Heat Waves And Vacation Dreams

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If you go by the temperature in Delhi, we are all going to be fried like eggs in no time. It’s literally 49 degree Celsius out there and if god forbid you sit in your car which was parked in the sunlight then god save you.

I literally felt like my skin was blistering this morning. I opened all windows and switched on the a/c to full blast to get the god damn ‘green house effect heat’ out of my car.

I’v switched to linen pants and cotton churidars because my regular jeans and trousers would probably just burn my skin. :-/

And to say nothing of the frequent power cuts that Delhi is facing these days. Imagine such high temperatures and just a fan over your head to cool you.

Days like these make me feel like running away from Delhi and coming back in the winters. Like the birds. Except that they run away from winter’s and I’m running away from summer’s.

Vacation is a luxury for us because my dad is adamant that we would all go together as a family and he can barely leave office because the work load is literally killing us.

The hills are calling my name but I’m trapped in office and can barely get enough time to even go out with friends, forget about going away for a few days for recreation. So I’m consoling myself with going through old pictures of me when we went on vacations and the above picture is one of my favorite’s!

It was taken when I was about six months old and my parents took me for my first visit to the hills. This place was ‘Kempti Falls’ in Mussoorie. It’s a water fall in the middle of the hills and is a great place to be in summer’s because the water is from melted ice caps and is the perfect respite from the heat.

The water was chilling cold and my dad made me stand in the water and my expression clearly shows how much I’m enjoying it while I look up to him and smile. 🙂

I obviously don’t remember anything of those times but these picture’s show me how much fun it would have been to be there.

Now Mussoorie or most of the hill stations are too crowded because of the exploding population and the growing urbanization that you can barely feel like being in a hill station to relax. You have to go higher up on the hills to get some peace and quite.

I’m after my dad’s life to try and take out some time so that we can go somewhere but it seems a futile task. I can see how much work there is and taking a few days off is going to be really tough.  😦

So I’m trying to be content with these old pictures and praying that somehow dad can take some time off and we can all go for a vacation.

Oh! And I’m also praying that we get the monsoon as early as possible so that we get respite from this killing heat wave that we are facing these days. 😛

 

 

 

For The Love Of Mangoes

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This is a picture of me when I was 6 months old and we were visiting my mom’s hometown. My mom is holding me up while my aunt feeds me a mango.

My mom tells me I barely ate anything else there but the moment a mango touched my lips, gorged on it.

I have always loved mangoes. Loved it from the deep down core of my heart. It’s the one fruit which when I bite into, my whole body just glows!

Give me a glass of Aamras (Fresh mango juice) and I enter into a trance.

Mango is considered the king of fruits. And in India where more than 500 varieties of this fruit are available, it’s nearly impossible to not have them.

And when the summer’s roll in, you can find nearly every eatery in India creating and  innovating new dishes which incorporate mango’s. There is mango rabri, mango lassi, mango rice, chicken in green mango, Mango raita, mango salads and what not.

In my home, mango shake is a staple drink every morning. It’s like a rule which has been followed for years. We begin the day with mango shake at breakfast and end it with freshly cut mango and ice cream for dessert after dinner.

I recently found this quote on the internet-

“Mango is like a drug. You must have more and more and more of the Mango until there is no Mango left. Not even for Mango!”

And this is kinda is true for me. Every year when mango season comes, I get addicted to the sweet, juicy, pulpy fruit. And every year it seems like this addiction is getting stronger.

Despite the fact that mango’s are sinfully sweet and have a comparatively higher caloric value than other fruits, and I’m supposed to lose the extra weight I’v gained during my exams, I just dive into the sweetness provided to me so lovingly by this fruit.

I wait every year for this fruit to come back and when the mango season ends, believe me I’m inconsolable.

If you ever come to India during the summer’s, do try this fruit. I’v tried mango’s from other countries when I traveled there, but they were not as sweet as the mangoes found in India.

It probably because India is a tropical country and the climate is favorable for the bumper produce for this fruit.

I remember when we went to London to visit family, my dad filled half of his suitcase with mango’s and took it it with us. Our family there was so surprised when we opened his suitcase. But the mango’s we took with us were so heavenly, that all of them vanished withing a couple of days. And now, every time somebody from India visits them, they make it a point to take mango’s for them!

India has numerous varieties of this fruit with every state producing a top class variety. I’m yet to try a major part of these, but I’m on my way to taste every variety that is being produced. The most famous one which is exported worldwide is the Alphonso.

But there are mango’s which are sweeter and juicier than the Alphonso, but they have a very little shelf life and can’t be exported.

And right now, I’m sitting in office, savoring this wonder fruit that I bought with me in a lunch box and I’m falling even more deeply in love with it.

 

 

 

Look Up

 

I saw this video a few days back when I had my exams. Even though I had sworn not to use my phone or my I-pad for any reason other than an emergency, I still just could not resist picking them up once or twice a day and just browse through for no reason. That is the level of addiction I now have with these two. Losing sight of my phone for 30 seconds is enough to give me a mini heart attack.

But watching this video made me realize how it had become a habit for all of us to constantly be dependent on technology. How we are slowly ans surely losing the human touch and becoming so engrossed in our phones and laptops and computer’s that we barely realize how physically we have nobody around us.

I have about 350 “friends” on Facebook. I barely know 50 out of them in a familiar way. And only 5 of these would probably come and help me if I ever need them. And those 5 don’t even need Facebook to stay connected with me.

We are constantly sharing stuff online. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all of them have become such a crucial part of our lives that we barely give a thought as to whether anybody is interested in what we are posting or not.

It’s just an attention gaining platform. Putting your life on a platter in front of everybody to scrutinize.

I don’t know about other’s but I have had my share of depression from Facebook when after a shitty day I go online and see how happy people are in their virtual lives. Checking-in in some nice restaurant with friends, going to the movies, posting cheesy pictures they clicked there. Seeing all that has many a times made me think how boring and dull my life sometimes is.

But is it really that dull? I said earlier that I barely know any of these people on a familiar basis. And Facebook I’v realized is not what it really looks like.

Last weekend, me, my sister and my cousins went out for dinner to this nice Italian restaurant. We ‘checked in’ on Facebook and let the whole world know where we were. And then when I put my phone down, I saw all of us busy on the phone, not even bothering to make a conversation. And when We tried to talk, it was just some awkward ‘so what up’, and ‘how’s work’, till the food thankfully came it and we started digging in.

So for anybody who saw my ‘checked -in’ status would think I’m enjoying a nice dinner out with my cousins. What they don’t know is that we had not even a single thing to say to each other.

That was when it struck me how we, being first cousins and siblings have nothing to say to each other after, despite the fact that we were meeting after a month of absolutely no contact. Though we were ready to be ‘connected’ with the rest of our so called ‘friends’.

Life is what is happening to us while we are busy staring down at the screen of our phone. And I truly believe it’s time for us to switch the damn thing off and look up.

The Indian Wedding- The Bride’s Side- Part 1

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I’m sorry for not being active here and completely avoiding my poor blog, but these last 15 days were choked full of my ‘Things To Do List’ and I barely managed any time to even sit down and breathe. I’v been juggling my college, my cousin’s wedding, my friends wedding and my photography assignments all at the same time. Believe me I look like a zombie these days. But more on that later. 😛

I’v been so involved in weddings these days, that I thought I’l share with you guys what all actually happens in an Indian wedding that everybody is exhausted by the time the wedding is over.

Let’s begin with the bride’s side. Though the rituals are  more or less the same at both the bride and the groom’s side, I personally feel that the bride’s side has more fun!

The actual rituals where the bride is involved begin after the Sagan Ceremony. At this particular ceremony, the bride and the groom are given gits from their respective “To be in-law’s”. It marks the beginning of the actual wedding ceremonies.

Both the bride and the groom sit down for a Pooja and are then bestowed with gifts.

Next comes the Mehendi and Sangeet Function which is usually held a day before the wedding. These day’s this is an elaborate function usually with cocktails. In earlier times, these were very small homely functions where the bride used to apply mehendi on her hands and feet and the women sang wedding songs and thus created that atmosphere of a “Vyah da ghar” which means the wedding home.

Now, this function is a BIG thing for everybody and usually the most enjoyable one as most of the family is relaxed at this time and is having a good time dancing and stuffing their face with the chicken tikka’s and malai paneer!

IMG_2691I love the mehendi function. More so because I love mehendi so much! The bride and all the women in the family apply mehendi on their hands and the designs are so pretty! And this is when the all the husband’s would lovingly feed their wives all the yummy food that is being served at the wedding, and move their hair away from their face as the wives can’t touch anything otherwise their mehendi would get smeared and the designs would be ruined. It takes about half an hour to 2 hours for the mehendi to dry depending upon the weather, and the amount of mehendi applied.

Usually the mehendi is held in the afternoon so that the bride and ladies can enjoy the sangeet night where the actual wedding party begins. And the sangeet night is when everybody goes bonkers! They dance and laugh and enjoy themselves to the core. The music does not stop till the time everybody is drop dead tired and can barely lift a finger.

I’m about to cover one such fun mehendi and sangeet night in a few days. And i’m sure I’m gonna have ton loads of fun! I’l tell you more about it when I come back from there. 🙂

Pictures- Clickaholicks

Dancing In A Punjabi Wedding

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Punjabi wedding are THE most fun thing ever. Don’t get me wrong. All weddings are fun, but the madness in Punjabi wedding always manages to reach a new high. And this time, the wedding was of my cousin sister who flew down from the States to get married in our pind.

Now those of you who are not familiar with what a pind is, it’s our village where our ancestors lived and our family has an ancestral home there. So most of the weddings are held there and our huge family which is scattered all over the world come together and goes absolutely crazy.

And when I say crazy, I mean they literally go crazy. There is drinking and laughter and dancing everywhere.

And dancing is what I’m going to talk about, because there are various stages to dancing in our family weddings.

There is a big veranda at our place and the DJ is usually set up there. It’s big enough for the dancers in our family to to jump around without bumping into someone or something.

Stage 1. Now when the DJ starts playing, nobody initially bother’s about what music is being played and everybody is just talking to each other and meeting everybody. After like half an hour, somebody would realise that the music is playing and and would start urging people to come and dance. A few enthusiastic kids would start dancing and their parents would scramble around to get a good picture of them on their I-phones.  They would be tapping their feet and you can see that they want to dance, but nobody wants to be the first one on the dance floor.

Stage 2. Somebody(usually my grandma) would then go up to the dance floor and start dancing. Slowly everybody who is cheering for her would come up and finally start dancing. At this stage nobody is bothered what song is being played as long as everybody is on the dance floor and the noise level is enough to wake up 5 villages around our village.  Everybody is high on excitement and happiness and the dances are beyond what anybody can imagine and what I can write. Basically it’s a bunch of grown ups who will behave like kids who are high on candy! You dance, get tired, go and eat some finger food and come back again.

Stage 3. This stage comes at around 11:30 at night when all the elders will start cribbing about the loud music and will ask everyone to go to bed because next day the rituals start early in the morning. The music is stopped for like 15 minutes and the moment the elder’s go, the DJ is on again and everybody is back on the dance floor.

Stage 4. All the men and guys who were earlier at the bar and had not bothered about dancing, come to the dance floor and begin what can not be called dance. It’s usually a drunk version of kathak, bharatatnatyam and bhangra all combined into one. The people watching first laugh their hearts out and finally can not resist joining in.This is the point where after every 10 minutes somebody (usually  my dad) would scream “OK everybody! This is the last song”, and no body would pay attention. The music will keep on playing till the time everybody realises that it’s getting really late and they all need to up the next day at 5 in the morning to get ready for the rituals.

Stage5. Everybody is drop dead tired but are planning about dancing again the next day after the wedding ceremony. And before they can finish making their plans, they all fall in their beds and have no clue about anything that is happening around them.

Picture- Clickaholicks 

Happy Lohri!

Lohri

 

And it was that time of the year again! The cold weather and the chilly winds can not stop any Punjabi from celebrating Lohri!! And for me the plates full of popcorn and peanuts are the highlight. They make me excited like a six year old in a toy shop! I stuff my face with these goodies and happily enjoy the bonfire at my place with my family and the neighbours who always drop in for some fun. The beats of the Dhol, the peppy music and the general atmosphere of excitement!! And when you have good food to go with it the whole thing becomes pure bliss!! * Big Smile* 😀

For all those who are not familiar with Lohri, and are probably thinking that I’m just talking nonsense, allow me to put some light on the subject. It’s a lot of history and Indian mythology so I should warn you about the possibility of falling asleep while reading it. 😛

Over time, people have associated Lohri to the tale of Dulla Bhatti. The central character of most Lohri songs is Dulla Bhatti,who lived in Punjab during the reign of Mughal Emperor Akbar. He was regarded as a hero in Punjab. Besides robbing the rich, he rescued girls being forcibly taken to be sold in slave market of the Middle East from the Sandal Bar region. He arranged their marriages to boys of their religion with rituals and provided them with dowries. So every other Lohri song has words to express gratitude to Dulla Bhatti.

Dulla Bhatti was a rebel whose lineage was of Bhatti Rajputs . His ancestors were the rulers of Pindi Bhattian in Sandal Bar area of present day Pakistan. He was a hero of all Punjabis and his var (life story) is available on the internet.

According to the Hindu calender Lohri falls in mid-January. The earth, farthest from the sun at this point of time, starts its journey towards the sun, thus ending the coldest month of the year, Paush (Indian Mythological Month), and announcing the start of the month of Magh(Indian Mythological Month) and the auspicious period of Uttarayan.

Basically, Lohri is celebrated to mark the end of winter’s and to pray for a good harvest. It’s a Punjabi festival where bonfire’s are lit and peanut’s, jaggery(Gur), and sesame are offered to the fire praying for a good harvest. Oh! And popcorn as well!

So it turns out to be a bonfire party where my family comes together and just stuffs their face with the awesome food that is prepared by my mom.

I’m really looking forward to this evening because my best friend is coming over for a sleep over! So there’s going to be a bonfire, awesome food, and endless gossips!

I hope you guys too have a great Lohri. God Bless

🙂

 

Sources- Internet

Christmas In Western India

I’ve reached the beautiful state of Gujarat this morning spending Christmas Eve in a train.

I personally love train journey’s. But air travel being so convenient and affordable, train travel has become a luxury for me. Any body who has ever been to India and has travelled by the Indian railways would agree with me that it is an experience in itself.

Our booking was in the sleeper class in a what we call the 2nd AC. It means that there would be two parallel berths one above the other and you can travel comfortably and sleep. Though we had booked our tickets two months in advance, we were stuck in the waiting list.

The Indian railways makes a chart two hours before the departure of the train and that is when you come two know of your fate in the train. We were given just two berths. The meals would be provided for all four of us, but the berths were just two. We were pretty bummed out after we saw the list but we were assured by everyone around us that we would get the other two berths if we just try and convince the ticket checker.

Yes, the ticket checker is god Indian railways.

So we went to the railway station and got into the train. We were served soup before the ticket checker arrived. My dad convinced him to give us one more berth. So four people, three berths.

The next thing we did was to convince somebody in our compartment to see if they could adjust somehow. And that is when a group of college students came forward and offered us one of their berth because they did’nt plan to sleep all night.

We were just lucky to get that extra berth. Believe me, people guard their berths as if their lives depended on them. And getting that one berth is like winning a lottery.

With our suitcases locked and secured we tried to get comfortable in our berths. I repeat, we tried.

Why you ask?

Because we got corridor berths and they are smaller and narrower that the normal berths. So my dad, who is larger than an average person found it really difficult to fit comfortably into it. My mom and sister slept peacefully all night.
I on the other hand was up nearly all night. I can never sleep in trains. I’m always too excited to get any sleep. Also there was a baby in the adjacent berth who swore to cry every time I fell asleep. I really pity his mom. The poor woman kept trying to get him to sleep. And to say nothing of the stations that kept coming and the people that kept boarding and de boarding the train. To say that they were loud is an understatement.

So all. I could do was to get out my headphones and listen to my favourite music all night. I did managed some eye shut period in between.

The train stewards woke up everyone at 6 in the morning with bed tea before we reached a major station. Two hours later after I had hogged down the breakfast I finally fell asleep for like 40 minutes before the speaker in the train loudly announced in three languages that we had reached Ahmedabad. And my journey to one of the most colourful states of India began.

A Letter To Santa

Dear Santa,

I know you must be insanely busy these days and probably going crazy with all the work. So let me just increase that pile of letter’s by adding my letter to it. Now don’t start pulling out your hair! It’s your job to read all the letter that come your way, even if they have been written to you by someone who has been really naughty all year long.

I know I haven’t been an image of goodness all year, but in my defence, this year sucked!

To begin with, I lost my grandmother in the very beginning of the year. I fought and screamed at god for doing this and till date I can’t come to terms with the fact that when I go to her place I don’t see her in her room waiting for me. Or that I didn’t get a phone call from her on my birthday. And now I never will get one. 

That was like the biggest set back that came to me.

The next was when I didn’t get into the college of my choice because I was short of just 1 mark. 1 Mark. That was all it took to throw all my hard work and sleepless nights down the drain.

Then came the innumerable misunderstandings that I had with my best friend. We fought for like months!

And I am not even mentioning all the other crap that happened all year long. And believe me I died a little inside every time something happened.

I almost gave up on life. It was really bad and I just had no idea what to do and get myself together.

But every time life kicked me in the face I got up stronger than ever to kick back. And I’m glad I didn’t lose hope. 

So this year I want nothing but peace and happiness. And maybe a little less of all the shit that happened last year. (OK, a lot less!!)

I know I am not in your good list but please be nice this time. And if you ever have a chat with god, tell him I’v marked 2013 in my black list and I would be having a long talk with him about it whenever I have the  pleasure of his acquaintance.

I have had a lot of good things as well but it is outweighed by the bad at any given point. So please be kind to me and everyone around me this year. I really can’t take another year like this one.

Love

Urshita 

I wish I could remain A 5 Year Old Forever

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In a couple of day’s I’l be a year older and believe me its not a good feeling.

And for all those out there who think age is just a number, try being a daughter in a Punjabi family which like a good family would at every point in life keep encouraging you to study and get filthy successful, but on the other hand on every visit to the mall or any god forsaken market that sells clothes, your mom or sister’s or aunts or cousins would pick up a blingy ‘you-will-be-blind-if-you-stare-at-me-for-long‘ sari and naughtily point out that they would buy this for your wedding.

Yes, we eat, think, talk, walk, dream, breath and even shit weddings.

And every year when you cut your birthday cake, everybody around you would mentally start counting the years left for you to get married.

And before you think that they are all excited about seeing you settled in life and are therefore planning your wedding, you are wrong. Your wedding would be the biggest excuse for your entire extended clan to shop till they drop and basically bring down their saving by a good 75% .

And that is what is going to happen to me. As girl in her 20’s who is well on her way to getting a professional degree, you tend to generate quite some interest in the eye’s of all the aunties around you.

But since I have two cousin sister’s older than me who according to the unwritten Indian wedding constitution should/would get married before me because for some weird reason, the older sibling gets married first. Until unless obviously a younger sibling finds their soul mate and decides to get married before anybody else in the family. So I can sit back calmly and point at them whenever the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned in front of me.

And yes, I too am interested in all the clothes I’l be buying and all the fun I’l be having at their wedding! 😛

But coming to the point of my growing old. I’m not growing old. At least not mentally. I’m still 5 in my mind and I would go bonkers just at the sight of balloons. And joy rides! And candy! I love candy! And Cartoon Network!

You get the point right?

So that means I’v survived another year in a world which is full of people who love growing up and they love their birthdays. I on the other hand am really not excited about my birthday. Ever. I love everybody else’s birthday. I love planning about them and I love being a part of surprises. I just don’t feel the same way about my birthday. 

Yes. I belong to the minority population of people who are really not bothered about their birthday’s. 

Why you ask?

I have no idea. I just can not get to the terms of celebrating my birthday. When I was young I used to celebrate my birthday at my home with all my friends and relatives. But as I grew up I just could not see any sense in continuing it. 

I do have some crazy friends who for the past couple of years have been throwing surprise birthday parties for me. Thanks Guys! 

But this year I somehow feel Iv really grown up. I mean like REALLY grown up. The number scares me because whenever I planned my life, I thought that by this birthday I would be earning a fat salary and shopping like crazy and maybe go to some exotic location with my friends for vacations. 

But nothing like this has happened. I’m still studying. Iv changed my choice of profession. I’m working in my dad’s office. I’m still not earning. OK, I’m earning but if I ever tell you the figure you would laugh your guts out.

So basically life did a complete U turn for me and I’m just sitting here trying to figure out how to get everything back on track. It’s not bad. I mean I just consider myself awesome and I pretty much don’t worry about stuff much. 😛

But every year on my birthday I just sit down and list down all the good and bad things that happened to me and I always make sure that I count every good thing and blessing that came my way. 

So this year I maybe looking at matrimonial prospects in my family which is like the BIGGEST sign that you’v grown up no matter how much you deny it.

So here’s to another year of actually being 5 years old in your mind but making sure nobody around you notices that. 😛