Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dream Valley Tales

It's exactly one year since we did the VoF trip. I know I had promised to write a travelogue and even started it soon after the trip. But I was not in a position to complete it then. For me, if I give a word I am adamant that I stick to it and make sure I do everything in my power to make it happen. So here I am again in an attempt to fulfill my promise :)

I know it is not an easy option to recollect the feelings and experience after one whole year. I can only say that I will try my best. Probably it is good in a way since only the good memories linger for long and you will be saved of the boring details ;) Although I will be doing it on a day-to-day account, some days were only travel and I might just choose to club them with other days.

Today's experience is already here :)
Jul 31 : Kickstart

To be continued...
This time for sure ;)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Today I am grateful for.. - Day 7

We always tend to complain about the ‘nothingness’ in our life and forget to appreciate the simple pleasures and happiness around. Today is the last day of this experiment and I am so glad I took it up as this helped me look at the things I was ignoring. It's like the whole day you tend to search for that lil bit of happiness in whatever you do or encounter. I am planning to continue this as a gratitude journal from tomorrow :)

These are my 5 Hi points of today:
1) When my office was in MG Road, there was lot of scope for 'roaming around' - be it a leisure walk in the pretty Brunton road, window shopping in the near by malls or lunch outs in all possible places. We missed all these luxuries so much once the office shifted to the outskirts of the city. Other than a food court which you need to walk some 1.5 km in the hot sun, there is no place to hangout. So today after lunch we decided to go for a walk around the place. This is the first time we are venturing out since we shifted here 2 months back. It wasn't very sunny and at some point we even got a light drizzle which felt more like a sprinkle when u go near a fountain and we throughly enjoyed the walk :)

2) I finished reading the book EPL - an elegantly narrated memoir. It is inspiring, funny and engaging. It assures that there is a peaceful tomorrow for all your troubles but she also clarifies - "I was not rescued by a prince; I was the administrator of my own rescue." which is so true. Who else other than yourself can save you? Now I can't wait to go to Bali and meet Ketut and Wayan and Mario ;)

3) I was totally surprised when a cab mate told me that he 'heard' I am a very good photographer! The funny part is I hardly know this person or the group of people from whom he heard this news. He said there was a discussion about photography and my name popped up first and he was like she is my cab mate but he never knew this. Not sure if he'll change his opinion once he sees my photos :P Anyways a compliment always makes your day right?

4) Got a personal mail from a friend. I realized now a days it's so rare for someone to write a mail. We mostly communicate via social networking sites or a chat window. But a mail/letter makes so much of difference. Moreover I am thankful for so many lovely people in my life that always cares for me..

5) And it's Friday and the weekend is already here... Yay :)

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Today I am grateful for... - Day 6

It is always a good feeling to know that something that you have done/doing is inspiring others. I can't emphasize how this small exercise here has changed and helped me to be a better person. And mind you how much ever points you ‘think’, putting it in paper and seeing it in front of you does wonders. You will be amazed at the change in you. So if you haven't tried this yet, please do. You can use this facebook page if you don’t have a blog..

1) I am thankful for my landlords, uncle n aunty as I call them. They are an old couple in their late seventies living alone. Everyone tells me that you have got a second home and pseudo parents and they are just that for me. They make sure they are on the balcony 5 mins before my cab time to see me off. Same way they will be there at the time I come back home to check how my day was. Whenever anyone opens my gate they make sure it is someone I know and ward off any unnecessary nuisances. They even take care of all my bill payments too!!

2) At office we have a rooftop canteen and on normal days you can see as far as MG Road/UB City. Today at lunch time there was a heavy downpour and the view was just fantastic. It had a dreamy feel since it wrapped all the buildings with a misty cover and I just loved the sight. In fact, the view through the window from my seat is also beautiful especially when there is a build-up of clouds as the precursor to a downpour over the city. I have always loved the sky and what's in it - the clouds, planes, birds, stars and the moon. I guess no matter how old I get, I will always be a kid watching my sky – it's my way of growing older better.
Cause when I look to the sky something tells me you're here with me
And you make everything alright
And when I feel like I'm lost something tells me you're here with me
And I can always find my way when you are here

Train - When I Look To The Sky

3) Today morning I was reading Shruthi's UK Files and I remembered how we used to be dependent on the weather and how many trip plans had to be cancelled because of the weather. I could so much relate to that state and is so thankful that the place I am living has a moderate weather all year through. Think anyone who has lived in extreme weather conditions will know what I mean.

4) Back in my hometown every year an exhibition will be held at the Thekkinkad Maidanam as part of the Thrissur Pooram celebrations which is one of the most spectacular festivals in the world (more info). The city will be in jubilant mood since the opening of the exhibition as those days not many traveled outside the town and this gave them an opportunity to know the flavors/things/sights of the outside world. Since it happens during the summer vacation time, you can see families spending their evenings enjoying the various rides and doing heavy shopping. One thing that attracted me every year to this fair was the popcorn!! Yeh you heard it right. I think the popcorn stall was always the 5th or 6th and the aroma of fresh popcorns used to welcome you as soon as you enter the place. I guess since corn is not cultivated much in kerala that was the only time we got it. And you crave for things you can't get hold of easily na ;) If you are wondering why I told this totally unrelated story now - I made popcorn at home today. It's amazing how things change with the passing of time and something you used to get once a year has become something that you can make in just 3 mins at the comfort of your home.

5) In yesterday's post I had mentioned that I came across many people who were reading my blog and today some more friends gave their attendance :) So out of curiosity when I checked the site statistics today, I realized that I have almost 100 visitors a day with more than 1K visits and 2K page views this month. I know it is not a big number for popular blogs but for me it really is a big achievement especially after such a long dormant period :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Today I am grateful for... - Day 5

I've come to realize the difference in success, or failure, is not how you look, not how you dress and not even how you're educated. It's how you think.
I can't overstate the importance of being able to maintain a positive attitude, but I'm the first one to's not easy

An excerpt from Attitude is Everything
by Vicki Hitzges

1) At least 6-7 people told me today that they read my blog and is happy that I restarted blogging and is able to carry out this attitude and become a 'transformed & positive girl' :) I had no idea all these people were reading my blog and is happy that I have accomplished this 'not easy' task :)

2) Had a loooooooong phone call with a friend and you know harmless gossip always refreshes you ;)

3) I have always loved rain. So how can I be not happy at the unexpected shower in the evening?

4) I am currently reading Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love and loved the concept of four brothers. I have always yearned to have a brother may be coz I almost had one. The very thought that 'The brothers can be called upon in any critical situation for rescue and assistance' is so reassuring Na?

5) Got some 'Me’ time to read and study. I always love it when there is no pressure and you are free to read anything at your own pace :P

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Today I am grateful for.. - Day 4

Wow I’m already on Day 4 and I love it so much. It really is good fun and a great mood booster :) Why don’t you try it out yourself(if you haven't started it yet)? If you don’t have a blog you can write in the facebook group

1) There are some people with whom even if you don't talk for a long time, when you connect with them again you just pick from where you left as if it were yesterday that you last spoke. Today after I came home and found this old friend online. We haven't met for about 10 years and completely lost touch for some 3-4 years. He is now in UK and I felt so nice to reconnect with him :)

2) Today Sid and I sat together and finalized this year’s long trip - The vibrant Rajasthan. We had booked the flight tickets few weeks back and were in the process of deciding the stay and commute. Now waiting for Oct end... :)

3) Today got the info about the next cycling event this weekend. This looks lil tougher than the moonlight ride. But who's complaining? We are for it :)

4) I learned that there are some fans for my adopted pet sheep who likes to pat and feed her :P And for those of you who hate her sound, the mute button comes in handy ;)

5) And looks like my day is never complete without a delicacy and what best other than a scrumptious black forest cake? No wonder that I have all size zero obsessed clothes ;)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today I am grateful for... - Day 3

When I started this series, I was doubtful whether I really have five positives in my uneventful home-office-home routine. I used to feel like all my weekdays are exactly the same and all weekends again the same. But now that I started observing the day’s events more closely I am realizing each day is different and it has quite many things to record even more than the 5 points that I list here. That itself is a positive thought right? ;)

Anyway here comes today’s list

1) My day started with a Temple visit. It used to be my everyday ritual back home since the temple was very near to my house. But after coming to this city, somehow I couldn't identify with the temples here and had almost stopped visiting them. But now I have decided to go at least a couple of times a month. It sure refreshes you and gives the day a good start.

2) I am crazy about solving puzzles and so was super excited when a friend came and gave me a puzzle to solve. She said she remembered me when they bought it for themselves and so got one for me too. And yep I could solve it in the given time-frame too. Now I am circulating it in the team. So far no one has cracked it but ;)

3) Went back to an orphanage that we used to go after almost a year. They were in need of some money for the children's school admission and were so happy that we could help them. She was like she had prayed before calling me and now it feels like God answered her prayers :)

4) Had yummy appam for dinner. Wanted to make stew but then got lazy(and hungry). But who doesn't know that appam with milk and sugar is equally savory and delicious :)

5) Last but not the least: Had a very peaceful day at work - not many headaches or may be my mind has decided not to take work to heart: P

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Today I am grateful for.. - Day 2

Here are the things that made me feel good today

1) What else can be the ultimate mood lifter than getting up in the morning and realizing that it's still Sunday n you can sleep to your hearts content :)

2) Spend a lot of time in the morning reading and lazing around.

3) I had almost buried my culinary experiments after I started staying alone and so surprised myself when I decided to make aloo parata all for MYSELF :)

4) When I was small, my grandma used to apply lots of oil and give me a head massage and brushing. That was a weekly ritual and I used to hate it so much that time. But now I really miss that and more over even my hair has gone dull and lifeless and so I decided to pamper it and gave myself an oil massage. Believe me it's really a stress buster...

5) I did some wardrobe cleaning and have thrown away some stuff. My wardrobe looks so spacious now :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Today I am grateful for.. - Day 1

I had seen the post in Preeti's blog and I instantly fell in love with the idea. Unfortunately I read it while in office and couldn't comment or blog about it that time but made it a point to mentally note the 5 points before I go to bed. Today I got her invite in my mailbox to join in the facebook group and I decided to make it an excuse to blog about it ;)

So here are my 5 points for today

1) Who doesn't know that a baby's smile is a natural high? Yesterday I did a sleepover in my friend's house and she has a 10 month old baby. As such I adore babies and the feeling is always mutual :) I really felt elated when the cutie pie refused to go to her mom n clung to me most of the times although this is the first time she is seeing me :)

2) It is always difficult to talk to someone going through a hardship. Many a times when we are around such people, we won't know what to say and we avoid the topic and then mostly an uncomfortable silence prevails between us. But I think it always help to talk about the situation as that develops a sense of understanding between the people. Today my friend's mom was asking about my parent’s death and how it affected me and we spoke for a long time and I really felt good about it. I realized these are the facts of life and it is always better to accept them than avoid/ignore them.

3) Except for the Volvo once or twice, it's been really really long since I have traveled in a city bus. One of the main reasons is that they write the board and even the numbers in Kannada and I can't read the script. But today my friend encouraged me to take the bus as my house is really far and auto is not a good idea. It brought back many old memories - second day in this city and me getting lost as I got down in a wrong stop, later our attempt to learn the language from the kannada friends around, learning the kannada script to read at least the bus numbers if not the place, the hostel days and the friends there.. All of them bring a smile to my face :)

4) I had yummy homely food all day.And how much ever good a cook you are, food always tastes better if someone else is cooking for you ;) To top it all what best way to end a day by pure bliss - a bar of diary milk chocolate :)

5) When I was going through a low phase, like all other activities I had almost stopped blogging as well(a 7 months gap from writing). But then when I restarted it, I realized how much it made me feel good. My first post was kind of a ritual to force myself to blog, but the second post gave me such a high that I was unable to sleep that night. I really felt contentment filling inside me and I was floating ;) Today I am so glad when I know that I have 7 days of continuous happiness ahead :)

We all know the famous Groucho Marx quote: "I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead, tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I have just one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it."

The question to you is what have you chosen to be today? Since happiness multiplies when shared why don’t you multiply it? Just experiment it and see how it is affecting you. You are already in? That’s just great :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New trail+New terrain+you = Unlimited fun

And it was exactly that - unlimited fun :) I am talking about the BSA moonlight ride that happened yesterday. I remember seeing its ad some 5-6 years back in the papers but couldn't mobilize any of my friends then. But this time when I read about it in BBC forum (Bangalore Bikers Club), I just forwarded it to a friend who has bought a cycle recently. Surprisingly by evening, there were quite many interested colleagues and we all registered for the event. All of us where equally excited and was looking forward for the ride. But the preparation ended there. I haven't ridden a cycle after my PUC days except a fun ride during kodai trip. Somehow my feeling was that we have run a 10K marathon with hardly any practice and so this shouldn't be an issue as I just love cycling. [yeh heights of confidence I know :) ]

Finally the D-day arrived and we were at the peak of our excitement. We were picked up from corporation circle and when I saw the crowd in the bus my heart sank – most of them were pros with long distance riding experience and the news that they will give us geared cycles was not comforting for me either. I know it is easier to ride a geared cycle, but I was not at all used to it. Once we reached the starting point, we were given a briefing on how to operate the gears and soon we started off. The first stretch itself was a steep climb and I tried to change the gear. Alas it got stuck in between two gears. After that it was a struggle to pedal and I was totally exhausted in the first 1 km itself. I was like “if this is the starting how am I going to do 25km?’. SS from our gang had to back out as she got a bad wheezing attack (though she made up for it by driving the trailer truck almost all the way). Heard some more girls backed out after that first stretch. Think that stretch was little difficult and somehow I managed to cover it. It seems my cycle had some wrist gear and it is not very smooth in engaging unless you do it properly (at least that’s what one expert told me). Anyway with expert intervention the gears got engaged again and it again became a smooth ride. The trail was nice – hardly any vehicles, smooth road, the moon was playing hide n seek (not the full moon but). We were stopped by some curious onlookers of the village asking what we are up to :) The gear got stuck again a few more times, but I was less panicky and could bring it back to normal soon. Finally I decided not to meddle with the gears and started riding in same gear throughout. In fact, I was surprised when we reached the Big Banyan Tree for dinner as it didn’t seem like 15 km at all ;) We had dinner there and I started getting a headache. That’s when I realized that I didn't drink water all through and is getting dehydrated. Thankfully the rest of the trail was so much fun. It was mostly downhill with trees on both sides and the road were pitch dark except for our torch lites. In between I realized I am riding alone and was wondering whether I lost my way. So got off and waited for others and continued when I saw some in the group. We soon reached the end point and frankly I was so sad that it’s over. Anyway all of us have decided to do it again. When you need to get some exercise to counterbalance your sedentary lifestyle, nothing beats getting out in the open air and pushing yourself; Right? :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I have Sinned!!!

Dewdrops asked me to confess my Sins rather ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’ and I was wondering whether I am really a sinner :P Then I did a backtrack and found that it was IHM who started this chain and the confessions of sinners from all over the world is overflowing in the blogosphere. Only then I realized that even I have committed many of those sins knowingly or unknowingly :) If you are still wondering what this is all about read on...

Have you ever wanted or done something your gender is not supposed to?

If you are a woman,

Have you ever wanted something that is considered ‘manly’? Like a basketball, a cell phone, a dog, a camera or a new laptop? A new car or motor bike? Ever wanted to be a pilot? A doctor or not a nurse? And the manliest want of them all – The remote!

As a kid did you enjoy playing with a bat and a ball?

There was a time when books were considered ‘manly’, women authors had to pretend to be men – would you say books are still rather manly – women should want to embroider and crochet?

If you are a man,

Have you ever wanted something that only women are supposed to want – like bags, shoes, clothes, creams, perfumes, babies, flowers? A peaceful home and a happy family? Have you ever been afraid of the dark or of insects?

As a kid did you ever want to play ‘teacher-teacher’, cooking or did you like playing with a doll? Have you ever enjoyed cooking? Bought something in pink? Loved chocolates?

Are magazines and books, TV News and blogs for men or for women?

Religion and God? Pets? Politics? Air planes and cars? Technology? – Who should want them, men or women?


So here’s a tag – Please list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.

1) I love traveling and exploring new places. I am comfortable under a starlit sky in the wilderness than in the couch at home. I think I am a good traveler coz I adjust to circumstances and can live with bare minimum necessities. Also I am adventurous to an extent. I try out all the adventurous rides in theme parks, have done parasailing, undersea walking (although I am not very comfortable with water), camped in wilderness with some wild boars out for company, once slept at an open viewpoint in the middle of a thick forest supposedly inhabited by wild animals!!

2) I love to cycle. I studied in an all girls convent and we were not allowed to come in cycle to school, but thoroughly freaked out during college. On the way to college, there used to be a short stretch which was very steep and most guys used to get down at that point. But me and my friend enjoyed pedaling that stretch and surprised the guys. I could even take doubles and ride with one hand (the other hand will mostly be having an umbrella when it's raining or saving a flying dupatta which was part of our uniform). I also had a Kinetic Honda later. I know this is a very common thing that girls do now a days but I am feeling proud because 10-12 years back a girl riding a cycle/bike was not at all common in my hometown and people going in vehicles used to stop and stare at us in amusement when we pass by!

3) I don’t worry about my looks nor do I care for jewellery or clothes. I don’t go to beauty parlors nor do I get my eyebrows plucked (do I look wild?). I have no idea about the right stuff to wear and I am not a make up person at all. The only make-up stuff that I use is some moisturising creams and talcum powder and rarely bindies or sandal paste. No lipstick, no nail polish, no compacts, no ... (I don't even know the name of stuff people use everyday). Oh and I forgot no matching accessories either and I can't understand why it is mandatory that your handbag or slippers should perfectly match your dress. I always wonder how much time people spend in the morning to get that perfect matching earrings, nail polish and such stuff. And I hate wearing gold too and Mom used to dislike this nature of mine. For family weddings or get together I used to be the one with an oily face and empty neck/hands. It takes so much nagging from mom to get me decked up at least for close family weddings :)

4) Mostly I find myself a misfit among a group of giggling girls discussing the latest good-looking guy around. Instead I would prefer some intellectual discussions with a group of guys (not that guys are always having intelligent conversations, but it's much better than the girls gang)or like-minded girls. As a result I have loads of men friends as I have women friends and no, this is not in a flirtatious way. And I don't ogle at guys, but enjoy looking at pretty girls ;) It's just that I feel the words 'pretty' and 'beautiful' fits a girl better and probably I am an artist at heart and is just trying to find beauty around me :P In fact I was thinking only I have this outlook but reading the other sinners confessions about the same point I am at peace :)

5) I can never flutter my eyelashes at guys to get them do things for me and I can't stand the Barbie dolls that put up such performances and thoroughly 'use' the guys. Of course I don't pity the guys who fall for these acting as I feel they deserve it ;)

6) I am fiercely independent and try to do things all by myself how much ever I can - be it going to bank or govt offices or any such stuff. I used to be the one in the house who can fix broken gadgets, change fuse/bulb , change gas cylinder etc.I even used to climb all the way up onto the roof to check the overhead tank or change the angle of antenna(doordarshan days)

7) I have been to a police station once when my friend met with an accident and had to get some papers for the insurance. Although it was more of a necessity at that time, I didn't really think that I'm doing something that is very uncommon. Even my mom who always comes up with concerns was preoccupied coz of the accident I think. The moment I entered, everyone there stood up in surprise. It was a small village in Palghat district and I guess they were not at all used to a girl walking into the station and that too alone. Moreover I was wearing a white n white salwar kameez and they thought I was an advocate. You can't help it if you have a distinguished look right? ;)

8) I am not afraid of the dark and don't shriek and scream when I see insects, cockroaches, lizards etc. although I don't like to see them at home. But I love animals, dogs are my weakness.

9) Are books considered non-girly? That was news to me. Although I cannot be considered as a voracious reader, I love books and always carry one in my handbag. I read in the cab on the way to office n back, in trains, when I am waiting somewhere or sometimes even in office when I need a break to get my head thinking straight :P But no mushy mushy love stories for me. When in school it used to be Famous five, Secret seven, Hardy boys, Nancy drew etc for me and then jumped into classics. I never read M&B or Sidney Sheldon series.

10) I'm a good planner/organizer and love doing it to the minutest detail be it a trip or an event or any such thing. But I do get bugged when people don't adhere to it and take it in an easy go lucky way. They don't realize how much effort is gone into bringing them a good time.

Phew so I managed 10 sins but there are still many things that are manly about me - I do own a DSLR and know most of its technical aspects, I do like good cars and nice phones, and I hardly watch TV and hate the teary serials. But I am not into tree climbing or into guy’s sports or such acts mainly because of my mom who always insisted that I be a 'girly-girl' - "You are not supposed to talk loud","You shouldn't laugh louder","Girls shouldn't do that", "Girls shouldn't do this" . Thank God, if not for her nagging I can't imagine where I would have been since I managed to do so many sins already :) Btw there are some girly stuff that I absolutely love to do - I love cooking and can easily make a full fledged meal for 10-15 people all by myself, I adore babies, love dolls, teddy bears, chocolates etc. I do embroidery, crochet, I knit, I can stitch (yes I used to make my own dresses),.. the list goes on.

On a side note, is doctor considered a manly thing? I remember when I completed 10th and wanted to do PCM, almost every one whom I interacted was like PCB is for girls and if you love math so much take PCMB and not PCM. The idea is if you have got good marks and you are a girl, you should be a doctor by default. I think the logic was more like maths need brains and biology is more to do with mugging up which the girls are supposedly good at. I had to do lot of explanation to make people understand that although I am a girl, I don't like biology and is extremely bad at mugging up and memorizing and if I take it I might even flunk!

Btw this tag says you must tag twelve blogging friends or else you will be cursed to wear blue clothes/pants if you are a woman and pink shirts if you are a man – for next twelve years. I love blue and so don’t mind getting the curse. In fact for twelve years I was wearing Royal blue skirt and white shirt!!!(that was my school uniform). On second thoughts may be wearing the color again for next 12 years won't be a good idea. So here I tag

Jina, Cris, Thulasy, Usha, Sini, Shruthi and I just realized that there are not many male sinners. Is it that they never sinned or is reluctant to confess their sins? Let’s see. I am tagging Mathew, Dhanush , Sandeep , Sreejith , Roshan and Sajin

Btw there is one more task to do - All Sinners are welcome to join Sinners Against Gender Stereotypes (SAGS) on Face Book.

Small Print: You know what happens to those who don’t? Pink footwear for men and Blue beer mugs for women for twelve years

I am there already :)