28 March 2011

travel diary

agra-delhi-manali, 8-15 march 2011

yes, this post is a tad overdue, but that's okay. in ck's words, i've been mulling a little!

it was a wonderful holiday. there was lots of history to keep me fascinated, enough walking to make up for four months of sedentary life, cold and snow and my winter wardrobe (unpacked after over a year) to soften the pressure of this crazy heat (it's march and temperatures are already soaring over 30 degrees celsius, ugh), entire constellations of stars in a clear black sky, and lots of yummy food (including steamed dumplings and apple pancakes, ahhhh).

our backpacks (and perhaps H's bright red, 'lost in hk' tshirt) led all kinds of people to think we were foreigners, which amused me to no end, but caused H some grief and puzzlement.

being away from our usual routine and daily pressures was bliss. it was nice to while away our days sightseeing, wake up late, not worry about family waiting for us, chat about shahjahan and movies and food and everything but bills, family and home repairs!

travelling is good for the soul, and it was good for us -to just be together, to recall our 'dating' days, to wander, hand in hand, in our own world.

coming back to bombay was more of a reality shock than i expected. the magic disappeared before i even had a chance to blink. sigh. oh well. until the next holiday, i will browse through the photos and smile at the memories.

monday grace

1. milad e maevi. to witness moula's 100th milad is beyond awesome. to be here in bombay, to do deedar -alhumdolillah!

2. 'bloom where you are planted'. i read this quote (amidst a beautiful post) some time ago, and was struck by its beauty, as well as its difficulty (for me). but yesterday, reading the post 'other people's problems' reminded me of the quran ayat, 'on no soul does allah place a greater burden than it can bear'. that being the case, i can in fact, bloom where i am planted. i can find beauty in adversity, i can enjoy the roses with their thorns. i can i can i can :)

3. fajr namaz. H and i have been waking up for fajr namaz for a little over a week, yay! after every ramadan, i would tell myself that i will continue waking up to pray fajr. of course, i would consistently fail to do so. i thought i would wait for the 40-day mark before a virtual pat on the back, but i couldn't resist!
(inshallah, we'll make the 40-day mark, which will entail a further pat/post!)

07 March 2011

monday grace

1. second hand book sellers. i’ve been mourning hk’s awesome public libraries, where i could so easily satisfy my book addiction (for free!), as well as spend hours lounging on comfy chairs/sofas. no such libraries seem to exist here in mumbai, which has led me to frequent crossword, a chain bookstore (the equivalent of dymocks perhaps..). books here are expensive (as they are in hk), particularly the ones I want to read. (and no, corner book sellers don’t sell anything more than popular fiction.) so i was thrilled to find these wonderful book sellers at fountain, where there are feet high stacks of books. i still couldn’t find david mitchell or audrey niffenegger, but I did find jhumpa lahiri, vikas swarup, vikram chandra and many more.

even better: i can return the books when I’m done and get a 50 percent refund! oh bliss!

2. holiday planning. H and i are going on a week long vacation, and it’s fun to plan and pack and wonder. the last time i planned (and went on) a holiday was oct 2009, to south korea, which was awesome. may this be even better inshallah (and lead to more fruitful blogging)! oh, the excitement!

3. reconnecting. i recently reconnected with someone from my auc life on facebook, and it was nice. once again, I am thankful for the communication means available to us today; no matter anything else, I would rather have the option of glimpsing their life from pictures, status updates, shared links and comments, than not.


‘chowringhee’ by bengali author sankar was my first indian language novel translated into english. the bengali version came out in 1962; while certain customs and events mark the time, it does not read as a period novel, with the story focusing largely on human emotions and needs and urges--people have the same aspirations today as they did then, and many customs continue dictating their lives. it’s a huge novel in scope and characters. the plot is not as tight or fast paced, but the characters and ambience make up for that.

i am excited to have the chance to read more such translations and more desi authors in general, which I was not privy to in hk. i have my next read lined up, 'burnt shadows' by pakistani author kamila shamsie :)

some quotes from chowringhee:

tagore poem: “in all countries I have an abode, yet I have spent my life searching for it.”

“There will come a day when, like a tape recorder, a past recorder will be available—we’ll be able to sit before an old house and listen to its autobiography.”

“…how to create extraordinary harmony through ordinary means… how to achieve greatness through simplicity.”

“One can’t really serve another in the hotel of the world. We can at best hold out the tray, like good waiters. People will have to pick out their own rewards.”

“…took a long dip in the blue pool of nostalgia.”

“Each of us had been born in a different place, at different times and yet, floating on the tide of time, the three of us had gathered at the same moment on the terrace of Shajahan.”