Life-The Amish Way

As I read more and more about Amish, the fascination and intrigue kept growing. Last week , finally I had a chance to travel to Lancaster, Pennsylvania the Amish county to see the real people.

I had lots of information about Amish before I started my journey, a journey I never thought would come my way but life often gives surprises! So on a beautiful summer day in June,2017, I took Interstate 95 from New Jersey. As soon as the city ended, the beautiful green forests crept up by the highway. We had entered Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the landscape reminded me of my place, full of green foliage. The drive was about 2 and a half hours, needless to say, I didnt realize how the hours went by.

Amish are of Swiss-German ancestry who emigrated to Pennsylvania in early 18th century. They are known for simple living, plain dressing and do not use modern technology including electricity, automobiles and telephones. They value rural life, manual labor and humility, what they believe to be God’s word.They have their own one-room schools and discontinue formal education after 8th grade, at age 13 or 14. Until the children turn 16, they have vocational training from their parents, community, and the school teacher. Because they believe, education until 8th grade is enough to do what they do for a living i.e .farming, carpentry, household work and other related works within their community. The population (which doubles every 20 years) of Amish as of 2016 was 308,030.
I got to see some breathtaking views of the place , mostly Lancaster county. Taking a guided tour of a place called ,’The Amish Village’ where they have tried to show a glimpse of Amish life was amazing. Then we went into the country side entering into some of the real villages and watching Amish work in their daily routine like in the farms or just riding their bicycles to run errands. The people I saw wore their traditional dresses with women in white bonnets and men in black or straw hats. Then I visited some of the tourist shops to get some souvenirs, the place has been marketed for tourism from 20th century and I guess, it has also become a source of income for the Amish and other locals. The beauty and the integrity of the place and the people has been intact and we get to see how these people have managed to live life without the modern day technological advantages.

I enjoyed the whole day in nature’s lap and promised myself to return someday…

Here are some of the memorable pics from the Amish County.

 

Flame

Shot by- AR

Shot by- AR

The first thoughts which come along in the mind with the word is a flickering candle or a lamp flame. In a dark night , just one flame is enough to lit up the room, to get everything done from cooking to reading. When I was young, I clearly remember studying in kerosene lamps whenever there was an outage , which was more than often but we never complained.

With the invention of inverters and generators,the usage of candles and lamps became less frequent. I don’t remember the time when it became a fashion to have candle lit dinners. Candles and their small yet meaningful flames lit across Jantar Mantar around the time when ‘Rang De Basanti’ was released. If I remember correctly, this trend started only after the film had a similar sequence. For every single time when people wanted to voice their opinion against the system, Jantar Mantar would be lit up in candle flames. Whether the issue was resolved or not , the mass had a way for their say.

Candles remind me of certain Diwali nights when diyas would get over or the oil would all be consumed before the night, when I opened a pack of them and put them across all windows and doors. They are less messy than diyas for sure. Birthdays are another occasions when you hunt for candles and blowing them in a room filled with lots of noisy friends and guests, hold special memories.

In terms of people, flames are always referred to ex! May be because , flames extinguish too fast. Although ex-flame always refers to an interesting, torrid and passionate affair even when it is remembered in a past tense!

The other flames that warm the heart and the entire surroundings are the ones that burn in the fireplaces during winters. Winters that are colder than a 1 degree or even lesser. I could understand the concept of a fireplace only in Shillong where each of the room has one and it has to be lit in the evening if one does not want to shiver in cold all through the night. Since India does not have the system of centralized cooling or heating, the indigenous methods like fireplaces work efficiently in colder places.

Last but not the least, each of the 10 evenings spent in Goa , 2 years back, were worth every single penny I spent on that trip. Thanks to the candle lit evenings which started as early as 6pm and carried on until mid-nights. Those wonderful nights are the one of the few extraordinary moments, I would wish to get  back to again and again…..and again!

Goa- 2014

Goa- 2014

 

 

Broken ties

Aai Google images

Aai
                                    Google images

The first time Aai came to stay with us was for 2 months in January 2016. Because her son had stayed out all these years after school she never could stay with him.It had been more than 15 years that she had ever stayed with her son for so long. her son would come over to his mother a couple of times in a year or on a special occasion like diwali but had never stayed for more than a week. Aai longed to live with her last borne and hence as soon as her son arrived in India after a year of staying abroad , he sent for her. this time it was special, he had been blessed with a baby boy and Aai was more than ecstatic.

Aai was not keeping too well this year. she kept sleeping at odd hours and was tired all the time. she would not get into the kitchen for any purpose even to make goodies for her son nonetheless she tried playing with her grandson. Later on she would know that she was misdiagnosed for thyroid and was taking wrong medicines for a long time. after a couple of weeks of staying at her son’s place, she confided that in spite of her health, she liked staying in Hyderabad. She also started to confide in me. The bond between two women had started to begin and we would sometimes talk late into the night. Most of the times I would be asking for her secret recipes and the ones that her son loved while he grew up, sometimes the conversation would lead to people. people who were no more there in Aai’s life, her husband, her previous daughter-in-laws. Aai had 2 sons and unfortunately both were divorced and fortunately had remarried. She said at times she got concurrent nightmares about the divorces of her sons . She confessed her fear of her sons being cursed for their marriages.I would quietly would listen to the never ending tales of her and would encourage her to get out for morning and evening walks more often. She mentioned that she had one major regret in her life, that her younger son would not share much with her unlike her older one. I attributed this trait of her husband to the fact he had mostly stayed away from the house after school. Aai said , her son had been seeing his first wife for more than 5 years but he never mentioned it to her or anyone until they were ready for marriage. Although there were disagreements in the house about his choice of girl but eventually all agreed. Aai said , she had told everybody that she does not want to lose her son and its better that everyone accepts the girl and it really does not matter even if she was from another religion, caste, creed or state. Their family belonged to the upper caste in Maharashtra, the Patils, the warriors from the clan of Shivaji and were staunch believers of caste system since time immemorial. It was actually a matter of great disgust to everyone in the family that her would-be daughter-in-law was from another religion and caste. Somehow the family gulped it down with a pinch of salt as they didnt want to lose their son who they already saw so very less.

Aai’s health and the bond between us started getting better, she started confiding more in me. It seems , she never liked her son’s first wife for she dressed like a man and had no mannerisms of a daughter -in-law. She was totally overweight and would do nothing about her health. Aai also mentioned how she would make beef and meat disrespecting their family values of being vegetarians and that she would argue with her son about how she cannot leave eating meat ever. Aai resented these arguments between her son and his wife and knew she could not help the bitterness everyone in her family was facing whenever her son and his wife were visiting them. Aai resented the fact that her daughter-in-law never put Bindi or Sindoor or wear a Saree even on festive occasions and that she was always in salwar or jeans even if people came visiting them. On their first diwali after the wedding,Aai said her daughter-in-law went to sleep at 6 in the evening when it was time for lighting the diyas. All the relatives who came to wish for diwali were surprised why the bride was sleeping on the eve of diwali.

One time, Aai had been visiting them along with her older son. Both the sons were sleeping in the hall on a makeshift bed as Aai was asleep on the double bed in the master bedroom. Her daughter-in-law was supposed to arrive by an early morning train from Mumbai. When Aai got up in the morning she was shocked to see the daughter-in-law sleeping with her husband even while he was asleep with his older brother. ‘She does not have any sense , she is not of good character’ , Aai had concluded to me.

It was very difficult to comprehend why would someone hurt everyone in the family at one go. Why someone would or could slap their spouse, or even why they would carry on their ego trip when it was supposed to be a love marriage. Sometimes, when there are no answers , time decides to deal with the unwanted things. And so whatever had happened, did happen for good, I told Aai.

Aai visited us again this month for we were traveling abroad to settle down once for all. She looked good healthwise and mindwise. She told me to take care of her son and grandson. As I held her in a tight embrace, she got all her answers and I was content to see her equally content face.

Peace Google images

Peace
     Google images

Pleasure

Hogback Covered Bridge

                                                                 Hogback Covered Bridge

To be able to do the things that you love to do…is pleasure to me. People may have different pleasure depending upon their habits or hobbies.Habits like getting up late or smoking etc are not good for health yet they give pleasure to one who is habituated.

Come to think of it, pleasure by itself may only last for a few moments but it creates a good and lasting mood and memory of that good time which motivates us to look ahead with zest. Now a days with mostly hectic weeks ahead, we look forward for a pleasurable weekend which would unwind us.Sometimes even a good coffee gives us that break!

For me painting, writing, going for a 6am walk , reading a historical fiction book or having a phone conversation with an old friend is pleasure. Pleasure is driving Mom and Dad around for their regular errands or just cooking them a good meal when at home. Taking Riaan to the park or simply for a mid afternoon walk when he can go crazy running around is pleasurable! Pleasure is spending a week in a shack, losing track of time in the beaches of Goa.

Of course , nothing can beat the pleasures of grooving in a night club leaving everything back at home. But that’s been a while and Im not very hopeful of those good ol’ days coming back anytime soon!

Nonetheless, I find out something pleasurable to do every single day because life is short and we ought to relish every moment of it.

Goa Shot: Ani

                                                                                         Goa
                                                                                    Shot: Ani

Y for YOLO

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After all, you only live once. Might as well live it up while you can, right?

I have been a rebel, right from my childhood days. I like to do my things and do not like any resistance. Having been brought up by working parents and very strict ones, I still managed to rebel out and do things that I wanted to do. Back then there was no mantra for living life that way. It was simply called bad behavior and that I must learn to listen to elders. Slowly and steadily my behavior was accepted and I was allowed to decide for myself. Why, because I would simply not bow down for anyone.

A friend of mine recently posted a picture on social media of the supermarket shelf while she was shopping, and it contained only one box of a certain yogurt her kid eats. She and her husband both commented on how they now have to get this box. This is consistent with psychology indicating that as things become more scarce, they become more desirable. And indeed, this is the case with life as well. Research shows that when reminded of death, people become more aware that life is scarce. In turn, this causes people to believe that life is more meaningful.

While I was on the crossroads of deciding about my divorce , my childhood friend told me, “If you don’t do something then you will never know what you would be losing out in your life”. He had a point and I realized how could I be shackled by something I was utterly unhappy with.

Somehow, I have been a recklessly-impulsive-heart on the sleeve person and I have never looked back once I have decided something. Life with Ani has calmed me down a bit I still remain the same person. I always advocate- “Go by your heart” to all my friends, colleagues and siblings and kids.Mostly because , its your life and no one else should be deciding for it. And also because You Live Only Once. And there are no second chances here !

Cheers for this beautiful thing we all have in common- LIFE!

Google Images

Google Images

V for Vacation

                                                                            The Carribean

Vacation, the most pleasant word of all times!

I took my last official vacation in Goa back in 2014. It was for 10 long days and I really relaxed and sunbathed in cool waters of Goa. Goa was pleasant in March and so we could roam around in a scooter comfortably along the entire length of it. After 2014, life has been pretty hectic. Though I have been on an extended sabbatical, its not so vacation like anymore 😦

1.Vacations are stress busters-Getting away for regular vacations and leaving our every day stresses give us a break from the constant high levels of stress hormones and a chance to repair some of the damage.

2.Vacations improve sex life-Is there really a thing as “vacation sex?” Studies have shown that people who vacation regularly reported feeling sexier, with greater romance in their relationships – which equates to better sex and hence better relationships.

3.Vacations makes us more productive-People feeling more creative after taking time off, and are more satisfied with their jobs when they took regular vacations.

4.Vacations makes you thinner and hence look younger—People who vacation on a regular basis feel more energized.  They were also found to have improved glucose levels and even had some weight loss around their waists.

5.Vacation makes you happier-Of course the excitement and planning for the vacation is always thrilling in anticipation of the actual vacation days which makes you release happy hormones.

6.Vacations makes you open to new perspectives-Whether its a beach or a foreign country or driving through the heat of Las Vegas, time from work gives you an excellent time to reflect and open yourself to new possibilities. At such a period away from work you can see the world from a holistic angle rather than a lopsided angle. We could be reading a business book, learn new cultures and change our perspective which may help us gain better vision as w return to your every day job.

7.Vacation gives us family time-Quality of life is depends upon how you appreciate yourself and those who are around you. It could be with yourself, family or friends; but only vacations from a busy schedule offers you time to appreciate the people around you. Time away fro busy schedule gives us an opportunity to think about those things that matter, whether it is by reflecting or planning, vacation gives you a sense of peace and warmth you will never get in a workplace environment.

Above all the brain does better with rest, and so does the heart. Mental and physical fatigue causes stress, sloppy decision-making, and carelessness.And in the meantime life slips away.

So me going to plan for my next one…are you?

Greece

                                                                                         Greece

U for Unconventional

Unconventional-TraitsGoogle says,” Unconventional” is not based on or conforming to what is generally done or believed.

The first thing which comes to my mind is the protagonist of The Fountainhead. Second, is of course myself and of late I cannot help but think of Kangana Ranaut being the most unconventional person of recent times.

For one, she is a small town girl from Himachal Pradesh unlike a city bred person who has been there and done that and also does not have godfather in the industry that she works in. Then, she has unconventionally famous truly curly hair which she has always loved to flaunt (she had turned them into a bob now , again unlike long tresses of rest of the Bollywood girls!) Her body is like a ramp model unlike conventional Bollywood actors. Third, when everyone had written her off and critics said she had been type-cast doing neurotic roles, she proves everyone wrong by giving hits like Tanu Weds Manu and Queen. Fourth, in a male dominated work place she has got the guts to take the bulls by his horns (read Hrithik Roshan), fifth, she is not ashamed of having relationships or of any other stuff which are still a taboo in a patriarchal society…..this list would be long I guess! The best was when she went on to wear an off shoulder gown to receive the National award for best actress from Mr. President. This occasion, until her had been reserved for wearing one’s best traditional Indian attire. Kangana broke all traditions at Rashtrapati Bhawan and thereby confirmed that you can be unconventional and successful and in that order.

The stuff that she talks about on national television with Barkha Dutt speaks volumes about her unorthodox attitude. She rubbishes everything that has been said and done against her. Success and sarcasm are the two great tools to work around with , she mentions. She dares to unfurl the curtain on this actor when he had been playing a good-old-mamma’s-boy all these years. Kangana may not be a conventional Indian beauty but what makes her outstanding amongst others is her being unconventional. Paradoxical yet a very amazing situation which confirms the fact that we should not be afraid of being different from others.

Just stay focused and enjoy being what you are!

Kangana-Neeraj-Priyadarshi

 

If they are sincerely seeking an apology then they must help me understand their perspective because blackmailing or threatening won’t work with me. Though my legal team is taking strict action against blackmailing and threatening me but as a girl it doesn’t scare me. You won’t get a sorry by threatening me or circulating my love poems, letters or images. I am not ashamed of anything, not my past, not my affairs, not my body and most definitely not my desire. So slut-shaming won’t work either.”- Kangana Ranaut

S for Saturday

 

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Growing up in 80’s and 90’s we had 6 days in a week. That is working days and Sunday used to be reserved for all the amusement we could have. Life was fun then and we never complained about that only day off in a week. We would do all that we could do in that one day and in the evening catch a movie on DD too! I could not imagine that after a decade or so we were going to have 5 days a week. But how we have people whining about being overworked and tired the whole week through. Having said that , I make sure that I plan for my weekends ahead and treasure them thoroughly.

I reserve my Saturdays for mostly outdoor activities ranging from hiking, trekking, shopping, watching a movie etc and then catch up with all the sleep and some family activities on Sunday!

So typically my weekend has a schedule which  make during the week (which is critical) else I end up mindlessly watching television or browsing the internet. Planning lets you savor the joy of anticipating something fun; psychology says we’re often happier anticipating an event, like a vacation, than we are during or after it. My weekends need to feel different than the weekdays which means I do a different kind of labor/activities which  allows my mind and body to recover from the typical stresses I undergo during the week. Like, spending time with my plants, doing crochet for an hour, paint the glass bottles or simply clean a corner which has been pending for long. I make sure to have-

Max Mornings- Getting up earlier than the rest of the family is great for personal pursuits like an early morning walk, reading a favorite author with the cup of tea or getting together things for a later in the day activity like a hobby.

Family Rituals- There is a designated Pizza night on the weekend. Happy families often have special activities on most weekends that does not require special planning like Friday night pizza or Sunday morning pancakes. Because these habits are what become memories later.

Sun Siesta-It’s not just for toddlers. Having a nap time in the mid-afternoon ensures that your body rests and recuperates.

Plan Chores- I designate a chore time, on Saturday. so that they get done quickly and I can move on to the fun things of the weekend.

Tech Sabbath- A stretch of time apart from the computer, phone, and work stresses creates space for other things in life,I put up a specific window of an hour or so to sort through my inbox, rather than periodically checking and writing back to emails all day long.

Well, a weekend well spent is eventually a life well spent. Cheers for the rest of the counted weekends of our lives!

 

Movietime

Movietime

N for Naomi

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Quirky and ever effervescent, Naomi revels in her melodramatic perspective towards life. For her life is huge stage and being dramatic is a necessary tool for survival. You will always find her reading or debating, her two passions. She is currently doing first year  Masters in Political Science from JNU although she has always maintained that she is a literature student at heart.

A fighter, a leader and the ever so popular girl wherever she goes. She revels in the magic of her own charm.

Naomi is biblical character and also is a name in Japanese meaning- pleasant.

Naomi is my first borne angel.

H- Happy

happy-life-lugar-mundo-Favim.com-320333

To be happy is the most important quality required to live a content life. To be happy regardless of ups and downs in life.

How can I be happy when everything seems to be going wrong in my life…? I used to ponder but no one, no one could explain. I had to discover it on my own that no one is either bothered or can do anything if you choose to be unhappy. The secret was to find happiness in small things when bigger plans go wrong. How do you do that? obviously when big things are going wrong you are disappointed and all your energy is diverted to either reasoning it out or sulking over it as to why bad luck only targets you. Instead of that we must start focusing on smaller aspects of life which cannot go wrong.Like a cup of tea with a friend, some shopping time, or just go hiking with your camera and a packed sub, simply offering to baby sit a friend’s child, go for a movie, eat outside with a close group of friends or simply indulge in a big ice-cream!

It is better said than done, you may say. But trust me, its all about creating a habit of being in that state where you know that the next moment is under your control. We waste so much of time, energy and precious moments of life when we depend upon others/things to make us happy.

So, let it be US- the reason of happiness 🙂

Happy

A for Ani

Goa 2014

Goa 2014

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Ani is all rolled into one. We both had to kick our ex’s out and that was the reason! It was the beginning of a wonderful summer and we both were kinda sure that it wont last beyond the season.However time proved us wrong and 5 years down the lane we are soulmates and have made a baby. Surely when life threw lemons, we made delicious lemonade together!!

On a serious note, Ani has been my hope, strength and sunshine all rolled into one. A meritorious student right from the beginning , he teaches me to make my life perfect each day. Be it helping hand with the baby, running errands or giving tips on a regular basis on just about any topic, he teaches me to be selfless, honest and give your best shot in everything that one must lay his hands on.

His vast knowledge , experience and his ability to live a disciplined life is a boon for me. I follow him blindly and pledge to love him eternally.

So A is for Ani and A is for Angel !

Sunset in Goa 2014 Shot: A&R

Sunset in Goa 2014
Shot: A&R

Talent and A Hobby

1c

Well…. undoubtedly it has to be playing with colors….that is, on a sheet of paper. The pleasure of watching the colors mix and match and create something new is eternally blissful to me.

Its been sometime now that I have held my brush and colors because the newest member of the house needs my undivided attention! But I did take up another hobby. Something that I just tried one fine day and since then it has kind of become a passion.

3c

Crocheting. It is fulfilling and rewarding when I finish a project and it fits in correctly. Its fascinating to see my crochet basket full of various colored yarns and needles. Its amazing to know that I have the choice of picking up any beautiful color and start making something. Be it a cap, booties, sweater, baby blanket or a pair of cup cozies…. I have tried them all. I love the Adrenalin rush when I start a project and I cannot believe myself when the passion remains unruffled until the last day, when I finish it!

7c

So from painting with oils and water I have moved on to crocheting….I cannot believe just a few years back I was manager, Customer Service for a leading Telecom group. The decision to quit work and travel with Ani was a quick yet conscious one. This gave me more time with my guy and of course I indulged in my hobbies more than ever. Playing with colors initially and now with colored yarns has a lot to do with my childhood. Painting was something I picked up when I was about 10 years and I saw mom knitting whenever she could get time from her job. Hence the transformation was not a difficult one.

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Currently , I’m crocheting a granny square blanket and a dungaree for my baby. I’m wondering if I should crochet a sun-hat or an infinity scarf for myself one day. I consider my hobbies to be a talent because I can spend the whole day doing them and the project turns into a useful product!

My husband proposes that I should turn my hobbies into a business. Initially the idea was not appealing but now I think, why not create a business out of your hobby.

6c

And work would never be boring then…!

Just books…?

still life in chiaroscuro: opened antique book, a swan feather and a red rose in a vase

It was a darn busy December as I was travelling to India with the baby and hopping from one plane to another the whole month and when I find myself writing this today….I wonder what motivates me really!

Okay , so about the topic. I’m not a avid book reader. In fact not a reader at all. There are just a handful of books that I must have tried and even fewer that I really liked. When I entered in my new house , it already had a couple of cartons full of books of all kinds. They were promptly sold off to the scrap dealer right before the new year 2013. Ani was not an reader himself but sometimes he likes to read certain kind of books, the practical , motivational and some business/intellect related books. So, I saw Outliers, Rich Dad Poor dad, Beating the Street,The power of now, One minute Manager etc which were neatly lined up on his table. He uses his idle time in the loo to read any stuff that he wanted to, not wasting his precious other times, which he thinks must be used in productive activities.

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He read “The Secret” the following summer and told me that I must get my hands on it whenever I have time. f course he didn’t know that I had cracked it before him!!He did not believe in suspense thrillers or any tales that he could not use in his real life. I on the other hand like to read History or fictional history as it takes my imagination to the bygone era. Anything that is real or realistic stimulates me. Fiction is a strict no-no although I have had my share of Mills and Boons times in my teens!

4 (2)

I read some fictional stuff while I was doing my Masters in English sometime back and yes, English literature fascinated me at that time. Sometimes I think I should have done my doctors in English! But then , the life throws things at you which changes the course of your life itself.

So here I’m, reading books only when I’m not out to see places. I find it more rewarding and fulfilling to be a traveler and to experience the feel of a place and being with another human being in person rather than in the books.

Im a wanderer…!

4 (1)

Lunch on an August Noon

Lunch

“Why don’t you come over for a cup of Coffee?” he asked.
“May be sometime later…” she had said. She had been avoiding this rendezvous for more than a month now.He was new and alone in the city and had been looking for a friend to talk and spend sometimes. She too, was lonely in her life.They hadbeen talking on phone  all this while and he seemed to be a kind person to her.They would generally talk about their work, hobbies and life in general.
It was a Friday morning and she had been in a rather traumatic state of mind,thanks to an early morning fight with her husband.As he called her on work, he had quietly listened to her sobs and imagined the nasty weekend she was going to have.
He asked again, ” Come over for a cup of coffee, you will feel better”. This time, she had said yes to him. Around noon, she took a bus to meet him at his place. He kept calling her to ensure she does not lose her way. She got out of the station and called him on his cell phone. They could not find each other for about 10 minutes. She wondered if it was too good to be true. But then she saw him waiting under a tree just outside the station with an umbrella. It was a hot August afternoon and as they walked down ,he kept the umbrella up over her through the entire way.

She looked up at him and wondered what took him so long. He looked at her smiling and asked,”What will you have for lunch?”

out-to-lunch

Wanderlust

And it was finally Nebraska on 9th of October 2015. After months of speculation,I finally landed in Omaha, Nebraska.This land of prairies and meadows have always fascinated me. To see the vast rolling hills and corn fields was my heart’s desire because deep down I have never really liked staying in the cities or suburbs for that matter.

It was a long flight and we flew through Minneapolis bordering Canada. It was cold and cloudy and a drastic change in weather from the sunny California. It felt good because I was missing such weather in California. Back at home, Assam to be precise,clouds come and go at the drop of a hat and it pours like cats and dogs on a cloudy day. The clouds over Minneapolis sky kind of gave me a prelude to the times to come in Nebraska!

Minneapolis

                                                                              Minneapolis

Elkhorn is about 18 miles away from downtown Omaha and the beautiful rolling hills and colors of autumn welcomed me during my drive from the airport. Acres and acres of sprawling lush green meadows on both sides of the roads were a fresh breather. My accommodation was surrounded by hillocks. Thankfully I also got a room which had a bedroom view to the east and living room view to the west.

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The best part of this place was that I could see the horizon all around, that means till my eyes could stretch, there were no houses taller than a single story. Unlike California where there scores and scores of houses on every single patch of land, here there were only a group of houses every about 5-10 miles. There are lot of lakes and few rivers around me which I have to explore during the coming weeks.

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Today was a bit cloudy morning and I could see the clouds streaming in from western horizon to east covering the sunshine. It was an awesome feeling to be able to see the entire sky 360 degree at one go!

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There are lot of plans to explore the nearby states namely Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, South Dakota, Montana and on top of the list is Iowa and its covered bridges.

Enjoying the serenity of nature far away from the madness of towns and cities already, I look forward to a blissful next one year in the beautiful mid-west of America.

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Grateful & Guilty

 

malpua

Much before in time , when I was not fond of sweets, I would wonder how could people eat Jalebis and Gulabjamuns… and that too so many!In parties where there would be lunches or dinners, I had to save some pace in my stomach to eat the sweet dish.I was fairly a non-sweet person! I actually never really enjoyed my food too.

I remember one time one of my school buddy took me out for a coffee and he taught me how to eat chocolate pastry…dig a spoonful, close your mouth, close your eyes, chew ,let it swirl in your mouth….and then swallow!

Things started changing in the fall of 2011 when Ani came into my life. He made me eat my meals appropriately. At times,he also made me indulge in sweets. I still didn’t develop that sweet tooth.The only sweet I relished was Misti Doi in Kolkata.

It was when I was pregnant with our son, I started craving for sweets. Ani used to bring a packet of lovely sweets from the nearest sweet shop every week. I realized, it had become an addiction when I could not do without having a sweet after every meal. If there was no sweet, I would make my own, Gajar ka halwa, Kheer or simply Halwa…!!

One time when Ani was out of station, I freaked out eating a huge an ice cream brick all by myself! Fairly soon,  I was also diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This was something which required to control my insatiable crave for sweets. I had to eat controlled diet now. No more sweets until delivery!

I was upset for next several months. So anxiously I waited for D- day. Arranged for a Boondi ka laddoo box from India 2 weeks ahead of delivery. Finished it myself once I was back from hospital. Ate jam, jellies,chocolates, ice creams, Frappes and freaked out again for next one month!

But better sense prevailed and I controlled my diet again. Realized I was not pregnant anymore and there should not be any unexplained cravings! Whatever said and done, I had my bit of indulgence of sweets for a year! Of course I didn’t feel guilty once I was back to normal.

Rabri Jalebi

So here’s a big thank you to all things sweet, for keeping me sane when the hormones created havoc in my body and mind!!

I still go for that Salted Caramel scoop at the nearest Baskins every once in a while!

I read it somewhere , “You don’t need to eat sweets if you are a sweet person”….may be I was not…I sure am now !

Cheers for the sweet tooth !!

 

 

 

Free to be Me

Free as a bird Shot by – Me (Big Sur CA)

Independent, fiery, ambitious, conservative, determined, practical and faithful. That’s what I’m. A  fervent mix of funky and conservative. Just the rightfully delight-able Margarita on the Rocks !!

So what is the quality that I admire most in myself? Undoubtedly, being determined wins the crown. When I decide on something, I move ahead and do it. Whatever it is, whoever it is and wherever it is.

Generally it takes your entire childhood to know who you are. When you step onto your adulthood, the confidence is not much to exercise yourself even if you know who you are. The toll of studies, working for a career or even for that matter working for the relationships is just too high. So , it took a couple of decades for me, to be me.

For a long time, I felt like a caged bird, struggling each day to fly out. It was inspirational to see other people being able to do their own thing. At times I hated myself for not being courageous enough to break free and at other times I would just flow with the time. But at all times pledging myself to swap my wings and fly out one day…

When finally that day came, I literally took a flight out of the country….far away to the Americas…! A sabbatical of  6 months from the humdrum of so called life. And I became the original me !!

I can be fearless. I can be ambitious in all senses, determined and fiery. I can be me now. It will be unfair not to mention the motivation I got from my loved ones. Angels who kept telling me to move on and get my peace. My rocks, who stood by me during the toughest years of my life. However, if I did not fall while I hit rock bottom, it was only because of my grit and endurance.

So, here it is for all the strong souls, who have lost their way. Get up and get going. If I can do it, everyone can!!

Tuscany

Peace

A Name

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I was born to  soldier and his working wife. My dad met my mom when she had just joined Airforce in a civilian capacity. He was a Parachute Jumping Instructor and was posted at my mom’s city unit. He fell in love with this independent girl, working with the soldiers and proposed to marry her. All of 18, my mom directed him to her dads’. Marriage fixed in about 6 months time and they live happily ever after.

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Oh wait…I was born the following year after the marriage. Since mom returned to work after 3 months of maternity leave, I was taken care by many people while she worked. My granny, my aunt (mom’s sister), her cousin and one lady who was a neighbor. This lady had 3 teenaged sons and she happily proposed to look after me while my mom worked from 7 in the morning until 2 pm. She would feed me,change and tuck me in as and when needed. Her sons were grown up and she missed having a baby around, she said. Also she loved having a girl for herself ! My mom sometimes would leave me at my granny’s and my aunt would take care of me before she picked me up on Saturdays. In between some of these days mom decided to have me named but she wanted the lady who looked after me, to name me. She wanted to thank her in her own way. The lady called me “Rinku” and that was put in the records. Rinku is a common name from the state she belonged to- Bengal.

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I’m one of those people who didn’t like their name initially. But as I grew up and Mom told me this story of naming my name, I was filled with gratitude towards that lady and for my mom too. That lady for her unconditional love and Mom for being grateful to her and showing it in a unique way. As I grew up, started to like my name, short, sweet and crisp. It means ‘Sweet’ or ‘Sweet Thing”.

They say, a rose is a rose is a rose. Does not matter if it was not named as rose. But I’m glad that my name is a tribute to a good lady for her kindness and love. I have never met her or tried to find her ever but now it looks like I must.

Yes after writing this post , I’m going to call Mom.

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Grandpa’s House

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The other day I dreamed of my grandpa’s house. As kids we used to visit them every summer. Vacations meant grandpa’s house in the village in Assam , an eastern state in India.

The train journey back then used to be long, 3 days to be precise! But it was worth it…the bridges over the rivers, the towns, the villages and the fields on the way were beautiful. Me and my little brother would sing songs sitting by the train window and look forward for our annual vacation at Grandpa’s.

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It was a house made of bamboo, straws and some other organic material nonetheless it was big. We had like about 10 rooms in the house and a nice porch to sit out if it rained. There was a nice courtyard in front of the house and on the left the straw room for the cattle. On the right side of the house , my uncle had planted lots of fruits trees and we had plums and peaches in between some grape vines! There were wooden bird houses made for pigeons who would not fly away once they found this place with water and food all around!

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My granny used to cook wonderful meals for everyone and in those times food was cooked over wood and it tasted heavenly. When I saw this dream, I called up my dad and told him that I remember each and every room in that house and what fun times we had back then. As my uncle and aunts got married and moved out of the house, the house started to become empty. After Grandpa , my granny moved to my dad’s in town. There are times when I go back home, dad and me drive to the village just to look at the place that had this beautiful house and held together so many people of our family. Of course , the house is not there anymore but the memories of it is distinct. So much so that ,even now, I sometimes get a whiff of the house with everyone in it. If I had the time machine, I would go back and enjoy those childhood days in that house more than ever.

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I loved to move from one room to another looking at stuff placed in each room. Each member of the family had a room for themselves and there was a room at the back which housed the ducks and the pigeons in the night! There were two ponds , one in the front yard and other in the back yard and invariably we had ducks and swans swimming in it all through the day! The walk by the side of the house would take us to the rice fields and it was fun to run around barefoot, splashing into mud and water!! Playing with ducks, calves and eating raw mangoes, gooseberry and olives was so much fun!

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While taking showers in the bathroom that was made up of bamboo , one could have a look at the blue Naga hills at the border. The cranes at the rice fields would come to eat worms and tiny fishes. The cattle would come back home on their own at the dusk and get settled in their shed on their own. Life used to be so easy and fun back then. If I had a choice , I would surely go back to my grandpa’s house never to come back again. I’m happy that I can visit that house still , even though it is in my dreams now. The lesson is to enjoy the present for it never can be same again!

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Something we take for granted

Love Cloud

Love Cloud

Being loved is the most precious thing in the world and I think we all take it for granted. The love by the parents, siblings and then by lovers is something we should be always grateful about. We usually never realise that parents love by our parents is like a gift from heaven and it never ceases comewhat may and hence we take it for granted all our lives. We realise when they are gone and then we repent rest of our lives. The sooner we realise the importance of parents love, its better. Because there is nothing like it and and we should enjoy each onet of it and try to give them the same selfless love.

Similarly , siblings, most of them love us unconditionally. Partners, lovers or spouses who love us like we were born in the same family and who nurture us are the best thing to happen after parents. One should consider himself lucky if they get such a life partner because in current times its rare. Once lost you will never get it back !!

Let’s vow never to take love for granted, never to demean it, never to be ungrateful, if we are lucky enough to have it. Let’s learn to appreciate and nurture the love that we have in our lives.

Love from parents, family and partners is to be rejoiced, respected and returned in the same intensity if not more.

Cheers!

Sunset @ Goa

Sunset @ Goa

Something You Use Everyday- My Laptop

My laptop , which my husband bought for me 2 years back, has become an extended part of me.

Honest to my heart, I cannot function if my lappy aint working. My world revolves around it, be it updating my FB profile, checking friends, checking on world news, checking online pricing of commodities, finding out about people or places on wikipedia, places to visit, addresses, babycentre news, listening to songs and showing some videos to my bubba, talking to friends on Gtalk or FB, posting pictures on picasa, checking mails , learning new recipes…

The laptop is my saviour from having no knowledge  about things to having incomplete knowledge. Sometimes its a saviour from real world as it takes me to virtual reality of whatever I like to read, see and believe.

This year , my husband brought me I-Pad on my birthday. He expected me to discard my laptop and get on with new technology and be mobile with the I-Pad. Ironically, I could not graduate and I still cling onto my laptop.

So much so for technology….perhaps at the end of the day it is still the comfort of things that you have fallen in love!

My Desktop

My Desktop

The Other Woman

Love

Love

How does it feel like to be the other woman? To be the woman who broke a marriage of two years. Well, there is always another side to a story…!

Initially Ria started spending only evenings with Andy. Soon she started staying over weekends and then before they realised, it was the entire week. Andy seemed to be in pain, a lot of pain. He said that he recently had a break up with his girlfriend and it had caused him lot of heartache. Ria did everything to ease him out. He was fine a few months later and thats when he confided about his marriage which had broken down. Ria loved him even more. She made sure they were together all the hours after work.He would see her off for work everyday and anxiously wait for her return after a tiring day at work. Together they made several escapades to nearby places, discovering and knowing these places and also each other. All this while, Ria was kind of worried how would they ever end their marriages and subsequently be with each other. Andy , on the other hand was more of a “live-in-present” kind of a guy. He was soaking up each moment of happiness that he could get from life.

Ria sometimes wondered why there were so few calls from Andy’s wife over the week or even on weekends for that matter. How can a newly married couple live so far away  from each other in different cities with almost no communications, she would wonder.  When a guy does not respond to his wife’s calls, texts, mails….there is nothing much left in the marriage.

Somtimes Ria would feel guilty about being the other woman. She could feel that Andy’s wife was still trying to save their marriage. But without his help, it was an impossible task. He had gone far away from her, their home for 1 year and her food that she so felt had captivated him. After all  a marriage is supposed to make you feel secured, comforted and loved. All thse 2 years, Andy had felt none. In fact , he asked Ria why women change after marriage. She said yes they do, only they start loving their men more, his eyes had glistened.

Ria told Andy to give one last chance to his marriage. She didnt want to be that “other woman” and she also felt, the wife was still trying to be with him as much as possible, of course when she would get time from her studies, her friends, her parents and her hobbies. Andy was never her first priority after marriage. And that was precisely why the marriage had started to crumble. She visited him once a year and would join him for Diwali when he went to his parental house. All the other inbetween months , Andy was supposed to be happy, in love with her, be faithful to her and believe in their long distance marriage and be all by himself.

It was a October that year, when his wife stayed with him in their house, went to his parents house with him and then came back with him for a few more days. Ria does not know what went on between them during those days. But Andy would call her every night and tell her that he loved her. After another couple of months, Andy was on his way out to another job assignment in US, he stopped by her city and stayed with her for a few days.  He confided that he has given his last shot and it didn’t work. That he is done and its not going to work and that he wants to stay with her rest of his life.

After this , it was just them. They still didnt know how would they go about their respective divorces nonetheless it was quite a relief for Ria that she gave Andy some time to decide. Ria now knows how Andy’s marriage had already disintegrated when she came into his life and that she never forced him for any of his decisions.

Truth is , a marriage cannot be broken down if there isnt any crack in it. Ria also feels that Andy’d wife had left him alone to fetch for himself. He had instead fetched- a girl who loved him just a bit more and never took him for granted.

In such cases , the wife was, in fact the other woman who had taken so many years of their lives before the actual soulmates could live happily ever after.

Sometimes we need to change our perceptions, those which are created by society.

Hope

Hope

Favorite Physical Trait

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Well this one is tough…I do not want to judge people based on any of their physical traits. That would not be fair….

But when it comes to talk about the most important feature in our body , it has to be the physique. I like to keep fit and in shape. I have been using my size 28 jeans since 2 decades now. Okay I was size 26 then!

I have been walking like 3-4 kms five times a week since last about 15 – 20 years. That has kept my body and health in check. You really cannot do anything about other features that we have as per our genetics. Some people may complain about small eyes or thick lips, some may cry over fuzzy hair or a big nose.What can you do about it really? But physique can be altered as per your wish. You can put on decent weight if you are too skinny or reduce if you are on the heavier side. And then feel good about yourself!

I really detest people who are consistently overweight and feel no qualms about binging and being overweight. They do not realise that apart from being looking unpleasant and unpresentable , they also are in the process of harming their health. In due years, they would have numerous health issues. Fat and overweight people may be merrier or happier than their thinner cousins but are in immense health risk. They also are not able to inspire people to eat healthy. They really do not promote working towards good health.

So here we go….eat healthy, go for a walk and have a body to kill for ! You will inspire people, make some jealous , age slow and most importantly be happy in long run.

Cheers.

***I write this gratitude challenge following an inspiration by a fellow blogger Day-9 / week 1 – 52 Weeks of Gratitude | Me and My Random Thoughts by Bikram.

Simple Things in Life

Simple-Things

Honestly, a few good friends and some good place to spend the lazy afternoons…thats what life’ s pleasures are all about.

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Life’s treasures lie in simples things indeed. Mom’s food, a simple cup of her tea,sitting in the porch sipping it watching rains, giving grains to sparrows and hens at home…

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Watching a random flick on TV in the afternoon when alone, making that special cup of tea on weekends for both of us when Riaan is taking a nap, going for an evening walk and looking at the clouds and talking about future.

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Finding the phone number of an old friend and calling her and catching up with old times, wishing good day to a fellow jogger, smelling the rose on my morning walk, watching the clouds fly by in the evening sky, stopping by and talking to the old lady in the neighbourhood.

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Truly, life’s treasures lie in simple things. The very fact that life is short but sweet makes it even more important to love its each moment.

Cheers!

friends

 

Father’s Day

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day

It was the first father’s day for Ani. This time it was special for me too, for I was glad that Ani was the father of my lucky baby.

Honest, fiercely loving, caring for both of us like none ever, makes him a very special person.

It  was celebrated twice, one a Pre-Father’s day and then again on THE day. Who could be the best father in this world than Ani as he brought me a lovely pair of crystal earrings even though it was his day!

Happy Father’s day….to all you wonderful dads!

A Smile that would not stop…

Daddy Time

Daddy Time

The most happiest moment of my life has to be the one after the birth of Riaan. No, not for me or Riaan but for Ani. The daddy would not stop smiling since he saw his first born ! The nurses, one in particular was gushing how the Dad was glowing with happiness!

After being with me for more than 12 hours in the hospital while labor was being planned and induced, Ani made a couple of trips back home to get my stuff. He was then back by my side holding my hands all these hours and supported me for every decision that I took while in labor. He would encourage me, pat my hands,  stroke my hair and kept telling me that its going to be over soon.

It was 2 am, when Riaan arrived, and Ani was beaming with happiness. At that very moment,I was so glad , I took this decision to have our baby. The baby has brought myriad colors of happiness in our lives. Riaan has brought us even more closer. Could there be any other magic than having borne a baby?

For me, life has become hectic. Its been a month now, the body aches and stitches have disappeared looking at the smiling face of Ani everytime he comes home from work. When I see the father and son playing, I realize there could not have been a better gift for us than Riaan.

A small hiatus from rest of the regular stuff of life and I’m back with a bang. Life is more happy, more fulfilled and with more hopes and dreams with two guys of my life!

Riaan- A Dream Come True

Riaan Anirudha

Riaan Anirudha

Nothin’ But A Good Time

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After 18 long years duties , responsibilities and obligations,  Roslynn quit her life that failed to move her anymore. A life which was only full of commitments. Commitments to several other lives except her own.

Now every single day life taught her new things. She traveled to new places and met new people. The sun welcomed her every morning and challenged her to live up her life happily. Now she could look at the moon and the dark sky with glittering diamonds for as long as she wished.

So there she was…finally quitting for being someone she was not supposed to be! With her knight in shining armor Roslynn was living life in her own terms. Each day is a celebration of her independence. She can get up anytime in the morning, she can do anything she likes to do as the first thing in the morning. Roslynn never liked cooking but now that she is not forced into it, she likes to experiment with food and has started liking cooking for her guy. This guy thoroughly enjoys whatever she puts together for a meal.

Roslynn loved the colors on a canvas…she loved to paint. She can now paint whenever she wanted and it really soothes her soul and makes her calmer,  quieter and happier. Morning or dusk are reserved for taking a walk across the neighborhood. She loves to explore the wild, the forests, birds, wildflowers, dogs and the hillocks Hyderabad has to offer.

She also wants to explore with her lens. Capturing the timeless moments in her camera so that they remain intact in her memories of good times in the years to come. There is more to come…in the coming days. As of now Roslyn wants to spend time painting, cooking , photography and just do nothing sometimes. She wants to sleep and get up on her own, she wants solitude and peace doing her own things.She does not want her life to be driven by other people’s life.

Last but not the least, she wants to have a wooden cabin by a gurgling stream near a mountain so that she is a bit more away from the mad rush of life cities offer. She does run to such getaways every once in 3 months. She would love to own a pet dog ,a birdhouse in her sit out and do some farming. She would love to go for an early morning walk up in the meadows and watch the sun rise and flowers open up with the breaking of dawn.

Roslynn has achieved most of her peace in life….it did take some gruesome years nonetheless the wait was worth it!

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