Life

Dear Life

When I was in school in one of my summer vacations I had traveled to North eastern states of India. Those were the days of no digital camera so no unlimited photos or videos, only camera we had then was with a roll of 36 photos and so photos had to be clicked carefully as each photo counted and finally after returning back from vacation when we developed the film some of the photos were still lost.and Memories had to be captured in mind than in camera back then.

Eventhough it has been almost 20 years since this vacation I can still close my eyes and see the breathtaking beautiful view from my hotel room of valley getting covered in fog, in few seconds the nearby houses suddenly disappeared from the site and it appeared as if we are in the clouds. Chilling cold at “Changu lake” (Glacial lake at 3,753 m or 12,313 ft) in summer month of May and June which made even getting down from the jeep difficult is something which cannot be forgotten. But how much ever try to recollect other events like exam scores of that same year, I don’t remember anything about that.

When I turn  back the pages of this book of life, Breathtaking view of “Niagara falls”, “Maid of the mist ride”,”Niagara fireworks at night”, “Harry Potter ride” at Universal studio, “Desert dune safari” in Dubai, first experience of walking in desert with feet sinking deep in sand,man made snow world in desert city, shimmering beauty of “Burj Khalifa” in Night, first toy train ride to Shimla, experience of chilling winter in Dalhousie wanting to  always stay in bed wrapped in blankets, “Wings of time” & “Gardens by bay ” night shows in Singapore, beauty of the “flower dome” and artificial waterfall and mist at “cloud forest dome”, first ropeway cable car ride at Darjeeling,walking in the forest at motor vehicle banned hill station of Matheran,  laser show at Hyderabad, view of Golden temple in the night  are all unforgettable with or without pictures to remember them.

Adventures like Horse riding at “Kufri” (highest point in Shimla), jet ski in “Diveagar” (small coastal town in Konkan region of India)  beach, Zip line at “Sentosa Island” (Singapore) which seemed very scary in the beginning and but later gave  immense happiness are some of memorable pages of life.

Taste of local delicacies like “Pandan Jelly” in Singapore, “Strawberry with cream” at Strawberry farms of Mahabaleshwar (Hill station in Maharashtra state of India), “Parathas” , “Makki roti” & “sarson ka saag” in Punjab, “Spicy french fries” in Miami were a treat to the taste buds.

Life is made of uncountable such memories, of the books we like to read, movies we watched, experience of cooking (or in my case making tea) for the first time, first time withdrawing cash from the bank, first time shopping using debit or credit card, travelling alone for the first time and many more such experiences which will never be forgotten.

Finally I would like to conclude with below quote

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
~Robert Breault

 

 

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Life

Love or Fear

I am religious minded person and a strong believer in God. Since childhood I have visited many pilgrimage places in India. Long time back when I was very young whenever we visited any famous pilgrimage on a usual day, I mean when there was no special festival we used to find very less crowd, no need to stand in queue and you can peacefully stand before the idol of God and say your prayers with no pushing around.

Nowadays the picture has changed famous pilgrimage places are always crowded, you have to wait minimum 1-2 hours in queue and if it is some special festival then it could be more than 12 hours in queue. Finally after a long wait and paining legs you only get few seconds to stand before the God that too with crowd behind trying to continuously pushing you away.No peace of mind or time to have a conversation with god.Ever thought what could be the reason behind this?

Are people becoming more and more devoted to God?Is this a positive sign? Or is it uncertainty and stress of modern life which is making people look for some kind of support? Are they looking for someone who will fulfill there wishes? or they are fearful of something bad might happen to them if they don’t do this? Are these really god loving people or are they God fearing people?

In this regard I read a article in newspaper, a religious minded elderly man in his seventies who had retired from his job few years back, had a sound health and financial status, who had everything to live a contented and peaceful life once visited an astrologer.  As he started the conversation he said that I have visited all the holy places of Saints in India, I have read their books multiple times, daily I spend about two hours reading holy books and about 1.5 hours doing Pooja (prayer ritual performed by Hindus of devotional worship to one or more deities).

However nowadays I am feeling bored of doing all these things but feel scared to stop also, if I stop reading a holy book of any particular saint will he/she get angry with me? will something bad happen to me?

To this the astrologer replied “No need to fear, God or Saint are compassionate and they never get angry, All saints preach the same thing that God is one and irrespective which form you worship him it reaches the same almighty. If somebody tells you to dig hundred feet well in a land to get water , but instead of digging a single well hundred foot deep if you dig hundred wells of one foot deep each will you get water? No right …. Only do whatever you can do with complete devotion and how much ever small that is it will reach God.”

In this life we all have to face ups and downs as per our karma of this life and past life even Gods when they took human form could not escape laws of Karma. Only reason behind praying is to reduce the intensity of bad events and to get the strength to face them, similarly removal of  obstacles if any in good things in life.

Lastly I would like to say that I do not wish to say that do not visit temples or read holy books or follow any other way I only wish to say that if it makes you happy by all means do it but do not let it become a burden and do it painfully. If I have knowingly or unknowingly hurt anybody’s religious sentiments in above article sincere apologies for the same.

Life

Adios 2017

As we are approaching the new year Eve most of us have started with our resolutions for new year. Just as I was preparing my own bucket list for the new year I looked back on my previous year and thought what did I do different this year and memories started flocking down

1.

Darr Ke Aage Jeet hain (Meaning: Victory lies ahead of fear)

I am not an adventure loving person, in fact I am scared of heights but this year I thought I am going to change this and so I tried jet ski, luge and skyline ride, segway and the most scariest and exciting of all zipline. Eventhough for initial few seconds these rides appear scary, latter once you get comfortable it becomes super exciting, fun filled and you end up experiencing some different kind of joy.
Next year I am planning to go for scuba diving.

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2.

Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Dalai Lama

Added one more stamp on to my passport, my third international trip to SouthEast Asia’s beautiful and expensive country Singapore.

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3.

 Reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.

I always loved reading and used to finish reading any book or novel which I could lay my hands on in a day, however in past few years I had become workaholic and lost in running behind illusions of career success. Finally I realised that I lost real happiness in pursuit of happiness, last year I returned back to my old hobby and read few of the classics like “Diary of young girl-Anne Frank”,”The fault in our Stars -John Green”, “A Christmas Carol- Charles Dickens”, “The boy in striped pyjamas-John Boyne” etc.

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There are countless such moments like getting up early on Monday morning and sitting before the laptop at 7:30 AM just to watch the “Game of thrones” season seven episodes as soon as they are aired in India. Watching some of best movies like “Shawshank Redemption”, “Last Vegas”, “The Bucket-list”, “The book thief”, “Forrest Gump”,”127 hours” “Finding Nemo” and TV serials like “Sillicon Valley”, “This is US”, “Modern Family” etc

Finally I would like to conclude this article with a thought

It is not the years in your life but the life in your years that counts

Wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New year!!!!!!

Life

Looking back on Life

Two years ago on this day I went on my first solo trip to USA, not for a vacation of few days but to settle for a few months and create my own world in this other side of the world…….

This was the longest and the most tiring travel of my life, total 30 hours of journey with two layovers of five hours each and three flights one of which was 14.5 hours long, this was my first experience of jet lag also which made first week worse…

In past I had rejected few good job offers because I could not muster the courage to relocate to another city which was 3-4 hours drive from my home and now I had come to a place from where going back was not an option.

Spent all my life in crowded city of Mumbai, seeing deserted roads with nobody walking around, from overflowing public transport to being only passenger getting into the bus at 7 am in the morning, finding my own way to reach a place using Google maps because there was no one to ask for directions on the road slowly got used to new way of life.

My long cherished dream of living in a Duplex house which would have always remained a dream in Mumbai was fulfilled in this city. Living with strangers in a shared two bedroom apartment , not used to much of household work had to spend my Sundays in cleaning, laundry, ironing of clothes, grocery shopping etc. Learnt to cook a few dishes like Rice paratha from my roommate and also made a few experimental dishes on my own.

Being junk and oily food lover ate a ton of spicy french fries from the FIU campus, also tasted different cuisines like Taco and Nachos from Taco Bell and Chipotle, Veg Burger and Onion Rings from Burger king, Yuca fries from Pollo Tropical, Falafel and many other vegetarian options available. Also had a taste of Margarita after which for about half an hour even walking few steps was difficult for me.

Initially even a small thing worth $2 seemed expensive to me as I used to multiply each amount by 65 to calculate the approx price in Indian rupees, slowly this calculation stopped and I started shopping on almost every weekend created my own collection of brands like Calvin Klein, Steve Madden, Kenneth Cole, Forever 21 etc.

Being a travel lover brought last minute flight tickets on weekends to see some of the major attractions like Niagara falls, New York city, Washington DC monuments, Las Vegas strip, Grand Canyon and Hollywood.

I also had some low points in this short stay of six months experienced dirty politics, humiliation, betrayal, shocking moment of seeing a bill for credit card which I never had, knowing that a big fraud had been done against me by someone I trusted considered a friend, twice about to become homeless and had to stay in hotel. Inspite of all these negative experiences this trip has given me some beautiful memories and most importantly courage and confidence to live alone.

I would like to conclude this with below quote I had read somewhere…….

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.

Life

Flavors of India

As a inherent foodie I am firm believer in the saying “The way to a man’s heart passes through his stomach“.

I am a travel lover and have travelled a lot since childhood tasted different kinds of cuisine from different states of India. However after long vacations when I used to return home the simple “Daal-Chawal” or as we call it in Marathi “Varan-Bhaat” (Rice with lentil curry) with small amount of pickle at home used to taste heavenly.

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When it comes to food I am not really a health conscious person and love oily,junk or spicy food very much. In my journey throughout India I came to know that each state has it specialities which you should not miss on also alongwith that you should know which food not to order at which place.

Like if you are travelling in South India don’t forget to taste varieties of “Dosas” ( a pancake made from rice flour and ground pulses), “Idlis” (steamed cake of rice, usually served with sambhar), “Medu Vadas” ( a savoury fried snack made from black lentil or urad dal) alongwith the the tasty “Chutneys” and “Sambhars” (spicy lentil curry).

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Similarly if you are travelling in Northern states like Punjab or Himachal don’t forget to taste the “Parathas” (Indian Flatbread) with different kind of stuffings like Aloo (Potato), Gobi (Cauliflower) or even Cheese served hot and  topped with a chunk of butter. Along with that don’t forget to taste “Makai roti” (bread of maize) and “Sarso Saag” (cooked mustard leaves) These are Seasonal available only in winter , I only tasted it once but still miss the taste. Sweet or salted “Lassi” (Yogurt based drink) to quench your thirst.

If you happen to travel through Maharashtra or specially Mumbai do not miss the “Wada-pav” (a deep fried potato dumpling placed inside a bread bun), “Misal pav” (a spicy curry usually made of sprouted moth beans with bread bun) or if you have a sweet tooth then you can try “Puran Poli “( Indian sweet flatbread)

Likewise each state or region has its own specialties which have evolved over a period of time and more suitable to weather of that place. Nowadays in most of the cities all kinds of food are available all over India but in my opinion if you want to have the real taste then its best at the place of origin. Also nowadays Indian Chinese is gaining popularity allover India. Hakka or Schezwan Noodles or Rice, Manchurian and Manchow soups can make anybody’s mouth water.

One article would be too small to cover even the major cuisines in India so I have covered only some of my favourites in my next article I will write about the cuisines I tried out side India.

Life

God is watching

Few years back I saw a movie “Anjaana-Anjaani” (meaning Strangers) in which two strangers meet each other just few days before New years eve while trying  to commit suicide, they decide to fulfill their last wishes and then commit suicide together on New years eve. In this journey of few days they fall in love with each other and finally they jump off the bridge in water but are saved by rescue team and two years later get married.

This movie had a very beautiful song which anytime you hear when you are feeling low or demotivated gives you a feeling of comfort as if someone is always with protecting you, helping you with your burdens. Sharing it below with meaning in english

Dhundhla jaayein jo manzilein
Ik pal ko tu nazar jhuka
Jhuk jaaye sar jahan wahin
Milta hai rab ka raasta

When your destinations become hazy
Look down for a minute
Wherever your head bows down
That is the road to god

Teri kismat tu badal de
Rakh himmat bas chal de
Tere saathi mere kadmon ke hain nishaan
Tu na jaane aas pass hai khuda

You change your destiny
Move ahead with courage
My footprints are with you
You are not aware but God is with you

Khud pe daal tu nazar, Haalaton se haar kar
Kahaan chala re
Haath ki lakeer ko, Modta marodta,
Hai hausla re
Toh khud tere khwabon ke rang mein
Tu apne jahan ko bhi rang de

Look at yourself, Defeated by circumstances where are you heading to..
Even lines of the palm are turned and twisted by courage
Color this world in the color of your dreams

Ke chalta hoon main tere sang mein
Ho shaam bhi toh kya
Jab hoga andhera
Tab paayega dar mera
Uss dar pe phir hogi teri subah
Tu na jaane aas pass hai khuda

I am always with you
Even if it is evening (dark)
Whenever it is dark
You will find my door
On that door will be your morning (start of new day)
Your are not aware God is around you

Mitt jaate hain sabke nishaan
Bas ek woh mitt ta nahin haye
Maan le jo har mushkil ko marzi meri haye

Everybody’s marks are erased
Only one who does not get erased is
One who considers each difficulty as my wish

Ho humsafar na tera jab koi
Tu ho jahan rahunga main wahi
Tujhse kabhi na ik pal bhi main judaa
Tu na jaane aas pass hai khuda,

Whenever you have no companion
I am there with you
I will not leave you even for a single moment
You are not aware God is around you

Life

Karma

Sometime back I read a story of two friends, one was pious individual, strong believer in God, who used to daily pray and visit temples. Second one was alcholic and never said any prayers or went to any temple.

One day while the first one was returning from a temple he stumbled on a stone and fell down and sustained a severe head injury. On the same day while the alcoholic was returning back home he found a Rs 100 note on the road.

Next day when they met each other, they both shared their experiences with each other. Alcoholic said to his friend see you pray daily stay away from all vices still you got hurt and I spend my day drinking and do not pray at all still I got Rs100 note So how do you explain this why did your God do this to you?

First one says let us go to a astrologer he may be able to answer this. So both of them go to an astrologer who draws their kundali (horoscope) based on their date and time of birth and says to the first one yesterday was your doom day, as per the horoscope you could have had life threatening accident but since you survived with only head injury you are really lucky. Your good karma of years has saved you.

Then he turns to other one and says as per your horoscope you were supposed to receive millions of rupees but you only got 100 rupees this is the result of your bad karmas.

In life we see multiple time good people unnecessarily suffering whereas evil people growing their wealth and fame and wonder why is God doing this but sooner or later everyone has to face their karma. We will all get punished for our bad deeds and rewarded for good one. Remember God is watching…..

Life

Tu na jaane aas pass hain khuda (You are not aware, God is around you)

Everytime I went for appearing an examination, before leaving from the house I used to bow down before God and pray for success in exams, many of you must have done the same thing. Before any important event in life we pray to God and seek is blessings. Ever thought why do we do this?

If I have studied hard and prepared very thoroughly am I going to fail if I don’t bow to good ? or the other way round if I have not studied properly, Is God going to suddenly put the answers in my head? no right……. Then what is need to pray?

I once read the answer to this question somewhere, eventhough I am well prepared, while traveling from home to examination centre anything can happen, I may have accident or may get stuck in traffic and may not be able to reach in time or there might be issues with public transport like  strike of drivers etc which might make my reaching there difficult. There are things beyond your control which may disrupt your plans in life to save yourself from such things you pray.

Prayer also gives you peace of mind and helps you improve your concentration which in turn helps you to remember what you have read or studied.

Sometimes inspite of knowing the answers we make silly mistakes or mind becomes blank and we cannot write anything, like once while solving a sum I did not read the question properly and read the coordinates of point as (0,2) instead of (2,2) and went ahead with my calculation after spending an hour in calculation looking at final answer I realised that I have gone wrong somewhere , I checked my calculations again and again but could not find my mistake …..

One and half hour had already passed, half the time of exam and I was struggling with only one question and that too the answer was coming wrong. My hands started trembling, my mind become blank for few minutes I just sat down thinking what to do ? Somehow I got my mental strength and for time being left that question and solved some other question, still I had only attempted questions of 32 marks, passing marks being 40 and less than half hour was left for paper to end.I was doomed to fail in that exam, but something inside me said use whatever time you have don’t give up. As I was trying to find  next easy question to answer I realised my mistake of taking wrong coordinates in the first one and  quickly corrected the same.

Inspite of knowing the answer I had done a silly mistake because of which I panicked, my hands started trembling and my mind went blank. Had I not been able to gather my courage at that time and regain my mental composure in exam, I would not have been even able to attempt other question and would have surely failed.

So just studying and thorough preparation is not enough maintaining your mental composure inspite of anything that goes wrong is equally important for success in exam of life and prayer helps you with that, it gives you a feeling that somebody is always there with you, support you in your low times and you feel as if you are never alone.

Life

Make right choices

In past few months I watched a couple of shows on Indian Television and observed that most of the story lines have one central character mostly female who is very good at heart, nice person with strong moral values,who never does anything wrong or bad with anyone and then there is another negative character who finds ways to trouble or harm this person, but still the good person keeps on tolerating all this and never even raises voice and even if the other person is caught while doing wrong to the first person, the first person immediately forgives and gives him another chance and things continue.  Inherently all the television shows are battle between good and evil wherein after thousands of episodes finally good wins and audience feel happy.

But if we closely look at how these shows are portraying the thoughts, the values of Indian women it feels really sad. Do women really still think that way ? Does being a good person means you have to constantly tolerate all injustice without raising your voice or even feeling bad? Do good people never even get angry?

In one such shows husband is cheating on his wife with one of his colleague who is only after him for money. One fine day he  throws his wife out of home and asks his girlfriend to stay with him. Not only this he finds opportunities to humiliate his wife in front of people.What wife does in such situation????? Instead of taking any legal aid or contacting any NGOs which assist women in need, She says only that girl is culprit, my husband was very nice with me before she came into his life and he really loves me. After repeated insults also she does not understand that her husband is equally wrong, she goes and cleans the household when no-one is inside and takes care of her husband when he is sick. Is this being good or foolish? What are such shows trying to show people even if someone treats you like doormat keep on caring for him and allow him to mistreat you and justify it to you saying he is not bad and loves me very much….

Another show shows a girl praying to goddess and a guy comes and starts beating her from behind with stick, but she does not even notice it as goddess protects her. I am strong believer in god but also believe that “God helps those who help themselves“. If you look closely at idols of Hindu goddesses most of them are shown killing demons, stepping on them. So even god does not ask you to keep on tolerating violence or injustice but teaches to fight against evil forces. Then why can’t we show that  from her devotion she gains strength to fight the evil and strikes him back.

There are many such example of struggle between good or bad in TV shows which portray one character as 100% good and another as 100% bad. But in real world people are not 100% good or bad but a lot of shades in between that. When will these TV shows start portraying more realistic characters ? Create a real picture of 21st century woman who has proved herself equal to men, who may be loving, caring and dedicated to her husband and family but also expects the samething in return from others, does not only keep on giving and giving and giving, but also expects acknowledgement, support and respect from others.

On this whole background it is noteworthy to hear the thoughts of George R. R. Martin writer of best-selling international series of novels A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the critically acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones who says that nobody is inherently good or evil, but in the mind of each person there is constant battle between good and bad and its only matter of making right choices.

Life

Beware – Crime knocks at your door

Sometime back while watching television I saw few episodes of shows like “Savdhaan India” ,”Crime patrol” etc which deal with real life shocking crime stories. In many of these cases the criminal was someone very close to the victim maybe a relative or a very trusted friend. Also crime before it occurs leaves lot of signs on the way but the victim fails to notice and save himself. I always used to wander how do the victims trust someone so much miss few suspicious activities of the criminal? Why don’t they see anything wrong? until I become a victim myself.

About a year back I travelled to USA for work and stayed their for few months.I found an ad for roommate on internet and went to see the place with my colleague. I liked the place and moved in quickly, it was a two bedroom house and I had rented one of the bedrooms.

My roommate was nice and very friendly who used to guide me about how take care of myself while in USA. She told me things like anytime you feel that you are unsafe or you face any other issue call 911 and you will get help.On my first travel she came till bus stop and saw that I boarded the right bus and also requested the driver to let me know when my stop comes. Being a vegetarian and not very good cook myself  she sometimes cooked food for both of us. Whenever I used to feel low due to some issues in office she used to console and provide me the moral support. She also warned me about scams wherein people call you and pretending to be police ask about your SSN and say that there is arrest warrant or some fraud in your name and if you do not pay money to them you will be arrested. She told me never to share any information over such calls and not worry about the same also.

In few months she became a good friend and trusted support to me. In short she used to say that I am like her elder sister to her. Lease for that house was till April end and she was planning to travel back to India in first or second week of May so I would have to find a new accommodation by then.

Somewhere after mid February she told me that since the lease is about to end property manager might come any time to check so be careful and since our names are not on lease we may land in trouble, so next month onwards do not go near the mailbox. I will go get the letters when no one else is around and give you your letters. Possiblity of someone catching us while checking mailbox seemed very remote to me, anyways I did not suspect anything major or serious in this so just left this as it is. She used to get everybody’s letters and hand it over.

Things continued happily between us untill last week of lease came and I was not able to find any accommodation for myself. I had posted ad for roommate on Craiglist and sulekha.com for room. My roommate and friend left the house one week earlier for a vacation with friends. Last two days were left in house and still I had no where to go…

And suddenly one morning I got a call from a credit card company saying that you have an outstanding due of around huge amount. I told them I do not have the credit card of that company so no question of dues. Person on the phone asked for last four digits of my SSN. This added to my suspicion that this is some crook who has got my number from ad I posted on internet so I told her I cannot share any details with you, she gave me her customer care no and asked to call for any further details that I needed and disconnected the call.

I was about to ignore this and go on with my usual routine but suddenly somehow I felt let me check the mailbox once that I am about to leave this place in two days better collects letters if any before leaving. I was in for big shock when I saw the mailbox their was a credit card bill lying in my name in the box for a credit card which I never had ……

Now I realised that the call was not a scam I was cheated, I am a victim of financial fraud…..I called the credit card company back and informed about the fraud they verified my details and the address and SSN matched, however emailid was slightly different from my emailid which is why I never got any emails. I came to know that fraud card was applied in month of February and was shipped to my address only so there was no way it was received by outsider. Card was blocked and financial enquiry was initiated.

I was heartbroken, some incidents of past few months flashed before my eyes I was going to apply for credit card from this company but my roommate advised me not to as they charge high APR and have many hidden charges, not to check the mailbox so that I don’t get any bills or any other communication regarding this card. She had no closet so asked for sharing my closet which was good excuse for her to come to my room even when I was not present and access my documents. I was backstabbed by someone whom I trusted more than myself, it was hard to believe.

Angry and hurt I called her and told her about the fraud her reaction was even more shocking she said such wrong charges are credit card companies mistake nothing serious she tried to make me feel that I am wrong in suspecting and pretended to be hurt by my behaviour. I said I am calling the police let them find out the truth and disconnected. After that she and her friends started calling me repeatedly trying persuade me from calling the police using the excuse that I am staying in house lease for which is not in my name so we all will land in trouble. Credit card fraud has nothing to do with lease this was case of identity theft but she was using an excuse to stop me from going to police this added to my suspicion.

I logged a police complaint however did not let her know thinking she may try to destroy the evidence. Year has passed I did not hear anything from credit card company or police. Criminal is roaming free, enjoying her life and I am still under mental trauma and have lost trust on people…..☹️☹️

I would like to urge everyone reading this article to be very careful when dealing with people and trusting someone and know when crime knocks at your door and save yourself.