Triggering the Happy in You

Sometimes when I need to take a break from my life and just go somewhere, but can’t for countless practical reasons, I look through my travel pics to feel better.

Sometimes though, there are other triggers that catch me unawares. Like a song playing on the radio that brings back memories of moments from the past.

I don’t own any audio CDs (not counting my spanish language CDs) save those from the movie Bachna ae Haseeno. I didn’t buy that one either, I won it on the radio.

So when everyone brought their CDs to Bali, I took the only one I had with me. We played this one on the music system there, and for whatever reason (mainly laziness!), no one bothered to go and change CDs. So all throughout our week in Bali, the songs of this movie played on endless loop and became such a part of the experience that now, whenever a song from the movie plays, it brings back memories of that wonderful trip.

The bungalow we stayed at had two separate buildings..hang on…four actually, if you count the kitchen and the entertainment buildings (Yes! There were stand-alone structures built specifically for cooking, with a huge dining area, and another where the TV sat, with a million movies on DVD and leather couches,plus a computer in the corner.

Anyway.. there were two main buildings, connected by a wooden walkway, with a pool between the buildings that was surrounded by frangipani trees and shrubs.

The second we got to the bungalow, people started jumping (or were pushed, what’s the difference! :P) into the pool. And that was where we stayed whenever we were indoors. We had 3 different living rooms, all facing the pool, which were mostly ignored.

The song  khuda jaane in particular takes me back to that wonderful pool! There was this one night when everyone was lounging in one of the living rooms. I had had a few drinks, and was tipsy, though not drunk. I decided I wanted to swim for a bit and walked to the pool and dove straight in (I’m kinda impulsive like that). It was drizzling slightly, but how does that matter when you’re in the pool?

I lay there floating, surrounded by the scent of the frangipani flowers that fell into the pool and this song filling the night air.

I had a particularly bad day at work today, so this song was the only saving grace of the day.

It’s amazing what music (even cheesy music) can do for you, don’t you think?

What’s your pick-me-up song?

PS: Photo credit goes to my dear friend Nitin. :)

Turkish Delights

So we’re already half-way through Ramadan! I know I’m beginning to sound like a stuck record (we need to find a new-age MP3 related term for that!) when I say this but time flieeees! 

The only other country I’ve experienced Ramadan in is Turkey.

Though Islam is the official religion there, it was very unlike any other Islamic country I’ve been to. We could even go into the Blue Mosque without having to cover out heads. They hand out scarves if you want to cover your head, but it’s not a requirement.

The only rule was that we not wear shoes inside the mosque and to not have your legs exposed (which our Turkish guide forgot! She wore shorts with leggings and had to take the scarf they give at the mosque to use as a sarong! ). They also had a sign asking us to not sit on the stairs outside while putting your shoes back on. As you can see… even this rule wasn’t followed. But no one really did anything.

I guess it’s because it is a mixture of two cultures with two religions leaving a very strong mark in the making of the country , so geographically as well as culturally, it is a lovely mix of Asia and Europe.  Basically, you can drink your wine wherever you want to!

If you visit any other middle-eastern country during Ramadan, you would know it’s Ramadan. You will not find anyone eating out during the day, restaurants will mostly be closed until iftar (when they break the fast) and in Dubai, you’ll find a lot of hoardings advertising Ramadan special offers and sales at every possible advertising space. Even our shopping bags have Ramadan Kareem printed on it.

In Turkey though, it is business as usual! People wear what they want to (though it was cold when we went, so no one was walking around in tank tops and hot pants or anything!), there are no reduced working hours and the restaurants are all open, you can eat out in the streets for all they care. In fact, you will not even realize it is Ramadan until  iftar. 

We were in the Grand Bazaar when the call for iftar happened.

All around us, shopkeepers shut down temporarily and set out make-shift tables right outside their shops, laid out food and had themselves a little picnic right there!

Walking past them, with the call for the prayer in the air mixing with the exotic smells and sights of the Grand bazaar made me feel like I was in another world, like an Alladin story or something! It all seemed so unreal! And wonderfully so!

My hotel room had a view of the Blue Mosque, and at night, as I lay in bed all curled up under the warm quilts, I could see the mosque lit up, shining in the cold night air, looking a larger than life, surrounded as it was by darkness all around, and …well… a little bit scary even.  But  lovely! :)


Turkey will always have very special memories for me. Not only was it one of my first trips with the gang, it’s also one of the most magical places I’ve been to!  And everyone should experience something like that at least once in life!

Pins and Needles

I donated blood yesterday. It didn’t go so well.

I’m not the kinda person who is scared of needles or a little blood, and so was unfazed by the drops lying on the floor of the blood donation room (there was a guy who wouldn’t stop bleeding, and it got a bit messy).

They made me lie down and looked for a vein to stick their needle into. Apparently, the veins on my right arm are a bit shy and refused to come to the surface even though the guy put a damn tight tourniquet on my arm and made me squeeze a little heart shaped stress ball multiple times.  He finally gave up and switched arms, my left arm veins were more visible. So far so good.

He injected a really huge scary looking needle into my arm, but I was fine cos he’d given me local anaesthesia (which I first declined from taking cos I’ve had some bad experiences at the dentist’s with local anaesthesia, but then I saw the size of the needle and quickly changed my mind! :P)

I don’t know if it was the anesthesia combined with the strenuous day or the lack of  heavy food, but as I was reaching the 450ml mark, I started feeling a bit … weak I guess. I was feeling light-headed and my body was tingling. The doc removed the needle (cos he was done by then) and asked me how I was feeling, and I remember trying to explain ” I’m feeling a bit …” and then I think I blacked out.

All I remember after was it being white and a bunch of people talking. Some of them were calling me, some were talking amongst themselves, but they all seemed pretty nonchalant. Then my sister was calling me on my cell phone  (no ringtone, just her voice calling me) and I wanted to answer, but couldn’t, cos I couldn’t lift my hand, it was too heavy. I then realized my eyes were closed, and I couldn’t open them cos my lids felt heavy too. But I was feeling quite calm.

Finally, I slowly opened my eyes, with the intention of reaching out for my phone to answer my sister’s call, and that’s when I realized I’d blacked out and my phone wasn’t ringing. My friend was standing  next to me looking all freaked out, and the doc asked me how I was feeling.

I was weak, too weak to even lift my arms. And extremely cold. And everyone was staring at me, which would have been horrible if I was strong enough to care. I was thirsty and asked for water. The cold liquid felt good. But then they wanted to give me juice cos apparently I needed sugar in my system. My friend forced me to drink 2 of those mini cartons of Lacnor orange juice, and it was all I could do to keep it in.

It was a while before I could leave the hospital and when I got home, cos every time I tried sitting up I’d feel dizzy again. When I finally got home, the few steps I had to take to walk to my house made me so dizzy that I threw up the juice (though that made me feel instantly better). My friend, poor thing, was extremely worried and wanted me to sleep at her place, but I knew I’d be okay if I could just rest. She bought a huge bottle of chocolate milk for me to drink. Instead, I stuffed a piece of dark chocolate into my mouth and washed it down with some water and just went to bed.

I’m still feeling pretty weak. But better than before. Been in bed most of the day. Hope I feel better by tomorrow, cos I have a fantastic iftar meal planned with the gang that I don’t wanna miss!

But it sure was a freaky experience alright!

I’m curious, has anyone ever experienced or heard of something like this happening during a blood donation?

Mistaken Impressions

I first met him at the railway station in Bombay. I was visiting my college friend, Nass, and she was taking me to Pune for the weekend. We were going there with her boyfriend (now husband) and two other guys. On our way  to the station, Nass told me that one of the guys – Ram, used to go to our college as well, and he used to be our junior.

That decided it! I disliked him before I’d even met him. “From our college Nass? From the crazy-ass college we went to where the men were chauvinistic dogs? Whywasthisguyeveninviiited?!” College was a terrible time for me, and I suffered horribly there! I ended up hating the entire state and everyone from that place! I ran as far away from the place as possible as soon as college was done and had resented the whole experience.

So I was wary when meeting him. I said hello, and then ignored him completely. I only actually started taking notice of the guy after he offered his friend’s apartment for us girls to stay the night. The guys were gonna stay in a bachelor pad with a bunch of other guys, and we girls were apparently getting a whole 2 bedroom apartment to ourselves cos the guy who rented it (and his roommates) were out of town and the keys were with Ram.  We asked him if his friend would be okay, and Ram assured us it would be, “I stay there too whenever I’m in town, he’s totally cool about it!”

We reached the apartment and were standing at the door that had a huge lock on it, like the picture below (taken randomly taken off the net), except the lock was bigger and bulkier, more stronger looking.

When we asked him for the keys, he said “err… there’s a slight thing about the lock…” and went to the door and lifted the whole contraption- lock, bolt and all, off the door!  He calmly opened the door and waited for us to enter.  I stared dumbfounded while he grinned at us like a lil kid. That’s when I began warming up to him! :D

After my weekend visit (remind me to tell you abt dangerous territories called bachelor pads some other time! Men are slobs!), I quite forgot about the dude.

I never really thought I would see him again. But then,  few years after we first met, we somehow got in touch with each other on gchat. And we started chatting. And we haven’t stopped since! He told me all about his girlfriend and his job and his love for music. We chatted for ages on a regular basis. It became so that he knew everything about my life and I his.  He sent me amazing music all the time through mail (some that he sang even!). He knew my taste in music better than I did and would pick songs that I would like! A friend of mine actually suspected that we were dating each other even. But this was different, this was friendship at its best.

And now, my friend Ram, is getting married. :) He convinced his parents to try talking to the girl, they love her now, and have accepted her, and all is well in their world.

He doesn’t like to read. But he’s subscribed to my blog, and reads it regularly, just cos it’s my blog. And that’s how it works really. He’s there to listen and to help (even if I don’t want it! :P) and he knows I’m there for him too. He makes me feel like I’m pretty awesome (which is great, obviously!).

And so my dear Ram, I want to say I was wrong (which is not easy for a Leo to admit)! And I’m sorry! For misjudging you before I knew you, for disliking you without giving you a chance.You’ve made me learn that I can be wrong about first impressions. You’ve taught me to give second chances to people. You’ve made me realize that letting go of the past helps me more than anyone else. So thank you! :)

And that’s how it is. The people you think will matter the most sometimes ends up not even being a part of your life after  few years. And sometimes, people you least expect to make a connection with,  take you by surprise and become so much a part of your life that you can’t remember life without them.

Life is strange like that.  Keeps things interesting though doesn’t it? :)

It’s August Already!

Are you as tired of the previous post as I am?!

This is supposed to be a travel blog! I can occasionally give in and write about other stuff, but all this whining is not cool! Of course, on the other hand, it’s my blog and I can cry if I want to. But who wants to cry?!

This past week, every time I came to this page, I’ve been itching to update so that the damn post gets lost in new and happier posts. But you gotta admit, the threat of being homeless is quite a serious one, even in my world where I take most of life in the I’ll-worry-about-it-later attitude.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve extended my lease at the old place, and I’m still looking to move, cos I really can’t drive as much as I do cos I’m in constant (and I do mean that quite literally – constant) pain! It exhausting to be in constant pain, even if you’ve gotten used to it. And it’s difficult to explain to people how I can be in pain ALL the time. Shoulders.. stressed out.. driving.. work… tension etc


*change topic*

Ramadan has started as of today in the UAE (can you believe that it’s AUGUST already?! Where has the year gonnne?!)

I’ve always enjoyed Ramadan, and not just cos if the reduced working hours. Sure, I can’t eat or drink outside, but it’s so hot during the day, I’m not exactly going to be standing out in the sun and munching on chips  anyway! I can eat at the office or in the food court, or obviously, inside the house. Which is fine.

And I love how festive the whole atmosphere is in Dubai during the month. Also, everyone’s a lot more polite to each other, people are more relaxed and less stressed cos it’s the summer and  Ramadan, so there’s not much work to do, and of course, there are all those iftar parties to attend. ;)

A few of my non-muslim friends fast during the month too, which I think is great! It’s a fantastic way to understand and appreciate other cultures and religions, and if only more people experienced the peaceful side of other cultures, we could actually work towards a more peaceful co-existence in the world.

This is one of the things I appreciate about living in Dubai… about how we accept other cultures and religions into our midst and not compete about which one is best. Over the years, I’ve learned that a lot of the  “understanding” I’ve seen is thinly veiled tolerance, but still, we’re a lot better behaved in this country than we are in India.

The more I travel, and the more I see different cultures, the more appreciation I have for each of them.  I remember someone telling me once that he thought  all the problems in the world would be solved if everyone got married to people of different religions and communities.

Food for thought don’t you think? :)

Ramadan Kareem!