2015: A Year of Books and Blogposts

The past year has been very fruitful for me. I loved every bit of the year with lot of travel, lot of blogging and not to forget two wins.

BlogAdda Activities:

Blogadda had announced the World Remade activity in February and I did not get time for many days to write anything for that. But then one fine day inspiration struck and I typed away in a mad frenzy to come up with a poem “World Remade” . For days I waited for the results and as the dates for the India Today conclave neared I lost hopes of making it to the conclave.

I went about my day as usual, went for a walk in evening and all this while did not bother to take a peek at my cell phone. Later in the evening to my surprise there was this mail sitting pretty in the mailbox by Blogadda guys….I was one of the winners and was being asked my willingness to attend the Conclave. Ha! there was no doubt that I would miss such an opportunity even though my daughter had her final exams in March.

Delegate card for Conclave

Delegate card for Conclave

Reservations to travel to Delhi were made in a hurry, friends informed of my stay with them and I reached the venue finally got my delegate card and made new friends!! Can’t thank BlogAdda enough…

The Conclave was a great experience and I attended sessions of some great personalities that included Sachin Tendulkar, Vishwanathan Anand, Moni Mohsin, Shobhaa De…

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

With new friends Arvind Passey and Tennyson Thomas

A To Z Challenge:

April saw me participating in a daily blogging challenge where each day except Sunday was to correspond with each alphabet. I was not confident of seeing the challenge through but I surprised myself with 26 posts from A to Z. Some posts came out good and some were disasters but I realised that if I really tried, I could write at least 500 words everyday. That means that when I decide to pen a book some day, it definitely is possible 🙂

Huffington Post:

I am one staunch supporter of freedom of women and often get into hot discussions if anybody says anything anti-women. I wrote a post for the Independence day and sent it to Huffington Post blog editor Ms Kavita. Now Huffington Post Blogs is one huge platform for any aspiring blogger and i had my fingers crossed…literally.

That evening on 15th August my article was active on Huffington Post and of course I was jubilant.

Three other articles of my travels also were published in 2015 on Happy Trips and WeNomad sites.

Book reviews:

I became addicted to books right from school days when in a day I used to finish three Noddy books by Enid Blyton much to my library teacher’s headache. After graduating to Nancy Drews and Hardy Boys, I however skipped Mills and Boon totally and instead got into reading all thrillers with the earliest being the Bourne series which was in my father’s collection. My husband introduced me to Richard Bach and later I simply fell in love with William Dalrymple. I read and read…. But never wrote a review. I never thought anybody would be interested in my opinion!!

This year however, I got into reviewing books with Writers Melon sending me the first book to write review about. Kirtida Gautam too sent me her book #IAm16ICanRape . I have been busy reading few mythological stories these days. The best among them was “Maneka’s Choice” by Kavita Kane.

I have started enjoying airing my views about a particular book now and it feels good when the blog visitors, author and the publication house appreciate the review.


The year ended with another good news, again courtesy BlogAdda. They selected my post Six Steps To Responsible Tourism as one of the entries which won me an early invitation to Outlook Traveller Summit. Though I could not make it to Delhi from Thanjavur at half a day’s notice but it definitely boosted my morale to have been selected!

With such a wonderful year gone by, I have become greedy and hope 2016 brings more joys. Yes, one good news is already in my pocket…my article on Adalaj Vav, with some cuts and fine tuning is now active on Open Road Review… Yay!

Bring it on 2016…am ready for you!!

“I’m sharing my #TalesOf2015 with BlogAdda.”

A to Z Challenge: Reflections!!

A-to-Z+Reflection+[2015]+-+LgThis is was the first time I stumbled on the A to Z Challenge and that too on the first day of the challenge. I wasn’t sure I could participate because the registration linky list was closed. But participate I did…..

And what a month it was! There is only one other challenge that I took in 2013 that of NaPoWriMo, which I completed too. I took A to Z Challenge to find out whether I could write at least 500 words everyday and to my surprise I did! I had not expected to survive the month though I very much wanted to.

However, there were times I wanted to write something else but the letter of the day sat large staring at me and I pushed the other thought at back of my mind so that I could concentrate on the letter. I realized that I am not good at writing on two different topics in a day along with doing other house chores…So that needs to be worked on!

The challenge was a wonderful opportunity to stumble upon but I am not sure I should bind myself with more such challenges which carry on for a longer duration… or may be I should first improve my typing and thought processing skills before taking it up!

I did get some very encouraging comments on my posts from co-hosts of challenge and new followers. Meanwhile I too read some wonderful posts. It would have added to the satisfaction of completing the challenge if there was a system of selecting the top three winners of challenge…… competition sometimes brings out better writing from people….it does from me 😉

For now, I am glad I completed the challenge. I will hopefully take out time everyday to write even without anybody to push me !

Zonked out…..

Phew!! Last day of the A to Z Challenge. Honestly I am completely totally absolutely ZONKED OUT!!

clock woman

Image courtsey Google Images

I spent everyday wracking my brain to write something corresponding to the letter….everyday as the new letter loomed with the dawn break, I would start thinking about it. The LETTERS played with me as if I was a wind-up toy!!

After finishing the routine chores of the house, I would sit with laptop on my lap(…of course!) and start typing something then around 3:00 pm the sleep-demon would lure me to bed and my words on the screen would jumble up poking each other till the spell-check also gave up on correcting the mistakes!

An hour of sleep later, freshened up I would be again busy with kitchen chores….Eventually I would sit with my laptop again at around 9:00pm and by that time whatever I had already written would seem so irrelevant to me that I trashed it and write all over again!! Very slow at typing, it would take me forever to first think of the words and  then type them in logical sequence……

By then my poor husband would go off to sleep waiting for me to cuddle up near him….Alas!! Whole of the month he was deprived of touching my to-die-for soft, pearly dewy rose-scented skin! Actually, he is more relieved than I am!

I am happy I survived the challenge and in the bargain chronicled some parts of our vacation in America and realized that I could write 500 words everyday, if I really wanted to…. So may-be I will begin that story which I have meant to since some time now.

sleepBut for now, my daughter is at school….husband is out of town….I have finished all my daily chores…. so I will surrender to the sleep-demon who stands there near the softest pillow tapping his foot with impatience… And as Scarlett O’ Hara would have quipped…

“After all, tomorrow is another day”…I vow to carry on.

Yikes!! You are Forty!

Ialarm clock still don’t believe I am forty! Well so what?

I still don’t hear the alarm bells going off even though  some friends keep reminding me….

Well, you are forty now! The clock’s ticking”

I don’t feel any change in me….my ambitions are same in fact even stronger now! My likes are same…more defined may be… energy is same ….more channelized now. My dislikes are same….I speak up now!

I am comfortable of my shape and size more than I ever was….. so what if little love handles have appeared where my lissome waist once was! My hair is still black with some greys at temples, my skin still doesn’t show any signs of wrinkles (thank God!)….I have always worn spectacles and eyesight is as good or bad as it was earlier!

Am I wiser, quieter, more responsible….I don’t know!!

What I know is that I pray for satisfaction in whatever I do…. for lifelong togetherness with my spouse…. for being always there when my kid needs me…. for dreaming big….. for more courage….

Its downhill journey now from here. How does it matter if your sari is in disarray? How does it matter whether your eyebrows are made or your lipstick is not the right shade? How does it matter if we don’t look attractive?” they say…

Why? I choose not to be bogged down by such thoughts….

Why shouldn’t I dress up if it makes my partner give me a second look? Why shouldn’t I entice my partner with a little bold color on my lips?

Why should I think about the lurking monsters of age and make my today depressing? Why should I age before it is time? Why shouldn’t I make the most of it while time is still on my side?

I rejoice I am at an age where I can give a piece of my mind to the twenty somethings….I can advise on kitchen skills….. I no longer need to explain why I was late…. I have the whole house running on my instructions…. I get to decide what stays in and what goes out of house…

Ha! I even get to say “I told you so!” more often….

So “Yay! I am forty…..lets get naughty!!

This is for A to Z Challenge.


Washington DC to Detroit by Amtrak

Having spent ten days in America eating all those refined flour breads, muffins, cakes, pizzas, pretzels, cinnamon roll, burgers…. we desperately wanted to eat home-made Indian food of Dal(lentil soup), whole wheat flour chapatis(soft Indian flat bread) and vegetables so we took a break and headed straight to my cousins home at Troy, Michigan.

We made sure to travel by most modes of transport when in America. ‘Union Station‘ being Amtrak’s headquarter was our obvious choice to travel to Detroit though my cousin was not very enthusiastic about our choice of transport.

Union Station is a major train station, transportation hub, leisure destination and the railroad’s second-busiest station. It also serves the Washington Metro, and buses. It also functions as huge shopping mall and is visited by as many as 40 million people every year!

Union Station, Washington DC

The station has huge vaulted ceiling which is almost 96 feet above the floor. Expensive material like gold leaf, marble and white granite have been used in the interiors.

There are many high-end shops, cafe, restaurants, salons and large waiting spaces in the station.

inside the union station

When all the checking of boarding tickets, luggage etc was over and we reached the platform from where we were to board the train, we noticed most people had left the platform and hurried to another platform across the railway tracks. Soon we realised that last-minute changes had been done and boarding was from the other side. We were totally lost Boarding the Amtrakbeing new to the huge station. We located the elevator and ran all the way to new platform because the it was already the departure time.

Two Amtrak trains were parked on the station and we had to confirm from the ticket checking officer about the one which was scheduled for Detroit. We were out of breath by the time we reached our seats.

Only after putting away our luggage and settling down in our seats, did we realise that we were not carrying any beverage with us. All the panic and running across the station had made us all very thirsty. But we were pleasantly surprised to find a small cafeteria on the train with coffee, juices, quick meals and a bar counter. We helped ourselves with the coffee and sandwiches while the seats filled up.

I sat playing ‘solitaire’ on my laptop when an old woman on the seat across the aisle, interrupted me and started advising on the game. Out of formality, I sat near her and let her explain me the game.

After a while, I realised that the woman had already consumed considerable amount of Vodka before boarding the train and was repeating her instructions and sentences to me. She asked for my email, misspelt my name and offered me some alcohol. She had half eaten sandwiches stuffed in her purse which was spilling over with scarves, reading glasses, water and what not. I felt the need to distance myself from her as in her drunk state, she started abusing other passengers, the speed of train etc. I did not want to be on her list of her offenders!

sight-seeing deckWe were there to enjoy our journey and the interaction with the old woman was eating into our fun time. I politely excused myself and went to the sight-seeing deck which had large glass windows for an unobstructed view.

The train chugged past beautiful country houses, small quaint stations, bridges, river, forest and hills….all making the journey worth remembering.


hill and river pass by

small station

Soon it was dark and we returned with packed pizza to our seats. As we slept off, we were rudely awakened by a commotion. Another passenger drunk to bones was arguing with the train staff disturbing everybody else. He had no clue where his seat was!

“I am JC man! People call me Jesus Christ…. Where is my seat? Why are you not taking me to my seat? You see, I am Jesus Christ …. JC”

He soon started shouting on another woman with a kid. His behaviour irked yet another passenger who threatened to bash him up. The staff interrupted and took the drunk man away.

With great difficulty, could I sleep again. Later in the morning, train reached Detroit. The old woman was already gone and forgot her spectacles, blanket and granola bars on her seat. Her seat looked more like a dustbin with empty liquor bottles lying all over. The man calling himself Jesus Christ and the man who threatened him , both were not to be seen either.

My cousin waited to pick us up at Detroit station. Our adventurous train journey ended with lots of memories stored in pictures and events that happened on board.

This is also for A to Z Challenge.

Visitor at my home…

Few months back, when I came back from some grocery shopping, I couldn’t see our pet kitten at the gatedog Buddy, at his usual spot near the gate instead I saw this little visitor who seemed scared and unsure of his next move!

Buddy must have scared him‘ I thought as I called his name. Buddy however was snoring in shade under the tree in the backyard and was not at all bothered by the little guest or me!

I was vary of the kitten and did not want to encourage it by giving any tit-bit so I ignored it and carried on with my other chores. It must have found out a way to get down from the gate without attracting Buddy’s attention, because neither did we hear Buddy going mad at seeing a cat nor did we see the little kitten for the rest of the day.

The kitten had somehow found out whole routine of Buddy and slowly started visiting our home regularly. At night if Buddy left his meal half eaten, it was not to be found in the morning! Buddy’s water bowl also would be empty sooner. The little kitten, feeding on dog food, had also grown and suddenly become bolder. He would sit outside the kitchen window waiting for an opportunity to sneak in if the window was open. He would at sudden burst of speed bolt up the tree when Buddy went near his bowl. Buddy knew the cat’s smell but could never catch him and in vain kept barking on the (right) tree!

Our dog died because of some undiagnosed ailment. We buried him in the backyard. The kitten, now a cat, did not have any reason to be afraid anymore and would unabashedly lie in shade seeing me going about my chores. Its food supply had come to a sudden halt but that did not seem to concern it! I found the cat still growing larger and bulkier day by day… Its nonchalance now brought a smile to my face and I let it be, not shooing away like before.

Few days back….I heard some faint mewing from the window in the bathroom. There between the fly mesh and the glass panel of the window lay two small kittens with eyes closed mewing away for their mother!

The cat who had made our house its home was a female and now she felt safe enough to keep her newborns in the bathroom window near to humans!!

Now I can see two kittens huddled under the shade of tree waiting for their mother, their eyes two huge pools….yellowish green…I do not go much closer but the cat is not scared. She runs away to fetch food leaving her kittens as I stand there some feet away in the backyard.

We still haven’t recovered from our dear Buddy’s death. And I still do not entertain the cat and its kittens neither does my daughter want the cat family to use Buddy’s bowls but watching the two kittens fall over each other, mewing, trying to stand on their little paws…. has worked like a soothing balm…We smile at their antics, find a topic to talk about, remember how Buddy always got duped by other cats too….We do not shed tears every time Buddy’s name comes up…

The little visitor made our home hers and gave us a reason to forget our pain. Thank you Cat!

This is for A to Z challenge.

Until death do us part….

Anniversary celebrations15 years ago, in October 1999, that is what we promised each other on the altar… be together till death do us part. Since then we have loved, fought, argued, laughed, teased, cried, worried about each other, sometimes neglected each other, missed each other, have been suffocatingly close to each other, have blamed and forgiven each other and what not…

I wrote few lines on our tenth wedding anniversary which still holds true…and by God’s grace we will be together until death do us part….

Tiffs and fights,
Love and love bites
The hurt prides and egos,
Realisations and sorrows
then forgiveness and new vows
Winters and the fires
The hopes and desires
Yearnings and expectations
The passionate culminations
How time flies
A decade goes by
Sharing and discovering
annoying and cajoling
loving and caring
Together we await
Yet another decade
and another and another
living and loving
for ever and ever

This is for A to Z Challenge.

Tooth Fairy and her assistants….

My daughter at 12 years of age either still believes that there really is a tooth fairy or she is putting up a wonderful act and letting me believe that she doesn’t know!!

When her first tooth fell she was somewhere between 5 -6 yrs of age. She saw the blood and had started crying…that is when I introduced this tooth fairy concept to her. She was excited by the story I spun around the existence of fairy and her assistant and forgot her pain and blood. She wanted to stay awake to catch a glimpse of tooth fairy. The story that I told to convince her was…..

toothfairyFar far away in fairy land lives a teeny tiny tooth fairy ….she is tiny because she has to quietly take the tooth from under the pillow and place a coin at the same place. Her assistants(mommies !!) stays on earth near every house who has a small child in it.

When the child’s tooth falls, the assistant informs the tooth fairy and helps the child to hide the tooth under the pillow. The assistants  then help the tooth fairy to put a coin under the pillows of the children. Tooth fairy also sees which child cries and which one is brave and accordingly puts the coin! The fairy takes the tooth transforms it into a permanent one and places it in the mouth again at night.

Over the years I have placed gleaming golden Rupees 5 coins under her pillow and when she showed doubt about tooth fairy I would ask her whether she saw me putting my hand under her pillow? When her premolars started falling I put Rupees 10 coins under her pillow.

One day she had a serious doubt because one of her friend found a hundred rupees bill under the pillow. She asked how come her friend who always cried at smallest wound got so much and she got only five rupees. I had to cook up many stories to justify the actions of the five rupee fairy…

Now that she has read about growth of tooth in school she knows fairy doesn’t put it back…reminding me that she has grown up and no story would be logical enough to explain the coins…Sigh!!

Well, it was cute while it lasted…..her curiosity, her joy on finding the coin, her despair when she forgot to hide tooth under the pillow, her excuses to show-off her coin to friends…everything. But no more stories …..truth and facts is what she needs to know from me. And I am wrapping the real world again in softer shades so that she grows up loving the world as she did the fairyland….

This is also for A to Z Challenge.




Ripley’s Believe it or not!! Museum at New York

After going crazy shooting picture after picture in Madam Tussaud’s museum at New York, I was TIRED!! But the Ripley’s Museum  was right next door and I could not dissuade my daughter and husband from dragging me there. Well….I am gflad they did!

I, before entering the museum, thought that there would be pictures and plaques describing various unbelievable weird things that happened at some place in world at some point of time. I wasn’t prepared to see so many things in the museum that my jaw dropped literally! BELIEVE IT OR NOT!!

Museum of Ripley's believe it or notBesides the two-headed goat, calf, tallest man, the large cockroaches, moose etc etc… my interest was piqued due to a painting made of butterflies!

painting of dead butterflies

Another very interesting display was that of the ‘Death Mask’ of Emperor Napolean Bonaparte. Earlier, the death masks were made to preserve the likeness of important people. This authentic mask is derived from the mold casted from wax and plaster in 1821 soon after the emperor’s death by his physician at a remote island off Africa.

The emperor’s army always marched on the right side of the road forcing others to do the same and hence most motorists still follow the right side of the road!!

Death mask of Napolean

One disturbing fact that I was stunned to read in the museum was about the Great Pacific garbage patch also known as Pacific Trash Vortex. The trash dumped in the ocean has large amount of plastic, chemical sludge and other debris trapped by the North Pacific Gyre. This patch extends over an indeterminate area.

When I read this fact in the museum , all I could visualise was a big horrible whirlpool of waste dumped by humans in the huge ocean….I could imagine only the sea life getting destroyed because of our insensitive and careless attitudes towards nature and how we have been abusing the natural resources….

The museum’s large selection of display with many such facts was an eyeopener and I would recommend my friends to definitely go and see the museum…May be we all can come out wiser and preserve what is good on our planet.

This is also for A to Z Challenge.

Questions of an almost teen…

“What are periods? Did your body change like it is mine? When will I have my periods? Why do girls only have periods? Does it happen everyday?What happens to boys when they are growing up?”

“Mom, what is a condom? What do you mean by ‘making love’? Do you and Dad sleep like they show in movies below the sheets? How can anybody kiss on lips for so long?”

“It isn’t true that God gift wraps the babies and puts them in mommy’s tummy? Who operates on the wild animals when they are having a baby? How does a baby then come out from wild animal’s tummy?”

I am stumped and at loss of words when out of nowhere my 12-year-old pops one of these questions….I have tried answering most of her queries with as much information as I think is easy for her to digest. The topics end and sits there in her mind where she analyses my replies, formulates some more questions and stumps me yet again….

I am always confused myself about how much information is enough for her at this age and how I begin to explain to her! Her questions seem so innocent and may be slowly I might be able to answer all her queries. But what about the life’s difficult questions……

Can I prepare her for all the questions the growing up years will throw at her? Can I prepare her for the ups and downs of life? Can I protect her from all pains and heart breaks? Should I hide her from evils of the world?

I recently had the misfortune of coming across domestic violence between a couple of a year long marriage….I had never imagined in wildest of my dreams that such a behavior existed in reality….I always thought such things happened in a movie or at some alien place! I was shocked beyond words could explain.

I hope nobody meets such fate but how do you prepare a girl about society’s evil, dirty face without scarring her faith and destroying her dreams?

In another year, my daughter will be a teenager talking about love, boyfriends, commitments etc….I too have to be ready to field such questions and many more.

For now….Simple questions of an almost teen keep me at tenterhooks.

This post  is also for A to Z Challenge.