Persuasion, not Selling -Just Saying

 

‘Selling is a natural skill. It’s developed a s a child. You may know it as persuasion.’ – Jeffrey Gitomer

Sales is just another kind of persuasion. It is hard to persuade people to do something, when they know that you want them to behave in  certain way. People do not want to be in control, yet sales people make them do what they want them to do. Yet persuasion is sometimes a very good tool and gives good experience.

 

One of the examples of the great persuasion is during my childhood. I was travelling with my family to a mall for a movie. The show ended at about 3:00 pm and we were coming out of the mall. It was the time to go home and relax.

We saw small kiosk near the exit where few students were selling Eureka Forbes aqua-guard, machine to purify water and reduce the Total Dissolved Salt (TDS) in the water. There were advertisements in television since last few months, but we never needed it so we just bypassed all those ads.

As we were bypassing the kiosk, the gentleman there grabbed our attention by offering a free demo. He also told that he can prevent various diseases in future. This grabbed my dad’s attention and we stopped for the demo. Demo is very powerful tool for persuasion coupled with words and facts.

He did chemical testing, changed the colour of regular water as compared to purified water and proved that regular water had germs. He then also gave the literature and facts from authentic sources about the germs causing the diseases.

He asked us to taste the water and purified one actually tasted better. He then calculated the price of the purifier and then divided it into per day pricing. He offered free warranty, service and 30 day no questions replacement guarantee.

 

It was a great machine. But did we really wanted it or the demand was just generated by him! we do not know. We bought it finally.

 

 

 

‘Right or Wrong’ – You Decide

‘Beware of the half truth, you may have gotten hold of half wrong’ – Anonymous

My friend told me the other day that wife of our common friend is cheating on him and he saw her with another person. My instant reaction will be shocked and I will message few other common friends about it. Me and my friends may start reacting without even investigating.

There are at least two sides of every issue. Always people prefer to tell you the spicier or interesting side of the story, may be right or wrong. Unusual side of any issue is reported first to gather people’s or media attention. And this is the time where controversies start.

Everyone knows about the case of ‘Chili Finger’ at Wendy’s. Claims of human body parts turning up in food products is the most horrifying issue for a food joint. On the evening of 22 March 2005, Anna Ayala, a 39-year-old was dining at a San Jose outlet of the Wendy’s fast food restaurant chain when she discovered a human finger in her bowl of chili.

 

She broke mentally and was under deep pain describing crunchy stuff in her mouth. Health authorities checked and confirmed that the finger was real. Media went crazy, everyone started blaming Wendy’s and the food chain suffered hugely in reputation. People started sympathising with her.

What would you have done? One side of the issue looks very interesting.

Wendy’s offered $50,000 reward for information on origin of the finger. Police investigated and finally determined the mysterious finger came from an associate of her husband. In September 2005 Ayala and her husband, Jaime Placencia, pled guilty to conspiring to file a false claim and attempted grand theft.

There are numerous cases where what you hear or see is not true. You must hear both sides of the issue and then make your own decision.

 

Say ‘YES’ to life, Say ‘YES’ to Organ Donation

“Don’t think of organ donations as giving up a part of yourself to keep a total stranger alive. It’s really a total stranger giving up almost all of themselves to keep a part of you alive” – Anonymous.

Everyone in this world is born with the power to give life.

In May 2012, at the age of 22 months, Mackenzy Jane Woolfsmith gave the gift of life. She donated her heart, liver and kidneys.

“Sitting in the hospital, we never imagined how helpful organ donation would be in the grief that was to come. Regardless of how dark the days were, I always had the knowledge that she saved four other children’s’ lives.” said Jane Woolfsmith. “It’s a wonderful feeling to tell others about Mackenzy’s gift.”

“How incredible [it is] that her precious heart – the heart that we once listened to inside my belly – could have been flown across the country, so that it could answer the prayers of another mother desperate to save her baby’s life.”

She added “There are so many aspects of organ donation that I had never considered before we lived it. We didn’t appreciate how many people it took for successful transplants to occur. How incredible [it is] that her precious heart – the heart that we once listened to inside my belly – could have been flown across the country, so that it could answer the prayers of another mother desperate to save her baby’s life.”

If she can donate at the age of 22 months, why can’t you?

According to Health Canada, in 2014, in Canada, over 4500 people were waiting for organ transplant out of which 2356 organs were transplanted. A total of 278 people died while waiting for a transplant.

Every 36 hours a Canadian dies without the donation of an organ. The waiting time for the organ transplant today is an average of four years, depending on the type of the organ required.

About one per cent of Canadians who die in hospital donate an organ. It works out to about 15 per million – about half the rate of countries such as Spain (34 per million) and the United States, at 26 per million.

 

About one third of organs that could be donated are lost because potential donors didn’t make their families aware of their wishes.

Most of the organs can be donated after death but you can donate certain organs while you’re still alive: one kidney, part of the liver, and a lobe of the lung.

According to Statistics Canada, the share of persons aged 65 years and older will continue to increase and should account for 20.1% of the population on July 1, 2024. This will increase the demand of organ donation in future.

Let us pledge to say ‘YES’ to organ donation.
To become an organ donor in Manitoba, in addition to informing your family of your wishes, you should sign a donor card and carry it with your health card. Donor cards are available from Manitoba Health’s website or by calling 204-787-1897.

To know more visit Manitoba Health.

 

 

Techno friend hand holding Baby Boomers in digital world

A smartphone today has more power than NASA’s space mission to the moon in 1969. Every year, more than 200 new products with innovative technology are launched. These products come with a 50 page 8 point font operating manual, synchronizing capabilities and countless upgrade options. The tech industry is evolving at an incredible rate and with it bringing chaos for consumers.

In this chaos, lives the Baby Boomer generation, who grew up without mobile phones and Internet. They want to use these gadgets to makes their life easier, but struggle to cope with the technology bombardment. Most of them live alone or do not have anyone to help support them. Fortunately, Geek Squad has found a solution to calm the tech chaos.

 

Geek Squad services at Best Buy support individuals across generations for all the technology products. Different services are available based on the type of the product. The types of services are,

Setup: The Geek Squad agent explains about the product in detail, sets up and makes product ready to use;

Support: 24×7 online support is provided for any problem;

Protection: In addition to the company warranty, geek squad provides extended protection through warranty;

Repair: Any product, any damage is repaired in this one stop service, which can also be accessed sitting at home. There is no need to maintain separate warranties for all the products, just Geek Squad service is enough.

Terrence, a Geek Squad agent, identified the most common problems which Baby Boomers face today, software issues. He remembers when he sold a computer and next day the guy came back with a laptop full of viruses and had no clue what to do. “People do not know how to stop getting virus in their laptops and end up loosing their costly laptops” says Terrence

terrence

Terrence-Geek Squad Agent

“If you do not know anything, you go to library, if you are not sure about technology you Google it, but what to do if you do not know how to Google it.”

According to him most of today’s products are built with throw away technology, a tablet can cost $300 but the charging port can cost $200 to repair. People drive for an hour to come to the store for a problem, which can be solved using a single click. Problems can be as simple as not knowing how to switch on Bluetooth in a device because few people have not grown in that realm of technology.

“If you do not know anything, you go to library, if you are not sure about technology you Google it, but what to do if you do not know how to Google it,” said Terrence. “Geek Squad bridges the technology gap for the older generation. It makes them confident to play with the technology with strong backing of Geek Squad.”

Geek squad’s future is moving away from all hardware repairs and focusing more on educating people about the new technology. Terrence offered three tips for the Baby Boomers to maintain their devices better which are staying on the top of new developments, adapt to new technology because it makes the life easier and finally not to ignore small problems in your device but getting it checked regularly.

Geek Squad is available on any device.Simply ask a sales agent at any Best Buy store. It is transforming lives of Baby Boomers bringing them closer to technology. To learn more please visit Best Buy Geek Squad.

 

Inspiring exchange with Ms. Hanna Markovich

A small spark is enough to ignite the never ending fire. Travelers are always in search of such spark which motivates them to explore the beyond.

Ms. Hanna Markovich is one such influencer in the world of traveling. She started traveling at a very young age and had never stopped after that. Having explored many countries, music festivals and even the creatures such as octopus, she inspires us all to start this never-ending journey of traveling.

I had a chance to interview her and get some insights about her passion. I am sharing it with you all here.

1) How did you discover your love/passion for traveling?

I discovered my love & passion for traveling when I took my first trip overseas with my mom to Europe. Being surrounded by a whole new culture gave me so many emotions including one of wanderlust. I was so intrigued on discovering more of the world and the people who lived in it.

2) Can you share your best traveling experience and what made it best?

My best traveling experience? That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my spontaneous snorkeling adventure in Les Calanques just West of Marseille. My friend Katie had recently met this guy and he had tons of snorkeling gear. All three of us went on a nice sunny day cliff jumping and just doing some snorkeling. Out of nowhere Flo (Katie’s new friend) disappeared under the water for a bit and came back up with an octopus. I had never imagined seeing one up close never mind touching one. It was just amazing and wasn’t really planned at all. I think that’s one of my favorite things with traveling, the spontaneity, and unplanned adventures.

3) Can you share your top three favorite travel destinations and why are they your favorite?

1. Tuscany Region in Italy.

I loved the Tuscany Region in Italy because it’s a lot more quaint than the bigger cities. Not to mention the beauty of the region. I stayed in a small rural area called Lucca and the city had a wall around it most of the streets were only accessible by walking or biking and it was just lovely. Everyone was so friendly and I just felt at home.

2. Paris, France

Although Paris is huge in tourism I can’t help but love it. I’ve been there twice and I enjoyed it the same if not more the second time being there. It just has so many staple attractions that leave you breathless whether it be the Louvre or the Eiffel Tour.

3. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona was amazing, it’s full of art and hidden beauties. Not to mention the food is delicious. The weather was great when I was there and we saw some amazing architecture.

4) Your top three advice to any new traveler?

Always keep an open mind.

As for trusting as you always keep your belongings on you or locked away.

Be spontaneous.

I hope that this interview helped you to follow your passion. You can also check out her blog here Not Just a Passport Stamp.

 

 

Quick Veg Pulao in 20 minutes

It was a Monday night, and I was completely drained. My tie was loosely hanging from my neck, and my shirt was also hanging out. It was 11 when I reached home, and all I wanted to do was to cook. Yes! cooking is my only get away from this madness.

Imagine stirring those colorful veggies in the pan, and that aroma arising from it. Aroma, full of spices. Ah! In that moment I am rejuvenated. That is what cooking does to me. Pulao it is. You can prepare it in 20 minutes with my recipe.

Pulao, also known as Pulaao, is a staple dish in India, parts of Central Asia and the Middle East. The dish uses different ingredients depending on the country it is being prepared in. Today, we are going to learn the Indian style Pulao. The dish is perfect for vegans , but the versatility of the dish, makes it perfect for meat lovers as well.

Ingredients

  • Basmati Rice: 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Onion, Tomato, Carrot, Beans, Green Peas: 2 cups
  • Garam Masala, Turmeric Powder, Red Chilli Powder: 1 spoon each
  • Finely chopped coriander: 1/2 cup
  • Oil: 2 tablespoon
  • Ghee: 1 tablespoon
  • Salt: 1 tablespoon

Recipe

  1. Soak Rice in warm water for 5 minutes.

  2. Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan and saute the onions on the low flame until they turn uniform brown.

  3. Add vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes.

  4. Pour water, rice, and add all the spices and salt and stir for 2 minutes.

  5. Cover the lid and cook for 10 minutes. Wait till the water is absorbed and cook in low flame.

Serve the pulao garnished with the coriander leaves or fried onions and cashews. It can also be served with tomato raita or just plain yogurt. You can also add ghee, if you do not mind extra taste over some calories.

This is one of my favorite dishes, and I hope you like it too.

Like, share and comment below, and let me know about your first pulao experience with my recipe.

An Insightful exchange with Ms. Connie Tamoto

When I started to look for aPublic Relations (PR) professional, I had a clear goal to reach the professional who had more than ten years of rich experience in the PR field and who was in a key position at a well-known corporate company. I wanted to interview him/her in order to understand the Public Relations field in detail which can help me to make my career decision.

Search for the Best in the Field

Cargill is a well-known corporate giant across Canada and was the clear choice for me. The company is the largest privately held corporation in The United States of America with the major business like trading, purchasing, and distribution. The company is also actively involved in charity and community development work.

I started searching LinkedIn to look for the key PR professional from Cargill and came across Ms. Connie Tamoto, who holds the key position of Communications and Community Relations Manager at Cargill in Winnipeg.

By studying her profile I found out that she holds a BA, English degree from Universtiy of Manitoba, and a diploma in Creative Communications, JournalismPRAdvertising from Red River College. She started her career as a General Assignment Reporter at Winnipeg Sun in 2001 and never looked back. Her breadth of experience ranges from holding key positions in Global television, Economic Development Winnipeg Inc. / Tourism Winnipeg, The North West Company, Manitoba PC Caucus, Winnipeg Free Press.

Ms.Tamoto’s LinkedIn profile summarizes her as an inquisitive person who worked as a journalist and reported for the criminal investigations, covered local entertainment stories, delivered the goods on the latest trends from the runway for weekly fashion column. She hosted live television specials such as 2007 Grey Cup in Toronto, Firefighters Memorial and produced three documentaries – one of which went on to win the RTNDA Prairie Region Dan McArthur Award for Investigative/In-Depth Journalism. She also acted as the company external relations liaison.

Dream come True

I knew that reaching her was going to be a daunting task as the PR professionals are very busy and without any prior connections it is hard to interview anyone of that stature. I messaged her via social media about my interest in interviewing her and to my surprise she readily accepted the invitation and scheduled the telephone interview. I could not have asked for more.

Interview

We started the interview at 4:30 p.m. on November 8, over the phone and I started asking her about her experience and routines. The key insights which she gave in the next 30 minutes of the interview convinced me to pursue my career in the PR field. I was prepared to take the PR journey, which is full of excitement and challenges.

Daily routine

Ms. Connie considers that flexibility: ability to change from one subject to another and time management: juggling many balls at one time are the key drivers for her to work daily. Her everyday work ranges from community outreach, dealing with media and with the issues that have a broad impact on the business or on our country.

The biggest change the way PR professionals work today than a few years back is the dissemination of messaging. Communication used to be personalized earlier where only the messages which a company publishes reaches the public. Now a tweet or a conversation in a public space or in a hallway has the potential to reach the public very easily and quickly. So acting accordingly is another key thing to keep in mind while working.

Staying on the top

She suggests that it is extremely important to be on the top of different kinds of the communication tools that are available today. The PR field is driven by communication which should be clear and should be directed towards a different kind of audience as per the company’s need and business. Thus any one of the tools is  important, but it is the ability to use different tools to reach the audience effectively which is imperative. For example, she used Facebook more than other tools in her previous company but in her current role at Cargill, she uses more community town halls for more direct outreach.

Also, she advised that consensus building and collaboration are vital for any PR role as lots of corporate decisions are based on the committee. PR Professionals rely on the subject matter experts for the key messages and conversations and then frame them before publicizing them.

Connect

Ms. Tamato is an active member of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) which invites members from Canada to attend workshops and sessions in the USA. PRSA is more segmented; they have education stream for the education communicators, government stream for the government communicators, travel and tourism stream for travel and tourism communicators. She is also a part of Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS).

She suggests that PR students become a part of peer networking groups because these groups are at the grassroots level. They provide a great platform for idea sharing and networking. She also suggested subscribing to the bloggers who talk about the industry and current trends.

Proud Moment

She was very excited and proud to talk about the campaign in 2014 known as Zero hunger challenge, where Cargill and CARE joined hands together to improve food security. It was a month long campaign on which she had worked and the campaign ran across 100+locations around Canada at different businesses

It included activities such as having a food drive for the local the food bank, arranging food donations for the bank, volunteering at the local school for the breakfast program. Activities included any other kinds of initiatives or ideas that they may have had for helping the hunger in their communities.

We were entering the last phase of the interview and I was all ears during this amazing interview.  I also made sure to ask about the quick tips for the new PR Professional and keys to getting hired in companies of the stature of Cargill.

Tips for Newbie

Her quick tips for the PR newbie are as follows:

  • Stay on the top of the industry trends through journals and blogs
  • Be adaptable and go with the broadest responsibility which makes you more versatile
  • Have the pulse on the current issues, be on top of the current affairs and look at what companies did right and what they could have done differently

Get hired

According to Ms. Tamato strong and concise writing is extremely vital. She suggested that “you do not have to be the elaborate writer with the biggest vocabulary. As the audience is the external public, being able to write to them in plain clear English is the key. It is the most valuable asset to have.”

She used to do hiring in her previous role and advised that oral and written communication are the key skills to get hired. She gave an example where candidates do not spell the names of the companies correctly in the resume as they rush through things at the last minute. She will not consider those resumes for interview.

Ms. Connie Tamoto’s interview was one of the most rewarding experience for me where she shared her insights and suggestions to succeed in the PR field. There were a lot of takeaways from this interview for the PR students. She provided a basic framework of how to go about working in this field, staying connected with the current events and technology, and finally key skills for finding the job.

You can go visit the LinkedIn profile of Ms. Connie Tamoto to learn more about her professional background.

8 Best tips to travel The Mysore Palace

I worked until 3 a.m. at the office in Bangalore to complete an important project. I was about to take a leave for the next 4 days. As I reached home using taxi by 3:55 a.m., where four half asleep angry friends were waiting anxiously for me because I was late for the much-awaited road trip to the Mysore Palace. I took bath quickly, packed bags and started the road trip to Mysore Palace.

We reached Mysore palace by 7:30 a.m. and the first glimpse of the heavenly palace at the dawn, spreading its magnificent glory around it rejuvenated us.

We forgot all the frustration and anger of the bad day and the night trip. This is the power of the grandeur Mysore palace. It lies as a mammoth in the royal city of Mysore. We attended the Mysore Dasara and returned back to Bangalore.

The Mysore Palace is the residence of the Royal Wodeyar family in the city of Mysore which is located in the southern part of India. The palace is one of the top 10 Royal palaces of the world by the Wonderlist.

Here are the ten tips for traveling:

1.Know the Mysore Palace history and the Royal Family

The rulers of Mysore came to this part of the country years back and decided to settle in Mysore after seeing its natural beauty.

The building of the Mysore Palace was commissioned by Her Majesty Maharani Vani Vilas Sannidhna, and her son, the Maharaja of Mysore His Highness Rajarshi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV. They have commissioned Lord Henry Irwin as the chief architect to build the new palace in 1897 and the construction completed in 1912.

After the death of the legendary ruler Tipu Sultan, Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV made Mysore his capital in May 1799 and developed the city. Mahatma Gandhi called one of the rulers named Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV as the Saint King due to his generous acts. The present ruler of Mysore is Yaduveer Wadiyar.

Architecture of the Palace

The palace has three-storey stone structures with the marble domes and the towers were of the five-storey with 145 ft height. The whole palace is surrounded by the garden and the entrance gate has the kings’ emblem and the motto of the king in Sanskrit language, whose meaning is Never be Terrified.

It also has the secret tunnels from Mysore palaces to the other palaces.

The three-storey building is made of the gray granite and the pink marble. Also, the king was the devotee of the Goddess Chamundi and thus the palace if facing the Chamundi hills.

2.Plan your Trip

Plan your trip around September end or during the beginning of October. The weather India is pleasant at that time and also the grand celebration of Dasara is during this time where you can witness the glory of the palace and the Royal family. September 30 is the Dasara day in 2017 and is the ideal time to visit India.

Your visit to India for the Mysore Palace and Chennakesava temple (temple near Mysore) will take around a week. You can plan your trip using different travel websites such as Trip Hobo or On the go tours but I would recommend you to plan the trip yourself.

Trip Itinerary. A:Kempegowda International Airport, B:Bengaluru Hotel, C:Mysore Palace, D:Belur Temple, E: Kempegowda International Airport   

Day 1: Toronto to Bangalore

The Flight takes minimum 24 hrs to reach Bangalore. Once you have reached Bangalore then you can book the prepaid airport taxi from inside the airport which will charge around $30-$40 CAD to reach the hotel. You can also get the airport pickup from a certain type of the Hotels, so confirm the same from the hotel before reaching Bangalore.

You can also get the airport pickup from a certain type of the Hotels, so confirm the same from the hotel before reaching Bangalore.

Day 2: Rest in Hotel

You can take rest in Hotel on the second day. Based on the type of the hotel you have booked, you will get the facilities at the Hotel such as spa, swimming, massage etc. You can relax this day and book Toyota Innova cab for the next 7-day travel from the Hotel. The car is very comfortable for the long distance journeys in India. The cab will

Book Toyota Innova cab for the next 7-day travel from the Hotel. This car is very comfortable for the long distance journeys in India. The cab will charge around $100 CAD per day.

Day 3: Hotel to Mysore Palace

Start at around 9 a.m. from the hotel in the morning. Make sure you check out from the hotel while leaving. You can reach the destination by around 12 p.m. Check in the Hotel at Mysore.

If you are traveling in 2017, then try to reach Mysore on September 30 so that you can experience the Mysore Dasara’s last day.

Day 4: Hotel to Chennakesava temple

Start at around 8 a.m. from the hotel after checking out. You will reach the destination Chennakesava temple at Belur in 2-2.5 hrs of the road trip. The timing at this temple is from 7 to 8:30 a.m. There is no entry fee at the temple.

The temple is proposed to be listed on the UNESCO world heritage sites. It was constructed during 1117 AD and has the finest sculptures of India. Hire the guide at the temple to understand the temple in detail.

Day 5: Belur to Bangalore Hotel

The Belur trip can be completed within 3 hrs and you can start the journey back to Bangalore at 3:30 p.m. You will reach back to the hotel in Bangalore at around 8:30 p.m. and relax and enjoy the evening.

Day 6: Local Travel and back to Toronto

You can travel the entire Bangalore city which is known as the IT hub of the country. You can try local travel such as auto rickshaws, eat local food and do clothes shopping. By the evening go back to the airport to go back to India.

3.Do not miss the Mysore Dasara festival

You can experience the glory and the grandeur of the palace and the Royal family on the day of Dasara. It happens only once in a year. Dasara festival symbolizes the defeat of the evil powers of the world and has the legendary mythological story attached to it where Hindu Goddess Chamundeshwari killed the demon Mahishasura.

The palace is illuminated for the 10 days during this period. The ninth day of Dasara called as Mahanavami is an auspicious day when the royal sword is worshiped and is taken on a procession involving elephants, camels, and horses.

 

 

 

 

The elephants are decorated and the goddess idol is kept on one of the elephants and the procession goes around the city.

Dasara exhibition happens during these days on the ground in front of the palace.

4.Stay at the Economy Hotels

There are many hotels from the luxury to the economy category across the Bangalore and Mysore. I would not recommend going for the high-end luxury hotels as the main purpose of the trip is to enjoy and go out of your bed.

Also staying in the most luxury hotels will drain more than $200-$350 CAD per day from your pocket.

Spending around $30-$40 CAD per day would fetch you a good economy hotel with the basic requirements.

5.Try Local food

Idli , Sambhar, Masala Dosa and filter coffee are few of the famous South Indian cuisines which you should definitely try.

Mavalli Tiffin Rooms (MTR) is the most famous and the oldest restaurant in Bangalore which serves the authentic food since 1924. Many famous personalities have been to MTR.

6.Buy Sandalwood Items

I am sure you all know about the Sandalwood tree and the fragrance of it. Sandalwood fragrance is one of the best naturally occurring fragrances in the world which originates from the wood of the sandalwood tree.

You can buy the sandalwood powder, perfumes and the sandalwood idols from the government stores in Bangalore.

7.Learn Local Language

Kannada is the local language of Bangalore and Mysore. I will teach you few words that will help you to initiate small talks with the local people.

  1. Good Morning: Śubhōdaya
  2. How are you: Nīvu hēgiddīri
  3. What are you doing: Nīnu ēnu māḍuttiruve
  4. Ok: Sari
  5. Thank you: Dhan’yavādagaḷu
  6. How much is this for: Ī eṣṭu

8.Try Local brewery

There is few very good local brewery in Bangalore. You can try breweries such as Toit, Arbor Brewing Company, and Windmills craftworks

You can learn more about the items required for travel to India and do’s and don’ts in my previous blog named 10 tips for the successful Taj Mahal trip.

So plan your travel and pack your bags. Also, make sure you share your travel stories and experiences with me.

If you have any other questions or query, please submit your questions or comments here.

 

 

 

 

 

10 Tips for the successful Taj Mahal trip

 

The Taj Mahal, as they say, is the God’s gift to mankind, which is as white as a fairy and as beautiful as the mother nature.The Taj Mahal is actually a tomb that epitomizes the embodiment of love. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who have seen the Taj Mahal and love it and those who have not seen the Taj and love it. I am one of those lucky people who has witnessed the eminence and the glory of this dauntless historical testament.

shutterstock_107261249.jpg

The Taj Mahal

Source: LiveScience

I have known the Taj Mahal since I was 6 years old. It is one of the seven wonders of the world and represents the symbol of love in India. Being located around 1000 km away from my home, I had always dreamed of visiting The Taj Mahal. My dream became a reality at the age of 12 when I traveled to Agra with my parents and witnessed this glory from the past.

Taj Mahal means crown of palaces in the Persian language. It is an ivory white colored mausoleum in the Indian city of Agra, located on the bank of river Yamuna. The tomb is located in the center of the 17-hectare construction. It is designated as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Here are ten tips to follow for your Taj Mahal Trip:

1.Know The Taj Mahal history and about the monument

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Shah Jahan (Left) and Mumtaz Mahal (Right)

Source: Noellomonez

Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal Emperor named Shah Jahan in 1653 in the memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal. The cost of building was humongous and is estimated to be equivalent to US$ 830 million in 2015.

Architecture and Design

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Ustad Ahmed Lauri

    Source: Kukly

It is mainly influenced by the Mughal and the Persian architecture and the usage of the white marble in its construction laid the foundation of the finest works in the Mughal histories.

Ustad Ahmed Lahauri was considered to be the chief architect of this grandeur.I would recommend that you closely observe the Taj Mahal during your visit because it looks beautiful from outside but it is much more adorable from inside.

Construction

Taj Mahal was constructed in the south side of the Agra city. The world’s best building materials were sourced from all over Asia. Marbles, Jasper, Jade and Turquoise were few of those. In totality, it took 22 years to complete entire construction with the huge manpower for construction and animals for the transportation.

The above map shows the 3-d view of the Taj Mahal, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.

Tomb

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Main Chamber of the Tomb

Source: Planetden

The main chamber of the tomb, has false graves of the king and the queen, but the actual graves are at the lower level. It has a marble dome surrounding the tomb. I have never seen any dome, as spectacular and splendid as this one to date in all my 10 years of journey as a monument traveler!

There are 4 minarets of 40 feet height which surrounds the tomb. The Minarets are well crafted pieces of symmetry.

Exterior

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Calligraphy on the Exterior

Source: sites.google

The exterior of the Taj Mahal is made by carvings and the stone inlays. There is a beautiful calligraphy on the exterior of the great gate which reads “O Soul, thou art at rest. Return to the Lord at peace with Him, and He at peace with you “.The king was so impressed by the calligrapher that he gifted him with the name of ‘Amanat khan’ means the ‘Dazzling Virtuosity’. There are also few chapters of the Quran written on the exterior walls. Make sure to ask your guide about Quran while you gaze through the exteriors of the Taj Mahal.

Interiors

Source: Wikimeida

You will be amazed to know that the interior of the Taj Mahal has precious gemstone studded walls.  It has flowers carved in the marble, archways, paintings, floor tiling and minutely crafted pieces of works such as a jali. The graves are less decorated as per the Muslim tradition and they are facing the holy place of Muslims called Mecca. Calligraphic inscriptions to praise Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan are also on the grave.

 

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Interior of The Taj Mahal

Source: Askideas

Source: Youtube

Garden

You can see the magnificent mughal gardens outside the Taj Mahal, which has the elevated pathways and flowerbeds.

The above map shows the 3-d view of the gardens, click on any arrow and then you can drag and view the surroundings.

2. Plan your India Trip

You can plan your holidays in winter because in India the temperature is just around 6-7 degrees between December and January. The trip to the Taj Mahal and the destinations around the city can be completed in 8 days. So, you can actually do away with the death cold winter of Canada for a week. I would, however, recommend that the best month to plan your trip is in the mid of November to enjoy the grand Diwali festival celebration in India, which is a one-time experience.

On the go tours, trip advisor and trip hobo are few of the trip planners to India. You can choose anyone of these, but I would recommend to plan your trip yourself to fully enjoy the trip. You can book your flight to New Dehli India online or  with any travel agent in Canada. New Delhi is the capital of India and there are many places to visit there. Here is how should plan the days of your trip.

Trip starts from location A:International Airport, B:Hotel, C:Agra, D:Bharatpur, E:Abhaneri and then back to A or F:International Airport.

Day-1: Toronto to New Delhi

The flight takes 24 hrs to reach New Delhi. Once you reach New Delhi airport, then depending on the type of the hotel you had booked, you can get airport pickup. If you book the airport taxi, it will cost around 25-30 CAD. The cheapest option is to book the prepaid taxi at the taxi counter inside the airport.

Day-2: Rest and do away with Jet lag

There are super luxury to low economy hotels available in New Delhi. Based on your budget you can choose any one of these hotels.

Day-3: Sightseeing of the Old and New Delhi

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Rajghat

Source: Twitter

Visit famous places in the city such as Humayun tomb, India Gate, National Gallery of Mordern Art and Raj Ghat. All these places can be covered within 3/4th of the day and you can spare rest of the day for shopping. The picture below shows the jewellery at The National Museum.

Source: National Museum

Day-4: Start early at 5:00 a.m. for Agra

Check out from the hotel. You can hire a taxi with the driver for rest of the trip. The easiest and the reliable source to hire a taxi is through the hotel where you are staying, which will give you flexibility to plan your trip. Taxis charge 80-100 CAD per day for the Toyota Innova. Innova is the most comfortable car in India. It will take around 2.5 hrs to reach the destination. Check in to your hotel at Agra.

Twenty CAD is the entry fee for the Taj Mahal and hiring the guide costs you around 10-15 CAD, so that it is easy for you to understand the history of Taj Mahal. You can spend the rest of the evening for the local travelling and shopping.

Day-5: Start at 8:00 am to Bharatpur and Abhaneri

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Source: Heritage-Traveller

Check out from the hotel and start the journey. You will reach Bharatpur in 45 minutes from Agra.  Keoladeo Ghana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site is located here, which is again an utter joy to visit.

Start at around 1:00 pm from here to reach Abhaneri, a small village situated around 1.5 hrs from Bharatpur. It has the steepest stepwell of the world known as Chand Baori, which has 3500 narrow steps. I would also insist you to go around this village to understand the local living conditions. Go back to Bharatpur and check in the Hotel.

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Chand Baori

Source: Youtube

The photo above shows the world’s steepest well named Chand Baori

Day -6: Back to Airport

Check out from the hotel and start your journey back to New Delhi. It takes around 3 hours to reach New Delhi. Directly go to the airport. Plan your stay at the airport as per the flight timings and board the flight from New-Delhi to Toronto.

3.Packing for the trip

Ensure you have sturdy bags and a backpack: 46 kgs is allowed for the travelling in flight. Make sure you buy the standard delsey, samsonite or equivalent for travelling. Also the backpack will increase the travelling flexibility.

Passport: Must be valid for at least next 6 months

Currency: At least convert $1000 into Indian currency and carry with you

Clothes: Take more shorts and T-Shirts to stay comfortable while travelling, also keep jeans and full sleeves clothes  to protect yourself from insects and mosquitoes. You can carry your swimsuits for swimming at the hotel. Make sure you carry enough pairs of underwear and clothes because laundry is very costly at the hotels.

Universal Converters: Do not forget to carry the 230 volt universal converters for all the electronic devices, if possible carry the power bank in case of emergency.

Footwear: Carry at least one pair of sturdy shoes and a pair of sandals or slippers with you.

Personal Hygiene: Carry sunscreen lotion as it is costlier in india and you may also not get your desired product. Mosquito repellant is also recommended. Carry the deo sprays, hair and skin care products.

Digital Camera: Memories Memories Memories..! Carry a good quality digicam with you to take snaps of every moment in India. Also keep a diary in case you want to record the memories.

Locks: If you are staying at the economy hotel, then it is safe to carry your own good quality lock.

Medicines: Though medicines are cheaper in India, it is advisable to carry all your essential medicines prescribed by the doctor. Heat resistant probiotics everyday will help, but please get in touch with your doctor before taking any medicine

Hand sanitizing bottles: Best way to keep your hands clean

4.Stay at Cheap places

You can stay at the super luxury hotels in New Delhi such as The Lalit, Radission blue, Taj Palace, JW Mariott and many more which costs around 300-350 CAD per day. Living here would be an experience. But I would advise you to spend less on the hotel and more on the travelling and shopping, which will actually help you to experience true India. So you can choose the economy hotels such as The Park, East inn, Janpath or The Royal Castle ranging from 50-100 CAD per day.

Economy hotels in Jaipur are Jaipur Inn, Sikha and many more. Economy hotels in Bharatpur are Bharatpur Swaraj and Mahal khas palace, while you can stay in Mango hotel or Ajay international in Agra.

5.Try Local Indian Travel

It is a joy to travel in some local mode of transport in India. Coming from the western part of the world, you will not experience it again at your home.

Paddle Rickshaw:  It is operated manually and two people can travel in it as shown in the image below.

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Paddle Rickshaw

Source: Nijhoom

Auto rickshaw: It is a motor driven transportation and three people can travel at a time. You can experience these at Day 3.

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Auto Rickshaw

Source: Chennaiadventures

6.Delhi Street Food

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Street Food

Source:Pokeyournose

Make sure that you do not have any allergies to oil or the highly spicy food before trying new dishes. Local food is very cheap. I would recommend the following dishes:

Parathas: Made of all purpose floor with stuffed potatoes

Chaat: Spicy to medium spicy

Butter Chicken:  Famous Indian non-vegetarian dish. Make sure to ask for a medium spicy variant

Biryani:  Favourite cuisine of the mughal emperors

Desserts: Sweet dishes such as Gulab jamun and Rasgulla will help to satisfy your taste buds

7.Do Delhi Shopping

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Miniature of The Taj Mahal

Source:Indian Square

You definitely should buy some cheap and traditional stuff from India. I would recommend a couple of markets in New Delhi which are as follows:

Dilli Haat: Looks like traditional village market, best place to buy Indian artifacts and handcrafts

Janpath and Tibetain market: you can buy some hippi clothings and brasswares

Paharganj: Textiles, imitation jewelry and books can be bought from here

Agra market: Do not forget to buy the miniature Taj Mahal

8. Meet Local People

Whenever you get the chance, please talk to the local guide, local shopkeepers, taxi drivers and try to know about their lives and families. This will help you to connect with local people and will help you to understand India better.

9. Learn few Hindi (local language) Words

I would also recommend that you learn a few local words in Hindi language such as:

  1. Hi: Namastey
  2. Good Morning: Suprabhaat
  3. How are you: Kaise ho
  4. What are you doing: Kya kar rahe ho
  5. Ok: achha
  6. Thank you: sukriyaa
  7. How much is this for: ye kitne mein diyaa

10.Do’s and Don’t

Do’s

  • Dress modestly if you are a female because Indians are conservative culturally
  • Start early as traffic is unpredictable and you can be late
  • Greet people with a smile; it makes them feel comfortable
  • Cover yourself with travel insurance as you are all alone in a new country
  • Bargain while buying because in India sellers quote a higher price expecting a bargain
  • Remove footwear while visiting a religious place as having shoes on is not respectable

Don’ts

  • Do not hug persons from the opposite sex unless offered as it may be disrespectful in India
  • Do not put your feet on any God’s when taking photos as Indians consider them with respect
  • Do not drink alcohol in public as it is an offense
  • Do not hunt animals as it illegal to do so and you will be prosecuted.
  • Do not comment on the religions in public as it may offend religious sentiments of many
  • Do not take any unwanted help from the strangers for your personal safety

So whats stopping you now to explore the incredible Taj Mahal in India. And yes do not forget to share your experiances with me. Enjoy your trip!

If you have any other questions or query, please submit your questions or comments here.