Jan 31, 2012

Fortune?

So who will read my fortune from this? :)
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After being in the limbo of will-drink-some-day, the teas that I bought from Teavana store in Bellevue Square Mall are finally seeing the light of the day.
These are the remains of the Raspberry Riot Lemon Mate, a very tart, sweetish tea. Loved it!

Jan 30, 2012

Before I fall

Before I fall By Lauren Oliver - Goodreads Link - Here

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Though it starts off as being a bookish version of Mean Girls, this book is anything but that, or may be it is. The way you look at it, that is.

I loved what the author tried doing with this book, by spinning 7 different versions of the same situations, and showing how one small action by Sam can change the course of action of the entire situation, something like The Butterfly Effect. And how one should treasure the people that matter to them and the memories associated with them.

I totally loved how Sam's character evolves with each day, and how her relationship with Kent changes with each day, so much so that, by the end of the book, Kent and Sam left a warm, fuzzy feeling in my heart, something that resembles to seeing two people you really like falling in love, and you being aware of each detail of it.

Another important angle in this book is perspective. We all are right in our stories, and we are the heroes in our stories, but a little perspective, and being aware of it will go a long way.

This book might even teach you to not hate anyone outright, and peek into your heart to see why you feel about them the way you do, and might even suggest you reconsider your feelings. You never know how much time you have with them, and you don’t want to carry any regrets in your life.

Well, the book starts off as a bit of a drag in the beginning, and might even make you doubt your decision to read it, but don't give up - for that trip in your head you've never been on, for Sam , Kent and Julie and for your own sake.

This book took me back to how I felt when I finished reading Five people you meet in Heaven, the time when I made my own list of people to meet in heaven, and how I might’ve affected their lives.

In the same way, this book made me wonder how my last day would be, look at it from a third person’s perspective and wonder what my last memory would be. Slightly morbid, I know, but practical and inevitable when you read a book of this kind.

Trust me, you will not regret reading this book.

My Rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

Jan 29, 2012

Bookfessions

 

It feels good to know that there are thousands of people like us, bibliophiles, who’d rather be reading a book than be with people, who’d rather have a beautiful story in an imaginary world they spun than be in this world full of lies, and who love their books more than they love their clothes and shoes!

For Bookfessions, refer to this Tumblr. Brilliant blog!

Bookfessions – Link

Some of my confessions -

- I was once caught reading a book which was hidden in a bigger text book in the middle of a class, not by the teacher who was in the class, but by the headmistress who was on her morning rounds. Guess, what happened next goes without saying. :-)

- When we met the first time, the minute husband said that he reads books, and that he loves Godfather, I had a good feeling about us. Well, he was one of the first men I met who had read and loved Godfather as much as I had. And oh yes, apparently, I was the first girl he met who had liked Godfather as much as he did. It goes without saying that we both should’ve met more people before we met each other… ;-)

- I have read all Shakespeare’s works, abridged versions, of course by the time I finished 9th class. It goes without saying that I finished all the books in my school library , which was pretty extensive for the size of the school, by 9th class. The librarian was happy with this fact, coz that meant I would actually read my text books in Class X.

- I haven’t still forgiven that boy, my parents’ friends’ son, who took my Russian Fairy Tales book and still hasn’t returned it. Its been 20 yrs, and I don’t know where he is now! And Mom has stopped asking me to lend a book to anyone. That is how much grief I gave her for having goaded me into giving that book to that pest!

- I once actually yelled out , ‘where’s the broom!’ when I was stuck in traffic, and my friend gave me this really weird, incredulous look. Of course, she didn’t catch the Pottermania bug!

- If I REALLY like the book am reading, then more often than not, I read it cover-to-cover in one go.

- Mom once found me with a book in one hand, and a torchlight in another in a corner room during a power-cut. On the same lines, I once read through a complete milk-burn situation when I was alone at home, all the while thinking, the neighbours have left their stove on with milk on it, and that I should tell them about it when they come back. Mom, on her return told me that she smelt the milk burning from across the street, and yes, I got a good whack on my back.

So, that’s it for starters… What are your bookfessions? Out with it… :-)

Jan 27, 2012

My first love…

is this – My mortar and pestle.

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After having gotten over the excitement of having this awesome looking pitcher, am back to being in love with this… :-D

What’s yours?

[Also cross posted at my food blog, The Meal Algorithm here]

Jan 23, 2012

Am from Shivalli…

Ideally, that is how I would like to introduce myself when anyone asks me where I am from. I generally resort to saying am from Karnataka or from Mangalore depending on whether am in a mood for a deeper conversation on that day. And then I smile and listen to how the other person says I don’t look like a South Indian at all. If it is someone who is familiar with how women from Konkan region look like, they will then admit that I look like someone they know, someone from Mangalore or Belgaum. But more often than not, people immediately say, I look like a Punjabi , because of my loud voice. Or a Gujarati because of the name. Or a Telugu, because of the surname. And then cringe in my mind. Why? Why don’t I look like a South Indian? Each of these attributes are because I am a Mangalorean. To be precise, a Shivalli Brahmin. Well, not many have even heard of this community.

Am missing home. And by home, I don’t mean my parent’s place or my own place here in Hyderabad. I am definitely missing Mangalore, especially my native place Ujire. Well, that place is almost a Tara for me, so to say… that place where I go to reaffirm that I belong to some place, and the place that reminds me that there are more of my kind. The loud, Tulu-speaking, boisterous , fun-loving crowd.

Well, its not hard to be thinking of your native and mother tongue when you are some sort of a minority among all the Tamil, Telugu, Hindi and Mallu speaking friends, colleagues and relatives. And when your native place is atleast 16 hours away from where you stay now. And the only people who speak your mother tongue are reachable through phone, and you don’t see them all that often. And you have to answer questions about the lack of written script for your  mother tongue. (Well, there IS a Tulu script, there apparently is a Mahabharata written in Tulu , one epic poem, and one Tulu movie even won a National Award)

Oh yes… I am missing the usual Tulu banter. All those phrases used in vernacular Tulu. I can still translate them and use them in Telugu or Kannada, but its not the same. Phrases like Chittu puli saibe , Ninno tare , Kebitu gaali potunu, Ninku marlu, Botri marayre, Beedi naayi which appear in vernacular Tulu do not mean the same when translated. Tell me if any of these make any sense to you – The guy selling oranges, Your head, There is air in your ears, You are mad, No, man, street dog. No, right? But use them to any Tulu-speaking person, and you’ll see the wide grin or may be even an incredulous look on his/her face.

What with people migrating all over India and the world, there are a lot of people who don’t live in the place that speaks their mother tongue. For popular languages like Telugu, Tamil, Punjabi, Gujarati, Malayalam etc, you will find someone speaking the same language including the same dialect in most Indian cities. But for Tulu, this is never the case. In the rarest of the rare cases that I actually found anyone speaking Tulu, I’ve noticed immediately that it is not the same dialect that I am used to.

Language is important in making a person feel at home or not. Other such parameters are food and people. All of which I don’t get to see as much as I would like to.

Mangalorean cuisine is different in terms of the ingredients , the vegetables and the style of cooking. There are a lot of yogurt based dishes, and there is almost zero usage of lentils. Almost all dishes have fresh coconut in them and there a lot of no-cook recipes too. There is a ton of difference in our staple breakfasts and the rest of the nation’s. In short, like all other regional cuisines in India, it is totally different and quite rare to find even in restaurants. Kodakene, Kodyelu, Saaru, Bajji, Rotti, Shavige, Gatti, Dose… These are staples in a Tulu household, and are unheard of in any other part of this country.

And then the people.

We, Tulus are a very loud community by nature. We laugh and talk in a very loud, boisterous tone. We make a huge spectacle out of everything. Words generally reserved for adult usage flow freely when we talk. Almost nothing is not suitable for children’s ears. Words like pinkan and pukuli which literally mean ass are commonplace in our conversations. There are just no inhibitions. Men have loud , crude jokes in the presence of an entire audience, and no one considers it rude.

At lunches, all the men remove their shirts, and sit in a straight line, showing off their pot-bellies and Janivaras . All of them utter the words ‘Govinda Govinda’ at once , and start on to polish off the sumptuous food off the plantain leaves, in one particular pre-decided-from-atleast-900-years order. (If you do not eat food in that order, your lineage is immediately questioned. ) And all of them get up from their lunches at the same time, always after the eldest man in the entire lot is done.

We can eat Dose for all three meals in one day. And like that for a full week, if needed. For festivals, all of us call our relatives, each of them mostly proprietors of a Udupi hotel in a different place, and talk about our menu for the day asking the same question – ‘Ini jaado special’ knowing the answer very well. And Dose is the prominent item in that. For Krishnashtami, Ugadi and Deepavali, our only festivals. And for birthdays or social gatherings. Dose & Chutney, it is! Its a mass-Dose-preparation-ritual for us, every day.

And the love for sweets , or desserts. There are almost always three to four varieties of payasams at our weddings. Couple of burfis , pelakkai gattis, Kukku rasayanas and paramanna feature in our menus, and dal will be missing in all our menus conspicuously. We just don’t eat Dal, you see. We make up for all that protein by drinking litres and litres of peru (milk) and chai.

All of us are united in our great love for saaru, and the saarus in all our houses taste almost the same. It is like literally everyone’s Mom had the same teacher for cooking in their school. And all of these women stock up on their Byadigi munchis. Goli, gujje, saute and amte are some of our vegetables which make some of the best dishes. Our pickles do not have oil in them and yet last for as long as you want them to and taste like a piece of spicy heaven.

We all love to eat anything with coconut oil. Dose, Idli , Kodyelu or Mudita uppuda with rice taste the best with coconut oil for us. We do not mind if the other person is squirming at the thought of eating coconut oil, for us its the healthiest ever. Oh yes, Parachute coconut oil is highly edible. For the record Parachute coconut oil is different from Parachute hair oil. Thank you very much!

All our social gatherings are because our Swamis or Mathadipathis are visiting our towns, and one rich Uncle is hosting the seer, more often than not in his paryaya. We all flock to him for his Ashirwada and some news about our collective hometown, Udupi or how the Krishna elephant behaved in the recent paryaya.

Almost all of us have grown up with our fathers talking about vyapara (business) which generally is hotel business. All of us have eaten Idlis, puris and masala dosas as breakfast for major parts of our lives, and will still order the same food when we eat outside. We would like to know how different these taste in other hotels, you see.

Almost all of us have memories of how our fathers have chased cars with Karnataka registration with the vain hope that they probably are from Mangalore, and came home with a carful of strangers only because they spoke Tulu. We all have shared our books, our rooms and our memories with kids we’ve never seen before and who will leave the next day, only because their parents spoke Tulu too, and our parents found a common connection in their third cousin’s fifth daughter’s in-laws’ cousin. Oh yes, we all are related. More often than not. And by the mere mention of our surnames, we identify each other which part of Mangalore they are from.

There is no men-will-sit-in-one-room-women-in-another attitude in our community. Everyone is welcome to talk to everyone they like, and all conversations always start with a wide smile and a ‘Encha ulleru, maama/maami?’ followed by a quick ‘Usharullera?’ and a bending down to touch their feet. Elders always ask the same question, no matter which time of the day you talk to them – ‘Ashana aana? Jaado tinderu?’ (literally means – did you have your meal? What did you eat?) and the younger ones rattle out the entire menu.

During festivals or celebrations, there is a mass-community-Namaskaram ritual. Everyone bends down on all their fours to touch the feet of their elders. We do that even if we see them, the elders of the family every day, on festivals, and even if we wear a new dress that day. Basically, there is a mayhem and confusion around Namaskara time, because everyone wants to touch everyone’s feet. We frown upon anyone who cannot get down to their fours and bend. What a sacrilege to not be doing that!

The Tulu girls are generally known to be more gutsy than Tulu boys, who are always mama’s boys, calling their Moms 8 times a day to update them about their days, ending up taking care of their Dad’s Udupi hotels and passing them on to their sons, making tonnes of money in the process. Tulu women are generally very pretty and look not a day older than 35 even when they are well beyond 50, and Tulu boys end up getting a bald head and a slight paunch by the time they turn 30, though I am told that times are changing these days, thankfully for the Tulu girls.

None of us, Tulu girls have heard the Gayatri Mantra being recited out loud in our houses, and we have not touched or cleaned the God’s pedestal till now, we are not allowed to, but that doesn’t mean we are discriminated. That is for the boys to do during their Gayatri recitations and Sandhya Vandanams, that’s all. Oh, and yes, we do Bhootaradhane and consider the Kolas a huge celebration.

And yes, we all speak one language more than the rest of you non-Tulu speaking folks. Telling people that Tulu is your mother tongue but you cannot speak it is frowned upon. There are so few of us that most of us do not want to not know our mother tongue. Forget passing it on to the next generation, we are doubtful if folks from our own generation will find enough people to speak Tulu with.

No, we are not proud of Aishwarya Rai, but we do mention that Prakash Raj is one of ours. So is Shilpa Shetty. And we are all particularly proud of Sunil Shetty, and more such folks.

You see, my culture is rich. As rich as any of the other cultures in India. Just that, there are so few of us, and so scattered that we are not as famous as the other communities for our idiosyncrasies or general behaviours.

Just because some of us do not live in or near our native place , and are not married to Shivallis, and do not have carry our Shivalli surnames in our names anymore , that does not make us any less of a Mangalorean.

Our hearts still yearn for Tulu, coconut oil and to yell ‘Ninno Pinkan’ (and be understood) out loudly to anyone who might irritate us…

Jan 11, 2012

For the sake of colours…

 

This is originally posted at the Flickr page, and should actually be at the Food Blog, but I love this pic for all the colours in it. And hence, here it is… For the May be a 365 tag. :)

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Jan 10, 2012

What I miss…

 

Next month, I and the husband hit our 6th wedding anniversary.
Its nice being married this long, especially when you have not thought you’d do it yourselves. More so, when you both knew it was a gamble you were taking on and had even told that to yourselves and each other.

Being as different as chalk and cheese apart, sustaining a marriage this long with serious full time careers, pursuing independent hobbies, having enough space between each other, and still finding time to spend with each other is a big deal. At least for those of us who are commitment-phoebes even after having being married, i.e.., the two of us in this household.
Also, any two people who have no reason to be together except that they want to be and hence are.

Well, now you can now imagine how elated I feel every time we hit an anniversary. We made it to another year. With our head and heart intact. And sane too. A big big big deal!

Like I said, its nice being married this long. You would’ve shared all stories you’ve ever known. All experiences. All the people you’ve ever met. And all you have are stories you make together, people you meet together, and places you mostly go together.

You get comfortable around the person. You grow along with the spouse. You learn to laugh at and with your spouse. You make your own weekend routines. You have your own inner jokes. You arrive at your own holiday vacationing patterns.
Many things don’t have to be said any longer, they are implied and understood because that’s how you both have done them. For all these years.

Trust me, even for someone with a vagabond-ish heart expecting new things everyday, this kind of familiarity feels good. That’s me we are talking about.
There is just one thing I miss by virtue of having been married this long. Because of having known the husband all these years -

Butterflies. :-)
The ones that make their presence felt in your stomach when you meet someone special for the first time. That kind which makes you smile to yourself amidst a crowd. That very kind which makes you feel unsettled and want to call up that person every second minute. The ones which you feel when you anticipate the first kiss, the first touch and the first few moments you are alone together.

Yes, I miss that. :-)

Jan 8, 2012

The cynic thinks…


Trust me, being cynical about things suits me. Or being highly philosophical , for that matter. A great deal.
I don't have to worry about the end result. I don't have to deal with anxieties or cold feet or worries. I only have to do my share of the work. And leave the rest to destiny/Karma/Universe. Things will work out the way they were designed to be.

But you know what I miss the most about being this way ?

The ability to feel. To cry. To fret on things/people. To possess. To desperately want something.

Well, I am not a saint. I do feel all the above. But only for an extremely small fleeting second, and the practical self kicks in. And all these feelings vanish. Just like that.

Kinda boring, no? :-)

Jan 7, 2012

True love… huh?

 

I was listening to Lana Del Ray’s songs and the whole discussion about true-love started in my mind between the eternal-cynic and the once-sentimental selves about what true love is, if it exists and if it really is over-rated. That’s when I remembered an old post of mine. Something I wrote back in 2008, when the song The Reason was on my playlist non-stop. Am pleasantly surprised to know that my thoughts about love have not changed much.

Some excerpts from the original post…

Does this kind of love exist?
I know love is beautiful, and its the best thing to happen to a person and all that jazz. I know you feel completed when you are in love, and I also know that its lucky to find love.
But this kind of love, the one mentioned in the song, like how you feel like holding the tears, how you can never ever forgive for giving her some pain... this one is beyond me.

Either I forgot how it is to be in love, that fresh feeling, or I never felt that kind of an emotion, both of which are okay. Coz I know that the fresh feeling will never be fresh, and the important feeling is the one that lasts, and if I never felt that emotion, that' is because I am not an emotional person, but it would be interesting to see someone who feels all this…

Is there anyone who has felt this all even after few years of togetherness?
I mean, does anyone actually feel this kind of love in real life, or is it all fiction?
I always thought no one would be as foolish as Scarlett O’Hara (the literary one, not yours truly) is, to give up everything you have in pursuit of one man!
I always thought violins-in-a-slow-tune never happen when people fall in love.
I always thought no man would leave everything he has and go behind his wife, like the protagonist in Zahir does. Yes, the reason he does that for is different, but the feelings he feels are profound!
Is there something like - you stay in his arms and you don’t want anything else? Naah, not for me atleast. I would enjoy the moment thoroughly, but then that is not life.
Is there really a Prince Charming? Is it enough if he just charms you and takes you in a pumpkin carriage?

Well, in my world, everything is practical & real.
I believe in love which makes me feel secure, and happy.
I believe in love which gives me my space and lets me grow.
I believe in love where I can share each of my feelings and get support/understanding in return.
I believe that I might miss someone terribly, but I can still be happy by myself.
At the same time, if I am not missing someone, it does not necessarily mean that I do not love the person the same way anymore.
I would want to stay in his arms, and look into his eyes, but that would be for the rest of my life, not for just a moment or two. If its for just a moment, I’d rather not have it. And I wouldn't do it with stars in my eyes, just a neat smile on the lips!

No, I am not talking about the whole soul mate concept here. I do believe in the connection between two souls. I, for one do not believe that there is just one soul mate. I believe that there are many soul mates. You meet them at different stages of your life. They don’t have to always be from the opposite sex.

Neither am I talking about the One. I do not believe that there is something like The One.
Mr.Right exists, but the catch is, there are always Mr.Right-s. Depending on where you are in your mind, or life, you meet a certain person who becomes your Mr.Right then. Its a great feeling if he continues to be the Right one forever, if you both learn together and grow together. If not, too bad. 

I, for once do not also believe in Love-happens-only-once-philosophy, or in true love at all.
If it is love, then it is true. Otherwise its just infatuation, lust or attraction. I even think that true love is highly over-rated.

I have contemplated on what I would do, if ever the person I love would leave me and go. Well, I might cringe and yearn for his company for a while, and miss him after that. After a while, I think I will get back to life.

My philosophy towards this is - As long as it was there, it was good. Now let me not spoil it by dwelling over it! From the time I have known love, I have been like this, and have enjoyed it this way. Always loved with all my heart and never regretted it!

Well, I wasn’t always this practical or cynical, if you decide to call it that. I used to be sentimental , trying to hold things in my fist and trying to control how my relationships grow or where they lead. If anything age has taught me , its that I don’t get anything by trying to be a control-freak. Age has taught me that -

If its meant to be, it will. If its not, it wont be.

Yep, so I can safely deduce that this kind of extreme love exists only in the songs, movies & books!

And if someone I know feels this kind of love, I would be amused... :) And yes, I would also want to know how they feel this way, may be I can take a few lessons.
After all, to one his own!

The Language of Baklava

If you love food, you must read this book. If you loved the family meals, and stories shared during those meals, you must read this book.

Diana talks about all the meals she has shared with her family cooked by her Dad, Bud over a number of years. There are stories which talk about comfort food, food to impress people, food when some family members got angry, and food to cure your soul. Its a long recipe book with personal stories for each of the recipes. All of them in exquisite detail in terms of the story and the recipe, both. If you are a foodie, you will even find yourself drooling as you read some of these recipes.

If you want to understand the Jordanian way of living, eating and existing, you must read this book. There are elaborate stories about stays in Jordan, dwelling into the way the Bedouins live, the food natives eat, and their gregarious method of eating.
If you are an Asian, you will find yourself smiling at most of these, and even tell yourself with a little reproaching tone, that’s how we all are. All Asians. Loud. Endearing. Loving our family and our neighbours, and food being the central of our existence, and family meals having a lot of history, drama and stories for us.

If you have more than one point of origins/identities , you will love this book. If you belong to one community, but have grown up in a different one, and are yearning to be closer to the one you belong to, and yet your heart knows you are really the second one, then this is book is for you.
You might even want to do a little soul-searching yourself, and answer those questions you’ve always asked yourself – where do I belong to? Which is my real native? The one I was born into or the one I grew up in. At least I did. The book didn’t answer my questions, but it gave me a certain comfort that I am not the only one thinking like this.
Reading this book might even put a little perspective on why our migrant parents behave the way they do when they meet, see or even think of anything that connects to their native remotely.

As I was reading about Bud, the way he behaves, his dream to own a restaurant, his need to keep the family together, the way he conditions his daughters, I felt a feeling of having known this person. And that person is my Dad! Almost 80% of the description Diana gives for Bud are what my Dad is! :)
Now I understand why my Dad used to behave the way he would when he would see us what he then thought to be drifting from our culture , how he would react when he would spot anyone speaking my mother tongue(which is one of the rarest languages spoken in India) or how he would tell some stories about food with his eyes literally brimming with emotion or the steadfast way in which my parents would insist that we do things the Shivalli way.

This book also reminded me of all the meals people from my community would have together, in an alien land which found the food we ate very different, very alien. And that the need for us all to meet each other very frequently was to keep in touch with our roots, because all of us were drifting away. All of us knew that, we were accepting that, but we also wanted to cling to our culture. Our food. Our people. Our customs.

This book details that yearning very beautifully. Its a person’s journey to his native, and back to where he now lives in, to accept a little painfully that his native is not what he thought it was. And that he has now transformed into a different person.

If I were to write a book about my childhood, my Dad and the food we made at home, my community and my people, well, it would be something like this. Except that the food would be Mangalore-an, and we would still be in India. There would be stories about people asking me about my mother-tongue Tulu and asking me if all the stereotypes they know of or heard of about us, our language and our food are indeed true.

And then there are some lines that have made a mark on my mind. When Auntie Aya tells Diana – Every time you think you want to have kids , ask yourself if you want to have kids or bake a cake. Funny yes, but very deep too.

In short, if you eat, you should read this book.
If not the stories, the recipes are to die for. This is the collection of all of the Middle-Eastern food you’ve heard/read/dreamt of, all in one place. Babaganoush, Hummus, Baklava, Tabbouleh, Fattoush. All of them. And so much more.

I’ll give this book a complete 5 on 5 rating. This one is going to be on my kitchen bookshelf permanently!

My GoodReads reading progress -

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Jan 4, 2012

Closer…

To God. That’s what I felt when I saw these places. Breath-taking is not the word I am looking for.
Feeling closer to God.
Being one with Nature.
Beauty so magnificent that no amount of photography can capture it.
Tongue-tied because you are Mesmerized by the surroundings.
That moment when you feel you’ve seen everything in your life, and you don’t mind if it ends. Right there.
That moment in time when you don’t want to share with anyone, and also want to share with everyone you love.
You know fully well that you can never describe how you feel about this moment.
Your own particular place of worship. Your Zen.
Unending peace.
A time so beautiful that you almost choke with emotion.
A place and time when you lose track of yourself and everything around you.
What I am looking for is one word which will sum all these feelings. I felt all these, and so much more. So much that these places will always have a special place in my heart. And create an yearning to go back there again.
The first time I felt this was when I stood on the Wisdom Path on Lantau Island, Hong Kong and saw the vast nothingness. When I felt those large towering pillars containing excerpts of the Heart Sutra not knowing what they preach, but knowing that they are from the message of Peace. It was when  the mist slowly lifted and I could make out the ocean and the forests from atop the path. It was a moment of immense peace. I almost cried when I felt all these, and just took in all the beauty.
Lantau
What I felt was so special and rare that I wanted to see if I will feel all this the second time I go there. And I did. All of this, and much more. This time there was a familiarity between that peace and myself. It was like we were greeting each other pleasantly, and I lost myself again. And that’s when I knew, this would never go. I would continue to be in love with this place.
And that’s how it started. My search for a place like that again. Something which will make me feel the same things again. Something that will transport me to a different medium and a level again.
Only after a complete 2 year span did I find that place. This time in Seattle, Washington. In Olympic National Park. On the banks of Lake Crescent in Bovine Meadow.
I got down the car, stared into the space and just stared. It took me a complete 15 mins to recover and let the beauty sink in. All three of us, we just stared into that beauty.
Lake Crescent
There was not a single sound except the sound of the waves splashing to the banks. Except the sound of wind that was making the waves splash. And the vast nothingness deep into the space between the two mountains. The varying colours in the water. The cold breeze flowing in from the snow-capped mountains across the huge lake. Just Beautiful.
Lake Crescent - 2
I was literally crippled by seeing all this beauty, and I had to sit on a broken branch to take it all in.
And now all I yearn for is to go back there again. To share it with people I love. The husband. Some more friends. Whoever will appreciate this beauty. And for more such places.
Its like the whole travel bug has hit a new level. The search is not for places where I can relax. Or places where I can do sight-seeing.
The search is for the place that will make me forget myself, the world and everything in it. A place which will tell me that God and Providence exist, and what am I but a mere speck in the entire picture.
A place which will not just be a stamp on my passport, but which will mark a stamp on my mind.
A place which will reinforce my belief in this world and Providence.
A place which will make me feel all of the above feelings, and may be much more.
A place which will tell me that I can still feel. All those beautiful feelings.
A place which tells me that am not a cynic, but a romantic.
In short, I love to travel only so that I can rediscover myself in the beauty these places have to offer. To reaffirm myself that such beauty exists and I am lucky enough to witness it.
And travel, I shall…

Jan 3, 2012

The year, 2011…


Has been good, I must say. For travel, friends, books, food, work and life in general.
 
Some friendships which I know will last my entire life have happened this year… Smart , intelligent women who will continue to matter a lot … I couldn’t have asked for more this year in terms of friendships. Visits to and from friends who don’t stay in Hyderabad have happened this year, strengthening the bond we share… This post sums it all!
 
Cooking, baking and shooting the stuff that’s made, all of this has taken a new level altogether this year. I’ve become more serious about what I cook and how I shoot it, which is a good sign. It might be that one thing that really interests me, even if it is for the moment. More focus on healthy eating, and getting in all the vitals into the food has been taken this year, and with the cook being around for help, kitchen is not an area am scared of anymore! All this is documented on the food blog, and pics are on the Flickr page.
The Meal Algorithm
The Photo Experiment
I’ve had the best year as far as books are concerned. Clocking atleast one book per week is a big deal when you have a full-time job, right? :-)

Books
Work has been great. Some good times, some challenging ones, some friendships put to good test, new friendships , some loyalties pondered on… in short, it has been a very eventful year, in a very good way. What with the total outlook about work and life being changed last year, things stopped to faze me. The mantra had been karma throughout. These lines by Dido which I also have on my communicator status sum it all for me -
I deserve nothing more than I get
Cos nothing I have is truly mine!
I’ve mended some relationships in life, made some very new but important ones and got a whole new perspective on what matters and what doesn’t.
 
There was a slight interest in gardening, but after I’ve discovered that my green thumb is as big as Uday Chopra’s acting career, I’ve left it for the maid to do . She has an amazing green thumb and totally nurtured all my plants back to health. What I take responsibility for now are just the easy-to-maintain Bamboos I have around.
 
Last, and never the least, I’ve travelled more than I can hope and wish for in this year. The husband says he has done his quota of travelling for another two years, now that he has clocked in so many miles with me, but then, that’s a fight I choose to have later. :-)
 
First it was that long trip to Sikkim where we went sight-seeing to see the peaceful monasteries, the large snow-covered mountains, heights that we’ve never imagined we’d be at Nathula, Lachung, Yumthang, all more than 10000 ft, great Momos and the sweetest set of people I’ve ever come across in India so far.

Sikkim - March, 2011
And then it was the totally unexpected short 2 week Seattle trip. I was there on work, but thanks to my travel partners, I got to see some very beautiful places – Pike Place Market, Snoqualmie, Mt Rainier, a drive through ONP and a ferry to get to Kingston, lots of shopping in Bellevue Square Mall… this trip is something that I will never forget. It being my first time in US also might have to do something with this. :-)

Seattle - May, 2011

And then Pondicherry happened. Idea of a long weekend and a talk with friends let to this trip, which also was a part-road-trip. Some great food also happened in this place.
 
I’ve been to Bombay before, but that was when I was too young and I had not even eaten a Vada Pav then. So this time, when a friend was going for after-Diwali-vacation to Bombay, I tagged along shamelessly. I stayed at her place with her family, and got an awesome mini-tour of Bombay. Meeting new people, some shopping on Linking Road and good food …
 
Another idea of a long weekend, and me yearning to go to the mountains took us to Coonoor towards the end of the year. The most beautiful place I’ve been to in India so far, this farm where we stayed in was everything we wanted for that trip – beautiful view of the mountains, great view from our cottage, a very friendly dog, good food and loads of time to laze around and not do anything.

Coonoor - Dec, 2011
This was also the year when I practised the most important of all arts –
 
 
I’ve perfected finishing all work by 9 AM on weekends, and laze on the couch all day long. Either reading a book or a newspaper, it was my me-time, when I wouldn’t even take phone calls, letting the busy week pass through and gearing up for the jolting weeks ahead… It was exactly like Elizabeth Gilbert expressed in her Eat, Pray and Love.
 
In addition to all these, I also turned 30 this year. An awesome , totally unexpected party was thrown for me and another friend who was turning 30 too on the same day. Husband literally showered me with gifts, thus seizing the opportunity to never let me crib that he doesn’t surprise me. Lots of catching up with friends , some great times and great photographs to prove that have happened. Now that all my friends have turned 30 too, its a new phase in all our lives. 30s are not as bad as we thought they would be…
 
I also got a tattoo this year. Lots of thought was put into it, and it turned up to be the most-thought-out-thing I did so far instead of being an impulsive one. Am now -
The Girl with the Music Tattoo!
Now am all ready to get a second one… :-)
 
The year came with its set of glitches too. I lost an Uncle in December, some terrible things have happened to friends and their families, husband is very stressed at work, many friends have moved away from Hyderabad and there have been some ups and downs in the health and exercise routine, but then, this is all in the game.
 
2012 is going to be a great year… this amount of travel might not happen, but there are exciting times for sure. A great deal of books will happen. Hopefully new friendships might happen, I might get to retain the work friends I have, and the old ones will thrive. I plan to continue the whole cooking/baking routines and continue to do good photos with those.
 
Yet again, what really matters is how peaceful I am,  how many good things happen to people around me and what I learn. I just hope this Zen remains for this  year as well! :-)
Happy New Year, Everyone!
May you have great happiness, prosperity and wonderful times this year!

Jan 1, 2012

In the sea There are Crocodiles

 

10291971

Book Goodreads link – Here

Heart-wrenchingly genuine story of a 10 year old Hazara boy's journey from a war-struck grief-laden Afghanistan to Italy, via many countries and deportations.

However, everything in this book is what we already know through a zillion NYTimes or Times articles -  the living conditions in Afghanistan, the different routes people take to get away from Afghanistan, the situation of immigrants in Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Greece.
The book follows a very narrative tone, with the boy , now a grown adult himself talking to the author, I highly even doubt if the author changed the tenses.

So this book does not do anything to your senses in terms of its language or how it portrays the situations back then. You will have to get this picture from the author's words, and by imagining it all, which is not a pretty picture.

There is no doubt that this is a story that should be told, to understand and never be able to fathom the horrors the country has seen at the hands of the extremists, but if you have read either of Khaled Hosseini's books, A Thousand Splendid Suns and KiteRunner, you can easily give this book a miss.

My rating – 3 stars