life, life lessons, madras, my crazy days

To a Love Like No Other

One perfect misty evening two girls took turns on a swing. They were best friends, soul sisters and lovers like no other. Fate brought them together. They stuck with each other through many bumps and finally made it to what they then thought was the cusp of their life. That balmy evening they talked about their dreams, hopes and fears. They were starting a new chapter in their life, taking different paths to reach one final destination.

But what did those two eighteen year olds know then about the places life would take them, about the twists that would come, the successes and the heartbreaks. Life was a rollercoaster. They went through all the twists intended for them, clutching on to each other for dear life.

From that day onwards every December 31st the girls reminisce that day. They discuss their achievements and fears, and start the new year leaning on each other. Because the space on the swing has already been reserved, it doesn’t matter if we bring in the year in style or by ordering in pizza, we’ll never start the year without each other. ‘Cause this kind of love is a once in lifetime kind of love. Its a love like no other.

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America, faith, life, life lessons, madras, my crazy days, Travel

Home Is Where I Am

Growing up, all I ever wanted was a room of my own. We lived in a  two bedroom apartment for the longest time. I never had a room of my own. The general area of the house was my refuge. I kept myself busy during drowsy afternoons but I wanted a room I could escape to. I watched a lot of teenage dramas and I was itching to ‘bang the door shut in anger’. But my wish never came true until I was sixteen.

Once we moved house and I got a room of my own, I never wanted to come out. My room was my solace. It was my protection from the big bad world outside. I filled that room with my dreams and my pains. The walls speak of my heartaches. The floor absorbed my tears and the high ceilings accommodated my dreams. My room watched me grow from a naive sixteen year old to a… well, what I am now. The crazy thing is I always thought that my room would never change, it would remain the same, always my protection from the outside world. But when I went back this time I felt disoriented. It felt like my room had changed. My once comfortable bed that held my body shape now hit me like a rock. I felt weird and uncomfortable like I was living another life.

Every night when I went to bed I couldn’t help but think about the room I left back in California. I missed my bed and my fluffy comforter. When my mind started associating that with home was when I realized, much to my dismay, my solace was where I had stayed for the past year. This realization hurt my heart like crazy. For days I kept thinking my mother had moved my things and my room had changed whereas in reality it was I who had changed. I had been living away from my previous life and walking back in to it sent my senses in to disarray.

Today, as much as I miss my room I know that the girl who lived there was a slightly different one. She was confused and naive, among other things but she always had hope. I wouldn’t change a thing about that girl, or the room for that matter (trust me, there were quite a few things that needed to be changed). That girl and that room helped me appreciate the person I am now.

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Eating Out, Food, life, madras, Travel

A Tale of Three Cities

I just finished making dinner (stir fry from left over rice). I have my steaming cup of lemon grass green tea and I’m listening to Frank Sinatra on loud. I haven’t felt this relaxed in weeks. I just returned from a month long trip back to the mother ship and to the flashy city of Dubai. That’s the first word that comes in to my head when I think Dubai – flashy.

My Madras vacation was amazing but it went by far too quickly it was almost like it never happened. I ate some delicious comfort food, caught up with my extra large family and met my beautiful girls. I did some shopping too although it was very restrictive because of airline rules regarding baggage (annoying!).

Madras was gorgeous, not the same as I left her but that’s a post for another day.

Dubai was flashy. I ate unhealthy amounts of food. Like really unhealthy I’m so ashamed of myself when I think about it now. I did all the usual touristy things there is to do. The one thing that always gets me about Dubai is that while its fancy and modern it has no charm to it. Maybe its just me cause I have really strong “feelings” about certain things and that’s what drives me.

California is as gorgeous as ever. Cold and windy but I love it. I love the nature and the beautiful skies that I get to see here everyday. Every time I look up at the beautiful blue sky it never fails to remind me to send a little note of thanks to Him. I love how the small things around remind me of a greater presence. I’m so thankful I live here, eat good food and have everything I need and more. We don’t need to look too far to search for the blessings in our life. Blessings are all around us.

Now that I’m done with the ‘Thought for the Day’ can we all take a moment to appreciate how friggin’ amazing Frank Sinatra sounds? Every time I listen to his deep voice I get goosebumps! If only singers are as classy now. Take a note, Justin Beibers of the world.

I will be back with more stories. Don’t miss me too much, Interwebz!

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America, Bhaarath Mahaan, Black and White, madras, my crazy days, random, Travel, Uncategorized, Untitled

Last week I took a seventeen hour flight from San Francisco to Dubai and another five hour flight from Dubai to Madras. In the first leg of my journey I sat with two boisterous Afghan women, one whose hair rivalled Cruella De Vil.

The Economy class gives one no option but to befriend your fellow passenger, and considering its seventeen hours you’d almost become BFFs. But isn’t that the most basic of human tendencies? The ability to friend a stranger? Growing up my mother always warned me about strangers. She would drill the Little Red Riding Hood story in to my head and would remind me about the wolf every time I walked alone to my bus stop.

But growing up I’ve realised that not all strangers are bad. In fact the wolves could be people you meet every day.

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My theory that urine and phenol is the first smell that hits you when you land in Madras has been verified yet again. Honestly speaking though, I missed the smell of phenol. I always associated it with cleanliness.

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Seeing foreign returned Uncles and Aunties at the airport is a nice time pass while waiting in line for immigration. The clothes they come up with are mind boggling. I saw an uncle wearing grey satin pants carrying a leather backpack. Go ahead, imagine.
Aunties wearing silk sarees and sneakers is the norm.

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Madras seems a little different, like it’s lost its old world charm. I’ve only been away a year so maybe I’ve lost mine.

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America, books, life, madras, my crazy days

Instagram is evil.

The number of times I’ve picked up a  book and dropped it to check my phone is despicable. I have a huge stack of books to be read, yet I find myself watching random YouTube videos. At first it was funny like “Oh I’ll just watch this last cat video and get back.” But the thing is it never stopped. There are a million videos on YouTube and somehow I’ve made it my aim in life to watch them all.

The next experiment I tried was to turn off my computer so that I could concentrate better on my book.  But my hands have a weird magnetic attraction to my cell phone and the next thing you know I’m checking Twitter. I realize the  need to disconnect myself from technology is infinitely greater now.

I can feel technology slowly creeping in to all faucets of my life and setting shop. I know that’s a bad thing and I should stop, especially when it comes to my reading. Sometimes I feel like this online life is inching out my social life and just my life in general. How do I consciously stay disconnected at least for an hour without checking my phone. I don’t even get that many messages! I’m not that important!

When I was growing up I was anti social yes, but I read. I read all the time. I tried my best to get out from playing with other kids so I could read My mom hated it. She pushed me to play with the other kids. We can see now that it had absolutely no effect on me. I just want to go back to the time when I didn’t own a smart phone and my brother didn’t let me touch the computer. Things were much simpler back then. I didn’t worry about the future or Instagram and I managed to finish reading my book in record time.

Time machine or tips, anyone?

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America, Eating Out, Food, madras, The H, Travel

Beach day on labor day – Capitola Beach

Over a year of living in California and towards the last days of summer we finally went to the beach. I had dreams of blue waves softly caressing the white sand on a perfectly sunny day. Instead I got grey waters on a windy September evening. Capitola Beach was a pretty small beach. I come from Madras which has the Marina Beach, the second longest beach in the world so I might be a little spoiled. Or maybe I had high expectations for Capitola. None the less the beach was decent enough to last me till next summer.

There were quite a few restaurants around the beach. All that was very nice but I missed eating hot molaga bajjis and sundal on the beach. How can it be a beach without molaga bajji?! Americans are so weird, man.

The ratio of the beach size to the number of restaurants was like 1 : 8. We had dinner in a cute Jordanian falfalel place. Now that’s one thing I like about California – no matter where  you go, you are never far away from a falafel.

Go Falafel!

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I had the saltiest salted caramel ice cream at the Village Creamery, a must visit if you’re in the area. They have over seventy five flavors of ice cream! Say whaaatt!!

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America, Eating Out, life lessons, madras

Eating Out 101

I have never eaten alone in a restaurant. I always had someone to accompany in my quest to fill my belly – friends, my mother and brother were my go to options. I’d wake up one morning thinking I just HAVE to eat pani puri today else I will die of a deficiency of chaat. The next step would be to pick one of the above three options and off I’d go with savory dreams in my head.

After living here for close to five months now. Now my only option is The H and yes he is very accompanying of my cravings so that’s good, but on most days when I decide to step out for lunch it’s always a table for one.  At first I didn’t like sitting by myself in a crowded restaurant eating my meal. No conversation means Zarine will eat her food at an intense speed. So that’s ten minutes of polishing the plate and then what? I mostly people watch or eavesdrop (which I find highly entertaining) or read my book. But the secret to eating out alone is, I’ve realized  pretending to enjoy your own company. At first it may seem like a huge task pretending to be interested in yourself. But then for self loving veterans like myself, it is routine.

So you are sitting in a cafe, eating your scrumptious sandwich and you are having this deep conversation with yourself in your own head. No, you are not thinking. You are having a conversation with yourself (I swear I don’t hear voices in my head though). Oh, that’s wonderful Zarine! You are such an interesting interesting person. Do you like your sandwich? Oh yes thank you it’s delicious. Would like some? Yes I’d love to try! You can have some of my drink too. Really? Thanks!

See! It’s not that hard to be a generous person if you practice enough inside your head. Soon you will implement it in your life and people will finally like you. You will thank me for your training.

Coming back to the topic, yes, it is very easy to eat out alone at a restaurant. You just got to love yourself enough and if you really are that boring where you can’t seem to keep even yourself entertained then just bring a book or check your Facebook. That ought to keep you happy.

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