Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Chp 845. A different Christmas

Every year, I update my blog about how I spent Christmas, ever since I started blogging back in 2004. And almost every year, the location is different, from Bangalore to Aizawl to Mumbai to Delhi to Hyderabad to Pune and so on.

Though the locations were different, it was always filled with the usual fun and gaiety, the merry making of Christmas fever. A time to rejoice and celebrate. A joyeux noel amidst a silent night.

This year though, it was the most silent night of all Christmases, due to the ongoing CoVid-19 pandemic. No Church activities, no large gatherings, no fellowship conventions, not even group carolling, it was indeed a very different Christmas.

As for me, our family decided to spend Christmas at our farm in Neihbawih.

As most of you may know by now, I've been living at our farm for almost 3 months now. We've been repairing and renovating our old and derelict farmhouse, as well as trying out new plantations (I'll update my blog on those soon).

Since our farm is secluded and remote, quite distant from even the main parts of Neihbawih, it is the perfect place to hide from the ongoing pandemic. A safe haven to escape the invisible covid virus, or a zombie apocalypse :P

Every morning, I'm welcomed by this breathtaking view of the surrounding hills of Neihbawih. The 24th of December 2020 was no different.

Small clusters of clouds filled the sky, as if to entertain us mortals because Mother Nature knew we had been held in captivity since March this year. It was as if She was beckoning us, "Your Churches may be silent this year, but hope I can help by at least giving you a view to appreciate".

And I really did appreciate the view from our farm.

My sister and niece, along with our spoilt doggo Snowy too came over to our farm to spend Christmas with us.

Snowy reallyyyyy loved the farm. He had never seen so much greenery in his entire life. He was more captivated with the scenic beauty than us! :D

He ran all over the place, peeing here and there to mark his territory. He even picked a fight with our two farm dogs who were 10 times his size. Fortunately for him, they weren't threatened by his puny presence. While Snowy takes more than 30 minutes to chew a chicken leg piece, these two dogs can bite it in half and swallow it in less than 3 seconds, so yeah, lucky for him they didn't retaliate! :D

It sure was good to eat with my family again.

Our neighbouring farm kids were planning to construct a thlâm or bûk for 24th night, also known as Urlawk zân in Mizo. It is a special night to be spent with friends and family to welcome Christmas.

They constructed it very well, considering they were all younger than 10, but after living here for 3 months, nothing surprised me anymore. These farm kids could dig holes or chop wood much faster than any of us city folks.

The view from their makeshift hut was beautiful as well.

See how engrossed they were in their various assigned tasks. :D

I headed back to our farm as it was getting dark. My sister had made this delicious Chicken roast for our Christmas Eve dinner.

Yummm, my plate. :)

Once we were all done with our wonderful dinner, I made a bonfire outside. I had collected the firewood earlier, which consisted mostly of wooden planks that were no longer usable as "cement holder" for our ongoing construction work. They burnt really well.

A bonfire not only serves as a great source of heat (Neihbawih is freakinggg cold, especially at the peak of the hill where our farm is situated), but it is also a convenient method to dispose our garbage.

Being so far away from civilization, we don't have a proper garbage disposal system here, nor are there any garbage trucks servicing in the region, and we can't just pollute the pristine nature around our farm by dumping our garbage over the hills. And so, burning them up was the most efficient solution.

Everybody was mesmerised by the raging fire.

Soon, it was time to head back inside our farmhouse. I played a few more Christmas carols from my music library. Everybody cosily got ready to sleep on their respective beds, including Snowy. :D

And that was how we spent Christmas Eve at the farm.

The next day, Christmas Day, I woke up early to greet the sun. The moon was still around, as if she was refusing to budge.

It was a clear blue sky on Christmas, unlike the previous day where small patches of clouds, also known as Cirrocumulus clouds filled the sky.

I got ready and changed into my Christmas suit. :D Posed for a few pics with my sis.

The Neih-boy. :D

We had a family prayer service just before breakfast, where mom delivered a long (but good) Christmas sermon. We ended our Chhûng Inkhawm with The Lord's Prayer.

My cab arrived at our farm soon after that.

Oh yes, I booked a cab, because our driver was on holiday due to the festive occasion. And since it was Christmas, I had to book it wayyy in advance to make sure I got that cab. And it was super important that I get my cab because on such a special day, one must be with the one they love too, apart from one's own family, to cherish the day together. Lovers' rule 101.

"The beatings of two hearts remain close even if one heart is in Neihbawih while the other is in Aizawl." - Nelson Mandela, 2014.

I hired my cab from "TBC Car Rental" as it was a company I could trust. If you're in the city and your cab cancelled in the last minute, you could easily get another cab, but as I was staying in some far-flung deserted place outside the city, there was no way I would get another cab, especially on Christmas Day. "TBC Car Rental" kept their promise.

You can call Chhana on the phone number above if you're ever in Mizoram. Their fleet regularly handles all VIP entourage coming to Mizoram, like the recent CJI visit earlier this week.

Their usual rate is around ₹ 3500 for 80 KM or 8 hours outside the city and around ₹ 2000 for 5 hours within Aizawl. The rates may vary a bit as it also depends on the type of vehicle. Also, my rate that day was a bit different as it was Christmas.

We took just 30 minutes to reach Aizawl from Neihbawih, which was the fastest I had ever travelled between the two places as normally it would take us an hour to reach home. Not that my driver was driving fast but because there wasn't a single vehicle on the road! In fact I was starting to panic a bit and I had to ask my friends and cousins if a curfew was declared in AMC area or not that day, lolz.

Dropped in at home quickly to check up on things. I laughed at our Christmas tree because my sister and nieces spent so much time decorating it, only to spend Christmas at our farmhouse. I took a photo next to it so that their hard work wouldn't be in vain.

I proceeded towards my girlfriend's house, but not before taking a slight detour to collect the Christmas Cheesecake I had ordered.

I placed the order from Aremi, who is Zorema's girlfriend, and together they bake super delicious cakes.

In case you want to order New Year's cake in Aizawl, you can still do so, just call up the two phone numbers below. But do hurry as there is quite a rush.

Finally, I reached my destination, and my Christmas was complete. :)

The journey was long, but it was worth it. Now I know how the 3 wise men felt when they travelled for many miles and finally reached the manger in Bethlehem. Ehh. :D

After staying for so long at our farm hanging out with different farm animals, I kinda forgot how to be in a proper relationship again. Like, what do I do when I meet her, do I hug her or do I feed her? I decided to do the latter, and fortunately for me, she's a vet, so she understood my dilemma and complied. :D

She got me this wonderful Christmas present and I love it sooo much!

I don't want to make a Hugo deal out of it, but it was enough to Boss me around. :)

Once we had our fill, it was our own private time, though initially it wasn't very private. :D

And so this is Christmas. :) :) :)

Time flew by so fast when you're in the arms of your loved one. We talked about a great many things, which of course I won't be mentioning on my blog :P Let's just say, I was lamer than my usual self, because she can bring out the lamest in me. Newton's Third Law. Every lame action has an equal and opposite lame reaction. :D

She had ordered pizza and we enjoyed it thoroughly. I guess we can say, "Cut my life into piz-za, this is my last rapport, dedication, no pleading..." :)

Merry Christmas to you all, from Neihbawih farmer Kima, and neih-boy amour Lalani. :)

Sadly, it was soon time for me to leave, as I had to get back to our farm because we had invited important people for dinner, and it was crucial for me to be present. We bid our sad farewells, and though we both wanted to spend more time together, we were also mature enough to know our responsibilities.

I reached home, where my other sister and nieces were waiting for me.

Together, we all went back to our farm in the cab I had hired.

Yay, family group photo at Neihbawih.

My nieces too were looking for that perfect pic to upload to their instant garam, or insta graph, or insta something app that these youngsters use today. They call it IG or Ai-Ji, or something like that.

Soon our dinner guests arrived. They were the bigshots of Neihbawih, who had known my dad since he bought our farmland decades ago.

We reminisced about the past, back when we used to have many cows, pigs and hens at our farm, and how I used to come to Neihbawih along with our "Milk truck" to collect many cans of milk every morning and transport them back to Aizawl for distribution. Maybe I was around 5 or 6 years old back then. Ahhh memories.

My Christmas dinner. :)

After all the guests had left, it was soon dark, and I made another bonfire again.

And that was how I spent Christmas this year. Hectic but worthwhile. And like I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it was indeed a very different Christmas.

Now I am sitting here at our farm, freezing from the cold as I type this blog update. I'm like...

I'll end my post here. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well, and do let me know how you celebrated this wonderful day. See you again on my next post, which will most probably be next year as it takes a lot of time to update from the farm (no proper internet or electricity). So until then, take care and God bless.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Chp 844. 50 blog post milestone

Aaaaand I've just reached my 50th blog update again this year, making it 15 years in a row now of reaching this milestone.

My 50th blog update is usually very boring, because all I do is talk about how I managed to reach 50 blog posts on that particular year, lolz.

Other years, it was about giving enough dedication to my blog, and balancing work and fun while trying to find the time to update my blog. This year though, it was quite easy to achieve this milestone actually, as most of us were stuck at home since March due to CoVid-19 lockdowns.

With no jobs or kids to take care of, I could have reached this milestone much sooner, but somewhere along the way between lockdowns and hand sanitizers, Steam happened. I started playing all the Steam games that I had bought through the years but never got to play, and eventually I was clocking 150+ hours of gameplay in 2 weeks!

For the uninitiated, Steam records and displays your gameplay duration for every 2 weeks stretch.

150 hours in 2 weeks, that's a lot. Considering there are 336 hours in 2 weeks, out of which if you sleep 9 hours a day, that's 126 hours of snoozeville. Out of the remaining 210 hours that I was awake, I was gaming 150 hours. That's more than 70% of my day spent on just games alone!

Eventually I did come out of that slump and disciplined myself by not crossing 2 hours of Steam time per day, but it sure felt good to finally play all those hundreds of new games lying in my Steam library untouched for so many years. The perfect pensioner life of a retired game designer, aye? :D

Other than that, most of my blog updates this year were about CoVid-19, especially among our Mizo community and how we were dealing with the pandemic. Hopefully next year, there will be more cheerful topics to write about.

As I have told people a lot of times, maintaining a blog is not just a good exercise to build up your writing skills, but it helps you record important incidents like the current CoVid-19 outbreak and you can read them again years from now.

10 years down the line, you'd probably be like, "Hey remember that CoVyd or CoVeed thingie years ago, I kinda vaguely remember that we were on lockdowns for many months until they gave us the vaccine, other than that, I don't remember much about it, everything is all hazy" whereas for me, all I have to do is look back at my old blog posts and relive all the memories again, from the first outbreak to the front-line workers, the selfless LLTF and other volunteers who stepped up, the way our community came together as one to minimize the spread, etc etc. :)

It's never too late to start blogging. Maybe you should make this your New Year's resolution, which is coming up in just 8 days. Start a blog. Write down whatever you feel like, and share it for the world to read.

Let this be my 50th blog post message to you all - Start writing whatever you feel like. Put it up on a free blogging platform like or WordPress, even at a micro-blogging site like Tumblr or Medium. Just don't do it on Facebook or Instagram because those aren't archive friendly.

You'll realize the importance of archiving years later. Posting your thoughts or opinion on your FB status or in an FB group may give you that initial hit, with lots of friends and strangers commenting and "liking" it, but like all things that are social media, it will fade. People will no longer see that feed on their timeline in the next few days. Whereas when you write it on your personal blog, you will not get that initial rush of traffic, but it will be there for all to read, with various visitors coming across your links through search engine searches and referrals, every day, for the rest of your life (and beyond).

You will be amazed at the things you can churn up and record, especially when you look back at what you've written today years from now.

Trust me, that feeling is awesome. I'll let that be my short message for this 50th post. Hoping to update my blog about Christmas again before this year ends. Peace out, everyone.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Chp 843. Safe Express to Mizoram

Here's one more post I want to publish on my blog before this year ends, mainly because till today my Mizo friends from Pune, Mumbai, Delhi etc. keep asking me how I sent all my stuff from Pune back to Mizoram.

To send my entire lifetime belongings back from Pune to Aizawl, I used this Movers & Packers service called SAFEXPRESS.

I still remember back when I was studying in Tamil Nadu, we used to send our belongings back to Mizoram using this courier service known as "ABC". Those were the steel trunk days, you know, large steel boxes with our names and addresses roughly written on top with a permanent marker. We never used to send our stuff in a suitcase because the case would be broken by the time it reached Mizoram. :D

Those days, we had to take our trunks to the ABC depot ourselves, which was a big pain (especially if you were a scrawny class 7 student with no knowledge of Tamil like I was), and then once it reached Mizoram, we had to go to the godown to collect our belongings, which was again a troublesome task.

Fortunately for us today, most of these delivery services now not only collect our luggage from our doorstep and deliver them to our destination's doorstep, but they can also pack it for us (with extra charges of course).

SAFEXPRESS is one such service. Before I continue, let me put a disclaimer that no service or product is perfect. Just as how somebody will have good experience with Amazon or Zomato delivery, there will always be someone who had a bad experience with those same companies.

Likewise, I know two friends who had a horrible experience with SAFEXPRESS. All I can say is, everything went well for me, as well as for the 20+ Mizos from Pune to whom I had recommended this service since then.

I'm not going to put the phone number of SAFEXPRESS here as numbers change in time, and years from now, if you stumble across this blog post, the particular number may not exist anymore. Safest bet is to search on Google or one of those online yellow pages and you'll get the current phone number of the nearest SAFEXPRESS outlet from your location.

So once I called up SAFEXPRESS and booked an appointment, they turned up at my apartment at the exact time discussed. There were three of them, and after they looked around, they got to work immediately.

They divided themselves up with different tasks, like one guy packed my kitchen stuff, another guy packed my bedroom stuff, while the third guy packed my electronics stuff. I didn't have to do anything at all.

Since I had to keep running outside to buy last minute stuff as I was flying home the next day, my friends Dr. John and Dessy came over and stayed at my apartment, just to let the packers know they were being observed.

I didn't take any other photos of them packing that day as I was busy, but they really did a great job. They bubble-wrapped every breakable item carefully, like my glasses and porcelains, as well as my electronic items. And after they packed everything in a box, they water-proofed each box tightly again. A very impressive work indeed.

It took them around 4 hours to pack all my belongings.

And that was it. All my belongings from the time I left Mizoram in class 3, now packed up in little boxes and to be sent back to Mizoram permanently. It was a very emotional moment for me and I cried. :P

SAFEXPRESS has a weird tariff system. It is very expensive to send just a box or two home all the way to Mizoram, but the more boxes you have, the cheaper it gets! :D Yeah the "per box rate" reduces drastically as you add more boxes.

I also opted for their larger boxes because their official SAFEXPRESS boxes (green coloured) could fit only 15 KGs and were smaller. My suitcases as well as my TV, CPU, Monitor, coffee table, side tables etc., were all counted as one box each.

I even sent home my extremely heavy and much cherished Queen-size spring mattress as the cost of sending it home when calculated with all the other boxes, came to around 4K, which was a very good deal considering I bought it during Diwali discount for 50K and it would have cost me more than 10K to send it to Mizoram by itself.

The mattress incident reminds me of this joke. :D

So after much haggling about the total cost and discount with the main guy called Hanuman, the final cost of sending home all my belongings from Pune to Aizawl came to 38K.

The invoice above said "Perfect Cargo" but they were affiliated with SAFEXPRESS. They're one of the many official partners of SAFEXPRESS across India, kinda like a franchise system, and all my details including tracking features were all available at the official SAFEXPRESS website.

Once they were gone, I too packed all my remaining stuff that I was to take home with me by flight. The above packing incident took place on 28th November 2019.

I reached Mizoram 2 days later, and on 12th December 2019, my luggage reached my house!

It took just 14 days! That was really awesome.

From doorstep collection to doorstep delivery, it sure beats the ABC courier service days. :D

Even my mattress made it home safely, yay! :D

And so that was my experience with SAFEXPRESS.

We unpacked all my boxes, and not a single thing was broken, not even my wine glass set! A truly fine work, as promised.

After that, I had recommended this service to all my friends in Pune and even gave them Hanuman's personal mobile number, and everybody who had used this service too didn't regret it. Yes the rate may still be a bit more expensive than other services, but at the end of the day, what matters the most is receiving all our things undamaged, and that's what SAFEXPRESS did. A very safe express indeed.

Ps. This is not a paid promotion, nor am I getting anything out of this blog post. Like I said in the beginning, the only reason I am writing this is because the next time someone asks me about how i sent home my stuff, I can just send them the link to this blog.

Hope this blog update was useful to you, and hoping to see you again in the near future.