Mumbai Travel Diaries

Mumbai holidays were great fun! A lifetime of memories and unbridled time with family. Something, I will always cherish. Here are some scattered tidbits of the time well spent.

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Let’s pose before we go.

The goodbyes were said, to the brother and the husband, who were not travelling with us. Leaving the Delhi airport for Mumbai was a mini-holiday in itself.

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Holiday means happiness.

With rest of the family in tow, and the luggage, I tried to contain the overflowing excitement within me. The anticipation of a long family holiday ahead (15 days) with no stress looming on my head was the perfect escapade I needed. With a child-like joy, I wanted to live each moment to its fulfillment.

We reached Mumbai around 7 pm. An Uber till home, and soon we were securely settled in sister’s flat in Mallad West. All the fears about lack of space in flat were put to rest when I saw two huge windows overlooking the vast expanse of sky outside. I don’t mind small space but feel very claustrophobic in the absence of an open view, which fortunately was plenty here.

Our travel began the next day right away. We decided to seek divine blessings for an auspicious beginning by visiting Mumbai’s highly revered Ganesha, the Siddhivinayak Temple.  We had good ‘darshan’, without long queues.

It was followed by a visit to the Mahalaxmi temple, which had traditional compound-like premises. Long walking stretches, stairs, side stalls and in the end, idyllic beautiful scenery offering a cool breeze overlooking the temple.

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A beautiful, breezy scenery overlooking the Mahalaxmi temple.

The next destination was Haji Ali,  Mumbai’s most famous landmark. Hardly a few minutes drive from the Mahalaxmi temple, it was an experience of divinity soaked in sun-kissed waves.  Located on an islet in the Worli Bay, it offered an unparalleled view of sea on both sides of the walkway. Waves brushed past off the feet sprinkling water all over, symbolising the blessings from the sky being showered upon you.

The hard part was, the stench and the unhygienic surroundings, which lead to an ache in the heart to see such a marvel being wasted by humans. Leaving that aside, it was one of the most memorable experiences. Our timings added to the inner bliss. Watching the sunset coupled with the aura of the dusk made for a spectacle worth its grandeur.

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At Haji Ali
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Dusk, sunset, waves, divinity…all my favourite words and experiences.

The next and the last destination was Nariman Point. Alongside Queen’s necklace formation, we picked our spot; sat, rested, chitchatted and idled away the time. Just the way a day should end.

The special moment was when dad, while watching the waves, reminisced how he visited Mumbai while holidaying with his friends in 1977 (when he was a bachelor). The timeline made me zipped past through life, with a lump in my throat. 1977 — My bachelorette father (something I can never imagine), who had not yet my mother (aww), a year I was not born or was in my previous birth. My siblings still had many years to be born, and that this moment too will be a thing of the past in many years to come. Well, well, before that let’s holiday and make this life a little more worthwhile.

 

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Mumbai, Here I Come!

Let me warn you beforehand. This post may not interest you because there is nothing great in it. It’s just a heads-up on what’s going in my super-average, ordinary, mundane and boring life. In my defense, it is good to give excitement a break.

First the good news. My Mumbai trip is finally happening. Bookings have been made and itinerary finalised. It took almost an year for the plan to materialise since the time I consciously started wanting it to happen. As always, it was within two days’ time span that the universe conspired in my favour. When I was adamant to make it happen, nothing came out. When I lost all hope, everything fell in place (Life, find a new trick to surprise me).

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Time for Summer vacation (pic credit: dreamstime)

 

So, here I am, marching to Mumbai in the peak of summer with swag and sweat for 15 days, including a weekend in Khandala. Being an excited traveller, I am ready to battle whatever comes my way. My travel list has been increasing, so what if by a whisker. The ticked places include, but not limited to, Ladakh, Dharamshala, Nainital, Shimla, Amritsar, Agra, Mathura & Vrindavan, Jabalpur, Porbandar, Dwarka, Diu, Kerala, Pondicherry, Goa and now Mumbai! If you are rolling your eyes wondering where are international swanky places, then let me tell you freelancers like me don’t travel abroad. They just swoon over the images in Google or watch travel shows.

Welcome to this b’ful world babies!

Now, it’s time for some heart-melting moments. In the last few months, three new souls have blessed my life. One look at them and your heart starts humming the song of life. Talk about pure, pristine and divine love. Meet Yavi, a miracle baby in the literal sense who has brought along with her the magic of unseen, but omnipresent, power of universe. Daughter of one of the closest family friends, she is the youngest and calmest sleeping beauty whom I held in my arms when she was merely 19 days old.

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Yavi, meaning blessing. She indeed is!

 

Next is this handsome hunk Kiaan, my four-month-old nephew. He came way ahead of his scheduled time and hence is a born fighter. He fought bravely for what was his destined place on this planet. His smile, which has metamorphosed from sweet to naughty in no time, is already stealing many hearts. I missed meeting him by a few hours but his pictures have been adding loads of love and charm to my life.

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Kiaan, meaning grace of God. Do I need to say more?  

 

The third, eldest of the three, is Angel as I fondly call her. Daughter of one of BFFs, she made a grand entry into our gang of girls. She arrived like a VIP, making us wait for looooooong. She enjoyed playing the waiting game with us even before she was born though the wait was worth every pain and anxiousness. Angel is special because she is making sure to give her mother the same dose of cuteness and craziness that my childish friend is capable of.

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Angel, weaving magic in our lives. Keep smiling! 

Soon, all three will grow up just like the growing tags of my relationships. I am Massi to Kiaan and Angel, and Chachi to Yavi. Aww, when did I become so old. The last I remember is calling someone Maasi and Chachi. Talk about life passing by quickly?

Are you a solitude-seeker?

 

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(credit: wisdomlovequotes.com)

Read an interesting blog post a few days ago about Introversion. The blogger wrote about her need for solitude after every socialisation. In her own words, “I need twenty-eight hours of solitude after one hour of socialization.” This made me smile and nod in affirmation.

How many of us fall in the same bracket? I do. I need my solitude every day. In fact, the name of this blog stems from this solitude-seeking trait. After every socialization, there is a need to crawl into my cocoon. In spite of the fact that I already enjoy lot of ‘Me Time’ given the nuclear status of family (It’s just A and me who make the house a home). And sometimes, just sometimes, A also feels like a crowd. This happens when there have been days of frenzied activity one after another.

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(Credit: http://minavannerdjuren.blogspot.in/2018/03/humor.html)

Looking back, this craving seems a constant. I loved stealing some quietness by taking a day off from school even if that meant studying. I loved stealing some ‘me time’ by excusing myself from socialising, be it attending a birthday party or a wedding, and having the whole house to myself when everyone else was gone. I loved soaking in the silence of long summery afternoons amidst chirping of birds at home. I secretly felt jealous of mom for having the luxury to stay at home in silence. She would wind up her day’s work by 12 noon and secretly guard her private moments before the domesticity chaos hits again. Ah! Those peaceful few hours were bliss. Just reading a book, listening to some music or day dreaming.

I cherished the serenity that comes when you take an off from office on Monday. What a luxury it is to stay at home after the weekend and enjoy other people going about the hullabaloo. I guarded my space even while sharing a room with two others girls during my singleton days. It helped that I had night shifts and would have the whole room to myself in the mornings. Even when I plan a day’s outing with my friends, at the end of it, I want my solitariness.

 

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(Credit: MySoulitude)

Now as much of all what I have said above is true, there is another side to the story. Ironically, just like every socialization brings out the need for solitude, every solitude brings out the need for belongingness. The love for my space does not not stop me from connecting with people. It is cherished with the same intensity. I look forward to conversations with people I know and strangers alike. I love the process of forming a relationship.

Have made friends and acquaintances in the society I live during my evening walks simply by initiating a small ‘hi’. Forged some great friendships at work and at random. Shared great camaraderie during initial career days while travelling every morning for work in a bus and coming back in the evening.

The thing is, I consciously try to tread a fine balance between solitude and socialisation. Seeking solitude is an inherent nature. Socialisation is a part of daily living. Both have to co-opt for me.

We all have our varying degrees of acceptance levels. For some, every socialisation is a high, for others it is a headache. For some, it’s a task to be completed that they don’t mind performing in spite of their dislike, for others the dislike is strong enough to vehemently refuse even a small step towards socialisation. We all have blurring boundaries.

There is, however, a pattern I have noticed with regards to myself. I cringe socialising when it requires lot of efforts and formalities. What works for me is some real conversation. A heart to heart talk without judgement. While writing this I am deciphering that somehow I have never liked conversations in a crowd. I am more of a one-on-one conversation type. Where you share, not merely talk. Where there is love and warmth and some kindness to it. A certain depth no matter how shallow the talk is.

Coffee sessions with friends are such an endorphin-boosters, not for the coffee but the conversation. ‘Chai’ times are quintessentially talk-times revered with absolute delight not for the tea but for the opportunity they provide to interact. I would skip the formality of socialising just for the sake of it as long as it is decently possible. After all, it is not that every one would like to socialise with me, even if I do. There are few who see me and refuse to acknowledge my presence. Or avoid me until I initiate the conversation. It is better to give them a skip for their well-being and mine.

Solitude or Socialisation, whichever way defines you, let it nourish your soul. Find your rhythm in the abstract of this universe. And who knows, we may evolve tomorrow into an entirely different being. Let’s enjoy the journey and stay true to ourselves!

Happy ‘You’ for whatever you ‘Choose!’

 

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(Credit: MySoulitude)

Sridevi—-The day began with a sad news!

Woke up to a very heavy, depressing, unbelievable and indigestible piece of news. Every other day, her pictures were seen in newspapers and websites, attending awards show, parties and wedding. Today, suddenly, she is gone. May God give her family the strength to cope with the loss, especially her daughters. My heart goes out to them, who are in such a young phase of their lives. Standing at the threshold of beginning careers and new lives, they are the ones who need all the love and support. The loss of a mother is irreplaceable.

Needless to say, she was in a league of her own.  Simply loved her in ‘English Vinglish’. Watched the movie quite a number of times.

 

‘Chandni’ is my all-time favourite. Have lost count of the number of dance performances I (and cousins) gave on this hit number, “Mere haato main…”, be it a wedding or b’day party.

 

 

The day has been so difficult to deal with since. The next few days are going to be tougher. Lots of Why’s and How’s. So many inconsequential questions cluttering the heart and the mind. A kind of news that suddenly makes you lose interest in everything around. Dealing with the loss of a great artist, the shaking of the very platform of existence, and the long list of existential questions…

Won’t say there are no answers. They (the answers) are scattered around too, waiting to be discovered. The problem is, I am not seeking. The truth stares at me every other day, still I choose to put it on hold or dismiss and walk the other way. It (The truth) returns, I again choose to dismiss, and the vicious circle continues.

What more do I need to wake me up from this deep slumber. The death is evident, yet seems surreal. Who so ever is born has to go. Yet, when any death happens, the struggle begins, like Jagjit Singh passes away.

Time to sit straight and seek answers. A ripe time to begin the inward journey, before the truth reveals itself again. Will the inner awakening begin? Only time will tell. As of now, I am simply cherishing every breath I take today, consciously. And firming my resolve to make good use of my time on this earth. Just like she did. In 54 years, she achieved a lot and made her existence worthy of being born.

The other day, I was watching this video and inculcated some pieces of the wisdom shared.

Please check this out and see if it resonates with you.

 

 

(This is an unedited post, an outpouring of my emotions, written in one go. Please ignore the shortcomings).

 

My Valentine’s Days—From 2013 to 2018

I want to confess, writing about/on Valentine’s Day seems bit odd. The way I associated with it few years ago no longer holds significance. Every day is a special gift given our morality status. I want to celebrate each day with same enthusiasm. However, as a society, it is important to celebrate special days and festivals because it keeps the spirits high. Valentine’s Day is an opportune time to acknowledge all the love you have in your life. I am grateful for my family, friends and every single soul I have met in my life.

I also don’t want my relationship with A to occupy a predominant space in this blog. Yet here I am, writing about the topics I wanted to refrain from. Why? Two reasons that led the words flow in this direction are:

  • Valentine’s Day is here! No matter how much I try to brush aside the (un)necessary furore and excitement, it gets on to me.
  • I am in Ambala (my hometown) where our story began. The same place and the same settings trigger a sense of nostalgia. Top that with same thundering rains a day before and the ice-cold winter wave that we experienced on our wedding.

 

 

You know How I Met the Love of My Life. How our relationship has unfolded in these five years is a journey into ourselves for both of us. We had an arranged marriage. Our courtship period lasted exactly for two months. We were like new acquaintances without a clear idea of each other’s distinct personality, likes and dislikes. We entered into the matrimony more as friends than lovers. Five years later, our relationship still has the fragrance of friendship surpassing the romantic liaison. I don’t know if it is so with every couple, but this aspect of our relationship is something that A and I often discuss.
One reason could be we got married late in life. We both were at an age where we were looking for a fulfilling and stable relationship more than the mere flicker of young and passionate love. Interestingly, months before we met, A was a residential ISKON devotee in Chandigarh who, in all seriousness, was contemplating celibacy (he was destined to eat the ‘shaadi ka ladoo’. Happiness doesn’t come that easy man).
The journey of these five years, albeit small, was quite enriching. There was friendship, love, some big learnings about life and myself, a lesson in solitude, a lesson in balancing (a territory I find most difficult to tread), the art of matching societal expectations, small fights that led to deeper understandings, coming together of different personalities and viewpoints in one place, but bind by the same core values.

 

Year 2013 versus 2018

Timeline 1: Jan 19, 2013

It was my third day after marriage. A day of my ‘pagphera’ ceremony. A puja was planned at my parent’s home at 5 pm for A and me. Thanks to A’s diminishing time management skills, we reached my home around 8 pm when panditji had left and the guests were on the verge of pulling their hair. Throughout our two-hour journey from A’s home to mine, we hardly spoke. It was normal for A (given his typical Ajay Devgn style), and quite unlike me (No, I am not as talkative as Kajol, but was in a newly wed bride phase, thinking of myself as the Simran of DDLJ and expecting A to behave like Raj and woo me). I was taken aback. How could we be this boring on our third day of marriage. By the time it was night, I was on the verge of crying. He could not understand what was making me so emotional and I could not fathom his coldness.

Five years later….

Feb 10, 2018

A and I driving off to Ambala for the weekend. The plan was made the same day. A’s time management skills are still diminished but I don’t lose sleep over it now. The setting was perfect. Saturday evening with less traffic, songs playing on FM, A singing old melodies at the top of his voice, both of us lip synching the duets of Lata and Kishore, dedicating songs to each other, holding hands, sipping ‘chai’ at our favourite spot (Murthal’s Haveli), having long conversations on life, love, the basis of marriage, the need to have own children versus adoption, choosing to be childless, and me reading him excerpts from some spiritual passages, explaining the scientific basis of all these choices. It was one memorable road trip for both of us, something we both cherish with equal intensity.

The journey in between…

In these five years, we have had many contrasting situations. Every moment has taught us something about each other, and we are still discovering. It took us some time to understand that we are different individuals who look same on the surface. Today, we value these differences and are at ease with each other’s idiosyncrasies; me with A’s silence and he with my quirkiness. I am happy that I come across as an extrovert when compared to A. All my life I had the crown of an introvert on my head. It is nice to trade place for once.

 

Timeline 2: Feb 14, 2013

We got married in Jan 2013. So, it was to be our first Valentine’s Day. I had come to Ambala on 11th Feb to attend my roomie and best friend’s wedding scheduled on Feb 15. A was not accompanying me due to work. But it was my understanding that he will make sure to be with me on our first Valentine’s Day. But as I should have expected, for A, Valentine’s Day was just another day. May be little bit special, but not something grand. Whenever we talked over phone, he never mentioned his plans to be with me. I cribbed about it a few times, and he ignored. Finally, I made peace with the fact that he won’t come and I would spend the day alone.
Came the 14th Feb and I felt the longing. The day passed. In the evening, I went for my friends’ sangeet ceremony. It must be around 9 pm. I was on the stage dancing in a group when suddenly a man started dancing near me. I felt odd and turned my back towards him. The man came around from the other side. And behold, to my shock and amusement, it was A right there in front of me. I shouted in joy and hugged him, my friends laughed hysterically, and A, as usual, gave his mysterious smile. It was the first surprise I got from A (the list has grown over the years). We left the sangeet after some time for a dinner to the same place where we had met for the first time.

Five years later…

Feb 14, 2018

We are in separate cities this time too. I am in Ambala again and he is travelling for work. We knew this when we planned our itinerary, but the difference was, I am so much at peace this time. No longing to tick that Valentine’s Day togetherness at any cost. No must-done dinner dates. It will eventually happen when we meet but I am not hellbent to make it happen on this day itself. I assume this is a natural progression of any marriage.
However, my most precious moment came in the form of a rare video call A made at lunch time yesterday (he never calls when at work). He said he was missing me. What made me more emotional was the fact that A was trying hard to take a detour and somehow come and meet me for two-three hours. This would have meant coming to Ambala from Delhi late in the evening, staying for 2 hours, then returning back to Delhi late in the night, and again leave early morning for his work commitments. Life’s all riches seem futile in front of such emotional surges.

The journey in between…

In these five years, A and I try our best to make the other happy. While he makes sure we have some adventure lined up the sleeve to keep me happy, I try to keep things as subtle as possible, just the way he likes it. The end result is, we both get what we want.

This journey traversed over five years is the best gift I can get on Valentine’s Day. A mutual feeling of love and longing soaked up in the silent sounds of hearts. A has gifted me my relatively sorted new found self. A’s seriousness and mature take on life has rubbed off on me. He has made me more grounded. He has taught me that love is more than being in each other’s company, he has taught me to be stoic in tough times, to work relentlessly towards finding a solution than cribbing about a problem beyond measure, and to value and respect my work. He has taught me that silence can be powerful and empowering too. He has taught me depth, to do away with futile societal obligations, and to not please every person I meet in life, and to say “No’.

Above all, he taught me that love is freedom. The freedom to do what I want, and to be at my parent’s house whenever I please. Happy Valentine’s Day A!

Spiritual take on marriage

In a marriage or cohabitation, you usually have to share the same space, the same everything. Consequently, every day, you are treading on each other’s toes in one way or the other. In other relationships, if someone is overstepping the boundaries, you can create a distance. Here, you do not have a choice. The greater the overlap, the greater the possibility of friction. There are many couples who are living beautifully together, who are profoundly in love, and who are fantastic companions to each other. At the same time, this relationship can assume the ugliest forms. One contributing factor is that generally, no one gets to know the ugly things that are happening behind closed doors. If someone on the street steps on your feet, you will react in a different way, because everyone is watching. But in this relationship, no one is watching, so anything can happen.

(Excerpts from Sadhguru’s isha blog http://isha.sadhguru.org/blog/sadhguru/spot/how-to-make-marriage-work/).

Month of February—-When All Mundane Things Become Magical!

(Image sourced from the Internet)

 

Hello February! I am glad you are here again! I love you so much. You make me happy, you make me smile, you fill my heart with love that I can only imagine. You make me bow down with gratitude and contentment.
Don’t you all feel the same way about February? To me, it is one of the most romantic months of the year. Not just because it has Valentine’s Day, but also because there’s something in the air that leaves you happy and content, with a smidgen of romance, of course. Though it is always what’s inside you that makes a day or a month happy or sad, but somehow February always had that old-world charm for me.
February is a month when, like a cliché, love indeed seems to be in the air, at least for half a month. Shopping malls are decked up in vibrant hues of red, there is an overexposure of heart-shaped structures all around you, whether it is the ‘kiryana’ store displaying heart-shaped chocolates, or a heart-shaped cream froth in your coffee, or even a random dish named ‘Heart Tere Naam’, (yes, I made that up). But there is no escaping the red hearts.
It has the perfect mix of weather when you can enjoy a pleasant sunny day. It is a relative silent month before the festive fun and chaos of Holi begins. It is also the time when you feel the urge to come out of the warm cosy quilts in which you have been embedded for almost the whole of January and probably last days of December too. Your body feels enthusiastic for some activity.

 

Making tea becomes the most blissful activity of my life. Preparing a meal seems like an art and not an everyday chore. Inviting friends for tea and chit chat becomes a ritual, sitting in the balcony sun cooking up plans to explore the city in the morning sun becomes the epitome of fulfilment. Exploring the beautiful old lanes of Delhi in the afternoons is still a possibility, gardens are blooming with flowers all around, there is a warmth of togetherness in families spending quality time in Lodhi garden and children out in the parks before the summers force them indoors. It is the time when you are cherishing the last bits of your solitude. Lying in bed reading a book or watching something on Netflix.

February is a month when something feels alive inside me. When the mundane things that I do the entire year-round somehow feels romantic. When I cherish my existence, thanking God for this beautiful life that has been bestowed upon me. When there is a sense of gratitude for everything, specially for having my loved ones around. When I get up and smile, coz there is no order to be followed for the day. In short, simply centering around your being seems like the only way you know to live life.


I am hoping to make the most of my February before the summers set in. Do share what February means to you.