It started with a sumptuous breakfast – Pongal, Vadai, Sambar. We prepared Puliyodharai, Thayir saadham, Potato Fry (nothing can beat this combo) and packed it for lunch/supper and headed to Duluth, a scenic place in MN. Before leaving to Duluth, we had a small photo session – What’s in a trip without photo sessions and that too with different brand SLR in the hands of guys? On the way we picked up some beverages (‘A’ called it as ‘drinks’ always – more on this on day 3 & 4) – The ‘Starbucks’ lady gave us one triple cappuccino instead of 3 cappuccino [Ok, nothing significant here but I wrote this in a flow]. We stopped by the Visitor center on the way and we could be the only group who can take 50+ photos in a Visitor center – Thanks to Nikon and Canon SLR camera makers and credit to those budding photographer friends S, N & Sh Me & A took the ‘posers’ role If there’s a photographer, there should be a poser, right?
From the visitor center, we went to Aerial lift bridge and Canal park. I loved the shores and the rocks. It was packed with people. We thought of playing frisbee but it got dark and cold and had to park that plan for some other day. While S, N & Sh were busy taking photos of nature, flowers and birds, me & A took rest in the bench enjoying the scenic beauty from there. We saw the Aerial lift bridge but not the view of it opening when ships pass which is one of the landmarks of MN. Then we ate the food that we had packed. From there, we went through the north shore scenic drive – It would have been more beautiful if it had been fall time but it was still good when we drove. It was very dark by the time we completed the drive and reached the Gooseberry falls. We discussed whether it was worth visiting the falls during that night-time while it was dark. There were different levels of falls – Upper, Middle and lower. After few minutes of discussion, since we were already there, we thought of just glancing it and walked in the dark to see the falls.
After that, it was a drive to WI then…
Wisconsin Dells – America’s largest water theme park – the next day’s coverage – For a hydrophobic person like me, was it fun or phobic? Day 3 will tell you…Stay tuned.
Visiting all states in USA is one of the items in my bucket list. It’s going to take a while to make it happen but I hope I can do it. This time it’s midwest coverage. Excitement factor of trips, visiting friends used to creep in sometime before boarding the plane. Ditto, this time as well.
Day 1 – MN:
Minnesota – City of 1000 lakes – It started there. I was the last one to arrive at the airport and N, A, S and Sh came to pick me up. I was hoping for a tiffin box full of food to be offered to me in the car while we headed to N’s home. They were giving me hints of what they ate and what will be offered to me for dinner – I knew all that was a lie. Truth turned out to be a ‘Saravana Bhavan’ special consisting of Dosa, Adai, Pudhina Chutney, Tomato Chutney made by N – In addition to it, N and S made fresh musk melon and water melon juices and served those past midnight [Sema Saapadu...burps... ] Then the award ceremony started – Who’s got gifts for whom? One of them took the vocation of a photographer while I got my share of gift – Aha…this B’day became a B’day of watches. Now, I have the privilege of wearing different watch every day of the week – Different straps, dials, colors, shades, pattern, brands. I gave the cards that I made for A/S and N. I started talking to Sh about his MS coursework, classes, credits, professors [See ya...it's student student conversation] Heard from N that Sh pulled a full nighter before he came to MN. I thought to myself: It’s not far for me…Classes are nearing. We all spoke for some time and went to sleep after discussing the next day’s menu and logistics.
Day 2 to follow…
It was a trip planned well in advance. It was a trip that was due for a year, waiting for the cute twins grow and giving adequate private time for my friends to enjoy the parenthood and the new experience. Few days before the trip, I told my colleague friend M about the Seattle trip. M, who shuttles between Seattle and Colorado Springs often, told “Say my hi to the pilot” and giggles followed The GPS struggled to work on my way to Denver but some luck showered in the form of my driving skills and the driving directions memory that I held hitherto.
The sleep cycles after the India trip was a deviant that continued even ‘in the air’. I had the Infinithoughts magazine on my handbag that gave me company through out. It was the first time after so many years I finished reading the magazine in one sitting. There was an argument between the airline crew and a lady who boarded. Due to a delay in the previous flight, this lady has gotten into this connecting flight at the last minute where as her boss had missed. The argument continued for a while until the crew member had to discuss about the laws and regulations. I got reminded of actress Sneha who comes in a guest appearance as the Senior airline crew member in the latest movie OKOK – The nuisance in the movie scenes was probably in line with this actual and thats why I gotten Sneha in my mind at that point of time.
While we disembarked the plane, saw most of the people taking their jackets and wearing it. I too picked up my jacket and wore it. Seattle weather can be gloomy all the time. I remember my colleague friend M telling me the correlation of percentage inclination of suicides and weather. AP came to pick me up and we talked about work, Colorado, songs, movies, personal things etc. There was a group of friends at his place and we had dinner and ended up chatting till 2 AM in the morning. S was asking about my India trip and other personal plans. The twins were happily sleeping in their places and we did not disturb them.Is this what is called ‘Sleepless in Seattle?’
The next afternoon was the B’day party. In the morning, AP’s mom, sis and I were chatting for a while talking about good old stories and how me and his sis used to play teacher games Getting the Y & Y twins ready was not an easy task. The tikes that I had gifted was a hit – the twins and all those kids who came to their place wanted to ride on that. Loved the kids dresses – the boY with a cute coat suit and the girlY with a cute little pink frock and a flowery headband was a delight to watch. The next set of dresses – a girlY chudidhar with a dupatta for a one year old? (wonder how they design such cute dresses for the little ones) and the ‘cool dude’ dress of boY also suited them well that we couldn’t get the eyes off of them. Snaps were clicked continuously.
Though I am not used to long earrings, with S’s request, wore one. I looked different to myself The bright colored dress was another thing that was a new attempt from me. The new attempts bore its fruit of satisfaction revealed from the snaps that I saw later. The party place was filled with friends of AP & S. Loved the place which had a park and a lake around. We took a stroll to the lakeside and took few pictures. Then some group snaps followed. The lunch dishes were good and we packed the left overs for dinner. While getting into the car, A came and showed me a photo asking “Why are you not having a Bindi in this photo?”. I said “Ha ha…it’s not me”. The girl in the photo was a look-alike of me and hence the question. I then enquired who that was and since it was AP/S’s friend SC’s sister, I have started calling SC as ‘enga Anna SC’
We had some games in the evening at AP/S’s place and dinner at their friend’s place. There was a game to tell in one line about each of them present there. They asked me to tell about S and after few mins of thoughts I said “Friendly”. I could have come with a better word because I meant to say something more than that. Anyways, my turn was over. S was asked to tell about me and she said “Samaritan”. M said “I have read the word in books but don’t know the complete meaning of it”. I was in the same boat as M but I thought it was to refer a person who lends a helping hand. My vocab is limited that way. When S detailed it, I didn’t know how to react but smiled and felt very happy inside
Dinner time was fun at their friend’s place. We were taken an inside tour of the house by A. Liked the way they have kept things, modelled and adorned the house. We had home made dinner, party left overs, pizzas. Before a game of poker was started, we requested AP and his brother-in-law, a talented vocalist and guitarist to play Guitar and sing songs of “Engal choice” [the songs that were chosen from all of us]. Songs ranged from Ilayaraja’s “Madai Thirandhu” to Harris Jeyaraj’s “Nenjukkul Peidhidum”. Banters were there in between the musical show Kids were engrossed in Wii games. The game of Poker was detailed to some of us who were new to it. I watched the game most of the time rather than taking the role of a player. Time flew and it was well past midnight. Then, to bed.
GirlY refused to come to me most of the times but boY did not. Sat besides them and saw them playing. Took pictures with them in AP’s friend N’s place. I knew N from the school days. I was teasing N and AP on how those school days they waited at the bus stop to sight a girl of my class, whom they liked We had a surprise baby shower for AP’s sis and then lunch at N’s place. We had a ‘in and around’ house tour there also
Left to the airport there after. AP & S came to drop me off. On the way I was thinking of the hand written card that they gave. I’ve clipped it on my bedroom now. It means a lot to me as it referred how much I mean to them. Their gift to me reached a week later – it was a very funny desktop organizer. I told S why I did not want to keep that in my work place. If I keep it, I’m sure every one who walks that side, will stop by and pass some comments.
Boarded the flight and with insufficient sleep for few days, thought of dozing off as soon as I get in. There was an old man sitting across my seat smiled and asked me “Are your parents from India?” I nodded and he said he want to talk to me. I did not know why until he came and sat next to me and told his details. He was a musician who had gone to various parts of India for his concerts. We started talking about various topics – India, Culture, Varanasi, Chennai, Carnatic Music, Brahmins, Religious gods, Marriage rituals, Dowry, Recipes etc., He said he loved Upma and Dosa with coconut chutney and sambar. He went into the details of “how to make Upma?” I told about my iota of knowledge on music and the carnatic classes that I had taken [not worth mentioning though ] We both did some thaalams, aadhi thaalams and talked about some raagas that I’m familiar with. Being at the rear end of the flight, the flight attendant kept smiling at me often seeing our conversation. The old man and I talked about Harappa, Mohenjadaro, Castes, religions, history, tamil linguistics, differences between Hindustani and Carnatic – Most of these topics which I am not knowledgeable enough, I felt bad for not knowing more about my country, history and ancient culture that he asked about. I shared the Dosa recipe with him. He showed me how he wrote his name in Hindi – It was crystal clear and correctly written. He asked me if I am in my 20s. I told that it was a decade before Good thoughts, happiness, peace can bring radiance in you making you look and feel younger
While we waited to pick our baggages from the side, he sang a carnatic song for me. I remembered my carnatic teacher and my ‘on the class’ experiences then. Back home then…
Every trip offers a different enriching experience. Many more to come…
Meeting ‘Ra’: Tried so much to meet ‘Ra’. I knew beforehand that it would be too difficult to get an appointment to meet him. So, I started my attempts to get an appointment few days after I booked the flight tickets to India. After many attempts, I got an appointment. G was the one who was in constant touch with me to get that appointment. I was a bit anxious and many things were running in my mind like what to talk, do I need to write a set of questions that I can ask him when I meet, will he accept the personalized gift of Inspiration that I had got for him and the feedback on Frozen Thoughts (Infinithoughts now) that my friends had insisted me to give to him. The day came but the chance of meeting him did not happen. I was disappointed to miss it after giving so many attempts. I thought that the chances of meeting him would have been higher if I had been in Chennai and not in Madurai. But a sense of hope prevailed when G updated me that Ra may come to North America this year. Chances are there that me and my friends will meet him.
My ‘young’ buddy: 2-3 years after P was born, I held her in my arms. I was probably 10 years old that time. From that day till now, we are friends Now she’s in college and still remembers me and wishes on my Birthday every year and tries to meet me whenever I go to India. Without any notice, she stopped by, at our house one day. We did a ‘high five’ and started talking. Amidst her non-stop talking about college, friends, movies, studies and future plans, I got to talk for few minutes about US and higher studies here. With my more than one attempt on GRE, TOEFL and constant musings about higher studies I think I should become a ‘higher studies abroad’ consultant She insisted that I should have lunch with her sometime. I tried to make an awesome dosa for her which stuck midway. ‘Awesome’ turned to ‘terrible’…Seeing that, with giggles, she ran away
The Super Singer replica: G Aunty, who was our neighbor few years ago, called one day. She was excited to tell one thing – ‘You know what? Whenever the super singer junior Stefi comes to the daïs and sings, all of us at home get reminded of you. You looked the same when you were young’. I told her that my sis used to tell the same thing when Maestro’s daughter Bavadharini comes to stage. Ha ha…I know what they all mean…I wish they told that I sang like Stefi or Bavadharini
Eye care: The first time when I went with Amma, at the registration desk, they asked my age. When I told the age, the lady said that she couldn’t believe it and she thought I may be around 24. That’s when I realised the reason behind her eye glasses With my frequent visits to the eye hospital for Amma, all the sisters there connected to me very well. Every time I went, they talked to me nicely. One of them gave her contact # and asked me to be in touch. Another one told that she was very proud to see me taking care of my Amma like that. Ore fan following dhaan…:P
Mall in Madurai: It was ‘new’(s) to me when I heard that they have opened a new mall in Madurai. Maduraiyile mall-a? I wondered. Went there twice and picked up some new fashionable dresses. People were very courteous in the shops. Even on a Sunday, there were only few shopaholics. We went to food court to try few dishes. French fries for 57 rupees – Are you kidding me? Not like big malls in Chennai, but I feel that this itself is big for people in Madurai
Second Chennai Visit: The route from Madurai to Chennai – NH is great. There are toll roads, service areas, sign boards throughout which I thought was a real development from what I had seen earlier. We made some stops before reaching the Chennai city and visited some houses/apartments. We went to a township P.G. where all the apartments looked like palaces. Though I am not a big dreamer of lavish lifestyle or owning luxurious bungalows, my Appa said “This is where I think you should live”. I said “this is where I can live if I were a billionaire ” The sales manager’s native was Madurai and hence my family ended up talking for a while and had lunch with him.
After that, Appa, Amma and me went to the hotel talking about the horrible traffic in Chennai. We had wi-fi in the hotel and me and Appa used my iPad wisely. The next day, met B Aunty and her husband. We all had lunch together. She had bought some fancy jewelry for me as a token of her love and we talked about the initiatives that me and my friends had started. We talked about how we can provide education to some kids who cannot afford to get one and more on that front. After our lunch and back to hotel, my Amma and Appa said that the happiest couple that they have ever seen is B Aunty and her husband and they liked them. N’s Appa came to give her wedding invitations that I had assured to take it when I go back. My Appa and he talked about many things and I was listening. I wish I was there in Chennai for N’s wedding. But, there were lots of things to squeeze within few days of vacation.
Got the monthwise photos of my Nephew’s first year and loved it. Decided to pick a proper picture frame that can hold it. Then went to Grand sweets and picked up loads of items. With so much popularity of Express Mall, went there but returned empty-handed. Picked many books and DVDs for me and now my book shelf is overflowing (Padikromo illayo adikiruvomla ) The most surprising thing was without me telling that I was looking for Management/Business/Entrepreneurship books, my Appa was picking all those and giving it to me. My future plans are shaping well, I thought My Amma was giving a “What will she do with all these books?” look.
Met K & A, my previous company friends, for dinner. The ambience was great at AB and that was the first time I went to that restaurant. Casual talks about friends, family, life, personal things went on. Those canteen talks and breaks, birthday bashes, dance practices, cricket matches, organizing events, ‘what next’ talks, drop dead gorgeous following, Girls day outs – all those moments flashed – Golden period of my life. Very happy to be in touch with all of them and it was a pleasure to meet them after years, though the gang size has dwindled.
Most of my plans worked out with all those who I wished to meet (except Ra and college friends), what I wished to do and those that I wanted to eat (Mangoes, Butterscotch/Casatta ice creams, ‘Jayaram Bakery’ cakes in particular). Weeks went off in a jiffy.
Bye India and here I come, Colorado! There I was standing in the Chennai airport, waving bye to Appa and Amma.
- The End
Hello Chennai!: With Immigration formalities over, headed towards the baggage conveyor belt to pick the baggage. Someone standing there helped me. Got out and after a while, could see a head popping out and waving at me – Appa, it was. Could see Appa and Amma faces brighten as I went close by. With a few good behavioural attitudes that I picked up here from US, went far away to keep the cart in its place. I could feel the humidity and difference of weather but it was not bad for me. After refreshing, my parents thought I would sleep like Kumbakarnan but I was all enthusiastic about meeting cousins and eating Saravana Bhavan sambar vadai Met my cousin B and she was asking me about my Matrimonial alliance seeking experiences. There I was, revealing my experiences and threw in few words of wisdom – This chance does not come often and hence made better use of it We went to PVR Cinemas and met our another cousin A – From those early days, A and B used to share their thoughts with me ranging from college crushes to where to do MS, MBA topics. Though I am older than them, I’m always called by my name – no suffixes like akka is attached – not that I want it but I feel without it, they feel close in sharing anything that generally they would hesitate to, as far as I know. Aha, there I received the honorarium I hogged on any type of food that I saw – Chats, Icecreams, Coffee (I picked the habit as soon as I landed in Chennai…), South Indian dishes, but was very cautious in having drinking water from anywhere. Met K the next day and collected my official document and talked to her for a while in the office where I used to work before. 15-20 mins was not enough for us to share lots of things that we wanted to and hence we decided to meet again. Good amount of friends and memories that I possess in this building – Golden period, it was. On the way, I was telling my dad that Chennai had become like New York – All high-rise buildings, hoardings were new to me. Visa Interview was a cake walk and after that, headed back home.
Endrum Maaradha Madurai: Had been anxiously waiting for years to see this person in Madurai and the day had come. Without knowing how that experience is going to be, sitting in the car, I was closing down my eyelids slowly taking myself few years back in my life…
Amma shook me asking “Tea or Coffee?” and I asked “Are we there?”
Did I meet whom I was anxiously waiting to see? What happened then?
To be continued…
One of my school friends posted this on FB and it tickled my ‘Madurai’ memories. While in College, the one word that I used the most was ‘Alaparai’ and most of my friends used to tease me that my Madurai slang lacks respect in most words used [The blame is on the Madurai slang and not me ].
With only few days left to experience this slang live, in person, will I get a chance to use my slang there?
For those who are raising their collars and saying “Naan Madurai karan”/”Naan Madurai kaari”, here’s the special tribute:
[Madurai Tamil - English Translation]:
Marutha – Madurai
Varainga – Coming
Porainga – Going
Vandhutainga – They’ve come
Angittu – There
Ingittu – Here
Embuttu – How much?
Raavuran – He’s boring [We say 'Aruvai' also]
Vyakyanama Pesu – Speak properly
Pottai – Girl
Kundakku Mandakka – Irrelevant ['Parthiban-Vadivelu' comedy? ]
Patraya podu – Sit n Relax
Ngokka Makka – Collective term for cousin [This translation was the highlight ]
Kolaara poittu va – Take care
Semmennai – Kerosene
Imbuttukandi/Imbuttoondu – Very little
Vaiya Porainga – They’ll scold
Athukaandi dhaan – For that only
Idhukaandi dhaan – For this only
Kudikara mattai – Drunkard
Aataya podu – Steal
Yenneyn – Elder brother
Yekkah – Elder Sister
Podangoyale – Get out my way
Manda kanam – Head weight
Dubukku – Fool
Soliya Paaru – Mind your business
Landhu – Kidding
Alapparai – Fashionable
Alumbu – Showy
Elaraiya kootadhey – Don’t create a scene [:-)]
Aagatum/Aatum – Okay
Soodhanama iru – Be careful
Kaavali – Waste fellow
Kalavani – Thief
Vellaney – Early morning
Paiyyae – Slow
Osakka – Up
Saendhi – Loft
Yeni Maram – Ladder
Most of the movies that was shot in Madurai or that used the Madurai slang were blockbusters – This is why!
Source: Madurai Kusumbu
Catching a flight at the right time has become adventurous for me in the recent times. Though I had planned well and arrived earlier as I expected, with a ‘go-green’ paperless motive of not having a print out of the ticket, had a hard time to get the tickets from the kiosk. Had to run here and there trying different kiosks and later realized that there’s a system malfunction that prevented to print the boarding passes at that time. There was a big queue in the ticket counter and I was very much sure that I am going to miss the flight. With some unprecedented frame of luck, got into an extra service counter where I could collect the boarding pass. I could have used my iPhone to check in online and show the boarding pass but at times like this, my mind goes numb and I stay dumb
Got into the flight and was watching Jeff Smisek’s welcome message on the monitors and my business mind sprouted to think about the merger of airlines and how cost effectiveness would play a role there. It left me in a drowsy state and my subconscious mind woke me up for a cup of Orange juice from the air hostess. P came to pick me up from the airport and we spoke about weather, activities one can do in Bay area and around, traffic, universities, work culture, people, list of restaurants etc., Reached S’s house for whose baby shower I went to SFO. Had a nice lunch and spoke to S for some time. Went to R & D’s house from there which was 2 blocks away and chatted for a long time until SG called me to inform that her work was done. Me and N went to pick her from her place and once she came, the talks continued in R & D’s place – After a long time, had tasty Adai Aviyal. The place was exuberant with many friends coming in and the talking went on and on. Met lots of my ex-colleagues and memories got rewinded and refreshed. Small world After that, went to S’s place and started our arrangements and decorations for the next day’s baby shower event. N making rose milk for us at midnight and we cracking jokes for a while - It was total fun that continued till 1 AM.
Next day went in blowing balloons (hard to blow with your mouth as well the pump that you get in party stores), the rose decorations (the roses fell off 17 times out of the 18 times I tried ), helping the young ladies group in wearing sarees (self trumpet – I was considered an expert in wearing saree and compliments came from four corners – was flying high ); getting ready for the function (Paasakara nanbargal – Offered expensive jewels for me to wear). Once we went to the Clubhouse for the function, I felt as if I were in India – full of desi crowd with kids running here and there and I could hear Tamil everywhere. My face lit up with excitement when introduced to people who are from my native place Madurai. 7 types of variety rice, appetizers, sweets – What else do you need for a sumptuous lunch? Then photo sessions started. Me and SG asked P, whom we considered as a professional photographer, to take nice photos of us so that we can put it in Facebook and get more comments and likes – Jus kidding! Was super tired after the function but had plans to go to mall and the respite mood was procrastinated. Did some window shopping and me and SG picked some gift for S. After that, we had cake cutting where P had ordered a customized cake for the parents to be and he was explaining us the design that he ordered is not what he got. But still it was good. Had dinner with all of them and went to S’s place and dozed off while I was talking to SG about some personal stuff.
The day I had to leave went off with working for sometime, walking with S and SG in and around the apartment talking about various things and waving bye(s). Got new friends and the friends circle seem to be expanding with every trip. 3 days went in a jiffy but this trip was fun in its own way. 2 more trips in the planning stages and I feel that this year is marching faster…
Trips for this year has started and the first being a personal visit to NJ for Periappa Periamma’s sashtiapthapoorthi [60th wedding]. Few days before my trip, went to pick up gifts for them and for the friends whom I had planned to meet within that 2 day short weekend trip. Was totally tired when I boarded the flight and fell asleep. Woke up only when I heard “Thanks for flying with us today”. Nephew N1 had come along with uncle to pick me up from the airport. On seeing me, N1 got excited and shouted “Hey happy person!” [Not sure how this 'happy person' tag originated]. I smiled and he came close to me and said “You know what? I’ve score 100 in Maths”. I exchanged a hi-five with him and acknowledged his achievement with a ‘good job!’. Foodie me – hogged on 5 dosas for dinner
The day of function was welcomed by heavy snow. Poor me and my cousin – We had slippers on, due to the fact that we were wearing Saree. On the way to Pomona temple in NY, saw 5-6 cars stuck in snow, skidded on the highway in different directions. Somehow, we managed and reached the temple. During our travel to NJ, I was the chatterbox [for a change] talking a wide variety of topics including the daily activities, happenings, family politics, movies, food, friends etc. N1 and I played Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja in iPhone and he introduced me to few more games/apps that I’ve not heard of. Kids know more about iPhone and iPad than us. N2, who kept looking at me the day before and crying had stopped giving that alien look on me. Function went fine, took ashirvadham from P & P, had good food and took care of N2 when the function was going. There were 2 other kids who had come for the function and they kept coming to me and talked about their drawing competitions, iPhone games, school – Either I am a total vetti and kids come to me or I have the great knack of dealing well with kids
From temple, went home. There was a car waiting to pick me up at the door – My college friends had come already. Met my college roomie D after 9 years and my other friend R had come from Phily to meet us. D who has never drove in snow before, came to pick me while it was snowing. Lovely friends D had cooked many varieties – Idli, Chutney, Pulav, Chapathi, Gobi manchurian and I heard from R that she wanted to cook something else in addition to this. Sema saapadu After a sumptuous dinner, me, D and R chatted past midnight – I recollected the past memory of D keeping the pillows over me to clean her bed, while I was asleep and did not know that until final year of college. Idiye thalaiyile vizhundhalum engalukku theriyadhilla – Sound sleep All college memories, those silly love stories in college, how lives had changed – we talked about all these. Me and R introduced “Why this kolaveri di” song to D and teased her for not knowing this viral International song of the year 2011 and insisted her to be active on Social networks – Yaam petra inbam peruga ivvaiyagam!
Had breakfast the next day @ D’s place and left to Phily to meet my best friend M. I had told him that I’ll meet his daughter once she emerges into this world. Liked his message when she was born – He messaged “M(his daughter) says ‘Hello World’ ” [M, I'm going to copy this when I get a chance ]. Got to meet her after 10 days she came into this world. R’s friend picked us up and dropped me at Newark train station. I have not travelled much in trains since I live in COS, where public transport is not that common. Had to take 2 trains but it was not that difficult except for one thing that I had to confirm with someone that I’m on the right train. With iPhone’s battery issue where the charge gets dropped drastically, had to spend my time in train by listening to iPod songs. M picked me at Phily station and as always, we spoke lots of personal stuff and our opinions on certain aspects of life. Had a very tasty biryani and gobi 65 – Super lunch! Then, I held M in my hands for a while – She was sleeping most of the times but opened her eyes few times and saw – very tiny toes, fingers. Me, M and S (M’s wife) talked for a while and M started showing some trip photos and the photo shoot that M and S had the day before with their daughter. M loves photography which was evident from his photos. Loved every photo that he showed and the topic of talk came to how creative the wedding pictures are taken these days. With a huge smile I said, I’m not going to spend much on my wedding photos since I’ve already fixed the photographer and that’s you M! He acknowledged that he can do that I admire people who have artistic talents and S’s pencil sketch of M which was hanging on a frame enticed me a lot. Not everyone has such artistic talents, only few people are gifted with that. After a hot tea, left M’s place to cousin’s @ NJ.
N2 kept crying whenever he sees me. I had to play hide and seek – If he was in the hall, I had to run and go to the Guest room. I tried to cajole him by taking him for a walk, showing some things at home but nothing worked. The second para’s great knack of dealing with kids failed here Chatted for a while with cousin, P & P and went to bed.
And today I’m here writing this post revealing those memories and good days spent. With clocks ticking fast, another trip, another travelogue is around the corner…
Caution: A very long post! Read at your discretion
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. - Mark Twain
2011 – A most satisfying, gratifying year for me! If in my life history, I call 2006 as a golden year, 2011 stands very close to that too, in a number of ways. Struggles and hardships were there initially in the first half of the year. Instead of telling what struggles and hardships that I went through, I like to skim through the lessons that I’ve learnt:
1. Everyone has their own perspective on things. Don’t push it! Neither will they be happy, nor you will
2. People may do bad to you. You only have 2 choices – Either try to change them for good or leave them for good
3. You have to realize that people sometimes do bad things without knowing. Forgive them and move on
4. Happiness is a virtue. You should be a person to give it and not take it
5. Everything happens for a good reason. You will always be given the best but the best comes only after insurmountable hardships. Stand tall through the hardships and you’ll be shown that the result had always been targeted to be beautiful!
6. Things don’t happen as you wish always. Keep away the worries and expectations. You’ll encounter what bliss is, then!
7. Whenever you give something to the Universe, it gives the same back to you – Be it happiness, sorrow, hopes, struggles, joy, worries, respect, positivity, negativity – Law of Attraction!
8. Resolutions stay short. Habits stay longer
9. When you start comparing with others, you start living someone else’s life. Comparison and Jealousy will bring you down wherever and whatever you are, in life
10. Life is short. Do whatever you dream to do, no matter what hurdles come along
Looking back at this year from where I started and how I have ended has been a great ride in a journey called life. I was listening to Actress Trisha’s interview in 2010 and she said that she was a blessed child and she had never been through hardships and struggles as others. 2010 being one of the toughest years in my life, listening to these lines of Trisha, I felt so bad that why I had been subjected to so many struggles when someone else had never been? How does God decide that? That’s how my thought process was in 2010. But in 2011, for every hardship and struggle I went through, I raised back and stood tall and realized that I was the master of my fate and I was the captain of my soul. Some blessings this year came in disguise and some direct and open. Incredible thought process transformation and positive outlook shifts. Life had become beautiful and blissful, ever since then! Mindset, Mental toughness became the biggest strengths to see what it means to be a blessed person!
Introduced “Blounge”, Short story, “Sundays with Raji” this year. “Blounge” gave some great guest posts from friends and my blog followers. Short story brought different ideas and perspectives that one could have. “Sundays with Raji” became a favorite of many – Inspirational, Motivational, Positive vibrations, General perspective, Change in outlook – People tagged it with different names. Very happy that my life experiences in writing can make a positive difference in someone’s life. A blog post being selected for blogadda’s “Spicy Saturday Picks” [a biggest and widest blogging arena] has increased the interest towards blogging. My giving story on “Making a difference” got published in “The Alternative” but was not selected. Completed 4 years of blogging and adopted different styles. Overall, it was a great year of blogging!
The greatest energy, excitement and happiness came from India winning the world cup. That sense of excitement still stays in me, whenever I think about it. The screams, shouts, hand fists, hugs, uproars, upbeats and what nots? Will be treasured as a lifetime memory. Favoritism comes to Tennis after Cricket. After many years, watched US Open Tennis live on TV. Being a great fan of Nadal, watching him losing to Djokovic was not that easy. But “May the best wins” had to be agreed. The fan base of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic being very high, it’s very hard to determine who you will be a fan of, until you follow their technicalities, strategies and successes. Nadal’s “never give up” attitude and hard work shows why I’m a fan of him
Though gained the popularity of being a great Student at the Knewton’s GMAT classes and featured in their Spotlight series, did not take GMAT this year. Failed to appear for the exams due to unexpected health reasons – But this has never bogged me down. I’m a great dreamer and my dreams are still alive!
I did not believe in miracles until my faith and prayers showed me that Miracles do happen! The tiny twins Y & Y of my best friends A & S showed was a reason to have a different belief on Miracles. Best wishes and lots of happiness to them always…
Joy of Giving:
Water Charity. Mothers trust. CRY. Cancer Association – I wish the joy of giving does not end only with monetary contributions but extend in terms of time and efforts associated with it. Without friends and well wishers, would not have made my “Wish @ 30″ come true. Gratitude and Heartfelt thanks!!!
Joy of creating:
The biggest joy came in forming a team and creating 3 new avenues to do good – “Anushthanam” is what we named it. It’s in great shape with initial challenges. The 3 are – Vidhai (Getting practical education to rural area children); MAD (Making a difference – in bringing the possibility of being educated irrespective of monetary difficulties); MSS (My spare 2 share – Having unused items but can be given to those for whom it will be useful). Going to be a real challenge in the year to come to bring these 3 live in action
The best of the travel times embraced me this year. Been to CLE after 4 years and spending time with friends was enjoyable. Friends visiting me in Feb and in Sep – A different kind of enjoyment of just being at home and having fun. My first hiking and hitting the road (road trip) to Utah was a totally different experience with nature. Missed the Alaska Trip due to health reasons but enjoyed the time and efforts spent in travel plans. Alaskan Glacier, Wildlife, Aurora Borealis – Wait! You’ll meet me in the year to come! Trip to MA and NJ to visit my family – One of the best personal trips with times spent with my best friend M, nephews N1, N2 and R, family – dearest to me And the last trip of the year to CA – Best times unfolded with close friends
Health took a toll this year but made an incredible investment in restoring to a good health – Broke out all odds to bring up a habit of giving up on Coffee, eating at regular intervals, introducing 2 courses of fruits every day, being on top of using Perio, flossing and brushing to improve dental hygiene, spending efforts on skin and hair care – Hard work paid off well! Seeing a totally different me in myself! Very proud
Gifts & Celebrations:
Treasure Trove – Gifts kept coming this year till last week. Got my first gift for New Year 2012 as well Many surprising gifts and happy moments that will be cherished forever, came this year too. Not only I received gifts, made every effort to send gifts that every friend and immediate family of mine felt happy about. Every gift that was given and received was different and instilled an immense amount of happiness in me. Organized few celebrations – Sa’s Baby shower, Diwali Celebration @ workplace. Was a part of large number of celebrations in the later part of the year – Send off parties, B’day Celebrations, Casual Potlucks @ home and friend’s places, Christmas Celebration etc., Most enthusiastic moments of this year!
It was a year of giving, celebration, travel, enjoyment, health etc., Irrespective of initial hardships, struggles and difficulties, made every effort to make life enjoyable and happy as it comes. There were indirect messengers at different instances to show me what life is all about! Heartfelt wishes and thanks for everyone who was a part of making it happen! Blessed to have a great circle of friends and family who cared, shared and are longing to see me successful and happy in everything I take on! Absolutely a great feeling, when I look back and march towards a more challenging, more rewarding and wonderful 2012!!!
With all grills, frills, happiness and enjoyment of 2011 aside, wishing you all a happy, prosperous, peaceful, successful, healthy and wonderful 2012!
May life lets you write success stories and learnings from challenges
May you see your dreams come true!
May good times and great memories prevail!
May goodness exist within you!
May you be the reason for other people to smile!
May you flow with the flow and enjoy whatever you do!
May life show you what’s best!
May this year be the greatest as ever!
Had been busy with things but that did not keep me away from staying in touch with friends.
MI4: It’s been months since I saw an English movie in the theater until I went with friends to watch MI4 – Above all action, loved Burj scenes the most – Dubai has been added to my “list of places to visit before I die”
Get together @ SaNa’s: The first thing I did was to hold A in my hands. The tiny toes and fingers, a strange look at others but being chamarthu (good), A stayed calm in my hands for a while. Met Aunty B (not from Bachchan’s family ), Sa’s mom and spoke for about an hour about Vidhai and its proceedings. Aunty B’s story of Mother’s Trust was inspiring and the way she spoke to me was very encouraging. If any of you like to indulge yourselves in the joy of giving, please do check this out: http://www.themotherstrust.org/index.php Had an awesome dinner @ SaNa’s that day
Adieu(s): Is it a moving season? It started with V who took a next step in her profession, moved to another state.
Then, S and D moved to another state. S and D’s send off party was at a restaurant – People kalaichufied S to the core before he was surprised by a B’day cake @ 12. The day before S and D left, went to their apartment to say bye. S said “The next time I see you, you should be a step above”. I asked “Personal or Professional?”. Rendume, he said. I smiled [An easy way to make that moment pass]
The next big move was from M – Leaving to India for good [If Marriage is considered to be one...:P] M is someone who I admire so much in lots of things – The best being “the travel planner” – Her attention to details and the way she research and plan for trips – Par excellence! A habit that I would like to pick up. Send off dinner for M was at a restaurant that I suggested. Got a Cotton candy ice-cream cake to celebrate her to-be transformation from spinster-hood to marriage-hood. Did not realize the cake was meant for Children – We all had blue mouth after we ate it and we looked like ghosts Dropped M at the airport last weekend and wished her the best
N’s B’day party: It was a surprise for N as he entered G and D’s apartment. N felt shy seeing group of people around and left the place. G had to run and bring N back in. D is one of the best cooks whose food I have had a chance to taste. Another best thing about D is her decorations, an artistic talent that’s a god’s gift. As a token of appreciation, N took us all to dinner 2 days after. How many dinners outside in a week? Hmmm…
Xmas Party: My first Xmas Party here. Pleased with T and B’s invitation to their place for the party. Did not know about Mistletoe and its significance until I heard about “Kissing under the Mistletoe” belief from T. Good that I entered alone If any of you are wondering what’s mistletoe all about? Read it here: http://www.theholidayspot.com/christmas/history/mistletoe.htm.
There was an Ornament exchange game during the party. Bought a small rock star guitar that had a knob that plays songs when clicked. What a coincidence – G, who plays Guitar got that during the game and he was very happy to receive it. We played Pictionary and “Best & funny moments”. Couldn’t think of any funny moment but had “India winning the World cup” as the best moment until M said it before it was my turn. Then, switched that best moment to one of my personal experiences
Dinner @ home: Invited K, N and M home for dinner last Saturday. Tried my hands in authentic South Indian Sweet and Kaara paniyarams – came out very well that N asked me for some more after it was over M and N said that my place looks like a Model house. I asked “Model house?” or “Model’s house?” And I remembered the incident that took place few months ago – the passport officer @ NJ asked me if I were a Model [Enna vachu comedy keemedy pannalaye Sir? ] – Not sure what made him ask so, but I took it as a compliment and moved on [Once in a lifetime opportunity to be called like that ] M, N and K were amazed by the # of gifts that were in display – I had to tell them how I love to surprise and be surprised. With my Jhunu (iPad) in the 360 degree rotating iPad stand, we watched few youtube videos – The best was this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StHkThA27-E [His wit, holding the guitar differently, tapping and the music - Created a middle eastern aura - Liked!] N, M and I played some tunes in my Guitar for a while. Anyone can play some tune and that’s the ease of a stringed instrument – anything you touch creates music but sometimes it may not be soothing to ears as those that were played by us
Compensating the series of gluttonic outside dinner experiences with daily intake of Green tea. Makes no sense?
Time to rest this body and mind. Good night for some and good day for some!