Friday, October 3, 2014

Days of Future Past

A few weeks ago the girls and me watched the new X-men movie. Am not a die hard fan of X-men but Hugh Jackman in 3D wasn't something I wanted to miss. While I ended up enjoying the movie, what really caught my fancy was Shadowcat's super power. She uses her superpower to send (the hot) Wolverine back into the past to change history. This movie coupled with my secret fascination for time travel got me me thinking. What if I could travel back ten years and have a chat with the 22 year old me., what would I tell myself? And that inspired this list.


My greatest regret has been not living in more cities and trying new jobs. Basically sticking to the norms.I stuck to my comfort zone for too long. Albeit late, I broke that mold and believe it was the best decision ever. 

Be stupid

Most people end up being reckless in their 20s and sober up in their 30s. I on the other hand have been Benjamin Buttonesque and done the opposite. I would definitely tell my younger self that its absolutely OK to let go and do stupid things. Sign up for that dance class, pitch your big idea to your boss, make the first move on that boy. It's alright if it ends up being a mammoth failure. Having no regrets is definitely way better than momentarily looking like an idiot.

Life is never as bad as it seems.

This is probably the most difficult realization for me to accept. There have been days when I firmly believed I was in the worst phase of my life, and then a curve ball hits me out of nowhere . And then I regret not appreciating what I had. It took me a while to realize that life can have a terribly wry sense of humour. And it's easy to miss out on the good things when things are going bad. But sometimes things need to come crashing down for you to build something better. 

While it would be awesome if life can a Ctrl Z button, I guess some things are meant to be. We live  we learn. But here's hoping ten years down the line, I can look back at now and tell myself I did alright.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Little Mr. Sunshine

I am not sure what the right term for referring to a deaf person is. During a brief stint in volunteering I was taught that "deaf" is the politically right term.. So hopefully am not being offensive in using the word.

Right across the road from my house is a school for deaf children. Every morning on my way to work I deliberately slow down when I walk past the school. Observing these children has become a daily ritual for me. Watching them happy in their own little world is always a great start to any day. I have seen young boys shoving each other , signing rapidly and dissolving in a fit of giggles.
I once watched a young couple angrily signing to each other in fury. A reminder that true emotions don't need a language. Or a voice.

A few days ago I tried to hail an auto that got out the school. While the auto-driver tried his usual "ten rupees extra" madam, I was slightly surprised to see a broad smile greet me from the passenger seat. The broad smile belonged to a little boy who must have been five or six and clearly a student of the deaf school. His smile was almost spilling out of his giant oversized monkey cap that seemed make him look even smaller. Looking at my surprised face the auto-driver explained he was dropping the boy off and his house was on the way to my destination. 

My new hero in the monkey cap even patted the seat next to him, nodding his head vigorously. This is was an invite I just couldn't say no to. So I hopped into the auto. No sooner had we started the boy was on his feet waving with all his might at his fellow school mates who were all leaving. He waved with all his might and with his most adorable broad grin. No one waved back. They probably didn't notice him. But none of this mattered to the boy. Not once did smile falter or his waving slow down. He was on a roll like a pint sized rockstar waving at his crazed fans. Only after we had left my lane and gotten onto the main road did he sit down. He concluded with a grand clap of hands and sat down with a pleased look.

He must have rested for approximately five seconds before he was back on his feet again. This time he kept tapping the auto-driver on his shoulder to point out people and things on the road side. He kept rapidly signing away and shaking his head.It was apparent that the auto-driver didnt get what he was trying to communicate, but he still nodded his head in agreement and even shook his head at the right moments. I now didn't feel bad about giving him extra money. The boy would take a 10 second break after every minute before getting back to his ritual. And every break was punctuated with a dramatic clap of hands. Happiness is indeed contagious and I couldn't help but smile at this little charade.

Life can difficult at times and I can only imagine how difficult it can be for that child.Watching him be so happy and finding joy in something as simple as waving to your friends, was so heartening. When we reached his house and he gave me a grand high five, my only hope was he holds on to his spark even through adulthood. Growing up often kills a lot of that.

They say happiness is a choice you make and not always a reflection of your life. If you decide to be happy you will be happy. A choice you can make but a difficult one. I am not sure if happiness comes that easy, but Mr. Sunshine definitely made my afternoon.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Let’s talk friendship.

One afternoon at the museum, a friend asked me , “so how many of your school friends are you in touch with? “. I responded with some uncomfortable silence.  Up until that moment it didn't real strike me that I was barely in touch. With anyone from my school days.  Now don’t get judgemental Jude on me. I am really good at keeping in touch. OK much better than the average.  But time and distance sometimes prove to be challenges.
While all my school friends were married and most had stayed behind in my hometown.. I found it difficult to stay in touch with them. But I think the most  is that I probably would not know what to say to them now.
I am a very very different person now from what I was some years ago. Moving cities, growing older and life in general has made me a different person. And I believe as you change.. so do the kind of friends you make. So this got me thinking would be I friends with half the people I know… had I met them at a different time of my life?

And I assume this would be apply for everyone. Something tells me I would have a lot less friends if I had to start the exercise now. A tad bit depressing that. Think I will drown my sorrows by doing a Mad Men marathon. Ta.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Indonesia - Part 2: Ubud

The second stop of our Indonesia trip was D’s choice. So we all know how Eat,Pray Love put Ubud on the global map. Somehow unlike the rest of the world, it didn't catch my fancy. Well at least up until I got there. Just an hour into this little bustling town and I was in love.  I could totally understand why Elizabeth Gilbert loved it. Ubud is one of those places that reminds you that the world can wait , while you disappear into your own bubble.

Ubud is a little town filled with tiny cafes, curio shops and busy markets.  D and me spent many hours exercising our non existent bargaining skills in the many markets. These visits ensured we were returning to India with much heavier bags.
One of the best things about our stay at Ubud was our home stay. Not only was it a bargain, the couple who run it were so warm and friendly. Which we soon discovered was a common trait among the people of this town. Literally everyone here greets you with a warm smile or wants to chat up. Our room was massive and overlooked this little courtyard which led into rice fields.  Would definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting Ubud.

D had signed us for a cycling expedition, which was one of the highlights of our trip. The group that organized this took us for a lovely breakfast overlooking a lake and volcano. After which we  visited the world famous Kopi Luwak Coffee. Which is made of well erm cat poo. Well kinda. Soon after this interesting coffee experience we got on our bikes and off we went zipping through tiny villages. The  excursion guides took us to a traditional Balinese home, a wood work factory and finally some rice fields.  

The last time I touched a cycle was twenty years ago. So naturally I was not sure if I could do it. But am so glad I got over my apprehension and did this. Cycling through brilliant green rice fields on a quiet afternoon was nothing short of bliss. With the wind in my hair, I could almost hear the soundtrack of "Chariots of fire" in my head. I was dog tired at the end of it. But it was worth every minute.

When the time came for us to pack and leave we made a note to definitely come back to this lovable tiny town.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Indonesia – Part 1 : Mt Bromo & Ijen Crater

When I was in class two, we had an English lesson on the destruction of Pompei with the volcanic eruption of Mt Vesuvius. Quite a morbid story to be teaching a six year old. None the less I was totally taken in.  I saw volcanoes as these sleepy monsters who come to life and breathed bright orange fire. Somewhere at the back of mind I had made up my mind to visit a volcano some day.

Fast forward twenty four years.

Last year the Grecian , the diva and me had finally frozen on Indonesia for our December holiday.  The three of us decided to pick one destination of our choice. No we were not influenced by Zindagi na milege dobara! My obvious choice was the volcano rich East Java.
I soon learnt that getting from Bangalore to East Java was no easy task. After three flights, one bus ride, one jeep ride and 20 hours later, we reached our destination – Probolingo. After a few hours of shut eye ,our chirpy driver gave us our wake up call at 4.00 A.M and off we went to watch the sunrise at Mt Bromo. Surprisingly we were the only international tourists at the venue. I guess East Java is not as popular as other islands such as Bali. Which is quite a shame.
Anyway I digress. After waiting for a while in the cold the sun finally rose , which was met with thunderous applause by the locals. The diva and I were quite amused with the rather warm welcome the sun got. 

Sunrise at Mt Bromo

It was quite a pretty sight and worth the wait in the cold. The volcanic craters seems arise magically from the mist bathed in soft pink and orange light. Luckily for us we got talking to an Indonesian couple who asked us to join them in exploring the place. We then drove right around to climb the mount and get a view of the actual crater.  While we took a short break, I decided to try out some hot soup from a cart vendor. This was no ordinary soup. It was heaven in a bowl! I later discovered this hot broth like soup with dumplings is called Miso. MOST.AMAZING.SOUP.EVER.

Volcanic Crater

After breakfast we took a horse (pony) ride to base of the mount. I was getting on a horse after like a billion years and held onto my pony and the pony man (?) for my dear life. After climbing what felt like 5 billion steps to get to the top most level of the crater, we were finally there. It was truly amazing to be peering into the crater of a volcano. It looked like a giant bowl of steaming orange soup. Yes I was clearly still hung-over on my amazing soup.

Relaxing at the Savannah
Our next stop was the savannah. This was one of the places recommended by the Indonesian couple and it was truly lovely.  Lying there,  I realized I had not experienced this much silence and vast open spaces in a long long time.  We lazed around here for a bit before heading for our final destination for the day.

The whispering sands were our final and next stop. I heard several different versions of how this place earned that name. The most popular reasons seems be that it was named after a movie that was shot there. This place was a vast massive gigantic sea of black sand with the mountains in the background.

Flower seller at whispering sands
No one visits a such vast open space and not holler out names in hope of an echo. So that is what we all did. And boy the response echos were little haunting and creepy. Almost like hidden mystery creatures were calling out my name from beyond the mountains. Yes apparently my imagination is a bit over active.

Day # 2 Ijen crater
The next day we had decided to visit the Ijen crater.  The ijen crater is home to a massive lake of sulphuric acid. To get to this crater we had to do a to a  backbreaking ,hopefully calorie burning hike. The hike took us about two hours. The climb was a bit slippery and the cold weather just made it tougher. Of course none of this seemed to matter to the miners.  Each of them carried about 80 – 100 kg of sulphur on their shoulders.  I must add they pranced around like ballerinas oblivious to the slippery and steep slopes.

Ijen Crater

Again here the two hour climb was totally worth the break-taking view that awaited us. The crater is filled with a brilliant blue acid. Grey and white rocks framed this lake and there was mist all over the place.
Despite the strong chemically stench on and off, it was the perfect place to just sit and relax.  A steep stony path led right down to the lake, which we decided to skip.  The miners were pretty friendly and chatty. Some of them even offer to escort you down to the lake and inside the mines.

Miners at Ijen

With that we were done with our East Java tour and took a ferry to Bali. Unlike Bali which is far more developed , East Java is not popular with tourists. Which is good in a way. But also sad that so many people don’t realize how beautiful this island is too.

Coming up next – Indonesia part two – Ubud, Bali

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I may be giving my blog the step motherly treatment but I couldn't stay away from doing my traditional year end post.
2012 started slow. Content would have been a good description. And suddenly I was forced to make decisions. Decisions that I didn't like and decisions that could have long term implications. Though at that moment I cursed all my stars and hated the world. Looking back now am grateful for that chaos which woke me up from slumber and pushed me towards better things. A little jolt now and then apparently does no one any any harm.
Mid year saw me take a new job. New roles new environment and new people. And the whole rigamarole of adjustment. As with many things moving to a new job made me appreciate little things I left behind. I missed my crazy colleagues who made Monday mornings bearable. Which I never appreciated when I was on the job.

Travel wise the year was good I can say. I got to visit my friend's quaint cocoa estate in Nilambur. The perfect weekend getaway. In August I visited the United States after four years. I never thought I would say this but I missed that place. And no, not just the malls. That multi faceted country continues to amuse and amaze me.
I had to do a blink and miss me trip to Sri Lanka. Something I hope to recitify in 2013. And finally in December I visited the amazing Indonesian islands. A separate post coming up on that.
2012 was  not too eventful but definitely not one of my best years. For the first time in my life I had  serious regrets and wished I could have stayed back in 2011. But then like Adele says mistakes and regrets are memories made. Happy new year people. Bring it on 2013!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Mid Summer Wedding

When my cousin did a last minute announcement about his wedding in Colombo,  I was  partially panicky and excited. Panicky coz I realized I would hardly get a day between my Boston and Colombo trip resulting in my displaying my hyperactive best. My friends and family can vouch that my hyperactive self is best avoided. But I was also excited as this would be the first Buddhist wedding I would attend.

Finally after my customary travel related drama I was in my beloved Colombo. Again travel related drama and me have had a thirty year steady relationship, so I was sort of prepared for it. Having landed just one day before the wedding, I didn’t have much to do. But to my pleasant surprise I discovered that Buddhist weddings are short, simple and sweet.  Thereby, bringing down the usual pre-wedding chaos by a significant amount.

The sister and I decided to go all Sri Lankan and wear the traditional Kandyan saree.  This involved a complex saree tying process and about forty pins. Thereby ensure I couldn’t breathe or move but I did feel rather fancy. So I guess it was worth it.

The main part of the wedding is an entourage of Kandyan dancers, drummers and conch blowers escorting the bride and groom in individually. This ceremony is done with the dancers performing the traditional dance while singing the customary wedding songs.  I totally loved this part. Most of the meaning of the songs were lost on me and my rudimentary Sinhala. But I guestimated they were welcoming the bride and groom.

This was followed by the main poruwa ceremony. Which was a relatively short ceremony which included the couple’s fingers being tied together with string, exchanging of gifts between the families and all elders blessing the couple.  It also involved a lot of falling at a lot of feet. My heart went out to the bride who I could see was struggling to fall at people s feet in all her bridal finery. And in about half an hour ta-da! They were married. If only all weddings were this quick!

This was followed by cake…

And champagne…

And a huge spread of food and more champagne and a lot of dancing. Did I mention I love Sri Lankan weddings?