BIBLIOTHÈQUE: For the love of Books & Food

Kunzang Chuki Denzongpa, Pamu to her friends and family opened Bibliothèque on 1st June 2017. The cafe is located at Tharo Line, the famous staircase that leads down to Lal Bazar from M.G Marg. The second floor of the building is set up with bookshelves, seating tables and chairs, colourful and interesting decoration pieces from Harry Potter to the Game of Thrones. The corner by the window is my favourite spot to sit. It provides an aerial view of the Lal Bazar side of town and on a clear day, the neighbouring hills present a perfect backdrop.

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My fav spot at the cafe

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The view from my fav spot

I started my meal with “Breakfast in a Pot.” Bacon, bread, eggs, spinach, herbs in a ramekin. I also asked for a non-veg Thai roll/wrap. Meat, vegetables, herbs over that thin rice paper is beyond perfect! It even makes that perfect sound when you chew on it!

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Breakfast in a pot with non-veg Thai roll

I was fortunate to reach just as Pamu had taken out her freshly baked quiche. Meat and cheese melting in my mouth was just what I needed on a Sunday morning.

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It’s a happy place with happy people and happy kids!

Pamu says she loves cooking and she loves reading. In a society driven with secure government jobs, you have someone like Pamu, deviating from the normal.

“So you’re going to let people just take the books?” I ask, fiddling around in her kitchen. “The idea is to let them borrow it because I want to encourage reading,” she replies, nonchalantly.

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Serna making sure the books at the cafe are stamped!!!!

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Iced-tea, food and me

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This is what a perfect setting looks like!

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What would you like to eat today?

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Belgian waffles with seasonal fruits and ice cream

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Grilled chicken in cream of mushroom with couscous

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Ramen with assorted meat and prawns

So if you’re strolling around town and want a place with good food, good books and an ambience that is creatively comfortable, then you have to make your way Bibliothèque.

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Forced Tshultrim Norbu Wangdi to take an abstract pic of me and after much grumbling, we got this. 

Kanchi’s Diwali Tale/il

A very Happy Diwali to each and everyone. (Since I am not President Obama, that’s all I am going to say).  However, I am so very happy about the fact that my state, SIKKIM celebrated  a quiet Diwali this year.

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Thank you Eclectic North-East

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And thank you Business Standard as well

I know Diwali is all about bright lights and the dazzling night skies but let’s get realistic here. The pollution level at Diwali sky rockets higher than all those crackers combined and that’s something to worry about; But then again, I am not here to lecture on those lines. I am just extremely happy because I don’t like people bursting loud crackers for one reason alone and the reason is ….”ANIMALS”

You are allowed to completely NOT empathise with the dog/animal lovers here and go on counter arguing about how Diwali is about lights and crackers and blah blah blah….

For those who’re still reading this, I’ll share my Diwali story with you and this Diwali, it’s all about the stray pup, Kanchi.

(NOTE: Kanchi is a Nepali word which, when translated refers to the youngest female member in the family).

So, the story started a couple of weeks before Diwali. I went to visit a relative who owns a car accessories/wash/all in all kind of Car place called PitStop. He also has a restaurant so I went there with the idea of stuffing my face with axone, pork, bamboo shoot, beef and all tribal things possible! I always fall into situations/predicaments that are totally unforeseen and that’s exactly what happened.

A heart melting image in the form of a playful fawn coloured stray pup caught my attention. I could see the workers there had adopted her and she was a restless, energetic, cutest little thing around. That was how I met Kanchi.

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Say “Hi” to Kanchi

I am in no state to adopt any more animals! My house is a mini zoo right now but I am willing to and will continue to work towards providing any and every possible help to the ones in need.

So Diwali came and the houses and the spirit of the Sikkimese people shone the brightest because 95% of the people did NOT burst crackers. Those of you who did (those loud annoying ones)…I WILL FIND YOU AND KILL YOU; And I was super overwhelmed when I saw most stray dogs had a red jacket around them with the words, “Yeh Diwali, insaano wali.” You wonderful, amazing, awesome people…whoever you are, who took this initiative to protect and shelter the dogs from the cold and spread a message during Diwali, I WILL FIND YOU AND THANK YOU.

So yeah, coming back to Kanchi, I knew she already had a home at PitStop where she was being fed and looked after but I also knew they weren’t going to be able to vaccinate her and take her to the vetregularly. So, this morning, instead of heading to work first, I headed to PitStop, picked up Kanchi and took her to the vet.

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I think she likes me

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We chilled in the car and I think she liked the images passing by

Since I didn’t know how old she was, I assumed she’s about 3-4 months. The doctors and people at the State Veterinary  Clinic were helpful and they helped me with her vaccination, deworming and registration.

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The people here helped me and Kanchi 

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Registration: DONE!

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DHPP: DONE!

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Deworming and Calcium dose has been advised for Kanchi

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Her anti-rabies shot is on the 17th!

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After we were done, I had to drop her back to PitStop

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I caught her checking herself out in the side view mirror

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Clearly not a day to wear white…but then, totally worth it! Yes, I went to work wearing this!

So, I handed Kanchi back to her people at PitStop because I know she has a home there. However, PitStop is just a minute’s walk from my office  so I am going to be checking on her regularly and the truth is, I can do so much more for Kanchi and others like her. What I did today is only the beginning.

Once again, a very happy Diwali to everyone and thank you for making it a silent one. Those who took the effort towards catering and caring for the animals during this festival of lights, your spirits shine brighter than all the fire crackers combined! YOU are the real PATAKA!!!!!!

Cheers!

SIKKIMIS: A PERFECT SIKKIMESE SOUVENIR

Okay, let’s get straight to the point…What is the perfect Sikkimese Souvenir you’d like to give someone (particularly, a Non-Sikkimese) so that the item becomes an irreplaceable Sikkimese memorabilia? Rich farts who can afford the expensive carpets and thangkas, please go away! I am not talking to you guys.

So, yeah that leaves the rest of us (the urban poor) who have a pretty comfortable and laid back life but have absolutely nothing to gift a friend/ a guest/ someone/ anyone a perfect Sikkimese Souvenir. We’ve spent years and money on Chinese products available at every Gift and curio shops because that’s the only thing available; But guess what? The awesome people at Echo Stream launched their in-house, original product last evening and it’s called SIKKIMIS- Yes, the Perfect Souvenir from Sikkim.

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SIKKIMIS: An idea that’s completely out of the box but wrapped perfectly in a box!

Currently, the only products available are Tee-shirts but the cool gang at Echo Stream will be coming up with more products that define/narrate/portray stories of Sikkim.

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What is Sikkimis?

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Ta Da!!!! These are the Seven Designs available, designed, crafted, created by some of these applause-worthy designers!

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Any Red Devils fans here?

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Sikkim can be summed up in Two Things: Red Panda & Tongba (Chaang)

 

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This one is my super favourite!!!! Stairs, Stairs and more Stairs, yup…thats Gangtok! Kinda reminds me of this Haruki Murakami fan art I’d seen online…..

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I even wore it as soon as I bought it!

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Welcome to Our Universe

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What’s our Favourite Word? AMBOOOOOO

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Okay, stop whining and complaining about the terrible pics already! I didn’t have a chance to take proper ones so had to take it from my phone and as you know all, I kinda suck at photography.

Those looking to pick these up, you can call the number on the photo and ask for your tee according to your size and the colour of your choice. Also, be “giving.” Pick it up for your frannnns who live away from home and thank me for the brilliant idea later! Oh yeah, they’re priced at Rs. 650/-

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The folks at Echo Stream

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10/10 for the packaging….no?

Up Close & Personal with Alobo Naga & The Band

I work as a Media Consultant for the Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Government of Sikkim. It’s a satisfying job. Its obvious (and overt) that I fall into the “Creative” category of people! So, it’s more of an oxymoron that I like doing creative things and I work for the Government. Well, you’re allowed to have the “Sala hypocrite!” opinion about me. And I am the most ordinary person you will ever come across. I complain about work….I am so underpaid and all that jazz! But here’s the thing. I sometimes love my job. It gives me opportunities to meet people or do things that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. Like the time I made friends with a Japanese travel agent at the International Tourism Mart. (It’s the small things you know!)

Well, this time, my job gave me one golden opportunity! My department holds the Red Panda Winter Festival annually and while this festival is an occasion to showcase our culture and tradition, we do invite bands and singers from other states and countries. We had a lot of amazing people performing this time, like the Nepali Bryan Adams, Sabin Rai, Vinyl Records (from Arunachal Pradesh), Soulmate (from Shillong), The Axe Band, Dharmendra Sewan, Nima Rumba, The Edge Band( all from Nepal) and the Indian Idol of 2007, Prashant Tamang! I was excited to see everyone perform but one band that I was looking forward to ,was the winner of the Best Indian Act at the 2012 MTV European Awards, ALOBO NAGA AND THE BAND.

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 These 4 lads make the band. Pic Source: Alobo Naga and the Band Facebook page. 

After a crazy and crowd screaming show at MG Marg, Gangtok, I met the band backstage. It’s a difficult task trying to appear cool to a bunch of guys who’ve just enthralled you completely! I mean you don’t wanna appear like the creepy fangirl but you do want them to know that you absolutely loved their show! So yeah, I somehow managed to do that (at least I like to believe I did) and then we went out for dinner and drinks with the band and the event management crew. That’s when I thought it would be fun to do this!

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Yup, me in yellow in the front row, having my FANGIRL moment!

I first, seriously asked Alobo (the lead vocalist) to tell me 10 Interesting things about himself. He did and I took down the points. Then I asked the rest of the band mates to comment on the statements. By the end of the night, my jaws hurt so bad from all the laughing and the crazy jokes (which shall be censored because public forum and all!) here’s how I got up close and personal with ALOBO NAGA AND THE BAND.

First, the introduction:

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Meet the front man: Alobo


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The lead guitarist (aka the funny guy in the band), Lima


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Step aside Tommy Lee, this is David!


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It’s definitely ALL ABOUT THAT BASS….Meet the bassist, Fung.

#10: I AM AN EARLY RISER

Lima: Yeah. He wakes up early, only to disturb the rest of us.

Fung: He does wake up early and he also takes 100 power naps during the day!

David: His power nap once almost delayed our show at Kokrajhar, Assam….almost!

 

#09: I LOVE COOKING

Lima: That, he does!

Fung: Really?

David: Yeah. May be?

 

#08: I CAN COMPOSE A SONG ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

All: Yup!

 

#07: I LOVE TRAVELLING

Lima: We all do. We had good fun at Goa

Fung: We normally just rest after a gig. We don’t go out for dinners but in Goa, we went out and had a blast! Now we’re breaking the rule for the second time in Gangtok.

David: Goa was awesome!

Alobo: Fung doesn’t know how to swim! He is hydrophobic.

 

#06: I AM SINGLE

Silence. The guys look at each other, then at Alobo and then at me.

FUNG: We won’t comment. BRO CODE you see!

ALOBO: It’s just really hard to maintain a relationship when we travel around a lot. Who wouldn’t want a stable relationship? But we just cannot afford to do that, yet!

Lima: Except Fung, he has a girlfriend.

David: And she’s talented as well. Music is their nexus.

 

#05: I SNORE A LOT

All: Agreed!

 

#04: I DONT SMOKE OR DRINK

Lima: That’s why Fung and I share rooms. Alobo and David don’t smoke or drink

David: I don’t even use any social media app!

Fung: David is Mr. Low Profile!

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It’s true….Alobo doesn’t drink!

#03: I LOVE FASHION

Me: Guys, what’s the most ridiculous outfit Abolo’s ever worn?

All (in unison): His outfit at the Swachh Bharath Abhiyan gathering.

Fung: He was among the 9 personalities nominated by the Governor.

Lima: So he decided to wear a traditional Naga shirt on top and a dhoti!

Alobo: At least, it was convenient when I took bathroom breaks!

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This was hosted by the President of India for all the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan brand ambassadors. Good luck in finding Alobo in the crowd!


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Okay, so I found this pic of Alobo in a dhoti on his instagram profile! I think he looks good, doesn’t he? (You can follow him on instagram @alobonaga

#02: MY FAVOURITE CUISINE IS NAGA AND INDIAN

Lima: Yup, Axone!

(This is just so you all know, I was writing it down as Akhuni when Lima goes, “No, its spelt with an X!”)

#01: I AM A MOVIE FREAK. MY FAVOURITE MOVIE IS, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS.

All: What? That’s a lie!

David: He falls asleep while watching any and every movie.

Lima: Alobo starts watching a movie and then after a while, the movie starts watching him!

Fung: He takes about 3-4 days to complete a movie.

We laughed over a lot of things and when I asked Alobo what did he like about Gangtok or Sikkim in general. He said, “It’s the place! Something about it, you know….It’s clean, the people are friendly and it gives you that longing nostalgia. I mean you wanna come back to this place again!”

 

Thank you Alobo, David, Lima and Fung. I hope you guys come to Sikkim again and I’ve taken a rain check on you guys hosting ME if and when I make a trip to Nagaland! This is just a sort of public evidence and also because I am sooooo much cooler now that I have new names to list in my “CELEBRITY FRIENDS”

Here’s the YOUTUBE link to ALOBO NAGA AND THE BAND:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=alobo+naga+and+the+band

https://www.facebook.com/alobonagaandtheband/?fref=nf

This is their Facebook page. Make sure you hit the “Like” and “Share” button.

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Yup! I was on stage while the band performed and the crowd was insane!


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Left to right: Fung, (a nice photographer guy), Alobo, Your’s truly, Lima and David. (Sonam Tshering from Kokkivo decided to photobomb us!)


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David is missing in the picture but we sure had a fun time hosting the band.

 

And thank you, Barap Namgyal for the pictures!  

 

 

 

 

 

Mast Manipur

 

Pardon my acerbity, the truth is, no one really plans a vacation to Manipur!!! Manipur- A “troubled” state in the Northeast region of India where the underground militants have convulsed the state of affairs and the state of mind of the people…. Nope! No one wants to go there for a holiday!

We would have never decided on “going away” to Manipur either, had our friend, Ms. Kiki Namgyal not enrolled herself into the prestigious institute, RIMS! (Regional Institute of Medical Sciences). This year, she completed her M.Phil. Degree in Psychology, so the rest of us, decided we’d take a break from our monotonous life and accompany Kiks as she’d make one last trip to collect her degree and documents. Yes, that is why, we decided to go to Manipur. The national news channels were showing images of Manipur burning, as people protested in the streets for the Inner Line Permit and just a week ago, a student had been killed in the clash. Yup, that is exactly when we decided to go to Manipur. In hindsight, crazy but one of the best decisions we’ve ever made!

 

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Took the Indian Railways on the 17th up till Guwahati! I love my friends but I am not taking the train to any city in India….again!!!!!

 

Our Happy Faces….the min we landed at Imphal Airport. (we took a flight from Guwahati to Imphal)

Our Happy Faces….the min we landed at Imphal Airport. (we took a flight from Guwahati to Imphal)

 

DAY 01: Kiki Namgyal, blest with her affable nature, in two years, had managed to make some really good friends in Manipur (who would later become BFFs with us as well). So as we landed at the Imphal airport, the guys came to pick us up. With introductions made and awkward but necessary conversations, we headed to the famous “OK Hotel” for lunch.

Ok Hotel. Pic: tripadvisor

Ok Hotel. Pic: tripadvisor

OK Hotel is a very popular hotel in Manipur. They serve meals for 70 bucks! Yes, you go there, sit down; you don’t need to place an order. The moment you place your ass on the chair, the staff gets you a mountain of rice on a plate with vegetables, pickles and chicken curry! And you know what? If you are absolutely ravenous, you can go for 2nd-3rd-4th, how-much-ever-the-hell-you-want helping and you won’t be charged extra! Yes, all for 70 bucks! “Just Imagine!!!!” (Kareena Kapoor from Jab we Met tone).

OOOOOOOOOOOOO Fun Fact: The game of Polo originated in Manipur. They have a polo ground which adds a historic touch to the plain lands of Imphal. It’s not your fancy polo stadium with galleries and stables. Yet, it stands, still beautiful, poised archaically.

Yes, they did! Pic: e-pao.net

Yes, they did! Pic: e-pao.net

After lunch, we all picked up whatever necessary things we had to and headed towards Moirang. Moirang is about 45 kms south from Imphal. It has the biggest fresh water lake in the northeast region- The Loktak Lake. We took up two cottages at the Sendra Island. The cottages had cute rooms with an attic that had huge windows from where, it provided a picturesque view of the lake. It was beyond surreal to sit there, hear the winds sing, watch the water in the lake blow gentle ripples and have a company of really good people tell you stories, make you laugh, sing you songs and make you feel at “home.”

The faces of Shiny, Happy People

The faces of Shiny, Happy People

Real Girls know how to party in shorts and vest!

Real Girls know how to party in shorts and vest!

Happy Birthday Chenyang & Happy Birthday to all of us as well!

Happy Birthday Chenyang & Happy Birthday to all of us as well!

True friends celebrate birthdays like it's everybody's birthday!

True friends celebrate birthdays like it’s everybody’s birthday!

It also happened to be our friend, Chenyang’s birthday and our new friends somehow found out and had a cake ready! So at Sendra Island, Chenyang made a wish, cut her cake and we broke into a cake fight! When I look back now, it could have been everybody’s birthday that night, not just Chenyang’s. We were all so happy, buoyant with euphoria and in high spirits. Our parents definitely wouldn’t have been proud of us but Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg sure would have!

 

DAY 02: I woke up to the most beautiful image that morning. I’d slept in the attic so as soon as I opened my eyes, I saw the Loktak Lake, serene with his tiny floating islands and fish breeding areas. It had been just one day but I told myself, “Best.Fucking.Vacation”

Loktak Lake: Waking up to this view is a blessing. Pic: journeymart

Loktak Lake: Waking up to this view is a blessing. Pic: journeymart

We were fortunate to have Manipur’s famous photographer, Rashingam Ngoruh with us. We spent the entire morning acting like super models and posing for him. Here are some pictures that make us look like we belong on the cover of a magazine! (Shameless could be my middle name). Thank you Rashi!

The Girl with the Tara Tattoo by Rashingam Ngoruh

The Girl with the Tara Tattoo by Rashingam Ngoruh

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This Beauty and I have been friends for 23 years and thanks to Rashi, this picture defines love, friendship, youth and happiness!

This Beauty and I have been friends for 23 years and thanks to Rashi, this picture defines love, friendship, youth and happiness!

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I call this picture, "The Unbearable Lightness of Being"

I call this picture, “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”

This one is "Lost in Translation" suggested by Nelson

This one is “Lost in Translation” suggested by Nelson

At noon, we returned to Imphal. There was no wasting time! We headed to the famous Cheraou Ching hill for a mini trek. The climb is exhausting but once you get to the top, the view is out of this world! Since it was dusk, the stars were clustered for a perfect backdrop and Imphal illuminated with such radiance that standing there, watching the lights made me feel so free! I felt liberated, detached, totally emancipated.

Imphal: Everything is Illuminated

Imphal: Everything is Illuminated

At Cheroau Ching

At Cheraou Ching

A lot of people may have climbed Cheraou Ching but how many have danced like Hrithik Roshan on the hill? No one? Okay then, Hishey and I will take the trophy for that! Thank You

A lot of people may have climbed Cheraou Ching but how many have danced like Hrithik Roshan on the hill? No one? Okay then, Hishey and I will take the trophy for that! Thank You

We returned to the hotel suite to party like rock stars!

DAY 03: Not many people know that Manipur was one of the princely states of British India. Perhaps Manipur’s riveting history is one of the best-kept secrets of Northeast India.

On the 3rd day, we decided to tour the Kangla Palace complex. The palace is situated on the western and eastern side of the Imphal River. This was the traditional seat of the past Meitei rulers of Manipur.

Tours to historical places are so much fun with your friends who don't know much about the place but won't hesitate to give you their version of history! Thanks Gin and Kelvin for that! ;)

Tours to historical places are so much fun with your friends who don’t know much about the place but won’t hesitate to give you their version of history! Thanks Gin and Kelvin for that! 😉

If you ask me, this is the best group jumping photo for a Kamehameha attack photoshop pic!

If you ask me, this is the best group jumping photo for a Kamehameha attack photoshop pic!

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Pose like you own the world…..and passer-bys will think you are nuts!!!!

Pose like you own the world…..and passer-bys will think you are nuts!!!!

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The history of Manipur will surely awe you

The history of Manipur will surely awe you

After our tour, one of the hosts who is an entrepreneur and helps his family with the hotel business invited us for a lunch at one of his hotels. We were overwhelmed with their hospitality.

After lunch, we headed to Kangla Tombi (a river side picnic spot). Again, mentally, Wiz Khalifa was singing his song to us and like as if he was our guardian angel, we obliged. We did all the things that he tells us to do in his famous song.

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Such studs! very WOW! :P

Such studs! very WOW! 😛

One of our new friends in the group was someone who’d done Physics Honours. At Kangla Tombi, he explained Newton’s laws of motion with the help of the movement of the river water. It felt like poetry. I am just saying had the subject of Physics been taught like that to me in school, I would have been an engineer today! (And my Dad would have been so proud that I followed in his footsteps but sadly, I am only meant for poetry in motion, not motion alone!)

We returned to the hotel suite to party like rock stars!

DAY 04: We woke up super early because we were heading to Moreh. Moreh is the border town between Manipur and Myanmar (Burma). It is a commercial hub so a lot of traders move in and out, picking things at “whole sale” rate. Moreh is also known as India’s Gateway to South-East Asia.

Yusssss! Another phoren country to the list….Myanmar

Yusssss! Another phoren country to the list….Myanmar

Half body in Myanmar, Half Body in India

Half body in Myanmar, Half Body in India

IMG_5339We ate a sumptuous meal at a restaurant in the Tamu region (Burma side) and paid 95,000 Kyat! Well, when you convert it to Indian rupees, it’s 5000 plus but anyhow, it gave us some kind of cheap thrill and we enjoyed our moment with some chilled Myanmar beer.

We also visited a monastery that had beautiful golden pagodas and a huge complex. It was very hot but it was all worth it.

At a monastery in Myanmar

At a monastery in Myanmar

On our way back, at one of the many check-posts, an Indian army man made a lewd comment while he was checking our identity cards. He asked one of our male friends, where had he “found” such girls and he had an ugly smirk on his face! Without hesitating even for a second, Chenyang and I reminded him that he was a government official in a uniform and he should be the last person on earth, passing comments like that! I think we hit the nail because he apologized after we lectured him about the “maa-behen” significance in our country. It was crazy. He had a gun but Chenyang and I am crazier. Our mouths are like guns!

We returned to the hotel suite to party like rock stars!

DAY 05: Actually we were supposed to leave for Gangtok this day. However, our new friends requested we stay back for a couple of days more and it wasn’t difficult to convince us. We hadn’t even packed!

This guy, Nibis is one one of the sweetest people that I have ever met! He's not as Gangsta as he looks! LOL

This guy, Nibis is one one of the sweetest people that I have ever met! He’s not as Gangsta as he looks! LOL

So we relaxed, went to drink at a place called Blue Chilli and then got back to the hotel suite and partied like rock stars.

DAY 06: I love books and bookstores. Any new place that I go to, I try and visit bookstores there. The unconventional ones make me go weak on my knees and I spend hours going through books and deciding which one to add to my collection. At Imphal, I found a cute little bookstore and a coffee place called “Books & Coffee.” The bookstore is in the ground floor where you can find everything from fiction to non-fiction and even stationery. The café is upstairs which has a very Oriental touch to its interiors and there’s seating even in the balcony for smokers or people who like to enjoy a view while they read and sip coffee. The store is run by Beeshantam, who seemed like a genuinely nice person (over the 5 min conversation that I had with him.)

I am a terrible photographer but trust me, this place looks lovely in reality!

I am a terrible photographer but trust me, this place looks lovely in reality!

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We spent the rest of the day visiting our friend, Nelson, who runs a creative and fun magazine called “Horizon.” We also went to eat momos at this place run by a Nepalese woman from Sikkim and her Manipuri husband. Like I always say, You can take a Sikkimese out of Sikkim but you cannot take Sikkim out of a Sikkimese. In Manipur, during a peak summer season, we indulged over hot momos and soup and delicious thukpas.

Manipuris or Sikkimese….We all Love MOMOS!

Manipuris or Sikkimese….We all Love MOMOS!

At night, one of our friends, Nibis got us a typical Meitei dinner that his family had prepared for us and we ate like there was no tomorrow. Then, we partied like rock stars. (I am not sure if rock stars eat a lot before partying…. but you get what I am saying, right?)

DAY 07: Our last day at Manipur!

We had another typical Meitei lunch (fish rice) at a restaurant close to the Polo Ground. Then we headed to the Imphal Hotel for coffee where we spent a lazy afternoon sprawled on the comfortable couches and sipping mochas.

We also drove all over Imphal, from Cheraou Ching to Mantripukri and all over the city. The landscape with his hills all around and limpid water bodies totally brightened up our brain cells and I couldn’t stop going Saif Ali Khan at everything that passed us by. (WOW! WOW! WOW!)

This is the kind of landscape we were driving through. Pic: kanglaonline

This is the kind of landscape we were driving through. Pic: kanglaonline

Pic:kanglaonline

Pic:kanglaonline

 

At night, Rashingam cooked us beef, pork and chicken and got it to our hotel suite. We ate like we had been starving for a whole month. Rashingam is not only a great photographer but he’s a great cook as well! Thank you Rashi!!!!!

"So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed? We're just having fun; We don't care who sees….." Ok Bye!

“So what we get drunk? So what we smoke weed? We’re just having fun; We don’t care who sees…..” Ok Bye!

Then we partied like rock stars….

 

DAY 08: I woke up with a heavy heart, knowing that the vacation was over. Around 10:30 the guys came to pick us up and drop us to the airport.

At the airport, we said our goodbyes and even though, our hearts were heavy, we were all smiling because our spirit was high! It was the end of a chapter in our lives but we felt no grief. We met some of the coolest people, with hearts so big; they could put the Sisters of Charity to shame! And may be, we knew that the separation was inevitable that’s why we enjoyed every moment that we spent with them!

Our We-Dont-Want-To-Go-Home Faces

Our We-Dont-Want-To-Go-Home Faces

Next time someone suggests you to take a trip to Manipur, pack your bags and go….It could be the best decision you’ve ever made!

Thank You:

Rashingam Ngoruh

Nelson Nameirakpam

Nibis Shamurailatpam

Ngahorning Kashung

Kelvin Tonsing

Diana Leivon

Daisy Leivon

Ashang (Guru)

Tony

Gin “Ginpulal” Misao

JB

Naoba Thangjam

NOTE: There are probably protests happening in certain districts or areas but we were fortunate enough because we did NOT encounter any agitated protestors and that one week in Imphal, I, personally didn’t see tyres burning, streets flooding, people protesting. (Lucky me, right?)

Curiouser & Curiouser: The Curious Case of Bikal Rai. Part II

“Curiouser and Curiouser!” Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). From Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

It pretty much sums up my  reaction, every time I visit Bikal Rai and he shows me the things he’s created.

 

Most of you (by now) know who Bikal Rai is. His story’s been covered by individuals active on social media as well as popular north eastern sites like seven diary.com and even by The Logical Indian. I did his story some time in July, 2013 and that particular posts got a lot of “hits”. I had people calling and emailing me asking about Bikal Rai. For some time, I thought his life was going to change. Those of you who missed that post can still read it here:

https://shiori2309.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/the-curious-case-of-bikal-rai/

One cold and boring morning, I thought to myself, Enough time has passed by. I need to do a sequel to the Bikal Rai story. Yes, that’s exactly how it happened. If you must know, I was smoking a cigarette and staring into empty space when that thought occurred.

I called up two of my colleagues, Chetan Pradhan, a brilliant photographer and Smitha Thapa, my partner in crime, who is also an amazing writer and one of the coolest, creative people I’ve ever met. So the three of us headed to Bikal’s house at 32 Mile to unravel his new inventions and creations.

Here is the update.

  1. The Arc Welding Robot
Using spare parts from various discarded machines, he has created an Arc Welding Robot which looks like this

Using spare parts from various discarded machines, he has created an Arc Welding Robot which looks like this

Welding is a complicated process. Everybody knows that. Normally a skilled worker is assigned to carry on this hazardous activity where sparks and smokes are generated and can be a potential threat to the operator. People across the globe have come up with the concept of an arc welding robot. The only difference between them and Bikal Rai is that while the former group get access to fund and guidance with latest equipments and a suitable work environment, our hero, the young lad builds his Arc Welding Robot in his tiny village near Gangtok with spare parts and borrowed items.

Bikal’s Arc Welding Robot can rotate or swing 360 degrees with proper arm movement and it operated with the help of a bio directional switch.

2. The BEH2O Excavator:

THE BEH2O Excavator.The B stands for Bikal. The E for Electricity and H20 for you know what!

THE BEH2O Excavator.The B stands for Bikal. The E for Electricity and H20 for you know what!

This Excavator is something that he is really proud of. It moves forward and backwards, has 360 swing with arm movement and what he has done differently this time is that he has built a port in the excavator where you can attach a data cable and charge your mobile phones or connect a pen drive and listen to music. It has a digital display and he has also built a remote which can be used to skip/change songs on the drive. All this….made from/with scraps and discarded items.

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3. The Sensor Car

Bikal with his Sensor Car

Bikal with his Sensor Car

This is actually a remote car. One of those toys that runs on batteries and a synchronised remote control. What Bikal has done is removed half of the motherboard and used half of the remote sensor so this little red car now runs front and back when a sound is produced near it. Bikal gave us a demonstration by clapping loudly next to the car. First clap makes the car move forward and a second loud clap makes the car reverse.

4. The I-Glass

Bikal with his I-Glass. The I stands for Illumination.

Bikal with his I-Glass. The I stands for Illumination.

Bikal says with the frequent power cut in his village, it is necessary to have a back up for light other than wax candles. He has his hydro generator as well but then he says its very convenient to have something portable and that, which doesn’t require much labour. Therefore he came up with the concept of the I-Glass. Using lithium iron batteries and LED bulbs that are connected in parallel lines, Bikal made this glass that is useful to not only read in the dark but also to do minor chores around the house. Because the LED bulbs are connected in parallel wires, if one light goes out, the other one still works so you can still read or continue with your chore.

5. The Constant Washing Machine

Made from spare parts, this is Bikal's Constant Washing Machine

Made from spare parts, this is Bikal’s Constant Washing Machine

So he took a bucket and cut it accordingly placing uniformed blocks inside the bucket to create friction in the movement. Then, taking a spare part from a barrel lock, he used it over the cover so that the bucket stays firm. To make sure that the water doesn’t spill over or the clothes don’t fall out, he added the wooden block as a locking arm. You can fill in water with detergent, close the machine and turn on the switch to wash your clothes. There is a clockwise movement in the machine so the water pushes downward and doesn’t spill out. The blocks that create friction in the movement of the clothes prevent it from tearing.

6. The Electric Cycle

Bikal on his E-Cycle

Bikal on his E-Cycle

The Electric Cycle is something like your two wheeler. It has a constant motor and you actually don’t need to pedal. The wheel behind is smaller than the wheel in front because that causes low centre of gravity which makes balancing the cycle easier. There is an LED light which allows you to ride the E-Cycle even at night and it even has a 60 W horn. It works on a battery with a robotic switch so you actually don’t need keys for ignition. There is also a 3.3 W fan that helps in keeping the motor cool so that it doesn’t over heat.

Another look at the E-Cycle

Another look at the E-Cycle

 

7. The A.W.S

A Model of the Automatic Water Saver

A Model of the Automatic Water Saver

Many of us face this problem. We have large water tanks on our terraces and surroundings that we use as storage for our everyday activities and chores. Many of us leave the pipe connected to the tank and let the water fill it up. Normally, the water overflows and excess water goes to waste. What Bikal has designed is an Automatic Water Saver. You have a separate place to store the excess water so your tank doesn’t overflow, instead it goes into the extra storage and you can always use the stored water later.

Bikal keeps a picture of his late Father in the living room

Bikal keeps a picture of his late Father in the living room

Previously Bikal wasn’t interested in studying further because he said his father was ill and he had to take care of him. Unfortunately, his father passed away so Bikal now lives with his mother, grandmother and younger brother. He says he wants to do a diploma course (Mechatronics) at Advanced Training Technical Centre, Bardang, Sikkim. I am very happy to announce that Bikal will go back to studying again.

Bikal with his mother, Pavitra Rai

Bikal with his mother, Pavitra Rai

Bikal poses with his creations

Bikal poses with his creations

Smitha and I pose with the Boy Genius, Bikal

Smitha and I pose with the Boy Genius, Bikal

That’s the story of Sikkim’s Self Made Engineer, Bikal Rai. Anyone willing to help him in any way can contact him at +91 7076447525

 

 

 

 

 

10 Things I did in Vietnam

Hello People of the World! A very very Happy New Year to each and everyone of you. I am not really crazy about new years and birthdays but that just seems like a sensible note to start the post with! So, I finally made my “foreign trip” in December. (Such cool. Very excites. WOW!) To be honest, it’s not really the World War II stories about Vietnam that fascinated me in the first place. I mean, of course with a history like that, Vietnam is one country you totally gotta visit but my reason wasn’t because of one thing or a single interest. I just knew I wanted to go there. With excitement and my father’s generous blessings,  I set forth. My crazy relative and part time friend, Deeki, accompanied me on the tour and the two of us made up our mind that we wouldn’t make this vacation about doing all the things that travel guide books and travel blogs tell you. We wanted to explore Vietnam our way. Because of many reasons which are uninteresting and irrelevant, we could do only North Vietnam (Hanoi & Ha Long Bay). Well, next time, I am definitely gonna go to Saigon and other places as well. Anyway this isn’t a list of what you should do and what you should eat or wear in Vietnam. Its just my story from the vacation, of the things I did while I was there.

Oh yeah, before I begin I must tell you something about the photos. (Don’t tell my Dad but) I screwed up my camera lens and I am in no condition to buy another one, therefore I had to use my phone for the photos!

#10: BOUGHT TOURIST-Y VIETNAMESE TEE SHIRTS

I actually didn’t take much clothes when I flew out cos obviously I wanted to travel light and also I wanted to buy clothes “there.” Most people I saw in Hanoi were very well dressed (the youngsters) and in trend.

The is the first item I purchased at Hanoi

The is the first item I purchased at Hanoi

If you look closely, you will see that the Tee has the map of Vietnam

If you look closely, you will see that the Tee has the map of Vietnam

#09: ATE & DRANK

The minute we reached Hanoi, we were soooooooo hungry and we ate at the street beside the hotel. We were staying at the Medallion Hotel at Old Quarter. Even though Deeki hated the location and vowed that if she ever returns to Vietnam, she will not stay at Old Quarter, I, on the other hand absolutely loved Old Quarter. When I go to Hanoi next, I am staying right there. Its a super crowded noisy street. It kind of feels like a scene from a Wong Kar Wai film.

Our first meal at Hanoi

Our first meal at Hanoi

Any and every meal in Vietnam is incomplete without the "BIA"

Any and every meal in Vietnam is incomplete without the “BIA”

Have you ever wondered what if the full moon had a face? Zoom into this pic!

Have you ever wondered what if the full moon had a face? Zoom into this pic!

I'd read about the unique grilled fish served with cold noodles and peanuts- Cha Ca. I am not crazy about fish but this one is now one of my fav food!

I’d read about the unique grilled fish served with cold noodles and peanuts- Cha Ca. I am not crazy about fish but this one now features in my list of “Fav Food”

This one too!  Forgot what it was called. It was so delicious that I was gobbling it up like I'd been ship wrecked for years and not eaten food that I ended up biting my inner cheek…twice, in the same meal! #truestory

This one too! Forgot what it was called. It was so delicious that I was gobbling it up like I’d been ship wrecked for years and not eaten food. I ended up biting my inner cheek…twice, in the same meal! #truestory

Old Quarter is filled with road side food stalls that sell "BIA" at all times of the day. I really thought Sikkimese people could drink…and then, I landed in Vietnam! :/

Old Quarter is filled with road side food stalls that sell “BIA” at all times of the day. I really thought Sikkimese people could drink…and then, I landed in Vietnam! :/

Must.Expand.Cheeks. EAT.EAT.EAT

Must.Expand.Cheeks. EAT.EAT.EAT

#08: GOT SLOSHED AT FUNKY BUDDHA ON CHRISTMAS EVE

Funky Buddha at Ta Hein was one of the coolest bars/pubs that I have ever been to. It’s a small cozy crazy place that gets so crowded. We were smart enough to get there early so we got a table. The bartenders and staff there (mostly men) are really cute looking. They were very nice and warm to us and the cocktails they made only added more points to their cute faces!

This is our "Merry Christmas Face"

This is our “Merry Christmas Face”

I was actually trying to slyly capture the cute bar tenders but then I got all nervous and shit and ended up with this photo!

I was actually trying to slyly capture the cute bar tenders but then I got all nervous and shit and ended up with this photo!

The guy who took this pic was also really cute #truestory

The guy who took this pic was also really cute #truestory

So yeah, we had nice cocktails and got all warm and fuzzy and then we stepped out on the street.

Sent this pic to Dad on Christmas and he replied "You eat fried rice at home, you're eating fried rice in Vietnam also?"

Sent this pic to Dad on Christmas and he replied “You eat fried rice at home, you’re eating fried rice in Vietnam also?”

After dinner, we decided to go back to the hotel because we had to leave for Halong Bay the following day and then…we lost each other! I stopped to buy some chewing gum from this kid who kept pleading me to buy something. BTW Vietnamese money (Dong) is super confusing but it also makes you feel super rich. So anyway, I was all confused with the notes in my wallet when a group of young boys and girls sitting beside asked me what was wrong. A girl helped me get the correct amount out and we got talking. They asked, “Where are you from?” I replied, “India” and they all went “NOOOOOOOOOO!” in unison! That happened to us with whoever asked the question “Where are you from?”

So after that merry chit-chat with them, I turned around and Deeki was gone! I mean it was impossible to find her in that crowd so I walked back to the hotel, bought some caramel popcorn in the street that melted in my mouth and fortunately when I got back to the room, she was there already! It was indeed a pretty merry christmas.

Well, I don't think it was the alcohol we consumed. Ta Hein on Christmas eve is a mini Kumbh Mela

Well, I don’t think it was the alcohol we consumed. Ta Hein on Christmas eve is a mini Kumbh Mela

#07: VISITED HALONG BAY

Regarding the origin of Halong Bay, there are two things you can do. 1)For boring geographical reasons and causes, you can check google. 2) Else I can tell you the legend of Halong Bay. Long, long, long ago the Vietnamese had to fight and protect their land from invaders through the sea. The Gods felt sorry for the Vietnamese people and a Mother Dragon and her children were sent down to earth to help them. When the invaders attacked, the Mother Dragon and her babies magically appeared and burnt the shit out of the enemies with their crazy fire and  they spat our giant emeralds which formed a kind of wall in the middle of the sea and served as a fortress. Some of those giant emeralds crushed the enemy ships. Several years later, the emerald walls turned into islands and islets of different shapes and sizes. Halong, in ancient Vietnamese literally means “descending dragon”

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Halong Bay

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World: Halong Bay

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At Halong Bay, “my joy knew no bounds”

Heroine Mode: ON

Heroine Mode: ON

The Hang Dau Go Caves are lit with pretty lights and strangely, its not claustrophobic at all!

The Hang Dau Go Caves are lit with pretty lights and strangely, its not claustrophobic at all!

Thats how I normally smile for photos.

Thats how I normally smile for photos.

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We even went for boat rides when the cruse stopped in the middle of the sea.

We even went for boat rides when the cruise stopped in the middle of the sea.

Our boat boy spoke little English but he was really sweet. He gave us mats to sit on, so that our clothes wouldn't get wet

Our boat boy spoke little English but he was really sweet. He gave us mats to sit on, so that our clothes wouldn’t get wet

If you look closely, you will see that the rock on top looks like a cat sitting down. The tour guide had a really difficult time explaining it to us. Then, he raised both his fingers and made cat ears and literally meowed saying "kyat! kyat!"

If you look closely, you will see that the rock on top looks like a cat sitting down. The tour guide had a really difficult time explaining it to us. Then, he raised both his fingers and made cat ears and literally meowed saying “kyat! kyat!”

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#06: BOUGHT A VIETNAMESE HAT

Instead of a car, me wearing a hat, riding a bicycle would have been more appropriate, right?

Instead of a car, me wearing a hat, riding a bicycle would have been more appropriate, right?

IMG_9244

 

#05: DRANK COCONUT WINE

Nobody had told me that Coconut Wine exists! Not that I love coconuts but then the whole thing sounds really fancy. Anyway, we returned to Hanoi from Halong Bay for two nights. Both nights we ate on the street. On the second night, we discovered Coconut Wine

Its a whole coconut, with an opening, convenient to pour out the liquor

Its a whole coconut, with an opening, convenient to pour out the liquor

We drank one entire coconut on the street; and then we carried one back to the hotel!

We drank one entire coconut on the street; and then we carried one back to the hotel!

#04: GOT LOST AGAIN

So after we consumed that entire coconut and decided to walk back to the hotel, Deeki and I lost each other again! I was pretty sure she’d be back at the hotel like the previous time so I strolled around. Then I saw something really weird. Right outside a food stall, there was this dog that was chained to a machine and it was kind of like a treadmill. It was switched on and the dog kept running! I still haven’t figured out what was happening and what was the logic but that sight made me really sad. Anyway, I got back to the hotel and fortunately (again) Deeki was right there!

:(

😦

#03: VISITED HO CHI MINH MAUSOLEUM; THE TEMPLE OF LITERATURE; THE TRAN QUOC PAGODA & HO HOAN KIEM LAKE (THE RED BRIDGE)

The entrance to the Tran Quoc Pagoda.

The entrance to the Tran Quoc Pagoda.

Tran Quoc is the oldest pagoda in the city. It was built in the sixth century.

Tran Quoc is the oldest pagoda in the city. It was built in the sixth century.

In there, lies the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. NO photography, NO talking, NO holding hands, NO hands in pocket, NO shorts! The queue to enter the Mausoleum is always so damn long but surprisingly, it moves very fast!

In there, lies the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh. NO photography, NO talking, NO holding hands, NO hands in pocket, NO shorts! The queue to enter the Mausoleum is always so damn long but surprisingly, it moves very fast!

Cars given to Uncle Ho by the Soviet Union.

Cars given to Uncle Ho by the Soviet Union.

This is where Uncle Ho lived. A beautiful house around a lake.

This is where Uncle Ho lived. A beautiful house around a lake.

Was trying to take a pic with Uncle Ho and the man in Blue and the Kid in Blue photobombed me!

Was trying to take a pic with Uncle Ho and the man in Blue and the Kid in Blue photobombed me!

The Temple of Literature. Vietnam's first National University. It is a Confucian temple and every pillar, every doorway, every gateway, everything about the temple exudes amazing history

The Temple of Literature. Vietnam’s first National University. It is a Confucian temple and every pillar, every doorway, every gateway, everything about the temple exudes amazing history

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At the Ho Hoan Kiem Lake

At the Ho Hoan Kiem Lake

According to a legend, this lake is called the “Lake of the Returned Sword” because right here, emperor Loi returned the magical sword that was given to him by a Dragon God, to the Golden Turtle God who appeared to him.

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#02: GOT A TOKEN OF REMEMBRANCE (BALM) FROM A TAXI DRIVER

We had an early flight to Bangkok on the 28th so we were headed to the airport at 5am. It was probably the coconut wine and the smoking from the previous night but my throat felt sore and I kept coughing. When we were almost at the airport, the taxi driver gave me a balm and asked me to rub it on my throat and chest (sign language). I did as instructed and then returned the balm to to him. He said, “No, no no! You, Keep” I thanked him and tipped him generously.

This one is filled with kindness

This one is filled with kindness

#01: FELL IN LOVE WITH VIETNAM

Yup, that’s the number 1 thing that I did on this trip- I fell in love with Vietnam. It’s the many things that make Vietnam so awesome. The crazy, noisy streets of Hanoi;The lovely, relaxing bays of Halong; the delicious food and the rich culture and history of the country along with such warm people who are always smiling and ready to help. (BTW we were looking for a taxi at Halong Bay Night Market and asked a random guy where could we find one. He called a taxi for us from his phone. God Bless Him. and yeah, when we said we were from India, he too went, “No No No No No!”) And that is why I will keep going back to Vietnam whenever I can….

These noisy, crazy streets will stay with me forever

These noisy, crazy streets will stay with me forever

 

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