Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Darkness and Light

The raindrops come falling down
The leaves rejoice, there is beauty all around
This weather always has a story to tell
There is one here too, waiting to be found.

I try to untangle the scheme of things
Sometimes it is not that clear
The haze around is too thick.
The weight – it is too strong to bear.

The clouds now make a thundering noise
A small puddle forms around me
The sun plays hide and seek
I look up – there is a rainbow that I can see.

Life’s challenges never seem to end
But if you look hard, beauty is hidden everywhere
The sun behind the clouds tells me today
That darkness and light always comes in pair.

Even though I like this rain
I wait for a strong wind to send the clouds away
There is clarity in light, in mundane things
And so I wait for a bright sunny day.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Twitter Frenzy

Online world is quite useful sometimes. When you can’t have a house party during a match, you can keep chatting on Whatsapp with groups that share similar interest. And when you can’t go to the stadium, you might as well put your television speakers on high volume and go on Twitter.

Now people who abhor the online world for all the stupid reasons would not agree, but let me tell you, it is a win-win situation – you don’t miss a ball (because anyone who has ever been to a stadium knows it’s only about the adrenalin rush, no match watching there.) and you still know how the world around you is feeling. Since you can’t go to the stadium always (because you aren’t grey-eyed man who probably has a huge inheritance since he misses work so frequently!), you can too go every day.

Since I am a girl (woman) in her 30’s, most of my friends are busy with their kids. They might be watching cricket, but to expect them to chat with me during the match is expecting too much. The Boy’s phone keeps buzzing with incessant chatter from all across the globe. I feel left out and so I go on Twitter. Also, he’s an MCP who smirks when I talk cricket because he thinks women watch cricket just for Kohli and reasons other than bat and ball.

He’s not completely wrong.

*The word Kohli itself sends me to a dreamland.*

So, Twitter. Since the Boy won’t listen to my inane wisdom on cricket, I lash out by sending tweets. I typed a couple yesterday, and guess what, I got 350 Likes and 117 Retweets!

Ignore the comments - some losers just want to get attention.

Basically I was infuriated by how fans treat their stars. On one hand they went gaga over Virat Kohli’s performance, on the other hand they were sending out jokes like ‘Bhadka hua Aashiq’. God knows I have a sense of humour, but when you put someone on a pedestal, you need to really respect the man.

This man gave us moments of unfathomable happiness. Millions were clapping and laughing and feeling ecstatic. There is no entertainment that can match the feeling of high patriotism in a sporting event. Yet there are morons who make jokes on this hero. If he made you feel so good, atleast don’t make him feel bad.

So trolls suck. I wrote a tweet which I am glad was appreciated by many. I think I did a good thing and would appreciate if Kohli thanked me for it. But since he is busy practicing a West Indian roast very soon, I’ll forgive him even if he doesn’t.

However, there is a downside to being so awesome on Twitter - you get new followers. Although the numbers make you feel happy, they really are just numbers. The other disadvantage is that I would be trying to concoct new Tweets during every match and that would just take away my precious time adoring Kohli on the pitch. Anyway, I just got 350 Likes and 117 Retweets – I am a celebrity, I shouldn’t be complaining.

Yes, yes, I know it’s no big deal. But it is to me. It is a ‘Dear Diary’ moment and I won’t let anyone take that away from me.

Here is my handle if you are looking to follow a wise soul. And there is a cross on the top right corner of your screen if you are looking to shut this nonsense down! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

On a Serious Note

I tell the Boy that I hate flying alone. He should drop me to Lucknow and then come back. He tells me he will do so only when I am 80. I say no, 50 is the cut-off. He wouldn’t budge below 70. I secretly wish that I can still travel alone till I am 80. That’s the dream, it’s very simple – panic immensely for weeks before travel, climb the bus without help and see the family. That’s all I want from life.

I read ‘Kid Me Not’. It’s a book by 60-something women talking about their childfree lives. Sometimes you need reassurance. When you go against societal norms and don’t find anyone around you doing the same, you need to reach out to strangers. I feel better every time I do that.

I read ‘My Sister’s Keeper’. It is a story of a 13-year old girl who was conceived to treat her sister’s leukaemia. I feel for caregivers. It is not easy to live with people who suffer from some sort of illness. We have mood swings that are not normal. Our childhood is not about toys, games and books, it is about doctors and treatments. We grow into wonderful, sensitive human beings, but the craziness prevails. Those who stay by our side, value life much more and are the real heroes. Not us.

I go on Google and type ‘I want to write a book, but have no ideas.’ Even though I find it funny to find answers to this question, it is enlightening to know that most writers are like that. Only a lucky few have divine intervention for ideas, the rest of the world finds inspiration from resources like mine.

I have a mind that wanders into risky territories. I travel time, boundaries and situations in my head all the time. I plan to develop some sanity and put this wandering into good use. Creativity can be a curse in some ways.

I wish a cousin on her birthday. She’s a tad crooked and replies with one-liners. I keep my smallish ego aside and ask her about life in general. She replies in one liners - no questions only strange 3-4 words. I find it hard to keep up. I’ll wish her again next year knowing fully well that this is how she will respond. I don’t have an ego. I’ll message when and if I want to. I’ll love it if she initiates, I would talk without past experiences. Maybe she doesn’t think too fondly of me. Maybe I’ve hurt her in the past. I’ll give her a benefit of the doubt because that is what life is all about – you need to give people benefit of the doubt.

I give up on my present routine. I have given up many times before because of the same reasons I have given up this time. I will rise from the ashes after a few weeks. Knowing myself fully well, I will come back with equal passion and exuberance. Not everyone can do that. It takes a twisted mind and a positive soul. It takes hope and courage. I master the art. In this life of mine, I always call the shots. Always. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Movie Review - Kapoor & Sons

3.5/5 Stars

I went to see Kapoor & Sons expecting the same old love triangle. Since I like to watch all romantic Bollywood flicks, I had to go, but with very low expectations.

The film, frankly, surprised me. It had little to do with a love triangle (or a lack of it, go watch!) but more about family dynamics. The movie begins with the reunion of this middle-class family in the beautiful backdrop of Coonoor after five years when the grand-father has a heart attack. Before going further, I want to applaud Rishi Kapoor’s role as the grand-pa. He gives the much needed punch lines that make the audience laugh between intense drama amongst other family members.

The two brothers Siddharth Malhotra (Arjun) and Fawad Khan (Rahul) have had some feud in the past and so their relationship has been rocky. They have been leading separate lives in London and New Jersey, respectively. The parents, Ratna Pathak and Rajat Kapoor, live in the beautiful town of Coonoor and have trouble in their marriage. The love interest, Alia Bhatt (Tia) has a home in the same town and has her own family issues which I don’t want to reveal here.

The movie basically shows the crisis in the lives of each character, their relationship with each other, their problems and how they deal with it. The concept did remind us of Dil Dhadakne Do, but this was an absolutely different plot and set-up. It had interesting twists and turns and surprises that none of us expected. I am glad it was not the same old love triangle that we thought it would be.

The songs were woven well into the movie. Alia is chirpy yet intense, Siddharth is the boy you adore, Fawad's role as the favorite son is played well, but Rishi Kapoor was definitely the show stealer with his amusing role. There was nothing that I thought was larger than life or unbelievable in Kapoor and Sons which is rare in this genre. The story would make you value your family much more than you already do. I guess it is better to have a boring family than one with so much drama! Go watch it after the India – Pakistan match tomorrow. I know you won't, can't miss that!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Trip Report - Germany's Black Forest

You have been warned – after you visit the Black Forest in Germany, you will want all your holiday spots to be like that. I am telling you from experience – I went there 6 months back (September 2015) and I am looking to go someplace similar for my next vacation; I just can’t get over it!

I don’t remember what was it that made us want to go to the Black Forest. We had no friends who have been there, and absolutely no idea of the region. However, we had a fair idea of the type of places we like – picturesque small towns where you can walk and walk and take in the culture. Black Forest suited the description perfectly.

I took a lot of time deciding where should we base ourselves. Forums online advised against staying in bigger towns. But we needed a city with good connections to Amsterdam and Wurzberg (our entry and exit points). We needed a town where we would get good dinners ‘cause after a day in the villages we would be starving and we like to have more options. So it was down to 3 cities – Baden Baden, Offenberg and Freiburg im Breisgau (Frei in the following paragraphs!).

It was easy to choose Frei because it had a direct flight from Amsterdam. Euro Airport serves Basel-Mullhouse-Freiburg im Breisgau for three different countries. Frei is also a university town, that made our choice simpler.

Our hotel was very close to the train station. Since we had to take a number of day trips, it was ideal. Frei has an amazing network of trams, buses and rail. Our hotel gave us a card that made our transport free within a certain region.

We even bought a 3-day Black Forest pass which was extremely cheap considering the amount of time we spent on buses and trains. Germany is the cheapest destination in terms of public transport. And the most efficient as well. I don't take Switzerland into account - that country leaves you with a hole in your pocket!

It was raining on our arrival day and so we decided to go to a near-by lake called Titisee. Travel days are exhausting and so we just wandered around aimlessly. The lake was beautiful and so was the area. We had minced pork and potatoes for lunch – that was a grand welcome to Germany! Needless to say, I just hogged on the potatoes!

 The next day it was raining again. We wanted to take a cable car ride but it wasn’t the right day. So we decided to go to Triberg. It is a small village with the largest cuckoo clock. The whole village had small shops with clocks all around. It was like a fairy land! We went to a waterfall and got drenched with our ponchos on. Rain bothered us quite a bit but we had no choice.

We had a funny experience thereafter! There was a bus standing waiting to go in our towns direction. I thought it would be fun to visit smaller towns and go through meandering roads. We hopped on to that bus. The driver told us it would take 2 hours by bus while it would just take an hour by train. We thought this would be a different experience and so we waited for the bus to move.

The bus went through all the Black Forest towns it seems! The driver picked children from one village and dropped them in another. We quickly realised it was school time and this was a bus for the kids!

Nevertheless, we witnessed a fun aspect and had a great time being on the roads! We reached Offenberg and took our train to Frei. In the evening we thought of going to an Indian restaurant and found an amazing one with ease.

Getting lost and doing random things makes vacations so much fun. Although I hate the scary parts, and GPS sometimes takes us through frightening, deserted routes. Anyway, you learn along the way so it’s not that big a deal.

On day 3 in Frei we took a tram across the city. We saw beyond touristy spots and observed how the city operated. We then took a cable car to Schauinsland and I found my peace in the hills.

It was a clear day with only light drizzle here and there. We trekked a little on the hills and found some beautiful spots to rest in. I wish I could trek more and get lost in those mountains. But I am grateful for the ability to atleast walk and see some of it. Schauinsland was a very simple place, yet it had the most calming air to it. I could go there every day if I lived anywhere near it. Ah the joy!

We did our laundry in the evening since we were half way through our vacation and were running out of clothes. We ate at the Indian restaurant again since our clothes had to be washed and dried before we could leave the area. The laundromat was obviously in German. But with the help of some kind people, we managed well. Also, my opinion of Germans being a rude community changed after the trip since we didn’t have a single harsh encounter!

We went to small villages the next day – Schiltach and Gengenbach. All these places looked quite similar to each other. Yet they were beautiful and had a typical Black Forest charm. We ate the famous Black Forest cake in supposedly the village which is most famous for it  – Schiltach. It was definitely over-rated! The locally brewed beer, however, was quite yum!

Our evening was spent in exploring Freiburg. Another funny incident happened which will forever be etched in my memory. It has to do with hot coffee and what sometimes happens next. Eww!

For some reason I had over-looked Baden-Baden. Most people on travel forums are fans of local things. They like what is authentic and traditional and talk against modern yet beautiful places. We just looked at google images of Baden-Baden the previous evening and thought we would like it.

We couldn’t have been more right. This town in the North of the Black Forest is a modern fairy land. It has cute cafes looking absolutely chic. It has pretty streets leading to plush hotels and restaurants. And the best of all, it has a cable car leading to a hill with amazing views of the area. You know how much I love tiny hills with small trekking areas!

We wished we had stayed the night in the city. But since we had a bus to Wurzberg the next day and we hadn’t planned this before, we went against it.

Nevertheless, each and every day in the Black Forest was amazing. I wish I could go there again sometime. But before that, I have many miles to cover, and cover I shall!

Tips for the area:
- If you are without a car, you would be doing a lot of train travel. We had to take a lot of connections at Offenberg. If you like the town, you can base yourself there.
- 5 days would do justice to the area.
- Small towns are what they are – small. You walk around a bit and they end. So be careful while choosing them as a base.
- Buy rail passes and use them. It cannot get more cheap.
-  Black Forest is the cheapest European destination we have been to. It has the charm of the Swiss hills and the cuteness of Austria. Get the best of all worlds and save your money!
- Eat the sandwich with Mango Curry sauce at the Frei station. If you like it, bring back some mango curry sauce from Germany. It was our one and only purchase and ...slurppp!
- If you want to explore more THIS blog is quite comprehensive. 

Coming up - Trip reports from Amsterdam, Munich and Cyprus! They are long over-due!

Monday, March 14, 2016

I Want to be a Child Again

Not a worry on my mind
Not a frown of any kind
Didn’t know then what was pain
I want to be a child again.

Books, toys, games, many-a-friend
That was till where the world would extend
Tantrums, yes, but not a single complain
I want to be a child again.

I knew I was different
Different – no idea what it meant.
Different is now a headache, a strain
I want to be a child again.

It’s funny how we always wanted to grow up
Adults, it seems, were doing an impressive cover-up
Or it was just our rose-coloured glasses then
I want to be a child again.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Other Side of Travelling

Travelling across the world is on everyone’s wish-list. It is fun and gives you a broader perspective on life. Atleast that’s what it did for me. I was a na├»ve girl from Lucknow - travelling broadened my horizons and I knew so much more than I did from textbooks in my first 25 years of life.

However, all good things in life come with a price to pay. And I am not talking about just the monetary aspects.

The most horrifying thing about travelling is flights. My least enjoyable part of any vacation is boarding that plane and getting off. I hate the airports, I hate the landings and I hate the transfers. This is mainly because of an anxiety issue that runs deep in the family and a personal shortcoming. More than that, it is the way flights operate in this world.

A lot of times we have to connect to a different plane. Often these connections are delayed and you are panic stricken whether or not you will be able to connect to the next plane. Although it is easier to think that we can always get on the plane after that, it is human nature to run and catch what you are meant to catch.

A friend recently had to spend 24 hours at the airport with 6-month old twins because of the reason I stated above. We had to once run across a terminal to catch our next plane. I was literally in tears and panting. We were held at U.S. customs even though we had another flight to catch very soon. It is another thing that no flight in U.S. ever took off on time.

We’ve faced rude flight attendants, un-cooperative ground staff, filthy passengers seated next to us, and the list goes on. A bestie recently told me how she cannot even breathe when she has to catch a plane for reasons she doesn't understand! I really don’t know why flying has to be such a horrifying experience.

Having said that, I love it when we reach our destination and get the most awesome first view of a city. I love it when the doors open and I breathe in the air of a new place. I admire how air-hostesses work tirelessly and patiently. And I absolutely love the low-cost airlines for giving us deals on flying. All this and so much more makes every disturbing experience on the plane totally worth it.

Actually I am waiting for the day we win a million-dollar lottery and get to fly first class every time we travel. Although we wouldn't be able to stop other planes when our plane is getting delayed, we would atleast get top-notch treatment. Wait, why would we travel then? We would buy a mansion in France and drive around Europe in our convertible. Wouldn’t that be just perfect?

*shuts off the browser and enters dreamland*

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Sad Endings or Happy Beginnings?

I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls for the past 2.5 months now. I started my exercise routine with it and saw the episodes during my much-needed rest time. 7 seasons with 22 episodes of 45 minutes each have filled my mundane days with sweet love. It is a series that doesn’t entail much, yet it fills my heart with joy. I’ve smiled with it, I’ve cried with it, and I’ve basically lived with the people in it in the small town of Stars Hollow.

I am on my last two episodes now which I am sure I will finish before lunch. I’ve been feeling unusually blue today and I guess the reason is parting with these fictional characters that I have now grown so fond of. It happens every time I fall in love with a television series. That is why I never, never watch the last few episodes of Friends.

Partings. I absolutely hate them. Why do we have to part away from those we love? I am not the types who would call people endlessly. Just to know the fact that they are a part of my life is enough. But when they are not and I am helpless, it is heart-breaking.

I think everyone deals with such situations differently. Some cry their heart out. Others just tend to ignore their feelings and hope they will fade away with time. Some just keep wishing it had never happened. And some of us feel all these emotions at the same time.

There is always a silver lining to partings - they are called fresh beginnings. Every end is a start to something new, something exciting. We never see it first. We never understand the reasons. But they happen. Life unfolds itself and we move on. Those who genuinely try to move on find happiness in their fresh starts. Those who cling to the fact that the past was better, unfortunately never enjoy life in its full glory.

So much gyaan over a T.V. series? Nah- it is just that I have to accept the fact that I need to move on. Today Gilmore Girls will end, but tomorrow I will start a different series. I will unlock a new town, fall in love with new characters, feel a part of their lives and just be with them for the next several weeks. I might feel today that there will be no series like this one and I will feel this longing, this emptiness for the rest of my life. But then, somehow I also know that there will be one to replace it.

There always is, and it is always better. We just need to embrace sad endings and happy beginnings and everything in between.