Tag Archives: India

Mumbai’s First ever Floating restaurant!

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Mumbai’s First ever Floating restaurant!

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If you think you don’t have enough reasons to go to Mumbai, I’ll give a very good one! The first ever FLOATING restaurant recently launched in the city! You heard me – F-L-O-A-T-I-N-G!

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AB Celestial is the first ever Floating restaurant in Mumbai. Designed and imported from the US, it entails a three-tier luxury dining floatel with a sky deck, two galleys and a capacity to accommodate a minimum of 660 guests across four tiers!

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Incase it wasn’t obvious, you get a 360 degree view of Mumbai and the Arabian Sea. The ground floor will include a 24 hour coffee shop where as the first floor will be banqueting. The second floor will be a high end lounge bar and the open terrace will be the sky lounge.

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Although it was launched back in 2014, it had not been open to public due to issues of permission. The flotal is docked at the Maharashtra Maritime Board’s jetty at Bandra under the Bandra-Worli Sea link.

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I know what you are thinking. What’s up with the name?? The “AB” stands for Aishwarya Bhende, the 21-year-old owner of the three-floor luxury dining yacht. She has designed the entire interiors for the yacht, and been involved with it since its inception!

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Imagine how incredibly serene watching sunset over the sea would be from the upper deck! From the wooden floors sparkling to perfection to the ambience and lighting, AB Celestial, especially after sunset, becomes Celestial!

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-Karen Bahri

Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed temple on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu,Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagodamission.

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The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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The views – the stunning views over Leh in fact, are the greatest attraction! Sunrise & Sunset views are best viewed from here; and it is completely illuminated with lights at night time! One should make the breathless 15-minute climb up from Changspa when golden afternoon light still illuminates the city as the steps are already bathed in cooling shadow. Breath-taking! There’s a small, simple cafe at the top of the stairway where you can go sit, chill and take in all the glory.

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The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base. It was built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmachakra (basically this symbolizes the teachings of Buddha) with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmachakra). The second level has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating. Both levels feature a series of smaller meditating Buddha reliefs.

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The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It was built by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists as it is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.

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-Karen Bahri

Trinidad’s Temple in the Sea – A determined Man’s Masterpiece!

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Trinidad’s Temple in the Sea – A determined Man’s Masterpiece!

This Hindu Temple at Waterloo in Carapichaima, Trinidad is testament of one man’s love of Hinduism. The Temple was the 25-year attempt of Sewdass Sadhu to construct a worship centre at no-man’s land: THE SEA. Sadhu was denied land to build his beloved temple and took his struggle offshore, toiling and unloading buckets of dirt into the Gulf in an effort to create artificial land.

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A well known site of worship for Hindus and a tourist attraction, the Waterloo temple was built by Sewdass Sadhu, an indentured laborer who came to Trinidad from India in 1907. This Hindu temple was built through perseverance and strength.

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The story is well-known: Sadhu built his first temple in 1947 on lands owned by a sugar cane company. Needless to say, it was broken down and Sadhu was charged with trespassing and given the choice of being fined or 14 days in prison.

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Declaring that if he couldn’t build his temple on the land then he would build it in the sea, Sadhu began the work that would become his dream.  For the next 25 years, Sadhu dedicated himself to completing the temple. On his bicycle, he carried two buckets and in a leather bag. Stone by stone, he assembled the base of the temple in the sea, steadily determined.

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In 1994, the government at the time helped finish the temple in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the coming of Indians to the country. A pier was added to ensure the Waterloo Temple could easily be accessed during high tide. Five hundred feet into the quiet waters of the Gulf of Paria, today it continues to stand on the very spot Sadhu first built it.

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Over the years, Hindu devotees and tourists alike have made the journey to the Waterloo temple, also named Sewdass Sadhu Shiv Mandir, in dedication to Sadhu, but better known as the Temple-in-the-Sea, once described as the first of its kind in the western world by Dharmacharya Pundit Krishna Maharaj. The Waterloo Cremation Site is also next to the grounds of this Temple.

The Temple in the Sea, is an octagonal- shaped colorful structure. At the entrance stands a statue of Sadhu himself. Flags and statues adorn the temple’s perimeter. Before entering, as a Hindu custom, you must remove your shoes as once inside you are on holy ground. The beauty of reverence is reflected in the well-crafted murtis (statues/idols) of Lord Hanuman, Lord Ganesh, Lord Shiva and Durga Maa with beautiful flowers ornamented around them.

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Just as a bit of background, Indo-Trini and Tobagonians have now become interchangeable with West Indians. These were people who were escaping poverty in India and seeking employment offered by the British for jobs either as indentured laborers, workers or educated servicemen, primarily, between 1845 and 1917.

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The demand for Indian indentured laborers increased dramatically after the abolition of slavery in 1834. They were sent, sometimes in large numbers, to plantation colonies producing high value crops such as sugar in Africa and the Caribbean, largely in Trinidad and Guyana. These days their culture is a vibrant blend of Indian and Caribbean mix, which is quite colorful and apparent in their music, speech/dialect and cuisine, in particular.

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In summary, this Hindu Temple at Waterloo in Carapichaima, Trinidad is testament of one man’s love of Hinduism. The Temple was the 25-year attempt of Sewdass Sadhu to construct a worship centre at no-man’s land: the sea. Sadhu was denied land to build his beloved temple and took his struggle offshore, toiling and unloading buckets of dirt into the Gulf in an effort to create artificial land.

 

-Karen Bahri

Happy Independence day, Mother India!!! 8/15/1947

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Happy Independence day, Mother India!!! 8/15/1947

Happy Independence day India! India celebrated its independence from the British Empire on the 15th of August in 1947. The holiday is observed throughout India with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events. There is a national holiday and schools and government offices distribute sweets but no official work is done….parrtayyy!!!

India is a country of “Unity in Diversity” where people from different religions live; however any national occasion, they celebrate it together!

Here are some quick, interesting, fun facts about our colorful, diverse nation:

  • First Independence day of India was celebrated in 1947, 15th of August by hoisting tri-colored flag.
  • India has never attacked any other country in the last 100000 years of history.
  • There was no any National Anthem during the time of Independence of India.
  • India is the world’s largest Democracy, with 1.2 billion people.
  • Police in one non-identified state in India get a slight pay upgrade for having a moustache……………………………..
  • India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person.
  • Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It was developed about 5000 years ago. Hinduism is a colorful religion with a lot of rituals. People who follow this religion believe in a lot of Gods and Goddesses.
  • 70% of all the world’s spices come from India.
  • One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes.
  • In India, there is a vigilante group called the “Love Commandos” that offers protection from harassment to couples from different castes who fall in love.
  • There is a gypsy tribe in India that celebrates death as one of the happiest events in their lives, while treating births with great grief.
  • The Golden Temple in Amritsar feeds a vegetarian meal to over 100,000 people a day regardless of race, religion and class.
  • Global warming ‘solved’ a land dispute between India and Bangladesh:
    the island in dispute disappeared.
  • 74% of young Indians prefer an arranged marriage over a free-choice one, a 2013 survey found.
  • Only about 1 in 100 marriages in India end in divorce, one of the lowest rates in the world.
  • India has more people using the internet than the entire population of the U.S.
  • The people of North Sentinel Island, India, are among the last people to remain
    virtually untouched by modern civilization.

  • There’s an experimental township in India founded in 1968 and called Auroville, where citizens are from all over the world and there’s no money or religion.
  • The first Bollywood movie was released in 1899, where as the first Hollywood movie released in 1907. Bollywood is older than Hollywood!

Well folks, there you have it! Have a safe, wonderful pandarah (15) August 🙂

 

 

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What India do we have without the KING of Bollywood himself – Mr. Shah Rukh Khan!!!

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus bus terminal in Mumbai lit up gloriously!!!

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Neerja

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Neerja

Quote of the day:

“A negative mind will never give you a positive life.”

 -Ziad K. Abdelnour

 

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I saw the film last week and it’s DEFINATELY worth the watch! Neerja is a true story about Neerja Bhanot, a purser for Pan Am, based in Mumbai, who was shot and killed while saving passengers from terrorists on board the hijacked Pam Am Flight 73 on September 5th, 1986. She became the youngest recipient of India’s highest peacetime military award for bravery, the Ashok Chakra.

It’s unfortunate such hero’s exist and nobody knows about them until Bollywood makes a film about them. On the positive note, at least this way, we get to know about them and then they are the most googled person ever afterwards! I have been reading a lot about this beautiful girl. Sonam Kapoor completely did justice in this role! This story hit home a bit more for me, because Neerja is originally from my hometown, Chandigarh.

Neerja was the senior flight purser on the Pan Am flight 73 flying from Mumbai to right here at JFK in NYC. The flight was hijacked by four armed men at its layover in Karachi, Pakistan. The aircraft was carrying 361 passengers and 19 crew members. The terrorists wanted to fly to Cyprus and wanted to release some of their team members from jail. After the terrorists boarded the plane, Neerja alerted the cockpit crew.

Neerja quickly alerts the cockpit and unfortunately the American pilots escaped the aircraft through an overhead hatch in the cockpit per their training so that the aircraft could not be forcibly flown. Neerja, being the most senior cabin crew member remaining aboard, responsibly took charge. The hijackers told Neerja and the other crew members to collect all of the American passports, which she slyly hid.

After 17 hours, the plane lost power and the lights went off. The hijackers then opened fire and set off explosives. Neerja  opened one of the doors, flung open an emergency chute, and assisted passengers from the aircraft. She could have been the first to jump out when she opened the door but she decided not to and was shot while shielding three children from a hail of bullets.

This incident happened just two days before her 23rd birthday. Not only had she ensured the failure of the hijacking by preventing the plane from getting off the ground, but also saved the lives of hostages in those long hours of incarceration. She is a true hero. I cannot even imagine what I would have felt if I were her in that position, especially as a 23 year old girl. One can never imagine being put in such a situation until it happens. This was not your typical Bollywood movie. In fact, I wouldn’t even consider it “Bollywood”.

I definitely encourage you to watch this film. This is not one of those things where anyone can say something like “oh I can’t watch stuff like this” – please. This young girl is a hero and deserves more than that type of response. This could happen to any one of us, but no one of us will take charge and be as brave as Neerja. She is an inspiration.

Another fun fact – I didn’t really want to say this out loud because I thought people might give me crap about it (lol) but the main terrorist, Khalil, played by Jim Sarbh – wow. I am glad I wasn’t the only one who thought so! I saw sooo many articles about how other women were gushing over him lol. #imprettypositivethereallifekhalilifthatsevenhisnameinreallifeisanuglybastardothough

In conclusion, I love flying. It usually means I am going somewhere fun. You try not to think something of such will happen when you fly, I hope this never happens to me or anyone I love, or anyone period, but we can’t tell what our destiny will be. Neerja is an inspiration. Some say she is an incarnation of goddess Durga (Goddess of Power). May she rest in peace and love.

Please watch the film & bring a full box of tissues.

 

 

 

The Hills are Alive…

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The Hills are Alive…

ALLLLOWWWHAAA 🙂 Happy Friday!! Before I get started, I hope you all like my new design? If you are reading this on your phone, you won’t be able to see it. Jump on your computer! Now back to our regularly scheduled programme:

You know how here we go on weekend road trips to other cities or the Pocono’s or like Maine or some crap? Well, in India, they do weekend getaways to the “Hill Stations” as they call it. Many may not be aware but India is very well known for its glorious hills! I’m not just speaking of the Himalayas either. I think people get distracted with the diverse cultures & religious places that they may not think or be aware of this, but the hills are so beautiful in India! When I was there, my thaiya ji (uncle – my dad’s older bruvski) took us to Kasauli, which is located in Himachal Pradesh and is known for it’s beautiful resorts.

Remember a few posts ago I talked about how I love creating trips within trips? It must be something passed down in my family, because on our way up to Kasauli, we stopped at this other hill station lodge type place called Timber Trail. My uncle is a member of what we would consider country clubs here in the states. Members only clubs where people hang out, dine, drink, admire the view, relax, golf, swim ect ect you get the point. My uncle is pretty much a member of every club and gymkhana in the greater Chandigarh area. A Gymkhana is also like a country club. Originally referred to a place of assembly. The meaning then altered to denote a place where skill-based contests were held. “Gymkhana” was the name coined during the British Raj for “gentlemen’s club”. My family and typically people nowadays just go to these places to relax & dine as well as a lot of them have rooms you can stay in like a hotel/resort incase you want to get away for a few days. Depending on the facilities at the specific location, people also golf, swim and such.

Anyways, it was a beautiful drive up the mountain ways! We stopped at some little stall on the way up to buy some juice. I was addicted to this specific guava juice and my family always got me wayyy too much – because they knew I liked it :).

Love the traffic in India!!

Love the traffic in India!!

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Here are some photos at Timber Trail.

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As we were drinking Limca & Chai, my thaiya ji told me to look at a specific mountain. It was reallllyyyy tall and there was a cable cord hanging from it. He said this cable cord leads to a restaurant at the highest peak. People ride a cart up to get there and the view is out of this world! Popular honeymoon spot. Soooo cool but sooo scary!! I asked him if it’s ever malfunctioned and if so, how many deaths. #itISIndiaafterall

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Don’t die for me Argentina!!!

Okay time to leave Timber Trail and head up to Kasauli. As we got back to the car, I saw this sign in the parking lot:

Only in India! We keep it real.

Only in India! We keep it real.

Finally arrived at Kasauli. We went to the Kasauli Club, where my uncle is a member. Located at a height of 6142 feet! Established in 1880, you literally are stepping back many decades in time! It is currently located within Indian Army premises and managed by a regular Indian Army Officer as Club Secretary, aided by civilian staff.

Some background info, The Kasauli Club was founded as the ‘Kasauli Reading and Assembly Rooms’ by a group of Englishmen. The Club was meant only for the English besides a few highly placed Indians. It established a reputation for good food, good drink and a smart social circle; a tradition, which still continues. The Kasauli Club is still famous and its membership is most sought after. You can read more about it here:

http://www.kasauli.net/kasauli-blog/attractions-in-kasauli/kasauli-club

Here are a few of the Kasuali Club:

 

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After a relaxing afternoon at Kasauli, we headed out and the view of the mountains as the sun was setting was breathtaking! I tried to take pics of the lights from the homes along the mountains but it absolutely did no justice. Its just one of those things that only the eye can witness in all it’s beauty. We did make one last quick stop to this place called Sunset Point where the sunset is supposed to be amazing. My thaiya ji didn’t have the patience so we didn’t get to see the sunset LOL:

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So where did you stay??

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As I sat on that plane in JFK I took a deep breath and thought to myself I don’t know where the hell I will be sleeping once I get to the other side of the world. My father gave me a pep talk a few weeks earlier. He said India is different. They don’t have heating in their homes and it’s going to be winters over there. The showers don’t always have warm water and the electricity flickers. He said he isn’t sure how comfortable I will feel, but nonetheless, him and my mom would be there if I happen to freak out. I kinda thought, okay, I’m pretty tough, I live in NY and have moved around a lot. I’ve seen a lot of crappy apartments. I’ve lived in some. I’ve dealt with life. I can handle it. But then the American mindset kicked in and I thought that a craphole in the 3rd world is way diff than a craphole in NYC. Or is it?? Nice in the 3rd world is different than nice in the US…or is it??

Anyways, I had no idea what to expect. Then I arrived. I was pleasantly surprised! Here are some pics & videos of our beautiful neighborhood in Panchkula:

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The last pic is my uncle’s (thaiya ji) home. He has a balcony and the roof. The roof was scary lol. I went up there once and I was like “yeah I’m never going up there again!!!” BUTTT a day before my last day there, I decided to man those narrow stairs. Here is a clip and some photos I took from the top. What’s cool about where they live is that from above, you can see the mountains of Himachal on one side, Punjab on the other and Panchkula is basically in Haryana. I would not be upset waking up to this view every morning!!

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I’m such a creeper lol

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These stairs were the call of my death

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My aunt lived a quick 2 min drive away. Her house is very nicely decorated. I think I liked it there a little better. There was a bit more going on. More noise, with the vegetable guy screaming through the street and such. (BTW I found that pic!! See below!!!) Here’s what her side of the street looked like:

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awww my beautiful Bhua ji & the sabji walla (aunt & the vegetable man)

As everyone would take their 8th nap of the day at 1 in the afternoon and I was full of energy that wasn’t being used, I spent a lot of time watching traffic go by on the street (noo that’s not sad…ehh…maybe a little ) but it was fun at the same time. I loved people watching/street watching in India. Every time I tried to take a video though, nothing interesting happened. No interesting vehicles drove by until I put the camera down. Kinda teaches you as you travel, sometimes it’s good to just witness things as they come. One time though – LUCKILY my cousin was with me because I don’t know how I would have handled this if I was by myself. Mind you, this happened RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE HOUSE:

 

 

This also happened:

My first impression

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I’m really late on this, I know. Those who have been following me for a while might have seen a pattern in which I tried to go in order of my travels & I really hyped up my India trip last year….yetwhereisthatpost???

I feel like I have a lot to say about India and my thoughts (therefore my posts) will be sporadic on the motherland. I told you about my journey but incase you forgot or if you are a new subscriber since that post was like from September – here is the link:

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/my-first-encounter-of-my-mothers-land/

So yeah – to continue – I finally step outside into beautiful Chandigarh! —-wait, wait, wait — I don’t think I mentioned this before —before I went to India, I obviously had 10874967 different impressions going through my head, and speaking to people who regularly go to India trying to alter my impression was not something I was trying to do – especially since they go to other parts. There is a movie (Punjabi) that I grew up watching (well, not really, but it was always in the background – and my mom used to play the songs as she cooked hahah ❤ ) I told 2 friends that if Punjab does not look like the following song from that movie I’m gonna be all upset. Friend A was like “yeah yeah it will!!!! Totally!!!!” so that was excitinggg to hear even though he hasn’t been to India for like 10 years. Friend B, who also hasn’t been to India since the 90’s was more like “yeah good luck with that” – BOO!! I know, you are like “show the song already” — this is the song:

Yup – it’s old school! But that’s what I love about India. The culture is so rich. Preserve it. I was happy that at least in Chandigarh it was still pretty traditional.

I found an interesting observation was the news. My family would sit down for meals and discuss some politician who was the topic of town. We couldn’t go into Chandigarh for a few days because there were supposedly riots going on due to this fella. At the same time, those moments when the wifi worked, news back here in the US was about the black kid in Chicago who got shot by the white cop in Chicago. It was so weird how the place I was at was talking with such intensity on the issue going on in their world, while the world I am from were discussing a totally different issue and both my worlds were clueless of the other issue. That’s one to remind you that the world isn’t as small as we seem to think it is!

India is so colorful! Its so animated. At my Bhua ji’s house (Aunt – my fathers baby sister) it was like I would be sitting there and all the sudden some vibrant Bollywood song would start playing?!?!?? I’m like what’s going on??? That was basically her doorbell (OMG AWESOME IDEA I WANT A DOORBELL THAT PLAYS CHUNES!!!!) She ran out and grabbed me & she’s like “ohhhh aa ke dekh, sabji waala agaya, you vill fun” (“ohhhh come look! The vegetable man is here!! It’s fun to watch) then came the milk man & the newspaper man!! It was cool how sleepy the afternoons are and then you hear the vegetable guy in his rickshaw screaming in the street so people know he’s there. Kinda like the ice cream man here, sorta!

The reason I went to India with my parents was because I knew this was going to be the one and only time for them to show me our homeland, our family, our home, where we came from. I met family who I never even knew existed, as well as family I saw after many, many years. Now I am so close with them all and it’s soo nice!! That unconditional love you only get from your family is a priceless feeling. It’s nice to know I have a home there (a few actually) that I can go to whenever I tell them my bags are packed, I’m coming.

My next several India posts will be pictorial. The story behind the pics will be in my captions. Watch this space…to be continued…I promise I will post about India (even though I have a new vacation coming up in a few weeks!!!) but for now, here are some random pics:

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These women are BOSS!!!

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I thought the other women were boss but this lady is the BOSS of BOSS. She’s carrying that thing on her head WITH NO HANDS!!!

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Goat Herder in the pindh!! It’s like are we in India or Afghanistan?? And what century?? #ilovethisimagesoooomuch #idonotbelongintodaysdayandage

 

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—My family told me they were taking me for a drive…then surprised me and took this amazing Hanuman temple!!!

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Pretty regularly my family goes to a specific school/shelter for abandoned girls and serves them lunch. These are some of the amazing young ladies.

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This is how traffic gets jammed in the pindh

 My boyfraaanndd, Arun 🙂

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This random cute kid tried to steal me away from Arun by putting on a show. Such a stud!! I almost fell for it buuuuut what can I do! I’m loyal lol

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This girl had soo much spunk!!! Don’t mess with Nargis!!

 

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at a wedding with my cousin sister

 

Hookah Night with my baby nephew! He tried explaining to me how hookah was invented in the villages of Haryana…….LOL

Happy Diwali !!!!

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Happy Diwali !!!!

Happy Diwali!!

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What is Diwali says the non-Indians who might be reading this. I just told my coworker about Diwali and described it as the Indian New Year, then he asks me “so what year is it” – hahahhahaahhahah #Ilovefunnyjokes – he expects me to look that up and tell him …..errrrr….

Diwali is the largest, brightest festival in India. Known as our New Years, it is the festival of lights. Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists to mark different historical events, stories or myths but they all symbolise the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, hope over despair. I won’t get into too much detail of the religious aspect, but the mythological story goes that  Hindus celebrate Diwali in honor of the return of Lord Rama, his wife Sita & brother Lakshman returned from his exile of 14 years. Villagers lit Diyas, or candles so he could find his path. Here is a fun, easy to read (because it’s directed to children lol) version of the story if you want to get the gist of some background in a quick, light, fun way:

Ramayana (feel free to print out the coloring pages if you are bored 😉 )

So what is Diwali to me? Diwali means (or meant) dance practice! Always! From junior high until college. If I remember correctly, we would start about a month and a half or so before our community (or school, when I was in college) Diwali function. Dance practice was always sooo much fun!!! I got to see my friends and we got to get creative and work on a dance. Well, when I was younger, we had the adults teach us and we had to follow their routines. In college though – we got extremely creative!! There were a lot of great dancers/dance groups and performances and my friends and I wouldn’t have that! lol! We had to be the best! We never repeated steps, always did some acting and shock factor, one time we did our entrance from the audience, instead of the stage and nobody knew where were at until we got on stage! That dance was awesome! We always did medleys too but that’s pretty standard. One time we carried “pots” which were actually pumpkin shaped candy baskets (Diwali falls around Halloween, lol) and we put sparkly confetti in it and threw it out at the audience hahahahah!!!! The people sitting in the front row freaked out!!! They probably thought we were going to throw water at them LOL.

I remember how nerve wracking it was while we waited back stage during the dance before ours. It was hot and cold at the same time! I remember this one year we had this really difficult step. I was so worried I was going to screw up once on stage!! The step involved a jump with a turn and then a pose. When we were to jump though, we had a mid-air pose and then had to turn our leg the other way for the turn. We got it off a Bollywood song and it was complicated. I never got it right during practice but somehowww when I was on stage, I aced it perfectly!!! And when I saw the video the effect looked so much nicer with our lengha’s on. I’ve learned the outfits make the steps look soo much nicer sometimes!

Speaking of dressing up – yessss…of course Diwali is the best excuse for women to dress up and break out our best jewels, bindis and mendhi (“henna” – btw I hate that word. Never heard it until I heard Gwen Stefani say it) Men dress up in their best kurthas as well.

In India, they light firecrackers (that are more like bombs, dare I say with the risk of some ignorant terrorist comment) they hit up the temples, decorate homes with beautiful diyas (lamps), lights, they decorate entryway in the front of their house with rangoli (basically an art form in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals.)

simple Rangoli example

simple Rangoli example

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And just like every other place in the world during the biggest holiday of the year, families get together and eat and eat and eat…and then drink chai!

Hopefully I’ll be able to be in India during Diwali one of these upcoming years!

http://www.indiatimes.com/culture/who-we-are/11-little-known-stories-about-diwali-you-need-to-know-before-you-light-your-first-diya-247121.html

Here are some Diwali related celebration images/art, diyas and rangoli I would like to share with you:

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My first encounter of my mother’s land

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It only takes all this to go to India!

It only takes all this to go to India!

Well, I’m semi-lying when I call it my mothers land. Mama Bahri was born and raised in Kenya. But she moved back to India in her teen years and we have a lot of relatives from her side in India.

ANYWAYS, India…India, INDIA. Where do I EVENN begin!!!! Arriving in Delhi airport. I had a long night ahead of me. I could only find a flight with an overnight layover in Delhi (I sorta was trying to do the “trip within a trip” thing here too, but not really bc this was all they had and it was overnight so I wasn’t planning on hanging out in the big bad city by myself at night). I initially thought this layover was going to be tedious and annoying because I just wanted to get to Punjab, take a showerrrrr and see what it looks like, see my family members, and see what situation I was going to be staying/sleeping (!!!)

So lets start with the confusion factor which happens (at least to me) every time I step off the plane into a foreign city. I just follow everyone else bc I don’t know where to go. I saw a bunch of ladies wearing those doctor masks on their mouths (I guess to keep germs away) kinda strange…! Then they handed me an Ebola form to fill out…! #gotcha

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After that I roamed around in duty free and a few of the shops. I needed to find a place to sit and chill for a few hours while I figured out how to kill the night in the airport. I found an uncomfortable place to sit with a loud family who were not controlling their screaming kids, so as tired as I was, I got back up. I walked out to a different corner of the airport and ALL THE SUDDEN something fabulous happened…I heard Bollywood music!!! LOL! Those who know me well know Indian music is THE one thing that perks me up no matter what!!! So, I turn and turn until I discovered it was coming from this FUNKYYYYY, cute, cute little airport bar!!! PERFECTTTT!! I was so excited I had to break out my phone and take a video LOL (which, of course, didn’t give the whole situation justice. BOO!) so I go over and sit. Here begins the beginning of my fabulous evening and fabulous new friends!!!

First thing is first, I noticed (as always in any airport) the prices for a glass of wine were really pricy. I really wouldn’t have cared if they had a bigger list of wines but they barely had anything. The lack of beverage choices was soon made up for from the outstanding company I had that evening! The bartender and the manager were SOOO cool & we clicked instantaneously!!! Honestly, I just figured I would sit at the bar on my phone and people watch for a few hours, but I ended up having the best time hanging out with some cool Delhiites who were sooo lovely, extremely hospitable and fun conversation!! Very helpful too.

I’m very curious about people (especially Indian people) from other parts of the world (especially India) and how they are similar/different from Indians I am used to growing up in the United States. I wont get into what I thought the youngster of India would be like, but I’ll just say these guys were sooo nice, hospitabe, Indianized, hilarious and very kind! I was very happy to have made amazing friends who I am still in touch with now (and who are reading this blog I hope lol) within the first hour of my arrival. After about 5 hours I thought I better stop bothering these guys and let them finish their work LOL. So I went to the overnight lounge area to get a little shut eye before my morning flight to Chandigarh.

The lounge was pretty nice but I basically slept on an oversized chair, which was not AS uncomfortable as it looked. I was so tired though it was fine for a few hours. I must note that I wished the reception here was as amazing as my bar boys…..!

Relaxing in the sleeping lounge on my

Relaxing in the sleeping lounge on my “bed” for the night.

Morning came and I was really annoyed when I checked out from the overnight lounge (or whatever it’s called..I know I keep calling it that, it could be called something completely different!) I was heading out to find my flight and the guy told me I have plenty of time and I should wait. I was very impatient and told him I can wait at the gate. He insisted I wait there.

I finally saw a huge line at the elevator so I was like sorry homie, I’m out and I left. I ended up being LATE and had to RUN because they were CALLING MY NAME because the flight was about to TAKE OFF WITHOUT ME!!! GOD I WAS SO ANNOYED!! What happened next was interesting – all that running and the flight sat there for an hour and a half. Technical problems or whatever. UGH.

Finally plane took off and 45 minutes later I’m in “The City Beautiful” – Chandigarh!!!!! 🙂

GET ME OFF THIS PLANNEEE I WANNA SEE PUNJAB!!!

GET ME OFF THIS PLANNEEE I WANNA SEE PUNJAB!!!

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Unfortunately my luggage didn’t make it and we spent the next 3 hours in the airport as my uncle, who is a lawyer at the high court (whatever that means)threatened …*cough* reasoned/worked with Jet airways to bring my luggage, which they left in Dilli (you have to collect your luggage from the Port of Entry – the dumb kid in JFK told me my bags would go straight to Chandigarh so that wasn’t my fault!! I’m not getting into this story omggg ughhhh).

So yes, I was without my luggage for 3 days. It was lovely going underwear shopping with my whole entire family….!

Oh, one last thing. I spoke about this so I might as well mention, after we FINALLY got outside the Chandigarh airport – I walked out and the first thing I heard was Bhangra!! GOOD BHANGRA MUSIC!! I wanted to start dancing but it was hard as my family was shielding me like crazy! LOL

Delhi Airport has the coolest bathroom stalls I have ever seen in my life!

Delhi Airport has the coolest bathrooms I have ever seen in my life!

I started at this for the hour and half my plane was sitting still in Delhi waiting to take off

I stared at this for the hour and half my plane was sitting still in Delhi waiting to take off