Monday, December 11, 2017

Anything but ordinary trip to Goa!



Me and my husband make it a point to visit Goa atleast once a year, if lucky even twice. After all, Goa is the reason we met! On our first anniversary, we were in Goa and walking on Calangute beach and spotted this new property – The Park Calangute. We went and chilled at their bar – PEACE. It was then, 4 years ago that I had decided that I want to stay here once. And that happened on our 5th anniversary.

I made the bookings in August itself, when I saw a good deal – though non-refundable. Around this time there was a new train launched from Mumbai to Goa called Tejas Express, which was a luxury train and even faster than the Shatapdi. So wanted to try that, and booked tickets. Return flight tickets were booked in September and everything was in place – along with leaves applies for and approved!
We left on Sunday 26th November, as husband has working Saturdays and plus I could use that day to pack, visit the parlour, buy stuff – packing is a task when you are travelling with kids! Yes, we were going with our li’l one. He’s been to Goa before and has enjoyed a lot!

Our train departed from Panvel at 6.15am, and we were super late because our Uber driver cancelled on us and by the time the next cab got booked and driver came, we were already late! Had the train not been late by 40 minutes, we would have just reached in nick of time or maybe missed it also! The train was super empty, so even though there was no seat for the kiddo (he being under 5), he had his own seat. The journey was ok – I wish it was a sleeper, because the body gets all stiff and starts aching after sitting for so long. The kiddo was sick – he had motion sickness and vomited plus got a fever. Tejas Express has individual entertainment screens loaded with few movies, songs, games etc. Food quality is also better than normal trains and service is fast. However, bathrooms were stinking and seats are some facing front some back, so ours was backwards where you feel you’re going back – probably the reason for kiddo’s sickness. Plus, it was late, by 1 and a half hour – so we were all the more agitated – Wish they had a Thivim halt – would be closer to our hotel.
The Park Calangute had sent their car to pick us up from Karmali station and the driver Ollindo was very friendly – we were freshened up with the wet towels and water. We were at the hotel in an hour and welcome by the general manager – Mr.Saurabh Khanna. We were given mocktails/cocktails to choose from and tired by the journey, we headed to our room to freshen up.

The room was small yet cozy – with all the basic amenities and separate toilet and bathroom. On entering I saw a photo of me, husband and kiddo along with a plate of fruits and box of chocolates to welcome us! The photo was on a card that had a hand-written note welcoming us, with signatures of all the staff. Was touched by this gesture! We were missing having a verandah in the room, as the windows opened up to another hotel adjacent to this property. But we thought we were going to be outside mostly anyways.

Kiddo and I changed and stepped outside to take a look around. The best thing about the property is the location, without any doubt – it’s right at the beach! Husband joined us shortly, and while the kiddo played in the sand with his sand toys, we chilled with beer and a corn pepper salt starter that was delicious. Tired from the journey, we headed back to our room where we were given a complimentary dessert and a tray that had cashews, essential oils to help us sleep better along with the next day’s weather forecast scribbled on a peace of paper. We ordered in dal khichdi (which was okay, but missing the garlic flavor that is a must in this dish) and slept off to a cozy night only to wake up late!


Next day we had our breakfast and decided to hit the pool. It’s a 4 feet shallow pool with a small area in the front where kids can play in water or sit and chill – the same has tables put in evenings for you to chill and have a drink or two. The pool was welcoming, the best part is – even if it’s noon and the sun is scorching, the pool area is covered by palm trees so you don’t feel the heat or have the fear of getting sunburnt. There are day beds and pool chairs where you can laze around with a book or take a peaceful nap, if you’re not in the mood to swim. All three of us had a good time at the pool – the staff came to us with complimentary cocktail/mocktail shots again! We then headed out for lunch (There is this very nice veg restaurant called Sharanam that we’ve been going to since years) and then were very sleepy after the swimming and eating and took a nap.
I have a school friend – Nikita who stays in Panjim – she was so sweet to come meet me at the hotel! After she left, we went shack hunting – saw Caramali that we had heard about but then settled at good old Britto’s at end of Tito’s lane. The roads near Tito’s are very badly dug up since quite some time now – so no questions of getting a car there – bike is also a challenge – best is to walk up if you are looking at partying there.

The third day we had our breakfast and were in for a surprise – we were being upgraded to the studio room! The perks were – a plunge pool, canopy bed and also that it is on the ground floor just almost outside the pool – no more climbing a flight of stairs to the room (there are no lifts). We happily agreed, and packed up and shifted! The plunge pool was ready for us to dip in – with some rose petals in it. This whole trip was like another honeymoon for us – with the kiddo though, what do they call it, familymoon?

We had a great time in the plunge pool and then head out to the local market coz husband wanted some more beach-wear and we picked up shorts, tees etc. We were lazy and called for a pizza in the room which looked tempting but tasted bland – Domino’s has ruined us! I could only have it thanks to the oregano, chili flakes and ketchup! Can u believe since 2 days we hadn’t viewed sunset at the beach even though we were right at the beach? We headed for the beach and chilled at the shack – kiddo played with the sand toys while we relaxed with beer. Being winter, the sun set at 6.30pm and it was dark by 7pm and the shacks start wrapping up the beds and mattresses laid out. We headed back to the hotel and the pool area was finally empty (last 2 days it was occupied by groups/honeymoon couples) so we sat for a while – with feet dipped in the cool water and I had a cocktail for a change – asked the bartender to make a nice concoction for me, and so he did! It was some nice Malibu rum based drink.





We came on this trip to celebrate our 5th anniversary and each day on the trip felt like the special day. Morning we had breakfast and were wished by the staff who got a brownie with candles and asked us to celebrate with them. We then headed back to pool – since this was our last day! And yet again headed to the beach to watch one last beautiful sunset and had some fries and sandwiches with beer. We came back to our room to find it decorated with lots of red and white balloons and a beautiful cake for us! The li’l one was equally excited to find this – because balloons! We spent some peaceful quality time together and didn’t feel like leaving the comfort of the room so called for dinner again – dal makhani with tandoori rotis. This time we asked the guy to make it spicy and so he did, delicious it was!


We thought we would get up early next morning to go see the sun rise, but lazy that we are plus must have slept really well that we didn’t get up. Later packed up our luggage, had breakfast and checked-out after bidding adieu to the beautiful hotel and lovely staff! Goa airport with it’s half section shut was crowded like the flea market with no place to sit, delayed flights and only 1-2 options to grab a bite! They should really do something about this, considering the number of people visiting! Fortunately our Indigo flight was on-time, and we had a comfortable journey back to the bay with memories that we shall cherish forever.
A special thanks to the most courteous staff - Ashok, Jayee and everyone else who made us super comfortable - considering the kiddo and his tantrums! Do visit Park Calangute for your honeymoon/babymoon or just any other special occasion there is!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

#NaviMumbaiOnCloudnine

Today is the day and age where people prefer having only one child for various reasons, or become parents only after they’re 30. At least this is how it is in metro cities like Mumbai, I am not judging people who have 2 kids, let me clarify. If I did not have to work, and was rich enough to provide comfortably for 2, I would definitely have another! What I am trying to say is, when we have only one child – we want only the best for them – right from prenatal care, to delivery to their infant days – choosing the best school and it goes on!


Good news for all parents-to-be in Navi Mumbai – Cloudnine Hospitals has just opened a new center in Vashi – inaugurated by their brand ambassador Mrs. Shilpa Shetty Kundra and Dr.Kishore – founder and chairman. A little about Cloudnine –

Cloudnine Group of Hospitals was set up in 2007 by the renowned neonatologist Dr.Kishore Kumar as India’s premier destination for comprehensive maternal, gynaecological, fertility, neonatal and paediatric care. The organisation’s vision is to effectively bridge the gap between Indian and international standards through a combination of clinical excellence, comprehensive care and an atmosphere of celebration, to ensure world-class standards in woman and child healthcare. With over 50,000 births across 19 facilities in 6 cities and a 500+ bed strength supported by 3000+ strong workforce, Cloudnine is India’s leading chain of maternity hospitals.

At Cloudnine, it’s a strong belief that a child is life’s greatest gift and pregnancy is one of the most magical experiences nature can offer. This gift deserves to be nurtured and cared for, not just at birth, but for the entire duration of pregnancy and beyond. Which is why, Cloudnine offers a suite of baby ready programmes including Prenatal Workshop, an award-winning Management of Baby Affairs programme, Pre & Postnatal Fitness and Nutrition Sessions, Lactation Counselling and Baby Shower which together provide moms & dads-to-be with professional guidance and care.


Dr. Kishore went on to say that Cloudnine’s philosophy is based on 3 C’s – Clinical Expertise (best in class technology and facilities), Celebration (The birth of a child is a reason to celebrate and be joyous) and last but not least – Customer Satisfaction. They are also proud to have a zero maternal mortality rate at Cloudnine Hospitals. Mrs. Shilpa Shetty was so impressed by all this, that she said she might consider having another child now!

During the Q&A round, someone asked a great question – that why are there more and more c-sections happening, specially in top private hospitals and maternity homes? Dr. Kishore answered saying that lifestyle has changed with more sugar intake, less exercise, getting pregnant at a later age and what not – so chances of c-sections do increase depending on such things. But to avoid unethical circumstances – at Cloudnine, the cost for both normal and c-section delivery is same (apart from Rs.10k more for the latter for anaesthesia charges). I think that is simply brilliant – because otherwise in most set-ups c-sections are double the cost of normal – plus stay longer in the hospital, occupy room for more days. I was administered an emergency c-section myself, owing to the reason that the baby had passed meconium inside the womb. At that time, we wanted the best for the child and went for it as per the doctor’s advise, but so many people told me later that these are all lies.


Having delivered more than 50,000 babies across the country over a decade, Cloudnine has emerged as a pioneer in managing pregnancy from conception to delivery. Owing to their excellence in providing the best maternal and neonatal care, Cloudnine Hospitals was also honoured as ‘The Best Women & Child Hospital in India’ by International Product and Service Award (IPSA) recently.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Make way for the #Unyakeenable!

So today I am writing about investments and insurance. Let me be honest; this is not my forte. I may be a computer whiz or social media geek who can do a lot with the keyboard and mouse buttons; but when it comes to saving, investing, securing the future – I really need help and guidance.

Now that I am a little stable job-wise, it’s been four years almost since I changed my vocation and had a kid – making me a responsible adult; it’s time to start getting serious about the investments. Plus they help plan tax-saving as well. Trust me, I have made huge income tax payments because I did not plan properly, no guidance and didn’t take it seriously.

We usually want two basic things – a life insurance and an investment – maybe mutual funds or property. I don’t earn as much yet to invest in property, and I think it’s important to have some insurance. The best option then, I read recently are ULIPs - A Unit Linked Insurance Plan (ULIP) is a product offered by insurance companies that, unlike a pure insurance policy, gives investors both insurance and investment under a single integrated plan.

As a layman, when we see the various policies on websites like Policy Bazaar, the first thought that comes to the mind is – What’s the catch here? What if someone told you that there is a ULIP that doesn’t take any allotment charges and on top of that, contributes to your investment? Sounds #Unyakeenable right?

via GIPHY

Edelweiss Tokio Life Wealth Plus is a new product launched by the company that has some unbelievable features like no upfront charges, thus adding to your investment and more! Here are more details or you can look them up on their website

·             No Upfront Charges
·             100% of your premium will be allocated
·             No Policy Admin Charges

Additions

In addition to allocating 100% of the your premiums paid during the premium paying term, Edelweiss will provide additional allocation every year as follows –

a. Extra Allocation – 
added in the first 5 policy years along with your premiums paid.

b. Premium Booster – 
added from the 6th policy year at the end of each policy year

So, in total, below additions during policy term -

·             1 to 5 (1%)
·             6 to 10 (3%)
·             11 to 15 (5%)
·             16 to 20 (7%)

Funds

·             All their ULIP (individual) funds are top rated 4 STAR by Morning Star

Rising Start Benefit

·             A lump sum amount will be paid immediately; plus
·             An amount equal to the sum of all the future Modal Premiums (if any) shall be
·             credited to the Fund Value; plus the future Extra Allocation and Premium Booster as and when due would be added to the Fund Value in a manner similar to a premium paying policy where the future premiums are paid on the respective due dates

Investment Strategies

·             Life Stage & Duration based strategy
·             Self-Managed strategy

Flexibility

·             Change in Premium Paying Term (PPT)
·             Unlimited free switches between funds
·             Unlimited Opt-in and Opt-out option between Investment Strategies
·             Unlimited Premium Redirection
·             Partial Withdrawals
·             Top-up premiums

via GIPHY

What are you waiting for? Enrol now, I definitely am going to!