Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Bucket list of places I want to go to



I have many lists but I think the list I keep going back to is my bucket list of places I want to see. Some are in India, most abroad. It's a small list; just 25 and I hope I keep adding to it.


1. Greece 

I am pretty eager to go to Greece. It is after all my dream country. There was a time when I wanted to live there for atleast 6 months. I looked up ways to earn, job opening and even made travel plans.  I still would love to do do that, but don't know if it will be possible. But Greece is a place I would like to visit again and again, through out my lifetime. ( And I don't know what started first, my obsession with Greek myths or my desire to go to Greece.)


2. Coorg

 

Coorg is not that popular as a tourist destination but I still want to visit. We were supposed to visit for a wedding but our plans got cancelled at the last minute. Coorg has forts, and ruins; and also coffee and elaichi plantations.


3. Silvassa

I didn't know much about Silvassa until a saw someone's fb cover pic a year back. It's a small town Dadra and Nagar Haveli which is wedged between Maharashtra and Gujarat. It's a few hours drive from Mumbai. It's known for it's scenic beauty. beaches and water sports (One site mentioned Jet skiing I would so love to try that!). There you have it-just say the word 'beach' and I am in. 
and the  capital of the Indian Union Territory of

 

4. Kerela: 

It's supposed to be "God's own country and I there are so many reasons to agree. I mean, just google Kerela! It's beautiful; coconut trees, beaches and rivers. Can't think of a reason no to go.


   

 

 

5. Italy


What can I say about Italy? So much has been already said. I can just utter a few words. Pizza. Italian men and their accents *drool*. Tuscany. Eat, Pray, Love

 

 

 

 

6. Andaman (white beach)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Because sometimes you feel overwhelmed

My life will change after 3 and a half months. I am getting married ( Surprise?) Most 40+ people are excited when they get to know and ask me how I feel. My peers on the other hand were surprised. 


The decision to get married was mine. So obviously, in the beginning I was pretty excited. Then came the cold feet part. ( Which I guess, happens to everyone. ) I had a lot on my mind. Firstly I was scared of the married tag. I mean, married! That sounds so responsible and boring. That scared the shit out of me. Secondly, I felt that A was feeling pressurized about getting married. As if I was unconsciously or consciously forcing him to. Thirdly, the fact that most of my cousins married in their late twenties and I feel as if I am marrying pretty darn early. 

 

I am not as pretty and won't ever look as graceful as she did if I ever do try to run


But what bugged me the most is my lack of financial independence. I always imagined that I would be earning ( and earning well) before I get married. That would have been ideal. (Sadly, nothing is ideal.) Life did not go as planned and I started my own venture 4 months back and I still need one more year to be able to actually "earn" and become sustainable. 


And A has always said that he wanted to marry a person who had her own income. I don't know if the fact that I don't have one as of now, is disappointing to him. I didn't ask, too afraid of what the answer might be. It's something he really wanted and even though he is very very supportive of what I am doing (Believe me, I am overwhelmed and very grateful for his support.) I sometimes feel that this is something which bugs him too.


I have been having bouts of cold feet for the last 2 months. I have been doubting my own ability and my readiness to be married. Maybe because I friend of ours broke of her own engagement just a month before her D-day. Maybe because atleast 4 of my cousins ( of my very large extended family) have separated/divorced just a few years after marriage. Or maybe it's an irrational stupid fear that everyone gets before getting married. 


I am mostly happy about getting married.  When two people are in a committed relationship it makes sense for them to "start their lives together" And marriage is the conventional, accepted way to do it. I may not be overtly excited but I am certainly happy. ( Sometimes I do feel excited and have those "can't wait" moments but ofcourse I won't show it. )


But sometimes these thought linger. Sometimes I want to get away from it all. The discussions, the preparations, the "how are you feeling?" questions; everything that suggests that in a few more months I'll be married.


The worst part is that I know I will keep having these bouts of dread till it actually happens. No amount of reassurance can make it go away. Even I know that my fear of the unknown is irrational. That I can get paranoid when there is no reason to be. And yet I will keep speculating. Maybe writing about it will help. ( It usually does.) 


How can I explain that I am happy and yet I am shit scared. How can I explain that I can't wait to get married and yet sometimes wish that it was further away. How can I explain that I wish that I am not the only one who is feeling this way and that I wish that A too gets those moments. 


I am feeling pretty sentimental at this moment. This was supposed to be a funny post where I would poke fun at my cold feet, share an anecdote or two about the preparations. Pcch. I want a hug. I want someone to say that they get it.


I think I should end my rant, here.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

List of sites which have lists


Since I am a list maniac I decided that my blog should have a list of websites that have lists.




1. Mental_Floss

 Let me tell you that I absolutely adore Mental floss.  They have been around for a very long time now. I don't subcribe to the magazine which started in 2001, but I am a regular at the site. Apart from lists like 11 dog breeds that no longer exist and 30 thing sturning 30 this year, they have a lot of fun articles, facts and trivia. And they research on and answer user questions. Anyone can submit a question to them! So over all it's a pretty good to place to get new trivia without feeling like you're being lectured.



2. Buzzfeed



I stalk their facebook page for new stuff. I literally go through  their whole feed and almost always end of reading most of their articles. All articles are in list format, and each point is accompanied with a pic of a GIF or a video.  Now, buzzfeed does not have original content. They collect viral content from stumbleupon, youtube, reddit and other places and compile them and then they post it. All their posts or feeds are collected from all over the web. The BuzzFeed homepage consists of a time-sequential list of posts from users and staff members.They encourage community posts and you can vote for your favourites . I have discovered so many recipes, projects, people and interesting information through buzzfeed that now I can't imagine not using it.


Check their    15 absurd fashion predictions and 27 things every parent does and you too will be clicking on all their posts like I do.

3.  List25

I came across this site by accident. I was going through some videos on youtube and found a video by them. I am so glad I did.  The site basically compile lesser-known intriguing information on a variety of subjects. They have incredible lists like 25 bizzare lawsuits you won't believe are real and 25 gift ideas for cat lovers. I could spend hours of my free time there. The design and interface is clean and it's very easy to navigate.



4.  Book Riot

This one has a niche audience. They are all about book reviews, writing and book related articles, and ofcourse book-related lists. It's a little difficult to find their lists but since I am a fan I look for them anyway. They have this feature calledcritical linking, which is their daily round up of bookish lists. Once you scroll down their feed, it's easy to spot. They do have other lists, here and there and you will eventually find them if you stick around. I would recommend it to all book lovers AND aspiring writers. 





 And Now  the mother of all list websites!



5.  Listverse

 

List maniacs will go crazy on this site! They have all kinds of lists, categories for lists and it's almost endless. Like mental_floss it's a site for trivia and facts on all topics. The lists you will find here are more diverse. You can spend hours and hours exploring all the lists they have. It is after all the original top 10 list place and has been featured on BBC Radio, Radio Scotland, Alabama Radio, BBC Television World News International, PBS, and in the New York Times. Very swag.


While writing this post I discovered a site for bucket lists; where you can track your bucket lists and connect with like minded people. I registered instantly, though have not started using it. 


P. S: ohyemzee so many lists!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Not mine. Not ever again

One

My words are not my words
anymore.
I give them up.
I can't claim them to be mine
MINE, MINE, MINE.

Were my words ever enough?
My words. 
I remove the prefix now.
Words.

Words flow...
like a river?
Why did I think of a river?
Is there no other analogy?

My words used to be mine.
Never touching brilliance
Mediocrity
Reminding me everyday.

I see brilliance around me;
knowing that I cannot even
touch it.

I scared of revealing
all that I feel. 

I scared of dark thoughts.

I give up my claim.

No longer mine.
Just words. 
~Anjee, Nov 2013

This is the first poem I wrote in my series Mid Carnival of Woe. I wrote the series within a day or two. Eight poems in two nights to be precise. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Midget Stories

The shortest short story ever written is attributed to Ernest Hemingway. Though one can never be sure if it was him.

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn "

I think It is always a challenge creating and presenting a story with as less words as possible. I have been writing these tiny stories here and there. I like to call them midget stories- all under the word count of 55. ( To read my 55 word fiction and 100 word fiction click here and here.) So for Friday Fiction today I am posting my very own midget stories.

Thousands of rats chewed on the flesh, leaving behind only broken bones. They say he died on the railway tracks. His body was never found.






All our cells are replaced by new ones, every year. It’s been five years and I still can’t see my reflection in the mirror.

I was singing to her that night. Suddenly I could no longer hear

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Shriveled

Two

Here I am;
tattered,
shriveled.
Plank by plank;
cell by cell;
speck by speck;
bared. 

There was no
madness to my method
I made that up.

But it was never a mask.

At another place,
in another time
verse still swims
in my mind. 

~ Anjee, November 2013

The 2nd poem in my series Mid Carnival of Woe. 

P.S : Sometimes I miss Nov 2013, It was a very different time...

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My mom is possibly the bride from hell

I just had a revelation My mom is Bridezilla! Yes, she is that bride from hell. Except that she's not the bride; I am the to be bride. 

She is going berserk trying to shop for me and trying to drag me to shops. Shopping for me equals to a Dementor's kiss and I hate it (Chi, Wyak, Thoo) and so my mom and me have had loads and loads of arguments lately. She is frantic about buying me clothes and I am reluctant.

Apparently. since I am getting married I need a completely new wardrobe. Usually people are excited about such a thing but I am not and she is. 

Today, in the morning she was looking at the newspaper and pointing out sale ads- we have to go here; we definitely have to try this place...! She is going nuts. Worse part is, I can't oppose her without starting a fight and these days whenever we talk we bicker. She will stay stuff like " I am doing this for you!" Which is not true; she is doing this for herself. Because mothers are supposed to give stuff to their daughters when they get married. But ofcourse I can't tell her that. 

It's pretty turbulent. All conversations centre around my marriage and shopping. Where should we shop; how many of my clothes are still left; what else can we buy AND it gets annoying. My marriage is the foremost thing in her mind but not on mine. And that's why all this chaos. That sucks, big time. 

The best thing to do is to go along with all of her plans. I am pretty tired of it and want it to be over soon.  That way we avoid any kind of fight. I had never thought I would see this side of hers! Her franticness is something I am so not used to!

I know nothing about clothes and jewelery and what kind of shit. I am really not that interested in shopping for them! 

You know what the irony is? She hates shopping too. 

P. S Check this video about moms and their constant instructions. They can do it coz they are the mom

Because I am the mom!

video







Monday, March 3, 2014

How to not get ripped off when you travel abroad

It's time for yet another How to! Last week I wrote about who I would travel smart to Greece, where I gave tips about how travelling and saving money with my limited knowledge. But then i though why not ask an expert? Someone who has travelled so much more than I have and who can give much better advice than I can. So for this week's How to I am handing over my blog to A. 

But before he begins, let me introduce him to you. I realise I have never formerly introduced A, even though I have written about him loads.  A is my boyfriend, partner; call it what you may and we have been dating since November 2011 He is a very kind-hearted, generous, friendly, ever helpful guy. Apart from that he is a cyclist, swimmer, itinerary planner and a huge travel enthusiast!. Also tolerates my moods, crankyness, weirdness etc . Yes yes, I know I am very lucky to have him. Over to him, now. 


When Anjee asked me to write a guest post for her blog, it felt very nice. She had given me a very specific topic too and I like specifics! Although, nobody can really claim to never get cheated in a foreign country, there are always some things which will reduce that probability by a large extent. As to my experience in the subject matter, I have been to Europe for a 3 month student exchange program and then to Vietnam more recently for a vacation with some of my friends. Also, the topic is mostly relevant when one is planning to travel on their own, without a tour operator as they take care of almost everything leaving hardly any scope of goofing up. So, starting out with some basic points when traveling on your own!






The key point to saving money is Research – Research, Research, Research! With the internet, smartphones and the mobile revolution, traveling on your own is so much more easier nowadays. I've tried to compile all the gyan in 6 points and  here they are. 

        Geography 


Main points of interest, how far they are from each other, what modes of transport to take, what is the best order to visit them in, what will be the entry and exit points. Being informed of these helps in case you want to change your itinerary mid-tour and be most economical about it.

        Hotels 


     One of the most important elements on how good your vacation went is how good your hotel was. Also, after a tiring day of travel you want a good nights sleep and not pay a bomb for it. So, it makes sense to spend a decent amount of time to research where you want to stay. Sites such as Tripadviser and Agoda are good for scouting good hotels with multiple reviews. Always make sure to read 2-3 reviews of a hotel before booking.

3     Communication 

     
      It makes sense to get a local sim card with data. Google on the go helps save bucks other than being able to stay connected! One Hanoi taxi driver with a rigged meter was trying to charging us 3 times the money and Google maps with GPS saved us! We threatened to call the police as we were confident of the distance traveled and that rattled him. So, google maps, points of interest, restaurant reviews and public transport, all at your fingertips help a lot and pay for the sim card charges more often than not.

       Currency 

     Dealing with a new currency takes some getting used to. And one should definitely take the time to do that. Don’t get panicky as the first few transactions in a new currency will take time. The exchange rate in Vietnam is 1USD=21000 Vietnamese Dong, so daily transactions often run into lakhs and millions. My friend ended up paying a bomb for a taxi ride from the airport because she got confused with the currency and the taxi driver was hurrying her. She is a very smart person, but got irritated and lost her patience while calculating the taxi fare. One should be patience and not bother if someone is hurrying you up.

Also, always have your spare money dollars. Unfortunately, the INR isn’t so liquid in some of the countries such as Vietnam. Having Indian currency is pretty much pointless there. And even if one does manage to find a conversion point, it would be charging a completely obscene exchange rate.

         Transport 

     
       If you are traveling alone or just 2 people, exploring options for public transport such as bus/metro often saves a lot of money compared to a cab. A taxi ride from Hanoi airport to our hotel costs around $20 compared to just $2 for a bus ride! And the thrill of saving money like this a big boost for me! An alternative transport option in some places is hiring a car or a motorcycle. It gives you the freedom of exploring the country in your own way at your own pace! Two of us hired a motorbike in Hoi An, Vietnam and saw a place 18km away for just $5. Also, add to that the thrill of riding in a foreign country and the feeling of wind in your hair – absolutely worth it!

6       Purchasing 


       If you want to food items that a country is famous for, then a departmental store is a good idea. This is because the concept of MRP doesn’t exist in some countries and even if it does, it might be in a language you don’t understand. I loved the taste of Vietnamese filter coffee, googled the best brand online and found it was Trunh Nguyen. Now, this particular brand was available in shops on the street and I asked one of them who said a 250gm costs about $4. However, the exact same variety cost me about half that money when I bought it from a department store when the price was tagged in. However, if you are buying non-branded items which are available only at local stores, then the key point is to bargain hard – at least in developing countries where it is completely acceptable. One good bargaining strategy is to quote a price in the first shop and if the guy agrees, then don’t buy and move on. In the next shop, quote a lower price and see if you can get it for less. If not, then you know you don’t have much more room to bargain!

      An important disclaimer is that the above points are just pointers on things which can save you some money while traveling abroad. Ultimately, I think there are just two things which save you from getting ripped off – confidence and common sense. Oh, and of course, sheer good luck! So good luck to all of you who have the travel bug and feet itching to go somewhere.. Pack your bags, plan your next vacation, life is short and the world too big!





Momentary alchemy

It was 11.30 PM. His flight was late. The sky was foggy. He had to travel from Delhi to Guregaon.

“Pesky cab wallas” he told me. “refusing to go”
I was at my place. Staring at the text he had just sent me. And shit scared.

“Oh shucks. Take care. Tell me when you reach. “ I texted back.

And that’s when it hit me. I am in love with this guy.

••••

Some lovestories are made in heaven, some you don’t expect to happen and they do. I fell in love when I least expected to. Is that always the case?

I am a Punjabi who lived in Kolkata. He is a Bengali who worked in Chandigarh. Despite the distance, we had a lot in common. From almost ignoring him to endless chats to now being together for almost a year; we have come a long way. I like to call it a rollercoaster ride, he calls it a walk in the park.

It’s amazing how much things change when you meet a certain person at a certain time. .. Even if that person is 1700 kms away.

Though we sort of knew each other through a common friend, it was the internet that got us closer.

On 25th June, I woke up to a text from an unknown number- “Happy B’day”

“Thanks, sorry don’t have your number saved.” I texted back.

“Guess who I am”

“Did we have a conversation about cars last night?”

“Yep.” Came the instant reply.

“Anand! What a nice surprise! How did you get my number?

“I am a genius. “

“And the most modest person I know. Come on! You gotta tell me”

“Ok wait, I am calling you up. “

“Sure”

2 minutes later, my phone rang.

“Hey, Happy B’day!”

“Thanks, you sound very different on the phone.”

“Haha.

Arre tell me...number?”

“I saw a number on your facebook business page and I was wondering if it was yours or your partner’s. You had told me the address given was yours, so I thought that most probably the number is yours. Told you I am a genius.”

“That’s so sweet of you. Thought so much just for a number. You could have asked for it.”

“Nah. What would be the fun in that? You got a surprise na?”

Ya, that I did. Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

••••

One evening in November, we were sitting beside each other on a bench in a mall; talking; wondering whether or not we were thinking the same thing.

We both knew we had some kind of feelings for each other. Feelings we refused to give a name to. But feelings strong enough to want to be with each other. Feelings we had avoided, held back for quite some time now.

“What do you think about us?’ he asked me suddenly. Or maybe it was not sudden. Maybe I was expecting it. I didn’t know if he did, but I could hear my heartbeat

“Us as in? Relationship?” I asked. Even though I knew the answer.

“Yeah, you know…”

“I have thought about it” This time I almost whispered. “We both have na.”

“Yes, we have been avoiding this for so long.”

“Long distance” I said. I was not sure of my voice anymore.

“Yeah, long distance. I really like you, Anjee.” He said quietly. I hadn’t seen him so serious.

“But were in two different cities...how will we manage?”

“We can make it work…”

“I guess we can

“I want this, Anj”

I closed my eyes for a moment. Pushed back all my fears. I wanted this to work out.

“I want this too. What we have together is worth a shot.”

••••

And when he finally dropped me home I asked him with a smile, “So now I am your girlfriend huh?”

He grinned and said “yes”

He leaned forward, we almost kissed but suddenly I felt too shy. 


••••

To be continued next week.