Christmas in Edinburgh

A week after we arrived in Edinburgh, I ventured outside for the first time yesterday, apart from the trips we made to the grocery store. The winter this year is much more tolerable with temperatures ranging within 5 to 12 degrees. There has been no snowfall this year at least not in our region and that makes travelling easier.

Edinburgh is I think one of the best places to celebrate Christmas. You can feel the excitement all around you. Everyone you meet is smiling and there is definitely some magic in the air. I half expected to see Santa flying over the Ice Rink above the dormant trees in the Princess Street Gardens yesterday.

The German Christmas Market stalls are very popular and sell a variety of classic and contemporary gifts as well as a range of German food and drink including sausages, fried potato cakes, German Beer and the famous Glühwein commonly knows as Mulled Wine.

The kiddo had a lot of fun on the rides. We were surprised that he wasn’t afraid to sit in the Giant Wheel. Some pictures from yesterday…

Chocolate Waffles - Yummy!!
Mulled Wine - served warm!
German Markets
Crowd around the market stalls
View of the Ice Rink from top of the Giant Wheel
The kiddo on the car ride - all smiles
Boat + Water = Smug Kiddo!
Children's rides
A glassful of Mulled Wine

These buses were warm and cozy on the inside. You could grab a large slice of Pizza and mulled wine and make yourselves comfortable on the chairs and tables inside the bus!


So how did you spend your Christmas???

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!

Fun Weekend at ED Book Fest

The weekend saw us at the Edinburgh Book Festival. It wasn’t sunny throughout the day but it was pleasant enough to spend an entire day outside.

That’s the entrance to Charlotte Square Gardens which hosts the event.

The photo below is taken at RBS Book Shop. Kiddie activities were held throughout the day – where kids can run off their energy and we – the tired parents can relax. 🙂

See Shantanu pushing the green chair on left

The kids’ drawings, paintings, colourings were put up on the activity board. We opted to put kiddo’s painting on the board too, instead of taking it back home with us.

That’s kiddo’s! Thank you very much. 🙂 Those who think it’s too perfect to be coloured by a 2-year-old, let me tell you that his Dadda helped me colour it. Generously.


Musings from the past week

I can now officially crib since next year I will be on the wrong side of 30! Dear god! I can still remember details about my school and college life but after that it is all in fast forward mode. I already feel like an old maid. 😦

Before I begin my sulking, never imagined I would be celebrating 2 consecutive birthdays outside India – in a beautiful city like Edinburgh. When in school, I always hated it that my birthday fell during the monsoon season and it most definitely rained on that day. Here however, I am really enjoying this summer and sunshine.

This year I have also been able to get a lot of reading done. Thanks to the libraries here which have a huge collection. Back in India I was never able to continue with any library due to the frenzied lifestyle and lack of me-time. The books that I had purchased are still lying in a bag in some cupboard. Here I am enjoying the old world charm of going to a library, browsing through the books and reading them at leisure. Life is so spaced out here. I can take my kiddo with me. He plays with the toys in the kids corner section while I browse and issue books. It has such a laid back feeling to it which I enjoy. I have really come to savor these moments as I know I cannot do this back home.

August month here has a lot to offer with the school vacations and summer and it is truly the Festival month of Edinburgh. It’s filled with a diverse range of activities, shows, performances, arts, etc for all kinds of audiences. The Edinburgh International Book Festival starts this weekend and I am determined to take the kiddo for book reading sessions and other activities. The website is not operating but I shall note down the details about our visits.

The kiddo meanwhile is at his naughtiest best – more demanding, more stubborn and troublesome with a mischievous smile to cover it all. The foods that he dislikes are promptly pushed on the floor from the dining table – (the carpet in our case 😦 ). Most of the time, after a meal or snack, hubby or I are on the floor cleaning up after his royal highness is done with the food. The juice is spilled over a wider area in the kitchen after which he will solemnly ask for the cleaning sponge cloths – he is amazed at the speed with which these cloths absorb the liquid and hence wants to watch it over and over again.

He has also learnt the art of communicating with his toys – the doggy is placed facing the window and is compulsorily made to watch the fountain in the garden and whether the water is on. The open-mouthed dinosaurs are now given lunches and dinners and are fed with rice daily – they are not turning chubby. The kiddo’s blanket is placed on the Teddy Bear – he is told to go to sleep so that Daddy will take them both to the garden in the evening. Every meal is to be had while watching ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’ – I can sing this now even when am unconscious. If the song is over before the food, then the various other versions are to be played repeatedly. I haven’t given up though. As soon as he is old enough to listen and understand film songs, I am going to bombard him with Lata Mangeshkar oldies and Mehdi Hassan ghazals. Let’s see if I can turn him over to my generation about songs.

Books are still a favourite though. Every time, he sees me reading, he will pick up one of his books and sit next to me, pretending to read. TV watching is mostly restricted to his lunch time and he has started picking up english words. There’s this one show where the host reads out greeting cards and letters to kids whose parents and relatives have wished them on their birthday. The kiddo promptly starts singing Happy Birthday to you!

Speaking of TV, I have been seeing this ad starring a weather-beaten Jean-Claude Van Damme:

What in the hell is this all about?

He is walking like a penguin and his pants are frozen rock solid??

This is such a perplexing ad, no idea what lager he’s advertising and would it be any good if it freezes his assets?

The Birthday Week

One day is not enough to celebrate your birthday, seriously.

There is too much excitement, you receive assorted gifts in the coming days from friends and relatives and mostly there is too much food to be hogged and you just cannot do it in one day!

When we are small, we have birthday parties, one single get together with friends and family to celebrate your birthday, grab the gifts, eat cakes and other delicious food. And then you are done. The excitement is over. Just like that. But as you grow older, the birthday parties are rare and not organised every year, the number of gifts dwindle and in general it’s not a big deal. 

To recreate the fun, we (mostly me and my uncle-aunt) decided that birthdays should be celebrated for the entire week – a few days before and a few days after the big day. It should be a more elaborate event. Like Diwali – each day you have something to celebrate, more fun, more sweets, more food – in all a darn good time over a few days. We started having impromptu dinner parties at home and restaurants, ordered takeaways, indulged in roadside chats, paani puri, ice creams – the reason always being, someone’s birthday was due in a couple of days. That way you could enjoy for more than one day and eat all your favourite foods and specially feel special and important.

Why am I suddenly being nostalgic and ranting about this. My birthday falls in this first week of August. Fortunately this week also marks the beginning of Shraavan. Although we are not following Shraavan, no non-veg food can be consumed during this entire week as festivals are marked throughout. Be still my heavy heart, we can still have fun with the veg food. Afterall, ghaas-phus can be made interesting.


So am officially announcing the commencement of celebrations for my birthday, besides, the world is a better place because of me. I have already started my celebration with mutton chops, Pomfret curry and strawberry wine. Go ahead, stop fretting, stop worrying, indulge yourselves, eat out, have fun, go on a holiday you have been longing to, meet your loved ones, have that tempting plate of food (to hell with the calories) and have a great week. In case anyone asks or you have guilty pangs, blame it on my birthday.

Things I wish/want for my birthday:

  • Mental peace, an anchor, something to hold onto – to rest my mind from the tangle of thoughts that obstruct my clarity of vision and judgement.
  • Get a hold on as many books as I can since I have the feeling that this is the only leisurely time I will ever get to read and relax.
  • A job: Something that will make me productive again – something to which I can apply my mind to and feel satisfied with the results. I miss those deadlines, pressure and anxiety, yes I miss feeling miserable.
  • Self actualisation: My grandma will agree with me that age has not brought me what it is supposed to bring in people  – wisdom, astuteness and some personality. I can’t at times find any changes in myself from when I was a teenager. Anger has always been my downfall and letting it get the better of me has often led me into trouble. People will not bother with who is right and who is wrong – they will only pinpoint at the person who is angry and shouting – and mostly that is me. Still need to change that.
  • Physical exercise: Have never done it, nor likely to do in near future unless advised by the doctor. But I always feel good after a coming back from a walk or running after the brat.  Need to do that more often. Need some fresh air and here it is plenty.
  • Music: There was once a time when I lived and thrived on music. I used to carry my Walkman to college and listen to songs during my commute. I used to go to sleep at night listening to songs. Nowadays I hardly ever turn on the music. Nursery rhymes, Thomas, Chuggington, Tom and Jerry are the order of the day. I want to make an attempt to listen to more of my favourite songs. Find that iPod!
  • Take a break: from my routine – from cooking, cleaning, other household chores, being a mother and care taker. I need a break. I mean a real break from all that I am doing 24/7. I need a carefree life for sometime for at least a few days. I know it will come soon but till then need to hang in there.
  • Chocolate: It helps, really it does. One bar of dairy milk can work wonders and I have been indulging since quite some time now. I want to dig up more recipes for all sorts of chocolate milkshakes, cakes, etc for this summer. A girl needs her chocolate, that’s the bottom line.

That should do for now. 🙂

The Cinema Experience

The Yogi Bear Show
Image via Wikipedia

We took Shantanu, who by the way is turning more into a brat by the day, to watch a movie last weekend. The multiplexes here air kiddie movies every Saturday morning. We decided it was time to introduce the little punk to the theatre. Movie listings were checked, the brat was shown a couple of movie trailers just to check his liking.  We finally decides on Yogi Bear after Cars and Kung Fu Panda. He seemed excited enough although it was me and hubby who were more eager to go and watch a movie, any movie in a theatre after more than a year. The excitement of going for a movie doesn’t end na? I have always felt eager and excited to watch a movie in theatre – the tickets, popcorn, pepsi-coke  – it is so reviving.

All set, the next day saw us at the theatre half an hour before the movie time. He watched the ads before the movie with deep concentration and I was starting to feel relaxed that he might sit still during the movie ahead.


He was all attention when the Bear was on the screen and started crying as soon as it was out of scene. After a lot of cajoling and coaxing, hubby took him out and got a big cone of popcorn 🙂

Alas the movie was one smooth ride after that. We even waited till the closing credits rolled out!! Pizzas and chocolate drinks followed and he was one happy kid by afternoon.

Shantanu and I also had our very first Bowling experience. With all our travelling, he is turning out to be a very outgoing person.

No wonder hubby wants to send him in to Travel and Living! 🙂


The New year trip

So I had been absconding for almost a fortnight now, no more than that. Fret not, I was only sulking about the year coming to an end and wondering how soon it passed, given that I did absolutely nothing, nothing! since I came to Edinburgh in June. To rouse me from my depression, hubby took us to a week-long holiday at his cousin’s place in London! And what a week that was. From sumptuous meals to breathtaking surroundings and heart-to-heart talks, we did it all.

We visited the Cambridge university – took the traditional punting tour of the river Cam passing along the backs of Cambridge university. A picture is worth a thousand words…

Remember 'mudi mudi' from Paa?
Beautiful autumn colours and snow


the willows, snow, cambridge...ahhh
Just beyond this bridge is a huge ground where the shooting of the selection of players for Quidditch in HP1 took place. I was so stunned by that information that I missed taking the picture.

We then visited the Bury St Edmund’s town. It’s a small market town in Suffolk and is considered to be the most

It was a day of mist and fog and utterly delightful atmosphere to explore the ruins of the old cathedral!


Towncentre at Bury's. such small markets and town with so much character and history. All the Agatha Christie novels came to life and I found myself looking out for Miss Marple!

 floral town in Suffolk.

Now veggies close the tab, the meat eaters salivate!

Raan masala made by my SIL. Don't ask me the recipe, I don't have it. Delicious and mouth-watering.

Aside from this trip, I have been given to hope that a most delightful event is to occur this year-end, no am not expecting and it has nothing to do with my immediate family. But am in such spirits that I have suddenly taken to food like never before. I find myself hogging till am ready to barf. With the limited amount of exercise that I do, or rather absolutely nothing, it’s a wonder that my jeans still fit and am not blowing up like Harry Potter’s aunt Marge. So, anyway, am excited and that’s making me do crazy things, not that I don’t do them otherwise, but then I never thought I would gluttonous.

The things on my mind…

It’s been seven months now in Edinburgh and to say that I have enjoyed my stay here is to put it very mildly. The place, the seasons, the sheer thought of living in such a picturesque country elevates my thoughts and puts me in a wonderful mood.

Even though winter is still on with winds and cold, the days are getting longer and there’s just something bright in the air; I can’t quite put a name to it, but everyday I wake up it feels like spring will be here soon. And I can hardly wait to experience it!!

In this short span of time, I have experienced many a things that will go down in memory lane as “kodak moments”, autumn, the first snowfall, visits in Cambridge, Norwich, Bury St. Edmunds (which reminds me that I still have to put up that post about our trip on christmas and new year). These small towns are so beautiful and have so much character. I could have spent days there just walking around all over the town, sipping coffee in the small stylish cafes. It just felt completely like home.

Another most important reason perhaps why I am enjoying it this much is because am spending time with my family, specially with my son. In this short span of time he has achieved so many milestones of his own and that in itself is some feat; but being there the very first moment is heaven – the first walk, the first words, the first run. What pure magic it is to see your own child grow in front of your eyes rather than have someone else tell you at the end of the day when you return half dead, tired from office. These moments would never have been the same.

I know I won’t be with him throughout the day once I go back to India, but am here now during his very early formative years and that would help him immensely. He has not yet started throwing tantrums and is quite easy-going and calm but is quite assertive in many situations. I think it’s a good sign though it’s too early to judge. He does lack peer engagement but his school will start soon and am quite eager to observe him behave in that environment.

Making him independent is my main goal with him. He already helps me a lot in my household activities and seems very pleased with himself when he does so, unloading the dishwasher is a favourite and so is tidying up his toys after play. He is too small to allow him to cook but am sure when he is old enough he will be quite a lot of help in the kitchen. He also loves carrying things for me. He will  take out the dry laundry from the dryer, pick up my cell phone if it’s ringing and will give it to me. He can’t actually put out the clothes to dry but today he put a wet hanky on the chair and was grinning afterward to show what a great achievement it was. He loves to do different things everyday and quite often is successful in his effort. He knows his mind so far, haven’t seen him cranky or confused except when he was ill. Though he hasn’t started speaking a lot, he understands almost everything that we say. Commendable for a twenty month old, eh?

This post has turned into a mamma post which was quite unintentional but you got to say whats on your mind and that’s just the tip of where am coming from!

A snowy weekend

After much anticipation, it finally snowed this weekend. My first snowfall, Shantanu’s first snowfall. Though I wonder if he will remember any of it. And for that, we have the video camera.

Parking lot

It started on Friday evening. A soft drizzle at first and then a heavy downpour. The sky was such a slight pink. It was the colour of my son when he was just born. After some time when the snow had accumulated, it reflected a beautiful yellowish pink and it was all bright in the middle of the night. We all stayed up till midnight, taking turns rushing to the windows for different views. We even dared to open the windows for a better shot. The commentary in the videos shoots contains sounds of our teeth chattering and that’s when we shut the windows.

The snowman near the frozen fountain

Shantanu was all excited. I could make it out as he kept flapping his hands all the time trying to imitate the snow-falling-action. It snowed all over the weekend, disrupting transport and traffic. Schools here have shut down with weather warnings issued and these are the extreme temperatures observed in November in many years. In short, all fun and frolic for children. This resulted in 3 snowmen standing proudly with their carroty-nose and cucumber-eyes with a stole around their necks. A family even built an igloo which we still have to go explore.

Ground below our building

The seasons are fantastic. You can actually notice the change in nature. The leaves changing their colours, the migrating birds, the subtle winds; I have already experienced summer and autumn and am now freezing in the cold and snow. Every night, when I wake up in between, I look outside the window and watch the snowfall. It is so serene just  like watching the rain minus the noise. Rain has its own beauty but am beginning to like the snowfall too. 🙂

The stolen TV and other updates

With the approaching autumn the trees in our garden have turned beautiful red and yellow and I feel so delighted to experience the English autumn after reading about it in books. The days are growing short and cold. The internet provides little entertainment and hence after much deliberation, we decided to get our stolen TV in working condition. Hubby finally bought the cables and boxes and now we get to watch 75 channels.

We took Shantanu to the doctor last Friday. After examining him, the doctor said that the spots that appeared on his body are not of Chicken pox, much to our collective relief. It is some kind of a reaction to the viral fever that he had last Sunday. He assured us that these would go away in a week’s time. However, he may still get chicken pox later. He did not give any medicines nor did he suggest any change in the diet. We have started giving him a banana a day to clean his system.

Shantanu has started saying a few words now. “aai, aaba, me, kaka, kaki” are the regulars.
“dada = daddy”
“Coppa = helicopter”
“pachati = chapati”
“gooo = gol”
“meeee = me, mary poppins”
“pa = paani”
“aaatiya = atya”

He can now climb on the chairs of the dining table but dares to do so only when we sit on them. When he doesn’t stop even after telling him so repeatedly, I sometimes just stand at the table and have my food. Next, when he starts climbing on the table, I think we will be having food right off the pots from the stove. He also switches off the TV just when something interesting is about to happen.

I just finished reading Pride and Prejudice and then went ahead to watch the movie as well as the television series. I am so so in love with Mr. Darcy. I find it hard to decide whether I love Rhett Butler more or Mr. Darcy.

Did I tell you am in love with Mr. Darcy. Sigh.. if only such men existed in real life.

Voices in my head when I cook:
“Always heat the pan well before pouring the oil..”
“Everyone has a unique way of rolling out dough while making chapatis. You will eventually find yours.”
“Don’t open the cooker before the pressure is out.”
“Heat the milk before pouring it while making sheera.”
“Saute the onions properly before putting the veggies.”
“Separate and remove all the water from the kheema before applying the masalas. This will help not form lumps in it.”
“You will be able to make out if the dish is prepared well just by smelling its aroma. Don’t fret and don’t taste.”

I hear these voices of my aunt and grandma every single day when am cooking. I mean I really hear them. Ever. Single. Time. Okay I wasn’t into cooking before marriage, nor after it for a long time. But just before I travelled to Singapore, I had made my aunt and grandmother give me tips on cooking and the above is just a few of what they said that time. And now, every day when I go to cook, I hear it in my head as if they are standing next to me instructing. I recall it word to word. Maybe, I should have made them recite my studies, I would have remembered it much better.

That’s all for now. I shall go and appreciate the colour and fragrance of the lavender and think of Mr. Darcy!

These are a few of my favourite songs…

The kiddo has taken a liking to music I must say. With me bombarding him with a variety of songs, he doesn’t have an alternative but listen to them. The songs are a must while eating his meals. Though he likes almost all the children toon songs, he has his favourites…

Bada natkhat hai re – I don’t know why he really likes this song. It’s a slow one. I guess it’s because I once made a montage of his photos and put this song as the bachground score.

Ichak dana – I guess it’s the words and rhythm for this one that he loves. And I equally love it watching with him.

I love to laugh – well, one day kiddo was really bored with all the songs and it suddenly struck me that I haven’t once made him listen to the Mary Poppins songs. It was one of my favourites when I was a kid. Once I showed him, he was hooked. Who wouldn’t be? 🙂 This one is an all time favourite of his. He starts laughing the moment he sees this one.

Jolly Holiday – Another one! He loves the umbrella and the stick dance in this and also the tortoises.

Penguin dance – What can I say, the penguins are adorable.

Step in time – He loves the dance. Again I think it’s the rhythm that makes him jump up and down.

mach gaya shor – am baffled but he loves this one and starts dancing. 😛

So, what are your kid’s favourite songs?