Sunday, December 26, 2010


Hola !! I know I'm back after yet another long break .. don't ask me where I was! I was right here,  figuring some things out :) Logged in today to see a few drafts- posts that I had written long back but never got published. I'm going to be posting them now.. Sorry about the delay - the break was much needed though; I didn't miss being away.

So, Sakhi gave me two surprises a couple of months back. Firstly, when I went to Bangalore to visit her, she surprised me with this wonderful gift that she made herself:

Looks pretty, doesn't it? Believe it or not- the kurti was cream (off white) in colour before it was worked on by her, and the dangles are her work too! :)
You can follow her blog to get such lovely presents :P

She then told me of a letter she wrote to me three months ago; I had not received it for some reason and we were both pretty upset about it. After I came back to Bombay though, within a week's time, I got it! :D It had been very long since someone wrote to me and I was overjoyed! She has written it in calligraphy:

I smiled at the part where she mentioned she was waiting for me to come there- the letter had reached me too late! The trip was done and I was even back home by then :D

Along with the letter, there was a friendship band that she made herself too! :)

There's something different about receiving a letter just like there's something special about getting a handmade present. A letter says so much more than an email would even when it just says 'Hello'. No one waits for a letter anymore though, and the personal touch is slowly fading away.

Thanks Sakhi !! :)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diwali with Candles! :)

First of all, wish y'all a Happy Diwali !!  It's a belated wish but I really hope and pray your wishes come true. :)

I know I've been away for too long and you know, honestly, it's not like I didn't want to come in here. I just prefer living the offline life these days for some reason I don't know of! Maybe it's a phase, or maybe I am changing for good. Am I growing up to become one of those aunties who scowl at their children wasting their time online? :S I sincerely hope not !!

So, anyway, Diwali was crazy this time. I did so much I didn't realise how the time flew and before I knew it, the festivities were over! On the first day, we decked up in sarees and went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. It was fun dressing up like that and going out somewhere. 

I prepared chocolates, candles, drew rangolis, celebrated Bhaubeej and even saw Golmaal 3 which I ended up liking, to my surprise! Golmaal 1 was okay-ish and I wasn't really keen on watching this one but I must say it's far better. I didn't laugh as much as the people around me did but I did manage to enjoy a few good one-liners in the movie.

As I said, this Diwali, it was candles in place of diyas- scented, decorated gel candles made by me! :) The process is pretty easy but I'd still like to share it with y'all. :)

All I needed is some assorted glasses, gel wax, wax dyes, wicks, aromatic oil, opaque acrylic all-surface paints and embeds (beads, magic balls etc.). I got all of this from a shop in Crawford Market, Bombay.

You need to coat the wicks with wax first so you heat a little wax just enough for the wicks. I didn't have a microwave then, so I used the double boiling technique. 

Double boiling technique: I filled an aluminium vessel with some water and kept it on the burner, then placed a steel container inside it which had the wax. You have to make sure the water doesn't enter the steel container though i.e. the water shouldn't mix with the wax.

I wish I had taken pictures while I was making the candles so you could have had a better idea of all of this. :(

Keep stirring the wax till the bubbles reduce and till the wax melts. You can now put in the wicks at once but don't let them stay in for too long. The wax solidifies in seconds so you can take the wicks out in less than a minute to get fully coated wax wicks.

You can now proceed to making the candles. You will need to heat some more wax (as per the size and quantity of your containers). Gel wax is reusable so it's okay to overestimate. Once the wax melts, you can add a couple of drops of the dye you want and keep stirring. The quantity of dye you add depends on how dark or light you want the colour to be but to be safe, add a little of it first because the wax catches colour quickly.

You can now start pouring the wax in the container while keeping the wick inside. You can use a setup like this so that the wick stays in the center:

This image has been Googled for.

If you don't want the wick in the center, then you can just leave it leaning against the container. Don't pour the wax all at once. For scented candles, the aromatic oil has to be added just before adding the last layer of wax. This is so that the scent does not evaporate. So you can fill 3/4th of the container with wax, then add a couple of drops of the oil and pour in some more wax again.

Also, this is the part where you can get creative by adding embeds. I used magic balls and beads. You can add shells too- they give it a whole different look!

Magic balls are balls which grow in size when you soak them in water. I added some of these magic balls while pouring in the wax i.e. I added them in between layers of hot wax. Some I added after pouring all the wax, but I later noticed that these balls were shrinking back to their original size when exposed to air so it's better that if you're planning to use these, you put them in between layers of wax.

Beads can be added after pouring in all the wax just when the wax is still in the liquid form. They'll automatically stick to the hot wax. You can also add beads in between layers of wax- it's all upto you.

Lastly, you can paint these glasses/containers using acrylic all-surface paints or stick some stickers on them to make them look attractive. I used paints, star and heart shaped stickers, satin ribbons etc.

And this is how it all looked like in the end:

You can notice the size of the magic balls in the first container here. Some of these balls are slowly shrinking to their original size due to exposure to air. So it's advisable to add them in between the wax if you're planning to use them, to retain their enlarged size. The white and some coloured beads have been added at the end when the wax was still hot.


You don't feel like lighting these after making them though because you don't want them to melt after you've decorated them so well :D It's fun nevertheless!

The flower rangoli and the chocolates :

More pictures here.

I'll try to keep coming in here as and when I get time. Till then, take care! :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Travelogue Part 5: Delhi

Hola! It seems funny to write this now that I've returned from Bangalore and Goa as well :D Might as well finish it though!

Continued from here.

So, on the 1st of August, we boarded a train to Delhi from Haridwar at 6:30 am and we were there within 5 hours. Delhi was just a halting point- we had a train to Bombay on the same evening and hardly had any time with us to roam around.

After a quick lunch, we hired a private tourist vehicle with a guide who'd drive us to a few places he knew. I always wanted to see the India Gate, and it was the first place he took us to. We spent some time clicking pictures here; there was some renovation going on over it. I feel the Gateway of India is prettier though I shouldn't be comparing :D

Next, we went to this temple called the "Lotus Temple". It has a different structure from all the other temples you usually see and it's unique in a way that the temple does not represent any religion, sect or caste. It's for one and all- goes to show all Gods are 'ONE', rather God is one. :)

We didn't have time to enter but it's definitely on my list on my next trip to Delhi and so is the Akshardham temple:

On the way to Akshardham temple, the guide stopped at a store and asked us to look around a bit to see if we liked anything. It was strange because we had told him we were short of time and least interested in shopping. We then guessed he'd probably get his commission if we ended up buying stuff there! I did buy a few wood pencils that looked like actual twigs- everything else was too common and too expensive.

Oh yes, we spotted a few "Kaavadias" here too!! The sight of them was getting to us now, and Rohini joked about them haunting us in our nightmares!

We boarded a train back to Bombay the same evening, and reached the next day to be welcomed by my friends :) It always feels good to be home no matter how good the trip is!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Right Time

It's not only about finding someone who calls you "beautiful" instead of "hot",
or about someone who kisses your forehead and tells you he loves you,
or someone who doesn't mind watching a chic flick just to make you happy,
or someone who'd come shopping with you even if that means waiting indefinitely for you to bid goodbye to those trial rooms once and for all.

It's beyond finding someone whose name you'd look for on your Gtalk list the minute you go online,
or someone you'd think about when you play that favourite love song for the nth time,
or someone you'd picture yourself everyday with and go to sleep thinking about,
or someone who'd make you go weak in your knees the minute you saw him and though you were dying to make conversation, you'd only be able to utter a few words.

Sometimes, more than waiting for the right person or the right feeling, it's all about waiting for the right time.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Travelogue Part 4 - Rishikesh

Continued from here.

Rishikesh is a small city in Dehradun, just 25 kms from Haridwar. On the 30th of July, we set out in the late afternoon to see the famous Lakshman Jhula there. Ram Jhula and Lakshman Jhula are two major attractions at Rishikesh. 

As soon as we reached there, we had to walk our way to the Lakshman Jhula; the Ram Jhula was closed for some reason. There are small shops along the way that sell gemstones and other small artefacts. There are also food and tea joints that are located in a way that they give you a good view of the Ganga. Spotted some of these monkeys too :D

After a good 10-minute walk, we finally reached. 

They say that Lord Rama penanced here after killing Ravana, the king of Lanka. His younger brother Lakshman crossed the river using a jute rope bridge which then became the Lakshman Jhula :) Ram Jhula was built much later.

We spotted a lot of "Kaavadias" here too. 

We then headed to German Bakery and Restaurant for some evening snacks and chai. The place is thronged by foreigners, and looked to be hygienic as compared to other small food joints there. Also, it provided a beautiful view of the Lakshman Jhula. Their menu interested me; so many different varieties of tea:

So after the tea session here, we headed on our way back to Haridwar. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Travelogue Part 3 : Mussoorie

Okay, I know I haven't been writing lately. I've been busy with a lot of things. I better finish this travelogue before it's too late and I get too lazy!

Continued from here.

So, on the 28th of July, we left for Mussoorie from Haridwar on the tour bus we had booked a day before. The entire bus ride from Haridwar to Mussoorie and back plus the tour fee cost us only INR 150! We were supposed to come back the same day. We left at around 8:45 am and our bus was packed with tourists. We got the front seats though! :) Reason being there were a lot of honeymoon couples who obviously preferred being at the back! ;)

Our first halt was at this amusement park called Fun Valley just outside Haridwar which was like a small version of Esselworld. We had to pay 70 INR for a ticket which was actually worth 280 INR. Some discount for the tour bus people! My cousin told me the people (tour organisers) who take us there are paid a commission for every ticket we buy. The rides were all the same and we sat in every one of them- except the water rides of course since we just had one hour there and we hadn't carried any costumes for it.  It was enjoyable nonetheless.We befriended a sweet Delhi family there who was also on the bus with us. They spoke with a strong accent and you could easily tell where they've come from.

My all-time favourite ride

From there, we carried on our way to Mussoorie. It was all getting beautiful as our bus climbed up the ghats. It was getting cooler too. Our next halt was at this Shiva temple on the hill- the only temple where you couldn't donate money. You got plenty of grams and tea as prasad! There were shops outside the temple though where one could buy gemstones and there was a great variety of them! Also, I figured that's where they must be getting the funds from considering the temple is so well maintained, and the idols are adorned beautifully! There were also two shiva-lings made of a special stone called sphatik which looks like a mixture of marble and plastic.

The temple

Shiva-lings made of sphatik

The beautifully adorned idol

Next was Mussoorie city. As we climbed higher, it felt as if we were going to touch the clouds any moment now but the higher we went, we felt the same. The clouds never seemed to come. And before we knew it, we were going THROUGH the clouds!!! That's when I tweeted about literally being on cloud 9 :D A board that read "Pahado ki rani Mussoorie mein aapka swagat hai" welcomed us soon after. As soon as we reached the city, it was a whole different world out there. On our way there, we hardly saw any people and here, there was an entire township! We saw school going children wearing sweaters and going back home. It was a whole different world out there- people, climate everything!

The welcome board. It looked more beautiful from the front angle- amidst the clouds and all that. Captured it a bit late :(

And through the clouds!

We even saw the Himalayas from there and our tour guide told us that China was on the other side. Then the part that I was waiting for finally arrived. I had been tweeting about wearing the Garhwali dress ever since I planned this trip and I got to wear it here:

Me in the Garhwali dress

And that's my cousin Rohini! The dress suits her more, no? :)

The Himalayas - China on the other side! :)

After goofing around some more in the dress, we went exploring the city. White roads, cute chinese-eyed locals and beautiful wooden articles kept for sale everywhere is how I'd sum up those twenty minutes. We then stopped at a dhaba for lunch and got back into the bus soon after.

Our next destination was Kempty falls on our way down the hill between the Dehradun-Mussoorie path. 

Me at Kempty Falls

It was originally called "Camp-Tea"; they say the Britishers used to organise tea parties here. Over the years, it became "Kempty" :D (I just noticed, this is the second place that I visited in the same day that was associated with tea and a tea addict like me should be able to connect with this place soooo well :D). The place was peaceful, there were different levels to the falls and we could use steps to climb higher. They had built a small pond at each level. 

As we went up though, there were people using the ponds like a swimming pool with floating tubes and the like. It looked almost like a mini water park. Thank God they didn't build any water rides there! 

We bought two bhuttas  (maize) and searched for a quiet pond. We finally found one and munched on the bhuttas whilst dipping our bare feet in cold water. After a while though, I spotted a black faced monkey there who was running away after having *just* snatched someone's bhutta and right then, I threw my own bhutta into the pond out of fear! My cousin had finished hers. I really need to learn to start eating early. So anyway, we fled from there and found a safe little corner to video-shoot that naughty bhutta thief:

The video shows the falls and the surrounding area too.

We then hopped into our bus again and resumed our journey. The tour guy asked us if we wanted to stop at this small pond where you could paddle boats. All of us were tired though and just wanted to return to Haridwar. We finally returned to our room at 9:30 pm. A day fruitfully spent!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Frames of Freedom

Blogadda has announced yet another contest for us bloggers called the "Frames of Freedom" contest where we are supposed to post photos that depict freedom in some way. Here are my entries for the contest:

Freedom from responsibility:

The good old college days: A period when we really "live" our life without worries. :)

Freedom of expression:

At the "Wall Project": One wall to freely express your thoughts and creativity!

Also the freedom to paint whatever you want:

 Or whoever you want! :D

And dress up however you like:

Freedom of being happy:

Yes, even to the point of looking retarded! :P

Freedom of celebration:

Birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, festivals and the like!

Freedom of flight:

Birds flying homewards during sunset at Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad.

Freedom to smile:

"I've never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful."  ~Author Unknown

The freedom to choose your friends:

and counting on them to stick with you.. always. :)

The freedom of being one with nature:

Nothing like an evening by the sea...

The freedom to act crazy:

...just to spoil a good picture! :P

Freedom is just a state of the mind just like happiness is! Freedom and happiness both go hand in hand. :)

P.S: Wish me luck for the contest!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Travelogue Part 2 : Haridwar

Continued from here.

So, we reached Haridwar on the 27th of July and went straight to "Vyas Mandir" where we were supposed to stay. It's our community temple and there were some festivities going on there which were supposed to last till the end of the month. My uncle (my cousin Rohini's dad) was there two days before we could reach Haridwar and he was staying in the temple's ashram rooms too. We just rested in our room that day and went for a walk to explore the place a little bit, then sat for the aarti in the temple there before having dinner and retiring for the day. We were supposed to be in Haridwar till the 31st of July. We made plans to go to Mussoorie and Rishikesh during our stay there and we would always come back to Haridwar after visiting those places, meaning we never spent the night elsewhere though I wanted to- in Mussoorie! The place was so beautiful! Anyway, more on that later...

We went to Mussoorie the next day i.e. on the 28th of July- you'll read about it in the next part of this travelogue. :)

Vyas Mandir

The Mandir premises

Yours truly having tea. :)

On the 29th of July, my cousin Rohini and I went to this place called "Hari ki Pauri". The banks of the river Ganga are called that. There are cable-cars from "Hari ki Pauri" that take you to "Chandi Devi" and "Mansa Devi"- two very well-known temples there. I had never travelled by the rope-way before and was filled with excitement! We bought a combined ticket of INR 165 for "Chandi Devi" and "Mansa Devi" temples. There are buses that take you to the point from where you board the cable-cars. We were all allotted a bus number and we had to wait for our bus to get filled by people who shared the number with us. After half an hour of waiting and finally boarding the bus, it took us twenty more minutes to get to the cable-cars. And as expected, there was a queue for the cable-cars too. It wasn't very long though and we waited patiently. The ropeway was fun! It wasn't scary at all as I thought it'd be and we kept waving at others in cable-cars who were going back like a little bunch of kids. :D

Hari ki Pauri

Cable Car
The Rope-way

We finally reached "Chandi Devi" after 10 minutes in the cable-car and had to climb a few stairs more. We had taken some offerings for the Devi (Goddess) which would be returned to us as prasad later. There was a small queue even for entering the temple and by then it seemed like God was really testing our patience! Oddly, I didn't feel a thing once I got there. The temple seemed to have lost its sanctity with so many people hurrying to get inside and struggling to get a glimpse of the Goddess. I didn't feel a sense of peace at all. Some tied a sacred thread to the temple pillars promising to come back and untie it if they get what they wished for. I did admire these people for the faith they had. Lack of faith is not a very good thing but I keep suffering from it every now and then. Anyway, that's another issue altogether. We got our offerings back as prasad after being blessed and we made our way out. We had also bought something to feed the monkeys as we had been told there were a lot of monkeys outside the temple. And sure enough, there was a troop of monkeys waiting outside eyeing our bag of prasad! We kept our prasad safely inside and fed them with grams and sugar balls that we had got for them.

Thirsty Monkey

Rohini feeding one.

We took the ropeway down (again after standing in a queue again for it of course) and waited for our bus to take us back to Hari ki Pauri. 

Next was "Mansa Devi". There was a ropeway straight from "Hari ki Pauri" to "Mansa Devi". We didn't need another bus to take us anywhere. The queue here was however too long and we spent more than half an hour waiting to board a cable car. At this point, all I wanted to do was to go back to our room and lie flat on my back. I was exhausted! The view from the cable car here was breathtaking though. We could see Hari ki Pauri from the top and it looked beautiful :

 As soon as we got to the temple and were done with praying, we rushed to the cable car zone to go back, only to see that the queue here would take another 45 minutes to move ahead. There was an alternative of climbing down the steps here though and we decided to do that instead. However, each step was so high that my knees started to give up and I had to sit down for a bit after every five minutes. We finally got back to "Hari ki Pauri" in twenty minutes and rushed to find an auto that'd take us back to "Vyas Mandir" (to our room). We felt hungry on our way and decided to stop at a dhaba first. After a nice lunch of roti and paneer with chhaas to top it all, we finally went back to our room. 

My uncle and our family pundit were planning to go to "Hari ki Pauri" in the evening with us for the Ganga Aarti. So after resting a bit, we left with them to go to "Hari ki Pauri" again. There were a lot of kaavadias in the evening there. Kaavadias are people that belong to the "Kaavad" tribe. These are worshippers of the Lord Shiva. In the month of Shravan, which is considered to be a sacred month in Hinduism, over five lakh of these saffron clad kavadias throng to Haridwar from Himachal, Haryana, Punjab and all over the North with kaavads (a wooden or bamboo stick with pots at either end) to fill their pots with Ganga Jal (water from the Ganges). They take these pots back to their hometown and offer it at the local Shiva temple there. They sing hymns and holy songs while they trek. They can get annoying sometimes though when they try to get their way with almost anything in the name of God. Most of these kavadias build tents around the Ganges and stay there through the duration of this auspicious rally. 

Hari ki Pauri in the evening with kavadias on the bank.

A brightly decorated Kaavad.

Some kavadias with their Kaavads.

The most decorated Kaavad.

I also spotted an Aghori baba there but was too scared to capture him. Aghoris are people who eat dead bodies of people. After these bodies are immersed in the waters of the Ganga, Aghoris feed on them. They don't kill, but the fact that they eat human flesh and live and dress weirdly is reason enough to be scared of them. I have googled the following image just to show you what they look like. The grey colour that you see is ash that they smear on their bodies. These people are also worshippers of the Lord Shiva.

We headed for the Ganga Aarti from there. It was beautiful and takes place daily at 7pm sharp. 
Here are a couple of videos of it:

We later made some offerings (flowers and diya) to the Ganges and dipped our hands and feet into it. They say your sins get washed off if you bathe in the waters of the Ganga. Dipping hands and feet also counts I'm hoping! I don't think I have sinned much to dive in! :D Anyway, we look stupid towards the end of the video as we thought that the family pundit (who was recording) was clicking our picture and that he had stopped recording long ago, but he hadn't!

Haridwar is known for gemstones and my cousin is fond of them, so we spent one hour at the gemstone shop there while she shopped to her heart's content. :) After some chaai and mango shake, we headed back to "Vyas Mandir".

The next day i.e. the 30th of July was half spent at the temple and at Rishikesh- an account of which I'll share in the parts to come! :)

On the last day of our stay in Haridwar i.e. 31st July, we visited all possible temples there. Haridwar is mostly known for it's religious significance. The temples here are beautiful, but I could not find the peace that I was looking for except for in Ram Mandir maybe but there too, the kavadias came in just after we entered and broke the silence. 

Also, we faced a lot of eve-teasing in Haridwar with random people asking us if we wanted a lift and cracking dirty jokes to embarrass us. And the people that we came across with seemed to belong to a different clan altogether. In one of those Vaishnodevi replicas that they have made, I slipped and fell in the make-believe cave they had made and then followed a burst of laughter instead of anyone asking me if I was alright or lending me a hand. I was annoyed! 

So, anyway, as I said, the temples have been beautifully made.

There is a huge Shiva statue near Hari ki Pauri which is very prominent once you enter Haridwar city :

The next day, i.e. the 1st of August, we left Haridwar at 4:30 am in the morning to go to Delhi. Will write more about Delhi in the coming parts too.

So, Haridwar is a nice place to visit if you're a religious person. It does have a lot of scenic beauty but there are more of temples here than monuments, parks and the like. Anyway, even with some bad moments that we had, we enjoyed the adventure! :)

More pictures here.