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…!

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…

Some Sweet Some Sour!

It was the Easter bank holiday weekend and all in all it was a bit sweet and a bit sour! Heres why…(A really long post…but beats having to type emails;)

 

Yo!!

Sweet: It was Yo!!s birthday on the 11th. Yogesh or Yo!! As we call him is the bro I never had and the only one who thinks he can get away with telling me I am wrong! I don’t argue with him…well because…I am not all that silly! If we had met when we were younger , I am sure he would have pulled my braids and I would have let my pet dof loose on him(Yes, he is scared of dogs-how kiddish can one be!)

Yo!! Hope you have a great year-I have no doubt this is going to be a year you remember forever and for all the right reasons! 😉

 

Sour: We were hoping Yo!! Would join us for the Easter weekend, but the Visa Gods looked away and he was stuck in Dubai and we were left twiddling our thumbs because all our plans centred on whether or not Yo!! Would make it!

 

Trip!!

Sweet:  Santo worked his last minute trip planning magic and we did finally choose a destination and get our bookings in order!

 

Sour: The holiday Park where we booked ourselves let us down on many counts.

More about that later!

 

Emily!!

Sweet: I shopped on Thurs and bought Arjun a wooden rail track. I have wanted to get him one for a really long time now , but kept waiting to really like one which was also value for money. But then the other day in Waitrose I made this impulsive buy and Arjun has loved the tracks so much…they have been worth every penny and some!

What is it about little boys and trains and cars and planes! Actually what it is about boys(little and not so little) and wheels in general. The older of the two men in the house also treats his wheeled ride like the love of his life!

 

Well anyways, Arjun loves his Cho Cho Train and I can get away with quiet a few things these days-feeding him peas and dousing him with sticky cream-just as long as I let him play with his train!

 

I even bought him a brand new Emily engine-as a gift for liking my gift so much! Spoilt…did u say? No way! …well, maybe just a teeny weeny bit!

 

Sweeter: I have been looking for this Emily toy for a long time now, mainly because I wanted to gift one to Rishi-who is a very dear young boy, our neighbour and Arjuns friend and the biggest fan Thomas could ever ask for!

The joy on Rishis face, on seeing ‘His Emily’ was priceless!! And the kisses that I was awarded with-very very sweet!:) Thank u Rishi!

 

Sour: My resolution to stop spending on toys and clothes that Arjun could live without, didn’t last a week!!

 

For the uninitiated- Thomas the Tank Engine lives in the Island of Sodor with his friends. Emily is one of his friends. And Thomas though cheeky is a really useful engine…

Now I could go on and on. But I suspect not many under 5s read my site, so I couldn’t be doing my blog stats any good by talking about Thomas! In anycase I do enough of that in my daily parent life, without having to do more on this blog.

 

Lets just suffice to say that Thomas is every pre schoolers favourite toy at some stage or the other in his life (This is definitely true for boys!)

And in some situations he is every parents worst nightmare-simply because all these bloody branded toys are so so expensiveL and no sane adult can be happy talking about engines hour after hour day after day, year after year!!(Didn’t say anything about being sane myself! ;))

 

Black Car!!

Sweet: It was our first long trip in our Black Savari (Yes Yes, we still own a Zafira silly, Savari-means ‘means of transport’!) and she did us proud! No unexpected and unwelcome surprises! A very pleasant smooth ride!

 

Sour: The thirsty vehicle gulps fuel in barrels. I cant even bear to calculate my carbon footprints!!

 

Toddler on Board!!

Sweet: My little boy has now grown up! This was the first road trip with Arjun this summer and I can proudly say the boy is all grown up. He knows what clothes he wants to wear, what music he wants to listen to, what food he prefers to eat, he knows what he wants to do, he tells me when he likes something, he tells me when he doesn’t(Ok sometimes he just cries like a silly boy, but well-sometimes!).

And most importantly-he looks after himself or atleast tries to! If its cold he makes sure he is covered. When in the car he doesn’t let us leave until he is all belted down!

He makes sure we hold his hands on rough terrain and he runs for cover when he hears a car approaching. (Ok he gets the direction wrong sometimes-but atleast he runs!)

 

Sour: He wails and whines and stamps his feet and throws a full blown tantrum if we don’t agree on doing the things he likes L

Tantrum trouble is here to stay! Oh where have those less stressful peaceful days gone?

 

Toddler trouble!!

Sweet: I wouldn’t admit this to him ever…and people who see me lose my cool at the poor young chap may find this unbearably hard to believe-but I must confess I do sometimes enjoy the way Arjun troubles people with his never ending questions and quirky demands. ‘Rama, what are you doing’. ‘Ambarish, jhopu nakos(don’t sleep)’, ‘Dada, Arjun good boy ahe na!’, ‘Mamma, Tu gana nako mhanus…mamma gana mhan, Mamma Asa mhan, ata nako mhanu, …(you get the idea).’

 

Sour: Arjun was unwell through some legs of the trip. A slight fever, usual trouble with Eczema and a very unpleasant episode where he threw up his morning breakfast all over himself (and over us). If there is one thing that’s worse than a troublesome kid, then it is a kid who is troubled himself! L

But he is a brave chappie and he waved me a merry goodbye as he left to the nursery this morning!

 

Linda!!

Sweet: Linda was a great navigator. Linda btw, is the voiceover on our GPS. And Linda is a very persistent young woman. If you change your mind about which way you want to go, she doesn’t accept it and she will find every u turn and roundabout on the map to put you back on the original route she intended for you! But she is alright. She eventually does a bit of recalculation and gets you back on track….

 

Sour: Linda thinks we are very very impoverished so sometimes she goes to great lengths to send us via the cheapest route. This does mean that we end up avoiding the motorways and spend our time navigating lanes and bylanes which were never traversed since they were first built!

Taking the car through a tiny brook and over a 3 m wide road was a definite first for us. (In this country anyways!!).

 

Castles!!

Sweet: The Welsh experience. We were visiting South Wales this time around and its dotted with plenty of magnificent castles standing monumental proof of the barbaric history of the British. Built by Normals in early 17th century or dated as far as the 12th century, these castles have stood the test of time. In some cases they have just about stood the test as we witnessed leaning half broken walls threatening to fall down!!(not really!).

We saw four castles in all and my favourite was the one we saw on the last day of the trip–The Kidwelly castle-inner wall within inner wall and an intresting climb to the top of the tower via a very scary spiral stairway.

The others were lovely too and each different in its own way-The Cheapstow castle in a very pretty village called Cheapstow is the oldest stone castle in Britain, while Caerfilly is the largest and it spans across a lake and a moat and many stone walls. Or atleast that’s what the guidebook said. In reality it didn’t seem all that large!

But I suppose it’s a bit difficult to impress Indians who have seen really large stone walled castles spanning huge mountain ranges!

I don’t remember the name of the forth castle we visited, but it was on top of a hill and was worth the short hike. At this point I must mention my little hiker, who managed to trek most of the way to most of the castles and made me really proud!

He even has this tiny scrape on his knee(his first knee ‘injury’) to show for all the outdoor adventure! Well done! J

 

Sour: Castles are cool and everything…but really, shouldn’t there be other things to see/do on a 3 day trip! Not exactly a student of ancient history and medieval warfare, am I?

Also-3.7 GBP entry fee for every castle and then more lootmaar if you want to buy something to eat or even a simple souvenier? Daylight Robbery! All those lovely India castles offer free entry and there is even yummy buttermilk, bhutta(corn on cob) and bhajjis and Jhunka bhakar and Masala Chai to make up for all that effort spent hiking atop.

Welsh castles are not bad…but I prefer my Sinha-Loh-Toran-Rai-Raj Gads anyday!

Talking of which…I miss being in India…and I shall miss it more when its monsoon time!

 

Stay(Haven Holidays, Kiln Park,Tenby)

Sweet: Cheap, affordable, freshly laundered linen (thank god), good location, short walk from the beach, access to Burger King.

Sour: Match Box rooms, Power Cuts(!!!), crowded,  loud music, very little entertainment, very little information/guidance-quiet disappointing!

 

Weather:

Sweet: We missed the dreadful London weather and enjoyed the rare sunny experience.

 

Sour: Apparently 15 C is now too hot for my Mumbai born, Pune bred husband, who couldn’t stop complaining about how hot it was. You would think he was stuck in the sahara(or Pune for that matter:p)

 

Summary:

Sweet: All of the above! 🙂

Sour: Unpacking, washing, cleaning, grocery shopping, expenses, expenses, expenses!

Arjun wants to go back to his caravan!! Hmm…