Sad Situation

I was roused from my afternoon slumber yesterday when hubby called to inform me that three blasts have taken place in Mumbai. Frantic calls to family and friends followed. We heaved a sigh of relief when everyone back home was safe and accounted for.

This is the second time in the last four years of my marriage that I am out of India and these terror attacks took place and on these both occasions we talked to family, they said, they were glad, happy in fact that we were out of Mumbai. Yesterday, my FIL told me to continue our stay here in Edinburgh for as long as possible. That was his conclusion. This is what it has come to. It’s better if you are an NRI.

Later last evening we took sonny out in the gardens for his play and to buy some groceries. He is reluctant to sit in the pram now and is quite happy to walk. We don’t have to grab him by the arm, or keep a watch on him from fear of someone kidnapping him or him getting lost in the crowd. Here he is free to walk, stroll, run as he pleases, in the garden and even on the footpath. Could this ever be possible in Mumbai now?

Later when I spoke with my dad, he said that this one is comparatively better than the train blasts which took more lives! At least the death toll is less. As if that makes this attack okay somehow. We have adjusted to such low standards of security. We have so less expectations.

Who is affected and who does really care? The families of the dead ones are so grieved with the deaths, they don’t have the strength to lash out and blame the government, the families of those who are injured are busy taking care of them and worried about their health. When my dad was injured in the 1993 blasts, we were more worried about his health than questioning the government. And then there are those who are well and come out unharmed from these attacks, like us. We are relieved that we are safe, our families and friends are safe. We watch the news, blog, comment, express anger and frustration – but in the end we are just bystanders, helplessly watching the dismal conditions around us. Next day, we get up, get ready, go to offices – of course we have to meet the project deadlines. We have to earn our bread and butter after all.

We are in a loop. Terror strikes, people respond in anger. Blame government, media, politicians, our hopeless situation. Few days pass, anger subsides, people get sucked back into their lives problems, attacks are pushed at the back of our minds, we continue with life until the next strike comes. There is no solution.

The common man’s life is of no importance in Mumbai and in India. You have no job security if you stay back home scared from these attacks. Here in Edinburgh, when it snowed last year for an entire week and the roads were covered in knee-deep hardened snow, people were advised not to leave their houses unless necessary and that didn’t include offices and work. Schools were closed, holidays declared and offices were shut down early in the coming days. That is the level of safety precautions that this government took due to a week of heavy snowfall. And we Mumbaikars are back in offices and kids in school on the very next day of such deadly attacks. Have terror strikes and blasts become a way of life in Mumbai?

It’s a very sad situation.

Rainbow at my window after a thunderous weekend and comfort books

The rains stayed well into the weekend with lightning, thunder and heavy showers but ended with a rainbow. This was the scene outside our drawing-room window when it finally ended.

Rainbow at my window
Every time see I rainbow, and believe me, I have spotted it a lot of time, I fall in love with this city all over again. I mean, back in Mumbai, how many times do you get a chance to relax and look out of your window at home, spot a rainbow and smile? I love this escape from my hectic life in Mumbai. I absolutely love watching rainbows with my son and I know this is one thing I will always remember about this city – the relaxed life and spotting rainbows with sonny. It is so very comforting.
Although I didn’t eat pakoras, this weather had me wrapped under a blanket with my favourite book – Pride and Prejudice. Almost all of us have our comfort reads..books that are on our shelf for keeps. Books that we go back to when we need a guaranteed entertainment.  

Pride and Prejudice
Image by elycefeliz via Flickr
Books that fulfill this function for me are any of Agatha Christie‘s and Pride and Prejudice. And sometimes we wish to watch a movie instead of reading a book. For me that would again be, P&P, the Colin Firth mini-series, Father of the Bride – both parts, Devil Wears Prada. Surely, you all must also have such lists. Tell me, which are your comfort books and movies?

Back to routine life

It had been a good two months with the in-laws visiting and all of us travelling. Lots of fun was had. Tummies filled with delicious food cooked by MIL. Our house achieved unprecedented records of decibel levels with six adults trying to manage two kids who are two years old. Luckily, we weren’t loud enough to be complained for noisy neighbours. It is difficult to come back to the quiet home after having such a lively atmosphere. But sonny seems to have taken that in stride. Though I feel that he misses his grandparents, not a word of sadness has been uttered by that boy. I wonder at time where do kids get this adjustment mechanisms from?

The schools and playgroups have closed down for summer vacation and hence our Wednesdays are no more occupied with Tumble Tots. However, sonny has completed the Walking to 2 Years programme. He also got his very first certificate for it. I am so proud. Earlier I had written about him not adjusting to the playgroup environment but the last three sessions changed it all. He not only stopped crying, but in fact, he started enjoying and playing a lot. After summer, he will be going to the next leve, 2 to 3 Years. Here’s the certificate.

Tumble Tots Certificate

Talking about certificates, he got another one from the library today for reading books. Isn’t that totally encouraging?

Library Certificate

Although summer has officially started, this week was full of rains and today, even thundery showers. I wouldn’t have given a second thought to it, had I been in Mumbai. Aren’t Mumbai rains famous? But here they feel out-of-place and the thunders sure rock through the neighbourhood. The overcast skies this week have added to my sullen mood. But it also makes me want to eat hot pakoras and chai.. 🙂

I am getting totally bored with WordPress templates. The lack of flexibility, inability to add java script widgets and, really boring templates. I am seriously thinking of shifting back to Blogspot. What do you think, should I? I mean, apart from the advantage of replying to individual comments, (well there aren’t many, any rather), I see no other reason to stay with WordPress. Hmm, maybe I should keep parallel blogs on both for some time and then decided. What say? Guide me, come on! I have spent a major part of my day browsing through the beautiful Blogger templates and am tempted…

PS: What do you think of the new theme?

One day at York

After our trip to small cities like Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds, we were looking forward to this short trip with much excitement and anticipation. It sure did live up to our expectations and we wished we had more time to explore this stunning city.

Our journey began on an early Saturday morning in a train from Waverly station at Edinburgh to York. It would take us 2 hours to reach there. The route is very scenic with the North Sea on one side and lush green fields on the other. The sonny was quite excited what with the early morning taxi ride to the station and then the empty train compartment. Even though sleepy-eyed, he wanted to view the scenery and enjoy it all. He enjoyed watching the windmills, horses, sheep and other cattle across the fields.

We reached York at around 9:30 am. York is a small walled city in North Yorkshire, England. A cultural getaway with its exquisite architecture, tangle of quaint cobbled streets and a vibrant cafe culture, York has a wealth of attractions including the iconic Gothic cathedral York Minster, Jorvik, National Railway Museum and many more.

You can explore the city on foot in around 2 hours or you can take one of those city sight seeing tours to check out the main attractions. We first visited the York Minster situated at the city’s centre. It is the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. The present building was begun in about 1230 and the construction was completed in 1472. The Minster is 158 metres long and each of its three towers are 60 metres high.

Inside York Minster

 It has a total of 128 stained glass windows which include the largest medieval stained glass in the world. If you happen to visit on a clear and sunny day, you can clearly see the stunning beauty of it.

The longest stained glass windows

After lunch, we took the city tour bus to the Clifford Tower. It is the ruins of the medieval Normal castle. It was used as a jail and prison until 1930s. You get a beautiful view of the old York city from the top.

Clifford Tower

It was then time for a coffee break. My blog reading was a big help in this matter. Searching for the best cafes in York, I had come across Cafe harlequin in many search results and food blogs that I read. I had eagerly noted down the address on a piece of paper and had religiously forgotten to carry it along. Strolling in the old city with cobbled pathways and marvelling at the architecture, we had come across this cafe quite suddenly. It is quite easy to miss really since it has a tiny door and is next to a huge Cafe Nero. I was more than happy for my good fortune. It is located on Kings Square and is at walking distance from Minster and opposite The Shambles. The cafe itself is on the first floor. It is light and airy and for the first time in this one year, I saw ceiling fans. I opted to try out their House Blend Harlequin coffee while the husband chose frappe mocha. The FIL joined me for the same coffee while the MIL chose a mocha. The service was very quick and friendly. I was also offered the choice of hot/cold milk or lemon with my coffee. The coffee was very good, I couldn’t find any bitter taste to it as with other coffees that I have tried here. Refills for hot milk kept coming as if on cue. We took photos of the interior and at one point the waitress even offered to take a family picture. Do make it a point to visit this cafe at 2 Kings Square, York.

Cafe Harlequin
It's easy to miss with its narrow entrance









With renewed spirits and energy, we continued our walk through York market and the famous Shambles. The Shambles is an old street with twisting narrowing lanes which makes it so charming to walk through. It has timber-framed buildings alongside it, some of them dating back to the fourteenth century. In medieval times, it was a street with butchers’ shops and houses, most of them with slaughterhouse at the back of the premises to supply fresh meat. The name ‘Shambles’ is thought to derive from ‘Shammel’, an Anglo-Saxon word for the shelves which were a prominent feature of the open shop-fronts. The narrow lanes have some of the famous handmade chocolate shops, tea rooms and ice cream parlours. The open space between the shambles is a daily market place. It was most fascinating to walk through these lanes. Even our Mumbai Crawford market streets would look big compared to these cramped lanes bumping into people. 🙂

The ShamblesThe narrow lanes with cobbled streets
The old buildings


Afterward, we walked through the York city walls. They are 2.5 miles long and if you walk through, you get an insight into the rich history, the cafes and medieval beauty of York. If you ever travel to UK, you must definitely visit York and be inspired!

Happy Birthday sonny! You are 2 today :)

You are 2 today! That was what the poster on our hall read when I turned two years old. That was almost 3 decades ago. How time flies. I remember standing stiffly pointing appropriately at posters and cakes and gifts with a plastered smile on my face. Most of the times I never liked the taste of my birthday cakes. Hmmm..maybe it was because of the fact that all other kids standing around me were more eager than me to have a bite as soon as I cut it or it was probably the icing that did it. And I didn’t know how to give a nice pose for photographs.

Anyway. My son is a natural though. He already poses in front of cameras and even knows when we are video shooting him. I guess it’s due to the fact that we tried to capture every moment of his since he was little and now he is used to it. 🙂 I decided not to be late like last year and post my thoughts about your birthday on time.

So how do I feel? Or more importantly, how do you feel son, turning two and showing me in not so subtle ways that you are growing up and that you not the little baby I held not a long time back. How come only two years changed all that? Isn’t it a short time for you to be up and walking, no, running without holding my hand; being confident about it? How about selecting shoes of your choice and refusing to wear the old ones until daddy made the payment and put on the new shoes? Thomas engine, Chuggington really! How did you learn to sing ‘Happy Birthday to you’ days before your birthday? How did you realise that you didn’t want to sleep on the separate bed and insisted on sleeping right between me and daddy. And now you wake up at night when you realise I am trying to make some space for myself, and you throw yourself on me. You really have odd ways of showing possessiveness! How come you are contented and calm without being too complacent? Sometimes when I see you so serene and into your own world, I can almost peep into the small window that gives me a glance into your future but before I comprehend the thoughts, it’s gone but it gives me an inkling that it’s good and healthy..for lack of better words.

There are times when I think about my career and when shall I resume it again. But then I once had a conversation with an elderly aunt of mine who raised her son single-handedly. She said that children who have their mothers with them in their formative years and who grow up with them singularly, turn out to be more content, self-reliant and happy than those who don’t have their mothers 24×7. This conversation has been a soothing balm for me.

What more can I ask? To burden you with my ambitions and hopes is not something that I want to do and I really hope that it doesn’t come to that. I don’t want to be that kind of mother. Yes, but I do want to instill in you liking for books, music, travel and food. I am sure if you deeply attach yourself to these (in that order), other goals of practical life will come to you naturally. Of this am sure. Advice in words is of no use right now but I hope in my actions and behaviour towards you, am bestowing the right values. You really are a good kid to bring up. I haven’t had any difficulties with you that I can name. Really. None. Touch wood. But I still have something more to say..

Two years ago, on this very day
I was on the hospital bed, all stressed out and gray

When they put you in my arms you looked so calm
I would be the best mother I had no qualms

Little did I know that my world had completely changed
That it would never be the same, no never again

Now I can’t imagine the nights when you weren’t at my side
And the day doesn’t begin until you have smiled

Do you know the little flutter that I feel inside
When you call me ‘Aai’ with your smile so wide

Surely there are days when I feel so bad
When you don’t eat, when you don’t sleep and you make me so mad

But the real fun is in experiencing all these things with you
Your achievements, your tricks, your moods and the essence that is you

It’s a delight to watch you grow and it never ceases me to amaze
All that you have accomplished at such a small age

Obviously am a mother and I have a bias they will say
It’s a mother’s heart after all, what else am I to say?

Two years now and look at how time flies
Wasn’t it only yesterday when you were bundled up all nice?

If I give you any advice I know you will scream
But always remember it’s chocolate and not vanilla ice cream

When life throws problems at you that seem big and you can’t handle
Look at the stars at night and your issues with appear small and dwindle

But all this is too far off so let’s not bother now
It’s your only 2nd birthday so go take a bow

Terrible twos? No way it’s definitely terrific twos
Here am wishing a very happy birthday to you!

Too long, eh?

The Tulips

This one is a purely photo post. Been a long time since I did one.  Missed the fields but these colours pretty much made up for it.  

I was most fascinated with these multicolour tulips. The orange/red with yellow created such a brilliant trail as if the rows were set on fire.


Though the tulips in the fields were cut, there were some rows in the garden. And no, the couple with the pram is not us. 🙂

This location was the one that majorly reminded me of Silsila. The colours, the mood, the placement of flowers – so so romantic. If it weren’t for my hungry boy and my tired bones, I would have sat at this location for hours.

It takes two..

Row row row your boat gently down the stream.. row!

So this was near our complex and it took us almost a year to find out. So much for checking out the good places! It was bright and sunny with a little breeze when we went rowing this last weekend. It was so much fun. Even though we had friends with us on the boat, it was hubby and I who took charge of the oars. It definitely isn’t as easy as it may look. We were perpendicular to the river most of the ride and it was only after many rotations that we got the hang of it if I may say so.
It’s much easier when one person is doing it but when it comes to two, communication is the key. We (hubby and I) had discussions, arguments, strategy etc. while enjoying (!) our one hour ride. Even the people passing us by were enjoying it all. It was a long, bumpy, adventurous ride.
No wonder we had a blast! 🙂 So how was your weekend?

Solitude, reading and some thoughts..

4 days without computer. 4 whole days without internet..without mail, without Facebook, without blogs, books and all that glittering stuff that stares at us from the tiny laptop screen. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I was quite normal in fact. No doubt I had my nose stuck to my Kindle most of the time but the fact is that I survived. I am a self-proclaimed net addict and am on Facebook and chat most of the day. But having that taken away from me, I realised there are other things to do as well. Most of the clutter was cut down when we had no TV and it was a bliss and now I can spend days without switching it on. But the internet is another thing. You need to stay connected, whatever you interpret from it. It’s not that am constantly chatting with friends or doing something. It’s just that the light should keep bleeping if you know what I mean. I found out it’s a big relief actually to be cut off for some time. The world doesn’t end and you have time to appreciate other things and enjoy the good old solitude.

So in all my solitude I read Kristan Higgins books. What was I waiting for. I realised that I am all for chic-lit novels and am turning out to be a huge Higgins fan. I am hoping to write reviews for these books if I get time from reading the next Higgins book. Have read Too good to be true and Just one of the guys so far and now on the third one – Catch of the day. These books are hilarious, sweet and have characters that very believable and cute. And did I mention that the gals have pets?? and that too dogs? No wonder am lapping them up!

On a serious note, do people underestimate you? If yes, how do you feel? I mean sure it’s fun when you are small and in school when nobody expects anything from us and it’s a great satisfaction when your results turn out quite good because, well nobody expects this from you and it’s nice to stun them with your achievements. But what when you are grown up and feel the need to be taken seriously and when you really want people to listen to what you have to say? Being assertive is one thing but what do you do when people (possibly unknowingly) belittle you by underrating your opinions or ideas over things? What do you do? Tell me!

What a day!

I am exuberant!

The day began with a sleet and light snow shower!
Now the snow had melted and it’s a brilliantly sunny day.
The son was a very good boy at playschool today.
And, am excited with the prospect of finally having something materialize for me!

Keeping my fingers crossed.

PS: If events occur as I am planning them to, I’ll let you know, if they don’t, I’ll rant anyway! 🙂

Spring is here

Spring is finally here – with longer and warmer days, migrating birds and light showers. I finally feel like moving my butt from the couch and stepping out of the house. And it has its rewards too. Like this last weekend when hubby bought me a jacket, more like an overcoat but very chic. I am discovering the joys of window shopping here. 🙂

Also, developing my cooking skills in a different direction now:

Vanilla Cake – It’s so much better with silicone moulds, you don’t need to dust the base with butter and flour!
Vanilla and Chocolate Marble cake - didn't quite get the marble effect though

For the second cake, I messed up a little. Well not really, but the mould was smaller for the amount of cake I made and it burned a little at the top and so this is the upside down version of it. But tasted like heaven. Hah, talk about boasting! Now then, who needs this awesome recipe??

Have been reading quite a lot lately. All sorts of contemporary fiction that’s free on Kindle. So literature has taken a back seat but will soon get back to that as my TBR list is just growing endlessly.

PS: Happy Women’s Day! We all rock! 🙂