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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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Amrita and Raja sent me a tag….of sins !!

Here is the top ten list of – “My Sins Against Gender Stereotypes” … !!

  1. I actually enjoyed watching ….Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, … 27 Dresses and one episode of Gray’s Anatomy …. !!
  2. I like Starbursts ….a lot … !!
  3. It is possible that I spend just a little more (than needed) time in the kitchen, planning for tonight’s dinner, tomorrow’s breakfast, afternoon lunch, evening “chai wai”….!!
  4. Sananda is a pretty awesome read !!
  5. I could spend hours at Gariahat Market window shopping …during Durga Puja !! 
  6. I wash my feet every time I come home …even in the middle of snowy winter !!
  7. I can fold and/or press a sari perfectly…and very quick !! 
  8. Even to this day, Ma buys bright colors (like blood orange) for me, because she thinks I am pharsa (pale skinned) !! And I believe her and wear them !!
  9. Ocassionally I will crack an egg to condition my hair … !!
  10. Each time someone troubles me at work … I sing ..in my head…..”inhi logon ne, le liya dupatta mera” .. !!

If you have made it this far in the post …. and would like to take up this tag, go right on !! I wish you get as much migraine fun out of it as I did not !!

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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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It had been a six hour drive from NYC and the weather was not in the best of its moods. I told everyone in the car – “when you see her for the first time, you will just forget everything else….everything will cease to make sense and her power will fill in the silence of amazement“. That is exactly what I think in my head, when I visit The Niagara Falls !! Everytime… !!

As we parked our chins on the cold metal railings, I found myself thinking. “wow, has it really been that long? ” and I realized ” it has“. The first time that I had visited The Falls, was when, I was a graduate student. I was fairly new to the country and it was all about making sure, that we (my roommates and I) had clicked enough pictures to send back home and then call them to attest “Ma dekhecho… asadharan naa?” (Ma, is n’t she out of the world?).

This time, it was slightly different. There was a backpack stapled to my shoulders. Filled with bare necessities viz.diapers,wipes,baby food, extra set of baby clothes,lipstick(s),hair comb(s),hair clip(s),……I may have missed a few items, but I am sure you would not mind !! On my left arm was a child (my son) who had successfully proven that strollers are for losers. To my right was his (my son’s) mom, who for some reason suddenly felt the need to death grip my right arm. Blame it on The Falls, that it makes people …..behave strangely….romantic !!

On that cold morning, as everyone around me, clicked away at the awesomeness of The Niagara, I had to (do something to get my mind off the extreme physical pain) get at least one good picture for the blog. The lens obliged. I found this tree……waiting patiently for spring (attempt to sounding poetic). In the far back are buildings in Canada and to the left is the mist from the Falls. I hope I am able to pass on a little bit of that visual treat, that I  feasted on !!Please click on image for a larger view.

This was day “two” of a week that we spent doing….. nothing !! Switched off our cell phones and stopped checking emails. We met up with friends who live in this high-rise, one with a view of downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River. In the next few days, I will relive some moments from that week,….moments which I loved to be part of. If you are reading this, I hope you are back for more !!

Photo Courtesy:here

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click here for HD effect

  • weather conditions outside : annoying like Raakhi Sawant’s interview
  • difference in time : 13 hours, time it takes for security at US airports since Mr. Stupid Underpants
  • initial investment : nominal, like costumes on Mallika Sharbat  Sherawat
  • return on investment : lifetime, like Veeru and Jay’s friendship in शोले
  • a pleasant St.Patrick’s Day morning : powered by Skype
  • getting to video chat with  Da Man himself : priceless !!!

Thank you Ramesh for being such an awesome friend !!
Image Courtesy : here and here

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