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Posts Tagged ‘Memories’

 

Besant Nagar Beach

It’s all about my upcoming trip to India. A myriad of emotions that are buzzing in my head. Excitement, Happiness, Apprehension, Worry, Anxiety, Eagerness, Impatience and few emotions that I cannot even begin to describe.

I have become so used to doing things in my own pace and set in my ways, kind of like being ‘institutionalised’ like Morgan Freeman says in The Shawshank Redemption. It is going to be quite a challenge to be able to adapt quickly to change in time zones, food, water, climate, people etc albeit only for 5 weeks.

When one of my colleagues asked me if I was excited to be going back home, I replied – “Yes I was!” And said to her that I had a very strong feeling that I was going to be viewing my own home town with different eyes. She replied with her own reflection of life experience that I would indeed. She said – It’s going to be a new experience and that I was going to invariably end up comparing lifestyles no matter what. I must say that I agree with her. After all we are all human. People keep telling me that it is not fair to compare. But having lived in India for a good 20+ years, living now in NZ for 3+ years and returning back to India for a short period, the comparison is all but inevitable. One thing I have decided though is that I will not be judgemental about my observations and comparison.

With 3 weeks to go, I can hardly wait for the calendar pages to fly. What is this trip going to hold? I wonder if I would be able to handle my own home town the way I did back then. I had this ‘take-the- bull- by-its-horns’ attitude back then which has now mellowed down so much, it makes me ponder if I still have a bit of that fire to handle Madras this time round. My family members back home keep telling me of the ever mushrooming malls, numerous eateries, restaurants and boutiques. That Madras has changed so much and become the hub for an urbane lifestyle down south. Café & Pub culture, shopping extravaganza, Multiplexes and what not. I was there at the beginning of it all three years back. But to see it post fruition with the city pulsing with vivacity is an experience I am really looking forward to.

I also want to recapture some of my happy memories by visiting spots and doing things that I still reminisce with a fondness and smile. Be it a morning breakfast at Murugan Idli after watching the sunrise at Elliott’s Beach, or be it indulging in Masala Poli and Mysorepa bought by dad from Sri Krishna Sweets, or be it jamming sessions or endless conversations way into the night with my darling  mother and sister and much much more. I want to do at least some of it, if not all.

My thirst for challenges still remains unquenched. So bring it on Madras. Hit me with your best!!!

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You will find that my blog is going to have lots of food related material from time to time – be it recipes, restaurants or cafes I have been to, experiments gone wrong, and brilliantly right, food try outs and a lot more.

Lipsmackingly delicious lunch at Wagamama

I just can’t seem to help myself. My love affair with food is so intrinsical I don’t know where to begin and it is indeed my biggest weakness.  With a relationship akin to that of a snake and a snake charmer, food has the power to entrance me!

So to cut a long story short, I love FOOD.

Foodie

We often grow up with fond memories and we do our own mind mapping of places that are special and food that you have eaten, be it food specially prepared by mommy dearest or even family traditions and outings on weekends or celebrations. So in my opinion, it is natural for our minds to be filled with timelines associated with food. And continue to do so even today. Most of us, am sure have atleast a couple of food related memories in relation to members of the family if not with your ages, to say the least. Like for instance, when I was maybe 12-13 yo, I used to gorge on oranges averaging like 6-7 oranges a day. I kept at it until one day, my mom observed this and commented on how my intake of oranges had gone up. Just imagine if the craving had been for cheese. Oh the horror of it.

Then there is the pampering of grand parents. I remember my grandmom used to make natural yoghurts for us in little earthen pots. Trust me not even the world’s best Greek yoghurt can hold a candle to that flavour and taste. I think there is that extra ingredient called love that makes all the difference to it. She used to make them for us specially whenever we visited her.

My grandfather is another story. Whenever we went to a restaurant, he knew what I liked best, and would say -“Shall I order your favourite Roast onion rava dosa and sambar vadai for you”?. And I’ll go “Yes please thatha” (grandfather in Tamil). I don’t think anyone knows what I like these days. People would only go onto suggest what they like or we should try but never know what you like and enjoy. So there it is, there’s that generation gap and changes in lifestyle rearing its ugly head.

Another example would be moms. Let’s take moms anywhere around the world, I am hundred percent sure that they would all say I am going to make this and that for my child, or bake the world’s best chocolate chip cookies, or a gingerbread man etc. Take my case, my mom used to make dosas in the all the diffferent shapes she could imagine and create – of stars, moons, suns, hearteens et al. Not just that she used to make smiley faces with ketchup even back in the days before advertisements started promoting them. And to this day, this is still an indelible memory that makes me smile at the mere mention of it.

Ok so enough of childhood memories, to prove my point further, I’ll draw some more recent ones. I got married and came to NZ in August 2007. The very first night here, my hunger pangs were according to dinner time in India. And it was barely 3am in NZ. I remember, Iwoke up and made some scrambled eggs and toast. But I still remember it because this was the first time my husband saw the demonstration of my culinary skills and even caught it on camera.

Scrambled eggs and Toast at an ungodly hour

Why even today, Ram and I went for brunch at a local Indian restaurant called Saffron in the Ponsonby suburb which was reminiscent of eating back home in the likes of Saravana Bhavan or Sangeetha back home in Madras. Though not on par to these restaurant biggies, Saffron had a hearty and sumptuous array of food that gave a feeling of content, gently nudging us with warm and happy memories experienced during our childhood.

I was sharing with Ram, how my family and I used to go to Murugan Idly for breakfast in Besant Nagar on Sat/Sun mornings which became a habit eventually ofcourse. Even Ram recalled some of his memories associated with food. One of them was that whenever they invited guests home for lunch or dinner, they used dinner plates designed with lots of small cup like bowl spaces to serve the various side dishes for the main.

Food and memories are definitely intertwined and still figures as a big part in our lives. So having said all of that, its not just our timelines that are put to the test but so are our waist lines too. LOL! Only for those who are not so conscious….

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Whitianga

It is funny how life changes or should I be saying how much I have changed!

I was going through some of my old emails to my family. I came across this mail that spoke volumes about my fresh uptake on my first time experiences in NZ.

To see the world for the first time is a sight so amazing. But to see the world with a fresh perspective is perhaps more refreshing. Many synonyms spring to my mind. Something akin to breathing mountain air after the onslaught of polluted city air. Or a feeling of the web of forgetfulness masking our eyes being dusted. Or wiping clean the dust off an old photo frame.

My life is NZ is no doubt blissful, with me happily bustling about my daily activities, going places, to work and back, doing this and that and what not. But come to think of it, my life is punctuated with lashings of monotones, more than I dare to admit.

But reading these old mails, made me pause and realise that I was so caught in the rut that I never stopped to reflect and appreciate the enthusiasm and energy of looking at things the first time round.

Here are some excerpts of my email to my dear dad, mom and my sister.

——— >>>>>

The Job Hunt –

How r u guys? Long time since I wrote to you guys. Have been applying for jobs. Things are warming up. I am getting calls for interviews which surely is a good sign. Have given one interview so far which was okay! But I dont know how the results will turn out.

Dogs on a leash –

On sunday – 16/9 , we went to this exotic place called Waikowhai park pronounced Wai – Ko – Fai. In maori if you see the alphabets w and h together make the fa sound! So we went there. It had wide spread vegetation with loads of native trees and plants encased in walkways leading to the beach front. On the edge of the beach near the cliff walls, one will find a dog exercise area where the dog owners can release their dogs from the leash and you can see them play in the water , running or fetching sticks with wild abandon.

Painting the pebbles –

Walking further, one will find the rim of the shore encrusted with pebbles, sea shells, rocks, sea weed, algae of different variety . One can only take back a certain amount of those things.I picked up as many as 10 pebbles well rounded and smooth in a pale jade green algae color. It was fun. I am going to do the same thing I did when Jaanas gave me those stones from Bali. Paint them green 🙂

Watching the turning of the tides –

Then we suddenly come onto an area where you will find only pebbles that the area almost looks like white sand but it is actually sea shells strewn about. Unbelievable colors, shapes and formations makes me look at them with wonderment what with me having grown up in a coastal area and thinking there is nothing more different you can find about seashells. One needs to see them to believe what I am actually talking about. Then comes a huge rock along the coast where one can sit and watch the waves during a low tide.

Flying Fox

Flying fox –

We then headed back to the parking lot. Near that was the park. Do i need to tell you further. The child in us made us go on the swings. We headed to this contraption near the play area that my cousin was grabbing and trying to do latch onto. I was observing quietly as to what it was. It was something new and I had never seen in my life and I waited with baited breath. And wheeeeeee………..!!!!!! she goes screaming to the other side. I ask her what it was. She tells me it was a “Flying Fox”.

OK this is the part where you understand what it is. Two poles set on either side on a slope about 15 feet over the ground and gradually decreases height joined together with a cable. A metal rod is hung at the steep part with a seat kind of thing on it which is used to park ourselves and cling on to it. You grab on real tight and jump. This has a spring that can carry our weights and we go wheeeeeeeeee like on a cable car but with more  speed and less protection. There is a rubber padding beneath it in case of mishaps. When you think Damn! I am gonna hit the pole is when you realise the other end of the string is padded with 4-5 tyres which brakes and stops you from hitting the pole.

A child from Enid Blyton’s books come alive –

You feel like a child flushed with excitement and reckless to the point that we kept doing it until we got tired. After that we all drove down to the beach again. One good thing about these public places is you get a spot to sit with family like benches or picnic tables.  We had come geared with lots of munchies which we snacked to our heart’s content and ofcourse had coffee. You know how Enid Blyton describes these picnics and adventures. My day felt like a day right out of her books – a fiction that became a dream that turned into reality.

Dwarfed by the Muriwai

Dwarfed by the Muriwai –

Then yesterday, Ram and I had gone to a place called Muriwai beach[Moo-ree-wai]. Muriwai gives one a feeling of being dwarfed by the magnificence of the sea. It is so vast one can only merely begin to imagine what might be on the other side. It is so huge that it keeps going on and on for such a distance – like they say in tamil – kannuku ettum dhooram varai.(which means to the extent of one’s eyesight).  And the vantage points are so gr8 that you feel like you are standing on top of the world and observing the sea, its whole expanse with life thrumming below.Can you imagine the feeling?One feels like a tiny micro organism compared to the vastness of the water body. And to add to that splendor is the myriad shades of blue and greens on the sea. You turn away from the sea one finds ranges and trees and clouds and birds and hint of sun’s colors. The scene looks like something out of an oil painting. I know it is trivializing the beauty of nature to an oil painting but the point is such shades and beauty can be captured in an oil painting best.

Gannets galore –

One other attraction are the gannets. They are white birds with a yellow head. The yellow part looks like someone put a dollop of yellow butter on their head that not only does it look yellowy soft but it is glossy as well.Along side below the vantage point are rock spaces where gazillions of these birds and their colonies can be found. July to November is the mating and hatching season. During this period one can actually see the birds’ behavior patterns. If two birds are putting their beaks together and rubbing their necks it is courtship. If one dives like an arrow southward to the ground they r jus going to grab their prey and so on. The young ones hatch in January and no one not even their parents teach them about hunting food or flying. The beauty about these birds are they have only 1 partner for life mostly. The male gannet flies around and gathers food while the female gannet sits with its webbed feet on the egg.No siblings or any future kids. One and only one egg for a lifetime for the couple. These birds come here to NZ for hatching and fly back to Australia once the young ones are born. And those young ones when they are probably 4-5 months old they fly to Australia (remember no one teaches them this) and when they have seen the world and had their adventure they come to the same rock looking for their mate.And the cycle begins. Isn’t it beautiful?

After some gannet watching we went down to the cliff area where people can fish. You can find hoards of kilinjil here. Some rocks have holes and cave formations that when a huge wave hits the cave the water comes fountaining out of the hole. It looks like a geyser. Also something we will enjoy is the drumming sound created by waves when they hit the cave walls. After enjoying the spray of sea water for awhile we headed back feeling elated and dwarfed at the same time by the effect Muriwai beach had on us.

Sun, surf & sand

When the sun’s out –

And when the weather is good and sunny, you cant find a kiwi in the house.You will find them at the beach. Doing something. Not like us all sitting or walking in the beach. They swim, surf, snorkel, build sand castles, boating,fishing, gliding….you name it.they do it. it is almost considered a sin not doing anything in the beach.We saw so so so many surfers with their surf boards and them all going surfing and floating in the sea. Wow!It is a phenomenon to watch these things for real.

Having Hokey Pokey –

After a bit of surf gazing, we stopped over near the car park on a picnic table and had snacks and coffee. This time we took some snacks as well. And we chatted for about an hour or so. By then all the snack also got digested. And no one leaves Muriwai beach without ice cream. I had hokey  pokey. It is a vanilla based ice cream mixed with oodles of honey and butterscotch crisps. Yummiest ice cream ever. Ram had vanilla and boysenberry, perima had choco-nutty ice cream and peripa had passion fruit ice cream which is yellow and white in color.

Pristine beauty

Guilt of not sharing the joy –

Then back home the journey was pretty much reveling on the ice cream and of course the beauty surrounding us. I missed you guys like crazy I almost felt guilty that I am so blessed to be enjoying all of this alone. But I pray to God that some day he gives me the privilege and strength to bring you guys here and enjoy it all together as a family and live our dreams that were held so close to our hearts.

Love you guys so much. Missing you guys that the physical distance/void is almost as a physical pain or irritation.

Loads of love,
Rats

– —–>>>>>

Comparing then and now –

Job Hunt – Yes I got a full time job.

Dogs on a leash – I want a dog quite badly, but now is not the right time. Probably when we move into a bigger and fenced house. Hmmm….to see that day.

Painting the pebbles – I have not done them yet. I should probably add this to my To-Do list 🙂

With hubby dearest

Watching the turning of the tides – Fortunately my husband and I have a love for long drives and walks by the sea. Nothing like a walk in Orewa and a coffee at a local cafe to recharge ourselves. I cherish these moments and  not to forget our long talks about our dreams and aspirations.

Flying Fox – In Waikowhai is broken. But our memory isn’t.

The Boy next Door by Enid Blyton

A child from Enid Blyton’s books come alive – I think its thanks to my dearest hubby, he still has preserved that side of me. I think it’s good that he lets me be me … And oh.. I recently purchased one of my most favourite Blyton novels -The Boy Next Door that introduced me to Mysteries and Adventure. This book still leaves me craving for more.

Muriwai – Muriwai’s one of the entrances from the beach through cliffside is closed. Access to the Gannet colony is through the Maori Bay track. We have also found another breathtaking vantage point which we go to whenever we visit Muriwai.

Gannets – I noticed recently that the gannets are coming more closer to the Kiwi border or hedging closer to it atleast. Wonder how they are going to be this winter!

Beautiful sunlight

When the Sun’s out – I used to hate the sun back home, NZ has left me craving for more. And I have become more Kiwi this way not wanting to spend my day away from the glorious golden rays. For people visiting NZ during summer, do not underestimate the sun, do come geared with oodles of sunscreen, jandals and ofcourse your sunnies.

Hokey Pokey – Hokey Pokey still remains my most favourite ice cream till today. However there has been a recent contender in the form of NZ Natural’s White Chocolate and Raspberry icecream. Ummm, heaven!!!

Road to Mt Ruapehu

Guilt of not sharing – Now I can really enjoy life guilt free as my parents, inlaws and my darling sister as well have been here. And we had a wonderful opportunity to share this Green Heaven on earth with our families. I am hoping to arrange a big reunion someday over here in NZ.

Wow….that list is quite the height of the Waitakere ranges. My Season tree in front of my window is a silent witness of not just the seasons but my life as well. Will be back with more musings!

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