Camping in our little tent

I started reading Amy’s ‘Yes Please‘. She starts off by narrating her early days on stage playing less interesting roles. She explains her urge to blurt random new dialogue on stage and how it turned out funny. Reading her memoir I was taken back to my school days where I was dragged into a handful number of plays. I was far too focused on delivering right and I never thought much about the role I was given. While I was five, I was transformed into a vegetable girl with necklace of carrots, chilli belt and brinjal bangles for a fancy dress. Seriously, a vegetable girl! starts here and doesn’t get any better. We did a play for environment day. It was called ‘mara mathanadithu’ (a tree spoke). Moral of the play was to stop cutting trees. We who played various roles were a gang of girls who grew up in the same neighborhood. We’d practice this play for about 15 plus days in a park at our layout. Everyday after school we would get together and practice for hours. Everyone struggled practicing their dialogues and emotions. A friend and I had a very crucial role to play, yet, didn’t need any practice. We were the trees. Seriously, trees! They could have kept cardboard, but, no. We were made to attend every practice session. I wish I blabbered some ghostly dialogues while we were on stage. Cheap thrills! Ha ha.

Well Well.. On a serious note, I think my love for nature grew all the more after we performed this play. Last weekend we went camping amidst the Exmoor National Park. It was our first camping and trust me the preparation felt more like shifting home than vacation. Marido and I went crazy with shopping, packing and traveling. As we drove into the national park, mesmerizing country side view started to tell us that it was worth the efforts. The farm we camped was almost at the heart of this national park. We had our lunch and got on to making our tent. It was a struggle and finally after a good 45 minutes we’d built our home. We wanted to slide in and sleep for hours, but hey, getting our barbecue ready was on our mind. Delicious food v/s Good sleep, the great battle of mankind.

The facilities in the camping farm were amazing. The showers, cleaning and washing areas were very convenient and made our stay comfortable. The nights got biting cold. Even with our additional quilt and pull-over we shivered all the way. We got so occupied with small walks, cooking with the charcoal, washing vessels and arranging everything in our car. In the spare time we either lazed around on the grass under the beautiful sky and read some stories or watched others build their tent or saw the ducks and hens walking around the farm. Amidst all of this two days flew by. This camping was in no which way ‘rough’. Even then, it checked our endurance and definitely made me thank for the home and comfort I have in this life. If someone asked how my camping experience has been, I wouldn’t say ‘I loved camping’, ‘I’m excited to do another this weekend’ or ‘this was a relaxing vacation’. I think I’d say ‘I’d camp again probably next year and we’d prepare even better’.

That’s my raspberry lemonade cocktail in a plastic glass. ‘To nature. To camping’, Cheers.

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Fjords, Norway – the sail (part 1)

Luck was on marido’s side when we chose our wedding date, it’s just five days away from my birthday. I know that makes it fairly easy for him to get me ‘all in one’ gift, take one vacation, one weekend fine dine etc etc.. Ahh ahh, you think I’ll let him get away with that! Ha ha. Now, we celebrate the whole week instead of just two days 😉 Many months ago marido came up with a brilliant idea of cruising this year. We’ve never cruised before, so we stored this special experience for our first wedding anniversary cum my birthday. I’m convinced even before I start, that, my write-up wouldn’t really justify our experience, but, let me give it a try.

It’s time to sing my cruise song, our journey to the Fjords of Norway.

You think first timers ain’t judgemental. It’s true that we don’t have a prior experience reference to compare with, however, we keep a score of ‘loved it’ and ‘hated it’ by comparing them with similar and sometimes even vaguely similar situations. For example, sitting in airport lounges waiting for the flight to board you is as painful as sitting in the airplane for hours taking you across countries. On the contrary, we went to the port 3 hours before sailing and it took a minute to give away our luggage, 15 minutes to process our documents and get our cruise cards, 5 minutes in security and in a blink we were on board. We reached our cabin in another 5 minutes that includes a walk on the gangway, a cheek to cheek smiling welcome photograph and taking the lift to seventh floor. We weren’t even thinking of our suitcases and guess what, they were already standing outside our cabin, you know, like those statues to welcome you. Food!, our stomachs grumbled. We went straight up-to the restaurant. The captain’d said, there is one man on this ship who gets maximum applauds in the beginning, but, by the end of cruise everyone hates him for giving them those extra waistlines, he’s ‘the chef’. How true! We ate such delicious meal all along.

In a few hours we settled in comfortably. The ship became our beloved home. This home held around 2000 passengers and 900 crew. Probably we were among the younger travellers of this cruise by age. Energy of the much older crowd, if not as much as ours, was delightfully higher. Trust me!. They’d dress up for the bow tie nights, dance on the floors, gamble in casinos, join the tough walk tours, win bottles of wine in quiz, sing along with karaoke. It was an inspirational sight for us. It taught us an essential lesson. Life isn’t complete until you’ve walked all your miles. It isn’t finished until the flat line beeps on your monitor. So, till then, kick in your suitcases and kick out any apprehensions. Explore and Experience.

Art and Entertainment. In the last few years, I’ve made conscious efforts in attending events and trying art. Marido has happily joined along, okay I admit, forcefully for a few. Anyway, together we’ve attended musical shows, watched painting in the galleries and museums, laughed until our stomach hurt in stand-up comedies. What happened in the ship was, a pamphlet which would have a list of events that’d run the following day, would be dropped in our cabin every evening. We’d eagerly wait for it and plan our shows. We watched two stand up comedies, two dance drama and a piano concert during the cruise. A dance drama that portrayed the musical band ‘Queen’ remained our favourite. We had to walk past an art gallery when we went to watch these shows. The artists had coloured their canvas with the modern day randomness. We liked a few. The eyes were so well defined in the hairy highland cows painting. Busy day rush, modern politics and war were simply put in the hundreds of images created in the form of stencil men – it was a very interesting piece of art. The double deck red bus on a well lit street just after a rain was reflecting stories of a common man.

I can keep singing this cruise song in loop, writing its lyrics and humming its tunes. Let me grab a coffee for now.

A very special mother’s day

Hmm, mother’s day was around the corner. Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp were loaded with messages as emotional as it could get. Every mom is a super mom and very special in every way. This mother’s day was special too.

Our weekend’s include a walk to the close-by super market. Rain in the past weeks have made the plants lush with green. So the walk way trees, shrubs and creepers have grown dense. We stepped out for our regular walk and turned around the pavement. I continued my chatter with marido. After a few steps he pulled my hand to gesture a stop and waved me to look to my right. A few cubs of fox were playing. They look at us as we stare. We watch them for a while and move along thinking how amazingly a mother has chosen to bring her cubs under a dense shelter, probably to save them from rains. Despite their difficulties the cubs went on to play and make their mother happy in their world of joy.

London canals are habitat for many ducks and seagulls. Few months ago we saw a duck safeguarding her eggs on a raft. She battled the cold nights in all her strength and a few weeks later the yellow ducklings hatched out and began quacking for food. The father would dive into the water to fetch food and he’d promptly go back to feed the babies. We were wondering how long would it take for the ducklings to get into water and fetch food for themselves.  It took a few more weeks indeed. Recently we found them swimming in the waters to grab their piece of bread and it’s so amazing to have seen them being nurtured and grow.

Mothers sow their seeds of thoughts in their children and then beautifully encourage their children to discover this world.

Says, ‘back to your roots’

When you are an amateur blogger and someone likes your post, you go onto their blog, read their life and stories. They’d suddenly become friends in your head, you know what I mean. Unbolt – Tetania and Tony, their poems and extracts felt as if we were having a cup of coffee and discussion at our living room. With the blog and bloggers, there are so many of them I want to call out and tell, how much I nod while reading their posts, how much their life seems so similar to mine or how much our world differs but I understand ‘that feeling’ of theirs. As we grow and move world aparts from friends we grew up with, it’s a bit of challenge, but, it does progress with our stories and experiences. Eventually in the journey, we make new friends, some old ones fall out, some turn thick & thin and some wear out as acquaintances. Friendship is a weird wiring. I’ve felt a constant support, I have been told ‘oh, you’ve changed a lot’, I’ve travelled the unknowns with them, I’ve heard appreciations, I’m countered with tantrums. Well, with me around, maybe they go through this cycle too. Lol.     

One big remark against me has been, ‘oh, moving around the world has made you forget your roots’. If you’ve been a globetrotter too, have you heard that? That’s a hard one to digest. Isn’t it? As I remember this, another post has caught my attention – ‘Back to your roots – blogging about genealogy and family history’. Genealogists around the world are meeting for a conference at Salt Lake City, Utah, this week. So I took some inspiration and tried making my family tree with the root starting from my great great grandparents – my father’s side. From my mother’s side I’ve still got to make progress for generations up my grandparents.

genealogy_blog

Photo: My lineage (only with paternal links)

I know that my patriarchal lineage starts with ‘Vishwamitra’, it’s a methodology in Hindu brahmin community to track down one’s root with a ‘gothra’ system. The hindu ‘gothra’ system denotes the lineage. Being a feminist, I could argue it’s unfair that lineage is carried only by the sons, while the daughter would have to change hers (to her husband’s gothra) after marriage. However, to think of it in chromosomes and genetics way, Y chromosome is always preserved with a male lineage. While woman have X chromosomes each coming from mother and a father. So Y is where we can point clearly, as it’s carried from father to son for many generations. It means the gothra system was basically designed to track down the root Y chromosome of a person easily.

The gothra system sounds like an amazing technique considering that it comes from an age that dates to thousands of years backwards from when we, the modern age human, have begun the exploration of genetics and DNA. However there are far too many things I do not know yet and its very interesting to research them, well, back in my roots. 

Just yesterday, I was telling marido that I want to do a historian project. I think, I’ve made a start.

Growing your thoughts

Sometimes, you just want to shut off your logical brain, not like how Mr. Trump has. I’m talking about a temporary turn off of every switch that leads to logic, so that, you could breathe in some fresh air. My last weekend was all about this.

Over a week since I’d picked some canvas, brushes and paints. I’m no painter and have no idea about mixing colors or handling the brush stroke to give magical depths. On Facebook, I kept seeing videos that were showing someone doing a waterfall using spray paint, a sunset using oil paint and portraits with water paints. So, there I was, embracing the painter in me. I started imagining night sky, colors and galaxies. I picked up paints and started to fill the black cardboard. Blues, greens, yellows, reds, blacks, whites took their turns. After many hours an image emerged, light years away from my conceptualization and a waving immaturity. Well, I do not attempt to know how the painting looks. I just know how it feels. Painting for me, is all about gardening your imagination, growing your thoughts, choosing your colors, following a rhythm and stroking the brush. Poetic it sounds, isn’t it? It’s very liberating. Be aware, if you choose to sit down and paint (like how I did), you’re sure to meet some horrifying back aches for later part of the day.

growing-your-thoughts_painting
Another on my to-do list was attending an orchestra at London. Two years ago when I visited London with my friend P we’d missed the show in whiskers. We usually add up musical / theatre events in our travel to soak in a bit of art & culture. This reminds our trip to Florence and our watching an Opera and it classifies for another blog in itself. Anyway, Marido and I spent our Saturday evening at Southbank center. As the Royal Festival hall was preparing itself for a Philharmonic Orchestra, we grabbed a craft beer and a samosa chaat at a food stall. A surprise upgrade on our tickets, helped us move two levels down and much closer to the stage, adding up to our delight. A cute couple came and sat next to us. The lady identified almost every instrument and she also knew compositions. The man was taking a closer look at the stage with his binoculars. They argued, they discussed, they helped each other. Such enthusiasm and curiosity, that too at an age where they could have possibly argued that they’ve experienced it all. At sharp 7.30, a silence gathered in the hall. Violins & flutes generated harmonics and conductor guided the band to create musical magic for the next two hours. We enjoyed every note of it.

Wassup today?

26th January,

4am: I wake up to drink a glass of water and I see my phone blinking. In my sleepy eyes I manage to read the message. My friend has become an aunt to her newly born niece. A daughter is born. I jump out of my bed in joy! I am awake for a long time thinking about the baby girl and then sleep abducts me for a few more hours.

7am: After my sprint nap I wake up. The sky continues to be grey. I pour the hot coffee into our mugs in a ‘filter coffee’ style. The bubbles froth up. Marido and I are discussing about meetings at office and I see these white birds (I think seagull) flying in our residential. Watching the flight show on an Indian Republic Day has been a regular event. This year, it turned out to be a special one. I must say the birds gave us a spectacular morning show and it totally made my day, giving it a real kick start.

11.30am: I decide to eat my lunch as I have a meeting in about 30 minutes. I switch on netflix to watch along and play an old hindi movie ‘kuch kuch hota hai’, a story of college romance. There are many lame stuff in the movie. I was watching this ‘koi mil gaya’ song sequence. It’s an intercollegiate song & dance competition and the host college has messed up. So, the principal is relying on two students and begging them to represent. My first doubt, why do they seek help from these students who aren’t even part of the initial cultural group. Okay let’s move on, these two give a joker performance. After a crowd booing you’ll see a guitar playing chic walking onto the stage. After that, the two jokers become thorough professionals and join her in giving a lifetime performance on stage. How? My second doubt. Many folks join in and they all dance in synchronization and people are singing the song together as though the lyric was coded into everyone’s brain at once, that’s my third. Jeez anyway, wonder how I managed watching this movie, like so many times, while I was a teenager.

4pm: I wind up all my meetings and decide to call home. My dad starts to narrate a story. He asks me if I remember this person in our village who had memory issues. I say ‘who?’. He continues, ‘Oh, the person who had offered his son a cup of coffee and asked him to leave’. I’m like, ‘yeah maybe, I remember. So, what’s up with him, what did he forget this time, to wear his pants’. My dad’s like, ‘No, he died’. My bad! I should’ve guessed. My dad’s got this crazy behavior. Every time he comes home and starts his story with ‘do you remember..?’ mostly 99% of them end with ‘that person is out..’, as if the deceased was playing a cricket match. I behave the grown up and request him to choose a better phrase. Today he did, and I missed his cricket commentary.

6pm: Marido, is back home and he’s got a short haircut, like the parade going one. He says short haircuts remove a big burden from his head. I think to myself, how much does a hair weigh?. Anyway, we are watching fifth season of Breaking Bad and everyday I count the hours pending for its climax. Then, I tell him about the ‘kuch kuch hota hai’ encounter this noon and he says let’s watch some hindi entertainment. Guess what he does next? Turns to netflix and plays ‘Singh is King’. Gosh, I want to runaway.

10pm: I meet my ever entertaining friend, kindle. He’s still narrating ‘Life with no breaks’.Today it’s about Nick’s grumpy uncle and how much everyone hates him. As I read I’m laughing and then I read out a few lines to marido…Slowly sleep’s peeking in….

Do you know to cook?

There are some questions that you can’t get away with, well, I’m talking about the ones post your wedding. The list still tops with ‘‘when are you giving us the special news?’. There is another which competes with this and it’s ‘Do you know to cook? And do you do it well?’. There are a hundred more that I could list without taking a break, but for now let’s focus on cooking. All those ladies who cook awful chunk of food for their family also join the gang and take the liberty to probe you. I could take all those sniper shots, after all ‘food’ is such a calm feeling, isn’t it? By the way all the wonderful ladies in my vessel of life, cook delicious food – mom, mom in law, sis, sis in law, aunts and friends.

Well, also I’m lucky to have a spouse who enjoys cooking. Marido’s recipes are instantaneous and could give a salsa on your palate. His best recipes are traditional ‘saaru anna’, lemon rice and dal. I prefer eating over cooking and I like to relish the food on my plate. Sometimes, I do engage on the other side of the coin and show off my spatula efforts. In the past few months I’m trying to cook food that I enjoy munching.

Mexican food is such a treat. I love guacamole, precisely for the avocado’s woody flavor added to an otherwise simple salad. We picked up the recipe from a relative of ours who’d made this salad for a get together. Since then you’ll find a pack of nachos in our drawers and it gets us to make this recipe often. A good balance of junk & healthy snack for our evenings when we watch episodes of Breaking Bad.

A cauliflower blossom is an invite to try an all time favorite, manchurian. Besides the litres of oil the batter drinks when frying, everything else is divine. The light crunch and the flavors gives a feeling that is indescribable. I tried two variants, a manchurian and a chilly 65. The manchurian was a huge hit and was highly appreciated 😉

Looking for a healthy south Indian meal? ‘ragi muddhe’ with ‘soppina saaru’ is a good choice. I spent an hour learning how to make this. My mum in law described the process over a call and I looked up for youtube videos and recipe blogs to get this right. It was an utter flop. There were lumps of flour and the portions were far too large for us to finish up. I’d need lots of courage to try this again.      

Lastly, when I read up articles on healthy food, I see the mention of soya a zillion times. Also, marido happens to pick up soya chunks from the grocery and I think why not try a soya kurma for rotis. I try a rich curry of soya chunks with tasteful masala and cashew paste to get along with mooli parathas. The kurma was by far one among the best side dishes I’ve made and next I start to work on the parathas. I grate the mooli and dust it with wheat flour. The aromas don’t match up. So, I take a test on the grated flakes and realise we got duped. It turned out to be white carrots, do such things even exist?
Okay ladies, bring it on, but, no more ‘cooking’ questions please….