Author Archives: Ashima

About Ashima

Life is short, eat dessert first.

Pyaari Dimpi

Helping my parents pack their home of last 8 years or so and shift to a new place took both me and my sister on a trip down memory lane. All other times when they had moved, either we were too young or not able to come… each time, everything would get packed and somehow find it’s way in some corner of a cupboard or stacked away in the loft with an invisible table of “to be sorted later”. That “later” never came and the box was again moved to the next home as is.

This time is hopefully their last shifting as finally they are moving into a home of their own and both me and my sister came to sort, pack, unpack, and organize. Before the actual packing, we decided to go through each and every one of those boxes. One of the box had my name on it. It was a box that I actually had been looking for in my earlier visits home but never found and assumed it was lost in one of the moves. As I sat with it, I had mixed emotions of what I was going to find in it.

I knew I had packed it before my marriage and left it in a cupboard. Since then my parents have changed 3 homes and each time that box went into a loft. I opened it slowly and out came photocopies of Calvin & Hobbes that Sikander had made for me in IIT; some technical papers from my time in TI… most of them were of PLL and I remember how I used to be an expert in them and now it took me a minute to even remember their full form! :p There were neatly filed salary slips, bank statements, IT returns everything from those 5 years in Bangalore… and right at the bottom of the box was the most important package…

A simple poly bag filled with cards and letters. Letters from my grandmother, chachi, and school friends. Letters I had received when I left home for IIT. I am so glad that there weren’t any emails or mobile phones with Facebook, WhatsApp, FaceTime etc… Just plain old handwritten letters.


My nani wrote to me on inland letter paper… the blue coloured ones with pre-printed stamps. Did you know, these inland letter papers are now discontinued? When I went to the post office to ask for some, they were surprised I even know of them! No one uses them anymore.

I am now sitting with a cup of tea and my letters. Reading each one of them one by some. Some are addressed to “pyaari dimpi” (my name at home) and some to “Dearest Ashima”.. some are signed off as “Love me” and it is a riddle to figure out who must have written that… some have brought back memories of mischiefs done in younger days and friendships that are lost because now “we stay in touch through Facebook updates”. Each of these letters is like a story that is wanting to come back from the memories deep down!

I can’t turn back time, but I do want to bring back the emotions a letter used to bring. As I finish this blog post, I am going to pick up a pen and paper and writing one to a loved one.

If you are reading this, I hope you write a letter or even a small note and send it to your loved one.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

The journey some papers take!

“To think if pieces of paper can have such a journey and story!”

About 3 years ago, a packet, for me, was delivered to my parents’ home in Chandigarh. It had a pack of 500 very good quality origami papers and a handwritten letter. 

The letter told the journey this pack had already had… 

“This paper meant for Japanese artwork was made in Germany and imported to Kansas. From there it was delivered to California, where another colleague got it to Delhi and yet another colleague got it to Bombay. From where my friend couriered these to Chandigarh with the hope that I will carry them to Angola where they will turn into exotic shapes and bring smiles to someone’s face!”

He knew all about my volunteering with kids in Angola and also knew that I took back supplies from India as it was very hard to find good and cheap art supplies there. We had been talking about the legend of 1000 origami swans and because he couldn’t find any good origami paper in India, he asked some of his colleagues who were coming back from the US to bring some. Of which one was sent my way for my kids.

In Angola, these papers brought many a smile when we turned them into windmills, and frogs, and hearts, and many more shapes. 
volunteering with kids in Angola

And then I left Angola and the stack went into storage with all of our other stuff. A year later it took another long journey, this time on the big seas as it came with our shipment from Angola to Romania. 

It was only after almost 2 years that the stack came back to life. This time again at a learning space for street children. From being a perfect square, it went on to become a hearts, tulips, fish, whales, and birds… bringing many more smiles 🙂 

Volunteering with children Bucharest, easy origami for children

And we have just begun! No one knows the journey and the stories these will create! Waiting to be an instrument and a witness to it.

The journey of a stack origami papers

Oh! the journeys some papers take. I can write an essay on myself as a paper. I remember in primary classes we used to have essay topics like “the autobiography of a paper!”. This was a perfect journey for that 🙂


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My first recipe Video!

It always seems impossible until it’s done. – Nelson Mandela

I need to adopt this as my new mantra. I actually wrote it on a post it and stuck it under my desk mat long time ago but somehow it got under some stuff and only today I brought it back out so I can see it clearly everyday. 

It always seems impossible until its done

So today I am feeling like I did the impossible! I have been giving myself plenty fo reasons to convince that recipe videos are impossible for me but today I finally hit that “Publish” button on YouTube! It is big for me, at least at this moment. 

I started food blogging just out of a desire to share recipes. I love cooking and I believe everyone can cook and everyone should cook. Cooking is not a chore but a wonderful offering to family.  I am not the activist kind but I thought maybe sharing easy recipes will encourage at least friends and family. My blog is kind of my bit in bringing back home cooking but slowly it became more than a hobby.

It became an avenue to learn so many things — Food writing, food photography, website making, troubleshooting, SEO, Social Media… the list is endless. The learning never stops because well new things keep coming up and old things keep changing :).

I don’t monetise my blog, simply because I don’t want it to become a job and also I don’t like websites showered with advertisements. But I do want more people coming to my blog and so I learn and unlearn and I relearn about SEO. With more and more food bloggers out there, they continuously redefine the scene. “The world is moving to video”, they say!

I have resisted recipe videos for so long. First I am not at all comfortable with my face being on camera but then came the “talking hands” recipe videos which solved that problem. But videos always seemed very difficult to me, they still do. I have no clue of shooting a video, a setup for videos, the amount of planning required and then editing will be another game altogether! My kitchen is too small with the stove tucked in a corner that shooting there wasn’t a possibility. So I said, “I am fine without videos.”

But then a friend kept on saying, you have to do food videos. I will help you but just click your first one. And I was like, but all the food bloggers have channels with 100+ videos! But then he said, imagine someone coming to your food blog and saying she already has 100+ recipes, I can’t start a new food blog now with one recipe! And I realised that was me many years ago! but I did start a food blog when there were many already.

So I finally did a video. I created a mini setup in my living room. Decided on the simplest of recipes that didn’t have too many ingredients or steps and shot!

recipe video setup in teh living room of a food blogger

Went to YoutTube and looked for iMovie beginner tutorial videos. I spent most of my Sunday on learning the basics of iMovie (because that is the only free video editing software I have!) and then showed the result to a few friends. With some positive feedback, and a lot of nervousness, I finally uploaded it to YouTube today. Even creating a YouTube channel for the blog wasn’t that straight-forward! Here’s how my very first video looks like and I am right now staring at the same post-it which says, “It always seems impossible until its done.”

What do you think?


There will always be reasons to not do something, but find your one reason to do it.

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The lady with one Good Leg

Well, that is me. I’m currently the lady with one good leg as was the name given to me by our cab driver. 

Last week we were on a family vacation in Amsterdam and just the night before we were flying back, I ended up slipping and badly twisting my foot. It was hurting, but it didn’t feel that bad. I found some ointment in the medicine cabinet of the home we were renting and slept. In the middle of the night I wake up with this huge swollen foot and a pain that is shooting, radiating and throbbing all at the same time.

We had an early morning flight and somehow through my tears and help from everybody, I got ready. When Naheed offered me a pain killer, I didn’t say no and even kept an extra one for the flight. 

I limped to the cab and the our cab driver, Fred, asked which airline we were all flying with. Our sisters were flying United and we were going KLM. and then he ask, “and the lady with one good leg”, which airline is she on? We said KLM. That’s good, he says. He dropped us right at the gate which was closest to KLM assistance and directed the rest for United. 

I was in no situation to walk the lengths and breaths of what airport terminals have now become but I didn’t want to take a wheelchair. I told Sikander I will lean on you and we will slowly go to the gate but after 5 steps I knew I couldn’t. While we had not pre-booked airport assistance; KLM staff was very gentle and helpful in arranging everything. This was my first time in a wheelchair at the airport. I was so conscious. I was thinking what will people think of me… I am not old, I had no cast on my legs to say I was hurt. I had no “visible” label to say I was hurt. People might think I’m just abusing the system. Every time we skipped the queue and were asked to come forward, I would keep my head down or make a sad face to show that I really was in a lot of pain. 

There were two things that struck me. First was, My injury was bad enough that I had to take help. I needed help but why was I conscious of taking it? Was asking for help, in some ways accepting that I’m imperfect? I had this back and forth argument in my mind and I’m glad I finally chose to be happy about the state I was in. It isn’t everyday that I am wheeled around an airport so why not make the most of it! I asked Sikander to take me around and I gave everyone a big smile when they moved to make space for me. I was very comfortable once I let go of my need to justify help. I just enjoyed all the help. 

Using airport assistance at Schipol Amsterdam

The lady at the toilets, opened the disabled bathroom for me and I went it. the guy at the security opened a closed lane for me and I went in. The girl at the gate helped us go in first and I went. I even asked to get a photo clicked 🙂 The flight was nearly full, and we were the only other row that had no other passenger and it wasn’t a coincidence.

The crew was super sweet in their care and concern. Since it was just a 2:30 hour flight, they had no ice but they gave me the coldest can they had to do some cold compress during the flight. 

The same treatment continued at the Bucharest airport too after arrival 🙂 We went to the hospital emergency and a quick x-ray showed no fractures and only a bad sprain. Cold compress and elevation… that is all that is needed. But I had fun even though it hurts.

Thank you note for flight crew

The second and more important realisation was I figured I was having these thoughts because probably I also try to find  “visible” labels on people using assistance? But we aren’t always carrying labels on ourselves. I should be sympathetic and patient with everyone I come across. Maybe they have an invisible sprain that says, “had a bad day”; “going through a breakup”; “feeling a little low today”; “just recovered from a fever” and what not. 

I will from now on, try to remember that we all have invisible labels and we all need a little patience from each other!

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generosiTREE: Random acts of Kindness in Herastrau Park

“It’s a generosiTREE.. did you get it? TREEEEE…”

I heard a teenager explaining her surprise and excitement at the play of words to her younger sibling.

random acts of kindness in park, kindness drive in Bucharest

Couple of weekends ago, I had this simple idea of some random act of kindness in Herăstrău Park.

We had gone to the park as part of my husband’s team community run initiative and initially we hung the board on a tree where most of us had collected. It was great to see the excitement, both of adults and children.

Within our group everyone took one act to do either during their run or on their way back home. Later we went around the park with the board to offer them to everyone in the park and that’s when it hit me. We were very excited with what we had done and felt everyone will be open to it. But it was difficult to even have people listen to what the idea was… everyone thought we were out to sell something… We would approach asking if we can have a minute of their time… and the response will go like “I don’t speak English”; “No.. I don’t want to listen to you..”; “We are very tired, we can’t do this” 

random acts of kindness in bucharest

People who agreed to listen were an exception. Which is not difficult to understand because the world that we live in, we are all vary of strangers and strangers approaching with big smiles and a board with colourful post-its! “They are out to get something from me!” 

Even those who listened, would ask, “okay so what’s the story? What are you promoting? What cause do you work for? What do I have to do after I do the ask? Where do I need to share it?” And when we said the story for us ended with them picking up an idea and they can choose to do it or not do it and then possibly pass it forward. They would be totally surprised. “That’s it! We just pick one act?”

“Yes! You just pick one act.”

And that’s when the frowns will turn into smiles! The best moment 🙂 “Wow! that’s a great idea!”

Slowly people who overheard, were interested when they realised that we didn’t belong to any organisation. One guy picked up “Turn off unused lights” and said that he and his wife were just talking about how to reduce their energy consumption! Another picked up “Give a group hug to a tree in public” They were a family of 3, with a toddler and they said their little daughter will love doing that act! 

An elderly man was so touched that we came up and spoke with him that he was almost crying! 

For us it was a joyous practice both when people took the notes and when they didn’t. The people who took, offered us a gift by receiving our idea and those who didn’t taught us humility and gave us reasons to step-it-up! 🙂


PS: If you wish to get all the ideas we had put up on the board, feel free to message me and I will email the to you!


Categories: Volunteer | Tags: , | 2 Comments

An ode to all Mothers

A few days ago I was talking to my aunt. It was one of those days when she felt like sharing and I felt like just listening. I really felt it was such a blessing to able to just hear her.

At one point she told me how she is humbled every time when she meets a monk or a sanyasi and they would insist on touching her feet saying that a mother has the highest stand in the order of the world. She said, “some of them are even older to me and I feel like I should be touching their feet but they don’t let me. I don’t know what karma have I done to deserve this blessing that such amazing people would come to our home, that I would have the opportunity to make food for them and then they would in turn ask for my blessing. I am just an ordinary, very worldly mother.

When she said that she was just an ordinary, very worldly mother; I started thinking if there is anything ordinary about being a mother? Is there anything close to worldly about being a mother. Mothers are superheroes, mothers are Godly.

My aunt had further shared how she sometimes feels guilty about not always being there for one of her children. That maybe she loved one more than another. That made me think how when I was a kid I used to think my mom loved my sister more that me, and I’m sure that my sister thought the other way. But now I know that it is just not possible which is what I had shared with my aunt that maybe she was different with both of them but did she really believe that there was any difference in her love for them?

I am not a mother yet but from my relationship with my sister’s kids I have had a chance to experience just a fraction of this beautiful being. When my sister had her first child, I thought I could never love a kid more than Nandini. She was the baby of the family and she had my heart from the moment I lifted her tiny body in my arms. 4 years later Arjun was born and I knew there is no way I can choose between the two of them. I loved them equally and that’s when I realised there is no way that mom loved either of us any less or more. That it was just not possible.


Her love for us is infinite and how is one infinite love more or less than another infinite love? There is just no way that she differentiated between us. Yes, she is different with both of us and that is because we both are different and have different needs but her love for both us is same. I’m amazed when I see my sister juggling between a very naughty Arjun and a very calm Nandini. It must have been same for our mom with both of us being such striking personalities. But I see it in both my mother and my sister and all the mothers I know that their love for their children is something beyond worldly, something beyond ordinary. It is unconditional, unlimited, unbiased and selfless.

I bow down to all mothers for nurturing me and for nurturing this world.

Categories: Gen | 2 Comments

The story of a forgotten toothbrush



Children Innocence, lost toothbrush story

Daadi’s toothbrush, Arjun’s toothbrush, Maasi’s toothbrush! 🙂

My 5 year old nephew is very attached to me and whenever I visit my sister, leaving from there is a heartbreaking task.

It is still easy for me as I leave but it becomes very difficult for my sister as for the next two days or so Arjun stays angry at the fact that maasi left.

This time I was there for 4 days and was coming back after two weeks. So I had left one of my suitcases at my sister’s place. I left when he was still in school and we said nothing to him the night before. When I was at the airport, it struck me that I had forgotten my toothbrush in the bathroom and will need to get one more. My thought was just that of the inconvenience it caused… but I never thought how that little forgetfulness will play out.

When Arjun came back from school, didi tried to explain to him that maasi has gone to Pondicherry and she will come back in 2 weeks. “See her suitcase is also here!”

He didn’t look at the suitcase but asked if the toothbrush is there and ran to the bathroom that he, his granny and I shared. He saw the toothbrush there and he was fine. Completely assured that maasi hasn’t left for good and that she will be coming back for her toothbrush!

Sometimes it is just amazing the linkages kids make. I never thought my brush lying next to his would matter so much to him or that was a reassurance everyday that maasi is still here..

I wish we could all just remain children :-).

Categories: Family | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A weekend in Budapest

One of the best things about Europe is the ease of traveling within the continent. One visa and plenty of cheap travel options! Last weekend we went on a last minute weekend trip to Budapest, the  capital city of Hungary.

How do I explain the city? It is one of the loveliest I have been to. There is beauty wherever you look. During the day, we walked and walked and walked. We saw, we stopped and we just stared. It is one of the rare cities where the river flows right through the middle of it. Not surprising as Buda and Pest were earlier two cities with very distinct cultures, which is true even today and united only in 1873. During the night, we enjoyed great dining, good wine and the eclectic environs of the famous ruin bars! Not to forget the amazing sights of the city all lit up golden against the dark backdrop of night.

Here is the two and a half day itinerary of our first trip to Budapest! I say first because I am sure, we are going there again. I have also mentioned the vegan/ vegetarian friendly restaurants we went to. We had a great meal at all the places.

Day 0: Vörösmarty square — St. Stephen’s Basilica — Danube Promenade — Shoes on the Danube — Hungarian Parliament 

Public transport in Budapest is very convenient. As soon as we came out of the airport, we bought a pack of 10 discounted tickets to use over the next 3 days. Took one of the oldest metros in Europe to Deák square which is like a hub of all public transport. From there our apartment at Király utca was a 5 minute walk. There were lots of clubs and cafes on Király. After a quick bite we started walking towards Vörösmarty square.

“You have to start your trip at Vörösmarty square”, we were advised and we followed :-). It is like the hub of all activities and just has a great vibe to set the tone of the trip. The square is full of food stalls with Hungarian and regional cuisines and there are also restaurants and cafes all around the square to suit every taste. Lots of stalls selling local artisan gifts, from handmade jewellery to soaps to honey to ceramic flowers to woollen caps to sweet Hungarian paprika… anything and everything is here. It’s a pleasure to just idly walk around the square.

2 day itinerary for Budapest, walking tour itinerary Budapest, Vorosmarty Square budapest

“You have to start your trip from Vörösmarty square!”

From there we headed towards Danube Promenade and started walking north. The promenade is beautiful with stunning views of the Buda castle on the other side. We went a little inside towards St. Stephen’s Basilica. The Basilica towers over all the nearby buildings and as we were walking towards it, in many ways, it reminded me of St. Paul’s cathedral in London. Devoted to Saint Stephen, the founder of Hungarian State, the church is magnificent from inside. As it was time for the regular mass, we were able to go a little further inside and there was a beautiful painting of Jesus on the cross inside.  We weren’t allowed to take pictures of it.

St. Stephen Basilica Budapest, weekend itinerary for Budapest, Budapest in 2 days

St. Stephen Basilica

The outside courtyard had many students on segways, that you could try and hire for short or long tours around the city. From the basilica, we went back on the river front and kept on walking towards the Parliament. Before the parliament, we came across the Shoes on the Danube  Bank memorial which literally gave me goosebumps. The memorial is in honour of the many (mainly Jews) who were killed by the Arrowcross militiamen in Budapest during World War II. They were marched to the riverfront, ordered to take off their shoes, and then shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away. The memorial represents their shoes left behind on the bank. While I was clicking the picture, a mother and daughter approached one of the shoes, the little girl took out a rock from her pocket, placed it in the shoe, bowed and left. In the evening we went back to read more about Hungary’s position during the World War II and especially what the Jews in Hungary went through.

Shoes on the Danube Memorial

Shoes on the Danube Memorial

From there we went upto the magnificent Hungarian Parliament building complex. Inspired by Westminster, it is quite impressive, standing right on the banks with beautiful symmetrical architecture. Going around the complex we could admire it from different angles. One can go inside also. The tour takes about an hour and tickets are easily available there. The best view of the parliament though is from across the Danube river, from where you can admire the whole building in one frame.

Hungarian Parliament building, Budapest in 2 days

The magnificent Hungarian Parliament and Danube River

For the night, we went Andrássy utca, a beautiful street lined with trees on both sides and plenty of restaurants. We went to Mazel Tov, a fusion Israeli restaurant in the old Jewish quarter. It is built in the ruins of an abandoned building and retains the charms of the old building. The old brick walls and balconies are adorned with hanging vines. We loved the food there. They had traditional Israeli dishes and the chef had an interesting fusion menu. I specially loved the pistachio soup and the ‘sweet potato bun’ falafel burger!

Day 1: Gozsdu Antik Market — Fisherman’s Bastion — Matthias Church — Buda Palace — Széchenyi Chain bridge — Citadel — Szimpla Kert — Gozsdu Udvar

The next day we had just left the apartment when I got drawn into a narrow passage where little shops were just coming up… and as it happens, I pulled Sikander in and we went into one of the most popular weekend markets — the Gozsdu Antik Market. I completely lose myself in such places… some stalls will take you back in time with their antique gas masks, communist era memorabilia, vintage signs while some will showcase some beautiful heart made handicrafts. I bought a little piece for myself and Sikander bought himself a Soviet hat before we headed out. This market is cheaper than Vorosmarty square, so if you happen to be in Budapest on the weekend, Gozsdu will be a better bet for finding new and antique souvenirs. The Gozsdu Udvar is a closed corridor between many apartment buildings. The place is full of local pubs and restaurants.

Gozsdu antik market Budapest, weekend markets in Budapest, Budapest in 2 days

Gozsdu antik market

After grabbing an amazing brunch at Oh my green, we took a bus to Buda to explore the Castle district. The entire Castle district is charming. Most of the area is pedestrian with cobblestone roads, colourful homes, ornate fountains, flower beds in full bloom. It is like being in a period movie set. The golden age of Castle Hill was in the 15th century, following the marriage of King Matthias Corvinus and Beatrix of Naples in 1476. The new queen brought with her many Italian artists and craftsmen and Buda soon became the cultural capital.

Castle hill district Budapest, 2 days itinerary for Budapest

Walking in the Castle hill district is like walking in a fairytale!

We started our walk with the Matthias church. The colourful tiles rooftops of the church are a delight to see. Much of the area is free to walk around. We found ourselves a spot on one of the balconies in the Fisherman’s Bastion and just sat there, enjoying the views of the city and those across the river. It is a shame to think that the entire region was bombed to the ground during World War II but it has been beautifully built back up. We leisurely walked around the area, enjoying the Buda palace courtyards, hills and the gardens. The palace also houses the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum

We crossed over through the famous Széchenyi Chain bridge which was the first bridge built to connect the two sides. Bridges and Locks go hand in hand :-). There were very interesting locks on this one from new custom engraved ones to some very antique ones.

Budapest historic chain bridge, a weekend in Budapest

Chain bridge with its interesting locks

It is interesting how the bridge came about. In the earlier days, there was a pontoon bridge to cross the river during summers and in winters the river froze, making crossing possible. In 1820, bad weather made the crossing impossible and Count Széchenyi, had to wait a week to get to his father’s funeral. This experience led him to decide that a permanent bridge had to be built!

For lunch we went to Hungarikan Bistro, a local restaurant which was recommended as vegetarian friendly also. Since we were planning a long night we took a short afternoon rest in our apartment.  The evening started at Kadarka wine bar, very close to our place and highly recommended by our host. And rightly so. The staff was very friendly and willing to offer as many varieties as you want for tasting until you find that one perfect wine for you! We stayed put right there all through dinner.

After dinner, we headed back to Buda side and went all the way up to Citadel and the statue of liberty to see the city decorated in twinkling lights up and down. Since it was pretty cold, there were hardly any people around and we just stayed there enjoying the calm and the view.

Citadella in Budapest, a weekend in Budapest

The statue of liberty and stars on Danube

And well the night was still alive! We headed back to Pest and straight into Szimpla Kert, the mother of all ruin bars. It is a maze inside with little corridors and many bars setup in different rooms:-). Loved it and of course we were hungry again in the middle of the night so headed over to Gozsdu Udvar. The place had completely transformed from morning marketplace to a party street!

Day 2:  Rudas Bathhouse — Old Jewish Quarter — Deak Square — Heroes Square — City Park

The last already! But we did feel like we wanted to take it a little easy. I think we took it way to easy by spending the first half simply relaxing in the thermal baths at the Rudas bathhouse. Budapest is famous for its thermal mineral springs and it will be a shame to go without experiencing one and they are definitely very different from Turkish Hamams. There are pools with different temperature water and mineral composition with healing properties. They also have a rooftop pool from where we could enjoy the panoramic views of the city while comfortably sitting in the warm water.

From there we went to Edeni Vegan, a buffet style vegan restaurant serving local Hungarian dishes adapted to suit vegans. In the evening we headed out for a leisurely walk  around the old Jewish quarter. There is colourful street art on many buildings. Jewish bookshops and gift shops selling Hanukkahs. The synagogue, the largest in Europe, is a beautiful sight in the area and the holocaust memorial garden a moving experience when you read through the plaques with names of all those who died.

graffiti in the old Jewish district Budapest

Love thy neighbour! colourful graffiti on walls in the old Jewish district

Back to Deák square for some live music at the terrace cafe and then to Heroes square, a monument built in 1896 to celebrate 100 years of the Hungarian State. The central pillar has the angel Gabriel on top, holding the holy crown and looking over the entire city. The semicircular arcade has statues of seven important kings and chiefs of Hungary.

Heroes square Budapest, weekend guide to Budapest

Heroes square

From there the City Park is the perfect place to just sit, relax and watch people pass by. At night we went to Mazi, a Greek kitchen for a fitting last dinner and drinks.

We felt like we saw a lot and yet there was so much more to see. In this trip we did not go inside any of the paid monuments as we wanted to explore as much of the city as we could. If there was more time, I would have definitely liked to go inside few of the monuments and also to more World War II memorial buildings like the house of terror and hospital in the rock. I would have gone to Margeret Island too.

Which is why I know, we will be back for a second time!

Until later Budapest!


Categories: Travel | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments

The beauty of a few concentric circles

It’s amazing how a few concentric circles slowly evolve into a beautiful mandala. Each line emerges on its own. Most often inspired by something seen in the nature or work of friends. These mandalas started as a gratitude offering to the universe, for everything that I have been generously bestowed with.

how to make a mandala drawing

I am no artist but once I learnt how to make mandalas with a basic template of concentric circles, there is no stopping 🙂

While making these mandalas or stitching the hearts I experienced a beautiful calm that would take over me. I haven’t been able to sit in stillness in a long time. I think it has been almost 6 months that I was able to sit for an hour. Whenever I started on these little gifts, my mind would soon forget its entire chaos and the ordering of the “to-do” list and just focus on one petal to another or one stitch to another. Even though I wasn’t sitting in a specific position or had my eyes closed; it was akin to meditation for my mind and body.

When I start, I have no clue how it will turn out to be. I have no clue of how the design will grow. Sometimes I will start with a pattern and then look it from far thinking this won’t look good. I wasted a card. But then I will go on and complete it only to realise that each has a life of its own and each is beautiful. I often felt like my hand was just a tool and someone else had the design in mind :).

mandala designs

Some of the mandala cards I made. Some original, some inspired, some copied 😀

With the heart bookmarks, I wanted to write a quote on each one of them but was lost on which ones to pick. Just then Vandana didi started on this beautiful project of one-canvas-a-day with quotations and I found my quotes right there. Every day is a beautiful start with her paintings and quotations.

Paintings with quotations

Every morning Vandana didi sends us a picture of her beautiful art. I would say it is her sadhana!

I usually try to sit down for making any art when I am in a happy space but a recent turn of events showed me how art is the best therapy. When I was so stressed that I could do nothing else, I would sit down with a pen and paper and soon my mind will be lost in thinking about how to extend it and just for those few moments forget the impending problem and relax.

All these cards and bookmarks have gone as gifts for friends and strangers. I don’t know when, how and who will receive these or has received them. I am so grateful for having this opportunity to be able to gift some love through these little cards. Each one of them brought me a lot of peace and I hope it does the same for the noble friend who receives them.

Heart bookmarks! The bright African fabric were scraps given by a friend who uses them to make wonderful bags. I love these prints!

Heart bookmarks! The bright African fabric were scraps given by a friend who uses them to make wonderful bags. I love these prints!

With all my love

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a happy night is better than a good night :)

Every culture has there norms for greeting. In Angola, depending on the time of the day, the usual greeting if you meet a stranger (or friend) are:

Bondia  — Good day

Boa tarde — Good afternoon

Boa noite — Good night

Boa continuação — literally means ‘good continuation’ but is used as an equivalent to “have a good day”

But today, after 3 years of living here, for the first time, I heard a different greeting and it made me smile instantly.. which has kind of stuck to my face for now 🙂  I just got back from my neighbourhood grocery shop.. smiling all the way back. At the cash counter, the lady wished me “Feliz Noite” (Happy Night) and the guy at the door wished “Feliz Sabado” (Happy Saturday).

a happy night is better than a good night

I wish you a happy night; a happy Saturday and a happy moment every moment

Usually we almost keep happy under lock and it comes out only for special occasions and festivals… Happy Birthday; Happy anniversary; Happy Diwali; Happy Holi etc.. Why can’t every day and every moment be happy?

Isn’t happy a better state to be in than good? Why should happiness be reserved for special occasions? If you could see me now, I am smiling from ear to ear. ‘Happy’ has a bounce to it which ‘good’ lacks. It instantly plays the happy song in mind.

I am going to be so wishing you a happy morning, a happy day and a happy moment… because I’m happy..


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