Family

Of new years and resolutions

Let’s start with a happy new year! At least till the first month we should be allowed to say it 🙂

This last year went so quickly. It seems like just yesterday when I landed in Angola. And said hello to a new country and a new life. There were lots of new things in 2014 – new land, new home, a new culture, lots of new friends,  a new language, a new volunteering opportunity. I still haven’t been able to absorb all fully :).

I hope 2015 will bring in as much opportunities. Actually one of my resolutions is to see each day as an opportunity – 365 opportunities to learn and grow! Wow

image

Last year, inspired by my friend Shalini, I had taken the resolution to not buy anything new for myself. And surprisingly it was pretty easy to keep that resolutions and one year later I feel I really don’t need so much. What I have is so much more than what I need!

This year what are my resolutions? In the first week the resolutions change every day and so I refrained from writing this post :).

This year, I want to meet as many friends and family as possible. So many incidents happened last year that brought me face to face with the uncertainty of life. When I thought of a resolution, I asked myself that if this year is all I have, then what is the first thing I want to do? And the answer I got was that I want to meet the people I love. So I want to try doing that 🙂

Another is to attempt trekking Mt. Kilimanjaro. More than the real trek, I think the training is what my resolution is. By the end of this year I want to get back to an exercise and food regime.

As far as resolutions go, I would stick to only two. But if I want to write down my wish list, it would be an endless list…I want to get back to the morning meditation practice; I want to learn salsa;  I want to learn how to make a website from scratch; I want to learn photoshop and lightroom; I want to write more regularly on all my blogs; I want to do more with Feito com Amor (Made with Love)….

For now I will just say it’s a living list. I will keep adding to the list as time goes by 🙂

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So much to learn!

Today I started my day thinking the first thing I have to work on is the Moved by Love newsletter. But little did I know there were other plans for in store 🙂 I went out to water my plants. I had sown tomato and green beans about a week ago and every day I have been peeping into the seed pots to see if there is anything. Just like didi’s little scientists! To tell you the truth though I love to have plants, I don’t really have a green hand. I have never had a plant growing from a seed 😦 All my seeds till now have only resulted in weeds. All the plants that I have started with a sapling bought from a nursery or gifted from a friend like this mint.

apartment gardening

mint growing in my balcony! The plant was gifted by a neighbour when we moved in.

The now image of the mint would have been even more amazing but while I was away in India, all the people I had asked to water my plants somehow missed and it got water only for a week in those 4 weeks 😦 The plant dried up a little but then picked up again once rains started! I still wonder at the magic rain water has for plants. Continue reading

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Go chalking!

I love chalk 🙂

Here are pictures of the first few chalk messages…

chalk project, art with heart, window dressing

I didn’t think much before starting these everyday chalk messages but its become quite exciting! My neighbours say they now look forward to reading what’s new on my window everyday!

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A new magic every day!

It’s already 9 days into the new month but for me the month practically starts today. The first week of June was just busy with packing and travelling and settling back. Finally this week life has returned to some normalcy. While I was in India, I made many plans for the things I want to do once I get back to Angola (don’t know how many will start :P!):

  • Learn how to make a website using wordpress
  • Get back to sketching and learn to paint
  • Experiment with food more. For some reason in Angola I had just fallen into regular cooking routine. It has been such a long time since I tried something new and in this trip my sister inspired me to do more with food and flavours! 🙂 So hopefully My Weekend Kitchen will also get its activity back!
  • I want to do more art for gifting to strangers. I met Swara after a long time and she told me how our one day’s activity of writing letters to strangers had motivated her and she continues to do so even now. When she told me this I felt how I need to pick this one again. So I will be doing more art to gift. I even brought lots of handmade paper, colours and pens with me! 🙂

But one thing that I brought from home and I’m very excited to use is my box of coloured chalk and a small slate! I fell in love with chalk as a medium of art after seeing Lahar’s beautiful creations all over Sugad campus during Moved by Love retreats. Her hands would create magic on the floor and one thing which she said that stayed with me was the beauty of impermanence that chalk brings. Your creating is cleaned the next day and every day you start with a clean slate! Every day a different magic comes alive through your hands…

I was also inspired by the sidewalk chalk projects that many people have been doing all around the world and while I don’t think I will have enough chalk to do that; I plan to hang my slate on my window/ balcony with a beautiful quote every day and that would be my gift for each day for those who read it 🙂

I started yesterday, these are my first two!

art with heart, quotations in chalk on window

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Back in Nani house…

… like it was 25 years ago!

Summer Vacations…. Brings back memories of all cousins getting together at nani house for 2 months;

 of sweet sweet watermelons and mangoes;

of silly and creative games that the 5 of us designed;

of nani finally pulling her hair and asking our mom’s to take us from there 😀

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of those two months spent in nani house. And we (me and didi) keep telling stories of our mischiefs during those two months to Nandini. How nana used to put up a big swing in the quadrangle and all of us used to be on it at the same time! How Bittu mama and mummy used to make a boat of bedsheet and all three of us (me, sonu maasi and chinu maasi) used to sit inside it and cross the imaginary river running between rooms :). Ah! I wish those days, when imaginary tea served in toy cups tasted amazing, would never have ended!

And right now in Nandini’s childhood, we have the opportunity to recreate similar experiences for her and since there are no other kids, the chance to relive our childhood :).

We are back in nani house. Nani has made all the sweets to welcome the gang and nanu brings sweet sweet summer fruits everyday when all we want is a different ice cream for each day :P. But he still tries.

Nani house is so meant to be the big open place with lots of space to run around and create a new problem for nani every second J though this time maasi and mummy are keeping a little tab on them 😛

Every day is a day for a new activity… Making doll house using empty cartons and paper shopping bags… learning gardening and planting new seeds; every day we take our picnic basket out in the park. Some days nanu takes us for excursions outside and also some trekking!

summer vacations fun

Fun times at nani house during summer vacations!

I’m loving it! 😀

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Dressing up …

… my small little coasters!

I’ve had this set of four coasters since a long long time… The idea is to put pictures in them and then use them to put your drink on! I did put pictures in them initially but soon realised that the water from condensation that collects in a little pool around your drink, slowly seeps into the coaster and then the picture gets spoiled. As soon as I noticed that, I removed the pictures and these were then lying just like this; with their original “Keep this cardboard as cushion” paper in them.

As I was unpacking one of my last boxes from the shipment, these came out and I started thinking “hmmm…. I need to do something for them… they don’t look very nice without a picture” and then it struck! Why not do some quotation cards! Even if they get wet; it will be super fun and easy to make some more; unlike pictures which I can’t print so easily!

art with heart,

dressing up with some art with heart!

And with some sheets of red and green paper and my beautiful pen set (that Lahar had gifted me) I made these cards and look how pretty my coasters now look! 🙂 I just love them. When Sikander saw these he said “now we can’t use them even more! I don’t want these quotation cards to get spoiled!” 😀

Well, I said, then I will get an opportunity to make some more! 🙂

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a new home

“Time Flies” is such a reality! It was just yesterday when I landed in Angola, my new home, and yesterday when I was talking to friend in India she said “You’ve been there for more than a month! Post some pictures of the place!” And it suddenly struck me…it’s been more than a month!

One month of complaining, accepting, exploring, enjoying and loving the new country that is to be my home for a few years now. Luanda is lot like Bombay. The two most strikingly similar features being the ocean and the juxtaposed images of high risers and slums. I had been told of the vast economic disparities in the city and resulting crimes and thus warned of not going alone in the streets. As a result I was 90% of the time home bound during my first week and as a result very very homesick (home here being the one I had just left behind in India). That was the complaining week.

Then I came across this little piece of art by Lahar:

#artwithheart, moving to Luanda, create heaven where you are

Words do wonder when you come across them at the right time. This was like a wakeup call for me. Why was I complaining so much? I always said home is where Sikander and I are together. And I can create heaven here too!

I let go of the mental barriers I had created. Barriers of language, of safety, of laziness and of complaints. And so started the exploring phase. I made friends; I went to street markets; I realised people are very friendly and warm here. I little precaution is necessary but not so much as what I had been made to believe. People are warm and friendly. With a little Portuguese I would be able to go to most places in the city on my own.

Within our apartment complex there are families from so many different countries and the cultural exchange is amazing! I’ve already learnt Italian, Romanian and Indonesian dishes J. Cooking also helped in settling down (as did friends who came over to eat that cooking!). There are a lot of Indians here, but we currently have a small group of friends. Finding Indian ingredients is a bit difficult but then necessity is the mother of inventions and I’m looking forward to more innovative cooking and also bags full of food whenever we come back from India as most things are either not available at all or are very very expensive! 😀

We live close to the beach and I can’t ask for more. The nature puts on a show for us every evening when the big fire ball slowly falls into the ocean. Every sunset is unique and beautiful and its amazing how the whole sky gets filled up with fire embers in the evening! Ruskin Bond said it well “The sun makes such a fuss while coming down!”.

And with this one pic of today’s sunset, I will just leave by saying “we are home”.

Indian in Luanda, settling in Luanda, luanda sunset, Ilha luanda

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How easy it is to forget …

We were once ignorant. We had to be taught everything. We asked way too many questions. Yet our parents answered them. again and again. no matter how often we asked. They answered them. How easily we forget that.

A friend recently shared this video and I couldn’t stop crying. The video took me back to a similar incident I had with my mother many years ago.

Every time me or my sister went back home, we would get our laptops with us and our mother was very fascinated. Then in between I had shifted to US for a year in 2005 and ISD calls were still very expensive so we told our mom to start using skype and that was her first direct interaction with computers. She was so amazed that she started learning computers all by herself. She even took like a 15 day course on computer basics. This is almost 8 years ago. She would practice at home and whenever she had a problem; she will call me. I would try to resolve her issue as best as I could but in most cases since I couldn’t see what was the problem, I would just tell her to ask one of my cousins who was staying close by.  This continued for months and once I remember I asked “Why do you always call me; why don’t you call didi?”

And then one day, I became irritated. I think I was trying to explain double click on phone. And I said “don’t ask me.. Find someone in Jaipur.” For a minute there was a silence at the other end of the line and then she just said “You know you didn’t come into the world knowing ABCD.”

And I was dumbstruck for some time and then I just started crying… Ever since that day, even the thought of losing patience with her didn’t come to my mind… I am amazed at how much she has learnt on her own. This was more than 7 years ago and I’m still saying sorry to her for that day and she keeps saying she doesn’t even remember 🙂 Mothers are so forgiving! and as her child I was so thankless :'(.

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New Year and a Resolution

It’s 31st December.  It’s again that time of the year when you start thinking about resolutions… earlier it used be what resolution should I make, something that actually stands a chance of lasting a year and now after many failed attempts it is more like whether I should take attempts a resolution at all. Practically speaking if I want to do something I don’t really need to wait for 1st January to start. If it’s something I need to do; doing it early should be good! 🙂 Continue reading

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Just another story…

“What are stories but a way of helping us see the world and each other better.”

I heard this in one of Pavi’s talk on giftivism and wondering at the simplicity yet the deep meaning of it 🙂

I was part of one such story telling session (it was actually a class on upnishads at Shivananda ashram). When I was going for the class, I was a little apprehensive. I thought it will all be in Sanskrit and most is going to go over my head! But I still went because a friend had asked me to, and I can’t thank him enough. 🙂 And it’s so wonderful that this is the story that started my journey of travelling solo in the mountains and afterwards…

Gopi ji (the Vedanta professor) was talking on renunciation. And he said nothing but share this beautiful story.

Once upon a time there was a kingdom which had a unique way of choosing its king. The ministers will let go of the royal elephant with a garland in the kingdom. The person to whomsoever the elephant puts the garland on is chosen to be the next king. It is taken to be a divine decision by all in the kingdom. Continue reading

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