100 Happy Days: Day 4

Happiness is all of us sitting on the love seat sofa, sharing the warmth of a single throw blanket and watching a late night movie knowing tomorrow with the time change we can sleep an hour late and not miss the hour 😉

Good night!

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100 Happy Days: Day 3

Many happy things today:

a. I got a new hair cut! The last time I went to a parlor was during thanksgiving last year.

b. Had invited a family for tea – trying to make new friends in this new community and they have a 2 year old with a head full of hair and energetic – just like what Sam was at 2

c. Coincidentally, FB gave me those memories reminder from 2011 where Sam was 2 years old and hubby and I were recollecting all Sam stories from that age – which has right now made me a mushy mommy *eye-roll please*

PS: Does this mean, I can skip 2 days of happy days because I put 3 moments here today? huh? huh?

 

Day 16 -Disney World-Sam’s birthday and Christmas vacation – the planning

In June 2016, I got a brainwave, of taking Sam to Disney world Florida before we decided to go back. That was one thing I wanted to do for the little fellow.We always decide on where we want to go so this was a trip only for him. The idea was to reach there on 21st before Sam’s birthday and also spend Christmas there.

I started my research online. Checked how much I had to save so we can make the trip. With my parents visiting I had to be clear if we could afford it. Then on the disney website I saw a deal – a deal which included Disney resort stay+meal plan+park entry+transport within the Disney parks and transport to and from airport. With lofty ideas I checked the Disney resorts and realized the only one we could possibly get in our budget was the Value resorts. I felt a little disappointed and had a lengthy conversation with hubby. That is how it is between us. I make all plans, figure out budgets and then put the proposition for his acceptance/rejection. I used his love for his son as a trump card and first convinced him that it would be a worth expenditure 😛 Then I laid out the plans – 6 parks – 4 amusement and 2 water parks-1 water park closed for renovation. So 1 day at 1 park means 5 day park tickets – 1 extra day to do Disney Boardwalk and Disney Springs.1 extra night for travel – in all 7 nights. Then I gave him the option of resorts and meal options. These are the times when I realize why I married this man – he supports my dreams but also keeps me within practical limits. It was then we sat together and worked out that if we are out at a park all day we do not need a resort with views, boating options, spa or Jacuzzi. We also did not need 3 table meals a day option, because when we travel we eat a hearty breakfast and get through the day until almost 4pm. So, we decided on a value resort – All Star Sports (because we knew Sam could not relate to the music or the movies) and chose the quick meal plan – which gave us 2 counter service meals a day with 1 snack a day option. Since we were staying at a Disney resort which had its own buses to all parks and to airport so we decided not to rent a car either. We convinced ourselves that it would compensate for the extra we would be paying for the resort.

However, we hadn’t anticipated the shift to Chicago in August. Disney was booked but what about airfare?! There was a thought of dropping the plan. My parents who were with us, asked us not to hurry in cancelling, we had given it enough thought when we booked, so they said we should just go ahead. Finally in September we booked the tickets and then started the countdown, the excitement and the shopping 🙂

 

Day 3-Retrospect of 2016

Wait, there cannot be just 1 post for 2016 retrospect. This would be like a synopsis and I do need a lot more fodder for another 29 days worth of posts.

I was just looking back and realized I did put up posts for 5 months of 2016 at least. I made note of the fact that I got back to working full time, parents’ visit and trips the school issues until August. But the bigger news is, we shifted – again. Packed bags and called movers to move half way across the country to the suburbs of Chicago, IL. Thanks to hubby’s job. The other option was that I continue with Sam in NJ while hubby does the weekly Mon-Thur flying out and in which was not an option we wanted to consider. It did not make sense that we are in this country and still not able to be together as a family. Defeated the purpose. So, mid-august we shifted so Sam missed only the first week of school. Stayed at a hotel with parents for 2 weeks along with rice-cooker and a pan and an airbed.Then shifted to an apartment community which satisfied my 2 major requirements – good school district and an Indian presence so I could let Sam make friends and play outside.

Thanks to parents shifting with us, Mom and Dad made friends with other parents while walking in the park which helped us to meet the neighbors. Mom went with other aunties and ladies for Navaraatri poojas and chanting so I got to meet a lot of them myself. It also helped me dust some cobwebs and I joined a weekly dance class and also performed during the community DeepawaLi get together. Hoping at least this 1hr class once a week is a start to some form of moving hands and legs. Oh! thankfully, my office gave me the option of working from home *touchwood* so I am still full time employed. This was totally a blessing.

The year seems to have ended on a positive note and I am hoping 2017 will also be an easy year with things falling in place. Ofcourse there are still ? plenty which we will need to figure out as the year goes by.

 

Welcome 2017

Hola! Hello!!!! Happy New Year 2017 to who ever thought that I might really start the Blogathon this year or those few who still have me on your readers! Wish that all your dreams come true for this year 🙂

When Maya asked me last year for the blogathon 2016, I backed off and then again when Swaram did one in November I said no and both times felt guilty for backing off. So, this time I decided I should start blogging again and boy, I’m so glad that the minute I asked Maya, she said “of course we are doing the 2017 blogathon and you dare not back off this time :-)” and took the whole thing forward from there. Thanks Maya!

So, here I am. making another attempt at reviving this space though I fear that most of the stuff will be personal and nothing earth shattering or helpful to anyone. I will however try my best to make the posts interesting though.

Those of you who came here from Maya’s – welcome and thank you for visiting me. I hope the posts will be worth your time 🙂

 

 

The Photograph Saga

Let’s start from the very beginning… Neither the hubby or me are very fond of taking pictures or being in pictures. Taking pictures for us has mostly been as an after thought. The hubby hates to ask someone else to take a picture of us, so most of our honeymoon pictures either has him or me 😛 We perhaps have less than 10 pictures together, that too because by day 3 the driver realized that we wouldn’t ask him ourselves and he offered to take it.Many a times we let the rest of the group take the pictures and share them with us later. There was a time when I wanted us to go to a studio and get a picture taken and get it framed like how every one else does it. But again, hubby was never in favor of it – he cringes at the thought of having to ‘get dressed’ just for a studio picture. I thought things might change after the kid, but no, nada.

Off late, how ever, my thoughts are changing. We do not have a single picture of us as a family that I can frame. Nothing that I can hang on a wall or place on a table and make that space personal. And I’m beginning to feel, I want one. Fine, if we don’t go to a studio, I’m ok with that. Thank God for selfies, that I at least have a few pictures these days of the 3 of us together. But those are never frame worthy. I have begun to realize that these happy, fun moments are so fleeting that I better capture it somewhere that I can come back and smile about it later. When I come here and read the 6 yr old posts, see pictures of Sam as a baby, read his antics that I have almost forgotten, it makes my day 🙂 Just like that, I want to capture more moments in pictures.

Life has currently given us opportunities to explore new places, experience new things, enjoy the awe of the little one for example when he sees One World Observatory and realizes that ‘this’ is what is a skyscraper that his teacher taught him about, a George Washington statue he recognizes… I want to capture them all. A moment in time that we enjoyed. Felt great about. Another 6-7 years later, when the kid is a teenager and he cribs that we didn’t take him anywhere – show this to him 🙂 A day when I wear something new and feel confident about-I want that moment captured, just to think later – I did this too…

I still do not want a DSLR or the latest camera that makes me look like a million bucks or makes the scenery look like its out of a picture book or a movie. No, that’s not what I crave for. My mobile phone camera is good enough for me. I just want us, captured in that moment of time, in a happy frame of mind. It is not the joy of taking a superb, well thought out, enhanced picture, it is the joy of knowing that here it is…this fleeting moment- Ah! I gotcha! Captured!

Is that a problem? Is my thinking wrong? I am becoming a photography convert – anyone else cares to join me in this ‘capture the moment’ madness?

Royal Rajasthan – Day 7 – Udaipur part 1

Full day Udaipur, and let me tell you, its not enough! This happened to be my favourite place of the whole trip.

This city has some charm, some romance in it. Maybe because we did quite a bit of walking in the gullies in search of early morning breakfast watching the city wake up.May be because I watched a beautiful sunrise over the waters of lake Pichola – the sun rising above the city palace which was bathed in an orange light and everything was so quiet at that time of the morning.

We had chosen not to take a Bed and Breakfast here, so we headed out by 8:30am in search of some breakfast before we start the sight seeing. The driver had already told us that he will not be navigating the narrow roads and that it would be closer to walk than the car going all around the town since the bigger vehicles are not allowed within the old city. So, we walked across the Hanuman Ghat on the foot-over bridge and started searching for a place to eat. BIL asked some shopkeeper and he gave us a few suggestions along with saying that there was a good Poha-Samosa place for authentic Udaipur breakfast in the gully across the Jagadish Mandir. We soon found the place-a really small shop with benches to sit and eat. He was cooking everything right there and we orderd Masala Pohas – which was like Churmuri. It was soo yummy that even as Im writing this,my mouth is beginning to water! We then ate kachoris and also ordered Samosa and then hot masala chai.Perfect breakfast and very different from the daily Khichdis and thick/hard aloo parathas.

Once done, our first stop was right opposite- the Jagadish Mandir. Still a functional mandir and well maintained, we quickly moved on to the city palace. Took tickets to enter and when we went in, they refused to let us in because mobile phones were also not allowed if we didnt take camera fees! So while the men – BIL,hubby,Chutku and little S 🙂 Stayed out, Co-sis and I went into the palace. Oh my God! The whole palace is so big with so many courtyards and rooms that even without stopping anywhere it took us nearly 50mins to come out. By then the men were already restless and ready to go out. They didnt even want to go in and see the whole palace and spend another 45mins there. 

We rushed to buy the tickets to the boat ride to Jag Mandir in the middle of the Pichola lake and we just missed the 12pm one. So, we just sat there for 45mins waiting for the next hourly boat where the boat takes us through the ghats, shows the Taj Lake Palace, infact went right in front of our hotel from where we could see our room balcony and took us to the Jag Mandir. Not much to see here apart from a restaurant and a huge courtyard with fountains and a large Garden. Plenty of Photo opportunities and we decided to head back to the boat instead of staying there for another hour. It was 2pm by the time we got back and we were all hungry. It was also extremely hot and we wanted to get out of the sun. So we decided to have lunch. Now, lunch again was a good walk outside the city palace and we found this small eatery,which looked like a local college crowd hangout where we had maggie noodles and sandwiches with Tropicana juice and lemon iced teas 🙂 We called the driver and decided that he will take us to the bottom of the hill from where we were supposed to take the rope-way to the Mata temple on top. Unfortunately, we ewre destined to miss the Udaipur rope-way….

PART 2 in next post – these posts are just so lengthy and there is still a lot of Udaipur to write about and I dont know where to stop with the pictures -so splitting it into 2 days 😀 Fodder for post you see…fodder for post…hehehe.

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Sunrise from our room balcony

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City Palace

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Hubby and Chutku-my Red-y buddies
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Taj Lake Palace
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Our Hotel
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Jag Mandir Palace
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Huge Courtyard of Jag Mandir
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View of City Palace from Jag Mandir

Finally, my fave moment of the day…me and my little nephew with the backdrop of Taj Palace 😉

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Royal Rajasthan – Day 5 – Tanot Mata-Jodhpur

As I said, the BIL had heard about this place called Tanot Mata-about 150kms towards the border from Jaisalmer and had a deep desire to see this place. We had a very early morning, had bath with the heater turned on in the bathroom partition at 6:30 freezing am in the morning, a quick breakfast-again very yummy and fresh while Chuktu chased sparrows around the dining tent 🙂

Digress: I forgot to mention the accommodation at the desert camp. While we checked in at 2pm in the afternoon, it was so hot that we switched on the fan and chose to stay inside the tent accommodation until we had to leave for the safari. The whole tent is made up of thick cloth with a zipped opening for the door and another smaller partition for the bathroom-again with a zipped cloth door. At midnight, it got so freezing cold that I hardly slept all night-we decided against the heater as the husband gets dehydrated with the heater and gets a headache and nose bleed. So, I woke up in the middle of the night, added another quilt and tried to sleep but my nose and my toes (despite socks) were freezing. In the morning since we had to get ready really early, I turned on the heater to get some warmth inside the bathroom while we had bath. Despite a hot water bath and the heater turned on Chuktu and I were freezing by the time we got ready.

End-Digress.

We started at about 8am and drove through the desert towards Tanot Mata temple. The speciality of this temple is that it is situated very close to the border and apparently during the India-Pakistan war, no bombs exploded within the vicinity of the temple. They have kept all these unexploded bombs on display inside the temple. The roads to this place is extremely well-maintained by the Border Security and is a joy to drive on. Here is where we saw the real desert land scape, with mile and miles of just desert with sparse life around. The temple is manned by Border Security people and though the BIL took a chance with request to go to the border-it was quite obviously refused. Despite this not being in our list of things to see, it was worth going to.

Since our driver was really slow and the roads are really well maintained with not a vehicle in sight for miles together, the husband decided to drive all the way upto Jaisalmer where we had a quick lunch. We finally got Churma as a sweet but it wasnt all that great. Our quest for good Churma continued.

Another 5 hrs drive through desert and vast golden sand lands we reached The Kothi Heritage in Jodhpur. This was a last minute pick of a hotel because we were searching for a heritage haveli style and got this within our budget. Ah! What a relief-another very well maintained place. More of Jodhpur tomorrow 🙂

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The Lure of “Foreign Lands”

Way back in 2007, when we travelled on my work, there was a lot of excitement on the travel and some expectations of how we wanted things to shape up. This time around, the husband has already travelled and I expect I will be joining him in summer once the cold winds blow off
🙂

When I tell family that Im waiting for Chutku to finish his school year and the summer to set in, so I can take a proper Transfer Certificate for him, which might help once we come back, everyone sits up and takes notice of only the fact of “Come back”. Some are cynical, some
laugh out loud saying “Oh!we have seen so many people saying that they will come back but no one has…” , some just say-“we hope you come back”. Some ask us “Do you really want to come back”?

Everyone we spoke to about the travel has told us, “You will have another child there and settle down there!” – Eh? Really? Maybe? Or more categorically “go have another kid there!”Including my Doctor!! Your son needs the company – 6yrs difference will not make for any company, we say,only added responsibility for us! This whole having another child thing, has just put me off!Nobody, just nobody, has any right to take any such decisions for us. It makes me not want to go atall! So, I feel that its decided, we have another child there-“OH! See, we knew you would have another one there-now that child has become an american citizen” Or, we choose not to have another child there “OH! You should have another child there,you could also apply for citizenship” no matter what-there will be judgements passed.

We ourselves arent sure what we are expecting this time-we stay/not stay, I work or I dont work – everything depends on how the little fellow adjusts and accepts the change. The focus is all on him. Are we worrying too much? Maybe, because from past experience, Chutku doesnt take to change very easily. He still talks about the old house and how he played cycle in the basement. This time, the changes are huge, and he is grown older too. If the same thing had happened a couple of years ago, when he didnt remember or have to go to school, we think the transition would have been easier for him.

How will he adjust to the environment around him. Of not having the grandparents and cousins to play with, of a different language, a different set of people to get adjusted to, a schooling system which is also very different from here. Most of all we wonder whats going to happen to the very noisy, tantrummy, happy to scream boy there! How are we going to control all that and channel all that energy – especially during winter months.Today, he knows that he has a backup in the form of Ammamma-Thatha if we scold him, would he feel left out there? Feel he has no one, if we scold him? Would that affect him? Here we co-sleep, there though I’ve already told hubby that we need to furnish his room and make it inviting for him from Day-1, will he be able to sleep alone? How would he react in school – would he notice the difference of skin color and would that affect him?

This whole move comes with a lot of upheaval for all of us.Sometimes, despite having plan A and Plan B, life takes its own course, and we just need to flow along the currents and see where it takes us.