When taking Kids out, Why we should look beyond Malls


A couple of years ago, when we would plan to go out on weekends, we would invariably end up in malls. It was convenient. There are clean washrooms, there are places to eat, there are places of interest for each one of us, there’s a perceived idea of safety; so why not! We would also invariably end up buying a few things which would, on the face it, look what we needed; like groceries (now everyone knows when you go to a hyper market to buy vegetables, you don’t just buy vegetables, right?), a few clothes on Sale (because if you are getting something worth 1000 bucks at 500 or 3 t-shirts for the price of 2, it’s a steal); and then we would be tired and hungry after walking from one end of the mall to the other multiple times (because the bigger the malls, the better), so we would eat at the mall even when we didn’t like the mall food and not quite getting what we really wanted to eat. While driving back home, the child would be ‘acting out’ (because he didn’t get open space and sunshine, and wasn’t allowed to touch things inside shops), we would be lamenting about all the unnecessary stuff we bought and the amount of money we ended up spending, and we would be more tired than running a 10K. So, another weekend would go by in regret.

When I started incorporating Minimalism into my lifestyle, the purpose of visiting Malls seemed redundant. I started feeling selfish about taking my child to mall and orienting him to this consumerist culture which doesn’t aids his growth and well being. It wasn’t doing much for him, it was just a lazy option for me to take him to where I will get a parking, and all the things of my convenience. I wanted to make efforts to break that cycle.

There are a lot of issues in exposing kids only to malls:


Malls promote consumerism. It promotes the idea that you need to spend a lot of money to be happy. You have to spend money if you spend time in malls. Either you’ll buy something (clothes, books, groceries, etc) or eat something or experience something (gaming zones or movies). You cannot just go there and not spend money. You can do that but doesn’t happen (at the least you will pay the exorbitant parking charges).

Unreal environment

Let us admit it, a mall is an unreal world. It is super-sanitized, no sunshine, no fresh air and no places to run around. Kids will always prefer a park to a mall, unless we have conditioned their choices so much that they start preferring the malls. I understand that it is easier for us to take them to a safe and hygienic place but it’s not real. By paying 500 bucks and letting our children play an hour into the soft play area with no sunshine and fresh air, we are actually doing them disfavor. Those dungeon-like gaming zones are even worse. They are claustrophobic and dangerous (considering they have just one exit).


Since everything is expensive in a mall, only certain kinds of people can afford spending time there. So, by taking our kids to malls all the time, we are exposing them only to people who have money. When they watch everyone carrying huge shopping bags, it creates a false perception of society. In that sense, parks are great levelers.

No doubt, malls are attractive places. It takes efforts and resolve to break away from them. When kids get used to that kind of environment, they don’t want to go to the real world. But once you start going to non-Mall places, you will only choose a park or a museum over a mall.

Having said that, taking them to malls once in a while is not bad, anything done excessively and repeatedly is.

Do share your views on this – pro Mall or not.

In my next post, I will write about non-Mall places to visit in Pune, from my own experience.



Experience: Trip to Goa from Pune


I cannot even count the number of times we have been to Goa, together and on our own. But we never get bored of Goa. I don’t drink, like clubbing or eat seafood; and yet I always love going back to Goa.

Image credit

My most favourite things to do in Goa is to look at heritage buildings, the colorful houses which are so characteristic of Goa, walking around the local markets and of course, sitting by the beach. You can sit and watch the waves for hours. The kids also love playing on the beach so you got nothing to worry about. There is food, right there at the shacks; so you got that covered too.

Since it’s our Anniversary in December, we always plan a vacation during this time of the year. And we almost always go to a beach town, 80% of the time it is Goa.

Our last visit to Goa was a road trip and since it was a memorable experience (though quite a long drive); we decided to take our car this time too.

We were expecting the journey to be long and we wanted to avoid eating junk food (which happens), so I made whole wheat – jaggery cake (a jaggery twist to my whole wheat cake) and peanut laddoos for snacking during the trip. We also carried banana chips and fruits. This time we did not buy any plastic water bottles in the entire trip of 6 days. We were carrying three bottles and I refilled them at every opportunity. The only regret is that we did use the ones provided by the hotel in the rooms.


It took us 9.5 hours to reach our hotel – the Goan Heritage – in North Goa from Pune. We took only 2 short breaks along the way and had terrible experiences in food at both the places. So, we largely depended on what we had packed for the journey.

The Goan Heritage, Calangute

This was our 2nd stay at the Goan Heritage. It is a beautiful 3-star property right next to the beach.

The five things we love about the Goan Heritage:

  1. goan heritage
    Image credit (Top) / Image credit (Bottom)

    Proximity to the beach. You reach the nearest shack on Calangute beach in 10 steps. It is our number one criteria in selecting a property. It has to be next to the beach.

  2. Space inside the hotel. One of the main reasons we favor this hotel again and again is because of the space it has. When you have a young child with you, you know he’s going to need some space to run around and play. The hotel is laid out well. There’s a beautiful party lawn which is my absolute favourite. It looked surreal with all the lights when it was decked up for a party during our stay. It has a decent sized swimming pool, ample parking space and kids’ play area.
  3. Affable staff. The staff is extremely polite, friendly and helpful. They made sure that our stay was comfortable and enjoyable.
  4. Proximity to the market. The hotel is connected to the Holiday Street, which is lined with restaurants that generally serve North Indian, Goan and Continental food. The Holiday Street connects to the Fort Aguada Road. I was thrilled to discover that Mario Gallery and Broadway Book Centre were quite close. I walked to both the places during my last visit.
  5. Food: Their Breakfast Buffets are good comprising of Indian and Continental options. That’s always my favourite meal of the day since I don’t need to worry about what the little one’s going to eat! Even otherwise, the food is reasonably priced.

There was nothing which I particularly disliked here.

Calangute beach at night (Image credit)

We found a lot of foreign tourists (mostly Russians) in the hotel as well as on the beach. Calangute beach is pretty crowded and has plenty of shacks. It looks beautiful in the evening too with beautifully lit up shacks, music and the beach side lined with candle-lit tables.

We usually don’t have any plans of sight-seeing no matter where we go. We make spontaneous plans. Both of us are laidback people and we don’t like spending our vacation running from one point to another. This time we just decided to spend most of our time by the beach. We stayed at the Goan Heritage for 4 days and then moved to Beleza by the Beach in South Goa for another 2 days.

Beleza by the Beach, Colva (Betalbatim)

The path that connects the resort to the seaside restaurant

It is a beautiful 4 star Villa-style boutique resort, which is also next to the beach; but if you need to reach the sea, it’ll take a 5 minutes walk. The serenity and pristine beauty of this side of the beaches are in deep contrast to the lively, more crowded beaches of North Goa; but each has its own merit. Personally, we like a mix of both.

For a clean and beautiful beach, it surprisingly attracts very less crowd and therefore is among the quieter beaches of Goa. We mostly found elderly couples, at the beach as well as the resort. There are only a couple of shacks, so the food options are limited and priced higher.

The five things we loved about Beleza by the Beach:

  1. The property: This resort is nestled in greenery. It exudes peace and calmness. The Villa style accommodation gives the feeling of holiday home, and there’s quite a lot of space. There’s a swimming pool, spa facilities and a kids’ play area. They have 2 restaurants, one at the reception andUntitled234another at the sea-side. The sea-side restaurant called ‘Nazare’ offers a beautiful view of the beach.There’s a huge expansion work going on. When that gets completed, the property is going to be even more fabulous with apparently 42 more rooms and a bigger swimming pool.
  2. The Villas: The property consists of Villas. Each Villa has 3 bedrooms, 2 common sitting areas, a Kitchenette and a Patio; split into 2 levels. The rooms are spacious with plenty of storage space in the form of wardrobes. The bathrooms are large and gives a sense of luxury. It is particularly well-suited for big family vacations.
  3. The staff: The staff is extremely polite, cooperative and attentive.
  4. The beach:  Betalbatim, where it is located, is a clean, white sand beach. It is full of tiny crabs and it’s fun to watch them make way back into the water. It is a wonderful place if you are seeking peace and solitude.
  5. Breakfast: The breakfast here was also a mix of Indian and Continental food, and delicious.

Our only grouse was that the food seemed a bit over-priced, and there were no other food options in the immediate vicinity of the resort.

This was the longest we have ever stayed in Goa. We also visited the MMC (Margaon Municipal Corporation) market in pursuit of cashew nuts, while we were in South Goa. It is like any other local marketplace where tiny lanes converge into each other; selling from clothes to shoes, from spices to sweets. The only things we picked up were cashew nuts and palm jaggery. Being mindful shoppers, we are never tempted to buy the souvenirs. We buy only those things which we need. We didn’t buy anything during our Goa trip – no trendy clothes (which are seldom worn outside Goa), no colorful hats, no beaded jewelry.

Our return drive, though beautiful and scenic, turned out to be extremely long. My husband drove for 12 hours. We took 2-3 breaks for food but at the end of the day, we were like ‘why isn’t Pune coming!’ We probably took a wrong turn and may be the GPS rerouted. We never found out. Personally, I suggest a break journey in Kolhapur to make the journey less tiring and more enjoyable.


Note: It was my personal trip. A few pictures are my own and a few suitable pictures have been taken from the internet, in which case the source has been appropriately accredited.

Easy, Healthy, No-Cook Peanut Laddoo recipe

the Peanut Jaggery laddoo

I’m sure all of us want to give healthy snacks to our kids all the time but the ground reality may be different. Many of us don’t have enough time or enough energy to cook healthy snacks for our kids everyday. Moreover, some of us aren’t that great cooks either. Now, even if we invested time and energy, the healthy food might not click with the children. You know how it goes; you make something healthy for your kids with a lot of anticipation, and when they reject it outright, you are sad, angry, depressed, all at once.

I’m always looking for easy-to-make, healthy and yummy alternatives to unhealthy snacks like biscuits and chocos. And it was by sheer chance that I made this super protein snack, which is the house favourite right now.



Peanuts – 1 cup

Jaggery (sugarcane or palm) – 1/2 cup

Note – The quantities are indicative. You can change the ratios according to your taste.



  1. Dry roast the peanuts and remove the skin. You can also make the laddoos with the skin, it does not make much of a difference. The taste could feel marginally bitter with the skin.
  2. Crush the Jaggery into finer granules



  1. Put the roasted peanuts into a mixer Jar and grind it into powder. When you
    grind it for a few seconds, the peanuts will grind into paste due to heat generated in the process. Peanuts already have oil in them so you don’t need to add any extra ghee to it.
  2. Add the jaggery powder to the peanut paste. Grind the jaggery with peanut and form a smooth paste.
  3. Remove the paste and form round shaped, ready-to-eat laddoos.



Make this in small quantities since we are not cooking this, it may not have a longer shelf life. Moreover, it is easier to control the proportions when you are making small quantities. In fact, older children can make this themselves easily.


6 reasons why I love this Peanut Laddoo recipe 

1. Easy: It is very easy. You don’t need any special cooking skills to make this, unlike a lot of other Indian sweets or food in general. It took me a while to learn besan (gram flour) laddoo for instance.

2. Quick: It takes very less time to make. You don’t need elaborate preparation, neither do you need a lot of time to prepare it. So, just keep the roasted peanuts ready and whenever your child asks for some snack, just take out your mixer jar and you can make it in 5 minutes.

3. Good for all: It is not only an ideal kids’ snack, it is good for everyone. You can carry it to your office to eat before leaving from office or you can eat it after coming back from office. That is the time when everyone is starving.

4. Healthy: It is packed with Proteins and Iron.

5. Tasty: It is delicious.

6. Simple: It is not complicated. It is a Minimalist recipe. You don’t need to know the measurements, the exact temperature when things have to be mixed; there is hardly any scope for things to go wrong. I had tried til (sesame) laddoo last year to disastrous results, phew!

So, what’s stopping you?

Do let me know how it turns out. I’m sure you’ll love it!


A Minimalist Diwali of 2017

Pic 1 (from left): Flickriver

Remember my DIY, Minimalist Diwali of 2016? Well, Diwali of 2017 was no different; only happier, calmer and more fabulous.

When I met people before Diwali, they asked me if I had finished my Diwali shopping? I said “What shopping?” I can’t tell you how liberating that was. It’s the same feeling when people ask me what gift I bought or got for Birthdays or Anniversaries. I say “What gift? We don’t do gifts any more.”

The day I learned that we need not buy things to make ourselves happy, was the turning point of my life.

Pursuit of simple things in life and Minimalism have enriched our lives immensely. We no longer worry about what to buy before every festival or celebrations.

Since last year we decided that any celebration was not worthwhile if that comes with a lot of stress. Celebrations should be about love and togetherness; and not buying stuff to mark the celebrations. Happiness is within, remember? So, we stopped being crazy about things, we started finding value in having fun.

Things which were perfect this year:

  • Starting the preparations early. This helped us to relax on the day of Diwali (even though I was out of town for 10 days immediately before Diwali). I remember during all my earlier Diwalis, I used to be cleaning or doing something till the time we would be rushing to do Pooja, only to end the day in whirlwind without truly enjoying anything. Not any more.
  • Using tiny twinkling lights around the house. They look so lovely. It’s over a month since Diwali but I still switch them on once in a while to perk up my mood. They look so festive. We didn’t buy any, we just used what we already had.
  • Not buying new clothes. No clothes were bought for both the boys; and for me, I pulled out a really old (but seldom used) lehenga (skirt) and reinvented it by getting a new blouse stitched. Moreover that blouse can be worn with a saree, a skirt and even jeans!
  • No lights were purchased, no rangoli powder was purchased, only bought flowers for decoration. No crackers were purchased.
  • All the sweets etc were prepared at home because it is healthy and reminiscent of our own childhood.
  • We bought a small stainless steel container for Dhanteras and only because it was needed. [I need to do a post on my kitchen. I have removed all the non-stick and almost all aluminium cookwares. We use metals, glass or wood as much as possible. There’re still some plastic containers which are getting used till their life cycle. I have completely stopped getting any new plastic, non stick wares into my kitchen. ]

Learnings from this year:

  • I can stop buying the clay idols and use the silver ones that I already have.
  • We bought a very small quantity of sweets for Pooja (worshipping) because whatever was getting prepared at home was also simultaneously being eaten. But I know this can be managed. We can completely stop buying any kind of sweets because adulteration is rampant during festivals owing to the demand.
  • I would like to be more organized and focused during cleaning so that I can actually clear off things. Otherwise they just pile up on another corner to be given away later since we are caught up in so many things simultaneously.

I look around and find people doing so much. It’s inspiring. There’s still so much to learn and adopt but we have certainly come a long way. What inspires me in this journey is how it makes us better people.


Happy 10th Anniversary



Image credit

10 Years!

We have come a long way, buddy!

When I met you, in 2003, 14 years back, I didn’t know we were meant to be together.

It was just the other day, I was driving you crazy and running pillar to post to find matching jewellery and footwear for my trousseau. I find it infinitely funny now. Ostentatious weddings are sheer waste of money. (Here’s my free advice to anyone who cares to pay heed – please spend more time and attention on making your wedding memorable rather than on your clothes and so-called candid photography.)

Folks used to warn against love marriage. It doesn’t work. But we went ahead anyway. I never thought much about it. I knew this was the person I wanted to spend my life with. Thank God! I was right. And I am always, always grateful for this.

Of course, we have had our challenges, we still do. Who doesn’t? It would be boring to agree on everything. But we have found harmony in being different, agreeing to disagree, arguing and reconciling because that’s how we discover more about life and about each other.

We are so different. You seek adventure, I find comfort in routine. You make friends easily, I appear unapproachable. You love beaches, I love hills. You love videos, I love to read. And yet we are so alike in our upbringing, in our values, in giving priority to happiness over materialism and in seeking simple pleasures of life.

And the most important thing of all, in this unequal patriarchal world, there is nothing I cherish more than being considered equal in every possible way. Equality and respect are undoubtedly the two most important pillars of marriage. I think I am just lucky to have found a partner who values that too.

10 years!

Are we getting old? I hope not. I just wish we get fitter with every passing day and live life to the fullest, in the present. I learned that from you, to live in the moment, to make the best of every single day and not wait for ‘the occasions’. I hope you also learn something from me ha ha!

Happy 10th Anniversary 🙂


5 Simple Ways to Make your Child’s day Special

Untitled_2Childhood is that time of your life when a small stone that you picked up from the road could mean so much more than an expensive toy.

I’m always amazed by the fact that it is so easy and simple to delight little kids. Ah! the innocence, the incredulity, the wide-eyed thrill! They don’t ask for much – a little note on a balloon, an unexpected new pencil, a favourite chocolate, even a small scribbling pad –  kids are the easiest to please. And I consciously look for ways that are experiences and inexpensive.

Here are 5 simple ways to make your child’s day special.

1. Be a ‘Yes’ Parent for the day: It is actually sad how much their lives are regimented, even though I have never sent my 6 year old to any after-school classes, but I always feel guilty about pushing him from one thing to another. We, as parents, feel the pressure of time. School hours are longer these days and there’s such little time spent at home. We have to ensure that they have rested well while also taking care of their daily nutrition and play (and your own responsibilities). And somewhere we start saying ‘No’ too often despite our best intentions. Nobody wants to be strict just for the heck of it.

But it is important to let go once in a while because that’s what the kids want. By being a ‘yes’ parent for a day, you can absolutely turn around the day for your child. So, for a day, say ‘yes’ to skipping afternoon nap, say ‘yes’ to cookies and chips, say ‘yes’ to a movie on your laptop, say ‘yes’ to his favourite chocolUntitled_1ate, say ‘yes’ to playing a board game with him, say ‘yes’ to extra time for play.

2. Go Hiking: Nature and time with parents are two of the most favourite things for any child. Combine them and go for a nature walk together. We always look for non-mall things to do with our son (as I’m writing this, my husband and my 6 year old are at a science exhibition). We recently went on a hill hike, and had so much fun. It was thrilling to take in the surroundings from the hill top and a cherished experience for our son. No wonder, he’s been asking us to do it again.

3. Cook something special: I am a self-confessed reluctant cook. I would rather clean than cook; but with a young child at home and with health featuring on my top 3 priorities, I end up cooking a lot! Cooking something that your child loves, can be another simple way to make his/her day. On Children’s day, I made nankhatai (Indian cookies) for him and kept it ready on his table. When he came back from school, he was excited to find them (also since he was allowed to eat as many as he wanted).

4. Surprise them: Little things surprise them. They go to school, open the lunchbox and find their favourite snack, or they open their pencil box and find a brand new pencil or they pull out clothes from the cupboard and a favourite candy falls with it; there can be several such tiny surprises that are easy to do as well as inexpensive. From last 2 birthdays we have been doing Treasure Hunts for him and those have been his most favourite birthday memories.

5. Let them Play: What can be more liberating than being allowed to play as much as they want, without any time constraints! Remember, how much we used to crave that ourselves as kids, and then we grew up and became our own parents. Certainly, once in a while we can let them play all they want. Moreover, isn’t it established now that play is essential for development and learning?

How do YOU make your child’s day special? I’m sure you have some exciting ideas too. Please share.

Revamp Branded Jute Bags


My son recently started going to the big school. He was supposed to carry a Library Bag made of cloth or paper. I had this small Jute bag with me for many years now. It was one of those branded bags that companies use for marketing.

Now because of it’s size, I never got around to using it.This need for a Library bag for books gave me an opportunity to revamp this branded bag.

I was lucky to find another Jute bag at home which had also never been used because it was too big; and luckily, it had a pocket which could easily be taken off. It was in bright green color which perfectly matched my little cream colored jute bag.

I used patches of green Jute to cover the company names on both sides. I used Yellow thread to write ‘Books’ on one side and my son’s name on the other.

It was fun to make use of my embroidery skills after at least 20 years; and my little boy was thrilled and proud to show it off!

I’m gravitating more and more towards making things these days. More things will follow here soon.