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If I had my life to live over….

Its been a day where I woke up feeling really down. We all have those days where we just don’t want to get out of bed. I can’t even begin to describe how difficult the last few weeks have been, but then again, there has always been a sprinkling of joy every single day. Today, I am waiting for those random things that can cheer me up and hoping I will find the inspiration to leave my bed.

In any case, as I was going over my Facebook account, I came across this note/poem which I found very interesting.


If I had to live my life over…

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the “good” living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather rambling about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television, and more while watching life.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick, instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished every moment, realising that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s” and more “I’m sorry’s”

. . . but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute . . . 
look at it and really see it . . . and never give it back.” 

There are so many things we regret not doing. We wish we could turn back time and make changes in our life. If only it were that easy. We have to learn from others’ mistakes and from our own. Life goes on and each day teaches us another lesson. I wonder what today will teach me! I can’t wait to know! 🙂

The Immortals of Meluha By Amish Tripathi

After reading this book, I honestly wonder why did I not discover this book sooner? Amazingly written, full of relatable drama and some very exciting twists and turns. The Immortals of Meluha is the first book in the Shiva trilogy. I love the concept of this trilogy – Think of the Lord Shiva as a real human being, someone who actually existed on this earth centuries ago. A brave warrior, a man with a blue throat and a capable leader discovering his destiny. Lord Shiva is someone most Hindus would know of. He is one of the most powerful Gods in Hindu mythology and is often referred to as the ‘destroyer’. He is believed to have a third eye, excellent dance skills and a blue throat. Legend has it that He resides in Mount Kailash near the Indus river.

This is where Tripathi’s book starts off. It describes a beautiful scene of his imagination of what Mount Kailash would look like. There he describes a man, covered with scars and a tribe leader, wondering how he would protect his tribe from their enemies. It is during one of these attacks that he decides to take the offer of a foreigner to move to the land of Meluha, in the Indus Valley Civilization. The Meluhan civilization is believed to have been created by Lord Rama, the greatest monarch there ever was.

With the hope of a better ans safer life, Shiva and his tribe, the Gunas, being their journey towards Meluha. Their first stop is Srinagar where they are made to drink a ‘medicine’, the Somras. The Somras is given to all foreigners to rid them of any disease they maybe carrying. While all other members of the tribe develop a fever or break into chills, Shiva has a unique reaction to the Somras. His neck turns blue! He immediately calls for the doctor, Ayurvati. Ayurvati falls to her knees and starts crying and praying to Shiva once she notices his blue neck. After calming down, she tells Shiva about the legend of the ‘Neelkanth’ or the blue throat. The legend goes that the man whose throat turns blue after drinking the Somras is the saviour of the Meluhans. His destiny is to help the Meluhans, followers of the Suryavanshi rulers, win against the Chandravashi who are their mortal enemies. Shiva rejects this legend and tries his best to live as normally as the Meluhans would let him. But in time, he starts questioning his existence and the more he thinks about it and the more adventures he faces, he realizes that he might just be the saviour.

This first book is so amazing because it describes Shiva’s inner turmoil, something that I am sure a lot of people can relate to, including me. He wonders what really is the purpose of his existence, he can’t help doubt himself and his abilities, he worries if he might let the people of Meluha down. He falls in love with a beautiful woman who seems to be scared by her own feelings and avoids Shiva at all costs. These emotions make Shiva a very relatable character. It is inspiring, in a way, how Shiva works around his emotions and rises to be a strong leader.

The book is extremely gripping and the only time I stopped turning pages was when my eyes just wouldn’t stay up! I rushed back to the book whenever I could! I am pretty sure, I could have finished reading this book in one go, forgetting my lunch and dinner. It is particularly relatable to me as an Indian and a Hindu because we have read or watched or listened to stories about Shiva and a lot of the characters in the book. Suddenly their behaviors or their personalities started making sense.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the next one as well, The Secret of the Nagas. My post on The Secret of the Nagas, coming up soon!

Run…. Pick up your copy of The Immortals of Meluha and tell me what you think!! 🙂

In a world obsessed with diets and weight loss, a refreshing new attitude…..

I have honestly been horrible about updating my blog with my whole Rajasthan trip! I wish I could’ve just done it sooner but I guess when the time comes, I’ll get around to it. I have so many beautiful pictures and I wish I could share them with everyone. Hopefully soon.

I was looking across some blogs that interest me and I came across this absolutely amazing post by the writer of “Do you have an Extra Large in This?”, Raina Singh. I have often gone back to this blog because I find her writing so poignant. Many of her posts strike a chord with me. This article most definitely does. I loved it so much I have to share it…

Here is the post in her very own words,

Why I Choose Not to Diet

I choose not to diet because I don’t need to look a certain way to enjoy what life has to offer.

I choose not to diet because I believe that monitoring your nutrition is more important than following some fad. 

I choose not to diet because nutrition is more than weight loss.  It is energy levels, blood sugar, blood pressure, blood sugar, hydration, digestion, and so on.

I choose not to diet because food is not my enemy, it is just food.  It is both necessity and luxury.  It doesn’t have an agenda, it is not out to get me, it does not have a personality.  It is there to nourish me, give me enjoyment and fuel me.

I choose not to diet because there is enough to stress out about in life without being consumed by the restraints of a diet.  More important things that require my attention are how I’m going to pay my bills, how I am going to support a friend who has lost a family member, how I’m going to go the extra mile in my job, how am I going to travel to new cities, new countries, meet new people, do new things.

I choose not to diet because I don’t require adherence to a set of rules to establish my character. Nutrition, fitness and morals are not intertwined.   If I eat a carrot it does not make me a good person.  If I eat a carrot cake, it does not make me a bad person.  It just means I’m a person.  The food I eat does not define my personality.

I choose not to diet because there are many other benefits to exercise.  Benefits like stress relief, strength, cardiovascular endurance, improved energy, improved sleep, improved flexibility, and so on.  Whether weight loss comes with it or not, there are many other reasons to continue to exercise and these carry far more importance to me.

I choose not to diet because the process drives me to obsession.  I store my head and heart full of dieting information and there is no room for anything else.  No room to be sympathetic for a friend who is going through a hard time – for their hard time means nothing if all I am focused on is my diet.  No room to experience enjoyment in the way of a new activity, or new venture, or new journey – for the only priority that matters is the diet that I am following.

I choose not to diet because it restrains me socially.  It throttles my personality and places a wall around me.  All I can talk about is dieting, how many grams of carbs is in a food item, how many grams of fat is in a food item, how many grams of protein, how many milligrams of sodium.  If there is even a remote possibility of a place or event not having a food item where I did not know of its composition, I would hide from it, and from the people eating it.

I choose not to diet because with dieting in my life, I was not alive.  To diet, for me, was to die.  The moment I chose not to diet was the same moment I started to live.

And I bloody well love it.

After reading this post, I can’t help ask myself, “Why do I diet?” I wish I had the strength and the courage to be able to eat exactly as I please without a care in this world, but I really don’t think I am at that stage yet. I am still at a point where I eat and feel guilty about what I have just eaten. I am learning to make healthier food choices and while a part of me understands I will cave once in a while, a part of my brain is very critical of those ‘caving in’ times.

I genuinely believe that sticking to diets is one of the worst things you can do to your body. Cutting out certain food groups harms your body much more in the long run. Plus its very, very difficult to follow diets for long periods of time. If you truly do want to lose weight and more importantly lead a happy, healthy life, you need to change your lifestyle. There really is nothing more to it. It’s not easy by any means, but from what I have learnt, one step at a time works. Don’t rush all in! You’ll never be able to keep up with it. I live by the philosophy of not dieting but eating healthy foods in moderate quantities. There are periods , unfortunately, where I feel the need to drop weight quickly and I turn to ‘diets’. It is so important to love your body the way it is and appreciate it for everything. I posted a picture on my Facebook page today that makes me feel so grateful for everything I have, that all my body issues disappeared for a while.

What I love about this post is that it inspires you to live life to the fullest, no matter what. It inspires me to  stop counting calories or repeating lists of what I have eaten and wonder what can I eat now with the calories I have in hand. It helps me feel less guilty if I eat something “bad” because I know life is all about enjoying everything and experiencing feelings other than guilt. It inspires me to work harder towards developing a better relationship with food instead of hating it.

Here’s to living a happier life, diet-free!!


Rajasthan Trip – Day 2 – Darshan at Shrinathji, Nathdwara

After an absolutely wonderful Day 1 in Udaipur, we were looking forward to Day 2. Now, my mother is pretty religious, quite moderately as per Indian standards and for her if we were in Rajasthan we absolutely, totally and completely had to visit the Shrinathji temple in Nathdwara. Shrinathji is one of the most sacred places for Hindus who belong to the Vaishnav sect, especially Gujarati Vaishanavs. It is said that only the ones who are truly lucky get to visit Shrinathji. My parents have been planning to go to Shrinathji for years and for some reason it never did work out. This time though, we could manage to go and we were all elated.

I have heard such stories about the temple and the huge crowds it draws everyday. On a normal day, which isnot a very special religious day, the temple attracts about 45,000 devotees, which they consider as a small number(!!) On a very auspicious day, the numbers run in lakhs! On those days, the whole town of Nathdwara, where the temple is situated, is filled with devotees and there is no place to walk at all! I have to tell you that the street food at Nathdwara is legendary and so delicious! Some of the foods that are very famous from Nathdwara are – the tea, purple yam fried in oil and coated with a variety of spices, purple yam stuffed with potato vegetables and deep fried, potato cubes coated with dry spices and a delicious sweet and salty lemonade. We did try some of these specialities and they were amazing!! A million calories, probably, but worth every bit of it.

But back to the reason why we actually were in Nathdwara – for Shrinathji’s darshan. I was really excited and nervous to go to the temple. Excited because I knew how lucky we are to actually be able to go to the temple after so many years and nervous, because I had heard stories of how people push away and there is hardly any place to breathe!! Well, we ended up in the VIP section wherein they let the group in before the general public is allowed in. But don’t be fooled for a second! Its still madness. We held hands and managed to stay together in the crowd! It wasn’t too bad and to be honest, it was kind of fun pushing people around! (I am NOT a sadist! :)) The darshan was really unreal; even with all the chaos around you, the moment you are in front of the deity, you are enveloped with a feeling and calm and contentment.

Once the darshan was complete, we took a good long tour of the actual temple. They have two grinders – one made of gold and one of silver well preserved. They also have an accounts section, a storage section and a cooking area where they cook for the people serving in the temple as well as the ‘bhog’ for Shrinathji. What I loved the most were the paintings around some of the rooms. The paintings all told stories about Shrinathji and some of them had very strong Mughal influences.

Nathdwara is about 50 kms from Udaipur and you do pass the Eklinji temple on the way which is the main deity of the Mewar empire. Eklinji is a form of the Lord Shiva. While we would have liked to go and visit the temple, it was far too late in the afternoon and the temple was closed. Maybe next time.

Once we got back to the hotel, we all wanted to have a nice lazy evening. We met later in the evening for a delicious dinner. That evening they had an amazing harpist and a wonderful vocalist. We couldn’t help but feel very blessed and at peace with ourselves. A little dance, a little singing, lots of clapping and laughter around the table – the perfect end to a very, very special day!

Touring Rajasthan – Day 1: Udaipur

I have just gotten back from a fantastic trip to Rajasthan in India! It was a very relaxed 6 days trip and although we only visited 5 cities, I definitely have seen more this time in Rajasthan than I ever have the other few times I have been here. It also helps that I’m older than 7 years and can actually appreciate the beauty and architecture of the region. Before I begin, I must say, I am horrible at taking photos. All the photos that I will publish here are courtesy of Anuj P Shah and Tania Sethi. I can’t thank them enough for bearing with me and taking photos of the silliest things if I needed!

We decided to go on this family vacation since my brother is visiting us for a few weeks and we’re all so busy when we’re back home, we have no time to spend with each other! It definitely worked so well and we all managed to spend quality time with each other and managed to catch up very well. We started our trip from Mumbai to Udaipur on the 2nd of January, 2012. Surprisingly our flight was on time and we reached a very cool and pleasant Udaipur by 11:45 am. We had managed to arrange for a cab to take us around for all 6 days of our trip and we were happy to find him waiting for us promptly at the airport. First stop – Sheraton Udaipur Palace Resort  & Spa.

Now I truly believe that to really know any Indian city you should go visit the smaller areas in the city or the ‘centers’ of the city. Unfortunately what does happen when you decide to go to another city is that you go to the regular tourist spots and forget about the smaller parts of the city from where you can actually get a true flavor of how the local residents live and how their trade and commerce goes about. I have to say, I was super excited when the driver took a wrong turn and we ended up bang in the middle of the city in a small market with lanes so small that only ‘two wheelers’ or bikes and scooters could pass two at a time. We of course had to watch the locals glaring at us, those people blocking their way! Nonetheless, I loved it the most! We ended up experiencing first hand the traditional way of selling spices, loose on the street. The colors were so vivid and beautiful – reds of the chilli powder, yellow from the turmeric powder, a light greenish-brown from coriander seeds, brown lumps of jaggery and so many more! It was so gorgeous! The same spice traders also sold soaps, toothpaste, detergents and any other daily required items.  Along with these spice traders/grocers, there were cloth stores, hanging their wares on the display windows – these bright, beautiful saris with mirror work and thick embroidery! It was just an amazing sight!

Photo Courtesy: Anuj P Shah

Fascinated by the colors of the spices!

Well, once we managed to squeeze out of the tiny lanes of this very traditional market, we headed straight to the hotel. The hotel was the palaces of the maharajas of Udaipur and has now been converted into the hotel. The chandelier in the lobby was so gorgeous – orange blown glass, each piece made to look like  a flower! Once the check in formalities were done with, we decided to go ahead and indulge in some of the very delicious street food of Rajasthan! We found a sweet shop in the ‘Chetak Circle’ of Udaipur which is almost like a central area. We stuffed ourselves with tangy, spicy and fried food! We had the very popular samosas, bread pakodas, dal kachoris and onion kachoris. We ended on a sweet note with some local Rajasthani ‘Ghewar’ and carrot halwa.

Our first and only stop for the day was going to be the City Palace of Udaipur. This palace was the Mewar dynasty’s main palace where the king would stay anytime he was in Udaipur. Most of the palace has been converted to areas that the public can view. The palace also has a vintage car museum and a crystal museum which are relatively newly developed and are quite interesting. There is also an art gallery within the City Palace that one can view while taking the tour of the palace. While we were too late to be able to complete all three, I have been told that both the car museum and the crystal museum are worth looking into. Some of the cars used in the James Bond movie, Octopussy were from the Maharaj’s collection!

The entire tour took us 2 hours and it was wonderful to see some of the old art and the small passages that were built. This is something I observed only during this trip that the palaces and forts in Rajasthan all have many narrow passages and entrances. I assume this is to confuse the enemy if they do infiltrate the fort. All in all, it was interesting to look around the fort and some parts of the fort were just gorgeous! I find it hard to believe that even in those days, architects thought about how best they can cool areas in the fort and how they can keep certain rooms warm in the winter! It’s so fascinating that they did not have any of our modern tools and they still managed to create such amazing structures! The view from the city palace is just amazing. So after a complete tour, we decided to wait for the light and sound show that began an hour later.

Passage decorated with mirror work

Rajasthani Architecture

The light and sound show was primarily about the history of the Mewar dynasty and talked about some of the more influential kings and their stories. Very interesting and informative but we were freezing! We were glad to have seen the show but we just wanted to run back to the hotel and crawl under our nice, big warm blankets!

Day 1 ended with us tucking into a fantastic dinner at the hotel and falling asleep dreaming about living in the palaces like the Maharajas and Maharanis! Perfect start to a great vacation!

Day 3: The Doomsday Conspirancy – Sidney Sheldon

When I was younger, I would be so fascinated to see my father reading his big, fat novels with their tiny prints. I used to think that he is the smartest man considering he reads such intelligent looking books. Those were the days when I would read Enid Blyton stories while he would read his Sidney Sheldon or Jeffery Archer or John Grisham books.

I remember reading my first Sidney Sheldon when I was 18 years old – Morning, Noon and Night. I was fascinated by it and his writing. It was a grown up book and I finally felt wise. I loved the plots and while a few of his books may have been predictable, for the most, the endings always surprised me. He doesn’t over describe the surroundings and he doesn’t have impossible to remember characters. The plots are very interesting and he tells them so well! They almost always have some interesting real information linked to the plot.  Did you know he was the creator, producer and writer of the hit 1960s show, ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’? I loved the show and had a major crush on Major Nelson! 🙂

My library is closed on Thursdays and I needed some book to take to work. I found a copy of Sidney Sheldon’s Doomsday Conspiracy at home and decided to take it to work. The problem with Sidney Sheldon’s books  is that they are so brilliantly mind capturing, I can’t put the book down till I have finished reading all about it.  This book was no exception and I kept running back to the book once I sent out the required emails.

The Doomsday Conspiracy follows Commander Robert Bellamy’s journey as he is given the task of finding the 8 witnesses who saw a US weather balloon collapsing in the woods of Switzerland. Robert has no clue who these witnesses are and it is like finding a needle in a haystack. He eventually tracks the witnesses down and diligently reports them to his boss. What he does not know is that each of these witnesses is killed immediately once the NSA is notified of their details. The weather balloon is actually a UFO and world-wide leaders of many nations want to keep this crash a secret. Robert does not know who these leaders are nor does he know of their true intentions till he realizes that they want to kill him too!

Half the book describes how Robert finds these witnesses and the other half describes how he escapes death and tries to find the real reason they want to conduct Operation Doomsday. He discovers that one of the aliens has adopted an earthly form and is trying to reach out to her mother ship. In the end, he finds out the real reason why the aliens came to Planet Earth and why leaders of various nations wanted to eliminate all the witnesses. He finds out why his marriage to his soul mate crumbled and why the people he trusted betrayed him.

A wonderful read, full of gripping mysterious entertainment. I am amazed at the plots Sidney Sheldon can think of and how beautifully he can weave a story. If you enjoy mystery books, I recommend this book. One of the better Sidney Sheldon books I have read.

Day 2: Keep the Change by Nirupama Subramanian

So, day 2 of reading books at work. Now before you judge me and make me feel guilty about getting a salary for not working. let me tell you this, it’s not my fault they don’t have any work for me! I can’t really stare at my computer all day long. They have blocked all the fun websites – facebook, twitter, stumbleupon, most game sites! What’s a gal supposed to do?

Anyway, after my not so great experience with ‘Marrying Anita’, I was wondering whether or not I should pick up a book by another Indian author. I decided to pick this book up only because I loved the cover page! Fortunately for me, the book was quite entertaining.

B. Dayamanthi is a 26 year old girl/lady living in Chennai with her parents and works as an accountant in a local chartered accountants firm. She decides its time for a change and on an impulse attends a job interview held by a multi national bank, ‘First Bank’. Obviously she gets selected and off to Bombay/Mumbai she goes!

I completely relate to her character whose leaving her warm, protective parents for the first time. While there is much apprehension concerning the unknown territory, there is so much excitement about the freedom she is about to have. As with most girls, Dayamanthi is hoping to meet her Prince Charming in the vibrant city of Bombay, the land of dreams!

She does meet Rahul who works in her bank in another department while at a training program in Goa and at the age of 26, she gets her first kiss! Back in Mumbai, she dreams of him and the time they spent and can’t wait to meet him again. On the work front, she and her friend ‘Jimmy’ are assigned to a new a project under the guidance of a consultant who Dayamanthi finds extremely stuck up.

Through the course of the book, we follow DB on her journey as she learns about corporate culture, boys, men and herself.

All in all, the book was a good read – entertaining though a little long and slightly creepy considering she writes letters to her doll! I managed to finish this book and it definitely was more entertaining than Marrying Anita!

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