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Saturday, June 20, 2015

For the Love of Life

Its one of those Saturday evenings again. When you feel bad about half your weekend being over and partly relieved that you still have Sunday. As I write this post, perched on a chair by the window sipping on a hot cup of chai, a cool monsoon breeze caresses my face. I just love watching it rain from indoors. It brings over a sense of calm and peace.

I start thinking about things I have been wanting to do all this week. After a busy week with loads of piled up work, I finally have the time to act on these things. On Monday, I was watching this movie called 'Julie and Julia'. A beautiful film about how a young woman pursues her passion for cooking taking inspiration from an imaginary friend. The main protagonist takes up a challenge to complete all the recipes from her favorite cookbook in a year. She not only goes on to complete this challenge and actually bags offers to publish a cookbook.

'Julie and Julia' was truly an inspiring film to me and I am sure many others. Watching it actually gave me these ideas in the first place. I have been giving it a lot of thought all week. I thought to myself - 'Why not take up a 1 month challenge to do things that I have been wanting to do?' (yeah 365 days is too huge a target to keep up with). I decided to take things up slowly and build up on it. Since my mind is always buzzing with ideas about the million things I want to do in life, I made a list of things I want to start right away. These are easier things to do which are in tune with my daily routine. Here is my list:

Goals:
1. Wake up early: Wake up at 5 am in the morning.
2. Exercise: Exercise at least 5 days a week.
3. Cook: Cook something everyday. However small, even if it is just a salad or an appetizer.
4. Journal: Write in my journal everyday.
5. Blog: Write a blog post everyday.
6. De-clutter: De-clutter something everyday.
7. Artwork: Spend some time on my art work everyday.

So these are the goals I have set. I am taking them up step by step. Listed below is my progress on these goals:

1. Wake up early: I usually set and alarm for 5 am but wake at 7 am and then hurry about to catch my bus to work. This week (starting Monday) I set my alarm 30 minutes before my usual wake up time. And surprisingly started waking up automatically 5 minutes before my alarm set off. In fact, this morning I woke up at 5:30.

2. Exercise: Waking up at 6:30 does not leave me with much time for exercise. For now, I have decided to start with the weekend. Just today and tomorrow.

3. Cook: Since weekdays are almost totally devoted to my job, I get little time to indulge in cooking for myself. So I decided to started with some basic, quick and easy stuff. These are the things I made this week:
  • Monday: Stir fried veggies
  • Tuesday: Mixed veggies with mayonnaise dressing (cant call it a salad with all that rich mayo).
  • Wednesday: A basic omelet.
  • Thursday: Masala papad ( a disc shaped, crisp Indian food served with a mixture of chopped onion, tomatoes, sev - another noodle like Indian snack.)
  • Friday: Fried eggs.
  • Saturday: Pizza (made with a whole wheat flour base and topped with veggies and cheese)
  • Sunday: I have planned to cook Murg Makhani (also called butter chicken - a North Indian style chicken curry). I will be updating this.
4. Journal: I have decided to start with writing twice a week in my journal. So far I have written an entry on Tuesday. Next will be either today or tomorrow.

5. Blog: Writing a blog post everyday seems like a faraway thing to me right now. Let me just start with once a week. This way, I can document my weekly progress right here.

6. De-clutter: De-cluttering is not something that comes naturally to me. I have always been a hoarder. I hold on to things thinking 'What if I need them later?'. I am just getting rid of one small insignificant bit everyday. This week, I have thrown away old receipts, bits of paper, old cosmetics and out of date medicines.

7. Artwork: This is something I have not been able to do all week. Since I am taking it slow, I will start with once a week. Maybe I will work on a piece tomorrow. I will update this later.


My goals for the coming week:

1. Wake up early: Set my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier than last week. So 6:15 am it is.
2. Exercise: Exercise on one weekday and the weekend. That will be thrice a week.
3. Cook: Cook something everyday. However small, even if it is just a salad or an appetizer. Also cook one complete meal a week.
4. Journal: This will mostly be the same as last week. Its a difficult habit for me to develop. So its twice a week for now.
5. Blog: Same as the previous one. A difficult habit.
6. De-clutter: De-clutter something everyday. Next week, I also plan to de-clutter my inbox.
7. Artwork: Spend some time on a few sketches/paintings on Saturday or Sunday.

Phew! So this is just something I have started. I am choosing small things which are easier to do than most. Gradually, I will build up on these. The idea is just to go with the flow and enjoy this learning experience while getting things done. I will be writing about this once a week to keep track of my progress.

The inspiration for this 'challenge' partly also comes from Leo Babauta's blog - Zen Habits. I still have a lot to learn as far as minimalism is concerned. But Leo's philosophy of life is what impresses me most. I am aiming to be efficient at everything that I do and have a great time.

I watch the sun set. I think about all the stuff planned for the coming week. For the first time in ages, I have actually set targets and planned to reach them. That in itself is enough to keep me motivated. Every morning this week, I have been waking up with a smile, excited about the day to come. Never have I been more eager to face the day at work (weekdays are still not as great as weekends, but its a start :) ). I hope to have a lot of fun as I begin this whole new journey of self development.

Let me just end this with a picture of the pizza I made today.

Veggie Pizza
A veggie pizza I absolutely loved making and eating :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Go Malaysia...Truly Asia

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To travel is to live” -  Hans Christian Andersen

I have been reading or hearing this quote from almost every travel junkie I know of over the years when I was growing up, but never really understood it. Well I was never one, - a travel junkie that is. Never really got what the big deal was about travelling to a new place. For me travelling meant going to a predictable touristy place, booking a hotel room, spending half the day running around a new place managing to catch glimpses of the most popular tourist destinations, and then rushing back to the hotel room exhausted, half dead, wanting to do nothing but sleep away into oblivion. I would need a week to recuperate from my 'vacation'. I think I actually hated it. There, I said it. I hated the thought of travelling. Probably because I did not even understand what it is to travel.

My moment of enlightening came when I was going through a (kind of a) quarter life crisis some time ago and on an impulse decided to book a week -long trip to Thailand(cause it was the cheapest during peak season of December ). And along with a close friend (also in the same boat as me), I took off to the land of smiles hoping and knowing this experience would change my life. Oh boy did it change my life! Instead of taking the regular packaged tour, we went for customized package which left us plenty of time to explore the place, it cuisine and culture at our leisure. Though it is not possible to see the whole of Thailand in just a week, we did take our own sweet time to discover this new place. I came back wanting more and actually feeling rejuvenated. For the first time I understood what it meant when people say – “To travel is to live”. Well since this blog post is not supposed to be about my travel experience in Thailand, I will be writing about it later (soon ).

What is this post about you ask? My trip to Thailand has actually given me itchy feet and left me hungry for more such beautiful experiences. And when I saw this tweet about “Win a Trip to Malaysia”, I decided to grab this opportunity. So here I am writing a about my top 5 dream experiences in Malaysia (when my colleagues are thinking I am actually working hard on a project document). Browsing through the official website of Malaysia Tourism virtually transported me there.
So here are my top 5 things I would want to experience in Malaysia:

Luxurious underwater living – Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah

This island located at the coast of Kota Kinabalu(Sabah) is made up of 5 islands - Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik. The names of all these islands are symbolize their discoverers and history. Since all the islands have stunning beaches I would be sure to get my fill of diving and snorkeling experiences. Jungle trekking at Pulau Gaya island would be an experience to remember as its something I have never done before. Pictures of all the island resorts look so heavenly, I can’t wait to just pack my bags and leave.


A glimpse of the underwater flora and fauna

Mystery, myth, legend – Langkawi, Kedah

Officially known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is a cluster of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. This place opens ways to numerous activities I would love to indulge in. The Malaysia tourism website lists - Field of Burnt Rice, Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand, boat tours Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave) as popular places/activities in Langkawi. Just thinking about it has transported me to heaven :D.


Langkawi Islands

Afternoon tea and scones – Cameron Highlands, Pahang

One of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations, Cameron Highlands is blessed with a tropical highland climate which makes it a perfect spot for relaxation. Dotted with honey bee, strawberry, butterfly farms this place also good ol’ style inns which take you back in time when life was so much simpler. And yes, walking thought he little villages, enjoying the blissful scenery. Also I’ll be sure get a panoramic view of the townships of Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Tringkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja.


A view of Cameron Highlands
Seafaring tales, old world charm – Melaka City, Melaka

Wikipedia tells me, Melaka or Malacca City - the capital city of Malacca State, is located on both sides of the Malacca river near its mouth into the Strait of Malacca. This city has a lot of culture and heritage to see and explore. With plenty of Malay, Chinese, European settlements like temples, churches, mosques, temples, museums there is no dearth of sights to see in Melaka City. Rich in historical and cultural heritage, this city also has British, Portuguese and Dutch influences. This would be the best place to get glimpse of the old-world Malaysia and its colonial architecture.

Melaka City

The living cultural museum – Sarawak Cultural Village, Sarawak

This Living Meuseum located at Pantai Damai, Santubong is just the place to get a taste of the local culture, tradition, cuisine and lifestyle. Catching a glimpse of the local tribes going about their life creating handicrafts, processing sago, performing dances for tourists is just what is needed to complete the Malaysian experience. And I might just take up wood carving, basket weaving and wine tasting at my own leisure ;)

Serawak Culture Village

Pity there were just five dream experiences to choose from. Sigh! If this was a dream I'd never want to wake up :D

I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with BlogAdda.com.

Ankita: Portrait Painting

This weekend I made my first attempt at painting portraits. This is portrait of my cousin Ankita. For this painting, I have used watercolors on paper. I am still learning the basic techniques of water color painting.




I have also uploaded my work at here .

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Some Watercolor paintings...at last

I am a novice at painting and sketching. I had been having this mental blocks for months before I was finally inspired to start painting again. Here are some of my recent paintings...all are referenced from other sources of course.

Medium used: I have used watercolor on paper for all three paintings

Don't Let Go: This painting pretty much sums up my situation right now. No. I'm not explaining.
I used Kory Fluckinger's book 'Watercolors for the first time' as a guide for this painting.

Radha Krishna: An attempt to copy Rachana Saurabh's(from The Essence of Arts) original painting

Radha Krishna: For this painting I used painter Jamini Roy's original work as a reference.
Here's hoping I will always make time for things I love doing.

Khap-khun-kha Thailand

 Some random clicks from my trip to Thailand :)

Para-sailing at Koh Larn
Para-sailing at Koh Larn island: Thats me! :)

Whatever..

Pieces of corals collected from the beach.

Nong Nooch village
A view of the Nong Nooch village

Thai Cultural Show
Beginning of the Thai cultural show

Beautiful bright colors

This kitty sneaked up on us every time we returned to our hotel room.

Sunshine Resort, Pattaya
Sunshine Resort, Pattaya

Sawadeekah
Look as if its saying Sawadeekah :D

BMW Tower at Bangkok

tuk tuk
Me with by friend in a tuk tuk

Graffiti
Wall Graffiti on the streets of Bangkok. No idea what it means.

Erawan shrine
Locals at the Erawan shrine, Bangkok
One blog post would not suffice to write about this trip :)

Go Malaysia

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To travel is to live” -  Hans Christian Andersen

I have been reading or hearing this quote from almost every travel junkie I know of over the years when I was growing up, but never really understood it. Well I was never one, - a travel junkie that is. Never really got what the big deal was about travelling to a new place. For me travelling meant going to a predictable touristy place, booking a hotel room, spending half the day running around a new place managing to catch glimpses of the most popular tourist destinations, and then rushing back to the hotel room exhausted, half dead, wanting to do nothing but sleep away into oblivion. I would need a week to recuperate from my 'vacation'. I think I actually hated it. There, I said it. I hated the thought of travelling. Probably because I did not even understand what it is to travel.

My moment of enlightening came when I was going through a (kind of a) quarter life crisis some time ago and on an impulse decided to book a week -long trip to Thailand(cause it was the cheapest during peak season of December ). And along with a close friend (also in the same boat as me), I took off to the land of smiles hoping and knowing this experience would change my life. Oh boy did it change my life! Instead of taking the regular packaged tour, we went for customized package which left us plenty of time to explore the place, it cuisine and culture at our leisure. Though it is not possible to see the whole of Thailand in just a week, we did take our own sweet time to discover this new place. I came back wanting more and actually feeling rejuvenated. For the first time I understood what it meant when people say – “To travel is to live”. Well since this blog post is not supposed to be about my travel experience in Thailand, I will be writing about it later (soon ).

What is this post about you ask? My trip to Thailand has actually given me itchy feet and left me hungry for more such beautiful experiences. And when I saw this tweet about “Win a Trip to Malaysia”, I decided to grab this opportunity. So here I am writing a about my top 5 dream experiences in Malaysia (when my colleagues are thinking I am actually working hard on a project document). Browsing through the official website of Malaysia Tourism virtually transported me there.
So here are my top 5 things I would want to experience in Malaysia:

Luxurious underwater living – Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, Sabah

This island located at the coast of Kota Kinabalu(Sabah) is made up of 5 islands - Gaya, Manukan, Sapi, Sulug and Mamutik. The names of all these islands are symbolize their discoverers and history. Since all the islands have stunning beaches I would be sure to get my fill of diving and snorkeling experiences. Jungle trekking at Pulau Gaya island would be an experience to remember as its something I have never done before. Pictures of all the island resorts look so heavenly, I can’t wait to just pack my bags and leave.


A glimpse of the underwater flora and fauna

Mystery, myth, legend – Langkawi, Kedah

Officially known as the Jewel of Kedah, Langkawi is a cluster of 104 islands in the Andaman Sea. This place opens ways to numerous activities I would love to indulge in. The Malaysia tourism website lists - Field of Burnt Rice, Hot Springs, Telaga Tujuh (The Seven Wells) and the Beach of Black Sand, boat tours Tasik Dayang Bunting (Lake of the Pregnant Maiden), Gua Cerita (Cave of Stories) and Gua Langsir (Curtain Cave) as popular places/activities in Langkawi. Just thinking about it has transported me to heaven :D.


Langkawi Islands

Afternoon tea and scones – Cameron Highlands, Pahang

One of Malaysia’s most extensive hill stations, Cameron Highlands is blessed with a tropical highland climate which makes it a perfect spot for relaxation. Dotted with honey bee, strawberry, butterfly farms this place also good ol’ style inns which take you back in time when life was so much simpler. And yes, walking thought he little villages, enjoying the blissful scenery. Also I’ll be sure get a panoramic view of the townships of Ringlet, Tanah Rata, Brinchang, Tringkap, Kuala Terla and Kampung Raja.

 

A view of Cameron Highlands

Seafaring tales, old world charm – Melaka City, Melaka

Wikipedia tells me, Melaka or Malacca City - the capital city of Malacca State, is located on both sides of the Malacca river near its mouth into the Strait of Malacca. This city has a lot of culture and heritage to see and explore. With plenty of Malay, Chinese, European settlements like temples, churches, mosques, temples, museums there is no dearth of sights to see in Melaka City. Rich in historical and cultural heritage, this city also has British, Portuguese and Dutch influences. This would be the best place to get glimpse of the old-world Malaysia and its colonial architecture.

Melaka City

The living cultural museum – Sarawak Cultural Village, Sarawak

This Living Meuseum located at Pantai Damai, Santubong is just the place to get a taste of the local culture, tradition, cuisine and lifestyle. Catching a glimpse of the local tribes going about their life creating handicrafts, processing sago, performing dances for tourists is just what is needed to complete the Malaysian experience. And I might just take up wood carving, basket weaving and wine tasting at my own leisure ;)

Serawak Culture Village

Pity there were just five dream experiences to choose from. Sigh! If this was a dream I'd never want to wake up :D

I am participating in the MalaysiaJao Blogathon Contest in association with BlogAdda.com.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mangalore Galore!

      How many of us want to relive our childhood memories?? I know I do...the fun memories at least. I did exactly that on my recent visit to Mangalore - my native place.

      Mangalore...just the name brings back so many recollections of the past. We visited Mangalore during vacations. Interestingly, I hated the place as a kid. Well, not exactly 'hated', but I was never really thrilled to visit either. The moment we set foot in the city, I would ask my parents when we would be heading back home. Don't get me wrong .... the place is beautiful. Being a city girl, I couldn't help but think of it as a sleepy weepy village far away from civilization (of course, this was much much before the IT boom). Relatives in Mangalore thought we have returned from a distant planet. They'd be surprised we could speak fluent Tulu - our native tongue. I would never recognize or remember who is who (our visits were few and far between). And Mum would ask if I recognized this "uncle" or "aunty"? knowing full well that I had no clue...it was her little game. Worst of all was the humidity. I just hated it. That is exactly what I hate about Kerala and Goa (actually Mumbai too !!) as well. Breathtaking views everywhere but the tropical climate is definitely not to my liking. I'd sweat like a pig and it drove me crazy. Not to mention the insects and vermin... Phew! Was I ranting ?? Okay I was. Got carried away....

         I might have grown up disliking my native land, but a few recent visits seem to have changed all of that. My first 'sojourn' in a long time was in May last year when I went (somewhat reluctantly) with all my aunts and cousins for a family outing. We never got a chance to go shopping. But had a good time all the same. Not just the stay but the journey also was enjoyable. Dotted with coconut trees, quaint gable-roofed houses, temples, churches, and beaches Mangalore city is a photographer's delight. The next two visits were over the last two weekends with my mother. They were hurried stopovers at best. But I had a great time taking in the atmosphere and beauty of the place.

       Here are a few random clicks .....

       These are a few pictures of the mimosa shrub (also known as "touch-me-nots" or "sensitive plants") the fold/droop inwards when touched. As a child, I would walk all along the paths covered with these shrubs with one hand outstretched to lightly touch all the mimosa leaves within my reach, with my fingertips, and the leaves would fold inward when touched. I remember how delighted I would be at the sight of the leaves closing in. It was a favorite pass time. I couldn't help revisiting the memory lane... :)

Mimosa: Touch-me-not



         These were clicked early in the morning on the bus ride.

Rise n shine


            That's my uncle's house (left). Its surrounded by lush green fields ...and that chair is his favorite place(right) where he spends time time reading his newspapers and catching up with friends.

Home sweet home

           My mom and aunt walking away into the sunset.

A walk to remember


          Coconut grove......

Coconut grove

Some more clicks...

More clicks





        The pictures send into a space of tranquil. A nice place to visit if you need a break from the city crowds. Quiet and picturesque, it simply leaves you wanting more...

Cheers,
Aditi