Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bonjour Eiffel - Euro Trip 1

Imagine yourself in fashion capital and having nothing to wear! Isn’t it a nightmare? That’s what happened to me when I landed in Paris airport. The luggage I checked in at Amsterdam airport didn’t show up in the belt. Not just mine but for a handful who took the same flight. We were told that it would be delivered to Hotel soon.

Mr R who is related to me in so many ways and also the guide cum host for this trip told me its normal and has happened at least 3 times either to him or people who travelled with him. So I am left with a sweater, a laptop, a "sorry kit" from Air-France and life long lesson to carry clothes in my hand luggage.
We took a 30 minute train ride from airport to reach the "Gare du Nord" the city's main metro station. I was amazed to find plenty of Indian restaurants and shops just outside the train station. We hogged on idly, dosa and masala vadai before checking in to the hotel. The "sorry kit" had an XL sized t-shirt which generously covered till my knee (I looked like Rangeela Urmila in the mirror), plastic razor, an odd smelling deodorant, brushing kit and a comb. 20 hours of travel/transit, jet lag and Urmila t-shirt has left me irritated for a while. Later I realised I have only couple of days in Paris and I shouldn’t let any petty thing to spoil my day. Thankfully R carried few extra t-shirts in his hand luggage. I was already wearing a Jeans pant which can be reused and reused ;) So with couple of dispensable brief, I am all set to hit the road.

The hotel we stayed
Overrated is the word I used after the first glimpse of Paris. Its best to know little French as the directions and station names are all written in French (Sortie means Exit). Even the shop keepers and restaurant owners greet you with Bonjour - (Good day) or Merci (Thank you). Its one of the most populated city in the world. So the Metro stations are dirty and crowded.

The Metro trains run on tyres and its quite a bumpy ride. Check and recheck your map several times before boarding a train or choosing a platform, you may get lost easily. I travelled with R who had been there like umpteen times, and we still got lost. We happen to board the right train but it had different route for the day! I noticed people of various races in trains, some of them are dressed in traditional outfits that I couldn’t identify. And be sure whom to ask for directions, it’s not so safe and you can invite unwanted trouble just by making eye contact with wrong persons.
R's friend has a French husband who works in the Eiffel tower. He was kind enough to give us complimentary VIP passes to the tower. This means we don’t have to stand in the long queue for hours to get into the tower ;). Beware its crowded all through the year and especially so on weekends. Paris invites more than 45 million tourists every year and Eiffel tower is the most popular destination in the world. So allot sufficient time for Eiffel tower when you plan your trip.

Gusteve Eiffel a French structural engineer built this tower during 1889 for World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. You would be surprised to learn that Gusteve built Statue of liberty as well and they both share the same metallic structure. This Tower was widely criticized by many as odious column and public called it eye sore! It only had permit for 20 years and the "city of Paris" was hoping to tear it down by then. The tower was also sold for scrap metal twice! Thankfully the tower was helpful for communication to military during first battle of Marne and became victory statue of the battle.
The tower is made of purest form of Iron and requires 60 tonnes of paint to protect it from rusting. Its also painted in three shades of brownish-grey, darker at the bottom and lighter at the top. This is to maintain uniform appearance from ground to light colour sky.
The tower contains 3 floors of which are accessible by lift. The construction of lift itself is marvel owing to the slanting tracks with changing angles of the tower.
The tower hosts two restaurants and amazing panoramic view of the city. One of the most Iconic image of the world, the tower has featured in thousands of movies, TV shows, photos, paintings and duplicated in various sizes around the world.
These decorative grillwork arches are added later to reassure visitors that the structure was safe!

All said and done, I have no clue how and why Paris and Eiffel tower has become one of the icon for love and top destination for lovers. But as I stood there 280 meters from ground, watching the spectacular sunset with thousands of couples, all I wanted was the presence of my love to share a kiss.
The illuminated tower, glittering effect and the beacon light at the top is yet another sight not to miss. So try to go there by the evening, watch the sunset and when you come down you can spend time in the opposite park enjoying the grand night view of the tower. Most likely you would be treated with good music from concerts that happen regularly. To me the tower felt quite magical, there has to be something more than those iron columns, to attract so many people, to stand as a testimony of time facing innumerable challenges. And my internet search led me to interesting information.During 1920s Father Theodor Wulf a German physicist cum priest observed increase of energy radiating at the top of this tower, the findings were not accepted earlier. But later it proved to be powerful radiations, the one that comes from outer space to earth atmosphere. The one we call today as cosmic rays!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

All good things...

Hello friend!

How you been doing? I am great, actually better than great :) While I am still catching up on my sleep , I thought I would write few lines just to be in touch with you.I have no idea where to begin and how much to write about each place I visited. I try to make it smaller and provide many pictures. I am also hoping to catch up with your posts as soon as I can :)
Taken in Holland near the old dutch city, these windmills are still in operation.

"Dream" is the probably the best word to describe the trip I have taken and It still feels like I had a dream.Three countries, countless hours of travel by flight, train, boats, delicious meals and most importantly the interesting people I met in my trip makes it all worth it.

I had very less motivation to take my return flight. I hoped my flight would be delayed and/or somehow my trip would be extended. Sigh! its hard to return from the wonderful sights and sunsets, to the roads filled with cars. But I guess thats what makes it special.

All good things comes to end, to make room for better ones :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Let the good times roll

It started raining in Singapore, quite regularly. Its awesome sight to watch the greenary around drenched in rain( the above picture is taken several months back). I now understand how beautiful a writer's life is. I stick numerous post-it notes on my mind (while bathing, eating, even while peeing or sleeping) to write like 5 paragraph post twice a week. I even type and save them, if I were in front of the computer, knowing fully that I may not use them in any post. Most of these notes are discarded on the second read. Sometimes they give birth to new ones and sometimes when I finally finish writing the post; it would be about something else :)

Yet writing is fun, it makes us look around for an inspiration to write. Once we start writing our life would never be the same. I can bet a million dollar on this. Be it chat with a friend over the coffee or a normal day at work, we would start seeing them in new light. It gets only better and interesting as the days pass by.

We write our life, affirm and define ourselves through it. Even our deepest, long held sorrows find their way out of us through our words. A perfect self healing therapy! However, there is a need to watch what we evangelise about. The recipe of feel good writing is enthusiasm, creativity and a pinch of optimism. And guess what? by the law of attraction it only gets multiplied.

I remember reading in AJCL’s post, that she created the blog so she can capture the heavenly moments of motherhood. Imagine how happy and proud her son would be, when he reads passages and passages of unconditional love and nourishing care his mother had showered on him.

I read my posts from time to time and relive the memories with its finest details. My website is like a treasure chest for me. And I look forward to each happening in my life big or small to put in that, like a child that collects from sea shell to anything that glitters.

I have planned and waited for one such occasion, so much that I have visualised several times on my mind to see how it would feel to go through it. Now that I am about to enjoy it, I am still pinching myself to make sure I am not dreaming .Tomorrow evening I am taking the much awaited, trip-of-my-lifetime to Europe. I would be visiting Netherlands, Paris and probably Italy in the coming week.

I welcome this holiday with wide open arms and I am grateful for every second of it. I am sure this trip would be full of fine dining (with wine of course!), breathtaking sights and happy moments. So, I am leaving you all in peace for a week =) and I promise to bring back interesting stories to post. Ok, bags are packed (and repacked few more times: P), camera is charged and ticket is ready! Europe here I come!

The world is just awesome, more so when we write about it! :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A fight against 3 toed sloth

Today I am fighting one of the worst enemies, boredom. Off late it’s very quiet at work and I am flipping out. I believe busy is good; at least it keeps us away from the devils of mind. Otherwise boredom would crawl in and spread like a virus. Then we would feel low, lethargic and slowy turn into 3 toed sloths. Worst of worst it could kill our spirits like a slow poison.

Then we merely exist. We accept a less than ordinary life as if it’s the penance for being born on this world. We resent, blame the situation and god for all the wrong things in our life. We pretend that we are bothered about it. But we have already retired from fighting a good fight!

Several months back, I have witnessed my spirit rotting because of my job which is not fulfilling. It’s like travelling in a wrong train and realising it after many stations have already passed. I found my passion in media industry and decided to shift, which is easier said than done. Ten years of IT work, good pay, comfortable lifestyle and the commitments makes such shift over close to impossible. But I couldn’t give up just like that, so I took the first step. I joined a mass communication diploma course and finished it in flying colours.

The next easy option was finding a related job. I thought my masters in computers and IT experience would count. But I forgot I am in the world full of competition. I soon learnt it takes more than a diploma to find a place in media industry. I also found that I am living in a country where permanent residents are much appreciated than foreign expats even for intern positions. Yet I couldn’t give up. I wanted to do a degree and/or specialisation in advertisement, but the fat fee tag is hard to deal with. So I decided to return to India, where I can pursue my studies for a comparatively lesser fee. I have informed my decision to manager few weeks back and would be transferred back to Chennai office in December.

I feel a mixed feeling these days and happiness is one of them. For I am stepping out of my comfort zone, I am taking a chance. I would be missing all that I have built here, but it’s ok. It’s the right thing to do, if not now it’s never. And I am ok if others can’t see the way I see it.

To be frank, I am afraid. Sometimes I think I am crazy to run behind my dreams. I got to keep my hopes high from negativities. For all I know if I do a job that I love, the world would come looking for me. This phase is scary, like a silence before the battle. But I am prepared to fight a good fight, I am happy to keep my spirit alive.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Losing is good

TGIF! Today is one of the “nothing interests me” days. I feel like doing nothing, although on second thoughts that sound funny, how can I be doing nothing when I am doing nothing: P. Everything seems very boring, even calling my friends/loved ones! May be this is a best day to sit on a bean bag and watch soap operas and don’t even bother to change channel during commercials. That’s Lethargic!

Yesterday I donated blood. Although I have donated a bunch of times before, it’s my first time in Singapore. So they put a sticker on me which said “Treat me nice, this is my first time". Unlike in India, the registration and screening itself is a 20 plus minutes process. After filling a 3 page form, medical history consultation, and the finger-pricking-Haemoglobin test (they have a better pain less instrument though), I was given a local anaesthesia! That's comfort!

They asked me if I am feeling okay (which they did umpteen times) after the donation, and I replied “I am little tired but ok “. In less than 2 seconds, 3 nurses rushed to check on me. They even arranged the bed in such a way that my head was down and legs were up in the air! No need to mention about the after care and variety of refreshments I was compelled to take =) I was even given iron tablets to consume for a week. That’s commendable!

I learned that more frequently the Red blood cells are separated from the whole blood and stored with additive solution to increase their shelf life (max 42 days!) This means it’s impossible to be prepared for any disaster. After the September 11(8 years today!) attack, US analysed this issue in detail and found the only solution to this is, maintaining adequate quantities at all times. I think that’s more than enough reason to donate regularly. That's sharable!

It’s my habit to hold the packet of blood and bless it every time; I want to give only the best of me and nothing else. When I held the warm, dark-red packet in my hands, I realised the best thing about living is giving and sharing. Even the best birthday cakes are meant to be shared. On the same note, I received an email today, the first line said, "Want to see the world after your death?" and the page down said “donate your eyes". That’s Noble!

I recently learned that "Honeymoon" word was coined during Babylon times, 4,000 years ago. The bride's father gifts the groom mead (honey beer) for one whole month (called moon - since its moon based) after the wedding, hence the word "Honeymoon”. Few days back, after a long argument my honey and I decided to have 103 honeymoons one for each day we miss each other. We also decided to send post card to "our home" from every place we travel together and buy souvenirs to put in the memory chest. That’s definitely Romantic!

When it comes to giving blood to someone or the argument with your loved one, losing is good =)
Have a funfilled weekend!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Let life flow

Last weekend was perfect! It still lingers on my mind, like the sand in the shoes that walked the beach. My friend and I went to “Fountain of Wealth” - The largest fountain in the world, on Saturday evening. Every night, after the laser show, visitors can dedicate songs and laser messages for free! If you are visiting Singapore make sure to see this. It’s my 5th visit here and like Emma I too feel a deep connection and profound happiness watching flowing water (Have a look at her neat travelogues).

As we sat there watching the huge fountain in awe, I noticed most of the messages are either wishes for birthday/anniversaries or love messages. I looked around. I saw couples sitting hand in hand, some kids sitting on their parent’s lap, some playing in the puddle, friends laughing and tourists taking pictures. No difference of any sort, no hate and no debate. Just a group of people appreciating beauty of life, breathing the air filled with the drizzles of fountain and love.

We had tastiest (and fattest!) ice cream on the way back. I returned home by mid night and settled for an apple smoothie instead of dinner. Not willing to retire to bed, this is what I did.
It’s been a year since I painted and this is the first time I painted Buddha. I played ‘OM’ chanting in the back ground while I painted his face. I have read somewhere the happiest moment of the artist is not when he completes the painting. It’s when he is painting it – so true! At 2.30 am I had a dry throat and was coughing badly. Thanks to the Remy in me, I cut few ginger pieces and boiled them in ¼ cup of water. Then I added 2 teaspoons of honey and a cup of milk. The hot drink soothed my throat and put me to sleep.

Sunday, I watched a movie called” City of angels”. While waiting to escort a life from earth (to heaven?!) the angel Seth (Nicolas Ryan) falls in love with the doctor Maggie (Meg Ryan) who is trying hard to save her patient’s life. He gives up eternity and becomes human to be with her, but to his agony Maggie dies in accident shortly after that. Thats bad! However the movie ends with a positive note of Seth coming into terms with his new life and enjoying it.
It's a slow movie, but there are few moments worth mentioning. Seth asks a little girl while he escorts her ghost, “What’s your favorite thing in your life” - the usual question asked by all angels. To which the small girl says “Pajamas”. When Maggie is about die she says that she would tell the angles the favorite thing on earth for her was Seth. In other scene, Seth says “I would rather have had one breath of her hair, one kiss of her mouth, one touch of her hand, than eternity without it.” That's love I guess!

Please have a look at my friend's post and the video he created. It's a Tamil post but the video is in English. While we complain endlessly for everything under the sun, he sees nothing but the beauty of life. He writes a load about affirmations, Law of attraction and many enlightening stuffs. I see perfection, harmony and higher purpose for his existence - an angel to inspire million tired souls! God bless him!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Remy's Recipe - Coleslaw & Papaya-honey shake

TGIF! One of my friends is dieting and I wanted to write a dieting recipe to encourage her. The famous Davis quote says "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper”. So, the first mantra to dieting (not starving) is to have a healthy breakfast. And if your cereal box says it’s nutritious, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy. Don’t get carried away by commercial messages, especially the ones about Kids’ cereals. (They often have more sugar than sweets, which is not healthy).

Breakfast wakes up the metabolism and gets your engine running which is needed to burn to lose weight. It also sets the tone for the rest of the day. So here is a easy to make breakfast recipe which is worth trying: Remy Coleslaw and Papaya-Honey shake.

To make the Remy Coleslaw salad you need:
Lettuce 1
Onion 1
Tomato 1
Lemon 1
Spring onions 3
Carrot 1
Bean sprouts (optional)
Yogurt 2 teaspoon
Tartar sauce / Mayonnaise 4 teaspoons
Honey 1 teaspoon
Pepper & salt to taste

Crumble the lettuce into small pieces, add chopped onion, tomato, bean sprouts and crated carrot. Add tartar sauce, yogurt,honey and squeeze lemon. Use one half of the lemon and taste the salad, if needed add the second half as well. Sprinkle pepper and salt to perfection! Its tastes better if you refrigerate for 10 minutes. This is a customised recipe of coleslaw and its a good side dish for any meal of the day.

The nutritional value of vegetables in Coleslaw makes it an excellent food choice for both weight control and general health. And you would be surprised to know that this salad helps to control glucose in blood!
Now lets make Papaya-Honey shake.
Papaya (the size of papaya in the above picture serves 4)
Honey - 2 teaspoons (add more later, if you like)
Sugar (brown sugar is advisable)
Cinnamon powder - a pinch (optional)
Put them together in blender and there you go!

Honey is anti oxidant and natural nutritive sweetener. Many dietician rate papaya as the no1 fruit (based Vitamins, potassium and fibre content). It’s a good source of vitamins a, b and c. The papin in papaya digests proteins and proved to be very helpful for digestion, so it’s used in many digestive supplements. Its anti-inflammatory and Intestinal worms don’t stand a chance against it! Papin also nourishes the skin in many ways (it promotes skin glow!) and helps to heal wounds. But the best thing I like about papaya is, it fills the stomach quiet nicely which is much needed when dieting :) So stop giving lame excuses for not having papaya :P
p.s:Make sure you eat plenty of healthy vegetables and fruits during dieting. Wishing you a perfect weight :P
Update: Just realised tomorrow is Teachers day and I want to pass on this wish to someone special :)

I was born in a lower middle class family. All that I have now is because of the education I had. And I am thankful to all those teachers who helped me to learn about the world around me and to know about myself. I regret that I don’t have contact with any of my teachers now, but I am glad to know a teacher through blogs - Aruna. "I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well. ~Alexander the Great"
Thanks a lot for being a guide and ladder to many, your words and deeds inspire us all. Wishing you great health and abundance to carryon this noble work. Happy Teacher day :)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Gossip galor - not gone!

I am pretty much addicted to music. I can survive Mondays without coffee but not without songs. The first thing I do at work is tuning into AOL online radio and put on my earphones. Also I have noticed that they play songs according to my mood, blame it on law of attraction!

I am very choosy about what I hear and take my time to upload a song to IPod. If I like a song thats being played in the radio, I find it in YouTube. I hear it online few times and only if it's impressive I download a mp3 copy. I don’t want to buy the entire album just for the one song I like - Which mostly turns out to be the only good song in the album.

Off late I find recycled music everywhere. It’s either a remix or a tune that resembles one or more songs. Last week I was listening to Kelly Clarkson new song "Already gone” which sounded like Beyounce’s- “Halo”. I noticed a striking similarity in the backing track, piano and drums. Apparently I am not the only one who felt this way. During YouTube hopping, I came across this video, where a guy has made a potpourri of these two songs! His singing is bit scary though, owing to the fact he sings in female voice with all those expressions. But once you get past this gay or not scenario, you can see how talented he actually is. In fact I am starting to like his renditions! He sounds (exactly like Leno Lewis) his best in this.
Anyway, coming back to the sound-alike songs, I think it’s just a freaky coincidence. Kelly Clarkson being a talented former American idol, who has given amazing numbers, cannot be blamed for silly copycat act. She told CBC radio, that her album was finished (and was being printed) when Beyounce's song got released. MTV and BBC news articles makes me think whether Ryan Tedder who co-wrote both songs is the one whom to be blamed. While gossip bakers like E! are having thier ball, fans are fighting on it in internet forums( what else we can expect!)

To me both songs sounds great and they do differ in one main aspect - Feel! The Beyounce’s - "Halo" is about the heaven sent guy a girl is happy to be with. And, Clarkson's - “Already gone" is about a girl moving on from the love that was never meant to be. A striking contrast! Now, what are the chances of that?!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tags, Rags and a grateful life

Everyday life brings us gifts. Some are pleasing and others are not. The last couple of weeks are such. A close friend got married and another got pregnant. While these long awaited events made me happy, an unexpected death of a close relative pushed me deep down :(. I miss you vasu anna, may your soul rest in peace!

This has helped me to realise, how grateful I am for each breath I take. To own a comfortable life and many caring people in it. Today, it’s been three months since my honey has walked into my life, its only getting better and better each moment. I love you so much da!

Today is another happy day to remember =) One of my best buddies from blog world G3 is celebrating her birthday. From the number of posts written to wish her and their ragging comments, you can see how much she is loved by everyone. Happy Birthday G3, have great days ahead! : P

Aparna - a new found mate is very good at writing small, sweet and sensible posts about her son "Chotu". Her posts linger on my mind long after reading them. She has tagged and also awarded me sometime back. Thanks so much Aparna!

The tag consists of 26 questions each for one alphabet. Most of them are either personal or teenish, like gummybears, cakes and Zodiac signs! Sorry Aparna, allow me to pass this (to none).

Gils - One of the senior (ahem! experienced) blogger cum my best buddy is good at writing witty posts. I wish I could write such humorous numbers. He tagged me to write about the following 4 questions.

Is beauty permanent?
The only thing that is permanent is change =)
"Beauty lays in the beholders eyes” so more often the beholder's perception changes

Is love important to human being?
Duh?! The world would just stop otherwise. Even god cannot exist in absence of love.

Does God exist?
I guess the previous answer suffices. Since love exists, so does her.
Another long winded answer is: I own an amazing instrument called mobile phone. It looks perfect, stylish and it’s inevitable to me. I don’t understand how it works and I have not seen the person who created it. All I know is, there is a mobile phone and there has to be a creator. And when I look up to the brilliant stars of moonless night; I see the creator’s signature in it.

Is money important?
Duh?! One can’t even do charity without it. I am against the long held belief that money is bad/evil. Money is a powerful energy just like electricity. You cannot live without it, better accept it as a blessing and use it wisely.

I choose not to tag anyone =) Happy Onam to everyone!