Thursday, 27 October 2011

Share Happiness, Spread Love

Thousand candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. ---- The Buddha

Monday, 24 October 2011

The Story of My Hair

Born with curly hair
Answer to mom's prayer
Who always kept it oiled
So it isn't spoiled

I was...her girl with the curls

The touch of her fingers
rubbing though each hair strand
She adorned my hair with ribbons
colorful clips or a hair band

I was...her girl with the curls

After I left school
I was expected to be cool
My short and trendy hair styles
Always got me smiles

I still was...her girl with the curls

My hair got playful and flirty
When I reached my thirty
My hair tied in a perfect bun, I was a pretty bride
She looked at me and her eyes filled with pride

Life became busy when I became a wife
Then two lovely kids came into my life
I still cared for my tresses
By staying away from stresses

I am a woman of my own
With years I have grown
While my hair has begun to turn grey
To my mother, I want to say

I was and I still am...her girl with the curls

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What we think, We become!

I came across this quotation from Budha's teachings -

All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.

A very simple, short but a very profound statement.

Come, let us look for the Buddha within us.

It is not important to be perfect, it is important to be peaceful
I want to spread love and warmth around

Friday, 14 October 2011

We have the same purpose in life - to write

Sketch pens have the same purpose in life - to write. But each color brings a different effect to the paper.

My daughter is fond of collecting sketch pens in as many colors as she can get. Multiple shades of green, blue, yellow, pink, brown, black - the more the merrier. In one of our trips to stationery shop, she requested me to buy a set of connector pens for her. After I said 'Yes', she picked the biggest pack with 50 pens. Must say, the pens have added a good fun and color to her life.

We bring color to your writing

The entire collection here
United we stand, Divided we fall
Thursday Challenge (writing tools)

Monday, 10 October 2011

These are a few of my Favourite Things

I open the windows of my mind and look at the beauty all around. There is so much to see, observe, cherish and soak inside.

I peep out from the glass window in the train and welcome the morning sun.

Flowers - They come in different shapes, colors and fragrance. But each one has a beauty of its own.

Looking at animals is a pleasure un-matched.

Birds - They are small in size but not in beauty

I love watching rocks - the different colors, shapes and textures.

Serenity of trees and jungles against the blue skies soothes my soul

I watch the setting sun rays fall over the beautiful river

Thank You Lord for creating such beautiful things around me!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Beautiful Bhedaghat

Rajasthan was in my mind for the Dussehra break vacation. Ideal time to check out forts and sand-dunes, I thought. However this time we were delayed in planning the holiday and the un-availability of train tickets forced me to evaluate alternate destinations. I guess destiny had different plans for me when I chanced up on this small place called Bhedaghat, while browsing through the MP tourism page (here). Dhuandhar waterfalls and marble rocks appeared promising. So the tickets were booked for the Gondwana Express which departs from Nizammudin station in Delhi at 15:25 pm and reaches Jabalpur next morning at 7:15 am. Bhedaghat is a small village located 22 km from Jabalpur.

We booked the MPSTDC hotel Marble Rocks for 3 nights starting Oct 4, 2011. The online booking page suggested it was a peak season period. Waterfalls must be at their best after monsoons, I thought, I had made a perfect timing for this one. A couple of days letter, I came across information which indicated that November onwards is a better time to visit. I called MPSTDC office and was told that boating in the marble rocks area starts only from Oct 15. Further the water of the falls is likely to be muddy at this time. This made me upset. I found it weird that MPSTDC was charging extra high for the period between Oct 1-10. However, the booking terms indicated cancellation was not possible. So we decided to go ahead with the vacation. Perhaps I will spend more time sightseeing Jabalpur, I thought to myself.

We hired an auto from Jabalpur station to Bhedaghat for Rs 250. The roads were broken in most of the places. As we entered the hotel, I liked the appearance of the place. Entered the lobby and caught a first glimpse of the marble rocks. It was a fascinating sight. We found the place reasonably neat and well maintained. They have all of 11 rooms and have recently added 5 luxury tents. Their swimming pool is nearly done and expected to be operational in a couple of weeks. From the comforts point of view, it was a nice 3-star accommodation, but the location was unbeatable - a picture perfect place.
View from Motel Marble Rocks

In the evening, we went to look at the Dhuandhar falls. We walked to the place though it is possible to get a shared-auto which charges Rs 5 per person. The path to the falls, goes through a shopping area where you can buy things made out of marble stone. My daughter was completely bowled over by the variety, so we did some quick shopping, promising her to do more when we returned back or visited again on the next day. We took the rope-way and went to the other side to get a different view.  The kids loved the ride in the rope-way and we enjoyed looking at the falls from a height. The rope-way also helped us transport to the other side of the river, which offered much better views. The falls themselves did not have much height, but the flow was very strong, water was almost violently forcing its way. We saw rainbow getting formed at the waterfall. I am told that the water will become clear green in color and the falls will gain height as the level of water in the river goes down, in the next couple of months. Locals told us that this year the monsoon has been so heavy that the Bargi Dam water had to be released 4-5 times in the last month.

Local guys were selling 'ber' sprinkled with chat masala. Me and my husband picked some. They were lovely.

Smoke from the Dhuandhar Falls
Rainbow formation

In the morning, we spotted a few interesting birds of prey. We suspected they were eagles but were not sure. Later we figured out they were Egyptian vultures. We also spotted grey hornbills, magpie robins, white eye-browed wagtail, green bee-eaters, laughing dove, spotted dove, sparrow lark, kingfishers, yellow bellied sunbirds and some more.
Egyptian Vulture on the tree in the centre

Laughing Dove
Knowing that there was no boat ride available to explore the marble rocks, we took a path down from the hotel. We enjoyed the walk and the scenery from two view-points. The rest of the day was reserved to take a trip to Bargi Dam, which is about 45 km from Bhedaghat.
From the view point of the path

We hired a cab and started at 3 pm. It took us an hour and a half to reach the place, thanks to the broken roads. We took a speed boat ride while waiting for the cruise. Booking for cruise starts only after 20 people show interest in going for the same. At around 5:30 pm, the cruise started. It was a pleasant ride looking at the sun setting behind the Narmada water.  By the time we finished, it was getting dark and we decided to get back as we had to cover a long journey in the not-so-good and not-well-lit roads. Thanks to the bad roads, we had a flat tyre on the way back. Luckily a cycle repair shop was close-by and that guy somehow managed to fix the tyre after working on it for 40-45 minutes and we were back on the road again.

Sunset Cruise at Bargi Dam

On the way back to the hotel, I kept sulking about the wrong timing of the trip. I was finding the place nice in general but nothing had touched my soul. Back to the hotel, a surprise awaited. I was told the boating was going to start from next morning. Was it an answer to my prayers?I wondered. Next morning, there was a huge crowd at Panchvati ghat where the boating starts. It is easy to walk down to this place from the hotel. It had become quite hot around 11 am but I was very excited about the boat ride. All we could get to ride in was an ordinary shared boat where everybody was told to pay Rs 41. Somebody told me the actual rate is 31 but they have increased it looking at the huge demand. The boat ride made a huge difference to the vacation. It was lovely looking at the different colors of the marble rocks - white, black, golden, blue and pink. Going through the water with wall like structures made out of marble rocks on both sides was an altogether new experience. Words fail me in describing the beauty of the place. The guide gave an interesting commentary in Hindi, using interesting rhyming words flavored with humor. This is the place where lots of movies have been shot. The song 'Raat Ka Nasha Abhi' from the movie Ashoka has been shot there.

Different colors of the marble - golden, white, black, grey

Another view of the marble rocks

Spotted the Egyptian Vulture again while boating
In the evening, we went to Dhuandhar falls again. Kids wanted to repeat the rope-way experience. But what I was dying for was the sun-set boat ride in the river to look at the marble rocks again.

When we reached the ghats, we were told the last boat for the day was leaving but the seats which were left did not look inviting. I casually asked them if we could get a boat for our family. Yes, the option was available now. He asked us for Rs 400 and we agreed. This boat was much better and even had chairs, we were seated comfortably. Sun was setting and the moon was out already. This was one boat ride, I would remember and cherish for a long time. It was a very pleasant time of the day and I felt completely immersed in the place. We have got the information that this place has boat rides on full moon nights. That would be a terrific experience but this seemed like a close next best option. A couple of months later, the water would no longer be muddy, it would be clear and green in color. We would certainly like to re-visit this place once more, probably a year later in the month of Feb-March. The most ideal time to visit this place is around the time of Purnima (full-moon night) to have the boating experience in the night.

By the time we returned, it was getting slightly dark. We even spotted a few owls on top of the rocks. When we returned close to the ghats, we saw lot of big fruit bats flying around. Sharing the beautiful place with the owls and bats on the ride, made it an even more beautiful experience.

Reflection of Rocks in the water

Flavor of the place at dusk

Next morning, I walked up to the falls again, all by myself. I took long walks and explored the marble rocks even more. The more I saw them, the more I felt charmed by their beauty.

Another view of the marble rocks
So far my perception of natural beauty was limited to the sea, hills and forests. I got introduced to natural beauty in an altogether new form. Geological beauty, as my husband likes to put it. At times, the place looked too beautiful, too perfect to be true.

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, they say. This was one beauty which I feel, is likely to stay in the soul of the beholder.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Where are Perfect Maids Made?

Maids come in all shapes, sizes, colors and attitudes. Some are thin and some are fat. Some are dark and some are fair. Some are active and fast at their work, others are sloppy and slow. Some are quiet and have a subtle presence while others are loud, noisy and always eager to talk.But whichever one you hire, after a while you end up feeling not-quite-satisfied and wonder if our neighbor has a better, more efficient and more regular maid.

Not really! She has the same sob stories to tell if anybody would care to listen. Care to listen? Of course! From short corridor chats to lively and animated kitty-party discussions, to a serious exchange of strategy tips of managing them at office lunch breaks ... this is one common topic that unites all women.

The fact remains that maids are an extremely important part of our lives. Even the men in the household will swear by this. Who has not been through depressing and almost mournful mornings when the maid has chosen to take leave, unannounced? It is also true that maid management is more complex than project management. However, if you develop a closer understanding on this important matter, you are likely to be able to use your  people management soft skills more effectively.

This is what I have figured out:

1. Maids deliver only 70% of what they agree upon.

What You like to think - "She agreed to a set of tasks before we negotiated the salary and she better do them all."

What is the reality - She will take short-cuts whenever possible. If you are not looking, she will skip sweeping under the bed. If you point out and make her do that, she may skip washing the basin in the bathroom. There is a good chance that by the time you enter the bathroom and figure it out, she would have finished the work and left. Next day, when you carefully supervise the bathroom cleaning, she may put the vessels in the drawer without drying them.

What You could do - Accept it, learn to live with mediocrity in life. If you are too particular, hire multiple maids and allocate fewer tasks to each. Are you done? Not really, supervise them closely. Of course you run a risk of earning the reputation of a hard task-master amongst the maids.

2. On an average, a maid will take one day off in a week.

What You like to think - "What? 4 Leaves? I agreed with her that she will take a maximum of 2 days leave. And that too after informing."

What is the Reality - On rare occasions, they inform in advance--maybe during festivals like Diwali, Eid, Holi. Other times, they do not leave us with any clue. The next day, they come up with indisputable problems like 'I had a severe headache', 'My relative was ill' etc. I once had a maid who worked with me for several years. She was unusual in her honesty. One day she said 'I will not come in the evening as I am taking my kids for a mela'. Another time 'I am taking my kid for a birthday party for the first time'. I found the reasons too sweet to dispute. In fact, once she took a day off, and when I asked her next day, she said 'I just did not feel like coming to work'. Acceptable, I thought, there are days like that with everyone. As far as this is not a regular habit.

What You can do - If you can live in a not-so-clean house for a day, try to do as best as you can and then go eat out. It is a deserving excuse with multiple benefits. It will cheer you up and lift your spirits and it will help by not increasing dirty vessels to an already full sink. If this solution does not look acceptable, plan for back-ups. Hire multiple maids for doing different tasks (if you have more money to shell out, hire them for same tasks, it does not hurt getting the house swept once in the morning and another time in the evening too). But if you think otherwise, then one is on leave, you are left with fewer jobs on your head. If you are lucky, the other one will agree to do those job for extra money, and your life will be as smooth as any other day.

3. They love perks at the job.

What You like to think - "Perks? What for? She is getting a good salary."

What is the Reality - Who does not like perks at work? Those tea-coffee machines in the office are almost a necessity.

What You could do - Each maid has a weakness for something. Indulge in that, at least few days in a month, if not on a daily basis. Some have a deep craving for tea. Some appreciate getting something to eat as they leave early in the morning without eating much. Most of the times, they will be happy with a few slices of bread and pickle. If you feel like pampering them, toast the bread for them. They really appreciate it. Another very common and well-appreciated perk in summer is cold water. Almost all of them love to have a glass of  fridge-cooled water.

So coming to 'where are perfect maids made?" The answer is nowhere! Just like there are no perfect husbands, there are no perfect maids. But just as one goes for match-making, one needs to carefully go for maid-matching. The matching of temperament, I mean. If you are a quiet person, a competent but talkative and loud maid may be a nuisance. I may be okay with a trust-worthy, child-friendly mediocre maid than the other way round but my neighbor may not be able to bear a speck of dust in her house.

To each, her own soul-maid!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Where do Babies come from?

It's amazing how this question tickles the imagination of small kids. When my daughter was 4-5 year old, she was completely fascinated by this thought of where she came from. Once she was browsing through a photo album and came across a picture of mine in Goa, when I was expecting her. She asked me where she was at that time. I told her 'You were in my stomach'. She came across another older picture and asked me 'Was I in your stomach at this time also?". I told her "No". A little while later, she came up to me and asked me very thoughtfully "When I was not in your stomach, where was I". I told her "You were in mind". She was satisfied with this answer.

Fascination with babies was not restricted to her innocent questions, but it was very much a part of her play. My mother-in-law, who was her regular playmate, once came out of the toy room laughing to herself and announced 'Another baby born". In my daughter's imaginative play with her dolls, a baby was getting born every 10 minutes.

Now, it is the turn of my 4 year old son. In good humor, once my husband told him that he came out of papa's tummy while his sister came out of mummy's tummy. My son seems to have taken it seriously. The other day he was telling me that when he grows up, a baby boy will come out of his tummy. He clarified to me that when his didi grows up, a baby girl will come out of her tummy.

Yesterday, he was trying his hand at drawing something in his sketchbook. We had a short conversation.
Me - What are you drawing?
Him - A dinosaur
Me - Let me see. Now what have you drawn in his body?
Him - O this! This is his egg
Me - O really! What will happen to this egg?
Him (Looking at me with surprise at my ignorance) - The egg will come out of his body. Then he will stand on the egg. The egg will break.
Me - And then?
Him - A baby dinosaur will come out

I must say I quite enjoyed his imagination of the dinosaur standing on the egg to break it so that the baby dinosaur could come out.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...