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diwali : this year was on nov 5th.we were heavily jet lagged and that totally worked in our favor !! family, food and fire crackers throughout the night, with a view of the fashion institute in navi mumbai was perfect !

diwali with family

shatabdi : mumbai to bharuch  is about a four hours train ride. we boarded in the early hours. the train is clean, they serve quality food (a lot) and the seats are perfect for obese mammals (leb)..!!

shatabdi, an express ride from indian railways - obesity friendly

we chanced upon a  mumbai sunrise…!!

sunrise in mumbai from within the shatabdi

breakfast: is the most important meal of the day,  and on some mornings,… best with an antacid !!

breakfast of the kings - with no acidity issues

dam : damn, …..the sardar sarovar dam and narmada look awesome !!

colors at sardar sarovar dam on the narmada

at any hour of the day … !!

sunset on narmada at sardar sarovar dam

crows: do not remember seeing even one of these in all my years of stay in the americas

oblivious of their vocals

tirupati: is always crowded and busy with tirumala devotees.we found a place to stay, close to the bus stand, with a view of the hills !!

tirumala hills in the early hours

sunrise ‘n’ sunset : is probably when the day looks best, no matter which part of the world !!

sunset in chittoor - andhra pradesh

photographs : all the photographs were shot with a 8.1 mp digital camera and there was no Photo Shop editing done to enhance quality. If you liked the photographs and would like to use any of them, please be kind to acknowledge the source.

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This is the first day of the rest of my life”, I thought as the tires touched the wetness of the concrete. And I reminisced – “I had left this country at an hour when India was fast asleep. I come back to this country, as India is getting ready to start a new day.” Almost a decade back, I had packed my life into two suitcases and landed in Detroit, which was then fondly popular as the Motor City. It still is, just that the fondness has given way to sympathy.Sadly.

Welcome to America. Enjoy your stay” – she had said from behind the plexiglass. My good friend and his faithful Marlboro Lights had greeted me as I stepped out to a chilly fall afternoon.That was my first ride in a Ford. I was naive and excited, about everything that was to be. There was the factor of the unknown, about how life would shape up to be, in the next few years. First came the University, the jobs followed and then getting married, and then our child. And finally came the “decision“. The one which we had talked about for years. To move back ! But when it really happened, it was too surreal. It swept us off our feet. Into the air.Literally.

Namaste Sir. Enjoy your visit. How long are you staying?” he asked from under his neatly trimmed mustache. “For a while”, I beamed under the neon. “We are back for good, at least for the next few years”. We dragged our bags into a pleasing Bangalore air. And before I forget, let me tell you. The airport is beautiful.And wonderfully maintained. And so is the Mumbai airport. From the time we landed in India, I have flown through a lot of airports. Let me correct that. I have been flown by the most obliging pilots. And I have loved each one of them. And let me tell you, all those flights have been on time.Technically.

There has been so much that I  have experienced in the last few weeks. Couple of them are most impressive on the memory. Like how, I got to smell the smoke, from the noise of crackers during Diwali, laughing out with D in his Navi Mumbai high rise, as we put away some cold beers with freshly grilled kabobs. Our baby, soaked in tears as he lost all his silky hair under the skilled razor of the pundit in charge at Tirumala. And the warm air as we sped in awe on the wonderful – NE1 from Vadodara to Ahmedabad.Really.

As I wait for my PAN card and hopefully get employed with any company that has a loaded cafeteria, it is but most understandable that my LDL will be duly entertained by samosas,dhoklas,pakoras,pani-puris,medhu vadas,paneer puffs,khakras,mysore paks,gulab jamuns, and a few others. As I do justice to all of them , I should be able to catch up on my blogging and primarily with following my favorite fellow bloggers. If you still remember me, please do visit again. If you are  here for the first time, welcome to my world of reclosion.This is the beginning to a new journey and would love to have you with me.Truly.

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Note : This narrative is inspired by real life incident(s). All characters appearing in this work are real. Any resemblance to real person(s), living or dead is purely intentional. The author takes full responsibility for consequences (if any).

~ x ~

He turned around and hit her one more time. This time with more force. Right across her belly.You could see where, because it left a mark. Almost like a scratch. She looked down at the red splotch on the vinyl of the kitchen floor and wondered if it was her’s or from the empty ketchup jar that she had been holding. This was not the first time. It was almost two years now !! And somewhere within all this time, the every day blows and kicks did not seem to hurt anymore.She had made peace with herself. She thought about her life and related to that of Chand’s. Their lives were so alike and yet so different, in a humane sort of way. They were both in Videsh (foreign land) and yet Chand’s was a performed tale while her’s was playing out, right in front of her own eyes. Every day !!

There was no love !! And, not one moment of rest. From the day they had brought her home, she had been put to work, right away. No one  had spoken to her or asked her how she felt. She had taught herself how to blend in, to a corner of the kitchen. No one seemed to care, which corner it was, so long as she was not in their way. It was winter, almost a year ago,when they moved to the new place. She liked it here. She liked how the kitchen was bigger and people were not bumping into her. And, she wished that some day they would treat her like a real person. Like one of their own. And she would no longer have to spend her nights alone !!

She was never allowed to be alone with him. The family was always there. Some days when he was in a lighter mood, he would rush into the kitchen. Almost like he was getting ready to say something. Maybe, to touch her. She looked forward to those moments, when he would be standing next to her.She liked how the little drops of sweat built up on his nose. He smelled good, almost all the time. And then like his shadow, the mother would be there, behind him. And he would quietly walk away.With a childlike smirk across his face !!

And like today, there were days, when he just lashed out at her.Without any mercy. Like he just did not care or know better. These were the days, when she yearned to cry out to the mother. Hoping she would pull him away. Some days she did. But it was always a few minutes too late. By then, he would have hit her, hard enough to make her puke out the little leftovers that get thrown at her, after every meal. As she lay there on the kitchen floor, the little bugs would feast on the sourness of her mouth.

And today, just like any other day, her aching reverie was sliced by the shrill warning –  “Pattu, kuppaithotiyi thodathey !! ”  (“Darling, stop playing with the trash can”) !! She looked up to see the mother kiss and carry him (the two year old) away from the kitchen. Her eyes found the father, copiously typing away on his computer. And she told herself – “I, refuse to be treated like trash !!”.

~ x ~

Foot note : This post is a mere attempt at humor and does not in any way condone the distress of domestic violence. My apologies, if as a reader, your sentiments have been hurt in any way.

This post is an entry to the “Emotional Atyachaar” contest hosted by IndiBlogger. If you know any one of the judges, 😉 please click here to vote…..for me !!

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Today could have been a perfect day. Being a Saturday, we woke up pretty late (~ 07:15 am …thanks to Onga who slept a full 15 minutes more than his usual quota). Usually, he wakes us up by dropping Thomas on our heads. But today, it was the  disgusting stench sweet aroma of the brocolli and beans from last night. The man was carrying a lot of  load, very early…. in the day. Once fumigated attended to, we were ready for the rest of the day.

I was famished wanted to lend a helping hand, just like any smart good husband should, over the weekend. So I took up  slow death the privelege of feeding the baby !! This would mean, that his mom could  go fix breakfast  relax, unlike other days during the week. Instead, she wanted to fix breakfast and I just did not have the heart to say ….”NO”. Afterall, she is a great cook, and I was ready to eat a cow probably getting a little hungry.

I told her …. “take it easy huh …. just make something simple …. something like … that ….spicy onion masala uttapam…that should be easy …right ?” Suddenly, she became very quiet. While I started flipping channels played with the baby, she got started on the masala (stuffing) part of that simple breakfast. There was hardly any noise from the kitchen. Like the calm before a storm. It was a little creepy, and in retrospect, I think that she let the oil fume,  before she relocated the cut onions from her hand onto the pan.

Now ..let us pause for a second,  shall we ? This needs a little flashback, if you will. Let us try to recollect what a very hot   knowledgeable  Miss Joseph had taught on a warm summer afternoon, several years ago to some ogling diligent students. Sometimes two unlike molecules cling to each other due to attraction and that is defined as adhesion.  In addition, I would also like to cite a Bengali phrase – “taile jale ek hoye jawa” (the phenomenon of oil and water forming a homogenous mix).

Back to present day. You see, in the heat of the moment, some water droplets (from the cutting board), decided to get  some of that adhesion action going, ….with them, young and juicy, cut onions. This catalyzed, ….what society would taint as an illegitimate union of the hot oil and the water. 9 nano seconds later : the spluttering oil, singed her right arm and gave birth to several blisters of all kinds of shapes and sizes. At that very moment (almost an hour late than usual),Onga dropped Thomas on my right toe . This was not good timing … at least not for me !!

I had to limp and  get a bucket of cold water for her to drown the sizzle to feel better. I called M to find out what else I could do to heal the pain. “apply ghee..” she said. We did not have any. So I cut a half-inch slice of  butter and rubbed it over the wounds, slowly and with extreme care, ….not to spill any on the floor.She looked up and smiled at me. And that is when things got bad. I mean really, really bad.For me !!

I grinned back at her….” you were in labor for 11 hours … this must be nothing…huh ??”

You see, some days it is best to shut the fudge up and let the DNA (that makes a good husband) do its work !! Today, could have been a perfect day for that !!

image courtesy : here 

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I am very pleased to share some good news with you. And you …and you. After several months of hard work and commitment to succeed I was able to achieve, what I had aspired for …what seems like forever.

I am now on Facebook. Le Embrouille Blogueur is on Facebook !! It is official. I logged in…filled up intimate details about myself and….. am ready to dive into the meaningless ocean of trivial necessities….like …..why white onions are perfect for red curry chicken ….and the likes !!

On this joyous occasion, my beloved parents (who are currently in India) broke a coconut at the local temple. In addition they fed a cow and trampled a lime ….following which my father lit up the incense sticks in front of a print out of my profile image (see attached).

Now let us cut to the chase. Since this is a weekend and since I know you do not have a whole lot to do, it would be completely appropriate of me to expect that you will log into yout FB account….ASAP. And for the “dont know how you get on with your life without FB ” people …here is some free advice. Get an account. ASAP. And then copy (Ctrl C) and paste (Ctrl V) the following …. Le Embrouille Blogueur in the Search box. And there you have it.

From that point on … there are just so many things you can do. You can poke me….become a fan…write on my wall … and then share with the world what you wrote on my wall …and so on….the list is endless.

I am looking forward to seeing you there …..!

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Link to day two : here

Link to days three and four : here

Beer is everything  a key resource  for revitalization. Ask anyone. And not just any kind of beer. A true desi (Indian) can literally feel the increase in rbc’s with every sip of energy drinks like ….Kingfisher, Royal Challenge, Hayvards etc. I knew exactly what to do. I needed to get to Little India on Newark Avenue !!

The women had no clue needed to get some rest. And sometimes, a man has to do what he has to do. So I lied. I told them – “let me get some veggies, fruits and milk for Onga“. They were curious – “why would  you need the cart?”. Before I could start about  my weak arms, they had left the scene…as usual. Now it was just a matter of me, walking the walk and talking the talk. Which translates into – get directions, pick up beer and get back home as soon as possible to put them beauties in the refrigerator. We all know how sensitive, beers are to excess heat !! 

To cover my true purpose, I stocked up on the unnecessary (read:veggies and fruits). Just enough to not use up all the room in the empty boxes. I lay the bottles on the comfy bed of bitter gourd and onions, and covered them with the cold from the methi leaves. I chuckled at the soon to be baffled women – “why did we need so much methi?”. Having ensured the safety of the hops. I started my journey back. People in the train looked at me and then moved their gaze to the boxes and I could tell what they thought – “that is a lot of leaves for one guy to carry around “. …..little did they know.

Women need to be constantly praised encouraged .A good dose can do wonders to the plates. And very soon we had kabobs, masala (spicy)peanut, soondal(chick pea snack) and all those goodies which cause instant heartburn and gradual dehydration. More reason for us to stay well hydrated (wink wink). All made and served, it was like old times. Same friends and great humor. The cold of the concrete floor had given way to the polish of the wood. And instead of  a view of cheap posters, we were looking at the lights from across the Hudson river. We sat around the food and talked away into the night and the early hours of morning. Perfect ending to a much awaited day of rest and evening of drinking fun conversation !!

We spent most of the next couple of days outdoors, visiting key attractions. We would take the train everywhere. It was super convenient and cheap, since parking in the city would cost us an arm and leg and with us having to carry Onga the way we were, that would be a tad inconvenient. The only down side was that every time the train doors opened and closed, Onga would bawl in fear. He was not used to the crowd. His mom and I shared a wicked laugh … “wait till he gets to India… this is nothing……hee haa haa !!

I compiled some of my clicks from one of the spring days ….. thanks to auto focus on the camera settings ….!!

Today is Mother’s Day. Growing up and actually till last year, I did not even know about this day. To me and to a lot of people who are like me, we just know that every day is special as a mom and for a mom.I wish my mom and Onga’s mom – Happy Mother’s Day. And I wish you and yours as well !!

Photo Courtesy (Cart) : here

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evening of day two : We found for ourselves, an Indian junkyard bistro – Kohinoor. We settled, only because it was close enough, for us to walk without dying of wind chill freeze. And true to its name, we were gifted with that “once in a lifetime dining experience”.  And I say that with total spite through the holes in our wallets.

We dumped walked the women back to the hotel and promptly returned into the fresh air, away from the constant  noise music that they generate. We had no time to waste. On our return, we carefully  packed the ladies in green under  the ice, in the sink of the ……ahem.. bathroom. The women gasped and I thought I heard them say – “how disgusting ….people spit and wash in there”. At that point in time,  our ears were blocked. In retrospect  I do have two key reasons behind that act. Firstly – I had checked for any oral dissipate before I poured the ice in there. Secondly  – there is an unwritten law among guys “we could be sitting naked, on rocks with snakes, under the hot Sun in the Sahara…… but  when someone offers us a beer, …….we want it cold !!”. I hereby rest my case.

day three  – The plan was to stuff a heavy breakfast, pick up something quick and get on the road. We had to reach Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh on time for lunch  the Saturday Abhisekham (prayers). Now, each time,  anyone asks me about the temple, I always begin with something like this …“their sambar rice is ….mmmmm and their tamarind rice … ah ha ha …. and the curd rice …. oooooo.” And then there is the pinch on my arm and I go….”sorry…it is a beautiful temple, in the mountains…near downtown…. and very close …is Udupi where the dosas  are just too good…..wait…don’t leavelet me finish..!”.

We arrived, several hours later (than planned). As the women rushed to redo the make up, freshen up, we took Onga to the men’s room … as appropriate. K held the wipes, as I lay the little fish between two sinks (they did not have a changing table) . Onga was quick to open both taps, one on each side, which in turn made other users give us that look ….”cannot discipline their kids, what kind of parents are these … two men ??” We paid no attention. Since it was just a flood, the change was quick and we were ready to meet Him.

I thanked Him for his kindness. Even at that late hour, they were not out of Sambar Rice (lentil rice) …or Tamarind Rice …or Curd Rice. He even pampered us with mango achar (Indian pickle) in small plastic containers. As we finished what we had come for, (you know what I mean) ….it was time for the pictures….for Orkut, Facebook,…etc. Each with a difference ….with the flowers,on the steps….with the elephants(and I do not mean fat people) , as couples, single. ….with children. next to the rental car … you get the drift

After the feast, darshan (holy respects) we had just one more task to complete before we hit the highway. Pick up diapers. From the time I entered the stadium sized store to when I started the car, it had been less than ten minutes. The crowd belched hooted in praise. I was a proud man,…. a man who had saved everyone  ….from baby mudslides …..literally !! We set off towards the mountains of Wheeling, West Virginia !!

I had arranged for royal accommodation. None of us had ever spent a night at any palace. Ever. Leave alone a Palace of Gold.  O.K….I lied.We did not stay at the Palace. We stayed at one of the cottages on the lake, next to the Palace. But it was equally awesome. There was a fully loaded kitchen, which moved the women,  to  prance around in joy. That  was odd … since we did not have any supplies on us. Next came the bathroom with hot water, clean towels, etc. and I promptly ….sat down to relax….ahem !! The cottage was all wood, which reminded me of the cottage I once stayed in, during a childhood trip to the hills of Mirik. We had two bedrooms, one in the attic space (you can see it in the picture)  and the other … well …not in the attic space. All in all …fantabulous !! 

day four : In the morning, after getting lost for the hundredth time, S and S finally met up with us.They  had been driving from Akron, Ohio. There was a primary reason behind us coaxing them to meet us. Our iPods were out of charge !!  Another not too important reason – we needed some milk for Onga !!

We all went to the Ashram temple and I thanked Lord Krishna…… for the khichdi (rice with veggies….yummmmm). Everyone else sneered at me….”how can he eat so much…… this early?”. Soon after, we cleaned up several plates of puri sabji at the ashram cafe.

Time for pictures. With buffalo (again, … not referring to fat people),  without, ….with the wife…without (nice) . ….and so on. Several clicks and an exhausting walk (of a couple of minutes) later …….we finally arrived at the Palace.

As Onga yanked the iron chain, which said “Do Not Touch”, I committed a mistake that could have been easily evaded. You see, ….this was my third visit. I could have easily opted to stay outside, attempted to entertain the boy and saved us some embarrassment. Not me !!  The tour took all of 5 minutes, which was really odd, since I clearly remember it to have been longer than that….the last couple of times. But then who knows !! Maybe we got the abridged version.

Our final journey back home, to Newport , New Jersey was slow, tolled and full of fried chicken. As we cruised into the city, Onga was cranky from sleeping too much and everyone else was too tired, … to replay the Bal Ganesh dvd….again !! We needed a good night’s rest before we could plan the next few days of our stay. We needed to recharge !! And I knew just exactly how… !! 

Photo Courtesy:le embrouille blogueur

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