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.

 

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Happy New Birthday

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

Hubby sneaked in a cake to be lit at 12 am sharp. Son didn’t like it much, he just hated the color enough not to even taste it,discarding it at the first  sight! But he insisted on lighting the candles every time we got the cake out from the fridge , for next 2 days till it lasted!

Having a vacation courtesy husband’s off from work since Christmas. He is looking after the baby and I’m on a roll, doing my stuff!

Good beginning to the new year, hope it stays this way….all my life.

One of my friends husband wished me- Happy New Birthday…( happy new year+Happy Birthday) Lol

Wishing you all good luck and good health in 2017 and all your life.

Clouds

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The most amazing things in the sky- Clouds of course after Sun, Moon and stars. But if sky was not there we would not be able to see Sun and the stars? Isn’t it? May be not because to us what seems like a container for sun, moon, stars and the clouds, is actually a void. But the beautiful way these are seen to us is all because of this nothing called sky.

So this post is about the amazing clouds which unlike Sun, stars and Moon change their shapes every moment They are different in every part of the world. There are cotton clouds in California where I lived for more than 2 years, almost clear skies in Mid west America and grey ones in Hawaii. In India, the clouds change as per the seasons. You would hardly find any during the heat wave in the northern part of India and its almost the same in western and southern India. The east however is different, the rain clouds come rushing every now and then barring in January.

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Having lived in the North India for most of my life, I have learned to look for clouds when the heat becomes unbearable! The Rainy seasons brings about water laden thick dark clouds which are also called as Cumulonimbus scientifically. That reminds me , I did have Meteorology in graduation in a few of my semesters!

I love the home clouds in Hyderabad too. For they are abundant through most of the year barring a few in summers. During rains like from May onward, thick clouds gather over the sky all day and night. Sometimes they move fast like a scene in a time lapse clip but what I like about the is the glow they have after dark. Its enough to lit up the balcony and makes it a dream like scene.

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The most awesome experience was the San Francisco evening cloud cover. everyday as the clock struck 4 in the evening, a thick cover of clouds would cover the city. The traffic lights and the headlights would have to be on to drive in this fog. The clouds would cover the ground and so was called fog cover also.

Clouds make an important part of my life really. On a gloomy mood, the grey sky gives me a break to come out and sit in the balcony and check out the moving clouds. Sometimes looking at the clouds I even try calculating the time they would take to make it over my balcony! I can feel that this fascination for clouds have transpired down to next generation. The first thing Riaan points out after rushing out to the balcony are the clouds!

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F for FAN- The Movie

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FAN:
Two things to watch out for- One, the crazy support parents give us for our insane wishes/demands. Second- Shahrukh being honest in showing his real self.
Audaciously playing a stubborn and unapologetic star who rejects a fan’s request to give him just 5 minutes of his life, he also lets everyone know that he has no qualms about dancing in billionaires’ weddings.Goes on to show the world how even more rich and powerful men treat him as they do. Clearly, when status and money gets into heads, you lose humility.
After many years, Shahrukh as Gaurav is quite fresh. There are times in the movies when logic is defied but I remind myself, its the closest Shahrukh has gotten onto doing real life stuff after Chak De, so just don’t think much. The regular, monotonous Shahrukh peeps in every once a while in the movie nonetheless, the younger, fresher himself keeps the thrill alive. A 3/5 for me.

PS- I aint a Shahrukh Khan fan because he refuses to acknowledge his responsibility for the society as a celebrity. But then he lives his life and I oughta live mine, as he says in the movie.  So who cares!

Fresh face to watch out for: Sachin’s daughter- Shreya Pilgaonkar

 

Talent and A Hobby

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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.

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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!

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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.

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And work would never be boring then…!

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

 

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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 !!

 

 

 

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.

most_popular_female_names

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 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

Things I like about Spring

Cherry Blossoms  Caught & Shot- A&R

Cherry Blossoms
Caught & Shot- A&R

The pleasant weather, the sunny skies, the flowers, the butterflies, lush green trees, the breeze…

There are so many more things about spring! Well I think, it all begins with the festival of colors Holi. Somehow, in my mind I associate Holi with the onset of spring because after winters, that is the day when you can play with water and color.

Spring, back home in Assam, is sunny and breezy at the same time.  As pre- monsoon showers bid goodbye to winters and welcome rainy summers, spring brings the biggest festival of Assam, Bihu. People make merry, dance and shop and visit friends and relatives. Get-togethers are organised and in villages, the sounds of Dhol and flute mark the onset of spring.

This is my second spring in California.  Now the spring blooms can be seen everywhere and the temperature rises to even pleasant degrees. An occasional cloudy and breezy day alternates every second week or so. Its time for Barbeques, picnics, hikes and long drives on the weekends and people could be seen enjoying the season after a not-so-cold winter.

Spring is seen as a time of growth, renewal, of new life for both plants and animals being born. The term “Spring” is also used more generally as a metaphor for the start of better times.

Indeed, it is the spring of my life as we welcomed our newborn into this amazing world. Hope everyone receives their peace and joy in the spring of this year.

Cheers!

Bihu dance from Assam

Bihu dance from Assam

***I start 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.

The City I Live In – Week 6

Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley, California)

Though its been only a month that I have arrived here nonetheless I can still do a decent job of writing about my city. This area is known across the world as Silicon Valley. The hub of high technology companies : Silicon Valley is a name given to the southern portion of the San Francisco Bay area of (Northern California’s) Santa Clara Valley. The cities that come under Silicon Valley are Mountain View, Palo Alto, San Hose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale etc and dozens of other cities sprawled across in this valley. The Fortune 1000 companies which have their Headquarters are the likes of Google, eBay, Cisco,Apple Inc, Intel, Netflix, Oracle Inc, Symantec etc.

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

Silicon Valley is the hub for high-tech innovation and development, accounting for one-third of all of the Venture Capital investment in the United States. Stanford University and its  graduates have played a major role in the development of this area.

The population residing in Sunnyvale is of mixed origin, mostly Asian (Indian, Chinese, Japanese etc) It also had Hispanic, Mexican and white people but the percentage as compared to Asians is much lesser. Sunnyvale is in a bit inland of bay area hence its less windy and chilly and as the name suggests ,it has lots of sunshine even in the winter months, which anyways the entire California can boast of always! But a trip to San Francisco , Monterrey, Santa Cruz or any beach side city would put you all wrapped up in layers and Jackets even in the afternoons!

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

There are lots of good restaurants catering to the diverse population of Sunnyvale and that’s a boon for its residents!

Sunnyvale has consistently ranked as one of the safest ten cities in the United States according to the FBI’s crime reports. From 1966 to at least 2004, Sunnyvale never placed below fifth in safety rankings among U.S. cities in its population class.In 2009, Sunnyvale was ranked 7th in U.S. by Forbes Magazine in an analysis of America’s safest cities.(Wikipedia).

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

During my last one month stay, I saw only one Police Officer on his bike. I have not seen any Police cars, Highway Patrol or random police in the downtown of Sunnyvale and this undoubtedly is the best feature of the city.

As of now, I’m enjoying the beauty , weather, food and safety of this wonderful city. Seems to be one of the best that California has and feels like next one year its going to be all the more fun and exploration as our baby joins us soon in Sunnyvale!

Also Sunnyvale will be always special to me for our baby will be born here in a couple of weeks 🙂

Source:Internet

Source:Internet

***I start 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.

Treasure

Nature Shot- A&R

Nature Shot- A & R

What’s my treasure….all of it is not material that’s for sure! In fact apart from some of my most prized stockings and lingerie, nothing material holds my treasure!

Yes, once upon a time, when I was lonely, emotionally bankrupt and had an insecure heart, I used to put emphasis on clothes, crockery, jeweler y and other such non-precious things.Living in a cold house with a selfish person made me hoard things. It used to be anything…I just used to blow my whole salary on good nothings and get pleasure out of it. Pleasure that would just disappear in following couple of days to abuse.

Copenhagen Bakery ( Burlingame) Shot: A& R

Copenhagen Bakery (Burlingame) Shot: A & R

Treasure in my terms is a genuine person, some lovely places that I have visited and in sometimes an item! Treasure is a day/night out with kids, Ani, family or a dear friend! Treasure is that chocolate shake in Mocha after a hearty meal. That meal which didn’t need to be planned as it was just a stone’s throw away from Maiden’s where we stayed for almost a year at Civil Lines. Treasure is, Ani making sure that all my wishes are met….the same day that I ask for them! It is the hugs and butterfly kisses I receive when I keep quiet instead of arguing with him! Treasure is the dimpled smile he unknowingly gives when he reads messages from his friends and also when he opens his beer can!

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Brownie Shot: A & R

Treasure is dad giving away some cash to me while I leave his house. Treasure is his pets all over the house who give him love and affection unconditionally. It is that talk I  have with my kids everyday and the points they prove, now that they have one always! Treasure is my help at home , who does not utter a word while working and does her job to a perfect T.

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Hiking @ San Bruno Shot : A& R

Treasure is the look of the valley when you reach the top after that long and tiring trek. It is playing with a child, making him happy by doing what he likes. It is opening the Facebook page and knowing that all my childhood and current friends are in touch with me sharing their joys and sorrows each day. Treasure is that evening walk by the park or the lakeside with Ani discussing mundane things!

Evening  walks with Ani Shot : A&R

Evening walks with Ani
Shot : A&R

Treasure is the everyday moments which keeps me happy and peaceful and those moments which have gone by, which remind me that I have done my bit for others. Treasure is the dreams and hopes of tomorrow. Treasure is the positive energy Ani supplies me on an everyday basis.

My treasure is my independence to do anything that I wish to. What is yours!

Photography Shot: A&R

Photography
Shot: A&R

Small Pleasures

Perfect Wildflowers  (Caught by - A & R)

Perfect Wildflowers
(Caught by – A & R)

When we carry on doing the day to day chores , some tasks become mundane while some retain our interests even on a daily basis. These tasks fill us up with energy and positive attitude for the days to come.

Somehow Ani  has a way to make everything turn into a task which is to be enjoyed. Smallest of the chores like moisturizing the body, washing hands, swiping the dinning table after a meal, going for a walk, washing the car on a Sunday etc are turned into an interesting task everyday. Realizing this is an amazing virtue as it has the capability of changing the general attitude towards one’s own life, I have slowly adapted to it. After all, what is life all about -its doing meaningful things every passing moment and enjoying it!

All these years of life that we have lived, most of us rush through everyday. Getting up, rushing through the breakfast, getting to work braving the traffic,meeting deadlines, rushing through those cups of coffees and teas while we work (and never really enjoying them!) hurriedly gulping packed lunches or missing them at all and then rushing back home to be with family for whatever is left of the day. We are losing precious moments of our lives by rushing through them. The years, days, nights, hours, moments have a count. We cannot afford to lose them never to get them back again in our lifetime.

The best gift I have got from life is Ani, who teaches me to enjoy life every moment. Do every task wholeheartedly as  can see him doing each day. He is a perfectionist too.. But now I realize, perfection comes on its own when you put your heart and soul into each chore that you perform everyday. The nature is perfect and does its job relentlessly even if we, human beings try to destroy its balance everyday.

Life is not static and so are the pleasures of it. Lets make it wonderful and contribute towards making it better by enjoying smallest of pleasures.Like feeding the sparrows in the morning, watering the plants, cleaning the everyday dust, enjoying a few minutes in the sun ,talking to random kids in the locality, cooking a hearty meal, enjoying that cup of tea at 5 every evening…..there is so much to enjoy!

Let us begin to relish the smallest of pleasures of our lives. Start today and make the most of your life!

A sumptuous meal  Caught by - A & R

A sumptuous meal
Caught by – A & R

 

 

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