lambii judaaii

Well, I had limited amount of vacation and returned to US on 23rd May. Since then I have recovered from my jet lag and resumed work and other regular activities (Table tennis, Toastmasters, DVD movies, lawn mowing, Raja input-output etc). Already enjoyed a long weekend (Memorial) and completed the sale of our Florida home without actually going there. Something new here, weather is nice and warm, not too hot, sometimes rainy and even foggy (beautiful!!), and thus helping our new tomato plants grow. We had planted the seeds before going to India and now the plants have grown to be about a few feet tall, and already laden with green tomatoes. It was fun to transplant them from pots into the ground. Manjiri will be very happy to see them when she comes back.

Manjiri is still in India enjoying the extended vacation. Since I left, she claims that she is missing me. But I am not so sure:-) She is amongst her kin, with wonderful food and everyone's wonderful hospitality. She went to Thane for a day ot two, then to Pune for 3-4 days (major shopping there, I heard), then back in bandra (enjoyed chinese food, went shopping, watched "sahi re sahi" naaTak with aaibaba, house-hunting in Vashi with builders etc) and now she is off to Latur. Prachi Belambe (Manjiri's other niece - her mother's sisters' daughter's daughter) is getting married there on the 3rd. So Manjiri went by train (1005 Down Devagiri Express) to Latur accomplanied by Amar (my cousin). She travelled in AC 3-tier rail compartment and went through Aurangabad-Jalna etc. I am very eager to see the pictures she is taking of the train journey and all the family members she is meeting (I spoke to many of them on the phone this morning). She is still carrying the Dolphin mobile phone we had started using which seems to be working even in Latur (roaming).

I miss Manjiri. Without her house looks and feels empty. The cellphone is not ringing as much. Raja keeps looking around for her as well. One more week, and she will be here...

Family time with manju maushi

Manjiri maushi arrived the day before yesterday (25th may 2005) by metrolink luxury buses. The name 'luxury' didn't fit quite well in the title of the bus. With the AC not working, the broken windows, no suspension and an overbooked bus, she did not surely call it a luxorious trip.

I was going to pick her up that day so she kept me well informed every five minutes where she was through mobile text message. bhushan was quite surprised with the usage of the mobile usage by the Indians. nearly every Indian teenager has one if not two mobiles (1 personal and 1 by office) and each mobile atleast has radio inbuilt and camera attached or atleast a MP3 player.

I picked maushi up from the metrolink office on my 'sunny' bike.More than picking her up it was like performing a circus act. The ' sunny' bike is the most basic two wheeler, not much 'cc' or pickup power. Balancing every thing and my legs outside the bike, we set off for home with the big bag on the footrest place, manjiri maushi holding her bagpack and mine too and we two did fit on the bike too.Thank god for the down slope home !!

After a lot of pestering mom, she finally allowed us to go out at night and have coffee at Durga (a very cool hang out place for teens and the best coffee in pune!!) she joined us too. She didn't trust us to just go out have coffee and come back. As for me I do get left out between these two sisters. They sit together for ages together on the swing and gossip about all the stuff one could think of... the gossip was not very interesting to me so I just slept for the night...

The next day manjiri maushi went to DSK VISHWA, to see the flat.They got a view of the beautiful sunset over the mountains. she loved the place for its peaceful and green environment. More updates later by manjiri maushi.

Yesterday (26th may ) anagha mami had come over to stay for the night. mom had made 'Pav bhaji', with the kala-khatta drink and ice-cream it was perfect. manju mushi loved the butterscotch ice-cream, She said it was more creamier and tastier than it was in the US!! We saw the the video recording by anagha mami on the Yellow Stone national park. The 'Old Faithful', the stalagmites and stalacties, the huge calcium deposit mountains and sulphur hot springs were awesome. The hot spring looked like jaccuzi in the shooting and with the clear bluish water i felt like taking a dip in it.

The Video shooting was so interesting b'coz anagha mami had read books on the geo-thermal activities and had gathered lots of info on the Park. This was useful for the commentary in the video. This is the way on has to travel.. read books on the place and then that very place has a whole new perspective, a whole new meaning to the bare grounds and the blubbling waters around.

It was nearly 2am till all this was over. it took time as each person was sharing some experinces they had in similar places. The shared what all they had seen,like how aji n aju had seen the stalagmites and stalagtites in niue.Then what all the saw in niue. These are some of the unforgetful moments with your family members where they tell their experinces,some thing which cannot be shared even if you made them sit and asked them to share it. Then the night gossip started but now with three of them, i seriously ran away to sleep...

Konkan Trip and Mahabaleshwar!

After our Indore trip, we returned back to Mumbai later in the afternoon by air. We had wonderful home cooked meal waiting for us when we arrived home tired and hungry! that is one of the best things about living here in india and being around family.....people awaiting your return and anticipating your needs and attempting to meet it. After 2 days in Mumbai, we left for Konkan area, that is area south of Mumbai. Most of our travelling was into the Sahyaadri mountain range. We had rented a large 4 wheeler for the trip and therefore we were in relate comfort for the whole trip. Bhu's parents, aai and baba, bhu and myself, Girish dada-deepali vahini-nihar (bhu's older brother, wife and child) joined us on this trip. We initially went south to the city of Pali to visit Bhu's father's older sister. She had fresh Panha ready for us, and it was very refreshing! (mango drink). We visited the temple of Ballalleshwar Ganpati, a temple that is very well know in this area for its amazing existance. It is one of 8 temples in the area (ashTavinayak) that hold holy significance and claim that the presence of God was established naturally rather than by a person. It was a beautiful temple and very impressive indeed. Bhu's aunt lives very close to the temple and also lives at the foothill of one of the larger mountains in the area called Pali Sudhagad.

Our next stop was at Dapoli, which is close to the east coast. We stayed at a hotel on the coast called Hotel Kinara, and we were able to have a water facing room. When we reached the hotel, it was later in the evening, and we got a wonderful dinner specifically cooked for our party. We enjoyed the after dinner time chatting in the garden facing the Arabian sea, and swinging on the swing and enjoying the sound of the sea. It was too dark see the beach, but we could smell the water, and see some of the white of the waves as they washed onto the shore. Due to high tide, access to the coast at night was restricted. The next morning, Bhu and I went for a early morning walk on the beach and then a little bit of water play. We returned to the hotel to meet the family, get ready, have breakfast, and we all went to the coast, played in the water, and had a blast! Later that morning we checked out and visited bhu's other aunt (bhu's fathers older sister) who lives in Karajgaon, which is about 30 km from Dapoli. We had lunch at her place, and visited their vast orchard that they farm. It was a impressive sight and very interesting to learn how coconuts, bananas and supari (like nutmeg) are farmed. We also enjoyed batata wadas (patato cutlets) that were specially since bhu was coming. It was interesting to compare farming methods in rural india vs. rural USA. Partaking in family conversations and information sharing was the precipitus of the evening. We shared pictures of our home and life in USA and they shared stories of what happened when bhu was younger and different events that occur in that part of india during different seasons.

Later that afternoon, we left for Khed, where bhu's father grew up. It is considered our home town, and a trip there is always planned when here in india. It was educational for me to see bhu and his cousins crack jokes, and make fun of each other and tease playfully. We spent time with the chidren and discussed their school progress. A lot of changes have occured in the family home, and bhu's father shared where he learned swinging in the backyard well, played with siblings and cousins in the local orchard, climbing trees and stealing unripe mangos from the neighbours and running home to eat it before their mother found out. That well is now dried, the mango trees are now replaced by homes or other trees, but the memories are still strong and influencial! As his father reminised about younger days, bhu also remembered playing in the same yard with his cousins and climbing the same trees. We were at Khed for 2 days. The next day we went to Dhabol by the coast and crossed to the other side of the delta by ferry boat (people and cars). We landed in a town of Dhopave, on to Ghughagar. From there we drove another 50 km to the village of Hedwi, visiting the famous Hedwi Ganpati temple. After making our worship, we pregressed to the coast to the village of Velnashwar. The children and adults played in the sea, enjoying the arabian sea for about 2 hrs and observed the sunset and took tons of pictures. On our way to the coast, we visited Bhamanghal, close to the coast. This location presented a place where the coast water would get trapped in the bolders of the coast and spray water upward to onlookers. It is called a ghal in marathi, not sure what it is called in english.

We left khed the following day, reaching Thane (suburb of Mumbai) where bhu's brother lives. We were there for a day and a half, just enough time to wash clothes and catch on sleep. Deepali vahini made Shezwan rice which was really good.

We left for Mahabaleshwar that following morning. ON our way , we took a detour to pune to visit my cousin, then continued on to the hillstation tourist site of Mahabaleshwar. this drive through the heart of sahyadri mountains, up mountains, and down to the next valley, where the next town/village was located.

The drive was gorgous, but long. Once we got to our hotel, we enjoyed the view and elevation and atmosphere of being 4000 feet above sea level. It was cooler than mumbai, about 10 degree celcius (40-50 degree F.). The sights reminded me of the Smokey mountains and grand canyon combined!!
Enjoying sunrise and sunset and horse riding and family conversations were the highlights of this trip.

On to our next trip.

Indore Trip

on 10th morning, we took the one hour flight to Indore (madhya pradesh) operated by Jet Airways and came back on the night of the 11th. Spent the day and half with Raam Maamaa-maamii (My mother's maternal uncle) and their children Santosh Maamaa-Sangeeta maamii and their children Shubhra and Charudatt. They are a musical family and it was very plesant to be with them, enjoy the VCDs of Santu maamaa's programs, and listen to Raam maamaa and the grand children sing and play instruments in harmony.

Weather in Indore was hot (about 32 to 45 Degrees Celsius = 90F to 113F) and very dry (<60% humidity) and reminded me very much of Albuquerque and Phoenix without the AC!! Maamaa's home was cool by the grace of the giant evaporative cooler and we pretty much stayed indoor (Indore - pun intended) during the day and ventured out only in the evening. The heat also made us very thirsty and we felt exhausted without doing much activity. First day was pretty much spent recuperating from the exhaustion but on the second day we did a lot of small sight seeing and purchasing but I will remember the heat.

On the 10th afternoon, we experienced the culture of the state of Rajasthan without leaving Indore (with is in the state of Madhya Pradesh). The place is called "Nakharaalii DhaaNii" and had several games and cultural shows representing the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. The food was excellent and I had the pleasure of experiencing three new items: baajre kaa khichaDaa, maalpuwaa and baaphalaa. Of course, all other items on the menu (including aamras and paneer curry) were excellent in taste. Not only did we play jhulaa and ride a camel but we also danced to pop music (hindi as well as english) and participated in the folk dances. IT was an evening to remember.

On the second morning (11th) I ventured out for a morning walk with Raam Maamaa. He showed me several temples in his neighborhood (including that of Venkatesh-Balaji) and introduced me to many of his friends that he keeps in touch only by walking with them. Since maamaa jii also teached music, many regarded him with immense respect and received blessings from him along his way. He and I had great conversations. He is now 77 but defies his age by his active lifestyle. He cooked deliecious rabaDii for our lunch while we went shopping later.

The travel between Mumbai & Indore by Jet Airways was a pleasant surprise for me. The service was without much delay, and served full course meal for both flights even though the duration of the flight was only 1 hour or so. The staff was couteous and the fare reasonable. We paid Rs 8k round trip per person for these direct 1 hr flights. not bad, I think. Jet and many other other airlines are making travel withing india easier. I am sure in a few years, the transportation market will experience price reductions due to competition. Looking forward to that.

We are now back in Bombay and spent the day here in Thane with my brother and his family (Girish-Deepali-Nihaar). In the evening, we spent soem time with Nihar's counsellors from school to hear about his progress reports. Then we went to the Mulund Shoprrite Hyuper Mall, the new mall which includes shops like shoprite, shoppers stop and My Dollar Store. The experience taught us that the craze for cheap buys is not just an american thing. Everything is Rs 99 (about $2) in this store trying to mimic American dollar stores. Then we dined at the McDonalds with Paneer Salsa Wrap and Veggie Burger combo. The McD atmosphere here was very different from that in an american McD.

Now we will embark on a 3-4 day road trip to Pali-Karajgaon-Khed and back to see more of our family and the Konkan beaches...

Fun time with the in-laws

It has been about 11 days being in india, and we have already travelled to 3 cities and back to our base of Mumbai (bandra) where bhu's parents live. This has truely a whirlwind of a trip to see family and friends, attend weddings, and sightsee within and outside the cities we are visiting. We arrived in Mumbai in the morning of the 2nd, travelled to pune for the wedding of my cousin sister Vinita and her hubby Nishant (what a beautiful wedding, and they both make a great couple). Spent 3 days with my cousin Medha, jeeja Girish bhai, and children Amol and prachi, and uncle, Kaka. we hiked the Sinhagad, that is outside Pune with my sister-in law's father. It was harder coming down then going up, but what a wonderful view and a nice time to commune with nature, and appreciate a part of india that i rarely see! A truely productive trip. We returned back to mumbai on 7th, and had a gathering on the 8th for bhu's cousins and family friends. The menu was pani puri, paw bhaji and keshar pista icecream!! Amazing how big bhu's family is and most are in mumbai!
On 10th, we flew via Jet Airways to Indore where we appreciated the different hotter climate, the beautiful sites of madhya pradesh, and the hospitality of family. We saw Lal bag where HHR Tukojirao Holkar had his palace. This home has been fairly well maintained, and it was impressive in size, interior decore, authenticity of position, and discription of lifestyle of the royalty of india some 100 years ago.

We also visited a place called Nakharali DhaaNii that held a small presentation of Rajestan (a state of india) and her dance, music, magic show, camel ride, puppet show, and lavish display and sampling of rajistani food and hospitality. We returned back on 11th night, and were so tired from the busy 2 days in indore. We are spending the day of 12th at Bhu's brother's home in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai. Today was visited a McDonald's resturant with an modified american menu with combination of indian food items. This was an interesting experience for both bhu and I. We also visited a local mall here, and it was very grand and glamourous is size and presentation. This was such a different vision from shopping on Linking Road or Laxmi Road in Pune (2 main streets that have several small shops of all sorts of things where i usually go shopping!!)

Tomorrow we go to Khed to visit Bhu's uncle and aunt on his father's side. More info later!
Stay tuned :-)

Day for the Alma Mater

Today was filled with excitement of seeing two of my old schools. One in Bandra was my grade 1 through 9 school. Had a nice chat with two teachers (daLavii baai and chavhaaN sir) with Sir's favorite mangola and Cadbury's. The school has gone throooooough some rought times lately but seems to thrive on the shoulders of able teachers like these two.

Then took a train ride to Thane and saw Girish-Deepali-Nihar's newly renovated home in WagaLe estate. The colors and decor are still wet, so to speak. And with some new furnishings, its looking very neat.

I then took daadaa's old scooter and decided to drive it home via IIT. mom and manjiri were against my driving/riding at first fue to fear for our safety, but they obliged after repeated assuarances. To fulfill one of them I bought a helmet right away (its also required it seems by the local police/law).

The ride to IIT POwai took me from Mulund check naakaa over the Eastern Express highway. Traffic was moderate until the Kanjur turn-off, but after that getting further seemed almost impossible. Once I got inside the IIT campus it was beautiful again. NOstalgea took over and i explained the campus to Manjiri. Visited H3 and the GMKs wing as well. Thigs are better now, great canteen and new mess and what not. Tried to go to Vihar lake to watch the sunset but they have security now who will not let any students through. IITB also has two new beautful hostels H12 & H13 who have modern but weird structuers. The sunset was finally available over Powai lake near the staff quarters.

The ride back home via sahar/marol was a bit painful. It just didn't move. The scooter was fine but we both got tired by the time we got home. The exerience of motor cycling in Mumbai still remains exciting.

Back home now, preparing for a two day Indore trip. going to see Raam Maamaa (aai's maamaa) and his family. Its nice that Manjiri and I both are lucky enough our aajoba's named "Raam, Maamaa".


Family Reunion

The day went very well. It started with upmaa for breakfast after a nice long walk with baabaa. phone conversations with Chavan Sir and few other friends followed by at-home guests. Mom had organised "Chaintra-Gauri-haldi-kunku" and guests for that included her yoga teacher, her friends and our neighbors, among many others. Special delight it was to meet grown up kids like Manasi who has now taken up dance as a hobby. Manjiri enjoyed being the suunbaai and jaaubaai with aai-vahinii.

I then played cricket on the street after a while. Got out when the ball went over the fence!! It was hit well, but the local rules dictate that I should not play in such a way that the ball may cause damage to the neighborhood buildings - hence the rule that the batsman be given out for such a shot:-)

On the occassion of Mother's day, we all went shopping in the local market and purchased a new fully automatic washing machine for aai. She needed a new one for a long time, but was relunctant to buy one. The new one is made by LG, with a load capacity of 5.5 kg and needa a lot of water (which is no problem now that we have an electric pump and a 500Litre water tank in the house) . The washing machine was promptly delivered that afternoon and it will be installed on Monday.

In a short stay like this one, we were wondering how we would get to meet everyone in the extended family. But my mom solved the problem by organising an event at home. She rented a small hall near our house, arranged for nice catered food (PaaNi puuri + paav Bhaaji + ice cream) and invited over my cousins, friends and relatives just to hang out. The song and dance that followed filled every one's heart with the music and nostalgea. It was nice to see everyone after several years.

Pune to Bombay pleasure...

Came back to Mumbai via Neeta's Volvo bus - an excellent service that connects suburbs of Pune with suburbs of Mumbai. The best part is that buses leave every half hour and are all AC, (they have a nice slogan - dust free, noise free etc) and it bring you from door-to-door within 4 hours on the new highway.

Our stay in Pune was fantastic. Met quite a few family members and attended an extravagant wedding. This morning we went shopping and bought several marathi VCDs an music CDs from Alurkar house on Karve road. We also shopped at Jaihind at Ganapati chowk on Laxmi road. Pune city's buzz was exciting and a mango mastani by Kaware added even more to that!!!

Glamor and Glitz of a wedding...

Vinita's wedding was spectacular. She is Manjiri's cousin (chulat-chulat bahiiN) and by way of the wedding, we got to see a ton of relatives on Manjiri's father's side of the family. Many had last seen us during OUR wedding back in 2002 and were pleasantly surprised to see us. Took a several family pictures and updated the Family tree sketch I had started after our wedding.

Food and wedding arrangements were tremendous. We had three big meals over the two days as a part of the wedding - Seemant puujan + wedding lunch + recenption dinner. Items of highlight: aamras puri, jaambhuuL-ice cream, dry-veg manchurian, taDka-dal, kaaju-karela.
The reception was at Talera Gardens, which had wonderful open lawn and nice stage with beautiful decoration.

During the day we also travelled around Pune suburbs and met Raam-maamaa and LaaLe family and few other distant family friends. Went all the way to KonDhawa budruk - all commuting via rickshaw. Did experienc some pollution and traffic.

Going for a moderate hike today to SinhagaD.

College Lectures: A Boon

If one was to define a lecture, it would be : One hour of the day where the ultra busy engineer gets time to pursue and exhibit his extra-curricular talent. An hour of relaxation and peace. The rare genius is seen, only if found… These qualities would tarnish if it weren’t for the lecturers …

The multi-tasker (All-at-once type): These set of students are the totally confused type. They attend lectures, take notes, complete their journal, gossip about the junior girlz, see the girlz in their class and also wish that the teacher thinks that he is the most sincere fellow around in the class.

The CR (class representative): These are like politicians, seen and heard only during elections. He is THE ONE u hear when there is a poll going on: To take common off or no? He is usually the one who gives us all the democratic rights to bunk lectures, go for a trip and take a weeks off. He is like on god-sent-savior to the grief stricken followers (read class mates). He’s always ready for PHILIPS (let’s make things better).

The once-in-a-while-visitor: These, though, few give us the courage to do the most loved -bunk. They seem to stroll into the class as if something is wrong with them. Whenever u see them, u question ur self, is he in our class? But they are usually the one’s for whom class if like a café house ‘come when u want, go when u want’. WOW! How heavenly!

The know-it-all-type: They have an answer to all the queries teacher’s ask (or even if she doesn’t ask.) They usually give the answer, before u even read the question. Their hand is always waving in the air and they themselves jumping off their seat to answer, Why not give these dying souls a chance!! . These students, though irritating, help us by not letting the question being passed around. Thank god! Who knows the answer anyway!

The back-benchers: These ‘KINGS’ are the ones everyone envy’s. They are the owners of the most sought after place. Having a view of the entire scene-scenery, they usually are the audience of the drama called ‘classroom’. Some usually are the to-be-greatest-painters, they fill the lousy hours sitting on the backbench and letting there creativity flow on the benches.

The first-bencher: They are seen as ‘sincere’ (by teachers), read between the lines ‘teacher’s pets’. They come to college attend lectures and go home….they don’t believe in SATYAM ONLINE (fun fast easy) But some become by default, considered the most-unlucky-one. They usually tend to come late and the poor souls are invited to take the ‘forbidden seats’.

The forever-lost-in-love: These guyz are usually the ones who are forever sending out love signals in a FHS system (Frequency Hopping Spectrum). They always transmit the WILLS (made for each other) look. Usually found in the parking….

Now there are many such types to discuss , The-middle-bencher, The-side-bencher, The-hunky-funky, The brother of the girlz, The girls most-favorite, The MIRINDA (zor ka jhatka alwayz dhire se lage), … etc………
But for now that’s enough….. the attendance is being taken.