Holiday greetings from our home to yours – Happy 2018

We apologize for the delay in sending out our annual newsletter. This year, I asked Ritesh to take on the mantle. After spending countless hours in front of his screen, he came up with “Happy New Year”. Yes, Ritesh is a man of few words but this was unacceptable. After all, there is so much to brag errr.. blog about, and over the years you have all been such eager readers, that I decided to reclaim the title of the author of our newsletter. So here goes….

Taran and Roshan turned into “We know it all” teenagers and graduated from middle school. To all of you who commented in the past “Oh! You have such cute twins”, please feel free to take them home (To YOUR home). They continue to play tennis and chess and we continue to pay for those expensive lessons. “Well, you decided to have us, so it’s only fair that you pay now”, remark the teenagers. “What cheek!” Ritesh and I fume! “Such logical, intelligent and smart young men” compliment the ever indulgent grandparents. PERSPECTIVE!

Ritesh traveled extensively on work. His favorite trip was to Finland, thanks to the saunas. But he was grateful that he didn’t visit the country during the wife-carrying world championship! I mean, just to make the insurance deductible, he doesn’t really need to break his back, right?!

Nidhi (I) had a very “mindful” 2017. I completed a mindfulness course from Leiden University. And I loved the 10 day Vipassana silent retreat in Delaware. On returning home, I was lovingly encouraged by the boys and Ritesh to continue living in silence at home. “Your silence is golden for us” I was told. I continued to grow my practice, iReikiNow. Check out my year-end video on YouTube.

2017 was wonderful in so many respects. We visited/hosted lots of family and friends. Spending the entire winter break with friends and family (from Canada, NY and NJ), playing board games, watching movies, eating, eating and eating a bit more will stay in our memories and on or butts/bellies for a long time. On the accomplishment front (Ta da! Show-off time), Taran and Roshan, here’s a virtual high five to you for putting your phones away during the winter break. More power to you!

We traveled a fair bit. It was the first year that each one of us had individual trips planned (Gosh! We all needed a break from each other!) and of course, we traveled together in plenty. Here are the top 10 travel highlights of 2017 for the Idnani family:
Jump as if you will get a million bucks ;-)
At The Chocolate Hills, Bohol, The Philippines

  1.  Palawan, Philippines - We toured the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which is one of the New 7 Natural wonders of the world. The tour entails a boat ride in complete silence albeit you do hear the audio guide describing the stalactites and stalagmite formation. The caves are pitch dark except for the lone flashlight of your guide. The rock formations are aptly named – there was a “cathedral” because of the rock’s high ceiling, a “vegetable garden” where the formations looked like turnips, and carrots. There was also a “Jesus Christ”, which, arguably was the most serene formation. Ritesh noticed a giant circular formation and exclaimed in awe “Wow! Nidhi, you are up there too.”
  2. Jungles of The Philippines - Considering ourselves to be decent hikers, we had the hubris of accepting the challenge to hike in the jungles of the Philippines. All it took was 30 minutes for our pride to drain from our heads. The jungle was raw. The trail was steep. The weather very humid. The jungle had lizards, bugs, monkeys, and lots of reptiles. Fortunately for us, the pythons, decided to give us a break and didn’t show up.
  3. Taal volcano - Hiking up the Taal volcano, the second most active volcano in the Philippines, was another unforgettable experience. The climb, though not steep, was uneven and challenging because it was a very hot day. However, the sprawling views of the crater were enchanting. Taran was concerned if the volcano might erupt. Ritesh assuaged his fears with “Between mom and the volcano, only one can erupt”.
  4. Philippines sea - the “Island hopping” tour from El Nido was fabulous. Kayaking in the lagoons of the Philippines sea, enclosed within limestone cliffs, was a breath taking experience. Snorkeling in the pristine blue waters of the sea gave us a splendid view of marine life. With a fear of water and terrible swimming skills, I was ably supported and motivated by my sons while snorkeling. Gosh! I did a good job raising them. (Just for this loving gesture, we will skip complaining about the eye rolls this year 😄😄.) However, swimming with the whale sharks in Oslob was the highlight of the entire trip. Roshan, thank you for coaxing me to try it. One thing off the bucket list.
    Swimming with the whale sharks at Oslob, The Philippines
  5. Lantau Island – The trip to see the Tian Tan Buddha is going to stay with me forever. I choked up at the sight and Taran, seeing my tears, accosted Ritesh “What did you do again?” LOL!
  6. Hong Kong – From the ride up the Funicular railway to see the views from Victoria’s Peak, to crossing the river between Hong Kong and Kowloon in the Star ferry, we soaked in the majestic views and the breathtaking skyline of the city. We also attempted to immerse ourselves in the culture, religion and traditions of Hong Kong. A visit to Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin temple housing the religions of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism gave us a glimpse of the diversity in religion in this city. The tranquility at the Po Lin Monastery at Lantau island still echoes in my heart.
  7. India - We LOVED spending time with family and friends in India this summer. Delhi, U.P, Uttarakhand, Mumbai and Kerala - we traversed across the country getting pampered everywhere we went.
  8. Kerala – While in Munnar, we toured the spice plantations and Kolukkumalai Tea Estate, the highest organic tea estate in the world. The drive up the mountain (8000 feet) was super bumpy but the vistas were spellbinding. We indulged in Ayurveda massages every single day of the trip. What a treat! Local performances of Kathakali classical dance and Kalaripayattu martial arts at Thekkady gave us a fresh perspective on the patience and perseverance of the artists/performers. Respect! The only let-down was the Periyar National Park famous for it’s tiger reserves. While the beauty, the greenery, and the stillness was captivating, we didn’t see any tigers. But then again, since they anyways live with a bold, beautiful, and powerful (and the "self-aggradizing" list goes on) tigress, the three Idnani men didn't miss much.
    Munnar, Kerala, India
  9. A little bit of Bollywood – We watched the star studded premiere of “A Gentleman” in Mumbai and the IIFA awards at the MetLife Stadium. The high decibel level, the flashing lights and jazzy performances enthralled many but Ritesh managed to sleep there too!
  10. Florida – December took us back to Florida for the chess nationals. Both boys finished in the top 10 and brought a 3rd place team trophy to Newark Academy. As always it was fun to meet with friends and family (their cousin played too) at the Nationals.
    Chess Nationals, Orlando, Florida

We wrap this note with a wish that in 2018 we all “Hit Refresh” to improve, search for new energy, and new ideas, but most importantly stay empathetic and discover or even re-discover our soul. (We may be are the BEST ;-), but this idea is borrowed from Satya Nadella).

Happy 2018!
Ritesh, Nidhi, Taran and Roshan

P.S.: The following part of our newsletter was Fake news/opinion (can’t blame us for being trendy):

  1. "there is so much to brag"
  2. "We may be are the BEST,"


Unknown said…
After your trip El Nido was renamed to El Nidhi.
Anandi said…
Humorous and heartwarming as always..

To your "fake" news...always remember:

It's not bragging, its acknowledging one's sparkle!

As the saying goes,
Don't be afraid to sparkle a little brighter!! Love ya
Preeti Mehta said…
Traveling with your family through the journeys in your letter was an amazing experience. Wishing all of you a very happy and happening 2018!
Mathangi said…
Love your annual newsletters, Nidhi <3 Thanks for making us relive your experiences!