Monday, January 31, 2011

A Friday Evening

In a long time, I have never spent an evening like the way I did last Friday. In a cozy restaurant, typical of a romantic dinner setting in a Maniratnam movie, four hot girls and one pregnant lady spoiled the quiet dinner for a few lonely firangi guests and a couple of couples that had chosen to dine in that star diner that day. Thankfully I was one of the girls and not one of the other guests :)

This place we had chosen was about 2 minute drive from where I live. So the friends came over for a quick chai and chitchat. We did consider ditching the dinner for some in-house order in party, but we decided against, because we did not want any husband to enter his home and ruin the gals-indulgence.

The restaurant had lovely décor, amazing ambience (for us), and scrumptious slices of pizza, delicious desserts and mediocre main course. However the highlight of the evening was not the food per se, but the never ending entertainer in the form of S speaking three different dialects of Tamil that R did not get a word of, and yet laughed. I think I was too awestruck to even laugh, J was crying from the laughing and as Sh did not want to upset her make up, she held herself from laughing and crying. Holding that thought, was that the highlight or was it the “P” language that S, Sh and J spoke like that was their mother tongue leaving R and I in the dark? Am not quite sure. Or was it really the pizza that the pregnant lady had for starters, main course one and main course two? Or was it all the giggles of the happy girls that drove the rest of the guests away?

But in the end it was truly one of the nicest evenings gals!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Monday morning

Rushing out
Empty thoughts
Familiar click
Throw the bag
Shut the door
Misty mind
Blacked out
Zoom and out
Swift Slammed
Shiver and sweats
And it was over

Friday, July 09, 2010

A mid week afternoon in Bombay

My laptop had gone bust for a week – yeeah!
Though I almost lost a part of my functional arm, I quickly realized it was a blessing indeed. I spent the day exploring Bombay- something that I could not do in the last couple of months.
Stepping out armed with the camera, some cash and an umbrella I walked for about half a mile. I saw a deserted bus stand. Though I have crossed this way just about a million times I have never stopped to wonder who took buses from this depot and to where. Now I did. I walked in and quickly realized to my dismay that all the numbers and destination details were written in Hindi  or was it Marathi?
hmmpphh…. Disappointed I kept walking and spotted a bus that had a couple of people inside. Hesitatingly I asked the woman on a window seat where the bus was going. Well I was gonna board irrespective of where it was gonna go. But it would be sheepish to ask for a ticket to the conductor to wherever the bus was going. She said ‘Bandra’and I boarded the bus. So now armed with this piece of information, I asked the conductor if the last stop was Bandra, and he said ‘Bandra Depot’ in the most stern and practiced voice.

I settled in a comfortable window seat, took out my camera for some shots of Bombay. Before I could click a handful, Mr. Rain arrived to include a drizzle in the landscape of Bombay. In about 1.5 hours after multiple rounds of waxing and waning of crowd, the bus cruised into the depot. After 15 minutes of auto ride, I was in Bandstand.:) It is a beach, well technically, but nothing like the beaches that I have been to so far, as there is no sand on the shoreline here. The shore is dotted with many rock forms and couples in love alike :). I thought who would be here on a mid-week afternoon? What was I thinking? After all, there are all these schools and colleges that work at that time and the young teenagers escape the boring class rooms to a more enchanting bandstand….

Thankfully there is a Barista (and also a café coffee day) facing the sea for those like me and I sipped on my lychee frappe drink taking in the view of the Arabian Sea until my hubby joined me after work!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Ladies - do you agree?

This is a thought that I have been meaning to pen down for a long long time. Today I had another trigger. So here I go.

There is a growing certain kind of women- the kind that’s not too hung up on coy, demure and small feet.

So what has been the best present you have got from your husband/fiancé? Responses have changed from expensive sarees, gorgeous necklaces, chocolate covered strawberries (well, one can never really resist those), surprise romantic trips to the more empowering ones. By empowering ones, I mean the ones that give you ‘wings to fly’ (in one of my friends’ own words). Like a GPS for the direction challenged wife, support to pursue a hobby or a profession for wives that weren’t exactly headed that way, new gym gears to keep up the motivation etc. Well you get the drift?

Well, I do agree that one needs to go silly and crazy and indulge once in a while. You would be considered boring otherwise ;) After all, no one gifts their girl friend a GPS on their third date, whereas chocolate and strawberries would be in. However in long standing relationships, IMHO, the need to feel empowered outweighs the need to feel pampered.

Well, would you agree?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Goan experience!!

Rain danced around us playing hide and seek, more seeking than hiding, ugh, in our 3-day Goa trip. The vacation was officially over yesterday and we are touching reality. The experience was surreal, looking out into the rains that were as relentless as the waves hitting the beach behind our resort. Nevertheless at the first sight of rain slowing down, we donned our brightest blues and oranges that were packed for a Sunny Goa into the beach for a breathtaking picture session. Right after the rains, the waves still hitting huge tides and clouds teasing to come down pouring any moment, we hurriedly tried to make the most of our time- had an awesome couple of hours of the beach. The vast expanse of the ocean has always enthralled me; the sheer power and tirelessness and this time was no different. Except that it was my very first encounter with the Arabian Sea. Unconsciously I was always comparing and contrasting with my own marina beach. This one much smaller, with coconut trees on the shores was a much different spectacle I must say. In that aspect, it was also very different from the NJ beaches- Sandy Hook and Cape May and probably closer in comparison to the Portland beaches of Manzanita and Cannon, may be the west facing has something to do with it?

After the brief pause, Mr. Clouds again showed its might. As I sat on the balcony of a simple Udupi restaurant watching the rain and sipping Chai, I wished that time could be frozen forever. Indian Chai is best at the local shops rather than the multi star resorts. I remembered the morning chai that was served along with the breakfast in the resort. It was prepared for the firangi palate, almost black and flavorless. Soon after, we huddled back to the warmth of the resort suite.

Next day, braving the incessant showers, we took the city tour bus to take a south Goa sightseeing tour – so much unlike us. The first stop was to see the Old Portuguese mansion and museum. Pretty low key I would say if you have seen any of the mansions of Newport, RI. However what stood out was the generous ventilations that looked into beautiful gardens. The insides are pretty Spartan with furniture more functional than aesthetic. It included a little handicrafts museum showing the lives of yesteryear Goans and their livelihoods – wine making, pottery making and of course fish delicacies. Then we stopped at a couple of temples – these are reconstructed after the originals are destroyed by the Portugese invasion. One of the characteristics of the Goan temples is the Lamp tower or Deepmal or Deepa Stambha. Another characteristic is the Dome above the garbhagraha- probably a Mughal influence. St. Francis church is a major landmark in Goa, where the body of St, Francis is kept even today; he died in 1552. The architectural grandeur was apparent.
After a brief lunch stopover, we headed to Dona Paula, essentially a suicide point where Dona and Paula ended their lives. However the rain gods intervened and made the best spot of the day drown in its celebration. We witnessed the heaviest downpour at this spot. Except that there are no pictures, it truly was a breathtaking experience. Then the bus stopped at the Miramir beach to announce that it is the dirtiest beach in the state and that all the industry pollutants join the sea at this point. I wonder why! The last stop was at an aquarium, where the various sea flora and fauna were kept in captivity. Again, we aren’t great fans and hence could not wait to get back to our resort to unwind after a whole day of outing.

The third day was the highlight of the trip – nay the rains did not stop, however we decided to confront it head on, on a motor bike. What a pleasure?! On a Pulsar, under heavy downpour, with neither direction nor destination, we aimlessly rode on the deserted long stretches of roads, greenery on either side. Too bad there is no coastal road. However, we just kept going, until we got worried about the petrol in the tank. It was one awesome ride of our lives. We were reminded of our Martha’s Vineyard moped trek in September 2008, though the weather was much better then. Once again, the evenings were well spent with Jacuzzi, magazines from the resort library and plenty of football.

Any Goan experience is not complete without the mention of cashews. Apparently even wine is made out of cashews. We had sumptuous dinners every evening at the resort. Goan style pancake is a rolled pancake with the typical “poornam” (coconut and jaggery sweetpie)stuffed in it. The highlight was Bibinca, a layered pastry like dessert made out of maida, coconut, cashews etc. Was delicious!!

One of the most relaxing trips in a long time- simply because we had nothing to do thanks to the rains!!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Since we bade bye to Hyderabad.....

What a journey has it been? This last month, since we packed all our stuff into nine little boxes to Bombay! Since then we have time swapped our lives across Chennai, Madurai , Gangtok, Darjeeling, Bangalore and Tirupati. All along we have lived off suitcases – eeck! Always carrying laundry :(

Finally it is bliss to settle in a home which has my whole wardrobe. There is this t-shirt of mine, which is black, which is not very surprising, which creeps into my luggage trip after trip, destination after destination unfailingly. As much as I love the shirt, I hate to live off a subset of my clothes. At all points in time, I want access to my whole wardrobe only to pick the same t-shirt time and again:) This can happen now….

Today I am happy because I have something that resembles a home, and a decently equipped functional kitchen. I am happy my stuff from Hyderabad arrived in one piece and it was such a pleasure to just see all those things that I haven’t seen in a whole month! How materialistic am I? :(

Anyways, here is the detailed account of my Himalayan pursuit. After about 48 hours of train, plane, bus and van and sitting through a Bengali movie (called the Japanese wife!) to get a feel of true Bengali culture, we were finally in Darjeeling. The van dropped us off on the street and pointed to a building that was perched on top of a small hillock and said that was our hotel. While we were still taking in the panoramic valley view; we were confused as to how to reach that hotel with our luggage? At this point, a woman of about 50 years talked to us in broken Hindi that she will find a way to bring the luggage to the hotel and struck a deal. We were still perplexed but said okay. To our complete shock and embarrassment, she neatly packed about four suitcases on a crisscrossed rope and slid one edge of the rope like a head band on her forehead and started walking up the hill with the weight weighing her back down. We were simply dumbfounded. Human labor is just too cheap in India. We were about four of us each about half her age together spent Rs. 80 to shift the labor of lugging our own luggage on to her. I was truly ashamed….

And the next two days we spent ‘sightseeing’ Darjeeling- Mirik lake and Sunrise@ Kanchenjunga both of which refused darshan due to cloudy weather. Of course then, we went to patel points including Peace Pagoda, Ghum- the highest (7407 ft) railway station in India, costumed photo shoots in the tea plantations :D Funny experience!

The third day, we set off towards Gangtok. On the way, we decided the test the waters of Teesta! We got on to a raft and did what was called ‘white’ water rafting. Except for about two or three rapids, water was hardly ‘white’. It was more like an enjoyable boating on a sane and serene river.

Gangtok was more beautiful than what we had imagined - clean and upscale. Apparently everyone in the state of Sikkim gets free education till twelfth class and also given a loan to buy a taxi and taught driving if need be. And tourism is expensive here. Every city taxi is an Omni and adheres to weight limits. Without luggage only four people are allowed to travel in one taxi. Small shops and businesses have their earmarked districts and they all seem to be doing well. We observed an insane number of salons and spas in this area. The fine for littering is heavy and looked like people respected those rules.

Local culture was interesting - visiting local points of interest including Hanuman Tok, Ganesh Tok, Himalayan Zoo, Do Drol Chorten (a stupa) , a flower garden. We also enjoyed local cuisines - Thuppa a certain local noodle soup dish was particularly delicious.

And then the highlight was the trip to Baba mandir and Tsongo lake. Simply stunning views. Fairly snow clad and comfortably cold weather up above 14000 feet; awe inspiring mighty mountains- definitely a moment to cherish. A little above the famous Tsongo lake is the lesser known Manju lake which was no less beautiful. On the way back especially with needle like flurry falling outside our windows and land sliding traffic jams ahead of us, the snow covered yaks in the backdrop of fresh layer of snow on the lake water was such a pristine picture. Our cameras did not do justice to the splendid spectacle. Apparently the roads leading up to these points were opened only on that day after being closed down for about 10 days due to bad weather and earlier landslides. The rescue operations were still on. The people that guard the borders are true heroes. So it wasn’t exactly a safe journey; a tiny slip and you would be in pieces. However it was the fitting finale to a very enjoyable trip to the Himalayas. Thanks to the wonderful bunch of friends that made the trip possible and more pleasurable!

On the way back, we spent one day in Kolkata. We are still trying to figure out why?! Gardens around the Victoria museum and a buggy ride outside the Victoria museum, Saurav’s restaurant on Park street together may be can try and answer that question. However the culture of Kolkata lies in the maddening crowded streets of Bade Bazaar. The heat quotient made us opt out of shopping, however the rest made up for it!

That apart, the home made food and dear family took good care of us in the last month..... :)

When is the next vacation? :D

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A life that was!

Dedicated to all the lady-spouses at ISB who have enjoyed and endured this last year!

Nostalgic it is….
But this is not a totally unfamiliar feeling. I was getting nostalgic about the first few days at ISB when many firsts happened. First time I stepped into the atrium, first time I went in search of the bookstore, first time I searched for a rest room in the academic center, first time I met my neighbor P, first time I met someone who was having breakfast by herself and the conversation sparked immediate friendship. Many firsts and everything took me back by a year.

In about a week from now I am going to be out of here. This is also not an alien emotion. I felt it exactly a year ago while moving out of our apartment overlooking Hudson and while we took off from the Newark airport with no return ticket. Yet what is different about now is that we have always known that this day would come and exactly when it would come. We always knew ISB was a temporary phase of life, and that we would have to say bye-bye to the beautiful campus, refreshing night walks, wonderful studio and all the nice housekeeping staff that made our living in Hyderabad so much more pleasurable.

What we did not know was that the friendships formed years after childhood, years after school and college would still mean something and letting them behind was going to be difficult. It has been an amazing year of forging new friendships, friendships of a different kind, with the kind of people that are from an entirely different culture and geography. Strong bonds of friendships are usually formed at the tender age of innocence or the confused age of adolescence. IMHO, most of the adult life relationships tend to be more business like and judgmental. But here at ISB, I was made to rethink my opinion as there was something common amongst us all spouses, something unfulfilled and some shared pain that made a lot of us feel connected in some way or the other. It was the first time for many of us to have so many married women as friends. It was not an uncommon event to share our pretty personal qualms with other spouses here.

The common vein was mostly the overworked husbands and of course the famous mother-in-laws. I am not sure how lasting these relationships are, but I am certain its one of a kind that rings a special point in our lives back in time.