“What we are ………….” Wednesday! (February 22, 2017)

We’d like to share what we are doing this Wednesday, hopefully, every Wednesday from hereon, as a way of documenting our Everyday Life. Hope you like reading such posts!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Reading: “Under a Cornish Sky”  by Liz Fenwick.
Watching: Nothing specific. Just Random comedy shows.
Eating: Pizza!!!
Making: Plans for our long weekend in March.
Wishing for: A beautiful sunny week.
Learning: To manage work and home efficiently, especially when it comes to cooking.
Thinking: That it is a wonderful life!
Listening: To all the adventures Mike had on his trip to Panama.
Loving: That the weekend is not too far!!
Here’s what I had to say:
Reading: “After the Night” by Linda Howard and enjoying the ride!
Watching: a movie tonight, any random movie, until whatever time it takes to finish it. There’s no need to get up early tomorrow as exams are finally over! YAY!
Eating: Cool Foods- mostly Cereal with lots of fruits and cold milk. Yummm!!! It’s getting so hot lately.
Making: Plans to go shopping.
Wishing for: a nice long nap in the afternoon.
Learning: to let go of things that are not on my top priority list right now.
Thinking: Of unwinding with my friends, sipping Masala Chai, while the kids have a good time with their own buddies.
Listening: To this and feeling strong and confident. The hymn invokes Goddess Shakti, calling her by different names, all the names given to girls of Indian Origin, including my name. And when I listen to this hymn, with the music given by none other than the maestro, A. R. Rahman, I feel like a Goddess myself. Now, please don’t laugh. Don’t get me wrong too. I don’t consider myself powerful or invincible or as good as the great Goddess herself. I simply am not. Period.
I just feel like we all have this Goddess within us, each one of us, who is mostly hibernating. And I think we need to nurture her, wake her up and bring her out, to shine some light on the World, Just as we chant prayers to invoke the true Goddess Shakti.
I hope this makes sense.
Loving: having long sunny days ahead with nowhere to go and nothing big to do.
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

The Woman on the Orient Express- a Book Review

I sleep better when I have a good book to read. I simply can’t fall asleep without reading. My daughter too wants to be read to before she dozes off. She tells me she’ll have bad dreams otherwise! When I don’t have an interesting book at hand or on my e-reader, even sleeping becomes just another chore to be ticked off on my to-do list! I’m serious! I then resort to browsing my favorite blogs, instagram accounts or pinterest, which is a surefire way of wiping all the sleep from my eyes!

Gimme a good book, and you’ll find me sleeping like a baby after a while! 🙂

So… What did I want to write about? Ah! The Book Review. I wonder why I got started about my sleep routine!

(Thinking…)

Yup! “The Woman on the Orient Express” was one such interesting book that made me want to wrap up all my chores, speed-read my kiddos’ books and dive into the World of the famous detective novelist, Agatha Christie (who is one of the 3 protagonists in this book), the luxurious Orient Express from London to Istanbul and the archaeological wonders of Ur mentioned in the book.

This book is for someone like me who can’t stand books full of mush or magic or Vampires and their slayers, like most Young Adult books do, nor the ones that contain gruesome murders, horrific kidnappings. apocalypse or terror attacks like most books for adults do. It falls somewhere between the 2 extremes. It was just what I needed to read, as I couldn’t finish any other book I started!

The book is all about 3 women- Agatha, Katherine and Nancy- who come from different walks of life, each carrying the heavy load of  a not-so-rosy past, but heading towards the same destination- Baghdad. Among them, Katherine is going further down to Ur, an archaeological Dig site and towards “doom”, as she suspects. They are all aboard the Orient Express with its drool-worthy customer service. Something, an incident, triggers the beginning of a friendship between these 3. As they get to know one another, each one shares her secret, bit by bit. This unraveling of their pasts, even as they set out to begin a new chapter in their lives forms the core of this story. Their loyalty to each other and the promises they have made to protect one another’s secrets are tested along the way by people and circumstances they come across. Do they remain BFFs despite the roadblocks they face? You will find out when you read…

When I mentioned this book to my friends, most thought I was talking about “Murder on the Orient Express”, a murder mystery written by Agatha Christie herself. I must have read that book a long time back. I want to re-read it and compare the 2. Of-course there are no comparisons. There’s no murder in this contemporary novel, nor is there a mystery to be solved. There’s an undertone of “Something sinister must be lurking around the corner, the next page, ready to pounce upon the reader” kinda feeling through the book though. This book also makes me want to read Agatha Christie’s memoirs.

Lindsay Jayne Ashford does a great job of interweaving fiction with real life events, so much so that we are left to wonder what’s real and what’s not. As soon as I was done with the book, I had the urge to find out the authenticity of the characters and situations mentioned in the book, and to learn a bit more about the author, whose writing I thoroughly enjoyed. She described the comforts of the train journey, the seemingly endless  desert sand and the smells and colors of an Arabic spice market so vividly I simply felt like I was experiencing them all myself. If there’s another book written by the same author, I’ll surely get my hands on it! And I suggest you do too. 🙂

Here’s something to think about-

“For the train, like life, must go on until it reaches its destination. You might not always like what you see out of the window, but if you pull down the blind, you will miss the beauty as well as the ugliness”

-Agatha Christie, The Woman on the Orient Express.

“What we are ………….” Wednesday! (February 15, 2017)

We’d like to share what we are doing this Wednesday, hopefully, every Wednesday from hereon, as a way of documenting our Everyday Life. Hope you like reading such posts!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Watching: Kapil Sharma show and Koffee with Karan.
Eating: Some nice South Indian foods like “puliyogre” and “bisi bele bath”.
Making: Decorations for my sister in law`s baby shower.
Wishing for: My husband to come home safely from his trip.
Learning: To cook more easy and quick recipes.
Thinking: About ways to keep myself busy this week without my husband.
Listening:  to some old Kannada songs.
Loving: The warmth of the sun pouring through my office window.
Here’s what I had to say:
Reading: “Thea Stilton and the Journey to the Lion’s Den” to Medha and “Where Animals Live” to Madhav.
Watching: Medha try to read a book by herself. She’s getting better and better at it. Sadly, Madhav doesn’t like being read to by his big sister! He only prefers his mama’s stories.
Eating: Anything I can get my hands on, which isn’t a good habit, I know! But what to do!?! I’ve been feeling so hungry lately! Change of weather, maybe? Oh no no! It’s absolutely not what you are thinking!
I’ll have to prepare some healthy snacks for the whole family, so that we don’t resort to munching on junk, like we normally do!
Making: Medha memorize Multiplication tables! Oh God!
Wishing for: a Coffee and Cake Date with my husband.
Learning: how not to let anybody bring me down. Like I’ve said before, Meditation really helps. Plus,  a poor memory makes it easier to forget and forgive! 🙂
Thinking: about my new haircut and what my friends told me about it- “Please don’t let it grow long! You look so young with short hair!” How sweet! And I do feel like a new woman- a bit more confident about myself! 🙂 I wonder what it is about a haircut and the boost in confidence!
Listening: to this and wanting to have a good cry, not because I’m sad or anything. It just feels like the right thing to do, sort of like casting a burden aside. It is just so calming!
Loving: this blog as I’m spending more time with it. As they say, Long Distance Relationships are really hard; The longer I stay away from my blog, the harder it is for me to get back to it and show it some TLC. We hope to stay more connected…
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.
 

The Elephant Safari, Corbett National Park

img_8279

The Elephant Safari at Corbett National Park is one of the most happiest, most blessed times of my life! It happened last October when we visited the park and its neighboring beauties- Binsar and Nainital. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember the details of the trip; Anybody who knows me, knows all about my poor memory! But thanks to the journal I kept during the trip, fragments of that journey are still recorded for me to look back on, and for you to, hopefully, savor. Here’s what I wrote in my journal-

It (The Elephant Safari) felt so earthly, so primal; I felt as if I was one with nature. An Elephant Safari is much better than a Jeep Safari. With every footstep of the Elephant, every brush of a tree branch, every poke of a thorny shrub, every breath of fresh air inhaled. every grunt of the swaying elephant, I felt more and more connected with Mother Earth. I couldn’t stop looking at Laadli, the Elephant behind us. She looked so lovely and divine, I fell utterly in love with her. We were seated upon Kalina. They both sucked the juice out of sugarcane sticks as they trudged on. And they kept pooping too… Heaps of it. Some floated right across the river we crossed. Ah! Crossing the River! It was an adventure in itself! You should see how an elephant steps on a boulder, ensures she has a firm grip on it, and then moves on. She is onerously careful as she crosses the river. You find yourself rooting for her as she does that!

We went all over Seethavan. We spotted some birds stirring up in the early morning Sun. We heard Distress calls by a Sambar too, which meant a Tiger must have been nearby. And we felt the presence of a male Elephant, as Kalina became too excited and kept veering off to where she wasn’t supposed to go! “Thwack!”, went the Mahout’s stick upon Kalina’s spiky head. Whenever that happened, Medha felt so bad for her. She was almost in tears. She wasn’t enjoying the ride as much. And when we asked the mahout why he punished her so, he explained how an Elephant needed to be brought back on track with a bit of spanking, just the way a kid needed a bit of discipline now and then, and it didn’t mean that he loved her any less! And believe me, I felt his love for the mammoth. He kept telling the other mahout that they needed to come back to clear the web of tangled branches to make it easier for the Elephants to pass.

Medha kept mumbling about how she felt the Elephants looked like Lord Ganesha himself and as soon as we got down, she simply bowed in front of them. And I too couldn’t hold back. I hugged and kissed Kalina and Laadli both!”

For all those of you who need more information, other than just the ramblings of a romantic fool, here are some details I found in the mail the proprietors of the Safari sent us (We booked the Safari days (months?) in advance)-

1. Only Sitavan (Sitabani) Zone is available for the Elephant Safari.

2. Morning – 8:00 am to 10:00 am (We had it changed to 6-8 am as we had to head towards Nainital the same day.
Plus, we love to explore the jungle early in the morning)

3. Boarding place – Dhikuli Village at 7:45 am 
4. 2 Elephants for 8 Pax. We were 8 passengers, including 4 kids.


Terms & conditions for Safari advance booking

 (Subject to availability & approval from forest department and weather conditions)

 1. Safari permits are booked in 100% advance payment basis.

 2. To book the safari will require name, age, gender of All the passengers, Photo ID and details Issued by GOVT. 

 3.As per jungle safari regulations, once confirmed and booked, the booking amount of Elephant Safari is Non-refundable and non transferable. 

 4. Maximum four persons are allowed to sit on an Elephant.

 5.In case of any natural calamity ( rain, flood etc) there will be no refund.

  6. Timing Might change because of Weather Condition & Season.

  7. When You Reach ( Corbett City Ramnagar / Resort / Hotel ) Inform Us.

 8. Cost of Elephant Safari – Rs. 3500 per Elephant for 1 to 4 Indians Inclusive of Elephant Fee And all taxes. (2 Elephants x Rs. 3500 =Rs. 7000 for 8 Pax.)

Love,

Manasa

“What we are ………….” Wednesday!

We’d like to share what we are doing this Wednesday, hopefully, every Wednesday from hereon, as a way of documenting our Everyday Life. Hope you like reading such posts!

Here’s what Madhurya had to say:

Reading: I just finished Eleanor and Park and started reading my favorite, Agatha Christie`s murder mystery “Taken at the Flood”.
Watching: the weather get better slowly, the “Big bang theory series” when i need a laugh and the pictures of my nieces and nephew.
Eating: whatever possible 🙂
Making: my next crochet project. I guess I will finish it in 2 weeks.
Wishing for: a stress-free work life.
Learning: to be more patient and relaxed. And to be thankful for what I have in my life.
Thinking: about my next visit to Dubai and meeting my entire family 🙂
Listening: to the “tap tap” of my computer keypad and the “yakety yak” of my colleagues talking.
Loving: my husband, my parents, my sis and bro, my very sweet nieces and nephew, and my life 🙂
Here’s what I had to say:
Reading:“The Woman on the Orient Express”, by Lindsay Jayne Ashford on my e-reader.
Watching: Madhav looking at his baby pictures and giggling away.
Eating: A slice of eggless Banana and Chocolate cake I baked.
Making:a list of post ideas, so I can be more consistent in posting.
Wishing for:a bit more time from our busy schedule to visit a store called, Chunari, an Indian Wear store, about which I’ve heard such good things!
Learning: more about myself with each passing day, as I’ve committed to meditating and journaling every single day.
Thinking: about how my sister and I would study all the time and our mom had to ask us to stop!
Listening: to MS Subbulakshmi’s Vishnu Sahasranamam on Gaana.com
Loving:my busy, everyday life.
Love,
Madhurya & Manasa.

30 Things to do in 2016- Final Review

Hey, It feels nice to be back! We’ve been gone, like, forever! Hopefully, we’ll be more consistent in 2017!

I decided to try 30 new things to do in my 30th year and by the end of the year, I finished only 22. Here’s what I accomplished-

1. Buy a sewing machine 
2. Learn basic stitches
3. Sew a summer dress/ skirt for Medha 
4. Paint a wall hanging for our hall

5. Scrapbook with Medha of her cousin’s visit. 

6. Make a photobook with Medha’s pictures.

7. Make a photobook with Madhav’ s pictures
8. Turn the spare room into craft/reading room
9. Post before/after pictures of craft/reading room project.
10. Bake a cake and decorate it with Medha

11. Throw a handmade birthday party at home for Medha and Madhav- 
13. Read a kannada book
14. Read the photography book Prasad gifted me
15. Complete Spark ecourse
16. Complete Onward and Upward ecourse
17. Have pictures taken with my sister for the blog
18. Write thank-you letters to the most important people in my life ( I know who they are)
19. Volunteer at Madhav’s playschool 
20. Write to a magazine/ newspaper.
21. Visit a National park
22. Learn to drape a saree beautifully
24. Add 10 new followers to the blog ( to make the count 90)
25. Change the blog’s “about” page
26. A weaving project with Medha 

27. A plush doll with Medha

28. A garland with Medha- 

29. Visit a historical monument/palace with the kids
30. 365 days of journaling

I failed to achieve all the things I set out to do. Yet again. Procrastination, as usual, is the biggest culprit; setting unrealistic goals, like journaling 365 days, is yet another; other reasons too contributed to my less than successful endeavor- inefficient time-management, horrible mind-management etc. Ugh! I failed.

Or… Did I? 22 isn’t so bad after all, is it? It is more than half the number of goals I set for myself! If I never set 30 tiny goals or pushed myself to accomplish them, I wouldn’t have tried a single novel thing- I wouldn’t have gained the courage to invest in a sewing machine nor would I have learnt to hammer nails onto a wooden board from my dad, to make my weaving loom.

I’ve learned so much about myself (I love weaving so much! Reading Kannada books- not so much!) and creativity because of this exercise. I would never have learnt that creativity comes with practice, had I not read the book, “Big Magic”, or tried my hand at sewing, even though I had never even fixed a button or stitched a tear myself.

When I announced my intention to the world, my near and dear ones came forward to help me reach it. My sister created a Pinterest board of craft room organization ideas for me. In fact she was the one who suggested I set 30 goals in the first place. She kept motivating me through the whole thing. My sister-in-law designed and bought the photobooks of my kids. My grandma taught me how to sew and weave.

Despite my higher rate of failure, I won’t stop goal-setting anytime soon. So watch out for more for the brand new year!

Love,

Manasa.

My Reading habit and Book Reviews

Most of the time, I don’t finish the book I begin reading. There… I said it! A fancy cover or a good review prompts me to pick a book, but a few pages in, I lose interest or the plot is too scary or sad or something, and I just set it aside and grab another. I seriously admire people who read all sorts of books , good or bad, and review them. Me? If I review a book, then it means I have thoroughly enjoyed the book and have been dying to get it out of my system in the form of a review!

Anyways, I read a couple of books and re-read them immediately a while ago. First time I read a book, I’m in a rush to know what will happen in the end. But the next time, I try to go slow, figuring out the missing pieces of the puzzle, untangling the knots I didn’t notice as I sped by in a race to get to the end. So you can see that in all the time that I should’ve spent writing and blogging, I was busy reading and re-reading! Of course, there were other things too- Travel, Kids’ education and being involved in a number of (mostly tiresome) activities that are needed to be done in preparation for a big wedding in the family. But really, the main reason behind my lack of posting is my reading. Reading is the easiest, most pleasant way there is. At least for me…

So… the books that hijacked my brain and left me quite dazed for a long time are-

  1. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  2. Perks of Being a Wallflower

I wonder why I always end up loving books for teens or with protagonists in their teens. I think it’s because I never read such books in my adolescence. Or, because I truly feel for young adults and the anxieties and the fears that they go through as part of growing up. I think that growing up is a tough thing to do, especially in this day and age.

Now coming to the reviews-

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child- I guess this book doesn’t need much reviewing. The 8th installment of the popular Harry Potter series written in the form of a play. Those of you who have followed this blog (Thanks a ton, by the way!) know how crazy my sister and I are about the Harry Potter series. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one. Imagine the thrill I felt when the book landed right into my hands without even ordering the book myself! It was a gift from my sister! (Sisters are the best!). As I read this, I could imagine my favorite HP characters, Hermione, Ron and Harry (in the order mentioned!), now parents, juggling parenting and magicking (Is there a word like that?!). It was heart-breaking to read about the friction between Harry and his son and the yearning Albus feels to right the ‘wrong’ he thinks his ‘famous’ dad committed.

There’s so much magic and time-turning and transforming happening in this book, which moves at a quick pace, you (or at least someone like me!) will find it hard to grapple with the happenings in one read!

I am sure Harry Potter fans will love this book, but others, who aren’t familiar with the setting, the characters, the spells and the history might feel lost. I loved it and will be reading the whole series and the play again soon.

This kind of book makes me want to read more plays. Any recommendations, anyone?

Perks of being a wallflower- This book is not an easy read. I picked it many times before, but couldn’t muster the strength or the interest to carry on. Not because it is boring; Far from it, it is actually a very good book, but it has some disturbing aspects to it. Beautiful but disturbing, can you believe it? It is a series of letters written by this kid, Charlie, to whom is not quite clear, at least in the beginning. He begins writing before the first day of High School. He is anxious and alone. He has just lost his best friend to suicide. It is quite disturbing! But if you have the will to keep reading, it will be a book you will always remember, not just because it will introduce you to some of the best characters ever (Love you Sam and Bill!) and to new kind of music (like the ones by The Smiths or Simon and Garfunkel or Nirvana), but also because you will be rewarded with a beautiful, heartfelt ending. Like always I found myself crying by the end of the book. That’s how I want my books… Simple yet Deep. All encompassing!

I hope some of you will like it just as much as, or maybe more than, I did.

Here’s to more reading and more loving!

Love,

Manasa.