Niagara Falls Trip

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in America, established in 1885 at the Niagara Reservation. Over 8 million visitors explore Niagara Falls State Park annually.”

We all once in a while wish to see The majestic Niagara Falls which is a group of three waterfalls – Horseshoe falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil falls. It spans between Canada and USA and it is said it looks much more beautiful from the Canadian side.
I and my husband decided to see Niagara from the USA side. We planned a two day trip in the first week of October 2019. We booked hotel two weeks in advance and also bought Discover Pass online which includes six activities:

  1. Cave of winds
  2. Maid of the Mist
  3. Adventure Theater
  4. Aquarium of Niagara
  5. Trolley ride
  6. Discovery Center & Hiking Trails

On October the fourth of 2019 we drove to Niagara from Baltimore, Maryland which nearly took us seven hours. We reached in the evening, checked-in in our hotel room and after having dinner decided to take some rest.
Day 1 – The next day we started early in the morning at 7 A.M. and our first stop was Walmart where we picked some fruits and bread for our breakfast as the breakfast option was not available in our hotel. After that we went to Niagara Falls State park and our first destination was Maid of the Mist. The tourists are given ponchos to wear and they ride the Hornblower cruise which gets a closer view to all the three falls. Though the boat was crowded and we could not see anything except for mist and rainbows but truly it was an amazing experience. On our way to exit we stopped at the Observation Deck to get a bigger and closer look at the falls and the Canada side streets. We skipped Adventure Theater as we intended to cover it on our second day.
Next we went to Cave of the Winds. For this activity all the tourists are given ponchos and keto slippers which we are supposed to wear. We took an elevator which is built inside huge rocks and followed wooden walkways and stairways to reach to the base of the Bridal Falls. You can go near the falls, touch the rocks, water and take a quick bath like me 😉 . This was the best part of the Niagara Falls for me. It was good that we left our hotel early in the morning and ditched the long queues for activities.
Once we came out of Cave of the Winds it was already noon and we decided to have our lunch from a nearby restaurant. There are a lot of restaurants and eateries available at walkable distances. It was our first day in Niagara and I also wanted do some shopping so we went to the streets and started exploring the available options where we came across a museum where we had to pay 10$ each for tickets. We paid for the tickets and went inside. It was a museum where all historical information and things related to Niagara falls was showcased. We also bought a refrigerator magnet as a sovereign.
We had planned on seeing the lights of Niagara Falls in the evening so next we again went inside the State park near the Horseshoe falls. It was already 6 P.M. and we spent next four hours inside the park mesmerised by the beauty of the falls. Both U.S.A. and Canada turn hundreds of different coloured lights on at Niagara Falls creating a spectacular look. After seeing fireworks at night we picked our dinner from a nearby restaurant and left for our hotel.

Day 2 – The next day again we started early and after picking my breakfast we went to Adventure Theatre and covered the movies related to the history of the falls. After that we took the trolley ride and started visiting all the stops in the Goat Island and also visited Three Sisters island. We skipped our lunch as we were running out of time and wanted to cover Discovery Center and Hiking Trails and Aquarium of Niagara. We were able to visit the Discovery Center but it was already 4:30 P.M. and the aquarium had been closed. So we had our brunch from a nearby restaurant and decided to go hiking in the evening. We again waited till late inside the park to see the night lights and at 10 P.M. left for our hotel. With this our two day trip came to an end. It was exciting, adventurous and tiring. The next day morning we left for our home.


  • Location: Niagara Falls lies in New York state, U.S.A.
  • Language: English
  • Currency: Dollars $
  • Best time to visit: June – August
  • Packing: If travelling in winters take at least two to three layers of jackets and if summers one jacket is sufficient. Never forget to carry woollen clothes as it’s always cold
  • Food: A lot of restaurants are inside and around the State Park with good options
  • Commute: Take the trolley ride
  • Whom to travel with: Solo, family or friends. If you have kids or old parents don’t worry as the trolley (bus) runs everyday and is very convenient and affordable
  • How to travel cheap: Book your hotels well in advance and buy Discovery Passes online to skip the queue

When do you plan to visit The Niagara Falls? Or if you have visited already share your experience through comments.

Christmas in New York

For Christmas I decided to visit New York as the city’s charm never fails to amaze travellers. I planned a two day trip with my husband, Tarak and booked hotel in New Jersey outside New York as car parking in New York is always very expensive. We decided to drive to New Jersey instead of taking public transportation. For travelling in New York city I also booked BigBus as you can always enjoy the city’s spectacular skyscrapers through the first floor of Big Bus.

It was one week before Christmas, we started early in the morning and took a shuttle to Times Square. The temperature was too cold for me (-3 degree Celsius) hence I bought a pair of gloves, socks and scarf from Forever 21 in Times Square.

After my brief shopping we took BigBus and explored uptown, midtown and downtown. On our way we got down to see 9/11 memorial, Trinity Church, Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Wall Street and Brooklyn Bridge. There are a lot of street food options available which we decided to go for to save time.

In the evening we decided to take on the Night Tour BigBus to view the city’s decorations for Christmas. During Christmas a lot of winter markets and ice-rinks are set and in some there is no entry fee (only you need to carry your own ice-skates). We explored the winter markets, went to St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Times Square at night and left the city at around 9 P.M.

The next day when we left for the city we had planned on taking BigBus to Manhattan, Brooklyn and Harlem. After covering all the places we had our brunch from Joe’s Pizza where Peter Parker from Spider-Man worked 😁. In the evening though I wanted to take the free cruise ride but was too tired and instead decided to check in the stores in Times Square and go for some shopping. As I had visited Statue of Liberty earlier hence it was not included in my itinerary. With all this my two day trip to New York came to an end. We came back to our hotel at regular 10 P.M. and left in the morning next day for our place.

  • Language: English
  • Currency: Dollars $
  • Best time to visit: There’s no best time to visit New York
  • Hotel bookings: Book a hotel in NJ (outside the city) if you have a car otherwise in the city
  • Packing: Always pack woollen clothes even in summers. For winters pack three-four jackets as it’s very cold
  • Food: Don’t hesitate to try street foods in the city. They have a lot of options available
  • Commute: Prefer taking local buses and subways. They are much cheaper and faster

What was your experience when you visited New York City? Share your experience through comments.

Birthday with Social Distancing

A fortnight ago my husband turned thirty one. I knew I had to do something but what? Covid situation is hanging around, restaurants are closed for dine-in in my county, people are not going out in groups and we can’t invite any friends for partying.

So I had to do something else. Something which involves good food, birthday cake, candles, movie and gifts. So I prepared a list of food that I was going to cook, a list of things that I will buy for party decor and a list of things I am going to buy as gifts.

Since my husband is a picky eater so my food list included Bengali cuisines like Radhabhallabi with aloo dum, Samosa and Gulab jamun. Gift list consisted of a computer monitor, ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic mouse since he has been doing WFH since past five months. I also decided to buy a t-shirt, a pair of trousers for him.

A fortnight ago I ordered the monitor, keyboard and mouse since it would take some time to arrive. A day before birthday I started all the food preparations basically the Samosa filling and Gulab jamun. I also went out to buy decor items, birthday cake and the dresses.

On the day of birthday we cut the cake, blew candles, ate food. Also ordered a big list of food from outside. But we avoided going out to celebrate as we are avoiding crowded places unless it comes to grocery shopping.

Birthdays come and go every year but quarantine birthday comes very rarely when you don’t go out and spend your whole day with your family, when you know none of your friends and family are coming over to see you.

My request to all my readers is to be safe. Please stay indoors and avoid going out if you can. Spend time with your family indoors.

Intex Challenger3 kayak review

I have been waiting since a few weeks to write this blog. Today I am going to review Intex Challenger3 kayak and share my kayaking experience.

It’s summer the temperatures are crossing 100 degree Fahrenheit in Maryland and staying indoors has become difficult. I remember last year I would go out with my husband to play tennis everyday but with Covid situation around we are avoiding going to pubic places which are crowded. So we decided to buy a Kayak. None on us in my family knows swimming or Kayaking. But still we decided to give it a try.

So exactly two months ago I ordered a set of two inflatable kayaks from Walmart. The description said three people can fit in one kayak but while going through the reviews someone mentioned the kayak can fit-in two and a half people which means two adults and a child.

I am an amateur when it comes to sports. So, when this kayak arrived I looked surprised towards my husband and younger sister. We tried to go through all the instructions in it. On opening the box we found an inflatable boat, a manual pump, two aluminum oars. We started inflating it with the pump. This kayak has three sections that needs to be inflated. Overall the whole process of inflating took us roughly 20-30 minutes. The kayak inflated into a large 8 feet long boat. And in my case we as in me, my husband and sister could all sit in it together. Next step for us was to buy lifejackets for everyone.

Coming to our first kayaking experience we looked around for rivers and canals which are not more than five feet deep. As none of us knows swimming. We have Gunpowder falls very close to our place and people’s review says it’s a roughly 2.5 hour kayaking one way with three-four small height drops. So, basically it’s non life threatening. We went to the place and inflated our boats and enjoyed a full day there.

We kayaked for almost an hour one way and on the way back lifted our kayak and carried it to th starting point walking up the trails. The kayak seems to be big while lifting but not too much heavy and can be easily carried by two people. After using our kayak for nearly five hours we felt that it got deflated a bit on its own but overall I loved the kayak and feel if you have three friends who are going for kayaking this one kayak is perfect.

Gunpowder Falls, Hereford where we went for kayaking is very close to main roads. One can park their vehicle can going to the river takes less than a minute walk. Even while kayaking the sound of vehicles on roads can be heard. The water is chilling cold but still that does not stop people from taking a dip during summers.

Hope my blog inspired you to try something new in life. 🙂

No need for Social Distancing !

Are Americans practicing social distancing ?

It has been four months since I have been following social distancing. I have been staying away from meeting friends and family. I have also been refraining myself from going to public places. However occasionally I go out for hiking and trekking as it gives me peace.

Today I went to Gunpowder State Falls and state park in Maryland. This state park is known for beaches and dense forests. After a 45 minute drive when we entered the park I immediately decided a spot to sit a near beach. This spot was isolated and away from rest of the people. I laid down my rug, managed to make my umbrella stand on ground and started playing board games. In less than an half an hour we got surrounded by people who started setting up their umbrellas and rugs near my spot.

I was shocked ! They did not even maintain a distance of 6 feet from us! They didn’t ask us just set up their umbrellas. This family had six people – two adults and four kids. I mean seriously ! How can one be so socially unaware! Oh man, in the name of humanity at least give us some space. This park has 15,000 acres of space and this family decided to chose a space next to my family. This is totally unacceptable so soon we decided to leave that place and move our umbrella and rug 20 feet away from my current spot. More people then started coming and setting up their tents and umbrellas.

It was 1 PM, 90 Fahrenheit and very hot so I also decided to go to the beach and dip my feet in cold water. What I saw was adults, teenagers, kids everywhere swimming and the water was so dirty that it looked almost black. I was even more shocked when I saw a couple teaching swimming to their infant. The mother said to her baby – ‘kick kick kick’ and ‘very good’. Oh man, I thought ‘Are they not scared their child might get infected with the covid ?’

America is a developed nation I thought when I landed here a year ago. My experience here has been very pleasant. People are mostly very kind, polite, helpful and respect each other’s personal space. But this year I feel I am in a different nation. Last month I went to a park in the evening to spend an hour, chose a very isolated space near lake. Soon my personal space ruined by a father-son duo who decided to do fishing at the same spot. It was totally unacceptable to me and we left.

Last year when I would go out for trekking and hiking I would see a lot of people around enjoying their summers but this year parks are already full. By full I mean they are at their maximum capacity. It makes me wonder if these people know about covid situation going around? And if yes, why are they not maintaining social distancing? Do they think they are covid free?

It is my genuine request to all the people reading my blog please maintain social distancing. You may think that there is no such thing called corona, covid or it may be a thing but not deadly. But please understand there are people who are taking this very seriously and to them their safety matters the most.

One may say if you are so concerned about covid you should stay at home. I totally agree to his/her point but do understand staying at home from the past four months has taken a toll on people’s inner peace and is forcing them to move out for a while while taking safety measures. So people like me go out once a month and decide to choose a spot away from crowd. Please don’t take away their spot from them and let those people enjoy while following social distancing.

How I colored my hair at home!

It has been ages since I wanted to color my hair blue. So during this period of social distancing I picked-up my long desired wish of mine and started searching for blue hair dyes online. After reading many reviews I bought Splat hair dye kit which has a hair color, bleach and gloves.

The following are the steps I followed for dying my black hair-

Step 1: Wear an old T-shirt as the colors are going to spoil your T-shirt.

Step 2: Wear gloves and apply vaseline or coconut oil or olive oil all over your neck and face.

Step 3: This step is only for people who have dark colored hair like black, dark brown, red. Mix the bleach powder to the oxide liquid and shake it for two-three minutes. Use a brush to bleach your hair in small sections at a distance of least one inch from scalp. Leave the bleach on for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner.

Note – If you do-not get the desired light color after bleach repeat the process after 48 hours. Do not use bleach if you have extremely light colored hair like blond. Apply bleach to hair which has been shampooed at least three days before. The more the number of days the better it is.

Step 4: Dry your hairs and start applying blue colors with a brush section by section on bleached hairs.

Step 5: Leave the color on your hair for 30-60 minutes and then wash your hairs using a shampoo and conditioner.

Note – Your hair color is going to bleed so wash it well until plain transparent water starts running down bathtub drain. Also, the more you keep colors on your hair the better it is.

Step 6: Dry your hairs and use hair serum to calm down the frizziness.

What if you do not get all in one kit for hair dye?

Well in that case follow the following steps:

Step 1: Buy blue hair color or any hair color of your choice, Loreal hair bleach, Developer 30 vol, gloves, plastic bowl and hair brush. Wear an old T-shirt while dying.

NoteDeveloper 30 vol pretty much work for all the dark hairs.

Step 2: Mix bleach to developer in the ratio of 1:2 in a plastic bowl and mix it well.

Step 3: Part your hairs in sections and apply the bleach mixture using brush at least one inch away from your scalp.

Step 4: Let it sit for 30 minutes and then wash it using shampoo and conditioner. If your hair didn’t achieve the lighter shade then repeat the process after 48-72 hours.

Step 5: Apply the color over your bleached and dried hairs and let it sit for another 30-60 minutes.

Step 6: Wash your hairs with shampoo and dry it. Use hair serum to calm down the frizziness.

After drying your hair you will see a beautiful color on your hairs.

Do not forget to post pictures of your self colored hairs.

Time to repot your house plants

How do you know it’s time to repot your plants?

Well, a lot of us don’t and that’s the reason why our plants die or stop growing after a certain height.

How do you know it’s time to repot your plants?

Pull your plants out of it’s pot carefully to analyze roots. If you find the roots are :

  1. Soggy
  2. Too much tangled and there is no space for it further grow
  3. Growing out of their drainage holes

Then you know it’s time to repot. Also, if you see your plant is dying and all your attempts to revive have failed then it’s time to repot.

Supplies you need for repotting your plants:

  1. A new or clean pot
  2. Potting mix or soil
  3. Fertilizer
  4. Gloves
  5. Scissors
  6. Watering can
  7. Newspaper sheets (to avoid soil on your floor)

At what time of the year and time of day should you should repot?

  1. Time of year – Summers
  2. Time of day – Morning or Noon

How do you choose pots?

  1. Select a pot with proper drainage holes.
  2. The height and diameter of the pot should be an inch bigger than the older one.
  3. Do not forget to buy a plant saucer.

How to select a potting mix?

There are different types of potting mix and are as follow:

  1. Potting mix for container plants
  2. Potting mix for garden soil
  3. Potting mix for cactus and succulents

How do you select a fertilizer for your plants?

Select a fertilizer that may be water soluble, powder or in spikes form but rich in NPK – Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium. I personally prefer using fertilizer spikes as they are less messy and easy to use.

Let’s look at the steps now:

  1. Spread the newspaper sheets or any other rough sheet where you intend to work with plants.
  2. Hold your plant from top, tilt the pot and gently pull out. If it’s not coming out try loosening the soil around the pot by pushing the plastic pot or using a spoon to insert closer to terra-cotta pots in the soil.
  3. Analyze the roots. If they are dead and soggy, cut and remove some of it. Also, remove the old soil from around the roots.
  4. Put some of the new soil in the new pot and then place your plants, cover it with soil. Gently push the soil with your hands downwards in the pot.
  5. Water the plants using your watering an.
  6. Place your plants near a bright window in your house or in shade outside at least for a week or until roots take hold.
Pulling our plant out of it’s pot

Apartment Decoration ideas at a budget

This quarantine period has been a big hit for most of us. Staying indoors without physically meeting friends and family isn’t easy.

Hence at this time it has become more important for us to look for or develop hobbies for self sustenance. Before quarantine a lot of friends who would visit me in my apartment would appreciate my apartment decoration skills at a low budget. In fact we would also take inspiration from each other and share our leftover craft materials for others to try and learn. No-one knows how and when who could use them better! So, below are the list of ideas from my apartment:

IDEA 1: Hanging pots with fake plants. Use glass globe, fake plants and jute rope.

Description: All the products have been bought from Dollar Tree and it total these two decorative pieces cost me 5$. For the first one I put the fake plant inside the glass globe and hanged it using a rope near a window. It looks beautiful and real too.

For the second piece I inserted fake plant in glass bowl and hanged it using a macrame planter holder which I made earlier (check my previous blog for making one).

IDEA 2: A dreamcatcher next to a beautiful frame. Use a frame and a dreamcatcher.

Description: I bought that beautiful frame from a garage sale for 2$ and dreamcatcher from my country India. However both of them are available in DollarTree.


IDEA 3: Picture frames and a flower bell. Use any random number of photo frames and a flower with bell or any other decorative piece.

Description: All the frames and flower with bell are from DollarTree. Try to be creative and stick it in any corner of the house. You may also include mirrors if you like.


ITEM 4: A collection of canvases near your sofa or reading couch.

Description: All the canvases are from DollarTree except the centre one with a colorful leaf which is from Walmart clearance section. Hang/stick all of your canvases above your sofa or study couch where you spend most of your time in your apartment. It makes your spaces a little brighter.


IDEA 5: Decorate corner tables with flower vases and fake flowers.

Description: In my apartment things like hairpins, lotions, comb, water bottles, charging wires that I use daily remain lying on the floor. Set up small tables in the corners of wall and next to your furnitures like sofas, chairs, couches. Keep your things on the tables with flower vases and fake flowers. The table which I have is from IKEA and I bought it in a set of two for 25$.


IDEA 6: Decorate your front door with key hanger and garden bell from inside.

Description: Key hanger and garden bell hanger or any other decorative hangers. The key hanger is from a handicraft fair in from India and the frog bell is from DollarTree.


IDEA 7: Do some art and craft. This below work I saw in Pinterest and decided to recreate it for my apartment.

Description: For this I bought some colored chart papers, glue and scissors from DollarTree.


IDEA 8: Use LED string lights on your doors and windows. It looks very beautiful during night time.

Description: These lights were gifted to me by my sister and I decided to stick it on my patio doors.


IDEA 9: Use plants inside your apartment to give you some fresh air. What can be more better than a snake plant!

Description: Select plants wisely. I have made a lot of mistakes while selecting plants as they did not survive in my apartment due to light conditions. If you are a starter start with plants like Pothos, Succulents. You can also check my previous blog which was on the list of easy indoor plants. The yellow pinwheel which is on my snake plant pot is from DollarTree also are the planter pots which were buckets initially until I made drainage holes in the bottom.

IDEA 10: Make a toy collection display.

Description: I personally like collecting miniature cars, planes and toys. And hence I put them on display for everyone to see. Some of them are from DollarTree other from places where I travelled.

IDEA 11: Decorate your kitchen window using DIY stuff, frames, plants and baking gloves.

Description: My kitchen has a beautiful window next to burners. So, I hanged a DIY which I created using pinecones (listed in my previous blog) and some random frames which I bought from thrift stores for a Dollar each and two baking gloves. You can also put some plants if you like.

IDEA 12: Decorate our front of refrigerator with magnets and photo frames.

Description: Every day at least once a day we all open our refrigerator. Why not decorate it with magnets from places you have traveled and photos to relive your past. Don’t forget to stick your notepad for writing list of items you need to buy next time you go for grocery shopping.


IDEA 13: If you or your kid loves painting hang them at places you see are too white.

Description: I know this painting is not so great but my sister painted it and I decided it to stick somewhere which is too white and is not at all attractive.


PS: If you took inspiration or liked any of my ideas, don’t forget to share your thoughts.

DIY Macrame Planter Holder

Hey friends! In this period of self isolation it has become very essential to be engaged in order to stay at home. So, here’s another home decoration blog. I have a lot of plants in my apartment (as shared in my last blog) and they look more beautiful when hung in a macrame planter holders. So, in this blog I will be sharing about how to make one.


  • Jute ropes/ threads of your choice (thread should be durable and could be tied, avoid plastic)
  • Scissor
  • Colorful beads
  • Plant pot
  • A key ring

Step 1: Cut jute threads approx. ten-twelve inches in length and twelve in count.

Step 2: Make a knot at one end leaving an inch from one end.

Step 3: Separate all the threads in pairs. There will be total of six pairs. Make a knot at all the pairs towards the bigger knot.

Step 4: Take a single thread from adjacent pairs and tie them. For the threads at the extreme ends- tie them together. Insert a bead on the knots.

Step 5: Place your planter at the centre of the biggest knot and continue tying knots taking threads from adjacent pairs and placing beads on them.

Step 6: Continue tying threads from adjacent pairs if you have a bigger pot. Take all the threads towards the other end and tie a big knot. Voila! your macrame planter hanger is ready.

Step 7: Tie a ring or a keychain at the end and use it to hang it.

You can use them to hang planters both indoors as well as outdoors, they look beautiful and most of the supplies are available easily. Hope you liked it and will try making one.

Don’t forget to share your DIY macrame planter holders with me. 😀

Low light house plants

Alot of people like me like having plants in our house. They not only make your house look green and beautiful but also makes it living. How beautiful a blank corner of your house looks when you place a big plant there.

But there are also considerations that needs to be taken care of while you are planing to have plants in your house. A year ago when I started buying plants for my apartment, I realized alot of them didn’t last for over a month or they didn’t flower.

So, in today’s blog I am sharing tips on how to buy plants for your house with a list of low light plants in the end.

STEP 1: Figure out how much sunlight does your house receive. Like in my case my earlier apartment was East facing and received six-eight hours of direct sunlight on its windows. But my current apartment is North-West facing and does not receive any sunlight on its windows. However, there’s always bright light on my balcony.

STEP 2: After figuring your house direction decide on how much time you can give to your plants every week. E.g. – plants like Pothos (money plant), Snake plant are easy to care plants and do not need much sunlight or water. They can live for months if neglected. But plants like Nerve plants, Orchids, Boston fern, Zebra plant are high-maintenance plants and need a lot of time and efforts to keep them alive.

STEP 3: When you go to a store to buy plants always check on the tags/ labels on the pots/plants for plant care instructions. There is always information about the sunlight need, water need and fertilization. In case if it is a local store and there are no tags then do an online search and do not hesitate to ask the shopkeeper about the plant requirements. Remember: the plants that flower need at-least a few hours of direct sunlight every day. So, do not purchase them if your house does not receive direct sunlight.

STEP 4: After you have purchased a plant and brought it to your house, pull the plant out of its pot to do a root check. If the roots are tightly intertwined/ tangled it means it is time to upgrade the pot. In such case repot the plant to a one-size bigger pot (preferably an inch bigger) with proper drainage holes. Buy Potting mix (soil) and Fertilizer spikes (as they are less messy) for your plants. Do not forget to add fertilizer while repotting your plant.

STEP 5: Though low light plants do survive in dark corners of the house but if you place them near windows that receive direct/ indirect sunlight they will grow fast and the leaves will look lustrous. You can also place your plants in your balcony once a week for a few hours during summers (during day time) if your house is too dark (North facing house).

STEP 6: Keep a calendar note for the dates when you water your plant. This will help you in keeping track that your plants are not water deprived. E.g. I water my Pothos once in two weeks.

STEP 7: On the day of watering take all your plants to your bathtub and turn on the shower until the water starts running from drainage holes. Showering the plants help in cleaning the leaves as well. If you don’t have a bathtub then take your plants out in the balcony and water them using Sprinkler cans until all leaves are washed and water gets running from drainage holes.

STEP 8: After every three-four months insert fertilizer spikes in the plants. I prefer using fertilizer spikes instead of plant foods as they are less messy and need lesser efforts while injecting it in plants.

STEP 9: If you realize there are small bugs on the leaves or top-soil then mix a spoon of Neem oil or dishwash soap with a cup of water and fill it into a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on the plants once or twice a week to get rid of bugs.

The following are some of the the low light, easy to care plants (as I have been keeping them in my house and have experience with them) :

POTHOS / MONEY PLANTThere are various types of pathos like Golden Pothos, Marbel Queen, Neon Pothos. They are very beautiful looking plants, grows very fast and need water once in two weeks. It can also survive low light corners on the house. This plant is also vey easy to propagate and provides oxygen at night making it an ideal plant to keep it in your bedroom. If this plant is hanged using a basket it creates a cascade of green making the room dramatic.

SNAKE PLANT / MOTHER-IN-LAW’S TONGUEThe leaves of this plant are pointed, thick and fleshy. It is a very beautiful plant and it lives for ages. It needs to be watered once a month and use soil that is a Cacti-Succulent mix. This is among the list of plants giving oxygen at night. It not only makes your house beautiful but also provides large amounts of oxygen.

DRACAENAThere are types of Dracaena like Dracaena Fragrans, Dragon tree, Lucky bamboo, corn plant. These plants can survive dark corners of your house and need to be watered once a week and misted twice-thrice a week. Note: Do not place them under direct sun as it may damage the plant leaves.

PARLOUR PALM They are beautiful plants that grows and reaches your ceiling is taken proper care. Keep it in your house near a window that receives bright light through out the day and water them once in two-three weeks. The leaves of this plant produces a lot of oxygen.

SUCCULENTSThey are plants with thick and fleshy leaves to hold moisture. They need watering once in four-six weeks and soil that is Cacti-Succulent mix. Commonly seen succulents are Cactus, Aloe-vera, Zebra plant, Jade plant, String of pearls. These plants look beautiful and need a lot of sunlight. So, it is preferred to keep them near windows receiving bright sunlight throughout the day. Succulents also give oxygen and the gel from aloe vera leaf can be used for various purposes like on burnt and itchy skin to provide relief, on scalp to get rid of dandruff, on skin to provide soothing feeling.

INGRID LIZ IVY – The leaves of this plant are star shaped and light green in color. Though labeled as low-light plant but the plant grows beautifully when placed on a sunny window. Water them two-three times a week. This is one plant that cleans toxins inside the house.

GALAXY FALSE ARALIA – Though this plant is also labeled as low-light plant but if it is kept in a sunny bright window it thrives and grows beautifully. The leaves of this plant is shaped as if a lace and needs watering once a week. When small they are dark brown colored and as it grows it turns into dark green. One problem this plant faces is spider infestation and in those times leaves needs to be cleaned off spider webs using a cotton bud dipped in Neem Oil. This plant needs a little dedication.

There are also other plants that are easy to care for like the below ones:

  1. Peace Lily
  2. Lavendar
  3. Spider plant
  4. Philondendron
  5. Croton

Since I do not have the above five plants, hence I can not share any of my experience regarding them. But I would suggest to consider the above plants as well if you are planning on buying indoor plants.

Note: if you have a cat, dog or another pet that likes messing with plants then do consider checking the plants you are buying are not poisonous to them. E.g. – Snake plant, Dracaena, Pothos is poisonous to cats

North Korea – a hidden country (Book Review)

A few days ago I finished reading a book “A Kim Jong Il Production” by Paul Fisher. North Korea as a state or country has very less visibility to the outside world. We don’t know what’s going inside the country and we can’t travel to the country not because their government don’t allow but because we are scared of our lives. The country still runs on dictatorship.

So, this book is based on two people – Choi Eun-hee, an actress and Shin-Shan-Ok, a director who were kidnapped by the dictator of North Korea in the late 1970s.

While living in the States for past one year I have seen many Korean War memorials but never understood the significance of it or its connection with America but after reading the book a lot of things made sense to me. The book depicts an era of 1970s to 1980s in North Korea.

Korea and China was ruled by Japanese in the early 1900’s. With the end of World War 2 when atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan evacuated Korea hurridly it is so close to Korea and left everything as it was – there was no hand-over, take-over done. With Japan’s evacuation while a part of Korea was celebrating it’s freedom the other part wanted to have a Supreme leader and follow the path of communism.

While the people in the South were celebrating they were attacked by military who marched from the North led by Kim-Il-Sung, their new leader who was also supported by the Soviet and shared their country’s borders. Kim-Il-Sung wanted the whole of Korea to be under one path of communism and under his rule.

On an average 20,000 people were killed in Seoul alone everyday during that time (late 1940s). All the buildings in Seoul were attacked and destroyed and people were killed. Not just Seoul but in the nearby villages houses were burned and the farmer families were killed. With so much of bloodshed going on finally U.S.A. entered the war scene with their soldiers capturing Seoul and fighting against the North. Military from South marched towards the North supported by the U.S.A. government and entered Pyongyang marching towards further North where Soviet and China entered in unison to fight against the U.S. China entered to save North Korea for its indebtedness as North Korea had helped China for it’s war in Manchuria. Though Pyongyang was destroyed but U.S. army lost and retreated towards the South.

Civilians from both the sides were killed. People who ran from North towards South were killed by North Korean army and people who ran from South towards North were killed by the South Korean army. Civilians were not given any choices to pick sides. They lost everything – families, wealth, property. Finally a line was drawn across 38th Parallel and the country was divided.

Though the Korean War had officially ended with the line drawn to separate the countries but it actually continued. The North Korean leader still made attempts to enter and capture South Korea.

South Korea followed the path of democracy elected their first Prime Minister. The country opened its borders for globalization allowing the products and services to be imported and exported from other countries, foreign companies to setup their offices and factories in their lands.

But on the other hand North Korea chose its Supreme Leader who will rule until his death and will be succeeded by his abled sons. The country also divided their civilians into three Song-buns or castes. The first category who is considered to be loyal to the Kims and was made the ruling class and were offered government jobs. The second category with whom the Kims had no threat as they were neither loyal nor hostile towards the Kims. And a third category who were considered to be hostile towards the Kims and were chosen for farming and mining. The third category also consisted of people who were loyal towards the Japanese and enjoyed higher positions and status during the Japanese-era in Korea. The Songbuns were inherited by the children of the family members.

Quotas for things like food grains, electricity, clothes, shoes, cooking coal were fixed and were given to its common people as subsidy. People were divided in groups of fifteen families and in every community people were encouraged to work as a watch-dogs for Kims. Those people who reported of others as thoughts against the Kims were rewarded heavily and those who were reported were sent to the mountains.

The leader – Kim Jong Il who initially had a Russian name (as he was born under the Soviet rule) gave up his name and focussed on creating a story for its common people depicting his parents as freedom fighters against the Japanese and him being born on a very snowy day in a village while his parents were fighting. Also according to the stories (created by himself) he started speaking when he was 2 weeks old and walking when 8 weeks old. He also liberated Korea from China when he was 3 year old and had understood Korea’s map and ordered the soldiers to fight against the Japanese. His orders were taken by god seriously and Japan was destroyed with attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. All these stories were printed on the text books of children and were taught to them.

Also, every household in Korea should have a poster of their leader – Kim Il Sung in their drawing/living rooms. These posters were distributed to the houses by the government along with a cloth to specially clean the poster. The government officers also inspected all the houses once a month to check if the posters are clean or not. And if dirt was found on the posters then people living in the house would be punished.

Children were given toys and school dresses as gifts on the birthday of their Supreme leader Kim Il Sung. Children studied in schools unto the age to fifteen after which they were employed by the government for the next fifteen years and were paid minimum for the reason being – the government provided them education.

The age at which a man can marry was fixed to 30 and for woman it was 28. Before that age people were not allowed to marry and for marriage purpose they needed to inform a government officer where he would fix a venue which would be under a giant statue of Kim Il Sung where the couple would be announced man and wife by a government officer. No priest or Religious person was needed. People were not allowed to date and for the ruling class the spouses were specifically chosen by the Kims and they were not allowed to not follow the orders.

People from South Korea, Japan, China, Europe were kidnapped under Kim Jong Il’s time and were hired to purposes like teaching Japanese language, Japanese culture in spy schools, producing and directing films, teaching in universities and aiding in research.

People who obeyed were spared and who disobeyed were sent to the mountains or camps where they were deprived of food, medicine, sleep, beaten and tortured. Often people in the second category died of torture and in first category committed suicide.

Most of the people lived their lives being poor struggling to gather resources such as food, clothing and shelter. But people from loyal Song-buns enjoyed everything right from lavish lifestyle, good and unlimited food, designer clothes, luxury villas, Rolex watches, Mercedes Cars, weekend parties, prostitutes, alcohol and what not (alcohol was banned for the normal public).

Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok who were kidnapped from China and brought to North Korea stayed for a period of eight years and made several films of international recognition until they planned and executed their own escape by seeking asylum from U.S.

After their escape started the downfall of North Korean Empire when they could not repay the loans they had taken from Soviet and other countries. They had already exhausted all of their natural resources and their gold mines had run dry. Then started a series of floods and droughts when all the hospitals had run out of medicine supplies. Then started coming reports of people killing other people for food, parents eating their kids, people found dead in metro stations, on streets. There were reports the meat market was filled with human meat. All this because food which was scarce was only given to people with loyal Songbuns. Others were left to die. The count of people who died is not known to the outside world.

In the midst of all these came the news death of Kim Il Sung. Whose body was then mummified from specialists from Soviet Union. The news was then broadcasted on the state’s television. People were shocked, the streets were all vacant, nobody knew what to do. Then there were a few people who came out to share grief or may be in confusion what to do and were offered rice cakes by the government. Then came more and more people for those rice cakes and cried, sobbed for their leader’s death. Then came a time when people who genuinely cried and showed grief were only offered rice cakes by the officers. So they cried, screamed and wailed more to show their loss. All this continued for a period of ten days. Later on the leader’s body was kept in his own residence which was converted to a memorial place known as Kumsusan Place of the Sun.

Choi Eun-Hee and Shin Sang-Ok though escaped North Korea but lived in the States only for the next thirteen years. Their inner calling took them back to the country where they grew up, started their careers and were known by everyone – South Korea. Unlike U.S. they were not welcomed by their country at first and were accused of defecting. People didn’t believe in their stories and had their own logic or stories behind everything. They became poor in their own country and lived life like commoners – travelled by bus, lived in a rented apartment. But it only lasted for a very short time as they did not live long.

The book intrigued me to know more about the country and it people. And thus I would encourage you too to read it if you like knowing about the culture and history of other nations like me.

PS: I do not hold any opinions about the country or its leaders. Being an avid reader the data or facts shared has been purely on the basis of the book’s content.

The pain of losing a loved one

It has been a while since I wrote my last blog.

Today’s blog I am dedicating to a lady who’s always been a mother to me in fact so much more. She was with me in my happiness and sadness. She is no-one else but my own maternal grandmother whom we in Hindi call Nani. She died a week back on 02.18.21.

My Nani has always been a special person who loved me since I was a child and protected me from my mother’s scoldings and beatings too. There are a lot of memories which I have with her the last one being when she came for my wedding. She travelled to my house and immediately after entering came and sat next to me where the god-worshipping was taking place. On the day of my wedding she woke up early helping me getting dressed.

When I was a child no summer vacation went by without my Nana-Nani (grandparents) in it. We would go to our village for a month and my sweet Nani would feed us with her own hands everyday. She was extremely hard-working and would do all the household chores like cleaning, washing, cooking, farming etc. I as a child would go with her to backyard farms where she would show me the different fruits on trees, vegetables grown and different birds. She would make mango pickles during summers which I loved eating.

A few years back I was doing my masters when I was diagnosed with Dengue. She was there too to take care of me giving me juices and medicines every few hours and saying I am going to be fine soon.

To me she was my everything and if I could exchange my life for hers would have meant so much. In one of the memories which I have of her was fifteen years ago when my brother was born. She came to my place and stayed with us for a period of one month. She took care of her daughter (my mother), her grandson (my brother) and us (my sisters and me). She would cook, pack our lunch boxes for school, bathe the little one and feed my mother everyday. Every morning she would ask me what I would prefer for my lunch in school. She never allowed me to help her in kitchen saying I should focus on my studies as it was my tenth.

With so many memories of her I don’t think I can ever forget her. I have never seen a soul who has been so pure as that of hers with no feelings of jealously or hate for anyone. She only showered people with love around her and that’s how I remember her and will always.

I being in a different country so far from her could not even pay my last visit to her. I always wonder why do we have to lose people around us whom we love so much? The fact that I can never see her now or hear her voice again pains my heart. She left this world leaving behind a caring husband, seven children and fifteen grand-children, all of whom are in deep-grief of losing her. I only pray to god to give her soul rest and some peace as in her last days she went through the pain of having heart attack.

On her last day she was dressed like a bride and taken for the last rites. I could not stop myself from admiring that she looked like a goddess with so much beauty, kindness and peace that I never saw in my life.

Indians have a tradition of burning the dead-bodies of their loved ones as their last-rites and taking their ashes to river and allowing it to mix it with water. As we believe our bodies are made of water, fire and earth (soil) and after death so should our bodies be a part of it. We don’t have any graves or gravestones where we can go spend time remembering the ones whom we lost. I don’t know if this makes me more sad that there is not going to be a place where I could go and believe she’s there sleeping forever.

With her gone and me being helpless for I could not do anything for her I would request and encourage you to spend your precious time with your loved ones. Don’t waste time in doing things which really do not matter and make memories which you could cherish forever.