Baby gets a passport….oops 2 passports in 6 months!!!

Fortunately or unfortunately Nirvaan was sent to crazy parents who conceived a trip to some foreign country when he was just one and a half month. With great thoughts, comes great responsibility and enthusiasm. Step one for any foreign tour would be to get hold of passports. Mommy and Daddy had their passports. However, babies do not come to earth with a passport. That meant, we had to make a passport for baby Nirvaan.As soon as we received baby’s birth certificate, Daddy racked up the internet to find out the requirements for procuring a passport for infants in India. He applied online for the same and chose a date for the appointment. Tons of forms were downloaded, printed and duly filled. Photocopies of his birth certificate and of all our IDs were done. Next, we stumbled upon a difficulty. It was getting a passport sized photograph of the baby. Remember, he was just one and a half month of age. Although our phone galleries were and are overflowing with his photos and we have captured his photos in all sorts of way, there are many criteria for a passport sized photograph for a passport.

The background has to be white.

Baby’s eyes needs to be open.

His ears should be visible.

His mouth should be shut.

Taking all of these into account, we had to go to a photo studio. At a time when he’d be mostly asleep or crying or suckling milk, it was a difficult job. After a few trials, we got hold of a perfect shot. We were overjoyed and relieved after ticking the last thing in our list.

Nirvaan’s passport size           photo at 1 month’s age

Now, came the D-Day. Baby Nirvaan set out for his first ever ‘interview’ for the passport office with Daddy, Mommy and his nanny. Living in a metro with a Passport Seva Kendra pretty near to us meant it would be just half an hour’s drive. However, we were still a litte scared since we were warned of cross infection and many other hazards. Like all other times, we did what we had to do being encouraged by our pediatrician, Dr. Roy who is himself a travel enthusiast. Once we reached there, we saw quite a number of infants of his age and sighed with relief.

Babies get priorities everywhere. So, we could avoid the long serpentine queue at the entrance and with the exception of waiting for our documents to be verified, other processes went pretty smoothly and quickly. Noteworthy to mention was the process where Nirvaan had to give his thumb impression!

Finally after 2 hours, we were done with the formalities. Next, there was police verification. After a few days, a police came to our place and verified all the documents and the baby.

After all this, in another fifteen days, the postman delivered the passport. We were thrilled. Daddy’s eyes were glittering triumphantly. That afternoon, we were almost on the verge of booking our tickets to Paris. However, work called Daddy to go to the clinic and Mommy was feeding the baby. Little Hashi, our four-legged and first baby finally got a chance to examine the lucrative new thing which lay on the desk and made good use of the opportunity. Little did she know that her teeth could puncture the passport rendering it ‘damaged’ and of no use. We were thoroughly disappointed to see all our efforts gone in vain.

After a few months, we again applied for the passport and went through a similar process.

Ps., later we were thankful to Hashi because a Euro trip with an infant would have been a little difficult given the weather conditions and long traveling hours and lots of running around. But we did make use of the new passport in another 4 months about which you will get to read soon.

Also, we have another passport sized photograph of Nirvaan at six months owing to this and we can’t stop finding it extremely cute.

Nirvaan’s passport photo at                                      6 months

 

 

 

 

A train without a platform

…And so it happened one day that my five month old baby Nirvaan, his dad and I were to come back to Kolkata,our home from the peaceful hamlet of Mccluskiegunj. We had booked our tickets for the Shaktipunj Express which halts at Mccluskiegunj station believing that it will be easier for us to board the train without having to go to Ranchi the nearest prominent station with the baby.

Little did we know what awaited us!

Mccluskiegunj has a quaintly rustic station. It is like one of those stations we pass through but never recollect the name. Nestled amidst trees, villagers, mostly tribals sat on the tawdry benches and dozed and waited for their train to arrive. We were a spectacle for these kind and gentle people. Mr. Deepak Rana, our host had accompanied us to the station to help us board the station. Twenty five years a Sarpanch and a very popular man, his presence attracted the locals to come and interact with us. We met Mr Wajid who would eventually help us a lot. I’ll write about him a little later. There was this tribal woman who came to cuddle the baby and talked to us in her tongue of which we deciphered very less except for the part where she enquired why the baby of two Mota Hathis( fat elephants) was so skinny!!! Neel cried at the strange sound of the whistle. The men and women made a space for me to calm him and breastfeed him.

Finally after we waited for the train for half an hour, it arrived. However, our coach was at a place much beyond the little elevation they call the platform. So, the daddy carried some of the luggage, a few villagers lend their hand to carry the pram, and everyone else helped us to put all of these up in the train. The halt was for 3 minutes, much of which was spent in walking. The kind soul Mr. Wajid took baby Neel in his arms. We were helped to board the train by Mr. Rana. Finally, baby Nirvaan was lifted like Simba and put to the daddy’s arms very carefully. Just at that moment, our train squeaked and started once again.

New parents often shy away from traveling with infants. However, once you set out the roads will bring you to strange circumstances and wonderful people and somehow we will always take back memories of a lifetime worthy of ten thousands of blog posts and accepting life as it comes.

Keep traveling. See you someday!

Priyasha!

A wedding…followed by a trip to the jungle

How we thought of a trip to McCluskiegunj 

On February,2018 we had to attend a wedding at Ranchi. We being the travel enthusiasts that we are, an outstation wedding always means we will travel in and around the place.

Now, apart from our love for travel we love watching films. A few months back we had watched a movie called, “Death In A Gunj”  which was shot at McCluskiegunj, a small and quiet town in Jharkhand, just an hour’s drive from Ranchi. So, our heart was set to “Mini England”, the other name for McCluskiegunj owing to the Anglo-Indian settlement.

Choosing our mode of transport and the consequences of the choice

This time we decided for train journey as the time taken for rail travel to Ranchi was not much and we beleived train would be a more comfortable option for travelling with Nirvaan. However, man proposes, fate disposes. We had reserved an A.C. Class 1 coup in the Kriya Yoga Express to ensure maximum comfort for our precious. Also, I needed  a little privacy since I was breastfeeding the baby. All was fine. However, the problem struck when we used the bedding provided by the Indian Railways. It was full of dust and unwashed since ages. It caused me and Nirvaan dust allergy and my poor baby could not sleep well at all. We gave him anti- histamine but he did not recover completely throughout our stay. We have ever since carried Nirvaan’s bedding in our later trips.

Our experience at McCluskieGunj

At McCluskiegunj we stayed where the film crew had also put up. It goes by the name, Rana’s Cottage. The owner and our host, Mr. Deepak Rana is an elderly energetic gentleman, a very well-loved person in the area who has been the ‘Mukhiya’ for 25 years. The bungalow is nestled amidst a sprawling garden and in the lap of Sal forest which made it a perfect spot to celebrate our Valentine’s Day. The rooms were not very luxurious but had the basic facilities required by us. It was run on solar power which impressed us but that led to the problem of power shortage at times. The host, Mr. Rana lives with his wife and his mother in the same house and all of them take personal care of the guest. The staff, mostly the tribals of the area are really gentle, polite and very helpful. In fact, Nirvaan would roam around in their arms for a great extent of our stay. He soaked in the bright sunshine of a winter day. With big wondering eyes, he was almost saying to us, “What a beautiful world it is and how lovely these people are!” He giggled and giggled and giggled when we swung with him in the swing.  The gentle giant German Shepherd belonging to Mr. Rana delighted him. He was so excited and happy that he missed his afternoon nap and Mommy showed him around.

In the late afternoon, Mr. Rana took us for a ride in his own car and showed us many beautiful bungalows belonging to Anglo- Indians and famous Indian celebrities. I was personally delighted to see Bengali author, Buddhadeb Guha’s bungalow, since I am very fond of his style of writing. I could just imagine where and how he weaved life into his novels. We visited all the sights where the movie, A Death In The Gunj was shot and Mr. Rana kept us amused with his anecdotes from his interesting past and present life and how he coincidentally settled in this quaint world. Our sightseeing was interspersed with the local people who stopped by to chat with Mr. Rana and we too got a chance to enjoy their august company and explore the local culture. The people and the rough terrain and the mysterious forest left us pondering about life and love and all things in between. We returned to our homestay in the late evening. Mr. Rana arranged for Mahua, an intoxicating local brew from the Mahua tree. For snacks we had a very spicy chicken cooked with “Khada Masala” and right blend of everything. Our dinner too was delectable. The food, in keeping with the ambience was homely since the hosts personally looked after the cooking. However, at night it was raining and the it was damp and cold. Nirvaan did not like it at all and kept waking up more than usual. It was a tiring day for us and waking up so many times at night made us a little weary. Also, we were pretty worried about the baby catching a cold( but he was fine).

The next afternoon we were to leave for our home and we were very sad to leave such a beautiful and peaceful place in the lap of nature.

Details about booking a room, tariff and cab

We booked Rana’s cottage through his agent Rajesh. His contact number is 8420624556. If you want to contact Mr. Rana directly, then his mobile number is 9006205320. We stayed in an Annexe room with attached bathroom and geyser which costed Rs.1500 per night ( only accomodation ). There are  other types of rooms with different rates. Do confirm while speaking to Mr. Rana or Mr. Rajesh regarding the type of room you want to book. Food charges are pretty nominal for the taste and quantity.  To book a cab from Ranchi to Mccluskiegunj , you can contact Kartik in his number 9155117549. He charged us Rs.2000 for a Sumo Gold to drop us to Rana’s Cottage from Ranchi.

We had our reservation in the Shaktipunj Express which had a stop at the McCluskie Gunj Station,which hardly had a platform. How we boarded the train is another story you’ll read about in the post A train without a platform.

Till then enjoy the photographs of our stay and if you can visit this place which is waiting for you!

Priyasha.

Sundar Gram….our first overnight trip with Nirvaan

  • On November 3, 2017 our baby Nirvaan was just 2 months when we decided to go for a mini road trip. We chose a rural retreat called Sundar Gram to spend a night out. It is just 36 kilometers from our place. However,back then it wasn’t any less adventurous for the new parents considering the number of people who advised us against it citing various reasons. However, our paediatrician gave us a green signal and off we went. Mommy had packed almost everything belonging to the baby for one night having no experience at all. Mommy was also very anxious and had almost been prepared to deal with a cranky baby and have a nightmare of a time.

The trip, however was beautiful. We reached Sundargram in the afternoon,just before dusk. The resort was located in the middle of lush green rice fields and the verdant resplendence across the horizon was breathtaking. It had mud huts with all the modern facilities. Baby N did not develop much sight back then. Nonetheless he was mesmerized with the open azure sky and the green leaves moving gently in the breeze. The newness of the world with all its beauty perhaps touched him and may it remain so for years to come!

In the evening, we had a bonfire and as a part of our revelry, we played songs and sang along which again pleased the baby and he slept so peacefully. Also,it was the first time we realized that Nirvaan loves being around people. He loved the jolly company of his Uncles and Aunts. Mommy’s task was much reduced thanks to all the friends who took turns to look after the baby.

The owner and the staff of the resort were very helpful and friendly. They showered their ‘youngest guest’ with lots of love and care.

We came back with happy hearts and the memory and lesson from our first trip. This trip had prepared us for our journey ahead because once you are smitten by the travel bug, there is no respite!

 

P.s this is what we had noted down after coming back. These tips may help new parents in their travel-

* Pack only the essentials. Overpacking becomes problematic since the baby needs to be carried.

Take a few extra set of dresses,but do not take too many.

This rule follows for most other things.

Insect repellent is a must.

Ask for help. If you are travelling with a newborn, the hotel staff will readily help you in laundry or in cleaning and sterilizing utensils.

Travel in groups. Your responsibilities will be shared and you’d not be focused only on the baby.

Remember babies are just mini us. They love to go outside and enjoy in their own ways. Take good care of your babies but do not panic. It is natural that as new parents you are scared of everything that might go wrong, we too were. But our babies will be fine. Nirvaan did not fall sick and I can say that your precious too will be fine. Enjoy with them.

Here are a few pictures from Nirvaan’s first trip.

Sunset at SundarGram
Sunset behind the rice fields
US
Accomodation at modern huts in Sundar Gram
Our two storeyed hut
Hungry baby
the three musketeers

Nirvaan’s second trip….the eternal Puri

  • It was January of 2018. Nirvaan was 4 months old then. We wanted to go somewhere which would not be too far and could be done in 3-4 days. Puri was a perfect choice. We took a flight to Bhubaneshwar from Kolkata. It was a 50 minute flight and Nirvaan’s first. We were very apprehensive whether he would be scared and cry most of the time. Nirvaan did cry but only during takeoff and landing. It was not that bad for a first. Later we got to know , they experience earaches during takeoff and landing, precautions for which were taken in our later tours.

We hired a self driven car from Bhubaneshwar to Puri. The road was good , though Google suggested us a shorter route just before entering Puri which took us through the narrow alleys around the Jagannath Temple , where driving was not that fun.

However, we reached Marina Guest house on the outskirts of  Swargadwar Beach around afternoon 2pm. I read very good reviews about the place on TripAdvisor. The location was amazing but service and standard of rooms did not live up to our expectations. However, the terrace was mindblowing and one gets a 180 degree view of the Bay of Bengal from there. Nirvaan just loved the sea breeze and you could see his joy from his face. We kept the day to ourselves to rest. Nirvaan had a good long sleep.

Next day, my parents went to the Jagannath Temple. I took Nirvaan and Priyasha to a  road trip to Konark. The weather was great. The road was even better. This short roadtrip of 1.5 hours from Puri to Konark was definitely one of the best in India with a considerable portion of the road running along the Bay of Bengal. Before that, the road goes through a jungle which is called the Konark Wildlife Sanctuary. I was inspired to take this roadtrip after watching the Malayalam movie Neelakasham Panchakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi; it did not disappoint me. Just before reaching Konark comes the Ramachandi Beach. There is a wonderful resort here called the Lotus Resort which is situated at the confluence of a river and the sea. The restaurant is situated right next to the beach. We spent a relaxing couple of hours there. Priyasha took Nirvaan for a ride around on his stroller. He was pretty comfortable. He did not like the sun though. But he perhaps understood he was out of his regular comfort zone and did not throw any tantrums apart from when he was hungry. We returned to Puri in the afternoon. Nirvaan was more than happy to get a bed and after one full bottle of milk, he fell asleep.

I was searching in google for a quiet place  with a bar to chill in the evening when i came across Baron’s Bar in Mahodadhi Palace. All five of us were there by 8pm. it was right next to the main Swargadwar Beach. Mahodadhi Palace has a quiet old world British charm to the place, the rooftop Baron’s bar (which was almost empty) added to the archaic feeling. The staff were extremely courteous. They took special care of Nirvaan. He happily went from one lap to another though his eyes fixed on his mother. The food was delicious, the malai prawn tikka was just amazing, so were the tandoori mushrooms. The sound and smell of the sea, the breeze, the beer, and everyones’s happy faces just added to the bliss.

We shifted to a homestay called the Judge’s Court next day as we wanted to experience the local culture a little more. This was not on the beach but within 10 minutes from Swargadwar and 2 minutes from Chakratirtha road. This old bungalow with a huge garden and a lawn belonged to a  judge from Orissa  whose granddaughter has now renovated the place for a homestay. There was a black Rottweiler called Bruno who looked fierce but just needed two pats on the back to become friends with us. Nirvaan’s little eyes glowed with joy on seeing Bruno. Perhaps he reminded him of a similar four legged creature with a tail and her various naughty antics back home ( Hashi ). The bungalow was very serene and it was a perfect place to find some solitude away from the busy streets of Swargadwar and Jagannath Temple. The sunrays falling on the huge balcony by the garden were soothing and my mother had a gala time with Nirvana on her lap. We had a home cooked Odiya style lunch which was delicious, just what we wanted to complement a lazy afternoon.

My parents wanted to go shopping in the evening. They took Nirvaan with them. Me and Priyasha had a lazy stroll in the Chakratirtha Road market, pretty sure of a phone call soon from our parents. But to our surprise, we almost had two hours exclusively for us. We discovered a tiny little shop with interesting curios. It was run by an extremely polite Kashmiri gentleman. We bought a Budhhist Thanka from there. Another place we discovered was a small cafe called the Honey Bee Bakery. The carrot cake here was just awesome. You have to taste it to believe it. The pizzas were good too. The place had a hippie charm to itself with a peculiar seating arrangement on its terrace as well. You’d find books in various languages and of varied interest stacked up here,thanks to the foreigners who frequent this cafe. I highly recommend this place to all those who want to chill for a while in Chakratirtha Road. Our parents were back earlier and Nirvaan had been a good boy without making any tantrums.

We heard about this small artisan village called Raghurajpur about 10kms from Puri. We drove down to Raghurajpur next day morning. We had our flight from Bhubaneshwar that very evening. So we did not have more than a couple of hours to spend there. But if one is an art lover, perhaps it is possible to spend an entire day there. The village is full of artists who are skilled in a local art form called Patachitra. If you have time, they will even show you how to make one. We ended up buying a few though they would not persuade.

We had our lunch in a place called Pink House on our way back. The Chinese food at this place is cheap and delicious. It is located on the Chakratirtha beach and has a very calm vibe around. We packed up soon once we were back to Judge’s Court and left for Bhubaneshwar with a heavy heart. Our small yet eventful holiday was going to be over soon. But on our way back home from the Kolkata airport , I had a smile on my face, the smile of content, the smile of happiness. Nirvaan was tickling me with his tiny fingers. I looked at his glittery eyes and could imagine him telling me ” Baba, when is the next holiday?”

Till then, enjoy the pictures.

 

 

About Us

Hello friends ! My name is Saubhik Ghosh. I am a dentist by profession. I am married to Priyasha who is a teacher by profession. We stay at Kolkata, eastern part of India. We have a cute little baby who just turned one. We call him Nirvaan. Our family is incomplete without our fur baby Hashi whom we got from the tiger reserve of Sunderbans when she was 25 days old. We have been avid enthusiasts of travelling even before we got married and then when Priyasha conceived, many people around warned us that it would be impossible for us to travel like we did before. We were unfazed. We travelled when Nirvaan was still in his mother’s womb. We travelled since he has been of  2 months.  We have already completed 10 trips with him. You will find all our adventures with Nirvaan in this blog. We also have various tips for all of those who are new to parenting with the indomitable desire to travel and see the world. Hope you will find them useful and enjoy our adventures with us. Cheers!