to their emotional blackmails and fulfilling my karmic destiny and agreeing to go for an ‘introduction’ meet at the cafe. Needless to say that all this would be happening under the watchful eyes of both sets of parents.

So, here I am, in all my finery sitting across him. When our eyes met… I sighed and thought, ‘Oh, this can’t be happening to me!’ I swallowed back that feeling of shock. Who comes up looking like that for an occasion like this? He had a blank expression on his face. His chin was black with several days’ worth of stubble. I connect stubble not just to a shabby look but also with people who are depressed, untidy and unwell.

I looked at my parents and hugged them mentally, for their eyes mirrored my thoughts too. Sorry dude, you only get one chance to make a first impression. And you lost it. After all, early impressions are hard to eradicate from the mind. When once wool has been dyed purple, who can restore it to its previous whiteness?

I was tagged by Aditi and I am tagging Nabanita, Manjulika, Ideator, Shaznin to share their #WillYouShave stories.

This post is a part of #WillYouShave activity at BlogAdda in association with Gillette.

Come Alive in Melbourne

Last year, my sister had been to Melbourne, Australia and she is all praise for this city. She believes that every one must visit Melbourne at least once in their lifetime. From mountains to museums, markets to meaty meals, merry-making to mind-blowing, modern to majestic, Melbourne has it all. After listening to her Melbourne tales, I have fallen in love with this city too. Here are my reasons for falling in love with Melbourne, which is the most livable city in the world.

  • The best of food is here : Thanks to the Food Safari, a television series hosted by Maeve O’Meara, we got to explore virtually the diverse culinary influences of Australia. Melbourne is a serious culinary hotspot, with everything from burger joints to swish eateries with big-name chefs, cutting-edge cafes, bakeries and heritage tearooms, French fine dining, Italian regional cuisine, tempting Spanish tapas and more. It is indeed a paradise for foodies like us!
  • Pubs and clubs to drink and dance the night away : Drinking beer has been part of the Australian culture for many years, and Australia is known as a beer drinking nation. It is said that Melbourne invented the rooftop bar scene. And ‘shouting’ with friends over tap and bottled beer and cocktails at The Emerson, Black Pearl Bar would be so much fun. The Rooftop Bar
  • Walk in the steps of great sporting legends : We are sports crazy and so is Melbourne. Melbourne has the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground which is home to Australian football, international and domestic cricket, concerts, special events such as international soccer and rugby matches.  Seeing all this in reality, which we have been seeing on TV all these years, would be truly an enlightening, enriching and an exciting experience for us! Have heard that MCG Tour allows the visitors to see and know all about MCG along with access to areas including player change rooms, the Ron Casey Media Centre, member only areas of the Melbourne Cricket Club such as the Long Room and a walk on the hallowed arena. It would be like walking in the steps of great sporting legends. And wouldn’t that take the sporting buffs like us on cloud nine!
  • Shop till you drop : Melbourne is a city that takes fashion very seriously. And that’s the reason that there is a big presence of international retail giants  along with local designers, all set to spoil us for choice. Shopping in Melbourne comes with a bonus, with laneway discoveries and cafe culture add adventure and pleasure to the shopping experience.rose-street-artists-market
  • Explore and more : It is always interesting to go behind the scenes to discover how do they do it. Yes, it would be cool to explore the vineyards that date back to the 1850s and still produce long-lasting wines and the boutique wineries that produce Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir. Vineyards
  • Graffiti art that’s class : Melbourne is known as one of the world’s great street art which showcases unique expressions of art on approved outdoor locations thereby contributing to a vibrant urban culture. LygonStreet

Cosmopolitan, elegant and chic, Melbourne has a passionate soul and a welcoming heart. From thrilling world class events and renowned architecture, to café-lined streetscapes and verdant parklands, there’s a lot to discover in Melbourne.

A CONTEST FOR ALL THE READERS HERE…

Answer this question in the comment section and you can win a gift voucher worth Rs. 500  from Indiblogger and Tourism Victoria

Which of these places would you want to visit in Melbourne and why?

The contest ends on 5th Jan 2015. So, rush in your answers NOW!!

A Healthy Child makes a Happy Home

Raising healthy children is topmost priority for all parents. And by healthy children we mean, focusing not only on their physical growth and health but mental and social well being too. We all know that the way we nurture our children in their early formative years, affects their growth and health later in life.

As young and brand new parents, twelve years ago, KG and I decided to give a healthy start to our lil baby. We decided that in order to raise a healthy child, we will make it a family affair ie both of us would be equal partners in nurturing our child (ok, I had a larger role to play for obvious reasons!) and secondly, we will keep it simple.

Eat Right : The first thing that was on our agenda was to give the right and balanced nutrition to our child. We all know that healthy eating habits helps to maintain healthy weight and growth. So, we followed a few rules religiously on our dining table.

  • We believe that the family that eats together stays together. So, we made meal time a family time, especially dinners. While, lunch is an affair between Aaryan and me.
  • Eat whatever is cooked at home. Finish whatever is in the plate… is the mantra that we have inculcated in our son and we follow it too.
  • Since KG is a chef by passion, a variety of healthy foods and snacks are a given in our home, making the dining table one happy place to be at. Ok, sometimes there were a few frowns but our meal times were never a battle zone.
  • Given the unhealthy temptations we are exposed to now-a-days, and we do have to give in to a burger today or an aerated drink there and not to mention the chips and chocolates. But we have opted for healthier options viz cooking with olive oil, milk and fresh juices over canned options, more fruits and vegetables etc.

Power of Play : Science has proven that a lot of brain development happen when a child is involved in a physical activity. Playing outdoors is not just a fun activity but helps the child to learn the rules of the game in the outside world, dealing with peers, wins and losses, and get the necessary mental, physical and social skills to succeed in his adult life.

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  • An hour of physical activity out with friends in the evening was something we encouraged for Aaryan. So, he would play hide and seek or cycle or play cricket or football or learn karate and come home happy with lots of stories to share and release of energy making him tired and hungry and ready to attack his food with gusto.
  • Jenga blocks, snakes and ladder, jig saw puzzles, reading story books, re-entered our lives as we played these games with our child, indoors. This not only helped us to bond as a family but also gave Aaryan that push to be more creative, expressive and imaginative too.
  • Family trips to parks, museums, zoos or just a drive around the city with the child helped to broaden his learning horizon.

Needless to say that maintaining these healthy habits ensured that our visits to the doctors were restricted usually to get the age-specific immunization shots. We amalgamated healthy nutritious food along with physical activity in our life and all this not only kept our child fit and healthy but helped us to be more disciplined and conscious of our health. Our involvement as parents in his early years gave him that sense of security and helped us become a close-knit family. Today, we have so many fond memories of growing up and growing close as a family —thanks to our child and our determination to give him the best.

It is true that a healthy child makes for a healthy and a happy home, indeed.

This post is written for Indiblogger.in and Dabur Chyawanprash

All the pictures used in the post are personal.

Quikr : Buyer aur Seller ka Perfect Match Maker

Classified advertisements! These words were first associated with the Sunday Newspapers. Matrimonials, job vacancy, buying-selling of real estate would dominate the classifieds then.  And soon, the classified ads started appearing almost everyday in our newspapers. And today, in the era of e-communication, online shopping, social networking, our world has shrunk to the click of a mouse or a tap on a touch phone. So like all other web-based activities, the online classified ads in India has gained acceptance and immense popularity too.

While, I frequently shop online from various portals, I had not explored a classified advertisement portal till a few days ago. I assumed (which was a silly thing to do!) that on these online classifieds platforms people ONLY sell personal goods that they don’t need or use. I am apprehensive of buying used, howsoever good or new, products. And for this reason I stayed away from the online classified ad platforms. Well, there are ads for ‘don’t need or use’ products but there are classified ads from dealers, wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers as well!

And this new insight dawned on me, when I was exploring Quikr. After opting for Jaipur, which is listed among popular cities, from the ‘Select Your City’ drop down menu on Quiker.com, I saw 12 main categories.

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I was keen on exploring something from the Electronics & Appliances or Home & Lifestyle category.

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After scanning the various sub-categories in the Electronics & Appliances or Home & Lifestyle section, I was amazed. I spent such a long time scouting with utter fascination, all the tempting items from the large variety of items in the various sub categories.

While I was browsing through these 2 categories, I saved 28 ads. I liked this option of saving the ad, which is akin to a wish-list and can be referred or checked later.

And then Aaryan, who was also checking the items on Quikr along with me, asked me to explore the Pets and Pet Care section. He was just back from a visit to our farm where our 3 pet dogs Copper, Carbon and Nickel live. He simply adores them and somehow can’t get enough of them. Seeing his love and enthusiasm for our pets, without a second thought, I abandoned my pursuit of finding something suitable to buy in Electronics & Appliances or Home & Lifestyle category and I decided that we’d buy something for our three 4-legged best friends.

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Carbon and Copper are our Doberman pups named after the metals and their colours. Carbon is black and Copper is reddish brown. Nickel, our Gray Mastiff has recently joined us. The poor boy was abandoned and was in a bad shape, till somebody dropped him at our farm. KG’s love and care has healed him and he now doesn’t leave KG’s side even for a minute.

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Pet adoption was out of question, as we already have 3 brats! And Pet Training and Grooming and Clinics were not appealing either. So we explored Pet Care – Accessories and Pet Foods.

After selecting Pet Type – Dog and then Pet Care – Accessories and Pet Foods, there were listing from a lot of dealers and suppliers. We narrowed down the search to the location near our residence and came across an advertisement from Prime Pet Shop, Mansarovar. On calling the phone number listed in the ad, a very courteous, Prashant answered our queries.

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After fixing a convenient time (Yes, Prashant agreed to open his shop on a holiday (Bhai Dooj) for us!), we visited the Prime Pet Shop.

The shop had 3 varieties of Dog Food. We opted for the brand Drools.

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We selected a 15 Kg and a 20 Kg bag for our pups.

The MRP of Drools 15 Kg Bag is Rs 2300 which Prashant offered it to us at Rs 1850.

And the 20 Kg Drools Chicken and Rice bag is priced at Rs 2400 which cost us Rs 2050.

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While, I was checking and comparing the various brands of Dog Food, Aaryan selected some Puppy Collars for Copper and Carbon and metal chains for all three of them.

The MRP of 2 Collars was Rs 120 each, which was billed to us at Rs 80 each. The thick metal chain which we bought for Nickel was priced at Rs 350 and the 2 the small chains for Copper and Carbon had an MRP of Rs 250. We got a discount of Rs 100 each on all the 3 chains. So, with all these items, we had done shopping worth Rs 4610 for our pets.

Then we saw the chew bones and picked 3 packs. These 3 packs were for 438 but we paid Rs 390. DSC_0219

So for Rs 5000, we got 35 Kg of Dog Food, Chew Bones and accessories for our pets. As we loaded the stuff in the car, we couldn’t help smiling with satisfaction at our bargain purchase.

Later, when we showed the goodies that we shopped for our pets to KG, and the prices at which we bought, he was impressed and remarked that it was a steal of a deal!

Needless, to say that we thoroughly enjoyed or shopping experience of buying through an advertisement on Quikr. The wide variety of products in various categories, the ease of shopping in an area near your location, the bargaining factor, which we all love and meeting the seller online but transacting offline after physically seeing the product is simply cool.

Also, after exploring Quikr at length, my apprehensions of buying somebody’s ‘don’t need or use’ product has disappeared too, as I saw that most of the products looked good. Of course, one always has the option of checking/testing the product before buying. I am now thinking of posting a free ad for our Treadmill which we don’t use and is in a brand new condition but lying unattended in our store room.

Quikr is truly Buyer aur Seller ka Perfect Match Maker.

This post is a part of Quikr.com activity at BlogAdda.com

It’s All Black

Last evening, we went to a party and the dress code there was Black.
A friend is buying a new car, and he did an opinion poll on the color and he got 80% votes for the color Black. Another friends’ wardrobe consists mainly of Black.

And I am in sync with Henry Ford too, when I say, “I can have any shape, pattern or design of shoes and handbags, in any color – so long as it’s Black!!” Yeah, all my shoes, sandals, slip-ons, heels, flats, boots…even the sports shoes are Black! My winter wardrobe is predominantly black and decor of our home is in shades of black too.Home

Yes, I am sort of addicted to black! I believe, black is elegant and it is associated with timeless beauty too. In fact they say that without black, no color has any depth. But if you mix black with everything, suddenly there’s shadow – no, not just shadow, but fullness.

So, if I am asked to share 5 black things that I wish for, my list would read something like this…

  • The Black Belt in Karate and other martial arts denotes competence. Karate is a great way to stay fit but given the times we live in, I’d like to learn Karate not only for self defence but also to be of help to anybody in a dangerous or a threatening situation.bb
  • My library cupboard is packed to capacity and now the books have spilled outside and have started occupying every available space on coffee tables and shelves. Before the books take over my home, it’s time, I graduate to Kindle books. Also, with this sleek all Black Kindle ereader, I can carry hundreds of books in my bag wherever I go and also it would probably cut a few kilograms out of my backpack load too.Kindle
  • My love for tea that is milky and sugary is legendary. I am told time and again that this way of having tea is not a healthy idea. While I realize all this wisdom, I am not able to cut this little dairy from my tea. I seriously think that it’s time I switch my loyalties and drink Black Tea till the cows come home!Black tea cup
  • The Polyhouses on our farm are ready for the plantation of the first crop. The temperature, levels of light and shade, irrigation, fertilizer application, and atmospheric humidity are all controlled for crops growing in a polyhouse. And all we need is abundance of Black Clouds, so that they bring in rains. With good rains, all farm ponds and reservoirs would be full of  natural water which should be sufficient for plentiful crops, all year through.

    No, that isn't me!

    No, that isn’t me!

  • It is said music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. And I’d like it to flow through my home. And what’s better than a Black Bose SoundTouch Stereo JC Wi-Fi music system. This black and beautiful system creates the most powerful multi-room listening experience ever. With this one can stream different music in different rooms, the same music in every room. Now isn’t that magical!soundtouch_stereo_jc_bl_lg

What Black things do you aspire for?

This post is a part of #WhatTheBlack activity at BlogAdda.com

Also linking this to July 2014 Ultimate Blogging Challenge and NaBloPoMo

The Flavour I Caught : Jamaican Passion


Catch The Flavour!

This dates a few years ago. A friend V, husband KG and I went to a lounge bar for a party. We were meeting some more friends there and had reached the venue pretty early. In fact we were the only occupants in the lounge at that hour. We found a place with a nice view and got chatting.

The boys being boys, suddenly felt ‘thirsty’ and couldn’t wait to quench it in this beautiful oasis for parched throats. While they were discussing what should be ordered, the bartender joined us on our table and suggested that we play a game. We agreed readily, after all we were here to enjoy the evening!

He placed a dice in front of us and shared the rules with us, which were pretty simple. Each player rolls a dice in turn.  The first person to get a 6, names the drink. The second one to get a 6, drinks it. The third, pays for it! So, when V rolled the dice and got a 6 and it was his turn to order a drink for me, he studied the menu very seriously as he wanted a ‘simple’ drink for me (Men!!!!). His intensive 2 minute research resulted in him ordering a Passion Lemonade for me!L

The drinks arrived and we had our first sips, of course after the mandatory drinking toasts! You know, drinking without it is blasphemy! And 2 pairs of curious eyes (and one was concerned too) were focused on me to see my reaction to a new drink.

Since I didn’t know what to expect, I took the first sip gingerly. And it brought a sparkle to the eyes and a smile to the lips! The boys were intrigued by my facial feedback and immediately asked the bartender about the recipe for this cocktail.

We could see the pride in his eyes and he gladly shared it with us.

The recipe for  Passion Lemonade :

Add ice to a tall glass. Add Breezer – Jamaican Passion (275 ml). Add lemonade (30 ml). Dress with a lemon wedge.

And since then, I am a fan of Breezer – Jamaican Passion, though have tried all the other flavours too. And our mini Bar at home is testimony to that!

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If I were to look at why Jamaican Passion is THE flavour for me, I’d base my reaction on the 4Fs. These 4Fs define and bring to the fore the reasons that makes Jamaican Passion my drink of choice.

    • Fragrance : Smelling Breezer – Jamaican Passion gives a waft of sweet, fruity aroma on the nose with a hint of passion fruit. I always take a moment to savour it.
    • Flavour : After a sip of Breezer – Jamaican Passion, I get a crisp tingling tang with unmistakable coolness which is also reminiscent of a tropical drink.
    • Feel : Breezer – Jamaican Passion tantalizes the taste buds and leaves the palate tingling, much after the sip too! Oh! I love that tingling feeling!
    • Finish : The finish with Breezer – Jamaican Passion leaves a tingle which lingers for a while.

Breezer – Jamaican Passion is a refreshing drink with its distinctive aromatic flavour. I love it best when it is served really chilled. Breezer – Jamaican Passion is certainly a delectable drink that turns any occasion into a party.

Which is your favourite Breezer flavour?

This post is written for Indiblogger’s Catch the Flavour contest in association with “Breezer”.

UBC Day 22 : A Memorable Trip to Ladakh


Ambi Pur Perfect Road Trip - Runner-up
Holiday

Holiday means going to some place, where one can relax and rejuvenate, spend quality time with family and discover a new place, its culture and history and enjoy its beauty.

The Plan

Jammu & Kashmir offers amazing tourist destinations. Hence, it was apt and wise to discover the beauty of this land while we were stationed there! And Ladakh was the unanimous choice.

Company

KG, AG and me along with good friends RT, AP and ST went for a 10 day excursion to Leh at Ladakh

Route Map

While we took a flight from Jammu to Srinagar, we explored the valley by road in our Innova.

ladakh-map After a day’s rest at Srinagar (Alas, we couldn’t revisit some of the places again at Srinagar, because it was a ‘Bandh’ that day! ), our Innovas, started the next day, and via Sonmarg (it’s actually Sona Marg) we reached the Zoji La Pass (which is at 11,578 feet). Most of the Zoji La Pass has NO road. So, you have mountains of rock and rubble on one side and a deep valley on the other side, with a river or stream gushing with water and flowing unevenly through rocky stretch of the river. While it was exhilarating to explore such terrains, there were times when we wondered, if we were sane to undertake this trip. The traffic rules were followed to the hilt by the truck drivers, which was a relief and heartening.

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Next, came the Drass. This place has a large military camp. It is said that Drass is the second coldest inhabited place in the world after Siberia, with a minimum recorded winter temperature of -40 degrees C. Many log and rope bridges lead to Kargil.

Kargil was our first break journey point, as we had travelled 204 kms from Srinagar to reach here. A nice sumptuous meal at the hotel and we retired early for an early start, the next morning. It’s kind of an amazing feeling to be at a place, which has been on our minds for more than 10 years now!

Day 3 saw us seeing the villages of Shergol, Mulbekh, Gel, Lamayuru, Khalsi and finally Uletokpo.

At 13,432 feet, we reached the Fatu La Pass which is always cool and windy and is the highest pass on the Srinagar-Leh road.

Lamayuru has an old Tibetan monastery of Yungdrung on a crumbling mountain. Throughout the journey fascinating different colored and types of mountains (stone, sand, rocky, granite, soil, black, grey, green, red , purple and orange, one can see them all.) and clear watered lakes or rivers were a constant feature.

After travelling 160 kms from Kargil, we settled for the day at West Ladakh’s Tent Camps at Uletokpo.DSC_0519

Staying in a camping tent was one exhilarating moment! The Indus River flowed wildly between our camp and the big rocky mountain! It was some view!! Behind our tent, a stream of water was flowing and one morning, we (the women, of course!) couldn’t resist the temptation of washing clothes by the stream, despite having clothes which could last us for a month!!

A small trek, meeting a Jompa (it’s a cross between an Ox and a Yak) and eating apricots and apples fresh and ripe from the trees, tasting a new Laddakhi dish Thenthup, reading in the serene environment and in general having a great wonderful time, were the highlights of the 2 days camping at Uletokpo.

An accident made us a bit reflective and sad! Near our camping site a tourist cab fell in the raging Indus River killing 3 Malaysian tourists and seriously injuring the driver and another tourist, while one of the tourist went missing, probably the water torrent must have engulfed her!

Day 5, we traveled 70 kms to reach Leh via Alchi, Lekir, Basgo, and Nimmu. Just before Leh, there is this mysterious ‘Magnetic Hill’. It’s a place where the layout of the surrounding land produces the optical illusion that a very slight downhill slope appears to be an uphill slope. Thus, a car left out of gear will appear to be rolling uphill!!

Shopping

Shopping in the Leh market is fun. The market is flooded with clothes for the winter season and of course for the summers too, gems and jewelry, brass artifacts, Ladakhi, Tibetan and Chinese traditional decorative and curios, Kashmiri carpets and pashmina shawls. And all are exorbitantly priced. Even the road side sellers have artefacts for which they’d quote amount (in Indian Rupees!) in 5 digits!! And the key word is BARGAINING!! I guess, I honed my bargaining skills some more, in Leh!

Day 6 saw us exploring the Tiksey monastery. DSC_0333It is some 500-year old monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus River. The main attraction here is the 15 metre high seated Buddha. This monastery also has a rich and beautiful library with many handwritten and painted books. The highlight of a trip to Tiksey is the view from its lofty roof terrace. A patchwork of barley fields stretches across the floor of the valley, fringed by rippling snow flecked desert mountains and string of Tolkien-esque monasteries, palaces, and Ladakhi villages.

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The souvenir shop at the monastery offers some very attractive articles and of course T-shirts with interesting designs, trekking map to Leh and quotes embroidered on them! The best T-shirt quote I liked… ‘Yak…Yak…Yak…Ladakh’, with embroidered Yaks!

Day 7…woke up at 5 am (!!) to start for the amazing Pangong Lake. Pangong Lake can be reached in a five-six hour drive from Leh, most of it on a rough and dramatic mountain road. And enroute, we passed through the Chang La Pass which is at 17,586 feet and is the third highest mountain pass in India. Here the Indian Army serves the amazing complimentary tea!!

Pangong Lake is a closed drainage basin lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about 13,900 ft. It is 134 km long and extends from India to China. DSC_0655 Two thirds of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is 5 km wide at its broadest point. During winter, the lake freezes completely, despite being saline water. Nature has showered its best colors on Pangong Lake. With the movement of the sun the water shows off various shades of blue in layers which is truly mesmerizing.

And this 12 hour journey had tired us immensely, so we decided to stay put in Leh for 2 more days and relax the remainder of the holidays. Of course, we shopped some more and returned back to Jammu via flight.

Travel Tips

Some tips for you, in case you decide to explore this part of the world some time:

1. You must travel one way by road to experience the scenic beauty of Ladakh.

2. Travelling by road sufficiently acclimatizes you to the low oxygen conditions there.

3. You MUST fly back, coz, so much of travelling on the treacherous mountain roads does take a toll on you!

4. You must stay in a camping site.

5. You must shop!

6. Apply loads of Sun block cream (Minimum SPF-35!), to avoid getting sun burnt or tanned!

We had some amazing time exploring Ladakh! And you must do so too!! So ready, with the packed bags!!

This post is written for Indiblogger’s “The Perfect Road Trip” contest in association with “AmbiPur“.

To keep your car smelling fresh as new, check out this page facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia

Map Courtesy : Google Images

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