My Five Little Things of 2014

It only seems like yesterday that we packed our bags and with them our lives to move to London, which by the way was exactly a year ago! Life changed after that 9-hour flight. Settling into a new city, our new home, new jobs, newer (better!) lifestyle, and the totally unpredictable weather was not only challenging but also most remarkable, in every sense of the word.

And as we settled in, I began to appreciate life’s little things a little more, and with them have chanced upon some of life’s important truths too. Perhaps it was the distance from home and loved ones that made me think a lot more and these realizations slowly made their way into me /us.

Here are my top 5 things:

1. Sunshine

Living in the UK definitely makes you appreciate sunshine a lot more than you might have ever done in the past, especially if you have lived closer to the equator before. Longing for some golden rays into your bedroom as you wake up or in your living room as you sip your evening coffee, or even while you step out for a walk in Hyde Park – sunshine makes everything that bit sweeter.

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2. Homemade food

There is absolutely nothing better than a home-cooked meal. But it took me almost 4-5 months to realize this! I used to venture out everyday during lunch – from Habibi’s katsu curry, Whitecross farmers market’s stalls, Pilpel’s falafels to even the light-n-healthy soup-places like Pret and Eat. They sounded fancy, and tasted fancy too but all of them were lost on me in a few months. And eating out adversely affected my health too. Thankfully, Amma’s simple recipes came to my rescue and I began to carry packed lunch from home. Not only do I feel better after eating homemade meals but also have started to enjoy cooking in my kitchen, along with exploring the healthier options from time to time.

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3. Importance of exercise / discipline

I am still quite surprised how almost everyone here has at least one hour dedicated to exercising, every day! It does not come naturally to me at all. But, call it peer pressure or just a sense of inspiration from seeing people all around, I have managed to introduce exercise into my routine, albeit very slowly. I go to practice yoga at the sessions held near my home by www.ourparks.org.uk/ – If you live in London and love group exercise sessions, then you must sign up for these – the best part is they are free!

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4. Ties to our roots

Without sounding too melodramatic about it, I admit that it feels great to celebrate all our festivals no matter where we are. It reminds us of our traditions, our simple joys, our ways to get-together with family and friends and create more memories. Thankfully, London has all the avenues to help you celebrate any Indian festival that you want to. From Mehendis at parlours to Durga Puja pandals to firecrackers and colours of Holi, you name it!

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5. There is no greater support system than Family

I don’t think I need to elaborate much here. We thoroughly enjoyed the numerous skype and facetime sessions, the groups on whatsapp only added more colour to daily conversations and occasional long ones helped me steer away from any self-doubting traps. I cannot emphasize enough how satisfying it is to be close and in constant touch with one’s family and how happy it can make one feel!

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And I’d be lying I didn’t admit and add, that 2014 has only been about London! I constantly looked for newer experiences – whether it was in trying a new cuisine or discovering unusual cafes in the small alleys or the chic champagne bars of the city. More on all of that in a later post. Despite the grave requests from our friends and our own brave attempts, we could not manage to speak the accent (yet!) but we are so chuffed about the progress we’ve made to make our language sound a bit more colloquial! 😀

And with that thought, here’s hoping to an even better 2015!

A Fresh Start

With a pen in her hand

She stared at the blank lines

Waiting for her thoughts to expand

So she could create new rhymes

 

But they stared right back at her

Condensing her thoughts to ice

The lines started to become a blur

And she began to despise

 

Tearfully, she looked away

And her heart ached, like never before

But she knew, she couldn’t leave it astray

And hugged herself with all love & more

 

Although it had been a couple of years

His ridicule had been detrimental

Gulping down the lumps of tears

She told herself to be kind, to be gentle

 

And she resolved to begin again

Wiping those tears she gathered her heart

She knew she had to beat the pain

She scribbled hard on the lines: A Fresh Start

 

She steered away from his words, resonating

And held her hands to the lines, thoughts pouring

Of the vast oceans, blue waters and ships sailing

Of the open skies, white clouds and birds chirping

 

Suddenly, there came upon a little smile

And her cheeks blushed, lighting up her face

She warmly looked at her hands awhile

She felt they began to regain their grace

 

She went back to her lines

They no longer looked empty

Now filled with joy and rhymes

That she believed to be poetry

 

Her heart felt at ease

She had finally won the fight

Oh, how she wanted time to freeze

So she could read and re-read her lines, in utter delight

 

Smiling at her silliness

She put her pen aside

Having reclaimed her happiness

She felt truly gratified

 

Shillong Wedding!

Those small little things
Oh! What joy they really bring!

Going to places hip & happening,
And taking the autographs on a sling.

Reminiscing stories of the boys’ wings,
Ah! All those funny Whatsapp pings.

That poorest of jokes which out of nowhere springs,
That makes you laugh until tummy actually stings.

Oh oh! And when you nudge the bride to demand a diamond ring,
And the groom innocently puts on a act of poor hearing!

And of course, when two best friends decide to go bling,
They add to the party that extra zing.

Not to forget those long car drives where all loudly sing,
As phones lose network and don’t go tring-tring!

Oh! What joy it really brings,
To remember all those small little things!

Happyness!

So I love going to the Whitecross street market to get my lunch during work. It’s a long distance from my office, but I enjoy the walk; it’s probably one reason why I go – to take a nice 20min walk just before lunch. The market kicks off at noon and there are various stalls carrying all types of food, possibly from all the parts of the world. Click here to see the place!
The parts of the world that interest me, however, are only that of Italy and India. Dishes served in these two stalls are rich in variety even when it comes to vegetarians, are rich in flavour, and in my opinion, offer good value for money too. The reason for my inclination towards the Indian stalls is quite obvious but the Italian stall attracts me more for the fact that I believe I’d never learn to cook these dishes at home and so I gorge as much as I can when I have the chance.So this weekend, when I went to do my grocery shopping at Morrisons, I decided to get some of the bottled sauces to try my amateur hand at these Italian pastas. I bought the tomato & Mediterranean vegetables sauce, and tomato & chilli sauce; picked up two packets of Penne Rigate and Spirali each from the neatly stacked large shelves and was feeling quite Italian already! I prepared Spicy Arrabbiata for lunch on Sunday and complimented it with some toast and butter as sides, and without sounding too boastful of my cooking skills, I think it tasted quite like the box of arrabbiata I get from the Italian stall at Whitecross. I couldn’t believe it until a few spoonfuls and then I had sort of a eureka moment sitting in my kitchen – I could cook Italian food! And then it occurred to me, how suddenly had the Italian food come within my reach! In a fleeting moment though, the Italian stall lost its charm. I felt like a master who had just tamed a ferocious tiger…Cutting sharply through my thoughts was my washing machine making loud noises of rinsing and spinning my clothes. I darted out of the kitchen and into my bedroom, to quickly get dressed for my evening ahead. Idly sitting in the tube later on, my thoughts sprang back into my mind as if trying to finish some unfinished business! I thought about how the dishes at the Italian stall suddenly seemed captured within realm of my own kitchen. And my mind was quickly drawing up an analogy with Life itself.

Wouldn’t you agree with me when I say a task, or a material object, or even a personality attracts more interest and curiosity when we think it/they are unattainable? Money, fame, all big fat luxury items, our favorite celebrities and their lifestyles, etc. – just all of them carry a certain aura, charm and a mystery that makes them seem so special and unreachable. We all desire for each of these – to earn money, to be successful (which is only a relative term anyway), to own some hi-tech or fashionable luxury item, to meet our favorite personality – but once we get these things, what really happens? The luxury item becomes a showpiece that you overtime forget to even brag about; money stays in your bank and you enjoy spending it but are no longer under the aura it carried in your mind until you earned it all, and you look at the picture you got taken with your favorite star and bask in it, if only momentarily! None of this is against the human psyche. This is how we are. This is how I am. Only that this time, the Italian stall was at the losing end of the game.

But I have come to believe, with the limited knowledge that I possess, there is one thing we all desire for, and yet never grow tired of after achieving/experiencing it – happiness. There is no one definition to happiness, and each one of us has her/his own for this 9-letter word, but no matter how difficult the path to achieving this feeling might be I am absolutely sure at no point in time do we begin to set it aside as an attained wealth/commodity – like I perhaps did with the Italian stalls. To vouch for my rather homo-sapiens-behaviour, I tried out the ‘I-can-possibly-never-get-anything-interesting-veggie-there-thus-unreachable’ Japanese place Habibi that my team often visits to get lunch from and after tasting the Vegetable Curry & Rice I wondered why I avoided this place all this while. And voila! I now have another object of desire.

Such is Life, and it is only nice to have these tiny realizations between awesome morsels of food that I put into my mouth, making every bite rich and wholesome.

And it snowed!

 



























I was snuggling up in my duvet, watching the cloudy sky from my window all of my morning. And I thought that in a nut-shell would describe my Saturday. Then it stretched a bit. I went on to do a light and healthy breakfast, took a long warm shower, cooked a spicy lunch with my colleagues and and just when post lunch was beginning to get drowsy and lazier, I sat upright and played a few episodes of HIMYM. However, the day’s mood had not changed much – I was still snuggling up comfortably in the my duvet! It was only around 6pm that my colleagues convinced me to step out with them.


East Ham (in East London, easy to guess I believe!) is the place to do your shopping for Indian groceries. And so that’s where we headed straight. I was happy to walk through the small aisles in this shop filled with Indian cosmetics, spices, cereals and pulses, and all the possible varieties of Priya and Mother’s Recipe pickles! I picked a few packets of spices – cinnamon sticks, grounded coriander powder, til seeds and asafoetida among some of the important ones. I also saw baskets full of Maggi there! And well, my fifteen pounds felt good.

And then it happened. Snow!



It started to excite me the minute the tiniest snowflake placed itself on my cheeks, almost like a sweet peck! As my colleagues and I finished dinner and stepped back onto the streets of East Ham, the city was beginning to get covered under a snowy white layer. The sky turned an adorable sepia and the hues were breathtaking at places with the combination of neon lights and snow’s reflection causing that vibrant mix we only see in paintings! We spent a good one hour playing about with the tiny layer of snow; but by the time we got home in Stratford we had a thicker layer of snow waiting for us.

I am so happy it snowed in London! I had been waiting for it to snow. The winter of 2011-12 has just got its meaning, for me, and I hope the day’s ahead are as white and bright as they can be!

I pulled out my camera immediately after reaching my apartment and these are some quick clicks. Enjoy these for now, while I step out to click and play a little more!