Day 6-10…Coming soon

So much to write…
Watch this space…!

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Day 3, 4, 5

Day 3:
I cant remember absolutely anything about day 3…so I guess it wasn’t very intresting after all. I vaguely remember a very very busy day in the office, a lunch of Noodles with Beans , chicken and mushrooms and a late evening snack of cakes(yum) and fruits.

Day 4:
Was slightly more eventful-infact it was our first fun evening in Tel Aviv. We went to this place called Takhana, which is a very old station now converted to a classy square with busy shops, cafes and restraints.
Fun for some reason always involves loosening purse strings and I ended up spending a lot of well earned money-on Dead Sea cosmetics and wooden toys. There was this shop called ‘Think More’ or something that specialised in loads of wooden toys-from the typical abacus, train set and puzzle cubes, to some interesting items that can be used for magic tricks and parties.

Dinner was a small portion of Cheese Ravioli Pasta and Apple Cider at an Italian restaurant at the square and it cost 4 times the price of my lunch. But whereas lunch was an elaborate fare of humus, falafel, pita, fries, salad and pickled gherkins , -a lot of which I had to waste; dinner in contrast was a teaser-yummy , but far from filling!
Gourmet food you see….apparently you feast with your eyes only.

Day 5:
Last working day of the week and very very busy again.
Lunch was famous kebabs(lamb), with rice and beans and salad-again, I had to waste my food. The portions here are huge. You have to order a full meal…and wastage seems commonplace. Very sad really. I am a very good eater…I Don’t peck at my food and I usually leave my plate sparkling clean…but in the time I have spent in this country, I have had to accept that its better to leave the food I cant eat, than stuff myself and suffer bloating!

In the evening, we went out for drinks with some colleagues from work. I had a chaser which was fruity watermelon liquor shot followed by Margarita-all very expensive!
Drinks seemed to loosen up tongues and our Isralei friends told us a lot about their political beliefs, the tension within the country, its rich history, their frustrations and their view of UK and India. It was very interesting-the way they relate to us in so many ways. It was also interesting to hear their point of view on the Middle East debate.
I realised how little I knew about Jewish origins and culture…I also realised how passionate these guys are about their political beliefs. An average Brit cares two hoots about his roots or his history or the priorities of his politicians. Whereas an average Israeli is more aware of his society.
And that’s not surprising- every Israeli youth, at the age of 18, spends 3 years serving the army. This is compulsory for all able boys and girls –staying away from family, soon after school and serving the army in various ways-gives these men and women the education that a textbook never could and prepares them to deal with the hostile neignbours that surround them.
Each of them had a story to tell and the evening was definitely a window into the life of an average Israeli youth-who is by no means average!

Day 6:
Today is the day of Yom Kippur, which is a 25 hour period of fasting. At around 2 this afternoon, all shops, restraunts, vendors, stalls…every single establishment doing any kind of business-closed down. All vehicles have now taken off road and the airport has closed down. The hotel now runs a reduced service and we have been advised that bringing any food into the hotel during the hours of Yom kippur should be avoided.

In the evning we went for a realy long walk along the beach-lovely silver, fine sand and a cool breeze and people out in hordes celebrating their special day. Families were cycling, skating, walking…it was as if the whole town was out on the streets in hordes. Very special, very social and very warm.
Made us a bit homesick and poignant though-we remembered the good old times, when a power cut saw all kids and adults alike coming out of their apartments and spending time together, or the times spent watching movies on rented VCRs-in neighbours houses. We don’t do that anymore-we don’t grab opportunities to meet up with neighbours and friends and families often enough-not over meals or movies-but just like that-over nothing-sitting cross legged on the water tank outside the building or on the terrace and gossiping about everything and nothing in general. Just sitting out in the open, walking along the streets, laughing , teasing, running, catching each other-I don’t remember when I last spent time with my friends doing this…
How sad am I!!

Life is hectic…one day merges into another and everything is too serious, too measured, too focussed….
Yes, there is Arjun and yes he ensure I am overdosed on laughter…but a son or a husband or parents while most special…are not the same as randomly related aunts, distant cousins , crazy neighbours or nutty friends…

I could do with a Yom Kippur in my life-25 hours where you are not allowed to work or cook or watch TV or use too many other resources…I would happily spend my time on the streets engaging other families and exchanging stories…

Hmmm….

But in getting carried away with my gabble, I have forgoettn to tell you why the Jews observe this special day. Today and until sun down tomorrow, the religious Jews apologise to god for the sins they do to god, for their actions that hurt him or for their negligence or sins over the last year. They also ask for forgives for any wrongs done to those around them…
It’s a day for repentance…

On my part…if eating a slice of cake is a sin…then I have sinned more in the last 5 days than I have in an entire lifetime!!!

Talking of cakes, we went to the Carmel market this morning and there was so much to choose from-yummy varieties of chocolates, cakes, biscuits, olives, fresh fruits, dry fuits…an absolute treat! I bought some candies and cheap toys for Arjun(Ben 10!).
I was also very tickled to see lovely guavas the kind we get in India-so I bought some and have scoffed them up already. My friend brought date fruits-which were also very yummy-sweet and fresh-a bit like a ber, but obviously tasting like dates!

Another day I spent working long hours on blackberry …but it was an official holiday today and it was good fun…
Plan for tomorrow-another long walk and perhaps some pictures!

Day 2…And the calroies pile on!

And I am surprising myself by being back on the blog.
Time seems to multiply without kiddo and hubby around.
And whats more surprising is-I cant enjoy it half as much as I had imagined I could/would.

Went for a really long walk on the beach this evening-reminded me of good ole Chennai and the many evenings spent with friends or mum and dad strolling on the beach and looking longingly at ice cream vans. The difference was-all grown up and my own master-with nothing preventing me from buying the frozen goodies…all I could think of is how much Arjun would have enjoyed himself if he were…and then the ice cream didnt hold any appeal!

But hey…this is supposed to be my travelogoue…so lets not turn into into a monologue about Arjun.

So at this point you get to ask some questions:
1. ‘How is the weather’ did you say?
Well, if you ask me-too hot!! 30C at night? That beats the hottest UK summer daytime temp this year.
But every Israeli I meet tells me my visit is well planned as the weather has improved since last week and has become much warmer!! Huh!
I do remember my days in Chennai…but what I remember better is the last five years in London-and hey! we consider 30-really warm!!
Incidentally thats one thing in common between the Brits and the Israelis-they love to talk about the weather!A minor difference too-the Brits always complain whereas this lot seems v pleased-dont blame them!

2. Oh so now you want to know ‘Did I do any shopping’
Nope! Which if you are my husband-is very good news! But the bad news is-thats only because I havent been out in the market so far. Doesnt mean I dont intend to visit anyplace-I shall go sometime later this week and you shall hear all about it!

3. And do I plan to visit anyplace?
Well! Surprise!! I am here on work, so-NO!
But what about the weekend? Well!! Surprise again!
This Friday and Saturday is a special weekend-once every year, on this special day(havent yet picked up the name), people fast for 24 hours, try to use minimal resources, all vehicles are banned from the road, airports close down, shops areclosed-its as it city goes into hibernation and only thing you are allowed to is-walk. People come out in hordes to walk on the street. Apparently there is also a religious significance. Shall find out more and let you know. I am sure it will be a special experience watching all this.
At the same time, a bit sad as this means I dont get to do any sightseeing!
okay, scratch that-make it VERY sad! And they think my visit was good timing…if you ask me, it seems quiet the opposite..
But musnt complain-how often do you get to see a busy city go slow on life-it will be an experience of a kind and am looking forward to it.
it does however mean I need to stock up on food as nothing will be served from Friday afternoon to Saturday night!

4….Oh stop!
No more questions today!
If you are really even bothering with visiting this blog anymore-you can ask and I shall answer!

Otherwise…speak to you morrow then!

And btw-I am still a brave girl! I may miss Arjun, but I dont call him and ask him why he let me go…thats very very grown up. Isnt it?

Day 1…Tel Aviv

Now I could start this post by explaining where I have been since my last post about a year(or more)ago…but that would take a lot of time and when I finish I will be too bored to get on and start about the title of this blog…

So let me do the lengthy explanations some other time…

Me, a colleague from work and many other boisterous, sleep and ill-humoured passengers landed at Tel Aviv early this morning on the day that the Israeli clock changes. So Israel is now just one hour behind U.K…

My first impression of the city as I drove from the airport to the hotel was that it reminded me a lot of Mumbai-hot, humid, huge and very alive! After staying in UK, where national speed limits mean that you are never travelling fast enough for the wind to ruffle your hair, it was quiet exciting to be driven around by a loony driver who seemed to enjoy honking, braking and racing almost as much as my slightly impatient dad in Mumbai does.

After checking in to my sea view hotel room on the 18th floor of a decent 5(supposedly) star hotel, I played around with the telly and dozed off to sleep.

Woke up in 2 hours-a tad disoriented and very very hungry!
Breakfast was shocking! I dont believe I have ever seen so much variety of cakes, cheeses,fruits and egg recipes on the same floor.A rich and very calorie laden brekkie of some v yummy cakes and mediterranean dishes-the names of which I can neither pronounce nor spell, made me realise that unless I leave this place soon, I will be shopping for clothes in the next size-very soon!

After breakfast we took a cab to the Fundtech office-which brings me to the purpose of my visit-business. And incase you havent guessed, it means that I am traveling without family-my first time ever away from Arjun. Incidentally we bade each other a very cheerful goodbye at the airport and my son has officially grown up….I hope he misses me atleast a teeny weeny bit though…because I miss him loads!
But If I start to write about the dearie….you wont hear anything about Tel Aviv…which may suit you, but wont suit me…being away from Arjun and writing about him, would put me in a melancholy mood!

So back to talking about work…oh , but that makes me just as sad(and you too I am sure).

So how about I skip to the part that makes me happy instead…which incase you havent guessed yet-is food again!
Just have to tell you about this really yummy lunch I had at this place called Schnetzel factory! Originally a Vieniese dis, Israeli Schnetzcel is basically chicken breaded with egg yolk and fried with spices. This was served with Rice with Tahini sauce that tasted a lot like the Fodnicha bhaat mum makes and green beans with seasame-my idea of a healthy portion. Would have worked if they had gone less generous on the oil. All this served with some very yummy humous, pitta, pickled veggies and a radish version of coleslaw.
Without a doubt the tastiest food I have had in ages and in a very local joint-which meanI paid a fair 40sheckels (approx7.5 pounds).

Lunch was followed by several hours of gruelling work…now dont picture me picking and moving boulders…work in my world is sending emails, updating documents and speaking to people over the phone…so nothing at all to justify the meals:(
But hey…the brains needs its food too…and we dont use it sometimes…however inadvertently.

After a long day at work, I am now back in the hotel, making the most of free internet access at the Business lounge and trying to ignore that empty feeling in the pit of my stomach which is nothing to do with hunger(obvious-all that food!), but a lot to do with the sunny smile I havent seen all day and the crushing cuddle that I will have to do without for the next 10 odd days!
Not worried about the brat though-Ganapati Bappa is taking abode for the next 10 days as is one Mr Peeta…between them and in the company of a very capable Dadda, I know my cub is in safe hands…

As for my own self-sleeping without a leg constantly thereatening to strangle me and an arm that keeps reaching out to check that I havent slipped off to the next room-that will take some getting used to!

But its only day 1…Mamma is going to be a brave girl!

Off to bed now…and hopefully I shall post tomorrow…!

I Exercise!

Not two words I often use in the same sentence, unless there is also a NEVER lurking shamelessly around.

I do however fund an Exercise Expense Account that would make a reed thin model proud.

Therefore, I am the affluent owner of the following gym equipment at home:

A Gym ball, which even Arjun doesn’t fancy anymore and has therefore been deflated! While it was still inflated, it made a nice play object for kicking around.
I would have used it! But its supposed to be used for Pilates. And everybody knows my problem is not flexibility. My problem is weight. Now why would I waste time on Pilates when I should be doing an aerobic workout!!
I was sure a cross trainer/walker would fix my problem…

A cross trainer– This was meant to be my tool of choice for an aerobic workout. But its turned out being very useful for hanging clothes or resting chairs or as a decorative corner piece-just the look we need for our lovely pig sty!
The one week I mustered enough motivation to actually use it for a while, the silly machine demotivated me by burning out its ball bearings! How am I supposed to continue using a piece of equipment that is downright insulting…wasn’t breaking down just a rude way of telling me I am too heavy? I don’t stand that sort of behaviour and I have relegated the offending cross trainer to its corner spot ever since.

A trampoline. Okay lets make that two trampolines. There is the one that we bought for Arjun which he seems to think he is too old for. There is one we bought for ourselves, which he is convinced he is just right for. But I worry that if he jumps on it with much too much enthusiasm, then he will take off and land in the upstairs neighbours house.
Not complaining though-because that way the trampoline atleast gets used! 😉
I ofcourse think it makes a great seating place and thats how I make the most of it.
Yeah, yeah…I know you are supposed to jump on it…but C’mon now!!! I have bought one haven’t I? Isnt that saying enough about my good intentions? Do I actually have to prove them further by using a jumping machine? How kiddish is that?
Maybe buying one wasn’t such a good idea after all…but atleast I can take solace in the fact that the one lying around at home is the best one in the market rather than something cheap that wouldn’t take my weight if I ever did decide to use it(Unless ofcourse by that time I am much heavier than I am now…)

Gym membership. Every person should have one. If you are posh, you should have two! I am not posh and therefore I only have one! And therein lies my problem. If I were a member of two gyms, then I would feel guilty enough and I would visit the gym.
Did you ask why I don’t feel guilty about paying one gym? Oh well…think about it! I have been paying one gym for very many years now…it’s a constant debit from my account of an amount I consider ‘not earned’…now I cant feel bad about losing something I don’t think I ever had…got it?
But if I did have two memberships-then that would be a different thing!
As for why I don’t go in the first place…Hmm…I don’t know…If I did go, I might remember why I don’t quiet enjoy it. Probably something to do with all that intimidating equipment that somehow doesn’t just move on its own to bring my body back in shape. For all the money I pay, those people in the gym don’t seem to be doing anything to help me! What a load of swindlers!
I think I just need something DIY and something that is a load of fun…maybe a playstation?

Wii. This was my latest investment and one I was particularly proud of! Not only did we buy a brand new Nintendo Wii, we have even bought a Wii balance board to go with it! And it was so much fun (in the beginning). The first two days after we bought it, I couldn’t stop using it-tennis, and jogging and hoola hoping and all sorts of fun things. But then on day 3 the most unfortunate thing happened. My muscles ached! That did it!
I was totally enjoying my games and play…why did that have to result in aches and pains. Now that’s treachery isn’t it? I wasn’t even warned!
That’s that…I watch Santo use it and I make encouraging noises when he scores a hit or wins a game. But if he expects me to join in on all that folly…tough luck! I am not getting tricked into using something that claims to be a game console and yet expects me to sweat!

Accessories. Numerous pairs of trainers and track pants and water bottles and earphone and sacks and all the good stuff that one needs to get going. If only I found the exercise that suited me, I would definitely make use of all my sporty collectables!

And then there are the smart Alecs who tell me that I don’t need equipments to get a work out. All I need to do is try some stomach crunches at home or go for brisk walks for 20 minutes everyday or try Yoga!
Yeah right…as if that would work! I walk to work everyday and it takes me all of 10 mins! It tires me so much that as soon as I come in I have a couple of biscuits and a nice tall cup of coffee. Yet inspite of that daily exercise, have I lost an inch? Nope!
So you expect me to believe that walking works? ‘Fat’ chance!
And Yoga-isnt it just sitting in one place and holding your breath or something-do it all the time.
And crunches!!!! Well, if I could do them, then I wouldn’t need to do them! I cant see my toes when I am standing or when I am lying down. To actually somehow get my body to reach them-try swapping bodies with me and you would know!!

Oh, but I am not upset! Or depressed!
I know they will come up with just the right sort of way for me to keep fit! Until then I shall just wait and continue to invest wisely in what is available today!

Infact I saw this advertisement for an abdominal crunch machine on teleshopping network, which I think would be just perfect for me. I think I shall just buy that one.
I am sure once I have bought the ab cruncher, I shall have a six pack just like the woman doing the demo and she was using it so effortlessly…it must mean that the machine is user friendly and very effective!

That’s that then…shall let you know how useful that one turns out to be!
Remember- Health is wealth and nothing is more important than investing in your fitness!

P.S: I wish I were only joking! But a lot of what I have said above is true! Whats worse, after suspending my gym membership some months back(stroke of reason), I am rejoining tomorrow and my body and my wallet are both mocking me already!

Amour Paris!

Over the May bank holiday weekend(1st-5th May), we went to Paris and Disneyland Resort(Seqouia Lodge), Paris.

Many of our friends know that ‘our’ story started in Paris and we are often asked to narrate it.
But we are both unwilling to share, not so much because we are shy or embarrassed or secretive even, but simply because talking about it and putting it down to words or events or sequences, would belittle the magic we felt when we first fell in love!

But even before I fell in love with the man, I fell in love with the city-the breathtaking architecture, the diamond studded streets, the heavenly smell of bread and the confounding language and unbelievable smugness of the French!

I adored Paris the first time I ever saw it, in Oct 2002. Carefree and excited, I was a young girl ecstatic about visiting one of the most famous and talked about destinations in the world! My memories of that European holiday are very very vivid. I remember what clothes I wore, where we ate, how we traveled…and most importantly how I realized that I was falling head over heels in love with an unlikely hero.
There have been several destinations and numerous trips since. But they all fade in comparison. Neither the snobbery of the French, nor the rude, racist, rowdy Parisian ways, will ever tinge the memory of that very special Paris trip!

Almost 7 years since that last trip, now a wife and a mother, I was looking forward to reliving the Paris magic, but more in hope than in expectation. I was expecting to be disappointed and was dreading that we would come back from the trip and find that all our previous enchantment had been replaced with the mundane memory of traveling as a harried couple with a runny nosed, stubborn(albeit cute), tantrum throwing toddler!

True to our dreaded expectation, the toddler was infact snotty throughout the trip and yes he threw a tantrum every time I thought I would have a moment of quiet to take the beauty in. And no, I didn’t care too much about the architecture or the long walks or the city as I was too busy trying to figure ways to push the buggy in a city which for a famous tourist destination is surprisingly children unfriendly!!

Yet, after 3 days in Disneyland and two days covering Paris by road, rail and river, the predominant memory that I have brought away is that of falling in love all over again. This time with an almost three year old, who can make my world better with a genuine happy smile and a trusting grasp of my hands.

Just as we often go back to a temple to thank god for everything in our life and to acknowledge the gifts he gives us; as we cruised along on River Seine, I said a silent thank you to the city for providing the setting for ‘our story’……One that very many years from now,I hope I shall remember in as much detail as I do today.

Norwich experience…

When I started this blog almost 6 months back, one purpose it was meant to serve was that of a travelogue. A place for me to revisit if I wanted to recap a highlight of a trip and a tool for others planning trips to our favourite destinations!

But as in most dealings of my life, good intentions are not always followed by necessary actions!

So while I have made almost a dozen trips in these last three months alone, the number of blogs on this page-Zero!

But better late than never is a cue to correct most wrongs, so here is a quick summary for anybody who cares to read or to ignore!

End April-Norwhich experience!!

The North East of England was one area we had been curious about for a long time and we finally managed to continue our run of Summer touring(following Wales in Easter), with a weekend trip to Norfolk and the Broads.

A lovely 2.5 hour drive from London , mostly through villages and towns rather than the faster motorways, took us to our destination-Holiday Haven Holiday Park in Caister , housing our regular 10 ft wide caravan(budget accommodation), home to our troop of 5 adults and 1 child.

This trip was going to be special irrespective of how the accommodation or the journey or the final destination was, simply because we had a very welcome visitor traveling with us. Yogesh! Who finally managed to make a quick trip to London from Dubai and managed to spend some bachelor time with us before we went to India and got engaged to his little miss sunshine!

Speaking about the Norwich experience then, day 1 was spent in the cities of Norwich and Yarmouth and days 2 was spent exploring the broads.

Norwich is the commercial capital of the Norwich region of sorts and is a bustling, young and vibrant town. A bit too bustling and vibrant perhaps as we discovered when we crossed a street inhabited by some very suspicious looking gangs of teenagers who were sporting pink punks, nose rings, body piercings and eye catching tattoos.

I believe the term is whackos!

There is the lovely cathedral, which is over 900 years old and has all the charm and serenity one associates with ancient Gothic structures. It is apparently also one of the oldest churches in England.

Arjun ofcourse didn’t care a hoot about either the art or the architecture or even the inherent reverence of the place and ensured that both me and Santo were all eyes on him rather than on the lovely stained glass work or the intricate design inside the spires. The moment we took our eye off the cheeky monkey, he busied himself running and squealing with delight and the imposing walls looked like they would block us in forever until we learnt to respect the holy!

Oh well, children are messengers of god and all that, so I shouldn’t have paid much attention to glaring eyes or hushing voices…just something for me to keep in mind the next time;)

Day 2 was spent on the Norfolk Broads. A lovely boat cruise on the broads and the highlight of the trip-a 18 mile round trip through the picturesque Bure Valley countryside,following the river and passing through Wroxham, the capital of Norfolk broads.

No prizes for guessing who enjoyed the trip the most! Most steam trains are arip off because the tickets are too expensive and distances short and routes mediocre. However, full marks to the Bure Valley Steam Train. It is infact priced a bit steep, however the views are fantastic, the carriages really rustic and charming and experience is almost worth the money-atleast for a parent of an steam train loving toddler!

But the sights and attractions apart, the other highlight of the trip was the Wii and the whole load of fun we had playing it the first time.

We were so impressed, that finally last month we went and bought a brand new one for ourselves. But more about the Wii, another time…

Thanks Yo!! For making it to London in the end and for making the North East England experience a short yet sweet one!Here is a picture of Yo!! and proof that I did bake a cake for him…