Monday, September 24, 2012

Spiritual Growth

The past few years have changed me dramatically. Mentally, physically, emotionally and materialistically. I just realised that I haven’t much changed spiritually. I haven’t found any spark, nor have I felt anything special or different. I may have done the routine religious things with all my heart; but nothing spontaneous has happened in a while. 

Heck, the last thing I remember is when I went to a church I said an impromptu poem. No Ramzan, Eid, Ganpati or Christmas did anything to me after that. I have felt the craving every now and then to seek answers; but the feeling went as soon as it arrived. Yes, the number of blogs and articles I’ve been reading on the subject has increased manifold, but they haven’t inspired me the way I wanted them to. I guess I’ve become too rational. Or have I become shallower in my thinking? Or have I mistaken spirituality for faith? Have I lost my faith then? 

I’m going to re-join that path that I had left behind and seek out the spirituality before I lose my mind. Any hints on how to begin?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do Something Exceptional

Exceptional. That's what I always strive for. Shock 'em, surprise them...leave them baffled. Inspire them. That's what I've always tried. Whenever I have failed I have cried. 

I've learnt this trick from my parents. They always tried so hard. They still do. They did some pretty exceptional things for me. The biggest thing being accepting me for who I am. And respecting some of my own decisions. Right from what I wanted to do in my career, in love and even my dressing style. I've tried to be exceptional in all these things too...(err not too successful in the dressing style bit, but aspiring to be there!) And I'm possibly doing this, somewhere down the line, to make them proud. 

Being exceptional when you are expected to just do your thing is what earns you respect. Is that why we see so many old people struggling to make conversation with others, assuming that just because they are old nobody wants to speak to them? I'd like to think that they haven't made a big difference in anyone's life; in a positive way. They haven't done anything exceptional to have people respect them for who they are.

I'm yet striving to be exceptional, even in what I say on my blog post. Hope it leaves you shocked, surprised, baffled or even inspired!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wild: From Lost to Found on the PCT (book)

Last evening I finished reading this book called Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The author is a woman named CherylStrayed. The idea of where the surname came about was interestingly revealed in the book.

Like every other ‘woman-driven’ book I felt like I understood the author. So much, that yet again I decided that I was so much like her. I’m still not too sure whether parts of me are really like her or just wanted to go with her story. To make it worse, her story takes place when she is 26 and about to turn 27; my age. I was smitten by her attitude and repulsed by her spirit at the same time.

I think I found myself somehow in her book too. Like, it’s okay to want to be alone just so you remain strong. It is okay to block out the rest when you need to focus on something really hard. It’s not like you are running away, you just don’t want to be distracted. Her anger resonated in me.

In her memoir, Cheryl finds solace in reading books. And she reads her favourite ones over and over during her trip. Even small things about how she reacted when she was in pain (“I stopped when I couldn’t take a walk any further…and then I ran”) made me feel relieved somehow. It helped me tick off my week with patience. Every few miles she walked, I felt a tiny bit healed. Every challenge she went through, I knew with as much belief that she would come out a stronger person.

Of course there was this huge difference in her style of thinking and acting too. The fact that she is an American and came from poverty stood out to me as starkly different to the way I would react to things. There were even times when I was reading the book and I asked myself the same questions that she did, sometimes finding an answer that I wasn’t ready to hear myself.  

You should also know that not once while reading the books did tears well up, even though you do feel the pain that she goes through. Her style is not to make you feel bad for her in anyway. All through the book she is being her strong self. That is what I like in a good book!

Book Trailer:

Friday, September 14, 2012


“I’m soaked!” I sighed scrubbing my feet on the welcome mat as I entered home. My husband was already there, sipping on a cup of steaming coffee as I looked for a towel to dry myself. He looked at me and gave me a pitiful frown and sweetly asked if I wanted some coffee.

The rain today was unexpected, just like my day at work had been. What I thought would be a relaxed Friday at work turned out to be hectic and challenging. In the end, I was tired and left late from office missing my spa appointment too. All I wanted to do now was soak myself in a hot bathtub and lie there for an hour. Mais alas, we were to leave early the next morning for a friend’s place in Lonavala. Before that, I had to take control of the house. Man! This being a homemaker and working at the same time was taking a toll on me. I just didn’t have the time to do anything for myself. 

I made a mental list of the things I need to do- pack a bag, make idlis to carry en route and wash the clothes. All this and it was already time for dinner. We quickly packed our bag for the weekend, and I soaked the idli dal keeping a check on the time. That’s when I broke down. I was famished and still had to wash the clothes, which meant soaking them for at least an hour. “Arghhh! Enough soaking for the day!” I grumbled aloud.

That’s when hubby came to the rescue. Like a TV commercial, he brought out a pack of Surf Excel Matic, and held it in his hands, reading “The new Surf Excel Matic has the power of ‘Vibrating Molecules’ to penetrate deeply embedded stains & remove them effectively, so no soaking before washing!” I smiled at him and hugged him, saying “What would I do without you?”

With the clothes washed in a jiffy, we quickly had dinner. I relaxed in front of the TV, healing my aching feet in a bucket full of hot water and sea salts. He suddenly looked at me and said, “I thought you didn’t want any more soaking!” Yes, I threw a pillow at him :) 

Merry Melbournian Christmas!

Like every conversation we had, this one too ended with “So when are you coming here?” I laughed it off and coyly replied, “Well, soon!” and we hung up the phone.
This was a typical conversation between me and my sis. She had settled in Australia long enough and she wished I came down to meet her. Of course you know that staying in Mumbai diminishes all your time and money for you to be able to think of taking a vacation to Matheran; let alone Melbourne. How I wish I could take a weekend to just land up in the Victorian city! This weekend though, I decided to take an afternoon nap.
When I had fallen in deep slumber, I heard the doorbell ring. It was a courier and I quickly signed for it wondering what my sister had surprised me with now. I ripped open the envelope and was astounded when I found an air ticket. A note she attached said ‘Merry Christmas! It's your time to visit Melbourne NOW!’
A month later, here I was, in cultural capital of Australia; grinning from ear to ear. My tour guide (a.k.a. my sibling) knew exactly what I wanted- shopping, eating and relaxing. But mostly, shopping! I had heard her speak endless number of times about her everyday experiences there- what she eats and she shops. In a way, I felt like I know what to expect, like I had experienced all these things too.
The entire city dazzled in Christmas lights and just about everyone had shopping bags in their hand. I love summers and it was great to see a not-frigid Christmas. Though I found out later that Melbourne can have up to four seasons in a single day. Talk about variety!
I’m sure I looked like a kid high on sugar when I skipped from one shop to another in the Victoria Market. I picked up some really awesome knick knacks, souvenirs to take back home and even a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many well-known brands at great discounts there. The organic fruits and veggies section looked and smelled so great; I wished we had something like this back home. The one thing that resembled Mumbai though was the Flinders Street railway station. It was as grand as our CST station. It was clearly the same British influence. There is a giant screen there where I’m told many sporting events are broadcasted. Can you imagine how much fun it would be to watch the World Cup there? In fact last year’s 20-20 match was in the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The other place that reminded me of Mumbai was the city skyline from the Waterfront City. It reminded me a tad about the Queen’s necklace in Mumbai.
There were loads of tourists like me who seemed to be shopping, though I’m quite sure they even went sight-seeing. More tourists plus the festival season made parking seem a hassle, so on my first day there, we went cycling for a while.
I am a total bookworm, and as it turns out, Melbourne has the most number of bookstores in all of Australia. I even got a chance to visit the State Library. It was massive and I immediately fell in love with its reading room- La Trobe. So I paid a visit to the Fed Square Book Market and picked up a couple of magazines and a novel from my favourite author. The Books for Cooks place got me drooling and I knew it was time to eat!
That’s when we headed to China Town. It had an amazing spread of Asian restaurants and shops. We decided to go to one of the more well-known one:  Shark Fin. The menu showcased some amazing food but also some dishes that I wouldn’t dare taste.
If you are going there, you will be bedazzled at first at the amazing line up of stores like Myer, David Jones, Zara, Duty Free, Tag Heuer, Gucci and what not. Besides, there are several malls which were really cool too, Chadstone being one of them. It literally extends as far as the eyes can go and the best part is that it is still expanding. Pure bliss for a shopaholic like me! I could spend hours in the Apple showroom and other cool shops like Tiffany and Oakley.
If you had to mention a landmark here, you would have multiple choices. One landmark that I fell in love with was the Crown Hotel. It was beautiful! You may recall that it is the same place where Preity Zinta had her ‘Ben n Jerry’ ice cream in the movie Salaam Namaste. I’ m told that the richest of the rich come here to stay in the Crown; including Tom Cruise. The top-most floors of the hotel are about $40000 a night, so I decided to give it a skip this time!  The Christmas decorations at the Crown were a sight! It had shows every few minutes which had kids in frenzy and adults like me mesmerised.
I wasn’t here only for the shopping, you know! We also visited the zoo and the aquarium. The Melbourne Zoo was a great expanse. The best thing I enjoyed there was the seal exhibit and the Australian Outback. We then headed to the banks of the Yarra River to the Aquarium. Four levels and the variety of sea inhabitants will be forever engraved in my memory as beautiful. We ended the day with going to the Eureka Tower which made me happily dizzy. It has 91 floors and is more than 950 feet high. The Skydeck on the 88th floor really amazes you and gives you a bird’s eye view of the entire city.
Christmas Day was a day out and lunch with my sister’s friends. They are Aussies and were so welcoming! Their home was beautifully decorated and they even had a huge Xmas tree. The food was delicious. I can still taste the sumptuous stuffed chicken salad and the mouth-watering pavlova.  I don’t think I had ever enjoyed a Christmas meal as awesome as this!
That day when I was speaking to a local, I realised that by now I had begun to use the words ‘mate’ and ‘no worries’. I really did feel like one of them. I looked at my shopping list and mentioned some really expensive stuff to my sister and she nudged me and said, “Hold on to your horses for Boxing Day!” I sighed, but I knew that the next I had to wake bright and early for the amazing sales and discounts!
A few seconds later I heard my phone buzz, only to realise that I was back in my bed. Was it all just a dream then? Did I really not be a part of the thrilling and elegant cosmopolitan? I had yet so much to see and do!
That evening I went online and visited to relive what I dreamt. It was now time to make this dream come true!