Sleepy Acrobatics

There are times when I have cousins over at my place, and we only have one spare bedroom. So, most of the time, I end up sharing my bedroom with someone, usually a cousin.

I’ve noticed a trend…the kids almost always end up sleeping with one or more limbs on top of me.

Talking about sleeping with cousins always reminds me of this one trip a long time back, where I shared the bed with two of my cousin sisters, who promptly had a fight regarding who gets to sleep next to me (aw), which was resolved when they decided I would sleep in the middle. I spent the beginning portion of that night with one arm each in the clutches of one cousin (which they thankfully released as they fell asleep).

But I digress.

So I recently had another baby (well, I say baby…she’s 9) cousin over. She spent the night in my bed. And I spent the night trying to get her to shift over to her side of the bed.

Throughout the night, there was either an arm, an elbow, a knee or a foot on me somewhere, and there was me trying to subtly nudge her limbs back onto her own self (she wasn’t too energetic and I was too sleep-addled and polite, so not much changed).

Having gone through this, I remembered another case where my cousin baby brother slept in my room. He was a lot more energetic, and elbowed me several times in the night, but the situation was strikingly similar…some limb on me all throughout the night.

It’s important to note that only children do such stuff. Adults I think are too conscious of their own personal space, even while sleeping.

So what is it that makes my bed fellows gravitate towards me at night? Are they lacking cuddles?

I guess I’m just a really good elder cousin, and their affection overflows into their unconscious.

The compromises one makes for love. And adorable kids *sigh*

Advertisements

Back to the Mountains

It was my parents’ 25th Anniversary (yep, silver jubilee and all) some time back. And we decided to spend it away from home. Once again, my parents spent ages ruminating over the options, and never deciding. So once again, I had to finally put my foot down and decide on a destination by myself.

Because we couldn’t get too many days off from work, the place had to be nearby, and had to provide some much-needed respite from the Delhi heat. So after much thought, I zeroed down upon the Queen of the Hills – Mussourie.

It was a good decision!

It was smoggy, so we didn’t get a perfect view of the mountain range around. However, the one day we decided to amble along the Mall road, it was sunny enough to give us all sunburn (we returned with red noses and foreheads).

All in all though, it was lovely. We stayed at the lovely Kasmanda Palace, which has beautiful English gardens, a restaurant deck which overlooks the valley, and old-world vintage decor inside the main building, which is fascinating to look at.

The trip was centred around admiring nature, relaxing in peaceful surroundings, and me trying out my new DSLR.

Kasmanda Palace (view from the restaurant deck)

Kasmanda Palace (view from the restaurant deck)

Slightly smoggy views in the morning unfortunately

Slightly smoggy views in the morning unfortunately (as in, it broke my heart, because I had been looking forward to some spectacular views)

The palace gardens are beautiful. Such a lot of flowers!

IMG_0202

Still searching for the name of these flowers. But just look at those colours!

Calla lilies

Calla lilies

SO MANY FLOWERS

Swaying Himalayan Aster (according to my extensive research)

And what’s an English garden without a birdbath…

IMG_0204

IMG_0250

There’s a Magnolia tree in the garden too. And it was flowering. Win!

And for those of you who haven’t seen magnolia flowers before (just like I hadn’t before this trip), here’s how they look off the tree…

IMG_0096

Surprisingly, more than the flowers, I was enchanted by a huge Maple tree. I even got a leaf home, as a souvenir and memorabilia of our time here.

This maple tree had me captivated

This maple tree had me captivated

We took a half day trip outside Mussourie. We first went to Landour, which is famous for being the place where Ruskin Bond lives. I was very excited about going there. I imagined bumping into him somewhere, and discussing how much I liked his books.

Imagine my disappointment when the driver suddenly drove past a red building, with ‘Doma’s Inn’ written on it (surrounded by distinctly Tibetan paintings) and pointed out what looked like a side door, and said, “That’s where Ruskin Bond lives”.

And that was it. Before I could protest and ask the driver to stop, we had flown down the narrow road, leaving Bond’s house behind. The disappointment of not even being able to see Bond’s house properly, let alone him, was so much that I didn’t take any pictures in Landour at all. Oh well. I guess I’ll have to plan a stay at Doma’s Inn soon.

After Landour, we moved on to Dhanaulti. This wasn’t the first time we were going that way. My parents and I remember Dhanaulti as the place-we-were-on-our-way-to-but-our-car-broke-down (this happened at least 10 years back). So, though we knew about Dhanaulti and should have already visited it, had it not been for a very bad road 10 years back, this was the first time we actually went there.

The roads are a lot better now, I was told many times by my parents, who have a better recollection of what had happened the last time we were on that road than I did.

The place to visit in Dhanaulti, is the Eco Park. It’s supposed to be a peaceful place, but now has a variety of ‘adventure sports’ (kids hanging from harnesses and zipping down a line) and swings (in the shape of animals). I understand that children must be kept occupied in such a place where there is nothing to do, but it affects the serenity of the place. A lot.

It was only when we walked quite a distance into the forest, did we actually experience the stillness of the forest; the only sound was the incessant buzzing of cicadas (which are found in abundance here), and the occasional trilling whistle of some bird.

Deodar trees at the Dhanaulti Eco Park. Towering above us, I could tell why they were regarded as sacred by Indian sages. And below our feet, their needle-like leaves covered the forest floor

Deodar trees at the Dhanaulti Eco Park. Towering above us, I could tell why they were regarded as sacred by Indian sages. And below our feet, their needle-like leaves covered the forest floor

The fun part was when I had a long whistled conversation with a bird in the forest. When it whistled, I whistled back, and it replied back in turn. I was hoping it would show itself, because I could make out by the increasing volume of it’s whistle that it was coming closer, curious to find out whether I was some new bird who just did NOT know how to speak bird.

Sadly, it didn’t reveal itself. I only saw one bird which allowed me to photograph it…

This tiny little guy was the only one who posed long enough for me to get a photograph

This tiny little guy was the only one who posed long enough for me to get a photograph

Side note : I love ‘conversing’ with birds. And if you want to try, you just need to know how to whistle. When you hear a bird chirping, whistle back. In most cases, the bird will whistle back and keep replying every time you whistle. I did this with another bird in Mussourie too

IMG_0229

So, back to Dhanaulti Eco Park…

Gorgeous flowers were in abundance. And interesting insects to boot

Gorgeous flowers were in abundance. And interesting insects to boot

The Eco Park was lovely, and if we would have had more time, I would have loved to just sit on one of the many log seats in the forest, and enjoy the surroundings.

Yes, I’ve grown old.

Back from Dhanaulti, we enjoyed some time on the Mall road, went up to Gun Hill (so called because there used to be a canon on that hill, which was fired every hour of the day to tell the time. It was stopped because the canon ball once crashed through someone’s roof. I surmise the person wasn’t very happy about that) by cable car. Because of the smog, the view wasn’t as great as it should have been, but we did catch a bird’s eye view of our hotel!

See the red turrets? That's the Kasmanda Palace, the hotel where we were staying

See the bright red roof and turrets? That’s the Kasmanda Palace, the hotel where we were staying

A special mention to the night view of Mussourie. Spectacular!

Mussorie at night. Glittering and bright.

Mussourie at night was as gorgeous as ever. Glittering and bright.

There’s still so much to explore in Mussourie. And so many other seasons to see it in. Now I kind of get why people go there multiple times. And as Ruskin Bond puts it…

“It is always the same with mountains. Once you have lived with them for any length of time, you belong to them. There is no escape.”
― Ruskin Bond (Rain in the Mountains : Notes from the Himalayas)

(All photographs belong to me. Please ask before sharing them anywhere.)

Serendipity in a Valley : Marchula, Jim Corbett National Park

Last year was a great year for trips and I had a chance to visit a number of beautiful places, a few for work and a few simply for holidaying (no prizes for guessing which of the ones I’m going to talk about right now).

On the long Diwali weekend, I planned a short getaway to a resort in Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand. Notice the phrase ‘I planned’ here; it’s the result of my parents not reaching a decision about our destination, and what made me take over the reigns was when their discussions began taking ginormous proportions of “Why-don’t-you-take-a-few-more-days-off-and-we’ll-just-go-to-Honolulu (for example)”.

So anyway, I jumped in, heart and soul, and after much exploration (World Wide Web FTW!), I decided on Jim Corbett National Park. I found us a gorgeous resort. Victory!

It was a nice long drive, and as we began early morning, the roads were nice and empty.So empty in fact, that one stretch of road in between green fields was so foggy that we couldn’t see more than 5 feet in front of us.

We didn’t book any safari beforehand (note : if you really do want to go for a safari, this is not a good option) and decided to leave it to chance.

So the place…I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

IMG_3825

Towering trees in the valley, surrounded by mountains all around. With a river running in front

IMG_3833

Because a clear, clean mountain river is the perfect place to while away some peaceful time

IMG_3849

Majestically tall trees, dwarfing us.

20141025_152825

Walk a little farther down, and more delicious sights await. This one from a bridge

IMG_3868

Gorgeous evenings

Though we didn’t go for the main safari, there is one forest we visited, called Sitavani. It isn’t frequented by too many furry inhabitants, so you can go inside with your own vehicles, once you get a permit. Inside, it’s quiet, calm, the air so pure that it’s enough to make you give up your worries and smile.

The forest is also home to numerous enormous termite mounds!

IMG_3889

Just one of the many termite mounds in Sitavani

If you make it through the small, winding forest path and reach the end, you’ll see the Sita temple (protected by the Archaeological Survey of India).

IMG_3897

Artsy photograph of the temple to Goddess Sita, after whom the forest is named

After coming back home from this trip, I suffered withdrawal symptoms for quite a while. Who wouldn’t? Mountains, sandy beaches, trekking and leisurely walks…I need a longer time back there. Where every corner takes you somewhere new, and nature surprises you in all ways possible.

Oh well. Till the next trip then!

A Brand New Year

How on earth is it already 2015? Or, to be more precise, where did 2014 go?!

In my 5 years of blogging, this last year is definitely the one in which I’ve neglected my blogging the most. And I have a reason – major life changes (oh yeah).

I completed my masters degree and spent a while lazing about, contemplating topics for a subsequent PhD. Within that period of contemplation, I began an internship with an international NGO (so that I would stop enjoying sleeping so much) and then, the internship turned into a proper job! And I realized how precious weekends were. And why people kept saying that remaining in academics was a jolly good thing to do. And I realized I’m terrible (I may be exaggerating) at multitasking in life – work became the priority and next priority (on weekends) was catching up with friends or lounging in front of the TV. So blogging-time went flying out of the nearest window. Which is sad, because now I wish I’d written about all the myriad first-time experiences I’ve had in the short time span of the last few months. Oh well.

The beginning of the year was wonderful and then suddenly declined as I dealt with an injury. Thankfully I recuperated fully from that phase. The rest of the year was a whirlwind, though a busy one…

I started getting used to this being-an-adult thingamajig (grudgingly)

I spent weekends being even more childish and crazy to compensate (I would like to thank my parents for making that possible)

I learnt to stop being devastated when someone was mean (more like, managed to decrease the period of sadness by 2% maybe. At least it’s a start!)

I went on my first official trip for work (living alone in a hotel room isn’t all that great though)

I made new friends and became part of a wonderful work team (which made it hard for me to ever really dislike going to office)

I felt the satisfaction of working in the social sector, when I got a ton of love from the lovely girls I was working for during my internship (you can read about that here)

I made it a point to send up thanks whenever something good happened, however small the incident. Everyday miracles and good incidents are truly wonderful.

I walk into this new year with the hope that humanity wins over all the atrocities and begins moving towards a more kinder version of itself. This year, I want to send out all the positive vibes I can, with the hope that they will be reciprocated.

Happy New Year guys! Wishing you happiness, peace, love and contentment in 2015.

Of Long-due and Sudden Trips, a Pocketful of Sand and Ligaments

Such a lot has happened since I last posted the list of my favourite feel-good songs. And when I say ‘a lot’ I mean it in the absolute sense; no exaggerations.

In the first week of February, I visited Kolkata after a gap of 7 years, even though it’s my parents’ first love as far as cities are concerned by virtue of being the city they spent their childhood in. It was a wonderful trip as I had my cousin sister’s wedding to attend and then, after a long time, six of us cousins got together at the same place. It was a lot of laughing, new friends, joking, teasing, reminiscing, tears and emotions running high. I had been looking forward to this trip since a long time, and it lived up to the expectations that I had from it (might need a separate blog post for it).

Kolkata

Victoria Memorial, Kolkata

While in Kolkata, my friends from university called me to tell me that they had given my name for a university fest to be held in Kerala. While the message was delivered to me over a abysmal cellphone network, which meant I heard only two words out of seven in a sentence, I got to know all the details only once I got back to Uni.

So, merely a week after getting back from a week-long holiday in Kolkata, I was off again to Kasaragod, North Kerala for the First Convention of Departments of Social Work of Central Universities of India.

It was a glorious trip, as only one with friends can be. Lots of uncontrollable laughter, hilarious antics, jokes and madness. Once again, I met a lot of new people and made some wonderful new friends. Also, being in God’s Own Country, how can I forget the beautiful surroundings? Coconut trees, rivulets, the mighty Arabian Sea! A feast for the senses! I think a photo post will be needed for it.

Bekal Beach, Kerala

Bekal Beach, Kerala

My last day in Kerala wasn’t idyllic however.

I got a ligament injury in my knee.

So now, I’m back home, sitting with my leg in a knee immobilizer (which is pretty much like a cast and lives up to its name), wondering how I failed to notice the wondrous ways in which a knee works.

Now take a moment to thank God for knees and the wonderfully versatile ways in which they function.

More than anything, it’s one of those times when you feel like indulging in self-pity and asking that futile question – “Why me?”. But I don’t have the time to do that. I’m more busy worrying about how on earth am I supposed to make up the classes and fieldwork I will miss, not to mention the irksome attendance issue that my department has.

Pray for me, will you?

A Study on Telephonic Communication

The whole concept of conversing on a telephone (landed or wireless) can be quite an object of study.

For example, the existence of caller identification is such a boon! I have always hated the instances when someone (who rarely calls) calls, and then says, “Do you recognize my voice? Guess whoooo?”. I mean come on! If you want me to be in a situation to recognize your voice, you need to call more often y’know? So yes, I will love you if you just introduce yourself when I hesitatingly (but frankly) ask you who you are. Don’t torture me by continuing for another 5 minutes with a guessing game.

Because it can get really embarrassing. Once, I spent a good 10 minutes trying to emphatically convince someone (lets call him X) that he was in fact Y. In my defense, I really did believe I was right. Later, I realized that I was visualizing the correct person; I’d just mixed up the names. Sad, yes. Even more so because I really like X.

I also remember another time when someone played the ‘guess who’ game with me, and I promptly and assuredly told him that surely he’s my mother’s Uncle. Only when my mom took the phone and laughed her head off, did I smell something fishy. The caller was, in fact, my uncle and not my mom’s. Dammit. Why didn’t he just own up to that before I passed the phone onto my mother? What sadistic pleasure do people get from proving my voice identification skills as null and void? Who knows…the world is a tough place.

I’ve had experiences the other way around as well. As in, because my mom and I sound extremely similar on phone, there have been a lot of times when someone called and talked to me happily for a while and I answered back happily, till I was asked “And how’s your daughter?”. Uh. I’m the daughter. Sorry. I shall pass on the call to the mother. Kindly hold. (And yes, my mom’s been asked to “please get your mother on the line” as well. No, they did not mean my grandma).

The mind is so versatile…a voice can be imagined to belong to so many people!

 

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne

2012 was quite a rollercoaster ride for me. Like, really.

I graduated from college where I’d spent 3 wonderful, fruitful years. Then I went through a lot of soul-searching (to use a very cliched, yet apt phrase) so as to decide what I would do next. And I ended up at another wonderful university, doing Masters in Social Work, a course which is well on its way to making me a stronger person, ready to cope with the Big Bad World.

To be very frank, I went through a lot of heartburn this year when I didn’t get through some courses at some specific places, or when friends got through and I had to be happy for them rather than giving way to some comfortable self-pity and cynicism. Cried a lot of tears thinking I wasn’t good enough and that all those top-notch marks in college actually didn’t result in much. Realized that you have to be at least a little selfish to get yourself heard and to protect yourself.

A friend who’d decided to suddenly cut me off a year back, unfortunately stayed in my thoughts even this year. But I was happy and realized I ‘d moved on at last, when I saw that I forgot her birthday and could at last think of her without being pained at her having done whatever she did. So yes…you can actually move on.

Having joined a new course, a new university, I made a lot of new friends. And I realized that a true friendship, or discovery of a kindred soul, doesn’t need any time at all. It just needs an open heart and some warmth. I realized that rather than keeping yourself closed up within your own idle, prickly thoughts, it’s better to open up and give some people a chance to prove that they care.

WordPress and my darlingest blog also gave me many reasons to smile this year. I got almost 300 views on a single day once this year. I gained quite a few new followers who have stuck with TSB even with my erratic posting and rambling posts. Then I even started a craft blog to share my creative activities with everyone, and discovered the online world of craft which pretty much bowled me over.

Basically, it was a very mixed year, with highs and lows in equal measure.

But I am thankful…

for new friends,

for new experiences,

for a stronger me,

for the kindness of many strangers,

for the love of family and friends,

for being able to bounce back from despair,

for the blessings many do not have.

And I will keep believing in everything nice, and keep hope alive. Because it’s time to forget the lows of the past year…and take a cup of kindness for auld lang syne!

Happy New Year to you all!

Hope the coming year is beautiful in all respects!

(Author’s Note : ‘Auld Lang Syne’ basically translates to “for old times”)