Thursday, 28 July 2016

Where Am I From

Cinnamon is known as a place where people have interesting conversations and trigger thoughts. Our guest blogger Sujata is one such person who went on a train of thought while chatting with hosts Manish and Shilpi. Sujata is a senior Montessori trainer and teacher from Bangalore. She visits Gurgaon regularly on work and for the past two times has been staying at Cinnamon homestay.She loves travel and long chats over the dinner table. And when last her sister asked if she was getting bored in Gurgaon, she said she is afraid she now might get bored when back in Bangalore :) 
We bring to you a direct "dil se" post that she so thoughtfully shared with us. Thank you Sujata!
 




Hi friends, I'm sharing the gist of what transpired in 'Cinnamon Stays', my home away from home at Gurgaon. Manish and Shilpi make the guests so comfortable that we forget that we are the guests. In the post dinner chat one night(That may go on to more than an hour, without me noticing the passage of time) even as we were chatting, some of my random thoughts fell into place and here it is.....

A very common thing that we do when we meet someone is to try to place where their origin is, as in 'Where are you from?'

When people meet me for the first time, they try to guess, and the answer ranges from- are you Gujrati? A Marwari? to Are you 'Madras brahmin(First time i heard the term) And often people say, 'I can't place from where you are;-)'

All these set off the question- in fact reminded me of the question that would dog me- 'Which state do I belong to?' You see, I am born to Kannadiga(from Karnataka) parents, born and brought up in New Delhi.... And married and settled in Bangalore(the place of my parents origin)

There were enough of south Indian practices at home and at family friends place, that was a part of me. As also was the north indian practices with friends and their homes at young age ensured that I absorbed that too.

It is an interesting journey that I have had. In my early life, I had no such question in my mind, till Geography lessons differentiated me from my friends, as I was from Karnataka, living in Delhi (as someone put it, 'My Madrosi friend..'.) Then came marriage and move to Bagalore- one that I hated. First ten years I was still pining for Delhi till time healed the wounds and I settled into being a Bangalorean( truly so when I realised my chaste Hindi had acquired a south Indian and I wanted to have curds at the end of my meal) There followed a phase of protest in my mind, then feeling lost as I felt I could not own both the identities and then graceful acceptance- of the accent as well as the fact that I am a Kannadiga.

Now that I am back in Gurgaon for long periods, each thing reminds me of what was part of my life long years ago. The colour of the soil-same as my Delhi home. The accent. The air. The people- I can see the characteristic features of the sub communities of North, who now wear clothes very foreign to what they used to wear those 30 long years ago.. That just made me realise how much I had absorbed and knew.

Now I am in a phase of life where I gladly welcome and embrace both the heritage and own both in my mind. That makes me unique and interesting as people struggle to slot me into some region of India. I realised it was made all the more difficult by my schooling in Kendriya Vidyalaya. That is a great leveller and laid the foundation of accepting people as themselves rather than Where they come from.

At the end, still, Main, dil se, Dilli wali hoon!

(Picture courtesy - Sujata R Kumar)

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Aribnb - for Business Travel


Sitting in the back seat of my car, today was a usual morning on my way to work. And, like usual I pulled out my favourite newspapers. Lo and behold! The front page of two of the newspapers had this striking full page ad. A close up of a man jumping into a pool with the kind of glee and excitement of a child. It said Airbnb!

 (picture courtesy Airbnb.com)
 It took only seconds for me to get transported to my last travel. Much as I wanted to recall, I just could not think of any one time when I probably experienced the happiness that the man in the ad seemed to be having. Had I been working so hard? Been so busy? The one thing that seemed so striking to me did not resonate with me at all. My job profile was about traveling. In fact, because I love travel, I took up this job. Yet traveling on work was not the same. Leave alone vacation, vacation was more about the kids and less about me.
 (picture courtesy - businesstravelnow.com)

In the dawn of the moment, I realized how much I was missing the true sense of “travel”. I rummaged through the ad to figure what it was about and I was in for a surprise. The ad spoke of having a time like this on business travel! Curiosity got the better of me and a few search clicks and articles down, I was both amazed and happy to know that airbnb was not just about homestays for vacationing travelers but about homestays for business travelers in a big way.
I thus, wanted to share what I learnt about Airbnb’s latest initiative:
  1. Feel at home, even while traveling for work
Work can get the better of you and the only thing that helps you take the stress out of work is getting back home. Airbnb's homestays offer just that. A place of work by day and a home by evening. It is almost like working from home.

(picture courtesy - nyt.com)


  1. Convenient Locations
The homestays are located at convenient locations in most of the cities. The listings for business travelers are more in the city than the suburbs thereby making it highly convenient to commute to client locations or to meetings in the office.

  1. Living with the locals
Business travel also means some “off” time at the end of the day. Living with the locals helps in connecting with local food, culture and places to visit - all served by an enthusiastic local host and his / her family.

  1. Business amenities

 (picture courtesy- Cinnamon Stays)

All homestays have amenities required for business - wifi, printer, white board and some even have meeting areas earmarked for discussions. Not to forget, a well stocked kitchen with a coffee maker.

  1. Affordable
The company spends a lot of money in booking comfortable hotels and it has a limited budget to work around. Booking a homestay is not just affordable but also helps the company to get a good deal in their budget. Especially true for smaller companies and startups.

  1. Extended stays
 (picture courtesy - travelweekly.co.uk)

Homestays are the perfect place to extend business travel and convert them to vacation. There is no hurry of checking out on the day promised. Homestays are generally flexible in extending stays either for work or to combine vacations. They are great options for long stays when one is on a project work in a different city for a month or more

  1. Offsites
A homestay becomes an ideal place for team offsites and other training programs. The team tends to come closer in an informal setting and can prove to be a great bonding exercise since everyone shares the same roof.

These are probably some of the reasons that I could think of. I am pretty sure when I experience business travel with Airbnb, there will be more to add. Airbnb is currently offering great discounts and travel credits to companies that are booking their business travel stays. At prices that they are quoting with the warmth of a homestay and a feeling of being informal at work, must say this is one great strategy that Airbnb has come out with. 

Below are some pictures of Gurgaon Airbnb listing - Cinnamon Stays - one of the best homestays for the business traveler.



Sunday, 24 July 2016

Safe Haven For Women-Cinnamon Stays



Rushina Munshaw is a Mumbai based celebrity chef. She has always preferred to stay at Cinnamon whenever she visits Gurgaon. Over the years, she has become a regular guest. For someone, who has a host of options, she chooses Cinnamon over and over again. We nudged her to tell us more and she sent us this lovely note! 

Food and Travel…these are the two things that drive my soul. Back in the years, when I decided I had to become a chef, I also knew that it will only be travel that will “feed” my soul that yearns for “Food”






I have traveled to various corners of the country and abroad to learn about food. One thing that I learnt is that a place is defined by its people and its food. So the more I traveled the more I learnt. Needless to say, as a solo woman traveler, I had to be mindful of places I was visiting and especially places I would be staying.

Not long ago, when I decided to visit Delhi for its culinary delight, I was not sure what would be the safest place to stay in Gurgaon.  Lucky for me, a dear friend suggested to give Cinnamon Stays a try. A phone call to Shilpi and I was ready to take the plunge. 

I had inhibitions about being in Gurgaon and this was my first time in an Indian homestay. I had just about landed, when I got a call from Shilpi, not just to give me directions but also to tell me that Gurgaon is very safe and that I should not go by hearsay. It was heartening to note that someone I had not even met was being so warm towards me. 

That was my first time in Cinnamon and I had never had to look anywhere else for my stay in Gurgaon each time I visit. So much so that I often joke with Shilpi and Manish that they should always have a spare room for me just in case I land up unannounced!

Come to think of it, why did I get hooked to this place? It is almost like falling in love, reasons being plenty but it energized me from the core and made me feel so loved! Yet, some of the reasons that I can think of are:

  1. Extremely women friendly
When you have a Life Coach as your host and a housekeeper who are both women, the place ought to be women friendly. I can think of so many conversations I have had with Shilpi on women issues. In a place whose host so strongly believes in the cause of women, you can imagine the lengths she would go to, to make it safe for independant women traveler!

2.           Safety is primary - There is absolutely no compromise on safety. Not just for women guests but everyone who is a guest. The homestay is enclosed in a gated community. No walk in guests are entertained. It allows flexible check in and check out time which makes it convenient.

3.           Feeds my femininity! I am totally taken by the way Cinnamon Stays breathes aesthetics. Their d├ęcor, their quirky rooms, their “unhotelness” all add up to one thing - I just love the way it looks and “feels”. I draw a huge parallel with my own place in Mumbai which again is full of collectibles that add a dash of quirkiness and fun making it very homey for me.


4.           Work on a unique concept of inviting guests - Cinnamon Stays confirms bookings only through Word of Mouth, referrals and networks. This gives them the huge advantage of “knowing” their guest and more so, assuring safety of the other guests. Their “Friends of Cinnamon” program ensures that people who stay here are both genuine and interesting!

5.           Soft landing for all - Cinnamon gave me a soft landing in a place that was new to me. It does that for everyone who is a first timer. I believe, they extend support in relocation and business travel. For a solo traveler like me, Cinnamon gave me the comfort, warmth and safety that I may say I have not been able to match anywhere in the world.


I wish to share some of my moments there with the lovely hosts and their son Neo. Do have a look at my picture parade and as they say, “a picture says a thousand words”, you will know “exactly” what I am trying to say! Enjoy your stay in Cinnamon. This is one place you should never think of saying no to!