What’s New This Summer?

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!

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August sun shining on Lake Windermere!

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.’

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Osteospermums pose for a happy picture!

 

 

Escape Of Today, Autumn Of Tomorrow

If you follow me on Twitter, you’d know how much I love sitting by the large windows of my living room. It should be no surprise then if I say, I am sitting by one of those lovely windows right now as I type this. I am also cozily tucked into a throw and intermittently staring at the marvellous sight that is the balcony of a couple living in the opposite apartment block. Beautifully and just adequately lit by their lamp in the corner and some candles on the table, I can imagine what it must be like to sit in the cool breeze, crisp air and sip some red wine & nibble on chocolates. The gorgeous flowery plants all around the parapet hide the view but it’s a good guess they are having red wine. I’d if I was sitting there and chocolates would be a definite yes! Hubby nods in agreement, but also nudges me to not stare so hard.

Containing myself, I get back to my screen. It is almost 7:15pm, sun has set and the skies are slowly losing their beautiful hues of dusk to blackness. Getting used to the sunsets in London can be a challenge for someone who has lived all her life in a tropical land. We rise and fall (into bed!) with the sun over there, and it feels cumbersome to do it any other way! That is the reason I best like this time of the year here. The days haven’t yet become short and dark, and everything outside is pretty great too. I mean, what’s not to like about autumn. From the way it’s spelled to nostalgia attached with Enid Blyton story books; from scents and softness of the season to its distinct foliage.

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Need I say more?

This is also the time when I begin to click the big tree at my office square everyday, capturing the changing leaf colours and density, in the hope that I will make a stopgap video out of those frames! I know I will go replenish my stock of scented candles soon and buy fresh produce of the juicy berries and apples so my fruit basket can mirror the season colours! And that reminds me, autumn is also the time to cover up again, to bring out the boots, soft cardigans and coats that I had so happily stowed away. I will, of course, refrain myself from getting a new wardrobe but the shops are already lined with such sumptuous textures that it is going to be difficult to stop! I quickly glance at hubby who looks immersed in a book, so I don’t bother telling him of my temptations now. Around the house, all the rugs and cashmere blankets will be shown some sun before it becomes a scarce commodity, along with doling out some soups, leafy healthy preparations out of this new recipe book that hubby gifted me and find more & more excuses to stay indoors to catch up on movies we missed during the busy outdoors-y summer.

I suddenly look out the window again and I don’t see any shadows in that balcony. Just find a faintly flickering candle all by itself on the table. The road below has also quietened now. Well, Sunday has almost come to an end, and it so appears that my fond remembrance and wishful planning for the season have taken me away in thoughts too. But then, it is something to look forward to, isn’t it? Reality surrounds us, and Sundays have become mere reminders of Mondays more than anything else these days. But what is a Sunday devoid of wishfulness, of yearning, of tiny escapes of the mind? It is in these tiny escapes that I tighten my grip on reality and live it, shape it fully.

I now have a reason more to love the autumns!

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Photo of the tree at the office square from last year!

PHOTO: #ThrowbackThursday To Henley On Thames

This week’s #throwbackthursday post is all about taking everything as it comes. Fretting over how something did not pan out as you planned is only a futile attempt at how you can recover from the situation, and make the best of what you have.

A question on tonight’s #TravelIST chat about Travel Mishaps was what led me to this post. “Ever been in a Travel Mishap with a happy ending?”. Henley on Thames is one of the few that I could put into this category!

My friend and I missed a train out of London for Brighton. We had an entire day planned for Brighton, only for it to be completely ruined, thanks to some confusion! We did fret over it but soon enough we decided to hop on the next train – to wherever it may lead in an hour’s time heading outwards of London. And Henley on Thames was it!

It was a small sleepy town, with sprawling bungalows and lush lawns, and the residents enjoying themselves on a siesta for sure. But boy! it was beautiful! The boat ride on the River Thames gave me plenty to capture. And unable to pick one among those, I thought I will make a collage of all that was picturesque of this small but wonderful town!

How we spent our time there? Well, we took on the mood of the town pretty quickly. We walked through the silent streets, ate a long lunch at a local cafe, sampling some of their local tea and biscuits. We then took the boat ride, stood on the Henley Bridge & enjoyed the view. As they say, when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

And we could not have been happier about missing that train to Brighton – we later heard it rained there that day! Ha! Like I said in the beginning, most often its best to take things as they come!

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PHOTO: #ThrowbackThursday To August Love!

Love is in the air!

Have you also been hearing this, lately? All #twitter contests are revolving around Valentine’s Day, the Facebook updates have started to pour in, of the plans and vacations and specials planned for the 14th! And well, it is endearing indeed. Cliched, but endearing!

And so, I have today’s #throwbackthursday post dedicated to a travel destination best synonymous with love, and only love! Here, quite literally love is all around you. Continue reading “PHOTO: #ThrowbackThursday To August Love!”

PHOTO: #ThrowbackThursday To ‘The Land Of Clouds’

Conversing with a tweet-friend earlier today, I was reminded of my childhood days. I spent a good ten years of that in the then Bihar, one of the eastern states in India, growing up in the wild among hills! It is an iron-ore mining township, located above and among the hills of the Bonai range. Life there was fun, to put it simply. And very simple too! There were two schools – if you didn’t get into one, you went to the other; one shopping centre – anything you wanted you got there; friends and classmates meant the same thing; all the roads were our playground and the big colony lived like one big family – everyone knew everyone else, sometimes even if they didn’t want to!

And today, sitting in my warm apartment on a cold winter night in London, I cannot help but feel terribly nostalgic about those ‘Wonder Years’! Sal trees, heavy rains, warm sunshine, elephants, waterfalls, picnics – things that are synonymous with my childhood. And no better day than this to dedicate my #ThrowbackThursday post to this wonderful small town called Meghahatuburu (meaning: the land of clouds), where I spent the most blissful of times!

I took this photo during my visit with my family in 2007. This is close to the guest house we stayed in, right next to the colony – of course quite away from the main road. I couldn’t resist the call of the valleys and hills!

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