We decided to break away the home routine and organized a little date night for ourselves this Saturday night. I put on a nice dress, some lipstick; the boy combed his hair all slick 😍, and we joined for a bottle of wine at our very own dining table! 🍷
The change of pace helped take our mind off the slowness that has crept into our lives, these days. While initially we couldn’t not talk about the only hot topic around us, the wine and some Italian jazz playlist randomly found on Youtube playing in background allowed our conversation to drift towards old books, childhood stories, travel memories and so on – all those lovely things of the past.
As we stuffed ourselves with fine pizza and more wine, I began to realize that when the future looks this uncertain, it’s nice to look towards the past, relive the good times and perhaps reiterate to ourselves that “this too shall pass”.
And while we are here, I must add that the only big drawback of a date night at the dining table is having to do the dishes afterwards 🙈.
As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of childhood days I spent in the wonderful city Calcutta. Every year, unfailingly.
It’s where I was introduced to the festival for the first time. We had moved to the big city a few months before I turned 10. Soon, Christmas was upon us and my parents made a number of plans for us to spend the holiday time frolicking around the city’s pockets that celebrated this festival with much fanfare.
I’m reminded of the beautifully decorated streets, lit with sparkly balls and colourful stars. They would adorn the buildings all around in areas like Park Street and Esplanade. We lived far from these areas, but that was the most fun part actually. The tram lines connected us to these places and we would jump on for a joy ride through the busy & bustling alleys of the city, observing the slow unravelling of the celebrations!
There were more than a fair share of street-sellers on this day, calling out at us to buy balloons, whistles, decoration items, small plastic toys and what not. I’d go for a couple of balloons for sure. But, we always headed out there for one reason, and one reason alone!
We would make our way through the crowd to a shop named Kathleen Confectioners – one of the best places in the city to get creamy (dreamy!), rich, most delicious cakes and pastries! And, Christmas would be our time for a treat at this wonderful (and heavily crowded!) place.
I read somewhere that Christmas is really a state of mind. It’s not only about the treats and presents we got, but also about creating a loving and warm atmosphere! And, my parents did exactly that! They helped us create wonderful memories of spending quality time together, amidst all the hustle-bustle of the city.
So, as the Christmas Day 2018 unfolded for us, we spent it connecting with loved ones, and (re)creating some of those memories! I hope yours was as joyful too!
This post is dedicated to a dear friend I’ve known for years now! Someone who never fails to amaze me with her grit, grace and goofiness, even to this day. Speaking with her is like getting a warm hug, and it takes me back to the days we spent in the wilderness of our college lives; doing assignments, chasing dreams but mostly sealing our friendship over late night movies and plates of maggi!
In the busy lives that we manage to bury ourselves in these days, it is often the littlest amount of unconditional time that a friend makes for you goes to make all the difference in the world. And, she is surely the one who is never short of it – no matter the distance, the timezones, the jobs, the families, and everything else that is Life.
I hope we all have at least one friend like that. And if you do, tag them in the comments and send them a hug 🙂
It has been over a year now but the memories are as fresh as though I was there just yesterday! San Sebastián holds a very special place in my heart. Every time I talk about it I feel a tingling sensation on my back, for, that’s how I felt when we drove into the city for the first time that summer afternoon…
Race back to July 2015: The stars had aligned perfectly – five of my friends flew down from different corners of the world to spend a couple of weeks in Spain together. For those familiar with Indian cinema, yes, we went there with every intention of recreating ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara‘ moments for us! Driving through various cities across the country, we filled our bags with souvenirs, and our cameras with mushy to marvellous photographs. But, it wasn’t until we all arrived in San Sebastián that we truly felt our Spanish holiday come alive.
Every nook and corner of this gorgeous town is picturesque, to say the least. Be it sunrise (of which I saw very little!) or sunset, enveloped in those natural hues the town lit up so beautifully it left us speechless many a time. What made San Sebastián unique was the fact that it wasn’t just a beach town, or just a hill station, or just touristy, historic, full of narrow-alleyways-cobblestoned-streets kind of a town – it was ALL three rolled into one! I was overjoyed to see hills looming large on the beautiful beaches, that stretched out to the colourful city on the other side – it was truly captivating!
And of course, among the six of us, there were six million heart warming moments that we shared with one another. Great laughs, passionate debates, group hugs, overlapping chatter, random photographs, and then some more group hugs – you get the drift! These experiences and moments of togetherness – while soaking up the sun on sandy beaches, or while walking up to the funicular station, or cracking into giggles while looking for restaurants open around midnight – are hard to come by, especially in a world where Whatsapp groups and Facebook updates have become the norm to stay in touch with your world. And so, we pocketed as many of these brilliant moments as possible and held in our hearts a promise that we wouldn’t give in to the temptations of technological laziness, so easily.
Ah, before I get more sentimental about this, I must tell you the real reason why this town became so special for me.
Having never been a beach lover, I avoided going onto the sandy land the first few times. Then, I began to loosen up a little looking at everyone else’s enthusiasm. And, after toasting a margarita glass full of milk, I decided to go into the sea – slowly, but surely. It was a moment of personal discovery while standing neck deep in the sea, that I could actually be friends with the blue waters! I swam a little, played a lot more with these five mad people splashing water all around like kids, and had the best time in those cold but very welcoming, shiny waters, alongside some of my oldest friends. It was unadulterated joy, I tell you!
It taught me a simple fact of life: it is never too late to let go of your fears. As I lay afloat on my back for those few minutes, delicately supported by my friends, the blue sky stretched over me, sun rays glistened across my eyes, I felt a deep sense of calm come over me and in that moment, I fell in love with San Sebastián!
“If you push fear out, love will find its way in!” ~ wise words, not mine. My husband mumbled it one evening, and although I read more books on philosophy than he does, I give him credit for this one. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to join us on this leg of the trip. So, it is only befitting that I left behind a piece of my heart there, so we can take a trip together some time to leave a piece from his too!
Summers are a promise of activity, cheer and adventure. It is that beautiful time of the year when everything around us is in full bloom – be it the gardens, or the massive sales in the mall. As the bright sunshine sprawls all around, refrigerators are stocked with bottles of juices, ciders and white wines. All the parks look greener than ever before, and are dotted with people soaking up the sun, walking their dogs, or just playing with kids – the colourful sights we don’t get tired of! Picnics with friends and prolonged outdoorsy evenings crawl back into our routine; all those stylish dresses, skirts and tops make a much awaited come back and suddenly, days seem so full of possibility! I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said people seem happier in summer – they actually are!
That’s how the last three English summers have been for me. And, in all honesty, all of this wonderfulness lasts about two weeks every year. Maybe three, if you can put up with the downpour during the third week, without a scowl.
In my tropical mind, it is not summer if I am wearing a coat to work, or walking to Waitrose with my umbrella receiving some pitter-patter! Unless I spend at least two months sweating it out, drinking copious amounts of Rooh Afza and gulping down scores of mango pieces after every meal, it does not qualify as a well-lived summer. As a kid, the summer season was synonymous with vacation time with family, and that meant long train journeys to Granny’s towns. Splitting our time between the paternal and maternal sides of my family, these vacations were all about reconnecting with parts of me scattered in many places, within the lives of so many. The emphasis also used to be on learning something new each year. From learning to sow, to making own paper envelopes, to writing letters, to learning to recite morning prayers in Sanskrit, to mastering the game of Brainvita and Solitaire! A new skill, something exciting, and spending time with people to create fond memories of, perhaps to look back upon on a day like this.
I am sitting in my balcony having the last bite of what was a delicious Coffee & Walnut flavoured cake that I bought from Waitrose. I almost want to keep this post aside and look for its exact recipe online – it was that yum! A light breeze ruffles my hair, and I get back to thinking about summers in India. While I don’t particularly miss the scorching heat that envelopes my country during these months, I have definitely missed doing something new, as the season swung by year after year.
So, this summer I decided to bring into our home six little and lovely living beings. (That’s how my brother framed their arrival!). Having never been an animal lover, I inclined myself towards flora and picked some hardy flowering plants, an ornamental citrus fruit tree and to give my English home a touch of traditional India, a pot of basil leaves too! I wish I had a huge courtyard to place it in the middle of, but I make do with our 7th floor balcony for now.
It feels good! To stand in the sun with them, smiling and happy. Just how India Knight put it, ‘when the sun is out, it’s the smallest adventures that can bring the greatest pleasure.’