Dec 19, 2012

Season's Greetings!

Dear All: Season's Greetings!

I am sure you are all caught up with the chaos that goes hand in hand with the 'ushering out the old and ringing in the new.' I have been busy myself cleaning out the closets, writing out some letters, finishing up some books, carolling few Christmas bells etc.

Many a times I wanted to share my state of mind but due to one reason or other you have been spared. To tell you the truth, I have suddenly become conscious of what I "speak", to whom I speak and why I speak. It is very unlike me; however as I have shared in recent times the "me" is ever evolving - if you would allow me I would like to use the word 'refining'. Hopefully it is all for the better.

I have been reading this great book "Maiden Voyages" which is a collection of lady travelers from various era. I especially love the excerpts from their journals & letters describing their journey. I am sure Kavita, Tracy and Anil Kurup would enjoy these as much as I do.

On the non-fiction side I am reading about Accountability and enjoy sharing the tips with Israel who is not into reading books but appreciates the insights I share from reading.

Children are behaving and have made it to the 'Nice List'. We really truly wish to buy them cool gifts though they haven't demanded for anything. We are still brainstorming ideas.

The year has been exciting overall. Quebec train trip, Florida visit and Virginia apple farms are the best memories we carry forward from 2012. It is also a year of new beginning for Coffee with Jesus as it has been trade marked and incorporated in 2012.

I believe the best is yet to come! Wishing you the same!

Friend always,
~ NRIGirl

Nov 27, 2012

Just some windows...

The sky is completely gray. I don't feel great either. Often there seems some correlation between the two - the sky and my mood - one reflecting the other - the latter commencing the former most often.

There have been times when I have been excited about gray sky - just like this one or even grayer - but not today.

As I look through the window at the nearby windows, I can't help but wonder who is trapped in there - just like I am trapped in here. If it were entirely up to me, I would set them all free including me.

Funny we thought of windows as we built these monstrous structures to box us in. Whoever thought it would be the only glimpse we could see of the world around us! Windows of trains, cars, house, phones, computers...

Have you noticed village homes lack many windows? Don't you think nomads were richer than us folks? They had this wide open world to live in, to breath from, to cherish much and then pass it on...

What have we got? Just some windows!

Nov 21, 2012

You have got mail!

Oct 29, 2012

Awaiting Sandy

As Hurricane Sandy is barreling closer to the shore, we are all prepared with bottled water, batteries, flash lights, gas etc. Children are off from school today and tomorrow; we are working remotely - as long as power stays on.

Our town, situated in the northern mountains of the State is at 1020 feet above the sea level and has the largest fresh water lake named Lake Hopatcong, spreading about 4 square miles which accounts for 10% of the town's area.

Gov. Chris Christie - Governor of NJ has declared a State of Emergency, lowering the reservoir of Lake Hopatcong and other water bodies to be able to sustain the onpouring rain. Coastal towns such as Barrier Islands, Altantic City, Ocean City, Sandy Hook and few other low lying areas have been ordered evacuation. For others who haven't been ordered to evacuate, we are to stay off the roads and stock up on food, water, medicine and other supplies needed for survival.

Sandy is a serious storm - about 500 miles in diameter affecting the entire East Coast - from the Carolinas all the way to New England; making a land fall in New Jersey. It is 10:30 AM EST right now; 2:00 PM is when it is expected to land.

As of now we have heavy winds and mild rain; that's all. However, it could very well be the calm before the storm...

Thanks to all of you who have reached out via emails and phone calls. We are fine; will keep you posted as Sandy passes.

Oct 25, 2012

Heaven on Earth!

Is this heaven on earth? Absolutely! It is Carter Mountain Orchard!

Apple picking isn't new to us; but apple picking in Carter Mountain Orchard was a unique experience!

Carter Mountain Orchard is located in Charlottesville, Virginia on a huge mountain. As you drive up the mountain you would wonder how is it even possible to grow apples in such a mountain. The roads are almost perpendicular to the sky(!) and it sure feels like you are driving up to heaven!

Once up there, you would forget you are on a mountain top as the ground is leveled flat. Yet the view of the rest of the Virgnia down below is amazing! There is also a huge vineyard where you can pluck your own wine grapes and press it into wine. Unfortunately we didn't have the time to visit there.

Last weekend when we visited they had Winesap and Fuji variety of apples for picking. Both were delicious. Upon entry you are handed a plastic bag for picking your own apples. You are allowed to eat as much as you want, for no cost. For the ones you decide to take home with you, you pay a reasonable price of $1.99 per lb.

The hay ride is $3.00 per person and they take you all the way around the apple trees. It was a fun experience traveling with my cousin and aunt & family.

They also sell apple cider donuts which are made right in front of your eyes and you can eat it fresh & still warm. It is absolutely delicious and we finished two dozenn donuts in a few minutes! Cousin Bibin was so kind to get us black coffee which went so well with the donuts.

If you ever happen upon Virginia, I strongly recommend you visit Carter Mountain Orchard. If you are far away to "ever happen upon Virginia" no worries; I will take you along the hay ride. Hop on in and hold on tight! Here we go...

Heaven on earth indeed - is it not?!

Oct 19, 2012

Fall so far...

The weather is crisp. Like an apple. Fresh. Juicy. Inviting. It is Fall!

Here's to share some technical information I had read in the Farmers Almanac:

September 22nd was the official first day of Fall this year. It was also the Autumnal Equinox when day and night were each about 12 hours long; the Sun crossing the celestial equator going southward; rising exactly due east and setting exactly due west.

From then on the temperatures begin to drop and the days start to get shorter than the nights. Winter begins with Winter Solstice on December 21 at 6:12 AM. EST this year marking the shortest day of the year, when the Sun reaches it's most southern point in the sky at local noon. After this date, the days start getting longer.

With a month of Fall behind us and Winter looming forever closer, people have started talking about Christmas already! Even businesses have started piling up on Christmas decor! This is quite different from most years as we won't normally have a sight of it all until after or closer to Thanksgiving. Mums are in full bloom. Even chestnuts are in stores! It's like everyone has fast forwarded their clocks by two whole months! OR could it be that I am far behind?! Possible.

I am - or rather my taste is - changing by the day. Uggs have become my latest fancy. Till last season I shunned it like anything; but now I "must have" it! I can't even wear it to work as jeans are off the list. I am better off with a tall black leather boots which can be worn with almost anything; but ask me which one I would rather buy I will say, "Uggs!". What's wrong with me?! I myself can't understand. So I have put off buying till I can fully figure out my state of mind.

Children can't wait to wrap up on Soccer season and begin with Basketball. They love Basketball over Soccer by many folds. I think it is because the Soccer fields are unnecessarily big and too tiring on the kids. Worst part is having to sit in the cold outside to watch the game compared to the cozy interiors of a basketball court.

Israel is experimenting with his moustache. Last weekend he shocked us by going without it and these days it has morphed into a French beard. Interestingly I like it all!

There are plenty of babies to visit over the next couple of weeks amongst friends and family. Hearty "Welcome Aboard" to Baby Jeyashree, Baby Vanitha & Baby Samuel! More than anyone our children are excited as they are of the age where they love love love all babies.

So, life moves on. Hope all is well at your end too.

Somehow my thoughts these days only flow in the form of letter writing, so I am thinking of a brand new series called "You've got Mail!" in which I will randomly pick on you to write to. Hope that is okay with you.

Stay tuned...

Sep 27, 2012

Letter to KParthasarathi

Sep 20, 2012


By Rachel Israel

Have you ever had a collection or treasure; something that was not sumptuous in value but had a very sentimental meaning? Well when I was little I used to love collections. I thought they were the coolest things ever. I had many collections, but today I will just tell you about my favorite three.

One of my favorite collections were beads. I loved how you could basically make any accessory you wanted to with them. I had a small musical box full of them. I put beads into the wooden box whenever one of my bracelets or necklaces broke. With those beads I could make another bracelet and replace it. I loved how each bead was unique. I never actually made any bracelets with these unique beads; so my box is still full of them!

Another one of my collections were snow globes. My mom got me many from gift shops in special places or different states that we visited. My snow globes are arranged from biggest to smallest on my dresser. Many of my snow globes have intricately designed pedestals that tie into the miniature theme of the globe. They also played calming melodies when you twist a little knob underneath it.

My most colorful collection was octopi. They were made with beads and melted to perfection with an ironer. Well actually, I wouldn’t say “to perfection”. Many of them, although pretty, were demented. Some of the legs have fallen off and have been glued and ironed back to the octopus in the wrong direction. Actually, I think that’s why I like them even more. They are special to me and every time I look at them hanging on my mirror; I remember the sentimental story behind it.

These are things that many people wouldn’t care for, but to me they mean a lot. These are my collections!

P.S: Found it in my computer, an article by Rachel written for school this year. Thought I'll save it by posting it on the blog...

Sep 14, 2012

A crying soul

It is lunch time now; but my mind keeps going back to this morning.

I was busy reading my book (Open by Agassi). Suddenly I hear this voice, "I want to sit". She is a lady. Neatly dressed in a hospital attire, may be a nurse or attendant or janitor I can't tell. African American. About fifty years young.

Being Friday there are plenty of empty seats in the train; but she seems lost and repeats, "I want to sit". A good soul across from me braves to help her, "Here", she says pointing to the seat next to her, "You can sit here". She takes the offered seat thanking her.

She starts a conversation, "I am tired you know. Kind of giddy. I worked all night!" The good soul acknowledges her with her "mhm"s and "ahang"s.

Then suddenly she asks, as if waking up from her sleep, "What time is it anyway? Is it morning or evening?"

"Morning! Almost nine!", comes the response.Good soul gets down in the next station.

As the train starts to move she is getting panicked, "Is this train going Uptown or Downtown?"

Someone answers, "Downtown"

Moments later she asks, "Which station is this?" I answer, "14th Street". She asks me to repeat. "14th Street!" She thanks me.

And then suddenly she starts to cry. It is audible in spite of the noise of the train. I take a side way glance at her. She is searching frantically in her bag, tears rolling down, crying - audibly.

"What is it? Are you okay? You lost something? Are you lost?" I think of different ways I could reach out to her; but I remain silent like the rest of the New Yorkers.

The train comes to a halt. It's my stop. 8th Street. I get down. Walk away.

She lingers on... still crying...

Aug 24, 2012

Thumbelina and family

Had a rare sighting of Thumbelina and her adorable family this afternoon and couldn't resist sharing the pictures with you...

When was it?
Where was it?

Israel, Sharon, Rachel & Joshua!

Who was it?
Them all!

Now freeze that smile! It looks great on you!

Aug 23, 2012

What have you got?

Nine years ago on my birthday (August 10th) I'd spoken to my Papa last. Four days later Papa passed away.

Life has lost it's luster since then. The sky appears a shade greyer the grass a tint paler, my heart somewhat harder and my head a bit heavier (I guess it is a byproduct of the harder heart).

Overall life as I knew it is sadly changing.

Living, loving and laughing came natural to me then; now it takes effort. To draw comparison from Winnie-the-Pooh it's like going from a jumpy jolly care free Tigger to a grumpy, moody Eeyore is how it is trending.

Pause, clarify, repeat was how our conversations went then unlike the hurried to-the-point "conversations" of now...

I feel stranded at times with everyone rushing around me, in their own course of life, with less time to talk, lesser still to listen and none at all for the details.

Often times I find myself rushing too, rushing thru' the day's events, rushing thru' traffic, rushing thru' conversations...Why such a hurry? Where am I going? No clue.

Then I was a child, now I have grown; that's the only reasoning I could think of.

So today for a change I am going to kick back - all the way back - and relax. So, tell me what have you got? Whatever I missed please bring it on!

~ NRIGirl

Aug 16, 2012

Fit for a King!

Great morning everyone! This post is more for my Mom than others. Just to let her know I am on a good start... Returning home tonight!

~ NRIGirl

Breakfast in bed!

Greetings from Melrose of Dallas, Texas! Considered a luxury hotel but everything is to be paid for. No free WiFi or movies or any of those cool stuff. For a bottle of water they charge $7; for 24 hours Internet service it's about $12!

All my complaints vanished however, when I was woke up with the most delicious breakfast ever! Breakfast in bed! The highlight was the fresh flowers; how very thoughtful. It made my day!

Couldn't help but share the joy with you...

 Promise to write a nice long post when I am back. Till then, be good! :)

~ NRIGirl

Jul 25, 2012

Dear Sakha!

Dear Sakha! How are you? Fine and wish the same.

I am so sorry I missed your call the other day. Even more sorry for having not returned your call or at least write an email or as much as an FB message. Today I have kind of forced myself to respond to you and hence this mail - blog!

So, how are you? How is the family? Job? Abu Dhabi? Along those lines, let me answer too: Fine. Well. Busy. Humid and scorching!

Children are midway through their summer break, which explains why the house is upside down and downside up! This is one main reason why I can't function as "normal". Knowing me you would understand how very important it is for me to keep my surrounding in order. When it gets out of control I fail to function in my cheerful mode. (Sigh!)

Finding the time to bring it back under control seems to be ever evading, especially with my long hours away from home and the never ending shopping sessions in the evenings.

We are invited for a wedding (American) this Saturday. Picking the right dresses for girls proved to be more challenging than I had thought. I have scored the aisles of Macy's, JC Penney, J-Crew, New York and Company, Dress Barn, Forever21  and countless other boutique shops in the mall but haven't found the right ones yet. For now we have settled for a red wrap dress for Ray and a golden polka dot one for Sharon. One can't be too sure till the very last minute in our household. (more sigh!)

Okay dear, enough of grumbling I guess. Tell me about your girls? How do they like the new school year? How is the weather like in Abu Dhabi? How is Mom? Is P behaving? :) Israel is! :)) Regards to all.

With that I will wind up for now. Ping me your number; I'll call.

Take care.

P.S: Just for a perspecitive I googled us up, where you are (B) vs. where I am(A); picture enclosed.It seems almost virtual Sakha, don't you think? Yet, across the miles (6842 to be exact!) we will carry it on. Stay in touch!

Friend always,
~ Queen

Jul 20, 2012


It's hailing outside with peeling thunder and lightening. From my tenth story office it looks pretty amazing. The sky scrapers look so dim as if in a dream of sort. Yes, this time I tried my hand at the black berry camera so that I can share it with you.

I have been extremely busy at work and almost exhausted at home which explains why I haven't been writing as much as I would like to. To tell you the truth a lot of "writing" has been happening in my mind but then either the subjects are out of date (such as the Quebec trip) or I myself have lost interest and scrubbed it off. Is that someone's sigh of relief I hear? Oh well!

It is only 4:19 PM and I have few minutes left in the day that I decided to write to you folks... Sorry it took me a few days to post this though.
Hope all is well at your end. Take care!
~ NRIGirl

Jul 13, 2012

Pride came tumbling down

Remember my boastful posts on how I was the "only one" out there when it came to lending a hand to the less fortunate in NY trains and streets? Not any more! Let me explain.

Not too long ago something unique happened. In my morning rush I encountered this voice, "Can someone buy me breakfast?" No, I could not ignore that.

First someone was hungry. Next I was hungry myself, so I knew exactly what it felt like. (I was hungry because they had promised us breakfast at office that morning).

So, I stopped on my track and said, "Sure, what can I get for you?" He said, "Anything". We were right in front of a deli/donut shop. It was a breeze I thought. Give some money and move on. Unfortunately though when I fetched for cash didn't find anything! Just that morning I had switched bags and had only grabbed my cards and no cash. Alas!

What am I to do?! Can I possibly walk away? I looked at him again, he really truly seemed hungry and I couldn't excuse myself. The only way out was to go and buy the breakfast myself paying by credit card - which I did. Thankful him and relieved me went different ways.

The same evening on my return I saw a police man giving a ticket to a very pregnant beggar who was claiming she had lost her job. Since then I see her in different locations with the same hand written board.

These incidents caused a stir in me. First my pride came tumbling down! Second, I have learnt to walk past most of these pleas - just like most. When I did that I can see so many other hands reaching out; I was not the "only one" out there after all... 

Jul 5, 2012

All aboard the chu chu train!

Happy July 4th to all my fellow citizens.

Greetings from Adriondack, destination Montreal. It is said to be a scenic route and sure it lives up to the expectations running alongside the Hudson river with the Adriondack ranges to one side.

When we boarded we were little diappointed that we all couldn't sit together. But soon we found an alternate solution. We decided to occupy the cafe car where we are free to enjoy the wifi.

We are only about two hours into the journey and have finished most of our food! Why, were we starving? Hardly... we are traveling with the Edwards and the Mrs. is a great cook and we couldn't hold our temptation to share in her delicacies.

Children tried their hand at a card game and soon settled for their handhelds. In order to keep them involved in the journey we are coming up with a quiz for the kids. At the end of the journey we are to pick a winner for $20! But the first thing is to come up with the quiz. Not sure what will motivate us parents to work on that...

The journey continues; will share whenever possible...

Jun 30, 2012

My python print hobo

Few days ago I bought my first ever Coach bag! Never before. Never after. The first. Will also be the last! A beautiful python print hobo with leather handles. Absolutely adorable. The price? Don't even ask! Not a single soul knew - except of course you all now...

Having had no inkling towards the brand, I'd never even cared to glance in that direction in the past. Lately however, I have shown some interest in the collection at the local stores but would soon walk away calling those "sour grapes". No amount of justification would ever truly justify my purchase if there was one.

So it came as a surprise even to me when I fell in prey this time for the python print hobo! Why, am I a fan of pythons? Not at all! Hobos? Sure! Coach? Sort of... It was at the full retail price and without any second thought I bought it. Only to be tormented over the next few hours of "owning" it, with so much guilt leading upto a nightmare of not pythons but frogs!

With the new day came a new resolve. I would return it! Realized I could not possibly live with that kind of guilt rest of my life. Also, definitely would not stop with just this one, if at all I give in. The only right decision was to go without it!

Trust me, it was a HUGE relief when I got the whole amount credited back! I sleep so much better now and feel that much lighter... which is of course priceless!

Happy July everyone!

Jun 25, 2012

Me, Myself and I

What am I upto these days? Well, since you asked... I would like to know a little more about Me, Myself and I! If you have a clue please share but first let me explain...

Say, you called me. I say "Hello?" You ask, "Can I speak to Hephzibah?" Do I now say, "It's me!" or "It's her" or "It's she" or "She is me" - see how complicated and out of control it gets all of a sudden...

When Israel takes me out and I want to tell you about it, should I say,  "Israel & I" or "I and Israel" or "Myself and Israel" or "Israel and myself" ? When do we use what to refer to Me?

Which one of these is correct - "I think so" or "Me thinks so" or "I thought so myself"? Yes, I was attentive in grammer school; no, I do not recall an explanation on this.

Why oh why is this so complicated? Or is it just me? or I? or should I say, myself?

On a different note, if you haven't already tried Google Translate on your blog I highly recommend it. For a sampler try translating this post in your mother tongue by choosing your language from the drop down on the right panel... I am sure you will have a hearty laugh!

Jun 7, 2012

New England

Greetings from Acela again, this time heading towards home sweet home! I am wide awake to capture the New England country side I had missed during earlier part of my trip.

The captain is announcing that the train is speeding by 150 miles per hour and to make sure the overhead bins are kept shut. At this speed I am sure to miss a lot of scenes but will try to capture as much...

Wow! It's absolutely breathtaking! The ocean or backwaters whatever you want to call it spreads on one side - my seat unfortunately is on the land side; I am determined to make the most of the trip - looking both ways!

There are plenty of boats in the waters most of them with hoists and it makes it more dreamy like an exquisite painting! On my side, just passed a green river tumbling down towards the ocean - I am sure it runs into the ocean on the other side but I can't quite see.

We are now passing through wide open lush green area with huge trees. The tracks run on elevated grounds from where we can easily trace the tree tops and the clouds hovering over the trees - which are both below our eye level. The sky is overcast; looks like the sun took an early leave.

Every now and then I look at the other side to see what I might be missing there. Anytime I see the ocean and boats I feel bad I am not seated there and then take comfort in the streams and rivers rushing to merge from this end!

I am sorry, I must take back my words about the sun leaving early. Just from there to here, he is out and shining bright! Can't believe my eyes. The dark clouds are nowhere to be seen. So I turn my head and look back and there it is - the huge dark clouds that had covered the sun! Wow! Now I get a glimpse of what 150 miles an hour actually mean...

The houses look pretty with most of them having a curved semi circle room in it - I can tell by looking at the castle like bumps on the exterior walls. I am sure these are sun rooms or breakfast nook. Some have a small round or hexagonal glass window on the side of the house - like you would see on a ship! Seems to me there was a liking for these windows at some point in history - even in New Jersey you can find these...

Now I see some boats on my side too! I am happy. Very happy. Looks like it is a Marina. Quickly noted a few boat names - Cloud Nine, Lady Mine, etc.

Sun is gone again! Huge dark skies above. Soon it will be bright!

More rivers, more boats, some cranes, few standing on one leg, some on both, one flying...

Boulders on both sides...

Just passing the Police head quarters in the city of New London!

Muddy Waters Cafe, Crocker's Boat Yard, Rachel's Marina, a Salon, another cafe, Ocean Express Food Store....

The sun returned!

Kids playing at park.

Train whistle continuously blowing (wonder what for?)

A pond, another crane flying, another park, more whistling ( at this I make a mental note to google up when and why the whistle blows).

More boats, pond, cranes flying, cranes on one leg, on both legs, driving school, river, river bed, sun, cloud...
Crunch, crunch, crunch...(from the passenger next seat)
Chips, dips, crunch...
Chips, dips, crunch, smack!

That reminds me! I have a tuna sandwich! Let me get started on that!

You've got enough of the New England country side, I believe! If there is nothing more interesting to share we'll meet in New Jersey... Appreciate your company during this trip! Thank you!

Jun 6, 2012

Onboard Acela

Can't believe I have become such a show off lately but can't quite help sharing this with you. I am onboard the Acela on a business trip to Boston! "You? Business trip?", chuckled my friends and family. It is difficult for them to imagine my professional side having always looked at my domestic side. I am up to the challenge though.

Acela business class is great - with lot of leg room (for those who need it) and comfortable seating with wide windows. As much as I like train journey I find no thrill in traveling alone amidst serious looking business clan. I miss my family already. Mhmmmm...

However modern a city looks from the street level, the rail path reveals its other side - the broken buildings, the garbage dumps, the power transformers, the warehouses, the metal recyclers etc. New York city is no exception either. It has been over an hour and there seems no end to these ugly sights. My eyes are keenly looking out for the New England country side.

Ha! There goes the familiar highway! I believe it is I 95 but can't confirm. I 95 revokes the same memory for both of us (Israel & I).

It was on I 95 we were almost hit by falling furniture from a truck in front of us! The year was 1999! What was so unique about that journey was that we didn't have an address to call as our home then!

We had just married and arrived in the United States of America when we learnt that Israel had lost his job! Upon hearing the news we couldn't possibly move into our booked apartment in Boston or bring home our picked out furniture. Friends offered us boarding for few days.

On that particular day we were traveling to Harrisburg, Maryland for greener pastures. Our hearts were heavy from disputes with friends, wallets were empty, minds were preoccupied with endless worries and Rachel was on the way!

We were tired when we crossed New Jersey and had even ran out of topics for conversation. That's exactly when the furniture started to tumble down from the truck in front of us! We veered off in zigs and zags to escape the hit(s). It was a miracle we escaped any crash that day. I 95 - will forever keep us humble and grateful to God Almighty.

Now rolling the cameras back to the reality, looks like the ugly sights are all gone during our flashback above.... The New England country side is spread so beautifully out there - with boats and back waters and clear blue sky and beautiful trees and buildings rimming the water, etc. But unfortunately I can't stay wide awake to indulge in the beauty as my eyes pull in for some rest.

While you guys enjoy the sights around let me get some shut eye; trust that you'll keep me posted later...

P.S: Acela is an express train by Amtrak connecting Northeast United States. Here's the link for more...

Jun 1, 2012

June already?!

The day is just not moving! The last time I looked at the clock display on my desktop it said 10:58 AM and now after so long when I took a peek it has only skipped 4 minutes to 11:02 AM!

I hate days like this when I have so many errands at home pending my attention. This is exactly why I am a huge fan of work from home opportunities when one can manage work and home so effectively. Hhmmm... hard to come by these days...

It was a true shocker when I paused to read today's Scripture in the daily calendar as I left for work this morning. Here I am searching for the last Friday in May but it actually fell in June! What?! Knew June was coming but didn't expect it today!

Why such a rush? I know for a fact that this is a problem only in New Jersey. The other places I have been to had their clocks set to a slower pace, trust me!

By the way, the Scripture read, "He comes to judge the earth" (Psalm 96:13)

Okay then, while at it let's make the best use of June. All I can think of is flowers, flowers, flowers and more flowers. It's like I can't put it off anymore. So I am heading straight to the nursery after work and bringing home lots and lots and lots and lots of flowers! Will share some pictures when the dust settles and Israel calms down...

Happy June!

For those who care, the clock display now says 11:23 AM. See what I mean?

May 30, 2012


How's everyone doing? (scratch...)
It has been a while since I wrote anything. (scratch!)
In Grandma's house... (scratch that too!)

 As you can clearly see I haven't been able to write much lately. I'll safely blame it all on my blackberry! For some reason blogger won't let me compose a new post from my blackberry which is a huge disadvantage as that is my only option for reading or writing blogs - during my commute. Sigh!

However today I've thought of a work around - to type it in as email to myself which I can later post from home. So here I am - finally! Now if I overdo it and the post gets too long, please bear with me.

I was a few minutes late leaving work and now the only spot I could get on the bus is in the very last row squeezed between four gigantic men, two on either side! The bus has just started moving and I greatly regret taking this seat already. :( With the cell phones banned inside the bus, as my only solace I have turned to you - typing away to glory!

Tell me what's news at your end? Did you all see the Super Moon? I missed it but thankfully Kavita had shared it on FB.

Speaking of FB, it is nice to have connected to so many of my blog friends in the recent months. I went wild and accepted a few unknown "friends" as well but had to quickly un-friend a few who were constant pests. Speaking of which, I was so troubled by a pest by work - a casual encounter - who lately has become somewhat of a nuisance that I am taking slightly longer route to avoid contact.

Israel is of great moral support putting aside everything just to talk to me, between "me leaving the elevator" to "me boarding the train"! I have come to truly enjoy these "I-am-not-too-busy-for-you" kind of conversations that I sometime purposely prolong it walking at a snail's pace. Now, that explains how I ended up on the very last spot on the bus!

So, what's happening at your end?

In case you missed it:
@A is back with such vigor that he has written 2 posts in 3 days!
Rachna has taken after Afghanistan :)
Irfan is back blogging - from his new home!
Anil is by the sea.
Bikram is having sleepless nights.
R. Ramesh suggests we take the bull by it's horn
Petty Witter would like to know if there is a fictional character we can identify with
Balan has become very poetic lately.
Gigi is off to a new adventure to lose some weight.
Jyothi is hanging in there...
KP & Eye in the Sky are non-stop rolling!

Phew! Now if you'll excuse me (I know you will gladly) I'll stop here in a rush. I need both my hands to cover my nose as one of the four suddenly decided to pollute the air!

(We might as well scratch off the whole thing and try again sometime later...; what say?)

May 16, 2012

Me so beautiful!

Not that you care for my opinion but I do really believe you are all very good looking. As a matter of fact every one of them out there is good looking, in their own way; are they not? You know exactly where I am arriving at.  That's right; I consider myself good looking too.

The at-average height, the scar on the forehead, the hiding grey hairs, the no-make-up face - none of these have ever bothered me. Never! I have always felt my best. What is the problem with that? Well, the problem is that I have failed to appreciate any makeups.

Not that I have never tried. But every single time I had felt uneasy staring back at a total stranger in the mirror who would have no resemblance to me. I had quietly settled for some pressed powder and lip gloss.

However it doesn't seem to fit in with the New York culture where almost every one of them is perfectly made up. The hair so perfect - smooth, curled or waved, eyes lined and shaded, face painted skin tone, lips carefully rounded, nails neatly filed, making the poor me looking all so plain all of a sudden. :(

An ad poster on the Subway reads: "New York city tolerant of your faith but judgemental of your shoes". It says it all!

So, here I am with an appointment at the local cosmetics store for this weekend where they are to match my skin tone and suggest the best suitable products for me. Hope I don't get too carried away. Will let you know how it goes.

I wish and hope I can still stay the same - beautiful! Please wish me luck!

May 2, 2012

On and on it rolls

At work they give us pizza on the last Friday of the month. It almost feels like it comes every other week. Why then the weeks drag for so long, I have no clue. Even as I write this it is hard to believe we are just over with Wednesday this week. I am ready for the weekend already!

In a matter of weeks school will be over. June 15th is the last day! As much as I am happy about it, I am also feeling a little heavy at heart as the current school year will become just a memory the kids will recall down the lane like, "When I was in fifth grade" or "During my 7th grade school trip" or something in those lines....  There will be no re-doing of their respective classes, forever! Wow! That is sad!

Every night as I put the kids to bed, I am thinking, "Another day of childhood has passed! Hopefully it brings back sweet memories years from now..." Because if we are not careful we (adults) could permanently damage what they (kids) retain from a day. All it takes is a harsh word or rude remark or an insensitive comment. This realization has helped me cool down a lot that even when I have to reprimand them for something it comes out normal without much modulation of the tone. This works both ways; my stress level stays low and they are listening!

However, one thing is testing my patience for quite sometime and I am sure to lose my cool one of these days. They are planting seeds. What's wrong with that? They are planting them in ugly trays and containers in the living room! All under Israel's influence!! They claim the sun shines bright only through that window and they need to make use of it. That's not true. It shines brighter and longer on the deck and even in the basement. They say it is cold out there. Excuses excuses excuses. Can't take it anymore!

There is another reason for my frustrations. For years I am asking for a flower garden and they keep focusing on vegetables. Who cares for their pumpkins and watermelons which will be hit by frost even before they yield? Or the carrots and potatoes for that matter, which the rabbits and ground hogs thrive feasting on. Cherries are the one thing I look forward to but birds overtake us every year!

So, this season I am taking over. Soon there will be flowers. It is May after all!

Life is good. On and on it rolls!

Apr 24, 2012

Martha, Martha!

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

This is one area I struggle with - time and time again. I do not sit down to spend time with our guests rather I find one thing after another to do - for the guests of course!

I would start my day very early and work on so many dishes and stuff and soon things will get so overwhelming that I end up complaining about the family members who do not "pitch in" or "share the chores".

When the meal is served I hurriedly finish mine to rush with making coffee and snacks and the wheel spins non stop, while the rest of the family enjoys a leisure conversation with the guests.

Finally when I am ready to sit down it would be time for the guests to leave. Then I keep a long face that I didn't have any fun! Clearly I am like Martha on this. I miss out on the fun and fellowship as I am distracted by the endless list of chores to do.

But these days I am changing - though very slowly.

It sure felt awkward to order in a pizza for the unexpected guests who showed up on a weekday, instead of cooking a proper meal; but this way I too could relax catching up on things we had missed out on each other over the past decade.

We brew some coffee in the electrical coffee maker, which the guests could help themselves to, again giving me more of a quality time I could enjoy with them rather than hiding in the kitchen all the time or worse yet, ushering them in to help make tea (which I have shamelessly done over the past).

This way I can entertain more guests than I normally would or could or even should. I love to host - love to make friends - love to keep friends - love to get together as much as possible. Definitely my love for my guests stay the same. It is how I show it has changed - I appreciate their time more than my fancy show.

There is one problem though - some friends are not happy. Am I imagining things? No, not at all.

They are so used to my overwhelming attention that now to see me just sit around and talk nonsense is hard for them to take. I am no longer the "perfect host" they have come to know of me as. I have become one of them - a cool host at that! Laid back, relaxed, nothing more, nothing less.

One even confronted me directly, "Queen! What is wrong with you?". "Nothing really; just taking it easy..." was my careful response. The Martha in me warns, "Get up! Spin!" but I shrug it off. "They are not here for your show, but your time, so stay!", Mary insists.

Only one thing is needed, spending time together; everything else is a distraction. Martha no more; becoming Mary...

Apr 14, 2012


It was all planned in less than 20 minutes! Our vacation by car from home, New Jersey to Orlando, Florida. We were still thinking-out-loud when we went to bed on Friday night; Saturday early morning we were on the road! If we had paused a minute longer to think it over Israel would have cancelled the whole trip; glad we had not.

There was a skip to our beat and music in our hearts as the rear view mirror blurred from view all familiar scenes... With little or no concern for the left behind plants and fish and home we were all smiles. It was a rare sight - seeing all five of us grinning from ear to ear! We drove a total of 2200 plus miles and loved every inch of it!

It was fun looking at how the weather changed as we drove South from NJ. When we left home it was 54 degrees; when we arrived in Florida it was 84 degrees! Passing through the different States (7 in total) we could see how the trees/plants were changing across the different landscapes. At the first sight of palm trees we were elated! 

Do you know that the locals eat boiled peanuts with or without spices in the Carolinas? That pecans are famous in Georgia?  That D& L farmers with screaming advertising boards for "$1 fruit bags!" are the biggest cheaters you would ever come by in the entire North America?! That South of the Border is so much fun even to drive by? That each State has put up beautiful welcome boards as you cross the state lines? Well, we too would have missed out on all these facts if we had flown instead of driving.

We stopped at a church on the way to attend Easter service. The people were so kind, their accent so different and the sermon so prompt. The pastor had shared about the promised blessings which is true for the here and not only the here-after. 

When we arrived at the hotel (Lake Eve) only then we realized it was a resort hotel; that explains how hurriedly we had left for the trip without even looking up the hotel's website. It was a pleasant surprise to open the doors to a beautiful fully furnished two bedroom condo with a full kitchen, washer/dryer, dish washer and everything. I was delighted to see pots and pans and plates and glasses and what not! It was like home! "Even better", the kids quipped, "...because it has a pool!"

While my friends find it easy and convenient to use paper plates for any get together, I insist on serving on proper plates no matter how many guests we have. I was therefore very pleased with the ceramic plates, cups and bowls they had kept for our use. We remembered the Scripture, " you measure, it will be measured unto you!"

Immediately we set out for a quick grocery shopping, loading our cart with basic items such as bread, bagel, milk, egg, bacon, chicken, salmon, shrimp, salt, pepper, oil, lemon juice,yogurt, cumin seeds and red pepper. Oh yes, a small packet of rice and a mini rice cooker too! It was fun cooking as a family. Shrimp and chicken and salmon tasted much better than the home made recipe - just with the bare minimum ingredients - pepper, salt, red pepper, cumin seeds, with or without lemon juice - sauteed in oil. Children loved it!

Every day when we returned from our day's event we were greeted by a clean room - with the beds made, the kitchen back in order, dishes washed and put aside. It was a pleasant surprise day after day and not even once I complained about the cooking. Over all Lake Eve Resort had won our hearts!

The days spent together have reignited the love and bonding between the five of us, the memories of which will last a lifetime! My heart sings songs of thanks to God Almighty. The pastor was right; the promised blessings are true for the here as much as the here-after...

Apr 4, 2012

Ocean Sea

Yes, I did! I did finish the book. No, it wasn't my kind of book but somehow the pages kept turning and before long it was over! Such is the pull of the Ocean Sea. Just loved it!

There is something beautiful about each character in the story and something mesmerizing about the way Baricco tells the story. Dol, Ditz and Dood are so enchanting though it is hard to understand if they are even real.

In Ocean Sea there is Plasson the artist. He tries to paint the sea with sea water and doesn't know where to start because he cannot find the ocean's eye. He is a portrait artist you see and always starts with the eye! So Plasson leaves his canvas blank. This he repeats every day.

Then there is Professor Bartleboom, who is so much in love with his future wife that he keeps her updated with happenings at his end. His letters would read, "Darling! I have safely arrived at the sea!" or "I met this fine lady for tea" etc. Very romantic indeed. The only problem is he cannot mail it to her because he does not know who she is. He longs to find her and hand over the box of letters to her.

I must brief you about Baron who is also an artist. He is good with making identical paintings. Loves his daughter and doesn't like eagles. If eagles must exist he reasons, it is better to have them up and far away in the sky. After a while the daughter shows him one of her paintings, in which she depicts men in mid air, up and away!

I don't want to give out too much spoiling the fun. You must visit them yourself at the sea!

Apr 1, 2012

Enjoy the showers!

Not bad! Not bad at all!  That's how I am faring*. It is April already in this part of the world. I am sure in yours too. The showers have arrived few days early, safe and sound. The sun is on a weekend break or so it appears; hope it won't be gone too long...

There was this sudden desire in me to watch some sea; yes, the ocean as we call it in this part of the town. Watched Poseidon; it wasn't all that good as there is not much sea but only the interiors of this huge ship you see. Then I tried Fools Gold which was indeed the kind of sea I wanted to see, the depth, the breadth and everything.

A day later @KParthasarathy had sent me this clip of Cape Horn that was much more than what I had asked for. The next day found a book called Ocean Sea by Alessandro Baricco, from our office library. It has a lot to offer in terms of sea.

But then just realized it is about people with some mind issues and might turn out to be a thriller and if so it won't be my kind of book. So I am at a dilemma whether to continue reading or quit now. Will decide few more pages later and save the book for Mom's summer reading.

Mother-in-law has left behind a nice long letter - almost a journal - for her children including children-in-law and grandchildren. Just got our copy in the mail and finished reading at once! Though I have heard some of the stories from her, it felt good hearing from her all over again. I could somewhat relate to her as she could express more in letter than in person. Her steadfast faith had kept her going through the downs and she had lived to see her promised blessings.

I guess that's all news at my end. Enjoy the showers folks; beautiful flowers are just around the corner! Happy April 2012!

Friend always,

~ NRIGirl

* faring vs. fairing - which is the right word to use? Anil? Tracy? KP? Anyone?

Mar 28, 2012

Missed Connections

Knowing my interest in people watching it shouldn't surprise you why I looked up Sophie Blackall as soon as I got off the Subway this evening. Turns out she was one of two artists selected for Subway themed illustrations for the year 2012!

I have always felt that mere words are not adequate to thoroughly explain the New york City Subway experience to someone who has never been on one. Well, Sophie has done an amazing job illustrating what she sees around and I can't resist sharing it with my readers and fellow bloggers with whom I have shared a lot of my Subway experiences - in words that is.

To begin with you'll notice the seating arrangement inside the new Subway cars that gives you plenty of leg room and ample bars at varying heights for the straphangers.

Next you'll notice the diverse mix of people riding the trains each of them unique in their own way, each having a story to tell. There are kids, elderly, musicians, artists, you name it. Each minding their own business reading or drawing or chatting or anything but avoiding eye contacts. On the occasional moments the eyes meet there is no smile or nod or any other recognition of it. We look away as quickly as we "met".

Then you'll notice the ample windows that give you something else to stare about at each station.

Sophie has done a tremendous job capturing the scene as it unrolls in front of her eyes. I understand she has also authored a book based on her Subway encounters, called Missed Connections. I am sure to find one for my reading. Apparently most characters in this piece of art is drawn from the book. So I just can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Before I wrap up, here's an etsy video I came across on the making of the art in Sophie's own words. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

P.S: You may also visit her blog to find the portions of the picture upclose.

Until next time,
~ NRIGirl

Mar 23, 2012

A Note

Mar 18, 2012

Laying it down

I am crying. Not because of any matter big or small you would imagine; but because I lay it all down at the altar this morning.

Visiting friends over the weekend we attended Church with them this morning. The sermon was titled "Laying it all down" which went on to explain how Jesus Christ lay it all down for the human race, for me in particular!

The pastor sang a beautiful song I had never heard before, "He paid a debt He did not owe; I owed a debt I could not pay..." In the end of the sermon there was an altar call for 'laying it all down'. The Pastor asked, "He lay it all down for you! What are you willing to lie down today?" I chose to lie down my dreams and that's what I am crying about.

In my mind whatever dreams big or small, the ones that have been fulfilled, partly fulfilled and yet to be fulfilled, and even those that might never be fulfilled have all been lain down - to rest forever. This makes me weepy.

What are these dreams, anything big, you might wonder. It is my all - big and small. It even includes my long lasting dream to take a family picture in blue jeans and white shirts. One might find it silly as to why it has to be a dream and why not just get clicked. The fact of the matter is that a dream is just a dream until one acts on it and in our 13 years of home making we haven't acted on making this dream a reality. Whose fault is it? Why bother? All I can tell you is it remains unfulfilled.

Another one is my fancy for world travel. Israel, Australia, Thailand & Paris seem so close at times yet ever eluding. The big plans for visiting all fifty States as a family might never be fulfilled at the rate in which the kids are growing. It is not the funds that are limiting, though it is true at times; but the time in most cases and hence stays only a dream thus far.

My dream home in India is yet another that remains at large. Why would you spend so much money building a house in India while you live oceans apart is a valid question. But why not is my valid answer! Would it ever be fulfilled? Only time will tell.

Oh yes, my dream job at the Bronx Zoo (oops!) is still pending decisions, though I am hopeful.

But the fact that I have lain it all down at the altar this morning, makes me wonder if I could ever carry them back. By laying it down have I given up hope or surrendered for His will? Israel explains it is the latter while I fear it is the former which is why I am crying...

Mar 13, 2012

Visiting places

I have been a little busy lately visiting places and meeting people... It is hard to believe, in just over the last two weeks I have visited Paris, Israel, the Gobi desert in Mangolia, Iran, Iraq, and travelled all over Brazil in bicycle - yeah, 2000 miles of biking from Paraiba all the way to Rio-de-Jeneiro...

You have guessed it right! I did all the travelling sitting in front of my computer, watching movies... It is a beautiful experience visiting places, learning about different people, sharing their dreams, meals, and conversations...

I encountered a group of farmers raising camels in the Gobi deserts, lot of little children living in camps in Turkey/Iraq border, an interesting ostrich farm and a family story associated with it in Iran and visited the cherry blossom in Japan, life as it unfolds in Paris for many different people and the journey with James to Jerusalem was an eye opener - reminding about life's journey...quiet a challenge...

You must have heard of the phrase "Books can take you places". Well, I believe movies can take you further... Also, to me books are only enjoyable as long as I haven't seen the places described, whereas in movies when they show places I have been to, it gets more interesting...

If you have some time at hand and love to join here are some suggestions:

1. Story of a Weeping Camel
2. Song of Sparrows
3. Paris, Je T'aime
4. Turtles can fly
5. The Middle of the World
6. James's Journey to Jerusalem

When you visit, please pass on my love to the camel farmers, the beautiful mom in the middle of the world and the kids in the camp and especially "Satelite"... Tell the little boy who dreams to raise fish that he did a good job cleaning the dirty pond and I wish him the best in his endeavors and to James tell him I am sorry he got lost, the next time he is out of the prison ask him to please go to Jerusalem at once and hurry back to his village...

Sorry, I didn't quiet get to know anyone in Paris, may be you will ...

Mar 10, 2012

Please share...

These are heart wrenching stories, but I share for a reason...

On the 34th street Subway station a lady boarded the train this morning. She was about 50 years of age; had no bags or belongings; wore a jeans and a sweatshirt with sneakers.

As the train started moving she started speaking to us her fellow riders in clear voice. These were her exact words:

"Ladies and Gentlemen! I am hungry. Very hungry. If any of you can spare something from your lunch or breakfast this morning...  like an apple, an orange, a sandwich, anything, anything at all, please share..."

Then she passed the aisles from one end to  the other saying, "anything? anybody?" and not a single soul stirred. Few continued to read as if they didn't hear a thing. but many were just looking at her and seeing through her.

When no arms extended I too felt reluctant as I didn't want to be the odd man out. But at the same time I couldn't just ignore her. I had a banana other than my frozen lunch. I offered it to her ignoring the stares from the fellow riders. Her face lit up. She blessed me and accepted it. I could sense the glances from the people till I got down at my stop.

Though it made me feel a little uneasy I was glad I could share...

Last week when I returned from the Bronx, at the passage way that connects #5 train's Time Square stop to Port authority walk way, there was this beautiful young Mom standing with an infant bundled up in her arms, with a hand written note that read, "Lost my job. Have two babies to feed. Please help!"

I wasn't sure if I should help. Was that a trick she was playing? But then I looked at her again and she had such a grace about her that I couldn't just walk by. Gave her a dollar. Walked few more steps and then as if something dawned on me came rushing back to her. Fetched out a bigger bill and pressed it in her hand. There were tears in the corner of her eyes and mine too welled up as we held hands for that one brief moment. No words exchanged but it was all understood. I was sorry and she was thankful.

What if these were not genuine cases, one may ask. My response is, if they are that desperate, so be it. I have lost nothing!

Now the only reason I am sharing these with you is so that you too would give, share and help - the very least we can do. Next time you come across someone in need, please don't rush by. Give! Anything. Something. If nothing, lift them up in your thoughts and prayers. But please do not ignore... this is my humble plea...

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
~ Holy Bible

Mar 7, 2012

Taste above all else?

Traveling East these days is a bit annoying, as the Sun pops up out of the New York skyline, glaring with its powerful rays. It is almost audible in the silence of the hour making it impossible to sleep. But I pretend to anyways, lest my hands will fetch the handheld to stay connected to the outside world. I wish to hold off on that till the evening.

On return however, I doze off nicely, waking up startled to the reality. As I near home I can see the moon shining so bright refreshing my soul. Yesterday it appeared a little crooked but today it is almost full. Night sky these days has plenty of stars and the cool breeze only makes it more mesmerizing. I just stand there in the open air a little while longer!

I have been trying to write a poem in vain. I have scribbled off tons of paper in my mind already, most of them started along the lines of "Dear Moon", "Hello Moon" etc. Dear Moon? Then what? That's where I got stuck and had to leave it at that... Then it went on about stars for a while, like "scattered jewels", "shattered dreams", "sequined vail" etc and it didn't quite sound like me nor the stars; it was obvious I was desperately trying to come up with a poem, so called it quits. Poem has to be spontaneous, with no effort, right? Yep, that's what I thought.

Today in Subway I had seen some ads which I wanted to share with you. Now please don't think I am running an ad campaign for the product or the brand. Far from it! Just thought this was a smart and interesting idea... and couldn't resist sharing with you. I especially liked their catch phrase: Taste above all else! But is it? Have they tasted plain cold fresh water?!

Can't believe that alone made in to a nice post!

So, what are you waiting for? Anything interesting you see along, read along, hear along or think along bring it on! It has been so long hearing from some of you... Hope all is well.

Friend always,
~ NRIGirl

Mar 5, 2012

Untamed mane!

I like it when the wind messes up the hair; mine as well as others. There is something special about the fly away hair. It knows no pretense, no holding back; just the letting go and yielding to the unfathomable wind!

Fly away hair is the result of a relaxing day.  Imagine strolling down the boardwalk or playing ball at the beach, who cares for the shape of their hair at those moments. It runs wild with the wind, gets wet in the sea, catches some sand as we roll, but who cares!

Remembering the journeys of the past, you will recall how the hair too enjoyed the ride, tossing and turning and flipping and knotting, all the while messing up our hair dos if any. But did we care? Only the least!

School excursions and home picnics when we showered directly in the falling waters, did we worry to fix the hair? Not at all. Letting it dry in the breeze we enjoyed our lunch by the shade; did we not?

Further down the memory lane, as little girls in white petticoats, with head full of mane cured with oil, playing house with our best friends, the house maid yelling at us to tie up the hair lest it catches fire at the play; don't you recall?

The summer afternoons when we biked around the town in rented bicycles our fly away hair ended up in a sticky mess of sweat and dirt which made our grandma concerned for raising us up like wild donkeys.

And my single attempt on the horse by the beach was the only time when the fly away hair didn't turn out as much fun as fear overtook the cheer when the horse stood up on its hind legs and I slid down to the ground crying and screaming and refusing to go back on top of it again! Ever!

The best way to enjoy the fly away hair is of course to swim with it and watch it follow you in smooth silky waves. The other alternative to that is to sleep in the fan breeze with your towel dried untamed mane!

For those who have never tried any of these, what are you waiting for? Let it fly!

Mar 1, 2012

Granted wish!

Guys! Girls! Guess where I had been the whole day? Okay, I'll give you some clue: I walked in as the peacocks were just waking up and the variety of ducks and swans were just starting their day. Some sea lions barked at me happily as I passed these exquisite birds on the way!

Yep, you got it right! I was in a zoo. Not just any zoo but the head quarters of Wildlife Conservation Society or in layman's term Bronx Zoo! But why? Oh! That will have to wait; as I am not at liberty to share it right now.

Let's call it an "appointment". I would even go further and say it was a divine appointment! It was just like a dream. I mean I had the whole day to myself! The plan was to go in to office soon after; but since it took so long to get through I had to take the day off.

Now at leisure, gave company to a lone rhino, shopped for some souvenirs for kids and decided to grab a bite. Only then I noticed this flock of flamingos (about 2 dozens) and two large graceful white swans outside the glass wall!

Immediately I felt the day was specially made for me! Just for me! Just the right temperature. Just the right setting. It was out of this world - at least my world!

I was shocked and surprised at the same time, with this unspeakable joy bubbling inside me, making me smile and somersault all over. It was absolutely breath taking everywhere I turned!

Just sat there, taking it all in! Only regret was I didn't have a camera handy to take and share some pictures with you all. Blackberry had died on me and so I was really lost in the wild!

Wasn't it all I had asked for?! It was all granted! Just like that! Can you believe it? I still can't...

Even as I wrote the post last night, I had no clue what was in store for me in less than 24 hours since then. Had I known, I wouldn't have written that gloomy post after all, you see. But then in a way I am glad I did as it helps to see my state of mind then vs. now. It helps me enjoy & appreciate this hand picked day all for me!

Thank you for all your well wishes and encouraging comments. I know I can turn to you all anytime...

Feb 29, 2012

Taking toll...

Nope! I didn't get to do any of those special, dreamy things I had planned out for the leap day  - it has come and gone just like any other day!

This alone weighs me down today as I sit down to take a toll of the many days that have just come and gone - just like today. Yesterday, the day before, the day before that, last Monday, last 1st of the month, the last leap day four years ago, it's all gone! Forever! Here I am moving on to the next new month, as if nothing has changed a bit!

Mhhhhhmmmm - that was a BIG sigh that just escaped me. As I was thinking hard about all the toil for so little returns, turned to read my Bible and landed on Psalm 127, verse 2 which was direct and goes: In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.

So true, it's all vain.

If only I can save the weekends for myself, I would be wise. But no; I have to have company; either I visit or I invite and there goes the weekend!

It's all absolutely vain.

Shut me down somewhere where there is no access to the outside world - just me and my family with some clean sheets and comfy pillows and please dim the lights on your way out. Yes, that will do! Thank you!

But then I know if I give up now I will regret it as soon as I am back to my senses. So shoving my thoughts aside, getting ready for more toiling and of course to cherish the new month! 

Happy March folks!

Feb 25, 2012

Where were we?

So, where were we? I remember; looking at the chimney smoke in Grandma's house! Seems like just yesterday, but years and decades have passed by since then and from there.

Like a giant machinery picking up pace with each passing moment, time just rolls on and on and on; hardly allowing us to pause for some fresh air, to soak in the sun, to savor the moments, or to stand and stare... who even has the time to think of the life long sped by? Time to move on I guess...

Speaking of time, don't we all wish for few extra hours or minutes certain days - especially when we are working on a dead line? Well, our wish has been granted! Come Wednesday we will linger on a little while longer in February 2012! In fact we are getting a full 24 hours day! Yahoooo! I need to plan out something special for that day - like sitting down to actually enjoy a steaming mug of coffee or something... Let's see if that wish gets granted.

Almost forgot! Have you met Eye in the Sky? He is from Manila, Philippines who quotes: "I've worked to acquire a career that allows me to maintain, improve or heal what we know as life; and life has allowed me to roam and occasionally forget what I do for a living." He writes such fascinating posts about his travel that you will get addicted to it easily. Check him out if travel is your fancy; you will not be disappointed.

It has been very quite in my blog world lately. Many of my favorite bloggers haven't posted in a while; even those who post, seem to lack the energy or enthusiasm they offer otherwise. I am not my usual bubbly self either. Every sentence I wish to write, something blocks me. Every idea that develops in my mind is soon scratched off. Hope we can all recover from this "spell" soon and share some sunshine.

Wishing you all a relaxing weekend. Look forward to hear from you all soon.

~ NRIGirl

Feb 15, 2012

Chimney smoke

Warning: Something fishy about it!

Grandma had a wood burning stove that was built-in on a raised platform in her kitchen . Right on top of it was the chimney. I loved looking at the sun rays that came down just as the smoke rose up; where they met was a work of art, where you could see the particles dance in mid air.

I was convinced these were "molecules" but no one confirmed it. Papa said molecules won't be visible to naked eye. Then what were they? DNA? I guess that's what it was, because sometimes I could see some ladder like structure with a dot in the middle of each square that connects and this whole structure appears to be moving in the air. But nobody else saw it and so I couldn't continue my speculation any further... (At this Israel laughs saying DNA is microscopic, as if I don't know... didn't know it then!)

The chimney would be the highest point in the house back then and I guess even now. So I would run up the stairs to the terrace for a closer look. It was absolutely fun to see the dancing smoke, the mouthwatering aroma of Grandma's cooking and the smell of roasted chillies that would suddenly leave us with a coughing fit and burning eyes.

From the terrace we could see our neighbor's backyard. This neighbor was a shoe maker or butcher I couldn't possibly tell, but we got a glimpse of the animal skins and horns he would process for his trade. Mom always warned us not to look in that direction but that was enough reason to look. Couple of times I have gotten sight of the drying meat in his court yard and it would send chills through my spine. It was a huge relief for me years later when I heard they have moved out selling their piece of land to Mom.

Grandma occassionaly dried some fish on a string tied across her wood burning stove. For the first few days she would dry it in the shaded sun and bring it in afterwards. As the cooking smoke rose up the chimeny it would mix with the drying fish and reak the whole kitchen and terrace. I remember asking grandma once why she had to do it and she said that it was to preserve the fish for longer days. Though I hated the smell, I loved the curry she would make of it and so kind of learnt to get used to the smell. After all it was not everyday she would do that, only for a week or so and then we didn't see any sight of it till our next visit.

I cherished my visits to the fish market with Grandma. Grandma was a preacher's wife and so everybody called her Amma, including the fish ladies. Though I hated the smell of the fish market I loved to see the different kinds of fish and especially going out with my Grandma. To the few people who ask of me she would proudly say I was her grand daughter, visiting for the summer.

One thing different about the village market compared to the stores in the town (where we lived) was that here they would sell cut mango or cut coconut so you need not buy the whole thing but just enough for the day's cooking, which only means you would return to the market on a daily basis.

Towards the end of our trip, on the way out Grandma would buy me 'javvu muttai' a sticky squishy sugar candy. I loved it.

When we return home Grandma's assistant would set to clean the fish by the far end of the well. I would find a comfortable spot on the nearby tamarind tree, or for an upclose look might find a rock or piece of wood to sit on - close to the person cleaning the fish. I must say these observations came in handy the first time I had to clean the fish few years ago, fish that were caught by Israel and kids from our fishing adventure.

Before long food would be served with the most delicious fish curry and freshly made paruppu kulambu, rice and aviyal. I would happily eat it without any complaints and get back to my play on the terrace or more of my chimney watch!

Next thing cooking would be jaggery coffee... Hmmm those were the days - let loose and carefree...

Feb 14, 2012

A Love Story

Loved this and wanted to share. By our friend and Pastor Matt Monyhan.

Love is in the air. Can’t you feel it?

This morning, I awoke to snow, did my morning ritual of shower and grooming, and kissed my wife goodbye, wishing her a Happy Valentine’s Day in the process. I was out of our neighborhood before I realized that something had gone terribly wrong on this peaceful morning.

I was not wearing my wedding ring.

Apparently, during the night, I took it off and set it on the desk beside my bed. This is not unusual because the fingers can sometimes swell and I will do things during sleep without realizing it until the next day. What is unusual is for me to forget to put my ring back on. I love wearing my wedding ring.

It reminds me that she picked me.

As the morning has progressed, I feel odd. I look at my finger and it seems empty. Even odder is the indention where my ring has obviously rested for the past 16+ years. It looks like I am still wearing my wedding band, even though it is currently sitting on my desk at home. Looking closer, I notice that the skin tissue where this indention resides is actually calloused, almost scarred, into the shape of my ring.

I think about friends and family that have gone through separation and divorce and…I do not understand. I cannot imagine my life without my wife. I realize that widows and widowers have to learn this difficult lesson by no choosing of their own (as well as unsuspecting spouses, at times). But, in my mind, there is no world in which I would willingly choose to be back on my own, rather than part of a union…and not just any union…I am talking about Stacy, my wife.

She is as much a part of me as the callous on my finger that reminds me of her. I was once asked how I knew she was the One. My answer at the time was simple. How could she not be the One? It was a good answer. But my answer has changed.

She is not the One. We are One.

It would be hard to be tempted by another when we are One. It would be impossible to wish for a life as a half when I am part of a whole. Heck, I am sure we will start to look like each other soon.

I used to tell people that I did not have the perfect marriage…I would tell them nobody does…but that is a lie.

If marriage is defined by the ability to “cleave” to your wife, then mark us down as a 10. I am a better cleaver than Ward, Wally, and the Beaver put together (nice Leave It To Beaver reference). What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

This is our love story.

By our friend and Pastor Matt Monyhan.

Feb 10, 2012

What a girl really wants

Love is in the air! I can feel it all around. It was fun to watch the guys at work hurrying for quick lunch breaks to buy the cute little something for their sweethearts. One of them even told me what he got for his wife: a quill pen with an inkwell and some chocolate! Isn't that cute?

Now, for others scrambling for last minute ideas to please the special girl in their life, thought I could share some tips. After all a girl knows what a girl wants!

It is true we love the exotic stuff  like red roses, strawberries dipped in chocolate, love notes, heart pendants, and of course the quill pens, but our heart is in the little things - things you take for granted - things you would miss out completely on - things you won't even understand - things that are dear to our heart... okay, you got it! For those who didn't, here's the list:

1. Show genuine interest in how our day was, instead of going on and on about how yours went.
2. Respect our parents; allow us to buy them whatever we like to; never ask why and never ever say no.
3. Yes, bring us a full glass of water; we are so busy keeping your house in order that we often skimp on nourishing water.
4. We love to eat out; so take us places.
5. Walk with us - with your hands around our shoulders.
6. Make us laugh.

Now go ahead and get us that quill pen if you must; we will take it along with the rest of the list. If you don't care for the list, you might as well keep the quill pen; we care the least for it anyways... But the roses we will take - with or without the list - that's about the only exception!

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