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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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Wish me luck” he said as he snuggled his glasses into her soft hands. She obliged with a whisper – “luck” and he could almost hear his juvenile heart bounce around to the beats of Air Supply. He was near the penalty box, when a corner kick generated some irate dribbling and before he knew it, the ball was rolling coyly towards him. He leaned to his right and with a quick sweep of the left knee gifted the momentum to the white net. GOOOOAAALLLL !! 

His joy was boundless, as he waved through the dust, at what looked like her silhouette.”Few more minutes, and this trophy is ours “ – he thought. This was the first time he had scored a goal !! Actually,this was the first time, he had been picked to play at any match (that mattered). Thanks to the guy, who was carried out in the second half, due to an injury that had involved a shoe, the football and his groin. Pain !!

The match resumed, amidst cheers and boo’s.Usually, he never tried to use his head (no pun here) to direct the ball (again no pun). You see, it is not easy to do that and keep the glasses on your nose at the same time. But this was a different day.Sans glasses, this  could well have been a first time. Except for the small slip in coordination. His head found someone’s chin, a player from the other team. The referee was furious, used a lot of Kerala accented English and flashed a red card. Exit !!

As he pseudo shamefully  left the ground, he kept thinking – “how does this really affect my football career? I am banished from the next 2 matches …which I would not be picked to play anyways ? And ….no classes since technically. I am still part of the team. Also less time on the ground = Less sweat = Better impression (if you know what I mean). Totally awesome ! !” 

Minutes later. we had won the match and the tournament. I was a school hero. My life changed !! That goal scored me, what I would define as : irresponsibly flirtatious glances from many whose names I do not remember now… (or do I …wink wink). It also earned me pats of disbelief, from the Physical Education teacher, who on other days spent most of his time, coaxing me to walk from the classroom to the outdoors. Right on !!

Once, every so many days, (once every four years to be precise), I close my eyes and replay what transpired on that dusty afternoon. It is not every day that a non athletic nobody like me, gets to make room for a trophy in the principal’s offce. It re-fills my heart with teenage pride. That right there was my “golden boot” moment !! Literally !!  

Enough said  …..let’s “kick off” the celebrations already….. !!

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Most days (save the cloudy ones) , as I step out, the Sun meets me, right in the face. That is my – first favorite part of the morning.I get situated in our small blue car, turn on the ignition, wear my seat belt, back up my car, turn on the radio and hit the road. Turning on the radio is – my second favorite part of the morning. It was no different today, till I  heard the clear voices of two students from Presidency College. And suddenly, I was not driving on a US highway anymore.  Instead, I saw myself waltz across the black bricks of the tram lines towards the millions of used books on the sidewalk kiosks. My ears tuned in to the faint tinker from the rickshaw carts and my nose drew in the early morning air, a wistful blend of fresh lilies from flower stores and the black smoke that buses from Sealdah coughed up. I was in North Calcutta, in a neighbourhood, which fondly resides in my memories. My very own ….City of Joy !!  

Back to this morning. NPR is doing a story –  “Along the Grand Trunk Road“. It is a journey, one that will take several reporters through various parts of India and Pakistan. During this journey, they will  illustrate the lives of the common man, as they make their way from one end of this historic road to the other. What has got me hooked, are the real protagonists of this story. This story is not about the high rollers and the big wigs. It is about the others – the ones whose dreams, pains and smiles, build  to make India, one of the greatest nations of the world.

Recently, a friend of a friend of mine, visited India for the first time. It is essential to mention that he (friend of my friend)  is from Germany. He had always wanted to make this trip and hence carried with him a great amount of  interest and a fair quota of apprehension. On the third day of his visit, my friend received a call – “S, …what can I say. India is amazing… I love it here !!“……much excitement and details followed,….. and then finally, before he hung up ……he said – “and the best part of India is, ……there is so much going on around you ….the population, the pollution, the roads, the movies, the cricket…. it is total chaos,…. but somehow, amidst all this …there is a sense of  harmony to this pandemonium…. called life !!  there is a warmth and it is not from the heat. it is from the smile, that every one wears on them….almost all the time“.  

As I  sipped on the first coffee of the day and the off- shore (India) team spoke into my ears, I smiled to myself  …”this is one of my favorite mornings …in a long time” !!

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