Wednesday, December 27, 2006

News!

I have 2 good news to share with y'all

One, I got a new job....my stint with the UN got over and now I am moving to Pennsylvania. My new job is taking me to Malvern which is a small town outside of Philadelphia. I guess this moving business is one thing you got to live with when you work as a consultant. I have a friend who is already working in the same co. so I am glad I have someone there.

Infact I am so used to this place since the last 2 months me and V have been visiting this friend each and every weekend. Since my return to India, my weekends have been full of travel...we'd go to Pennsylvania (about 2.5 hrs drive) on Friday eve, then on Saturday we eit
her go to NYC (which is like 2 hrs from there) or to the desi ilaka in New Jersey (which about an hr away). While in NY, we'd go to see the holiday lights and eat yummy food. While in NJ, we'd hog desi favourites like wada pav and chats or desi chinese food and watch hindi movies in the theater. Sunday night we'd be back in Stamford. The states of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania have earned a lot of money from our toll fee.

My other news is that I got a new car! Well, its not actually brand ne
w per se..its a pre-owned '05 Nissan Murano SL. During the previous weekends when we've been driving around, it was also with a mission...that is to search for a good car for me. After looking high and low we finally found a great one which fit my budget. So this Friday I drove home my *new* AWD SUV. Here are some pics:





















Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A little bit more about me

Okay Juneli...finally got to complete this tag :)

1. I am an insomniac. Why else am I writing this post at 3am when I had all the time in the world? Since the past God knows how many days, I've never slept before 4am. What do I do? I do things which does NOTHING to help me sleep. I read, browse or play senseless games like Zuma on Yahoo! games or Ka-Glom on my blackberry.


2. I never used to cry in movies, however emotional the movie might be. Never dropped a tear even during Titanic. But something changed since I met V. Now, even a slightest hint of mushiness and my eyes get filled up. Pyar ke side effects?

3. I love to celebrate my birthday. I enjoy the attention and of course the gifts and surprises. I expect other feel the same too, so I try to keep track of birthdays and anniversaries and make sure I wish them even if its just online.

4. I am a rice lover. Maybe its a part of my Nepalese heritage (we can eat rice 4 times a day), but give me rice, dal and chutney/achar and I'll be happy. In fact, after discovering South Indian cuisine, I've become a huge fan of simple lemon rice, tamarind rice or any rice and podi (powder).

5. I always keep in touch with my old friends. Therefore I am still close with my friends from KG as well as college and my first job. However, when it comes to relatives, I am loath to call them. Many of my relatives here in US are pissed off just coz of that but I just cant help it!

6. I love reading books. My interest lies in fiction. I also enjoy reading not only personal blogs but technical blogs and news. But if I have to read anything technical to help me upgrade my skills, I suddenly lose all interest.

7. I dream weird dreams, most of them are nightmarish dealing with ghosts, zombies and more frequently snakes. I often have recurring dream of a snake or someone chasing me. Some of my dreams are like movies. I still remember one particularly weird dream where I saw Dimple Kapadia as a ghost and no, I had not been thinking about Bees Saal Baad.

8. I cannot sit with my hands idle. I either have to doodle, fiddle with anything within reach or use my laptop. I simply can't resist playing with a burning candle. I remember once I was discussing something with my manager and I was fiddling with some hook in his cubicle and I got my finger stuck in it. He soon realized my mind was somewhere else...it was so embarrassing and he just couldn't stop laughing when he saw what I was upto. Thank God he was nice enough not to feel offended!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monday, December 18, 2006

Back!!

:)
Due to public demand, I kicked out my new template and got back my old one. I too feel more homely with this one. The change was the result of one sleepless night. Thanks for your comments :)

Friday, December 15, 2006

New Look

What say?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

On books

Lately I have been reading quite a number of books. Even during my trip to India, I managed to finish four books, Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven both by Mitch Albom, The Innocent Man by John Grisham and How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got A Life by Kaavya Viswanathan.

The highly acclaimed Tuesdays with Morrie is a true story about Mitch Albom and his dying professor, how the professor, the young man's mentor remains to be his coach on life even till his last breath. It is a touching story and I highly recommend it.


After Tuesdays with Morrie, Mitch Albom came up with Five People You Meet in Heaven. This too is a lovely read highlighted by the author's simple writing style. The story is about a man who upon his death goes to heaven and meets five people who have had been unsuspectingly pivotal influence in his life.

My third read is the first non fiction by John Grisham. You've got to admit, Grisham's talent makes even a true story seem like a thriller and make the book so unputdownable. It is the story of a man who had been unjustly sentenced for murder.


I read the controversial Opal Mehta just coz my dad had a copy of it and for some reason kept it by my bedside for me to read. It is a typical story of a nerdy teenager who changes her lifestyle just so be 'cool' and fit with the hep girls in her high school. Even though the main plot is a common one specially in high school movies, but it has been written in an interesting and funny manner.

I have just completed A Life Less Ordinary by Baby Halder. Many of you might have heard or read about the inspiring story of Baby Halder. She is an icon of courage and determination who in spite of being a domestic worker has managed to write a book on her life which definitely is no less ordinary. I have a special admiration for her since I have met her personally. She is the housemaid of my brother's friend and I have stayed at their place a couple of times. In fact, my brother is also in the book. My brother first showed me the book when it was published in Bengali and Hindi. Even though it is a huge task for me to read in Hindi, I was ready to read it. But then he informed me that the English translation would be soon available. So I decided to wait coz I knew I would get the full impact of the story in English rather than in Hindi.

I am now reading The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai. As you all must be knowing, Kiran Desai is the daughter of the famous writer Anita Desai, whose story I remember was part of my ICSE curriculum. This book begins in Kalimpong, West Bengal which is very close to my hometown and is set during the Indian-Nepalese movement during the 80s in Kalimpong and Darjeeling area. I was then a child and still remember the horror stories we used to hear about young guys with guns looting and killing people. Every other day we used to hear about people being killed and heads being hung at gates, infusing strikes which left Sikkim crippled and cut off from the rest of India. I have finished about 1/4th of the book and though I like the story and all, I am not sure if I am enjoying her style.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Four things....

As I was soaring through the valleys of Manali, absorbing the beautiful sceneries of Nainital, paying homage to the abode of HH The Dalai Lama in Mcloedganj and comparing the similarities between Shimla and Darjeeling, little was I to know that I would have a small task to do when I get back to reality. Yes I have been tagged, after a long time I agree, by who else but Princess. So well, here it goes:

Four things....

Four things you may not know about me.

A) 4 places I have lived:
1. Pune
2. Columbus and Indianapolis, Indiana
3. New Jersey
4. Stamford, Connecticut

B) 4 TV shows I love to watch:
1 House
2 Seinfeld
3 Sex and the City
4 Unwrapped on Food Network

C) 4 places I have vacationed:
1 Yellowstone National Park, US
2
Shravanabelagola, Karnataka
3 Bhimtal, UP
4 Dive Agar, Maharashtra

D) 4 hobbies I like to spend time on:
1 Travel
2 Reading
3 Finding and keeping in touch with old friends on the net
4 Movies

E) 4 of my favorite foods:
1 Momos
2
Veg chowmien made by Mom
3
Spicy Tom Yum soup
4 Choela - roasted & marinated meat delicacy of Nepal

F) 4 places I would rather be right now:
1 Home
2 New Zealand
3 Victoria, BC, Canada
4 Europe

Friday, September 22, 2006

One Web Day!

Today is the very first OneWebDay! Celebrate your online life by marking this special day. If you need some guidelines on how to celebrate this day, click here

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Map My India!

Many of you might already be using it, but I just came across this site: http://beta.mapmyindia.com/

Do check it out...it's pretty neat! I hadn't thought this could be possible in India with its so many ambiguously named streets and addresses.

I tried out a few features....I guess it works better for bigger cities, for those are the ones where the data is most extensive. But I did find out that the road way from Pune to Gangtok is 2263.76 Km! They seem to be planning to add more cool features like mobile etc. Good going!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ramayana 3392 A.D.

Virgin Comics is soon launching a whole range of new comic book series.. many of them based on our Hindu mythological figures. Here's a small preview of whats in store for us



















Courtesy: Sikkim Midweek Vol1 No2


Find out more at http://www.virgincomics.com

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Banned Books

After a long time I found something which I felt was worth the effort of writing a new post :-)

Here's something which I am sure will interest all book lovers
http://books.google.com/googlebooks/banned/

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Virginia Trip - III

This has been long pending.

Busch Gardens is an amusement park. I believe there are two of them in US. I had been to the first one in Tampa, Florida in Dec 2004. That had African theme and V had won a huge cute gorrila (soft toy ofcourse) for me. This one in VA had a European theme. Its smaller than the African one but cuter with different sections setup as different countries of Europe.

After a long wait to get inside the gates (it was crowded), we were so hot that we headed straight for the water rides. From there we moved on to roller coasters. The weather was hot and getting drenched in the rides was what we enjoyed the most. Their biggest roller coaster was quite scary, specially the first plunging drop. However much I tried, I just couldnt keep my eyes open during that drop!

Towards the end of the day, we went towards the games section. Like before, I wanted V to win something. He did win a small dolphin and a big flamingo, but my eyes were in this huge cute monkey (yes, again!). The game to win the monkey was to pass a small hoop through a twisted wire without letting it touch the wire. V tried twice without sucess. Then I thought of giving it a try. I was doing pretty good when just as I was abt to reach the end, it touched the wire and the alarm beeped. V and Dee were excited abt my progress so asked me to try again. By then a little crowd had gathered around me and I could feel a million eyes on me. I fared badly on my second try and was out in no time, maybe coz of the peer pressure :P.

We went around a while, encouraging friends who were winning some stuff or the other. V still seemed impressed with my performance at the wire game and asked me to try again. So we went back to the game stall to try for the third time. And guess what? I won!! I was so happy! For the first time I won something and didnt have V to win for me :). The monkey is huge, I was of course unable to carry it. Its bigger than me! Unfortunately, due to its size, I couldn't take it with me to NJ. Instead my frens took it with them in their car. Next trip to their house, I'll have to get it back :)

The next day we started off early as me and Dee had to catch the bus from D.C. We waited in the bus stop for more than an hour and the bus never showed up! This was not the first that Greyhound had ditched me. V got so mad that he rented a car and me, V and Dee drove to NJ in the car instead. I drove till NJ and after dinner droppping us, V drove to Pitts from there. Poor guy, he reached home at 4 in the morning and had to be at work at 8am!

So that was our Virginia trip. Though we didn't do much, it was nice and relaxing. Next trip? Who knows.. we haven't planned it yet!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Virginia Trip - II

Virginia is a beautiful state, clean and green. The highways are in great condition and driving is a pleasure. Unlike NY where the roads are lined on both the sides with tall buildings and Indiana where roads are lined with miles and miles of plain boring fields...here you will lush green trees....such a soothing view!

Roughly after about 3hrs or so we reached our first destination, the CBBT or the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. As the name suggests, it is a long bridge cum tunnel that extends to about 18 miles. It is considered to be a modern engineering wonder and the view on either side of the bridge is breath taking. About halfway through, the bridge passes through a tiny man made island, where you can stop and park your car. The island also holds a restaurant and a souvenir shop. Its a nice stop to stretch your legs and that we did along with taking many pictures. It seems some chase + crash scene in Mission Impossible III has been shot on the bridge.

At the end of the bridge, we stopped again for a few clicks and then headed back to Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is like any other beach town - small, lively and invitingly relaxing. By then we were famished with hunger. We drove for quite a while and finally found the perfect beach side. It was quite crowded but not too overbearing. We quickly changed to our beachwear and headed out towards the beach with all our beach-ware - chairs, mats, towels et all. Just by the beach there was this lovely posh-looking restaurant Catch 31. My vegetarian friends moved on to find their food while me and my non-vegetarian friends enjoyed delicious Catch 31 sea food.

The rest of the day passed in the beach. While I spent most of the time relaxing and sunbathing, my daring friends were more into playing in the water.

After everyone had their full, we moved towards town, which was just the matter of crossing the beach. We noticed people dressed nicely and soon realised we were about to witness a wedding! They were having a wedding at the beach! The funny thing was, the bride and the bridesmaids were wearing lovely gowns, but were barefooted while the bridegroom and his friends (what do you call them?) were wearing black suits and tux but were wearing slippers! It was indeed a quaint scene!

As a part of the Memorial Day celebrations, the town had organised a rock show. The band playing has flown in from Texas and they were pretty good. We passed the remaining of the evening lazing on the lawn listening to rock songs. Later we once again split into veg-non veg group for dinner. This time we had to walk quite a bit in search for the right place to eat. Our efforts were well paid coz the restaurant/bar that we ended up in served us yummy scrumptious sea food. I was so tired that as soon as I sat in the car, I dozed off. It seems on our way back to the hotel, we were stuck in the traffic for a good 1hr or so. By the time we hit the bed it was almost 2am!

Next The Busch Gardens

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Virginia Trip - I

My weekend trip kick started on Friday. We were given an early release from work. My best friend Dee arrived at Port Authority bus terminal from NJ.

I then took her to see places in NYC. We had 4hrs in hand before our train to Washington DC. We went to Times Square, sat for some time in Bryant Park (I remember some scenes of Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna was shot here. Any idea when its getting released?). From there I took her to see the Grand Central Terminal and then to the UN. I was basically showing her my daily route to work. By then we were totally exhausted, walking so long that too with the luggage. We came back to the Penn Station from where we boarded the train to DC.

We reached DC at around 1.30am. A couple of our friends had come to pick us up. From there we were to go to one's home in Virginia. The Union Station in DC is amongst the most wonderful stations I have ever seen. Its grand and huge like a big hotels lobby. It has a shopping mall and restaurants. Even though the Grand Central Terminal in NY is also quite grand, I like Union Station better...maybe since it has lesser people comparatively?

As we exited the station, we missed an exit and soon we were lost. Guys as always try hard not to ask for directions, so we kept on going and ended pretty messed up. We soon had to call the wife of one friend to tell us the direction. The guy driving was talking to his wife on the phone figuring out the way to the interstate when a cop saw us and pulled us up. I know in many states it is against the law to use the cell phone while driving, and I guess we were close to the White House area, so there were extra security. Thankfully the cop just gave a warning and waived us the fine of $100.00. He even directed us to the correct way to the interstate.

We had moved not more than 3 blocks when we saw another set of blinking lights behind us. There was however a car between our car and the cop car so we were assured that the cops were not behind us again. All of a sudden, the car behind sped up and tried to overtake us from the right. However unluckily for that guy, the right lane ended, and since our car was on his left side blocking his way, he could not make a dash for it and was forced to make a right turn, where another cop car was waiting for him! Though it was a bit scary for a fraction of a second when I thought he is going to dash into us, we felt good later on thinking that we helped the cops nab a runaway!

By the time we reached home, it was 3am. V and a couple of friends were already on their way from Pittsburgh to Virginia. I slept for a couple of hours. By then they had arrived and after breakfast we all started for our vacation.


Next CBBT and Virginia Beach

Thursday, May 25, 2006

On Cloud Nine

I am overwhelmed, I am happy, I feel great and I feel grateful!
In spite of my disappearing act from the blog scene (that too without any notice), you guys took time to wish me on my birthday. Thank you all so much for your wishes and thank you, Silky Moon and Ricky, for writing such lovely things about me. Thanks to all the wonderful friends I have, in real life and in the virtual life, my birthday went really, really well. I cannot even count the number of people who have wished me from all over the world. Many went out of their way to make me feel special. This birthday was also special because my best friend who recently came from India, was with me. We are back together after three years... its great staying together again....just like old times.

This Memorial weekend me, V and our friends are going to Williamsburg, Va. As always, I will be (hopefully) posting my travelogue once I return.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Quest

Anyone who has read Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown has been enthralled and captivated by the endless mind-games involved in the quest of the Da Vinci Code.

I am now eagerly awaiting the release of the movie which incidentally falls on my birthday. What more can I ask as a birthday gift?? Well, actually, I can ask for a lot more, but that's out of the context here :P

Anyway, as a promotion for the movie, Google and Sony Pictures have come up with this awesome idea. They have created a series of mind games for DVC enthusiast like us to participate. The games are to be solved one a day for 24 days. The final winner will win a hoard of prizes. I have already participated and solved the games and they are fascinating to say the least! As you try solve the puzzles, you will (not necessarily) need to go to the movie's official website. As you browse, you will understand how amazingly they have put up the site. Each and every part of the site hides some secret...it is truly remarkable.

I seriously urge all you DVC fans to participate in the games, if you haven't done so yet! For those who haven't read the book yet, please do so before you watch the movie...though by looking at the website and the promotional videos, I believe the movie will do full justice to the book.

For further details on the contest, click here

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Chal Chaiya Chaiya

Last weekend, me and my friends had made plans to get together in Pittsburgh. 8 of them were driving over from Columbus and I would be going there from NY. We had many reasons to get together and celebrate, one friend got a great new job, one's getting married next month, two of them got new cars and one's birthday falls tomorrow. So, come Friday and I went to work with my overnight bag, all set to go. Unfortunately their plan got cancelled as two of them had some office work to be done during the weekend. So I set off after work, feeling bad that my friends won’t be coming, but all the same looking forward to be with V ;-)

Saw The Inside Man on Saturday. It’s a nice movie, worth seeing once. The highlight of the movie was... nope, not the incredible bank robbery scheme, neither was it the power broker role played by Judy Foster nor was it the handsome Clive Owen and no, it wasn't Denzel Washington's performance. It was our very own Bollywood song Chaiya Chaiya!!!! Yes! As the titles started rolling in at the start of the movie, we were taken aback by the song playing in full blast. They played almost the entire song and even during the credits roll in the end. But I really missed Shah Rukh Khan!

I colored my hair. I had it highlighted with red color. I have done this before, once in India and once after I came here. And both the times I had thought I would never do it again since it spoils the hair so! I had to wait almost a year before by bad/faded hair grew out...and after having 'normal' hair for a few months I got bored! Plus, spring is in the air and I wanted some change! The color looked lovely for a few days. I was supposed to wash it less as possible...but I wash my hair every alternate day....cant leave it for one day more else I look like I have poured a bottle of oil on my head! So now, my hair is back to looking normal. Just three days and the color's almost gone!! *sob sob* To think that I even bought salon special shampoo and conditioner for colored hair! Only one person in my office noticed it! How tragic is that!!!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

India Trip pics

I was finally able to upload some of the pics from my India trip. Click on the two pics below to view the entire sets (India Trip January 2006 and Nepal Trip January 2006). I hope you enjoy them....dont forget to leave your comments!

Sikkim Pics


Nepal Pics

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The last week

My last week in Gangtok is now a blur. The week was crammed with shopping, visits to the tailor, meeting relatives and friends and of course the dentist.

My trip to Calcutta and Kathmandu was so much fun that I had actually forgotten all about my dentist and the impending tasks. So the very next day of my return, I was back at her clinic with a heavy heart. I had to visit her almost everyday for the final touches to my RCT and capping. During the little time that I could squeeze in between the visits, I would go for shopping either with my friend or with my mom. Once we hosted a dinner party and for all close relatives. The next day the same group of people met at one of the relatives house for dinner. The third day the third relative invited the same group for dinner. It was funny coz the only difference between these parties were the venue and the menu.

During this time, I came to know from one of my cousin that she has befriended an old friend of mine. Incidentally, this friend's name also starts with V. We used to be friends since KGs or maybe even before that. We used to stay in the same building and were in the same class till 12th. In fact when we were kids, we used to be best of friends. I still remember that he used to say he'll marry me when we grow up! LOL... After we left school, we had lost contact until now. Through my cousin, I called and spoke to him. It was really good talking to him after all these years. The next day one of my uncle gave me, my brother and cousins a lunch treat. This guy called up at that time and he said he would like to meet me...so I invited him over to the restaurant. When we met, we both were surprised seeing each other. After all it had been 8 yrs since we met. He was so shocked seeing me that he just couldn't get over it. All the time he was constantly telling me how much I have changed and all that....hehe it was fun but embarrassing in front of my uncle and brother.

Soon it was my last day in Sikkim. I went for lunch with two of my closest friends. My poor mom was more busy that me, packing edibles, doing last minute stitches and alterations and packing my bags along with theirs as they too were coming with me to Delhi. The next day with a very heavy heart I bid my brother goodbye. My brother along with a few of his friends had just come up with a magazine and that evening was the launch of the same. I was sorry to miss the function by just a day. He had tried hard to get it pre-poned so that I could also attend, but it didn't work out.

My flight to Delhi was uneventful. After reaching Sikkim House early afternoon, I contacted a friend located in Noida hoping to meet her. Unfortunately both our schedule was such that we couldn't meet. Two of my cousins studying in Delhi came by to meet us. I was meeting one of them after probably 6-7 years. My kid cousin had grown up to be dashing young man and it was fun spending time with them. That evening we went to Sarojini Market, which was pretty close, for some more shopping :)

The next day we went towards Noida for my dad's check-up. I tried once again to meet up with my friend, but again was disappointed. After that we went to Karol Bagh where we did some shopping. In the evening we went back to Sarojini Market for some last minute shopping *grin*. Soon it was time for us to leave for the airport. I hated the airport for not allowing visitors inside. I had to bid my parents goodbye right at the gates. Parting is the most difficult thing ever. I felt wretched for leaving my parents like that...wondering was this all worth? My poor parents were still standing outside in the cold while I was checking in, which took a long time. Finally my check-in was over and I went back to the gate to wave them good bye.

The flight was a bit delayed but I was least bothered as my thoughts were constantly with my parents. We must have flew for and hour or so when they announced that we have to turn back to Delhi as one of the passengers was not feeling well. Once we landed in Delhi, we were stranded in the airport for a good 4hrs waiting for a takeoff slot. I was feeling so wretched that time since I was so close to my parents and yet could not contact them. I was cursing the damn T-Mobile service people for not activating my international roaming in spite of me requesting them. By the time I reached Paris, I had missed my connecting flight. After another long and tiring wait, I was booked in another flight to New York. By the time I reached NY, I was dazed and tired. On landing I came to know that my hand-luggage, which they had asked me to check-in had not yet arrived. I didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. On my onward journey, I had my hand luggage with me but got my two suitcases only after 4 days. On my return journey, I had my two suitcase, but my cabin luggage was missing!!! Thankfully, it arrived home the very next morning without further delay. My dear landlord and landlady came to the airport to pick me up and I reached home safe and sound.

So that was my entire trip. Writing about this trip took me longer than the trip itself! LOL! I was once again plagued by jet-lag which took me a whole week to get over

Books read during this period...Journey to the Self by Luna Shrestha Thakur and City of Glass by Paul Auster

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cat-man-do!

The flight to Ktm was uneventful. It was fun sitting with my brother making fun of how people in Nepal/Sikkim were more "American" then people in US ;-) Weather in Ktm was pleasant and as soon as we landed, I had this nice and warm feeling of being home. We hired a taxi - looking at which made me think, does this even have an engine? How does a box of tin more around by itself? We were soon "cruising" through the gallis terrifyingly close to other vehicles and pedestrians. Thankfully we made it safely to my mama's house. We received a warm welcome from my nani, mama, mami and cousins and other relatives. I'd met them after about 5yrs and it felt great.

How the week in Ktm went by, is still like a dream. As always, whenever we arrive in Ktm, we were overwhelmed by the no. of visitors and invites for dinners and lunches. Sometimes our schedule is so tight, we have to accommodate and accept invitations for even breakfasts and evening snacks! I had a great time visiting relatives and eating yummy nepali/newari cuisine. Initially, I was apprehensive about the relatives being nosy and asking about when I would get married and all that. Luckily for me, my poor brother was the brunt of all the questions and I was safe behind his misery :)

On the 2nd day of our arrival, we went to a nearby town of Patan. Patan is the oldest and probably the most beautiful cities of Nepal with roads laid with bricks and the town dotted with numerous temples and statues. One of my aunts had an exhibition going on in the famous Patan Museum to showcase her methods/adaptations of the traditional custom of Newari baby massage to the modern European life style. She is a resident of Switzerland and has opened classes there to teach pregnant parents the wonders of baby massage to keep them fit and healthy. Though we all knew about her works and how her methods have become famous there, the exhibition made us realize how our own custom is gradually disappearing in Nepali homes.


Durbar Square in Patan




While we were not visiting relatives, me and my parents were out shopping. My nani is mostly bedridden
and complained a lot of us not staying home. So this time we avoided dinner invitations and made a point to spend atleast evenings at home. I always thought Kathmandu is a heaven for shopping clothes and shoes as most of the stuffs are from Hong Kong. We get similar stuffs in Gangtok too but the choices are limited and prices are high. However, this time I was in for a big disappointment. For one, Ktm has become overtly populated. There were too many people and cars. The choices in clothes too seem to have degraded. I must have scourged so many shops and mall, even went to the brand new Kathmandu Mall during the opening, but had difficulty finding stuffs of my liking. I ended up buying more traditional stuffs like Pashmina shawls and semi-precious stone jewelries/curios. However, I loved shopping in Thamel. Thamel has stuffs which appeal more to "foreign" tourists, but I loved some of the stuffs they had. I went to one shop called "Wild Fibre". They made clothes out of sishnu or nettle. I am not sure if you are aware of Nettle. It is a wild grass found in the Himalayan region. It has its own defense mechanism and is covered with prickly thorns. If you accidentally happen to touch it, it stings like a bee sting. In old times, teachers used to whack naughty kids with sishnu to straighten them up. Some people also cook and eat sishnu like any other saag. So anyway, I was amazed to see clothes made out of it and happily bought a shirt.

While I was there, we got to celebrate Maghe Sankranti. This was the first time I was in Ktm during this festival. Normally on this day we cook (mostly boil) different types of tarul (roots - 9 or more varieties) and eat them. Due to the death of a relative, my mama and family were not celebrating it. So, we were invited to an aunts house to eat tarul. Another custom we follow is the lady of the house puts oil on the head of the other family members - just a drop of mustard oil as aashirwad. I was unaware of this custom as we don't follow it in Sikkim.

Another interesting thing we got to see this time was a procession of a different kind. It seems, on this day, the jyapu people get together and forms procession and goes around visiting temples in Kathmandu. Early in the morning at around 3am, I heard people from our tol or locality playing dholak/maadal waking and calling people. Soon groups of men and women, all wearing their traditional clothes gathered around. When everyone had gathered, they started moving on to the nearest temple which is right there at the chowk. They then move on to the next tol to visit the temple there and so on. They do this the entire day covering more than 300 temples in Kathmandu. And that's not all, they have to visit each temple 3 times.

Makar Sankranti processions

One day before I left for Ktm, me and my parents went to visit Pashupatinath temple. Now, we always make it a point to visit the temple within a few days of our visit, if not the very first day. But this time we just managed to make it on the last day. I love visiting the temple and this time I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in it. The area outside the temple was minus those thali vendors and biggest of all minus the beggars. The place looked so much spacious and clean and even the monkeys seemed much tamed! And we were not allowed to wear slippers! Until the last time I visited, people normally kept their shoes with the thali vendors and they instead gave you plastic slippers which you could wear and go inside the temple compound. This was no longer allowed which, in my opinion was just fine! One funny incident happened there. After the darshan, we approached the man distributing the holi water and when we moved away from him, he asked my dad in hindi bhaisaab kuch di jiye or something of that sort. Now, in many people's opinion, both my parents don't have the typical Nepali look and many think my dad looks like a North Indian. So my dad turned to this guy and asked in newari "and how much do you want?" You should have seen the man's face. Me and my mom were laughing so much. Poor guy was shocked to hear a madisey talk in newari leave alone nepali!

All these days, I had been trying to escape from my parents for a while and go visit Silky Moon. As you all know by now I had gone to visit her. Well, she had given me her phone no. long time ago and it was in my email. I had planned to pen it down from home in Sikkim before I left for Ktm. Unfortunately, my internet was not working and I was unable to visit any internet cafe. Same thing happened in Ktm too. Luckily I knew her workplace and my brother often does business with them so he knew where the place was. So I was hoping that someday I will just be able to get away with my brother and have him drop me there. Twice we managed to "escape" but unluckily were called back home for some or the other reason. My parents knew I wanted to visit this friend of mine, so having no option left, that day on the way back from the temple, I went to visit SM, taking along my parents. Yeah yeah Ricky, I can hear you snickering, but it wasn't so bad :P

I approached her workplace and asked the guard if I can meet Ms...... He asked me who I was, I was tempted to give my name as Colors, but then he looked serious kinds, so I told him I am .... from Sikkim. He called up SM ma'am and asked us to wait in the lounge. As we were browsing around the place, I was excited as ever....will she be surprised to see me, how will we react to each other, will she scold me for not contacting her earlier...all these thoughts were running in my mind, when I suddenly felt someone rush up to me and give me a huge hug. I was taken aback with surprise at such a warm welcome! How the next hour or so went by, is kinda hazy. I was so excited to meet her...this being my first time meeting a blog friend. It was also awkward coz we could only speak generally due to my parents presence. I had so much to ask and tell. I was feeling bad that it had to be like this but at the same time excited abt the whole aspect of meeting her. She remembered my love for momos and fed me with yummy paneer momos. I could feel that she wanted to offer me with her hospitality, had planned loads of stuff to do when we met, but due to my lack of time, I had to disappoint her. So many times she called me badmaash for not having met her earlier or atleast called her :P She truly is as genuine as reflected by her blog and posts. Warm and caring, that's the first thing you will notice about her. Even though we met for a very short time, I could feel very comfortable with her...as if this was not our first meeting, that we have known each other for a long time. Soon it was time for us to leave. She rushed off to somewhere and came back with a gift for me - a book, Journey to the Self by a Nepali author Luna Shrestha Thakur. I was touched by this gesture and we parted with a huge hug once again. As I left the place, I had a smile on my face and a warmth in my heart. Thats the way SM makes you feel by her sincerity and affection.

During the last days of my stay in Ktm, the Maoists had lifted the cease fire and a curfew was declared in the city on my last day from 11pm onwards. That evening, we went to the famous Nanglo restaurant for dinner. As we were walking in front of the restaurant, I saw a well dressed stylish young man and felt he looked familiar. Suddenly it struck me, it was Nima Rumba, Nepal's famous pop sensation! He was walking along with his friend and some young kids were calling his name and teasing him. Funny thing was that I hardly recognize any of the Nepali celebs. The only reason I recognized him was that one of my friend in Gangtok had shown me her picture with him when he had come to Gangtok recently. Due to the curfew, we were carrying just our wallets and had left our camera and cell phones at home. I wonder even if we did have a camera, would we have done anything, since we just looked at him and walked pass him without giving him any bhav. My brush with Nepali celebrity.

The next day we reached the airport well ahead of time. Like many flights that day, our flight to Bhadrapur (nearest Nepali airport from Sikkim) was delayed, but luckily it wasn't cancelled like many other domestic flights. Had that happened, we would have been left in the lurch with the all day curfew starting next day onwards. The aircraft was so tiny, it wasn't even funny. One seat on either side of the aisle and just a flimsy curtain separating the cockpit. The flight was not that scary or maybe I was so engrossed in the view outside that I didn't notice. The view was amazing as you can see Mt Everest and surrounding mountains.

From Bhadrapur, we took a taxi till Kakarbhitta which is the bordering town between Nepal and India. There our driver was waiting for us with the car. After some grocery shopping in Siliguri, we moved on and reached Gangtok in the evening.

Book read during this period...The Reading Group by Elizabeth Noble
Next...my last week in India

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Update time!

I know this is too late a post..considering that its been over a month since I came back from my trip back home. I know you are waiting for my Kathmandu trip post, but before I continue with my travelogue, let me update you with whats been happening at my end.

- Out of the five weekends since I came back, for two weekends, V came to meet me.

- For the first weekend, we saw Rang De Basanti and I loved the movie. Wanna see it again, but haven't yet got a chance.

- The next weekend he was here, we went to see Fight Club. The movie was pathetic. Since me and V are both fans of the Hollywood Fight Club, so we were expecting something nice (ya ya, even though it is a Bollywood remake). However, the highlight of the event was that the same evening, the theatre had premier show of the movie. We were completely unaware of the event and were wondering why they had displayed huge posters of the movie all over the theatre. We were standing on one of the posters stuck on the floor and I was commenting to V on how I don't like any of the men acting in the movie. Suddenly we heard some commotion near the entrance and I saw Sohail Khan and Ritesh Dekhmukh in person! They had come to attend the premier show! I was excited considering that it was my first Bollywood celebrity sighting! Since there was a some more time for our show to start, we decided to hang around and catch them when they come out. There were many more desis who apparently had the same thought. Me and V didn't wanna appear to be too obvious so we hung close by with a "don't care" attitude. However, I had asked V to be prepared to take out his cell phone and take pictures as soon as they exit (my hands were full with coke and nacho chips). After quite a long wait, the movie got over and the audience started pouring out....but there was no signs of the stars. There were people from local desi TV show interviewing people's reaction to the movie....and still no Sohail Khan! Soon a huge hefty bodyguard approached a group of excited teenage desi girls and told them no use waiting for them as they left long time ago through the back door! Poor girls were so disappointed. Whereas me and V went to our theatre, since the show was about to start. Now because of those actors coming here all the way and since we overheard few of the interviews, we were looking forward to a good movie...but unfortunately, like I said before, the movie turned out to be pathetic.

- One of the weekends I went to Washington DC to visit my aunt taking along all the "koseyli" (gift items) for her from my family back home. I was stuck there during the heavy snowstorm we had. DC saw about a foot of snow fall while some parts of NYC had more than 18". Anyway, since all the trains back to NYC were cancelled in the morning, I missed my work that Monday. I, however had a great time with my aunt and kid cousin snow tubing. We realised that with all three of us sitting in the tube together, makes it go much faster and hence much much more fun!

- The fourth weekend, I stayed back in NJ since my consulting firm was giving a party on their anniversary. It was a chance for me to wear one of my Indian dresses which I had shopped back home. The party was not as bad as I had expected plus the food was from my fav restaurant, so I had a good time.

- Last weekend, I decided to go to Pittsburgh to visit V. The same weekend, one of my friends wife and daughter were returning after having spent 4 months in India. So me and V decided to go to good old Columbus to meet them and the gang. I left early from work and took Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh. The journey must be less than 7hrs if you drive, but the bus schedule says it takes 8hrs but in reality it takes more than 9hrs. I reached Pitts at around 1am in the night. From there, we left for Columbus at around 2.30am in V's car. We reached Columbus at 8am Saturday morning. I was tired to death but had slept almost throughout the drive to Columbus. Now, in Columbus we know a lot of people since they are mostly colleagues from our old workplace. Strange thing is that in the last 2-3 months, the desi population grew considerably with more that 15 babies born and all of them being girls except maybe 2 or 3. So Saturday was spent on house calls to see some of the newborn babies. Saturday night my friends wife and daughter arrived and we spent a long time playing with her. She is not yet 2yrs old and the favourite among us all. Me and V were delighted to find out that she hadn't forgotten us and amazed to hear her talking. Having been in India for so long, she seemed to have picked up a lot of words..and even an aarti and a lori !! Come Sunday and after a late lunch me and V left for Pitts. We reached at around 9pm and my bus back to NY was at 11pm. I reached NY at 8am the next morning and came straight to work

Well, that was the weekends. Weekdays are as usual. Wake up in the morning, catch the bus, work whole day, catch the return bus, get home, have dinner, go to sleep. The only change was that last week I was on training the whole week. The only change was that I had to wake up still earlier to catch the earlier bus so that I reach work on time.....sigh!

Well guys....I hope this will be my last "late" post and that I shall improve in a few weeks :D Next post will be on my trip to Ktm. Sorry to disappoint you all, but I just couldn't write. So thought, maybe if I write something else, I'll get over the "don't feel like writing" feeling. I think its working ;-)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

City of Joy

Sorry guys for the delay in posting this. With my daily 4hrs commute and weekends with V, I hardly get time to do much.

Anyway, during the second week of my stay in India, I had to go to Calcutta for my Visa work. I went with my parents, my brother and a cousin. My brother, having studied there, loves the city. For me, I never had a great impression about the place. But this time, I have to admit, I loved it! I had fun shopping, enjoyed the crowd, the road conditions had improved considerably but of course the traffic experience was as harrowing as ever! While travelling around Sikkim, most of the times I had my heart in my mouth. I still shudder to think the way the drivers speed through narrow winding roads. Traffic in Calcutta was no less. I had been warned by many people who 'returned' to India on how they had reacted to the traffic there. However, in spite of being mentally prepared, the moment I was on the roads, I forgot everything and each time another car used to come close to our car, I had to take a sharp breath!

After the cold of Sikkim, the warm weather in Calcutta was a welcome break. I did loads of shopping from New Market to West Side to Shoppers Stop. I was delighted to see how the malls have evolved when I visited the City Centre Mall. But then again was disappointed with my once favorite Sriram Arcade. The ambience and quality of clothes had gegraded horribly! The Swabhumi Heritage Park, which demonstrates arts and crafts of various regions of India, was a treat. The way it had been setup is truly wonderful and I urge everyone in the city to visit it once. It reminded me of the American Native Indian's Cliff Dwellings that I had visited in Colarado. Another wonderful shop that I went to is Sasha. As they have aptly mentioned, it is a shop that offers craft for contemporary living. Though a bit steeply priced, the items they have are truly worth browsing as they have handicrafts from all over the world including India.

Foodwise too I had great time...from Bengali machli to tandoori chicken pizza at Pizza Hut...I had great food all the way with my brother acting as the guide to various authentic bengali food. We spent two days in Calcutta and from there we flew to Kathmandu.

Book read during this period...John Grisham's The Testament
Next...Kathmandu

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy V-Day!

Dear Friends,

Wish you all a very
HaPpY VaLeNtInE's DaY !!!

May all your days be filled with love of loved ones.

Love,
Colors :)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Home sweet, beautiful, peaceful Home

The initial week of my vacation went in a kinda daze. I suffered heavily from jetlag and used to wake up early and feel drowsy all day even though I slept quite late in the night.

I remember the 1st day at home, I woke up a bit after 3am. However much I tried, I couldn't get back to sleep. Finally about 4am or so I heard my Dad stirring. Soon he was in his office room fiddling with papers as usual. It was too cold to get out of the bed but too boring to lie down with eyes wide open. Finally I went to chitchat my Dad and when it was almost sunrise time, we went to the terrace to catch the early morning rays over the Kanchendzonga range.

Now, I must tell you, this must have been the first time that I ever watched the sunrise from my terrace. Normally I would have been fast asleep around this time. Maybe I did watch it once or so when a kid, but was too young to remember or to appreciate the beautiful experience.

The dark morning sky was clouded but luckily the mountain range was clear. Soon the sky turned brighter and we could see the orange haze touching the Kanchendzonga peak and gradually spreading downwards towards lower peaks until the entire range (i.e. whatever could be seen from my terrace) and the sky above it were flooded with bright golden orange color. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I felt ashamed to think that all these years I had never taken the effort to get up early and catch this splendid sight where as my dad does it almost every day.

The rest of the week was spent visiting relatives and doing a bit of shopping. I had forgotten how cold it gets in Sikkim. Even though the temperature was much higher than in New York, because the buildings are made of concrete with no central heating, I used to feel very cold. Most of the evenings when I was at home, I would be either in front of the heater and could not sleep without a hot water bag.

My brother had recently made a trip to West Sikkim on bike with his friends. He brought back with him memories of a place more beautiful than East Sikkim and had lots of amazing pictures to prove it. Me and my parents were enthused to make a 2-3 days trip to West Sikkim...but sadly due to lack of time we had to chuck the idea. One morning all of us went for a morning drive to the higher points in Gangtok...the 'view-points'. They are typical tourist spots providing beautiful view of Gangtok as well as the mountain range. I hadn't been there for quite a while and enjoyed doing the touristy thing, taking pictures with the lovely backdrop and all.

I had decided that while I am there, I would do my dental check-up. One fine day I took an appointment, but didn't go. Finally after New Year's day I went grudgingly. The dentist, as soon as she did my check-up started scolding me for taking so long to visit her. It seems three of my wisdom teeth were gonna trouble me and one had to be taken care urgently. I was called back the next day and off came my wisdom tooth. Wish it was a easy as it sounds here, but just to take out that single piece, it took her almost 4 hours. My entire day was spent there and in the end not only me but even she had to take some pain-killers before going to bed! After that I had to visit her almost everyday to have root canal treatment done to another tooth. I often joke that I spent more time with her than with my family.

Book read during this period... Memoirs of a Geisha
Next....The City of Joy

Friday, February 03, 2006

Homewards Bound

My trip back home was fun and eventful to say the least. Excited as I was to be going back home, my flight to India did manage to dampen my spirit a bit.

Me and V started for the airport with a good 4hrs buffer. But, proving Murphy's Law to be true, we got stuck in an awful jam. Thankfully with the help of friends we managed to find an alternate route but still managed to miss my flight. I was put in a later flight and I was worried I might miss the connecting flight from Paris. Of course the flight got further delayed and when I landed in Paris I was whisked off to another terminal only to be made standing in the queue for more than 1.5hrs. Luckily(?) my connecting flight was also delayed and I managed to catch it just in time. All my dreams of shopping for liquor chocolates in Paris airport duty free shops were smashed to pieces.

I heaved a sigh of relief when I landed in Delhi, but that too was cut short when I saw my name displayed asking if I could kindly see the Air France officials. No surprise, my baggage didn't make it to the connecting flight from Paris even if I did. They said my baggage would arrive the next evening. But I was leaving for Sikkim early morning next day so I had to arrange for them to send them directly to the Bagdogra airport. In a way I was relieved of not having to deal with customs any more. So off I went with my small carry-on luggage. As soon as I saw my parents all the woes and tiredness was forgotten. It was a happy Kodak moment. My parents were surprised to see me empty handed. Then another interesting incident happened. We went out to the parking looking for the taxi my parents had hired that day. As luck would have it, we couldn't find the car or the driver. We went around the parking lot for a good 1hr or so. Finally my dad found him waiting for us in the arrivals. Poor guy, cant blame him. There he was looking for 3 people loaded with huge bags and baggage and we passed by him with just a small suitcase! He couldn't recognize us!

The next day morning we were back at the airport for our flight to Bagdogra (West Bengal, closest airport to Sikkim) . The flight went uneventful and I got to enjoy the flight food complete with a little packet of pickle. When we landed we came to know the whole of West Bengal was on strike. As is normal, in such a situation Sikkim is completely cut off from the rest of the world. This posed a problem as my dad had to go to his office that day. He then booked us on a helicopter ride to Gangtok. Yippee! 3.5hrs of drive through twisting and turning mountain roads would be covered in just 20mins of flight time!

It was a small coptor with a capacity of 6+1 passengers. My parents made the 5th and 6th passenger and I happily sat besides the pilot to occupy the 7th seat. Wheee! I was the copilot!!! The pilot was a friendly Sardarji and I immediately started remembering Ricky :P

If I have been raving about the beauty of the nature of Sikkim, the view from the top tops it all! This was the first time I had viewed the area from that angle and I was awe-struck! The view was breathtaking! The pilot took us along the course of Teesta river. While near the Siliguri area, we got a glimpse of the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary. I craned my neck in hopes of seeing some wildlife but I guess they were all taking a nap.

Soon we approached the hilly regions. I was filled with sensation of wonder as I looked on towards the marvelous view. Sadly the Kanchendzonga range was covered with clouds, else the view would have been more spectacular. We were flying over the green Teesta river with Darjeeling hill on one side and Kalimpong on the other. The Teesta-Rangeet meet below us looked distinct with their characteristic difference in color, one being shades darker than the other.

We then entered Sikkim as we flew over the border town on Rangpo which is unique in itself as it lies half in Sikkim and half in West Bengal. It was delighting to fly over well known towns. I was surprised to know that Pakyong is so close by to Gangtok. I must have passed through Pakyong n no. of times during our trips to my grandparents. I remember it takes us almost 1.5hrs to reach from Gangtok but looking from above, it was just on the other side of Gangtok!

As we approached Gangtok, the first thing I saw was the prominent 'TV Tower' and below it my school. It wasn't difficult to locate my home as it is directly below my school.With glee I spotted other major landmarks in the town. We landed on the helipad and I thanked the pilot for the memorable trip. We made our way through the narrow winding roads towards our home where I was welcomed by a colorful poster with a huge sign saying "Welcome Home!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I AM BACK!!!

Yes!!! I am back from the most wonderful trip ever!!! 1 month is too short a time to visit your hometown! Anyway....had the most lovely time! I am still jet-lagged, so until I get my groove back, take a chill pill in this crazily warm winter weather and enjoy!!

Cya all soon!

P.S.-> Thanks for your constant visits and comments and wishes. They have not been wasted, unnoticed and unappreciated :-)