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3 days in Budapest

Budapest – the capital of Hungary, is a city of two parts – Buda and Pest separated by river Danube.
We went to Budapest in the month of August last year for three nights and four days. Though it sounds too short but I think it is enough for a pocket-friendly Europe weekend trip. The weather was quite pleasant during the daytime but unfortunately almost all of the three nights we faced heavy rain. For the first time, I booked the flight and hotel package through the British airways holidays priced 750 GBP for the three of us, which I thought, a very good deal at that time of the year.

Day 1: – Fancy dinner on a boat restaurant
We reached Budapest at around 7 PM. Our hotel was at Buda. The plan was to go for a night cruise but we ended up in a fine dining boat restaurant on the river Danube, enjoying delicious food and illuminated Pest. When we finished our dinner it was almost 12 am yet
the Friday night riverbank parties were about to begin. We had fun clicking pictures on the chain bridge that was decorated with night lights. However, finding the night bus at 1.30 am with a sleepy 4 yrs old was tricky.

Day 2: – Margaret islands, Palatinus water and thermal bath park, Buda castle
After having a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel we started for Margaret islands which lies on the Danube between Buda and Pest. It can be reached both by a boat or bus. We took the bus. After reaching the island, we enjoyed the dancing fountain and then took a toy
train ride around the island. The rest of the day was fun and relaxing in Palatinus water and thermal bath park. My son, Shiva enjoyed a lot as it had many outdoor pools including a thermal spa to kids pool. We missed the indoor hot spa. We ended the tour in Buda castle clicking beautiful pictures of the castle garden and the illuminated night Budapest.

Day 3 – Fisherman’s Bastion, Labyrinth under Castle Hill, Hungarian lunch, Hero’s Square, Szechenyi thermal bath
We started our tour with Fisherman’s Bastion which is situated near the Buda castle. It has beautiful architecture and is also a very good viewpoint. This is surrounded by other historical remains.
Later visited the historical labyrinth under Castle Hill which is considered as the place where Dracula was imprisoned. However, this is just a network of tunnels built at an early age. The ticket price for this place was quite high. The tunnels were damp, dark mostly covered with different statues all around. My son was scared and excited both as it was his first experience through the caves. Also since it started raining, it was a good shelter for us.
This followed with a full Hungarian lunch in a local restaurant just opposite to the labyrinth. It included some local food including beef goulash, langos, chicken paprikash etc.
Next, we went to visit Heros square and took some rest. The last destination of the day was the Szechenyi thermal bath. The bath was very nice and the crowd was family-friendly.
The wonderful day did not end at a high note as it started raining heavily and we had to return to the hotel bit drenched.

Day 4 – Dohány Street Synagogue, Danube boat ride
Today is the day to return to the UK. So did not plan to visit much. We had a visit to Dohány Street Synagogue, which is the largest in Europe. This was my first visit to a Jewish worship place and stories that the guide said about the holocaust was heart touching. We also had a Danube boat ride before starting for the airport.
In a gist, I think three days are enough for a touristy introduction to Budapest. However, like any other places in the world, not enough actually to know Budapest.

I am sad that we missed: Central market hall, the shoes place on the Danube river and visiting any Ruin bar.
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My gifting journey

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I believe there are a very few people on this earth who doesn’t like receiving gifts. However, nowadays I enjoy the pleasure of selecting gifts for others more than the other way around.

When I was in nursery my baba (Father) always made it sure that I get a gift from him if I get a rank among top three. And the interesting part was the gift becomes dearer based on the rank. For example, I remember I got a mirrored lipstick for coming first in the class and the other time a big box of chocolaty nuts for coming third.

These gifts were not only an acknowledgement of my hard work but also provided me the motivation to perform better. I do remember my mom’s surprise gifts like once she got us an animal print dress for a wedding party. I was too young to understand if I had liked that dress or not, but I liked the surprise factor.

As we grew up the frequency of such gifts coming, or surprises obviously reduced but despite getting less number of gifts, my emotions did not dampen much. This because later onwards, I then started looking for other things, like the one best dress that my parents will get me for Durga puja! Also the beautifully stitched dress from my grandma. It still brings smile on my face when I think about that yellow satin dress which my parents got me for one such occasion.

With time I started looking at the gift from a different perspective. There was a time when I used to get unhappy to get a book on my birthday instead of a “Barbie Doll”. When I went to college, my preference shifted to more “useful” gifts such as a beautiful dupatta or bag or perfume, over dolls and soft toys though they are still one of my favourite collectibles.

Somehow now I am more curious to buy gifts for my family and friends. How wonderful it feels when we find the perfect gift for our loved ones! Our minds become full of joy and peace when we think we got the most appreciating gift for the person we are buying for.

On a serious note- of late I feel while buying gifts we tend to do two mistakes: one, buying something and expecting that it will be always liked, two, worrying what if my gifts are not liked and it turns out to be a waste.
But you know, I think these considerations are just junk of thoughts! We buy gifts to make others feel special and of course to make our little inner soul happy! So why burden ourselves so much with the constant fear of rejection of the gifts. I tell you one such incident – my husband has a strong liking for the blue shades, but I am happy with every shade on this earth! So, I ended up buying a bright green t-shirt for him. Next what- should I feel stressed thinking he might not like it, should I ? Not really, because I knew his choice I made my choice out of love for him, thinking he will look like a hero in that green t-shirt. Now what he will do with that t-shirt that I cannot really control. My imagination, my love and my enjoyment are all I had with me while selecting the gift and that is all that matters.

So I cannot hold my undying love to gift my loved ones on different occasions. Starting from sending a cake on my sister’s birthday, buying an English totebag for my niece while visiting India to buying a beautiful saree for my mom on meeting her after a year. I cannot stop feeling the warmth and fulfilling sensation that I get more when I buy gifts for others than to receive one. I hope I get ample moments to feel the same again and again

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The Calcuttan’s Way Of Living by Sneha Banerjee

Hello, Kolkatans! Today we’re here to talk about our very own city, where we live and dream-Kolkata! We may be slow-paced in our approach towards life and work, but come on, that is our individuality and it’s highly unlikely this demeanour of Kolkata will ever change!

One thing that we can say without batting an eyelid is that our city boasts of a rich and varied culture of its own and has enhanced and enriched it with each passing decade by embracing the culture from India, and the world over. While we have advanced ourselves and bettered our traditional crafts, we have also adopted food and fashion from various places and have  got nothing but better with time! The city of Tagore is prominently known for its traditional drapes and exquisitely beautiful weaves originating from the outskirts of Bengal. With time, we, the ardent saree lovers, have made it possible to inculcate in Kolkata,  a plethora of different kinds of weaves from all over India.  From the dazzling Kanjeevarams of Tamil Nadu to the chic Bomkai’s of Odisha, we have welcomed them all and have gone gaga over them decade after decade.

 A new and gorgeous addition to the existing vast range of sarees, recently, has been the Linen sarees, which have become a fashion rage among youngsters and the elderly, alike.  Each of these sarees is meticulously well-crafted and hence, time-consuming  but the end product is worth raving about. Reasons why they’re so convenient to carry and are fast moving off the shelves of saree retailers are that the fabric is extremely soft and sweat absorbent.  They make  for an impressive attire,  be it for your workplace or a party with friends. They are weaved with utmost care in parts of Bengal such as Kalna, Fulia and Shantipur. Although a little heavy on the pocket, their moisture, and heat-absorbing quality more than make up for it.  Linen is one of those fabrics that does not stretch or wear-off easily.  All in all, these gorgeous and lightweight drapes are the ones you need to look out for, as they are really comfy wears for the Indian summers and the scorching heat.

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