My Sister Needed Cheering Up

When my sister got divorced, I was really worried about her. All of us could tell she was better off without her husband, but she thought that she was still in love with him. She fell into a depression that I was bound and determined to make sure she crawled out of. When I saw her making her first jokes, I knew that she was finally seeing the daylight. I wanted to do something really special for her so I looked into Toronto party bus rentals. I figured that if a group of her friends could show her a fun night on the town, she would be on her way to finding herself again.

I wanted to get a party bus because I knew that it would be a night where no one would want to take responsibility for driving. We were planning on having as many drinks as it took to make her realize she no longer needed him. I really didn’t want to go clubbing or even go to one of our houses, because it had to be neutral territory. Continue reading “My Sister Needed Cheering Up”

A Boost in Motivation with a Promise

The local kids hockey team had been on a losing streak for a while, and they were feeling pretty down about it. I thought that a little motivation would help them win, so I promised the kids that if they won the next game, they would get a pizza party and a ride on the Toronto party bus limo. As soon as they heard this, the kids went to the rink to practice their shots. It was like one of those inspirational sports movies where the kids go through a training montage and get ready for the big game against the opposing team.

The kids worked so hard that they didn’t want to leave. Continue reading “A Boost in Motivation with a Promise”

Solo Travel – 10 Ways to Save on Single Supplements

In your school days, you may have found, as I did, that economics really is the “dismal science”. However, I did learn one key fact. Supply and demand drive prices. For solo travel, the surcharge or “single supplement” does vary partly in keeping with this tried and true rule. The good news? If you prowl through the Internet, you can find ways to save on solo travel when demand is down. The bad news? Reduced or no single supplement offerings are limited in number and go fast.

Here are 10 ways to save.

1. Don’t ask for one room. Ask for a “room for one’. In Europe, lodging is often sold with solo pricing. Be sure to see if it is a solo price for a standard room or a small single room. Look at the size offered for single occupants. Then consider the amount of time you will spend in your room. I often take 10-12 hour day trips abroad with almost no time spent in my hotel room except to catch some sleep before heading out again.

2. Get there first. Book even one year ahead since few slots are reduced for solos. This is really important if you go in-season. Holiday resorts and hot spots in summer may have return visitors book the next year when they check out.

3. Head to the airport when everyone else is heading home. Off-season travel is the best way to get immediate 50% off reductions. In the south of France, rates go down as fast as Sept 9. Ski resorts, like the fabled Sun Valley Lodge, have specials just before Christmas. In winter and spring, European discounts can be half-price as well.

4. Get excited about rainy weather or extreme heat and cold. You will have to think how far you want to take this. I had a thrilling short term work trip one Jan. in Siberia. I also went on tour in India during the monsoons. In some cases, the negative pronouncements may not impact your trip. A good example? The risk of hurricanes each fall is less likely to touch the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) making for better pricing. In Africa, for example, safari rates are lower during the rainy or “green” season if you can get away, and don’t mind the possibility of short, heavy rains.

5. Look for new travel providers. Hotels that are just opening or reopening after renovations have specials to gain or regain market share. The Hotel Castille in Paris, for example, had short-term deep discounts when it reopened just steps from fashionable boutiques. Thereafter, the rates increased in keeping with other high-end small hotels

6. Be a contrarian. Don’t pay a premium for what’s currently trending. Prowl the Internet for undervalued regions. If it is all the rage, prices will soar. In the 1980’s, I somehow found a Montenegro resort right off the Albanian border. Since then, Sveti Stefan, where I stayed, has been updated as reflected in its 5 star pricing. The moral of the story is get there before the crowds discover a destination.

7. If you can’t pronounce it or spell it, you’ll love the prices! Substitute the road less traveled. If you have a dream to see the Parthenon you must go to Greece. (That is unless you live in North America and would like to see a perfect replica in Nashville, Tenn.!) Regional air carriers are a good way to find out great largely undiscovered places at low prices. One example: I dreamed of Tahiti in my early post-graduate days. When rates were high there, Air New Zealand suggested alternatives: Rarotonga and Aitutaki. I took them up on it and had the trip of a life time dining out on the stories for years.

8. Scour the Internet for national and regional programs offered by tourist boards. Check ahead as they may only be available abroad. One of the best deals I found in the 1990’s was with then “Lan Chile”. From the US, I purchased three stand-by tickets for a total of $200 to go anywhere in the country. At that price, I made my way to Antarctica Chile, at the end of the world!

9. Use flexible dates to grab week-day deals. Hotels and airline rates often go up and down together. Why is that? That takes us back to supply and demand. When planes and hotels have low load factors, prices are softer.

10. Share to save. Look for tours that have no single supplements by agreeing to share. The benefit to this approach? It is a way to save if your travel dates are not flexible, and no to low single supplement deals are not available.

In any case, before you give up on fitting solo travel into your budget, look at these options.

Finding a Hotel Tonight Is Easier Than You Think

Finding a hotel tonight, or any night for that matter, is much easier than you think. In fact, the travel industries are such that the consumer is no longer working on the whim of an outside agent working in semi-secrecy. Consumer protection progress in the industry, as well as streamlined planning tools, have made it so that anyone can jump online & find what they need.

In this case, we’re focusing on the ease with which someone can plan a stay at a hotel as soon as tonight. Perhaps the single greatest reason that planning a quick hotel stay has become so simple is the advent of the World Wide Web – the Internet. The Internet has allowed us to have a wealth of information at our fingertips for a few decades now, and with that knowledge comes some serious power. For example, there was once a time when knowing what hotels were nearby was the only real way you could choose a hotel. You subsequently had to look them up in the phone book (barring you didn’t make a mistake in their name), and you really had to hope that there was something available at the very last-minute. The number of variables was through the roof, and in many ways, consumers were operating at the discretion of the hotels.

This would be enough to convince even a hardened traveler to cry, “Uncle”, but the real struggle to book a room came when you had to travel out-of-town. Imagine being on a road you’re following on a physical map, and inevitably you’d end up somewhere whose geography you didn’t know, and you certainly didn’t know of any hotels, motels, or motorways you could bank on for a last-minute room. Today, however, you can know your way around town by way of your phone’s Internet access.

Perhaps the other most significant reason for being able to book a hotel room with ease comes by way of competition in the industry. There was once a time when you had a limited amount of choices for hotel stays. Regardless of whether you were traveling & moving about due to vacation or work, you were in a position where your lodging money went one of only a couple of places. Nowadays, you’re able to do quick online searches as to the quality (star rating) of you proposed lodging, amenities, as well as proximity to & involvement with your destination. Moreover, there are a number of hotels vying for your business, which means they are willing to work with prospective customers on pricing & flexible booking simply because they want your booking in a major way. With so much choice & with an added boost in saving on your booking, you as the consumer are the big winner.

When it comes to finding a hotel room tonight, you should set your mind at ease. A little common sense, some quick wit with online searches, and a comfort in knowing that you as the customer have some serious booking power should be your guides to hotel booking nirvana.

Summer in London 2017

One of the top festivals that take place in the capital city during the summer period is Lovebox, which is a two day music and dance festival which takes place at Victoria Park. This event welcomes the top DJ’s and live bands and a host of performances. It is fun for the yonger generation that are looking for fun and excitement during their city break.

The next top event that draws millions of people to London each summer is the famous Wimbledon Tennis Championships that takes place for two weeks at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. This tennis championship is the oldest tennis championship in the world dating back to 1877 and today it is one in four major grand slams, yet the only one that is played on a grass court. It attracts some of the best names in tennis right now and is brimming with excitement, strawberries, cocktails and a day of fun in the sun.

The Somerset House Summer Series is a reputable open air festival that attracts thousands of visitors who are looking for a day of music, dance and festivities. It is definitely not one you will want to miss when next in London.

The Lambeth Country Show always attracts hundreds of visitors to London. In 2017 it is celebrating forty two years with home grown vegetables on display, a flower competition, sheep shearing and even a mini farm for the younger children. It’s a fun day out for the whole family.

AfroPunk and Sunfall are both top dance festivals with leading DJ’s and bands that arre guaranteed to get you dancing. Not to mention the famous Notting Hill Carnival, which is the largest street party in London with calypso music, a parade and over thirty sound systems placed strategical through the streets which sees over fifty thousand participants.

There are a few things to remember when traveling to London for the summer season. Whether you are visiting for a mini break or for a couple of weeks, you want to ensure the accommodation you choose isn’t only comfortable, but is ideally located. All the events that take place in London are throughout the city and you will want to be close to the public transport links to ensure you can get to them with ease.

Take a close look at the top attractions and sights you may want to visit during your stay. Do you want to experience the famous London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that will provide you with staggering views as far as your eyes can see, sitting on the edge of the River Thames. In fact this is the ideal place for some romance, a sunset ride and maybe even a proposal.

Buckingham Palace changing of the guards is another event not to be missed. This attracts hundreds of visitors to the palace gates to watch the guards doing their change, a routine that has been done for years and is a procession like no other.

Remember that there are some fantastic restaurants in London, owned by Michelin star chefs, such as Gordon Ramsay. The concierge at your hotel will be able to advise you and make your reservation on your behalf for added convenience.

Why Should You Go for Team Building in Bangalore?

Bangalore is not only an IT hub of India but it is also the party capital of India. It provides ample of opportunities for doing adventures, indulging in fun -activities, night parties and relaxation in luxury resorts. The city not only demands the hard work of the people but it also serves the people with some wonderful team building activities and places so that they can have fun as well as learn.

There are numerous team building activities in Bangalore. Manchinbele is an ideal spot for team building activities in Bangalore. It has some fun water and adventure sports in which the employees and employers can involve and strengthen their relationships with each other.

The city has many resorts as well which provides a luxurious home like stay, fun activities for team building, amazing food and all the other basic and amazing amenities. Staying in resorts makes the team members comfortable with each other. It also helps in establishing communication with the bosses. A thin line between the bosses and the employees can be broken while having fun activities as a team as well as staying in a comfortable environment.

Shilhaandara Resort is for rejuvenating the nerves of the team members. It is placed at the foothills of the Ramangara. It is surrounded by lush greenery and is a perfect place for nature as well as adventure enthusiasts. It has a swimming pool, space for fun-activities indoor as well as outdoor, different cuisines of food and many more amenities. There are many activities like zorbing, paintball, rope climbing in which you can take part with your team. There are many resorts in and around Bangalore that boost team building activities and are perfect for corporate team outings.

The city serves many opportunities for team building. There are many adventurous trekking and camping spots in Bangalore as well which helps to boost the confidence in employees. Adventure sports bring back power and vigor back in the lives of the employees. Savandurga is one of the best places in Bangalore for trekking. This place provides tranquil surroundings as well as thrilling treks which boosts up the employees. Similarly, there are many more trekking places in Bangalore. Employees can head and stay in night camps. They can play games around the campfire, roast food in the early man’s way, stay in camps among the wild animals, and enjoy the scenes of a bed of stars in the dark sky at night. Together with getting involved in camping and trekking enhances the bond and they get to work better as a team.

Bangalore is a perfect city for corporate outings. There are many other activities like archery, rappelling, rock climbing, boating, and much more in which the teams can take part and work as a team. It is rightly said that sports activities not only provide enthralling experiences but also build skills in people. Skills like teamwork, confidence, risk-taking abilities, better planning and development skills are inculcated while performing sports activities.

Top Reasons Why You Should Travel To Iceland With Kids

In the world of travel destinations, Iceland occupies a unique position. It has a landscape like no other with a delightful mix of active volcanoes, erupting geysers, hot geothermal springs, some wonderful beaches and also caves.

It is also the land of fairies, dwarfs and elves. Iceland fires up the imagination and makes it the perfect place for a vacation with kids in summer.

Why Iceland and Kids? The answers are not hard to find.

• When one plans to visit with kids it is best to join one of the family tours in Iceland where the tour operator offers a private 4×4 vehicle with large wheels and spacious interiors. One can undertake the golden circle trip in comfort and if the kids feel like falling asleep, there is ample space.

• However, it is the attractions of Iceland that will keep kids wide awake. One such is the presence of geysers across the country. The Strokkur geyser erupts with clockwork regularity and for kids, this is a novel sight. It is safe to get close to the geyser and kids love it.

• Watching a geyser is one thing but luxuriating in the warm waters of geothermal springs is another. The Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik is like a hot tub bath and kids will love cavorting in the waters, exploring the waterfalls and caves.

• Talking of caves and grottoes, Iceland has them in plenty and one will come across such ice caves and lava tubes while on the Golden Circle tour. Exploring caves and grottoes is perfect for kids who always have fantastic imaginations.

• Then, for a bit of fun, kids can go snowmobiling on the Langjokull glacier. The Gullfoss Falls present another experience and kids simply love to be under and behind a waterfall and romp about as they are exposed to water sprays.

• Iceland can be a voyage of discovery. It is the land of volcanic rocks, ice caves and the place where two continents meet under the sea. Along with fun kids learn geography in a hands-on way.

• Kids are safe. You can sit back and have a drink and your kids may wonder about but there is no need to worry. Crime is low and people around are always helpful and watchful over kids. Even restaurants go out of their way to have “kid-friendly” menus.

• Invariably the talk will get around to fairies, dwarfs and elves. People here believe in them and some might even tell your kids interesting tales about local elves or dwarfs. For kids,this is an added element of mystery and excitement. Who knows? They may come across one.

• Then there is the grand spectacle in the sky: the Northern Lights. Plan the trip outside Reykjavik or farther North just right with the help of local tour operator and one can get to view this stupendous sight. It will certainly result in dropped jaws and eyes popping. One may find it difficult to tear the kid away from the spot.

• Kids and food go together. There is the standard fare by way of burgers and sandwiches but there is also a chance to sample Iceland’s unique cuisines, some of them simply lip-smacking enough for kids to want to gorge on them.

The days are long in summer and it may be difficult to get the kid to go to sleep. Iceland is a lure hard to resist and just right for a family vacation with kids.

Vancouver, A Year Round Vacation Destination

Vancouver, British Columbia has consistently been ranked n the top of the world’s most desirable places to live in the world. The openness, quality of life, the diversity of outdoor activities in the surrounding mountains and the ocean at your doorstep as well as the modern cosmopolitan city centre and natural beauty all help to make this world class city truly unique. Not planning on living in Vancouver? Well you should at least visit to see for yourself what all the excitement is about!

Any time of the year you visit this gem of the Pacific Northwest will prove to be a memorable one. In the winter season you have all the mountain activities from heli-skiing to dog sledding in Whistler to snowshoeing or romantic log cabin dining in the Coastal Mountains. Enjoy an authentic Canadian mid-winter evening by catching a National Hockley League game at the Rogers Arena in the heart of downtown as the local Canucks team takes on a visiting challenger. Demand for tickets are extremely high so be sure to book your seats in advance or you can always see what’s available, usually at a premium, outside the stadium right before game time. Dining in Vancouver is wonderful year round; however, it is especially delightful in one of the many cozy restaurants on a brisk night with perfectly prepared local seafood hot out of the kitchen served with wine from one of British Columbia’s growing and acclaimed vineyards. The fireside ambiance in a dimly lit soothing environment really is the perfect evening out.

During the summer season the ocean is made more accessible by the perfectly hot temperatures from June to August but that doesn’t mean the mountains are out play. You can hike on established or less trekked trails throughout the surrounding area of Vancouver and feel as if you are 1000 miles away into the wilderness. You must be careful and take the proper precautions with local wildlife but a single or multi-day trip into the mountains and surrounding valleys is always a rejuvenating and empowering experience. Getting into the ocean by boat or on one of the many world-class beaches that surround the city will give you a real sense of the delights of these West Coast paradise. Sailing, swimming, yachting, kayaking, whale watching or just chilling on the beach, your day with the Pacific Ocean will be unforgettable. Spend the evening in one of the many restaurants of Vancouver or go for a stroll around Stanley Park to watch the sunset. Be sure to check out what festivals and shows are going on in Vancouver while you are there are the city attracts many international events and acts. Annual events that often draw a great deal of attention are the Celebrations of Lights fireworks show, Bard on the Beach Shakespear Festival, International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Sun Run and much more.

When planning your vacation to Vancouver be sure to pick the time of year that best suits what you’re looking for. Also, the city and surrounding area is quite large and the sites are not always accessible through the public transportation system. Consider renting a vehicle for you stay to ensure you get to see everything you want to on your schedule with the efficient guidance of a GPS so you don’t get lost on your way.

Vancouver has established itself as a world-class livable city and since the 2010 Winter Olympic games is establishing itself as a top vacation destination. Any time of the year it provides everything you would want from a relaxing destination holiday or an action packed adventure. Ensure you get to where you want to go in a timely manner by renting a vehicle to eliminate any hassles or unnecessary travel time.

Travel to Costa Rica: Hotel Reviews

The Best Western, Costa Rica
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

It was only 15 minutes away from the airport and right in the middle of the city. I felt as though it was a nice transition from being in the U.S. to being in a different country since it is a big, international hotel chain. Everyone we spoke with spoke perfect English but they were also locals so they were open to sharing any advice you might need. The rooms were pretty average and clean with a great view of the courtyard and pool area at the center of the hotel. We swam in the pool during the day (very clean and well kept) and the hot tub was located to the side, a little more private, with an ‘infinity pool’ kind of feel. Overall, it was a simple hotel that offered just enough for us.

Lomas del Volcan, San Carlos
Rating: 4/5 Stars

To this day, it has been one of the most unique and memorable places I have ever stayed. It might seem sketchy when you have to go off the main road and drive up this dirt trail on an incline for a bit, but then you reach a normal road and it takes you right to the main hotel site to check in. The staff was attentive and welcoming. It was a simple dining center, both indoor and outdoor with a terrific buffet. From there, we had to keep going up the incline and walked with our luggage to our own huts. (unfortunate downside: no one carting you around the resort) Towels shaped into flamingos were propped up on each bed accompanied by rose pedals. The bathroom was very large and open which was nice when sharing with others. We had a little front porch and a back porch opening up to all the beautiful surrounding nature. When we would head out in the mornings there would be monkeys swinging around the trees, right outside our hut!! It is also very close to all the near by activities, right off the Arenal Volcano!

Condovac la Costa, Playa Hermosa
Rating: 4/5 Stars

We stayed at this large resort right off the sandy beaches. There is constant uphill and downhill traveling so you’re in for a good work out but luckily there were golf carts roaming around to help guests get around. The welcome desk was very pleasant, with tons of people around to assist you. The rooms were okay, not completely 4 star worthy, but it was everything else that made me give it this rating. They had a tennis court, game room, pool area, karaoke, infinity pool, zumba lessons, salsa lessons, a great restaurant, gift shop and most importantly: their private beach entrance which only lead you to do more! We barely even stayed in the hotel room the amenities kept us so busy. We had no problems with anything here! Highly recommend.

How To Be A Good Guest In A Homestay

Homestays are becoming increasingly popular with more and more people opting to stay in a homely environment during vacations. It gives you the advantage of learning about the local culture while also enjoying some homemade food. Moreover, it gives the real taste of a particular place’s lifestyle, which something one should try experiencing at least once in their lives.

However, when you board at a homestay, regular families will greet you instead of trained staff members. Which is why it becomes important to be careful of your behavior and etiquette so that you leave a good impression behind. Here are some ways of doing so.

Learn about the Culture of the Place

Culture can be a very important aspect of a person’s life, especially in Asian countries. So, let’s say, for instance, you are booking cheap flights, take some more time and read up about their culture too. This will help you gel well with your hosts and make you seem less foreign.

Be at Your Best Behavior

Remember that when you are lodging at a homestay, you are using someone’s home. Before you start your stay, ask them if they have any specific rules you need to follow. This way, you will not be disturbing them while enjoying your vacation. Also, be warm toward them so that they don’t have a skewed idea of the country you are representing.

Treat it Like a Homestay

Most often people forget the basic difference between a homestay and a hotel stay. At hotels, staff members will be at your beck and call. They will assist you with anything you want. But when you are staying at someone’s home, they might not have the manpower to do so. Try and help out as much as you can. If it’s not too much of a work, keep your room and bathroom as clean as possible. Additionally, try cleaning up after you have finished your meals.

Care for their Home

People often host guests to earn some extra cash on the side but that doesn’t mean, it’s not difficult to give up a portion of their house to strangers. Which is why, as guests, it becomes your duty to take care of their furniture and infrastructure. Don’t damage the property and try to treat it like your own home. Remember that someone has built it with as much love and care as you built your own.

These are some of the tips that will help you be a good guest at a homestay. And last but not the least, the best tip is always to be as smiling and welcoming as possible.

5 Solo Travel Tips – How to Pay Less for Luxury Lodging

For tours, “single supplements” are generally added over the per person rate for pairs and couples. Lodging is less clear. In most of the world, prices are a so-called “rack rate” or by the rooms based on double accommodations. As the number of solo travelers has increased, travel providers have added some better pricing options. While we all work to build a more level playing field, here are our 5 updated tips for luxury lodging at better prices.

1. Modify your searches for booking engines. Manually convert “one room” to “one adult”. In Europe, the good news is that such solo prices for lodging are common. Once you change from 2 to 1 adult, prices may drop 40%.

2. For short trips, vacation mid-week. When everyone else is back-to-school or back to work, you can take advantage of reduced traffic discounts.

3. Consider ways to save on meals. I found a great room rate at a 5-star Nordic hotel. However, I skipped the $110 dollar dinner on-site for a trip to a local deli for about $10.

4. Check out season deals. These are most common at ski resorts. The fabled Lodge at Sun Valley (subject of a classic film) has had really reduced rates just prior to the Dec. 22 holiday influx.

5. Don’t bypass the famous names assuming they are too costly. One great such option is the 5-star Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden. They now offer a solo priced room. (Always check the size to see if it is a standard/double room or a smaller single room.)

Look for our updated solo travel tips so that your next trip will be your best.

Durga Puja: The Queen of All Festivals

India is a land of festivals. Being a secular country, there is no dearth of things to celebrate in this land of wonders. From Christmas to Eid ul Zoha, Independence Day to the Cricket World Cup, there is hardly anything that Indians do not like celebrating. Simply point us towards an occasion and we are all for it. But hidden amongst this long list of celebrations is a gem in the form of Durga Puja, something celebrated in its full glory in the Bengali community.

So, what exactly IS the Durga Puja?

Well, for the sake of clarity, Puja refers to a religious festival. However, for us Bengalis, Durga Puja is less of a ‘Puja’ and more of the embodiment of the spirit of festiveness. What exactly does that mean? Well, let us go back a few millenniums to answer that question.

The tradition of invoking the goddess Durga (or the mother, known as ‘Ma’) is first considered to have been done by Lord Ram before he went forth to battle Ravana, as documented in the epic Ramayana. However, the tradition lay dormant till about the late 1500s, when the landlords in Bengal took it up. It was finally given its final form in the 18th century as Baroyaari (or 12 friends’) puja, a term which finally came to refer to community sponsored Durga Pujas held in Kolkata.

Essentially, all parts of India celebrates this period, but in the form of Navratri. It constitutes of 9 days’ worth of fasting, which ends with Dussehra, a day where an effigy of Ravana is burned as a way to show that evils are always championed by good as Lord Ram had championed above Ravana.

In Bengal, however, the meaning of these 10 days are quite different.

My earliest memories of Durga Puja are that of waking up in the middle of the night to listen to Mahalaya on the radio. It is a programme that has been airing on the first day of the Bengali month Ashwin for more than 7 decades and 4 generations of Bengalis, forcing them to wake up at 4 am, something I still do religiously every year on that particular day. Although the magic of the scent, the half awoken self and knowing Ma is coming has somewhat diminished with the years, the idea of something so collectively powerful that it makes a whole community look forward to it still holds a great deal of charm nonetheless.

We treat Ma Durga as something more than just the goddess. While it is true that she embodies the raw power (or Shakti) that overcame evil by slaying the evil demon Mahisasur (hence the term Mahisasur-mardini), she is much MUCH more than just that. The ten days that start with Mahalaya signify her annual visit to her paternal home in Bengal with 4 of her children. As such Ma is, at the same time, a mother, a wife, a goddess, and most importantly, a member of our family. We pamper her, we respect her, we love her and we adore her. She is more than just a divinity.

To us Bengalis, she embodies our truest nature. No matter where a Bengali might be, come Durga Puja, he/she feels a connection to his/her family.

THIS is what it means to celebrate Pujo (a colloquial term for Durga Puja).

Frankly, it cannot be compared to anything else in the world. But, remember the togetherness one gets when visiting the family, or the warmth during Christmas, or the feeling you get when you visit your family after a year away? That is what Pujo means to a Bengali. It is more than celebrating a religious festival. The idea of Pujo is bringing everyone together. And what better way can there be than a mother facilitating all that? We eat, we cry, we talk, be happy and celebrate something that is practically unheard of anywhere else in the world. It does not matter what you religion is. Whether a Muslim, a Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain or anything in between (including atheists), if you are a Bengali at heart, Durga Puja is for you. From visiting the tens of thousands of makeshift podiums (or pandals) for hoisting Ma Durga to having a cup of tea in the middle of the night (under a tree in the local shop because it seems to inevitably rain during Puja nights these days, especially if you are out at 2 am) to dancing during the idol immersion ceremony (called Bhashan), Durga Puja is something that you have to experience at least once in your life.

Oh, and did I mention scrumptious luchi and khichudi as lunch during Ashtami and the gorgeous ladies who grace the pandals? Pujo is worth it… believe you me.

And once Pujo is done, while we are all sad, we pray for Ma to return safely to her heavenly abode atop the Himalayas. Thus begins the wait for the next Puja. Another year to spend before our dear mother comes back. Because Pujo never ends, it simply gets shifted by another year. After all, Ma is like the mother who wants you to be happy even when she is gone.

Come, be a part of this wonderful festival of togetherness.