Thursday, December 8, 2011

When I like something, I really like it...

Take the unbelievable salad for example... As forecasted, I had it a lot and within three 
weeks, my loyalty card paid off for a free salad! ;-) I am a sucker that way!
Next, there is a wrap place next to my office. In less than 7 minutes, I get a hot wrap, eat 
it and am back to meetings! Lovely lunch break. Loyalty card approved for a free wrap next time 
I go there.
Most recently, I was introduced to a place called 'Nusa'. And trust me, it’s the best soup 
place EVER!!! There is always a line winding outside the small place for their soups. And 
believe it or not, they have over four vegetarian soup options. I can only talk about one 
variety though, the one I keep having- Santa Fe Chilli sin Carne- add on the yogurt, salsa and 
chilli on top! Its the perfect lunch for a wintery afternoon. Sadly no loyalty card here... so 
I guess I just keep going back for the flavours!

And yes, I could carry home packed lunches. I do, 'sometimes' but luckily, the lunch options 
around here are worth exploring. And the fifteen minutes I do get for lunch in my busy day is 
worth getting out of the office and exploring!

This actually leads to another topic- having the tried and tasted food or truly trying out something new?
Yes, we all love exploring... but when you find something just perfect, do you tend to try something else on the menu... just because? Your take?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Quick Food Fix: Tossed Sandwich

Updated to change: 8 to 10 slices of bread and not loaves.. that would be ridiculous... Thanks Hubby and Gaya for pointing it out!!!!

Its been a while since I blogged about a Food Recipe..
Here is a quick food/ snack/ breakfast fix....

Especially useful, when there is a lot more bread in the house and you don’t want to waste it!! Happens a lot in our household. We always buy bread and not consume it as much. When sadly towards the end, it tends to become the food for the birds in the park. But in winters now, the idea of bird feeding is getting less exciting!
And yes, I know, we can stop buying the bread as well... but what happens on the day when all you want is Chai with toast dipped in!!! Tell me?

Back to the point, here is a very simple recipe... called 'Chaunki hui Bread' alternatively also known as 'Tossed hot sandwich!!' You'll see why I got creative with the name!!

Serves 4
Ingredients:
1. 8-10 slices of bread (any type will do: White/Wheat/Your Pick): Cut them in squares (Please dont worry if they are not square but rectangles, bottom line, bite sizes pieces)
2. 1 Onion: Chopped finely
3. 1 Cucumber: Chopped Finely
4. Ginger/ Green Chilli: Per taste
5. 2-3 Med. Sized tomatoes, deseeded and chopped finely
6. Bell Pepper: (Optional): Chopped Finely
7. Lemon Juice- Per taste
Spices:
Salt, Turmeric, Rai, Jeera, Red Chilli Powder

Now....
- In a wide saucepan, heat some olive oil on medium flame.
- When hot, add rai, on spluttering, add jeera.
- Add onions and sauté till translucent. Add ginger & Green Chillies
- Add tomatoes, and sauté more (less than 2 min.) Make sure the tomatoes don’t loose the firmness
- Add peppers if interested- Same, don’t loose the firmness
- Now add the spices. Sauté
- Add the pre-cut bread, and start tossing the vegetables and bread together.
Over years I have learned that tossing with salad tongs really help!
- Since you are using a wider pan, the bread should start getting crispier as well.
- Now add the chopped cucumbers, lemon juice and cover the pan. Reduce the gas to a bare minimum.
- Cover... wait for 5 min or so!

Serve in a  bowl and enjoy with Maggi Hot N Sweet ketchup! No other gives the right zing to the dish!

Now why did I call it a 'Tossed hot sandwich!!' it has all the ingredients of a sandwich, to make it, you have to toss it and its hot! ;-)
(Pics asusual, I forgot to take them)

Monday, November 21, 2011

No more Night Night!

I love technology, the ease of communication, getting true global experience at your fingertips, be it professional life, personal life or just gossip life!
But technology is a sleep killer.
There was a time in our early married life, when hubby and I would pop into covers and get our favourite books out, read and doze away. If we did wake up in the middle of the night, it would be too painful to start the night lamp and read again. So a glass of water, and plop into bed again.
Sadly it’s different now!
Technology rules. At any time on our bedside, you would find two smart phones, iPad, laptop and lots of chargers and maybe one dust covered book! In the night if I do wake up, I check on V and then come back in covers and just start the i-Something. I might surf the net, play a game, read the news. And then after twenty minutes, I am wide eyed.
And then the glass of water/ walk around the house just does not work. I am awake. And then, the story continues, I am making my to-do lists, researching project work, reading some stuff. Basically anything that should wait is keeping me up in the nights.
I should switch from technology on my night stand to a good old book and glass of water! Of course, it implies I need to get an old school alarm clock

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Photography has ruined travel. Has it?

The title from the CNN article was enough to make me stop and read it. And then read it again, think about it, process it. Hmm 'Photography has ruined travel' one line I smirked about was 'My memories are framed by the 2x2-inch blurry screen of my camera. Not once did I look up to see the fish with my own eyes. '
It has happened to me before. Most recently in Scotland, I was so busy taking the right picture of the pony and my daughter feeding it the cut apple, that I can’t remember her squeals of her laughter. True.
Has photography really ruined travel? I don’t think so. The first thing I pack on a trip is our camera's (Point N Shoot & SLR) with their chargers. I need a camera to capture the moments. I often sit on our couch on go over the pictures from back then and smile. They are hundreds, but I still enjoy them all the time. I need my pictures. For myself. For refreshing the memories made, relishing the chocolate cake, smelling the coffee, reliving the laughter, everything. Pictures make travel and experiences more memorable!
Having said that, Yes, I do hate the Iphone/ smart phone cameras. Don’t get me wrong, I use them all the time, but somehow they don’t qualify as 'pictures'. They are just a log of activity done.
Anyhow, the other thing the article also touched upon was 'googling about planning a trip'. Hmm,  Guilty as charged. It generally starts with a Wiki search, followed up by travel reviews, some blogs and so on. One hour gone.
But that’s when it stops. Sumit and I then go to the library, get a travel book, be it Frommers, Lonely Planet whatever. But get the book, read it, mark it and then based on our 'antiquated research' plan a trip.
This is then followed up by finding the 'deals online' for travel, accommodation and what have you. Plan, Find, Book. Enjoy!
On a trip itself, we have often being condemned by family, that we are cut off. Guilty again. Emails are checked very rarely, Facebook, not at all, phones only for incoming urgent calls. Rest, it’s the trip, us, laughter, relaxation and of course the camera. And yes, the smart phone left in the car for the hikes.
What about you? DO you agree with the author that photography spoils the travel itself? Do pictures aid your trip, or do you say ' I have to snap this and put it on Facebook'?
Next, How do you plan your trips? And if you are backpacker.... hmm, when is your next trip? Count us in!
One post in draft for the longest is @facebook: Is it like high school all over again? But being on FB and enjoying it a lot, I hate to bitch about it. So the draft post, stays in draft a bit longer! Your views?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not so random thoughts...

I read this article 'Why I left India(again)' recently and re-read this today. I know this article has made rounds over and over again. It has been commented/ criticised, appreciated and murdered.
For me, it felt very real. I hung onto each word and involuntarily shaking my head. I think I can relate to where the author was coming from.
I have been out of India for a decade now. My formative and impressionable years have been out of India. I have been teased as NRI (Not Required in India).
I go 'back home' on and off to meet family, eat at familiar joints, try out new places, relax in air conditioning and appreciate the help at home. I go back since my family is there, it’s my native country. But more often than not, towards the end of my trips, I crave to come back to my familiar grounds. Being in 'vacation mode' might have a lot to do with that.
Being expats in London now, I am often asked: Where are you from? I should respond @I am from India, but more often than not my response is 'I recently moved from Chicago.'
Why you ask?
I can relate to my life in US much more than I can relate to my life a decade ago in India.
It sucks to say that. But it’s true. It took me a lot of time and courage and guilt to come out and say: 'I don’t think I am returning to India anytime soon, barring any life changing/ family health emergencies, we are living outside India'
Once I said that out loud, I repeated it and made peace with myself. Yes, I get scornful looks, raised eyebrows, OMG how can you say that and best of all 'Traitor'
I am learning to develop a thick skin now.
My family life, professional obligations and daughter’s upbringing and education has made definitely made a huge contribution in our decision/ state of mind. But if I look in the mirror, its more to do with 'My View Today'.
India is my native country. No matter where I go in life, what I do, I always will be Indian, my passport has little to do with it. I don’t have to explain how great, developing and changing India’s temperament is today. Everyone knows it. And I can’t even do justice to it.
I adore going back to India. Its home in all sense of the word. But sadly my Life is not in India right now. I may or may not return to India. But I do know wherever I am and will be, I will be Indian.
 It’s not the type of food, the language, the colour, and the clothes you wear; where you live that make you more or less Indian. Your ethnicity makes the foundation of who you are. Period.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The feel good ones

Here's the thing about feel good movies, you can watch them over and over again and you always finish with a smile.
Top ones on my list are- Serendipity, P.S. I Love you, Hum Tum and  of course Something's gotta give.
Recently on a long flight,  no better thing than watching a movie you can never go wrong with. I watched 'something's gotta give' for the millionth time!

But some how this time when I watched it, I payed a lot more attention. The subtleties, the contrast, the difference but still the unity in the movie is brilliant.
She likes French music, he owns a hip hop record label. She considers herself older than she is, and he is the suave, makes you weak in the knees type of 63 years old. The house, she is all white, beach house and serene. And he is in the middle of the city, all black, exciting. Her sheets are white, his black. His floor is multi levelled, and hers single  storied. She is not scared of being in love and he cant even commit to sleeping on the same bed. And the best difference in them. She is a Mac and he a PC.
I mean seriously?
Brilliant movie, brilliant casting and this time after watching it, my love for the movie grew a tad bit more! Till next time!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Happy Birthday to my wonderful Husband!

There are two things that have sort of become a pattern in my life after marriage.
Come my birthday, and for some strange reason, we are always, either moving houses, planning a move or some other big change.
Come hubby's birthday, we are generally on a vacation, about to leave on holiday or just returning from one.
Seriously!
But this year definitely was an exception to the rule.
We celebrated my birthday very much in Chicago. Of course the move to London was in the background (or foreground, since we moved 24 days after my birthday). But still we enjoyed my birthday and I loved every minute of the three day celebration!
This year for Sumit's birthday, which is today :-D, we are not in any sort of vacation mode. Well, Sumit had a stay-cation last week due to V's mid term school break. But that does not count. On his birthday, we are very much in regular school day- work day mode! But we definitely do plan to make the most of the evening!
So in the year of changes, this is another change to our birthday rules... :-)

Sumit, wishing you a very Happy Birthday.
Today is your day, let there always be music-full volume style, laughter- falling on the floor types, food- licking your fingers type and friends- got your back types and above all family - that can get your pulse ticking!
Smile baby, Life is Good!
Enjoy your birthday and oh yeah.... looking forward to the next year full of travels!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween in London

First my disclaimer, yes I grew up in India where Halloween is not celebrated, was not celebrated when we were kids. The first time i saw Halloween was when I moved to states about a decade ago. Since then I have been 'Holoweenified'! I know it’s not a word. But you get the gist. I might not be the most enthusiastic person in dressing up, decorating or even getting enough candy for the kids. But I thoroughly enjoy Halloween. For lack of better work it’s 'Spooktacular'
This was our first Halloween in London. The area we live in is filled with Expats, American expats at that. Our neighbourhood is known as the 'Halloween Central' Perfect. All I had to do is rush home in rush hour (wink wink) and then get daughter ready in her Tigger costume and head out with my pumpkin mask!
Perfect.
The class moms who told me its 'Halloween Central' were right on the money. Just behind our apartment, there were kids and more kids. All dressed up from cute characters from Disney movies to scary ghosts. The houses were decorated (Compared to States, very skimpily) but it was still really nice. My daughter was just amazed at the carved pumpkins. Yes that’s one tradition I can’t encourage. I am really lazy.

We went house to house, collected a big bowl of candy, chocolates, suckers and my favourite Twix! V got spooked by some skeletons. She said 'That skeleton was mean, he scared me, I roared back since I am a tigger' The weather was really nice as well. It was nice bumping into other parents from her school as well. V was skipping all the way and would point to houses and say 'We didn’t go there' Sumit and I were happily taking her around as well. In all honesty, i had to check myself and not tell V 'Don’t pick up Kit Kat, but please pick up the 'Twix'Hehe, All in all, Trick or Treating in London was a wonderful experience.
We came home with sore feet and hungry tummies. Ate dinner and put V to bed.
Now Sumit and some friends had tried unsuccessfully to look for some Halloween parades. We were still extremely enthusiastic to head out. With In Laws stepping in as 'Go out, we will take care if she wakes up' Sumit and I headed out to 'Piccadilly Circus'. And brace yourself; I actually wore my leopard printed stockings!
Sadly, since Halloween fell on Monday this year, there were not a lot of people. We still enjoyed ourselves. Walked around, went to the Ice Hotel, walked some more, bumped into the Director of Wizard of Oz, the Broadway show and then walked some more. Finally we saw the most creative outfit of the night.

Of course if I start writing about my Pre- Haloween bash at Vinopolis the Friday before, I can’t end the post. Summarising the night. 12 girls all dressed in skeletal costumes headed to Vinopolis and then spent the better part of the night enjoying ourselves immensely!

It was a wonderful Halloween in London.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Diwali that it was and it always will be!

So we celebrated Diwali in much fan fare this year. Having In Laws here only added to the fun, magic and masti of Diwali. New dresses were bought for V. And she was gushing in pride. She helped out in every possible way, by taking an extra long nap in the afternoon, by helping with the Diya carrying back and forth and of course reminding me, mummy this diya is almost over, light new one. Being enthusiastic over celebrations, asking why way too many times, helping with LaxmiJi's paav, making flower rangoli, helping clean up, watching TV and above all being nice to visiting friends and entertaining us so much.
Wow, that one big line. Anyhow, you get the gist!
The fun of celebrating Diwali with a growing kid gets better and better. And it took facebook message and me looking in the mirror to realise a lot of V's eccentricities are very similar to what I did to 'entertain' (read trouble) my parents. Asking endless questions, helping out, being nosy and above all. miss chatter box! And I gush.
But Diwali was really nice. House was cleaned. iPad was used to decide which was the 'north direction' for Pooja, furniture was moved around (read sore arms), food was prepared, poori's made, mithai served, new cutlery used and above all celebrations with friends and family. We had dear friends over who made the whole evening much more fun. Endless chatter, lighting fuljhari's and phooski anar's added to the fun and merriment.
Here, I have to add, Sumit made the much needed trips to the stores to get last minute forgotten things, be it Oil for poori's (Yup, we are that awesome) or scrounging around for Firecrackers (Yup, he was that enthu)!
Which by the way was the highlight of the evening! After 15 years, I lit phuljhari's. It was V's first time. In London, you can light fire crackers in safe controlled manner wherever! Wow. So in US, land of the free, where you can carry fire arms but nor burn fire crackers!
Anyways, back to the point.
Our first Diwali in London was really memorable!
It created a 'Home away from home'


Note: Diwali Pics to follow in a post dedicated to pics! Promise!

Monday, October 24, 2011

The season of lights.....

:-) With family over, Diwali will be a bigger event than it generally is. Add in half term break for V, Sumit's time off and fresh Indian Mithai... we are set to rock it, or light it or bottom line enjoy it!
New dress for V- Check
New dress for me- Check
Gift for Sumit- Check
Buying silver on Dhanteras- Check
MIL engaging in celebratory food preparation- Check
FIL building the list for Pooja -Check
Teaching V to say 'Happy Diwali' -Check
Festive moods- Check
Yay, for celebrating our first Diwali in London!
I will definitely follow up with pictures of our evenings and celebrations... but for now, wishing you and your families, A very Happy Diwali!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Perfect Salad

After a long time, I ate a perfect salad!
To me a perfect salad- is not boring, crunchy, tasty, flavourful and above all delicious.
Yes, I am still talking about a salad. I was famously known as the 'cow' at my work. The best thing in my cafeteria- was a fix it yourself salad with loads of options, dressings, toppings. I ate it at least thrice a week. Of course, being pregnant that time only increased my craving for good salads.
For some reason, I don’t enjoy making salads at home. They just don’t turn out that good. I do make the standard (read boring) ones. But in all honesty, I make them because I should and not because I want to.
Back to my salad yesterday. It is called the 'Kelp Noodle Salad' from Pods Hmm, First thing, I did was wiki kelp!
After that, pigged in. And let me re-iterate. It was delicious, the sprouts, the cabbage, the edamame, the pickled ginger, the kelp noodles, the oh so tasty light sesame soy dressing with delicious chilli's on top. I still can’t get over the fact that I picked it up at Pods in the ready to eat section. Wow. That’s some crazy fresh salad.
At payment counter, I requested the frequent eater card, well knowing me, I will keep going back for more and more.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A wish that will not get full filled

Ever. I know it won’t!
For the past ten- twelve years, I have been trying unsuccessfully to go to a Jagjit Singh concert. There were times when I had the tickets and could not go. There were times that i chased tickets and could not go, there were times when I just could not go.
Bottom-line, no Jagjit Singh, Live in <City> concert for me!  Sob,

There are numerous Eulogies, all over the web and I can definitely not do justice to it.  All I know now, is that soothing, melodious voice is on repeat on the iPad.

iUnSmart


Or Gadget friendly! Whatever you call it. :-)
I am officially moved over to the 'unsmart' with over four smart devices for two adults in our house.
Right when I moved to London, one of the big issues, was not having internet. It was hard to plan, to get directions, to be in touch. Implying a book of street maps gifted by our relocation company became my best friend! My husband joked that instead of our kids water in my purse, the book existed. Yes, It was my best friend during those unpleasant weeks of apartment hunting, figuring out lay of the land and of course the fun filled- to tourist trips in the city. But I learned the city really well. My directions, my understanding of street layout all improved slowly but surely.
But after three long months of wait (thanks to 'efficient' systems to get a cell phone here) I got me my smart phone. And then with time, i got the smarter phone, rather the iPhone and now I am hooked! Need to go to someplace new, no more using the mind, oh let me just open up my maps, GPS. Need a new restaurant to go to, no more exploring in the area, lets just look at the app and figure it out. Oh don’t know the time now in Chicago or India, no more using basic math to subtract or add hours, let me just check the clock out. No more remembering to do's, no more post it's let me just make a note on one of my four smart devices and then sync them.
Of course I refuse to move from paper back to e-readers! That’s where I draw the line.
I am now over connected, over hooked and still okay. 
Basically, instead of using my mind for simple stuff or even complicated stuff, I just 'app' it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I am back!

Aaah!

All right, I am back. Sorry for the longish break.
Two main reasons:
1. Its been crazy busy this side of Atlantic.
--- Hence been a wishy washy on this time
2. I have had a few trolls on both of my blogs.
--- Which was quiet irritating and affected me more than I wanted!

Oh well... am done with the trolls now! :-D
I am here, back here: judge me, condone me, appreciate me. Whatever, my blog, my writing, my space.
Don’t drop by if you don’t care for it.

Now that's out of my system..

How have you been?

On my front, life's been great, of course being blessed with weather in late 70's in September has been amazing. With IL's visiting, the happier weather resulted in sightseeing, picnics, walks and strolls. Lots of them! Though winter is on the horizon, I loved the extended summer or more rightly 'Indian Summer'. I am excited to use my new winter boots though!
Other aspects, its been crazy busy, with work, with home, with V's new school, with new social scene and of course adjusting in. But slowly and surely I seem to be coping well.
Guess what, I am waking early.... before the clock strikes seven! That's and achievement for me. Of course this implies, I have been sleeping earlier than normal. Booo. I am yawning at 9, and to be up beyond 10 on a weekday is an achievement. Booo.
No, its nothing to do with me being 29+1 now. I think its just new schedules and my need for more sleep and less coffee. Yes you read that right, less coffee.

All right, so much to catch up on, I will do that slowly and surely. But I am back now,so do stick around!
Meanwhile enjoy a glimpse of our Indian Summer Fun!


Monday, September 5, 2011

New Month, New stories...

September, feels like a good month already

1. Two of my besties birthday!!!
2. One of them visiting me here in London with his wife... another bestie of mine!
3. Miss V, my little baby, starting her Big Girl School with uniform and classes and curriculum. OMG.
4. Hubby returns, he gets back to home, to family.
5. Speaking of family, have my In-laws, SIL and Bro-in law also visiting from India.

Full House, Full Throttle, Full Masti! Life is good, chaotic but good!

So how is your month looking with winter disguised as autumn round the corner?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Welcome to London 'Mates'

Cultural Awareness
My kid cousins- 10 and 12 year olds brushed me up to be more 'Brit' than 'Indian/American'. They taught me words, phrases, situations which will make me mix in better and not stand out as a sore thumb.
Here is the summary of their pointer's while we were waiting for the RAC (like AAA in States) to tow our broken car (It took RAC four hours to tow from the middle of a big city, but more on that later!)

1. It's a 'Lift' and not an 'Elevator' since it lifts us from one floor to another.
2. You say 'Put rubbish in the bin' as against 'Please trash this'
3. You will often here 'Darling, its tea-time, how about some scones with butter and jam' as against, 'I need my coffee break'
4. It's perfectly normal to use terms of endearment such as 'Darling, Honey' as against 'Sweety, Dear'
5. Teachers will offen say 'You darling trouble makers' or 'Whoops the daisies, what do we have here'
6. No using 'Dude, Guys' please use 'Mates'
7. Instead of 'Thanks' say 'Cheers' even when holds the door for you, say 'Cheers' not 'Thanks'
8. It's not 'Cell Phone' its 'Mobile'
9. It's 'Let's go to a Cinema' as against 'Lets catch a movie/ Lets go for a movie'
10. It's 'Toilet' as against 'Rest Rooms'

 Phew.. and I promise there were many more that they fed me.

But for now let me start practicing the 'top 10 gaffes' as they termed it! Now, You tell me, what were a few of the 'gaffes' you made in a new country!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Week 1- Back to work report

It does feel like the first day of school- getting back to work after a brief sabbatical that is. It didn’t help that hubby is out of town for work for three full weeks. Biggest issue, I have to iron my own work shirts, all five of them.
Ouch.
So Sunday evening, the basics were taken care of, alarm set and woke up with butterflies.
Seriously. Day 1, I woke up much earlier than I am used to, which was fine. Well sorta anyways. By the time miss V woke up, her breakfast was prepared and on the table, her clothes were laid out and well minus my blazer, I was ready to go!
Yup. And yes, this is still Garima writing, the 'I-am-not-morning-person' Anyways, since V was having her settling in week the week prior, she was all set for her new school. She seemed excited and hugged and kissed me good bye from the door and reminded me 'Pick me up on time, okay?' Perfect. Off to work- No more get in the car drive, but walk to train station and take two trains into work.
Yes. We don’t plan to get a car in London, hell the tubes are so good, why bother with extra expenses right? I get in work, on time and the day went off well.
We met with friends the first evening, so it took the day 1 exhaustion out the window! Perfect. The rest of the week was similar. Of course being invited by friends for a stop by for dinner and tea and fuss-free dinners really helped. I did manage getting up on time, all days, having peaceful drop offs and pick ups and above all getting decent amount of time in evenings with V and having home cooked soul food with her and reading, colouring, playing, the regular stuff
Flipside, unlike Chicago, I don’t have the luxury of less commute. A new normal will have to get defined. I have to add, in ways I was happy that hubby was not around. I got used to being back to work and settling into a new routine independently.
Having said that, I want him back. I want to be able to hit the snooze button in the morning while he tends to V or be able to sleep the full night without worrying about any 'night time accidents' V might have and above all, having him back to share my day and my dinners with. I miss him and as V claims, she misses him more.

Two more weeks left till he returns. Hmm. So yes, week 1 was successful in my eyes. And how do I plan to celebrate? Since it’s a long weekend here in UK, V and I are off to Manchester to meet my cousin and family and yes, get pampered a lot. So how do you cope with transitions, what are your plans for the long weekend, whether its now (UK) or in a weeks’ time (US) or just a simple weekend (Anywhere else)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Almost time.....

A lovely summer vacation draws to a close. A nice 4 month long vacation for me, V and our family. No complains. Only replenished energy to start regular life. With our move to London I had decided to take a sabbatical for a bit for us to get adjusted and assimilated with the new environment as Sumit started in his new role in a new country. I can't say we are completely settled in London, thanks to a few sore boxes around the house and more than occasional pangs of I miss Chicago. But overall, we are doing fine. Liking London and getting more active both socially and on the travel/ exploring front. Being at home for this extended period of time for the first time in my adult life, opened my eyes. A) Whatever I can do for our house in the condensed evening hours after work (also known as Daily Chores) takes the full day if one has time: implying you really don't get as much free time 'now that you are home' B) Your passions like 'cooking' take a back seat, since now first they start feeling like chores and second, you suffer from cabin fever. Big Time. C) Necessities like 'cleaning' also sadly follow the case of ' oh I can do that in the evening' and sadly the evening gets filled up with something else. Resulting in putting it off until later, 'now that I am home' I could go on and on.. Bottom line, my imaginings of a free afternoon at a cafe or a museum or at the park, 'now that I am pretty much home' is not that true. For me, I am a better house wife, and a better mom and a more balanced person (Again in my mind) when I have something concrete to keep me busy with, hmm, may be like 'work' or some other thing which forces a schedule at me. Having said that, I loved my time off. The traveling, the unexpected trip to India, week off to Hong Kong, a family trip to Scotland and oh yes the not so fun, moving, settling down, and figuring out the Brit way of things. Spending hours with V painting, doing her room and above all just being around was the best part. Plus picking up hubby from work and then exploring new city, taking walks with family and just catching up on reading (I read 8 books in less than two months!!!) were amazing. Nothing beats the relaxed nature of hours with the kiddo of course. But now V is getting ready to start her 'big girl school', Sumit is getting busier with work and business trips(!) and I am almost ready to get back to work. All this happens in less than a week. I am excited for V as she gets to meet more friends, enrolls in fun classes and gets busier. I am excited for me as I start work in a foreign country with a role that is both challenging and satisfying. Wish us luck, friends. New journey of normalcy begins. ( yes I did mean 'new normalcy' = craziness of once again juggling more than busy three calendars, ensuring hot food on plates and content kid. I am sure the renewed energy will get depleted fast enough!) but hey, let me enjoy it while I can. Vacation draws to a close, and I am for once okay with it. A quick recap of our summer vacation: London Touristy stuff
India- time spent with family
Hong Kong... the skyline... aaah!
A hike with Reindeer's in Scotland

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scotland: Arthur's Seat

Within 48 hours of V and me returning to London after India trip, the three of us took a weeks trip to Scotland. Its now a tradition of sorts, we need a summer break, just the three of us. Within 24 hours, the trip was planned, reservations made and we were on our way..... 


A quick recap of Day 1: (More to come later)
Our first day in Edinburgh started with a hike to the top of  Arthurs' Seat. A lovely 2 mile hike to the top. After having a phenomenally heavy breakfast in our hotel, gearing up with some snacks, water and juice, the three of us headed of for our climb. We had warned V that there will be no carrying her, no stroller or help. But she seemed excited to do 'mountain climbing'.
Since we entered from near Pollock Halls, we were greeted with a series of steps, uneven steps, lots of them taking us to the top. We climbed. With a three and a half, we took a few breaks, an orange break, a juice break and the most important let's-stop-and-look-around break!
The climb was definitely not hard for adults, but kudos to miss V. At reaching the top in under an hour. At the top, the view was fantastic, you get a complete 360 degree view of the city. On one side whilst you see the Edinburg Castle, on the other side you try to spot the Stirling  castle, on one side you see the vast expanse of the 'Loch' the other side you spot the mountains flanking the city. Gorgeous.



After the climb, lying on the grass, soaking up the views and just enjoying the peace and tranquil was priceless.On one of the brochures, it was mentioned when you climb Arthurs' Seat don't brag about the experience on Facebook, just do it! Now I know why, you will be at a loss of words.....


V was wonderful on the hike, yes she did have one or two complaints, like it's too cold, her feet hurt, its windy, etc. But a nice winter jacket, her favorite juice and a banana fixed her woes. The climb down was even more fun with V as both of us hummed songs and noticed bees on flowers. In summary - hike with three year olds, they remind you of your childhood.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

I was Home

No not London but what was and will always be my true home-Mumbai.
I returned after what feels like a lifetime, or half a decade more realistically. Wow! There is something about the city one grows up in, no matter where you go in life, the familiar streets, the college joints, the bus numbers, the crowds, the humidity, the food, just feels natural.

Meeting friends whom one just resumes from where left off, bliss.Having your off spring give you confused look when you say, this is my school, bliss.
Planning the trip to the coffee house just because that's where you always met your friends,  bliss.
Driving past the building where you grew up, bliss.
Seeing the revised skyline, new land marks, revisiting the history, bliss.
Boo for being Home only for three days of which being bed ridden for more than 2.5 days due to health... big Booo!!!
So though I am Vada Paav, Bhel, Chit Chats and Sizzlers deprived.... I was HOME and that's what counts.



Bottom line, being in your true home, bliss.






Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bargaining is an art

Which sadly I dont possess. Nada.
Not at all and sadly if you want to do some street shopping in Hong Kong, you better know how to bargain.... in short be a mean terminator.
While walking down the three infamously named as: "Ladies Market", "Sports Market" and "Electronics Market", i once again realised, I need a mean negotiator with me to get the right price for the knick knacks I wanted to buy.
It completely reminded me of a trip to Bankok, where my friend just said: Point to me what you want and walk away, I will get it for you. Needless to say, she got it for me at less than 70% of the original price quoted to me. Lovely!
Back to my woes....
There was a time in Jaipur on a street shop, when I asked the price of a pair of shoes. I was quoted 125 rs. (About 2$ then), I said, okay, can I get it for 110 rs. The seller burst out laughing and said, "Madam take it for 100 rs. I insist" I was super red and happy. Then comes my husband and sister in law saying: "50 rs. no more" The guy gave it.
Its been that day and today, I am "banned" from any street side shopping without a "mean negotiator" with me.
Now, for some successful shopping here, I need tips.

So friends, please tell me what works? Tips/ guidelines/ to-do's anything?
Please pretty please..

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Breathe a little

Yesterday, Sumit and I went to the infamous Po Lin Monastery. The house of the Big Buddha. We spent and entire day there, taking the cable car (Me being freaked out and fearing the worst on way up), having the delicious 'satwick' food- An authentic spread of buddhist vegetarian Cantonese food, climbing the steps to do the darshan and then taking a moment to breathe it all in.

As we looked around, hand in hand, I realized- How peaceful it really was. After the Monastery, we did a hike, climbed on top of two rocks and sat for a long time looking around to the Gnong Ping Valley and the Shek Pak area on one side and the Lantau Peak on the other. It was breathtaking. Wonderful and serene. No words were spoken, no ooh and no aah's, after the wonderful hike, the only thing that Sumit and I did was hold hands, rest on each other and breathe.
Time did stand still and in the misty clouds, small trees below, and large mountains around me- reminded me- breathe!
When you do visit the Big Buddha, I highly recommend going beyond the monastery and do one of the trails. If you are fitter than I am, then do the straight up hike of 973 m. to the peak. I was huffing and puffing on the foot hills. One can even hike up all the way from base to Big Buddha. A trip that takes 22 minutes by cable car, takes a few hours on the well marked trail. But make it a day trip and enjoy the serenity, the peace and  tranquility. Enjoy the hikes per your liking, feel the fragrant incense around you, close your eyes and let the breeze blow you over!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Hong Kong- First Impression

Walking around the streets on Mong kok and exploring the city with nothing else but a camera, water and a map is liberating.
I am in Hong Kong visiting Sumit. So while he slogs in office, I soak in the city completely. V is with her grand parents and uncle in India getting pampered and minus being miserable every other hour since there is no one troubling me with incessant "why's", I am enjoying the city.
My first impression of the city- which of course I will say, begins at the Airport is "Wow" this is plush geen. The landing strip really feels like you are landing on water.... the strip extends on to reclaimed land, and what you see are mountains, sail bots, misty clouds all around you. Breath taking. Trust me, not what I expected at all. Once you are out of the airport, the weather hits you, with its complete humidity, heat and 'OMG' ness. But you love it still.
The drive from the airport to my hotel- in Mong Kok was amazing. There is the sea/ocean on one side, tall mountains on the other. Untill the driver takes the exit, you wonder, where should I look, this side or that.
Mong kok itself is what I though it to be. Streets flanked by stores, Chinese and Cantonese food, street vendors, jewelery stores, lots of people in a rush and a lovely hotel welcoming you to the air conditioned space. Our room being on a higher floor, offers breath taking views of the city.
In the evening I went over to the Hong Kong island/ Central side, met hubby after a couple of weeks and we got chatting, hugging and saying: "wow, we miss V so much" hehe, trust me, first words out of our mouths. We were to meet some friends in SoHo. (Doesn't every city have a SoHo now!!!). The Lan Kwai Fong is amazing as well. Since I was in the after office time, the bars, pubs and restraunts were buzzing with people catching up, relaxing and enjoying. We had delicious Mexican food in SoHo. Yes, we are awesome that way, come all the way to Hong Kong, and my first meal is Mexican. But, with us being Vegetarian, I was really apprehensive about trying Cantonese/ Chinese or local food without some research. But the food was delicious, quantities plentiful and company even more delightful. I met my friend, after 15 years. Yes 15 years and it didnt feel like a day had past. It was so nice. So while we squared nachos, and licked the Gauc, we realized that the place was now shut and the owners were making not so subtle gestures that we better leave. Hehe, good times.
My first impression of Hong Kong was, "Such a mix and match" I cant figure it out if its fast, slow, natural, man made or what? I will figure it out.
But let me say bye for now.. and get back to reading my 'Lonely Planet' guide to figure out where to next. ... Keep you posted.

And yes....this is the first vacation without V by my side. It feels weird, though I am liking it, I didnt realize, I will miss her this much.

Baby... will see you soon, real soon.

For you... pictures will come, promise, but in a bit. Till then hoping you enjoy the lengthy travel memoirs...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

After four long years

This post is post marked, when you read this I will be sitting in my house back in India really enjoying the pampering and relaxation. I am going to India, yohooo, after four long years. It's the first time for V as well. Sadly Sumit will be traveling for work and not joining us, but that is honestly not dampening my spirit.
We have not told my in laws, so it's a surprise for them. Completely. I am just going to show up with V, ring the bell and say "anyone home? " seriously, that's what I am doing.
This trip marks a few firsts for me and us as a family
- after marriage, first trip sans husband to India.
- first trip with V by myself.
- V's first trip to India.
- me leaving V possibly for a week with grand parents while I join Sumit in his travels.
- every thing first time with V in India, I wonder how my reunions with friends is going to be!
And yes missing hubby a lot.

Wow, yes I am excited as hell! I will try blogging, no promises, but I do assure, I will be writing to publish may be later.

Hope you guys take care while I enjoy with V at home.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Greenwich

For the record it's pronounced as " gren-ich" and nor "green- which". Now that we have that out the way, we spent a lovely Sunday strolling, relaxing, soaking the sun in this nice lazy town which honestly is not as lazy as I expected it to be. 
As soon as we got off the Cutty Saark station, I was taken back, there were lots and lots of people. Everywhere. We had made our plans around the Greenwich Festival, but I really was not expecting the number of people. In less than 10 minute walk, we reached the Greenwich park which had a lovely painted chapel, lots of small and big performances and the best of all a huge park area. We had packed a small picnic basket, so we sat on the grass and enjoyed the picnic food. V was extremely happy, we had recently read a book on 'going to picnic' so she was very involved. Across from there was an exhibition of art. Interactive modern art, rather interactive scientific art. Small little demonstrations of basic laws of physics were on display. Some were evident and some were hidden in art, one had to figure it out. People of all ages spent a good amount of time there. All three of us were mesmerized, I literally had to drag V and Sumit out to see other things. 
There were acrobatic displays, people dressed in salwar suits walking on sticks. V just called them, giant princesses, musical performances and above all very bright sun making us happy and extremely thirsty. A perfect bubble gum flavored ice cream later, we headed to the Royal Observatory, come on, you have to see the GMT line while in Greenwich. The small walk was fun, the GMT line, the 24 hour clock and the back splash of London made lovely photo opportunities. Sadly we reached a bit later and the observatory was closed from inside, but it was still worth the hike. I tried to explain the latitude, longitude concept to V and stopped short, she was just way happier looking at the views and saying ' Click a picture now'
We walked a round the town a bit more and then headed home. V was exhausted and just slept en route back giving the husband wife a good amount of time to just chat witheach other.





The overall day was lazy, picnicking in the park, walking around town, rolling on the grass, dancing with the performers, watching gravity defying acrobats and laughing as V would keep running and shooing the pigeons away. The town definitely calls us back. Summer just started here, I am hoping we can head over there again soon. And next time I am going to start from the Observatory and then do the rest.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New City

Recently I met a friend for lunch. As we dug in our pizzas and pasta's, he made a very compelling statement. ' yes I have been to London before on a tour, but that is not a way to experience a country. This is.'
True.
The more I think about it, it makes sense. Yes we can have pictures from all over the world, but did we really enjoy the city, the culture, the newness.
As I reminisce more, the first time I fell head over heels in love with states was after 5 years of living there. Only when I did the cross country drive from CA to DC did I get to experience US. Driving the road less travelled, the true country side and experiencing the country up close and personal. One of the best trips ever.
With work, we get only limited vacations, and when we do visit a place, we like to get maximum bang for the buck. What we loose in the process is the concept of 'true vacation' versus 'sight seeing'
I am excited at being in London. This is my first time living in EU and I really want to make the most of it. I am really hoping with time I get to travel more, see more, learn more and overall experience the charm of each new country, new city, new place. Not by seeing the "top 5 things to do' but actually experiencing the country.

On that note, I will try jotting little notes from our trips. A friend of mine does it beautifully on Facebook. I am inspired to add a new tag here 'travel journal'

Monday, June 20, 2011

US vs. London for apt hunt

I am happy to report we have a place to live. It's been hard, but finally I can say...it's been worth it. Yay..... 

But it has been painful, and I am sorry I will be comparing to US, sulking and ranting about the way things are done for rental apartments here in London. So if you don't want to hear it, stop reading now.

In US, i have moved 8 times in 9 years, so i know a little about moving. You go to craigslist, shortlist the area, the budget, go see the places, like, sign the lease and move in. Simple. Yes you might have to see a few places, but when you search for 2 bed/ bath, it's a matter os aesthetics, the basics are the same. Standard. Simple. And above all, quick

In London..... Here is my story.
We started with, contacting realtors on our own. Go to the areas which we had researched prior just to get a feel of the area and the property styles. Also to see how much will we get in our budget. Stretching the pound if you will.
First day, was woooh! Yes it's a three bed/ bath but seriously it's only700 sq. Ft. Ouch. Too small. Yes that's more like it, but wait a minute, that's 400 pounds more per week
"Hmm, it's a bit random here" was what I said the end of our first day. 
The next couple of days was the same, few more areas, few more apts. and a lot of WTH moments.
After we shortlisted our areas, we contacted our relocation specialist. That was one day, back to back viewings and the end of the day, we had a favorite.
We were elated, in my mind it was to be, like place, tell the realtor, sign the papers and thAts it.....move in. Done.
Sadly no, the first place, the landlord took our 'offer' gave it to another interested party and negotiated a higher rate. Sorry though we like you, the other party is giving considerably more. Do you want to match that ? 'no thank you, is all I could mutter.'

Property two, it took three realtors, four days independently to have the landlord agree to our 'offer'. Now I was happy. Yeah. But no, once again two days short of moving in, the land lady kept adding clauses and sub clauses to the offer. Red flags. 'if the land lady is being such a hard ass before we move in. Imagine what happens that if the washer breaks down. She might just bring in the firing squad. So we had to back down again. A meddling land lady would be a nightmare.

Phew.......
I was so pissed by the whole 'whims' of realtors, contracts, land lords, offers. I was done. I told Sumit, screw it....I am going to stay here in the hotel. Done. 

Then finally, we found another place. Perfect. Ten minutes from V's school, 5 min. From tube, our top area. It works perfectly for us. I didn't want to celebrate, since I had a hunch that if something were to go wrong, it would. But luckily for us. It didn't. Papers, clauses agreed on. Move date finalized,  and we are good to go. Since I have post marked this, while you read this, I am in the nightmare of arranging things in the house with a very very helpful toddler. So wish me luck.

Now if you are moving to London, buzz me, I will give you a reality check before you look.
In short, be ready for a slower place, heart break and middle men. But you will eventually find something in your budget and get used to not having a Dryer in the apt. If you get one, call me, I have no shame in bringing my wet laundry to use the dryer.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Email addiction....

I am one of those who cannot leave an email unread or deleted or archived or labelled. No I am not organizing my inbox, just, when I log into my gmail, I like....'no new messages' to show. Period.
That implies, I check my smart phone, iPad or computer incessantly and either delete, reply to or mark to reply, follow up, pretty much right away. Most of the times.
Au contra ire, my hubby's inbox.....has at the last he showed me 1500 unread emails. He does not clean his inbox. And that annoys me. But hey his inbox, his rules right?
Anyhow, back to my email addiction..... I love it. Sometimes easier to communicate via email then actual calls. Yes, I suck. I know. A few friends, we have a common email chains, how else are we suppose to keep connected in over four continents. A dear friend and I exchange emails as often as possible....they are long, wordy and to some extent like a conversation just the e-conversation. Some friends, I need a single liner email and I know what we mean. It can be a forward of standard "what not to wear" auditions and we both laugh our life out over emails. We know.
Email conversations are fun, frequent and simple.
Now comes phone, being in London now implies I fight time zones, sleep alarms and different schedules. But we talk...generally after missing each others calls a zillion times, we talk. And it's fun.

At the end of the day, its these calls that keep me connected back to my girls. Our friends and above all makes us smile.

Skype, email, cheap calling rates....thanks, though I have packed away a decade of my life in US and life in India.........I am still very much there.

And yes, I have read your email....I promise to revert soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Commuting woes or lack of.......

So far I have been lucky (or convincing enough) to Sumit, that we live close to my work. Never in my career in US has my work commute been more than 20 minutes. Most recently it was a 20 minute walk at a really easy pace. On the other hand, husband's commutes are always north of 45 minutes. It may have been train, car or combined. So yeah, I have been getting the better side of the deal. And I am not complaining. 
When we decided to move to London, since knew I'd be on a mini sabbatical, I said, this time for once, let's live near your work place. Our temporary accommodation was 10 minutes away from his work. I would see him often home before 6:30 p.m. Which trust me,in our household is unheard of. he liked it and we loved it.
However when we started looking for schools and apartments, somehow V's school took priority and now we are 10  minutes walking from her big girl school and sadly, 30 minutes away from his work place. Hubby, sorry you still have to commute. But, we did get the place of our choice, in our top area.......well the commute lives on. But 30 is better than 45 right?


Yes, let the congratulations for finally finding a place to call home begin. 
And yes, let the fun of settling in begins as well.

Monday, June 13, 2011

One short - long train ride

Over the weekend we took the infamous tube. The train ride was suppose to be only two stops, so give or take five minutes. Really short train ride if you will. But this train ride also turned out to be the longest train ride till date.....thanks to a really really inquisitive and nosy toddler...the star of that evening. Miss V.

So we manage to get in a very crowded train with stroller et al. And before we could even settle down, V points to a passenger standing right behind me saying.
" Mummy why is that boy so short. He needs to be so tall " accompanied by the hand actions and a loud clear shrilly three year old voice. I was turning red, avoided looking behind me, but am sure all the people beside me checked out the boy for sure. She repeated.
" mummy that boy is not as tall....he needs to be." and I could simply say, "honey not nice to point." 
But I am sure she did not hear me, since before I could finish my sentence, she screamed, pointing to the same man again...
" mummy why is that boy wearing earrings, boys don't wear earrings. That's not very nice." by this time my face was crimson, and I kept wondering, gawd,......where the hell is my stop, I was too embarrassed, giggly and crimson shaded. . Miss V repeated "mummy why is he wearing earrings, eeeeew, boys don't wear that." please someone press the eject button on the train, so we are outside the train....please....aargh.

Innocent questioning and logic of a three year old left me speechless and rolling on the floor laughing the minute I got off the train.

I am sorry, anonymous boy....I really am. I was too numb in the five minute train ride to practice goos parenting. V has been since advised that it's not nice to point, comment or describe strangers and above all not there attributes. 

However she is still confused why some men wear earrings and her father, mama, dada don't! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

Letter to london

Dear London

I like you, I really do. I love the multi culture feel, the city, the tube, the cafes, the mango's, the food. I love that I don't have to explain every other person, that vegetarian means no fish or that mangos are not exotic fruit, but an essential. I love how the people welcome you, not complain about the rains but just shrug the shoulders and say, "about time eh" I like the cheery attitude of the city and how the conversations are not about the weather, but about cultures, weekend multi country trips. I like it all, but you are not making it easy to make me like it more and more. Are you?
Yes London, this is ranty post, not about you, but the 'system' or lack of.
It's taken over eight trips to the 'neighborhood' phone store, three calls and four frustrated conversations in the past six days....and I am still without a phone after almost a month being here. And making other trips to the store.
The excuse I get all the time for the 'sloppiness' is the system. Or "that's how it is." seriously?
It's been over three weeks  I  have had an offer on the place I could call home, but sadly I still don't know. it took me three realtors negotiating and figuring it out, but still the response I get is 'couple of hours' I have been hearing that for more than 3 weeks now. Seriously?
It's takes you two seconds to tell me 'top up' the travel card, I do so dutifully with the cc card. But when I use the same cc card, say at a phone shop, you regretfully tell me 'sorry, systems issue'
Seriously ?

I know, I know.....I should give it time. I am, but with each passing day, I actually think, how much more. 
At some level, i think, it's better to be in the service apt. I have a hunch, if and when I do eventually move in my own place, the landline, the electric bill, the county tax, the cable.....all will take eons and be handful and mouthful. I know it. The 'system' comes into play for such stuff. 

I don't get it, you get millions of people moving into the city, they take phones, new leases,  cells, cables, TV. It's not unheard of. Right? Why does all this very basic stuff feel like the first time the city does it? I don't get it.

Help me a bit out here....... I really like the city, the 'system' is beginning to frustrate me a bit.

Not very Cheerful,
Garima

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sorry....but now I am back.

It took a friend beating me up on email and saying " you are suppose to be free now " to realize, even with not working currently I am more busy. I have neglected a lot of missed calls, emails and also the blog. For which, trust me......point noted. I am making it a point to be at least weekly here on it's a start and on  Mommy-in-making. Pakka. 
And yes my google reader is untouched for a while...so will catch up soon. Pakka.
But on a positive note, I am reading. Two books in a week. Great start. Sumit got me the books from the library and then just coyly placed them on the night stand. I am back to reading paper backs. Me like.
Besides that, adjusting in new country is on. It's a lovely place but you really don't realize subtle differences in a new country without living in one. Visiting a place and living in one are two completely different things.
Here has been my major adjustments. 
Apartment hunting needs middle men, realtors and for the same place it can take three different realtors to negotiate the best rates for you. Hmm. 
Schools, this is big. Somehow, their timings are just not that friendly to both parents working. Schools are from 9 to 3:30. Hmm. So let me get this, I drop kid at school at 9 get to work and then either have a nanny or some other help get the child for evenings. Hmm. After school programs, yes they exist. But are really expensive, hmm. I am figuring this piece out...tune into Mommy-in-making for more rants about this.
Stairs, lots and lots of them. Here is where I miss my car sometimes. Ok, more than sometimes.
Kitchens being 'rooms' and not open kitchens. I love cooking, but somehow not being able to talk to family or watch tv or just feel like a part while enjoying something will definitely take some getting used to.
But.....adjustments aside, london is as vibrant as they say.
Food, vegetarian options, flavors.....don't let me even start. The piled on pounds is proof enough.
Roses, every city corner has them and they smell wonderful. I had forgotten the smell of flowers. Trust me on this.
Travel. Within a few hours one can explore so many different terrains, cultures and again food. We have only begun, but our day trip to simple Brighton was a great start.
Literature, I have seen cafe's named- Yates, little Dorrit. Need I say more.
History, and the mix of the old and new. This is what amazes me. From my hotel I look out, on one end I see st. Paul's cathedral and the other side I see the Shard and both form a part of the skyline blending in beautifully.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Love affair with coffee continues.....

My love..... And where if I had not spent as much money as I have, I would own a few big baubles for sure. That would have been smart investing. But alas, I go for instant gratification, coffee it is. 
London is lined with cobble stone pathways wherever you go and on those are n number of coffee shops, barista's, mom n pops where you can enjoy the yumm brown thirst quencher.
I was not a big fan of cappuccino, once in a while okay, but if you anything about my love for coffee....I like it my way. London has made me change that. I am now slowly enjoying the cappuccino here. Frothy, served in ceramic white cups, with a hint of coco on top and a smiling server. yum yum yum.
Often you will find me on iPad enjoying the free internet at these cafes and sipping on a cappuccino no sugar please. 
 
Assimilating in the new culture I say.......

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Cooking as a stress buster

Well... I enjoy cooking A lot. And one thing that I have been missing in this whole move process, is having my own instruments, my ingredients and my stuff to cook healthy, amusing things, having me and my family... ooh and aah. You see food is a very important thing in our household!
Yes we have a lovely kitchen (tiny but functional) in the hotel/ apt. we in temporarily. But its just not the same.
Add on it woes of school decisions, not finding the right apartment in the right budget and not being able to figure out... What The Hell is a Mew, and why is it soooo tiny! ;-)
I was tired... I pretty much threw family out( aka sternly requested hubby to take V to the park) and put on the music that I like. Looked as ingredients in my tiny doll kitchen and the pantry...and decided to cook something. Anything....

In all honesty, At time of writing, I still have not tasted it.. taken pictures of the dish, ingredients and hopefully if the experimentation comes out good, I promise I will post about the recipe and family reactions.
But honestly, the forty five minutes of cooking pots and pans, aromas filling up my room, music in my ears...made me refreshed! :-) I am a happy, cooking is a stress buster for me. Mainly because I get uninterrupted time to enjoy something, see the results pretty soon and above all, since I can sing without worrying that the glass panes will break.


As I wait for the family to return from the park... the table is set, the plates/ forks laid out.. and I am typing this away, crossing my fingers and really hoping that my 'experimental- zuccini-carrot-rice-pilaf- with stuff' came out okay to taste... it does look swanky.

What's your stress buster.... when you know things are out of your control (Like agents calling you back and saying what happened to the offer you put in for the perfect place, or schools that your daughter and you love have a tiny wait list and you are waiting for results... or above all.... when more than 90% of your belongings are in storage/ in transit and suddenly you missing them!)
Fill me in.

"Moving is fun... if you make it" That's my new mantra

Meanwhile fingers crossed, will report soon!

Monday, May 9, 2011

In the land of monopoly

I really think I am not in London but in monopoly board. The little I have seen London, it has station names like pica dilly , bond street, Oxford street and the likes....If this does not remind you of monopoly, I don't know what will. The cute part is stations like mayfair and marlyebone, were considered pricey in monopoly and from what my realtor told me...that's true here as well. Game emulates an actual city.

London is a very good mix, very different from an American perspective. Well I know I am Indian, but have been in US during my formative years, so let me say this, very different from an American returns perspective. 
The obvious like, wrong side of the road aside, subtle differences like, separate taps of hot and cold water, different stores for a different items. For example,in CVS in US, one would get pharmacy related things, milk, basic food and basically all you need for a forgotten errand....here not so much. I needed a crepe bandage for my sprained ankle, Sumit had to go to three convenience stores to get it....not that convenient if you think about it, eh?
But even other prettier differences, kids playing cricket in the park, cobble stone pathway s all around with the modern construction together like peas in a pod, a charming, delightful accent and the same adjectives used continuously by people around to describe the city...no more, it's so cool, awesome....more ' refined' if you will.
The biggest surprise to me is the size.....everything is just small and for what NYC people would call shoe box is called spacious here. Take for example one three bedroom we saw, 650 sq. Feet had it all....three bedrooms, a fitted kitchen and two baths. It's beside the point that if I was walking in the passage, no one else could fit...yes we said no to that.
It's an interesting adjustments, in the week here I have come across a couple of other expats or migrants from America, the theme is different. Some have come to love this city with all it's splendor, activities, short falls and weather, some on the other hand are complaining about lack of space, amenities, air conditioning, warm beer, expensive( which I have to agree with, 3 dollars for 3 onions..... Seriously) and  the likes.

For me....I am enjoying this experience a lot. I am totally floored on the true inter cultural experience, the cobblestone pathway. Yes I am not a local yet..still in a lovely hotel, still figuring out the areas, the schools, the work and the embracing the city if you will. But for what I have seen..... I like, and what a Brit would say......it's charming, eh?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

London- Day 1

Aaah! Wow, we are actually here.
The last few days in Chicago, our friends would ask us: 'Has it hit you guys that you are leaving US?' I would say... may be in flight it will.
But it did not.
It hit me when I arrived in our hotel in London... OMG, we are actually here. In new country and new land and everything slightly different. Away from our friends and family.
Day 1, I am happy to report was good, simple and jet lagged! :-)
The fun cab ride from Airport to Hotel... I had two snoring companions, Both Sumit and V slept as I awwed at the cobble stone paths of Kensington or the bleach white houses in Earls Court or gaped at the MI-6 building and the driver and I chatted about this and that.
We got in our hotel/ apartment suite and i did my customary walk through. Why are the switches all opposite, OMG, the Microwave is so small, oh wow, the switches, there are so many, one for possibly every light. ... and the weirdest.. Sumit tried to put the car seat on the drivers seat in the cab.. hehe, the cars also drive in the 'wrong' side. V worded it perfectly: "It's all ulta pulta'
Hehe.. minus all that, we had a lovely jet lagged sleep in the afternoon and then woke up and walked around. Per V's wishes, the first thing we saw: London Bridge...and honestly, she was tad bit dissapointed.. the Tower Bridge looked like the London Bridge. The weather was good.. the people around us sad: 'its 10-20' and it took me a few seconds to realize they meant in Celcius and not F!
The walk around the area was wonderful. I was touristy clicking pictures all over, cobble stone pathways, old world charm with a few new buildings, evening spring breeze and chirpy me. We saw Sumit's new office building, and I was gushing. V saw the Cathedral and said: Such a big castle.. over all, I know it will be good. Very different but good.
We did a customary stop at 'Tesco' and got some essentials... like Milk for my coffee the next morning. Sumit knows me way too well! :-D
I was in no mood to eat out......
Luckily, Sumit and his 'planning' he had got some ready to eat food from Phil, so we set the table, made yummy soup, noodles and toast and enjoyed our dinner. The Corn Soup has never tasted better.

Talking with our local friends was an icing on cake.
Pictures and more reporting to come soon... and promise, it wont be day by day.. am sure, you'd want to hear more fun stuff like....London fun stuff!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Today it is

All right... I guess its right to say: am off today to London.. in a couple of hours, will be on our flight...our long flight across to London.
Wow... we are actually doing it. Last few days hhave been a whirl wind.
More farewells, more packing material, more boxes and more trashing and more of everything.. we left Chicago after meeting our friends one more time. Came to East Coast, pretty much took over our friends house and had a blast with Baby A and V being the 'chatter box'. Of course meeting friends and dancing to moroccon cuisine on my friends birthday, walking on river trails, eating more and more and then just relaxing.
It feels like I am going from home to unknown.

I know it will be okay, its a step in the right direction, but this will be the first time for us in London.....

Wish us luck... and talk to you from London time

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's getting close

Moves are hard, moving across continents a bit harder. I think. Yes, there are logistics, endless to-do's, lists, list of lists and then besides all the work, it’s the emotional part of it. Leaving the comfort zone, saying good byes, already missing the hugs. It all adds up.
Yes it does get over whelming. But, yes there is a but: It’s okay. You try to look at the bigger picture and say. Hmm, it’s okay.
You remember the reasons of why you are doing the move, why it makes sense for now, the gains... it all adds up. Friends will make the trips, there will be Skype, there will be new jobs, new schools and new land to explore. Yes, there will be missed birthday's, missed milestones, baby showers, baby births.... but then you get back to saying- It's okay. Technology will help me keep closer!

We are getting closer and closer to our Big Move. In less than a week we go to East Coast to meet Baby A. My closest friends kid. I can’t wait to hold the kiddo, try to sneak her in my bag and take her with me. I can’t wait for V to cuddle Baby A. After some more good bye tears in East Cost.... we head off to London!

First air shipment sent- Check
Visas, travel papers ready- Check
To Do lists- Check
Packers, Movers scheduled- Check
Having V' and her friends ready for move- Sorta Check
Crying endlessly on surprise farewell- Check
'Aaahing' in gatherings- Check
Meeting everyone one more time- In progress
Drinking that one barista's coffee- In progress

Ready to go- Nope

I know it’s almost time.... and my husband's facebook status reads: '6'
6 days left till we say good bye to Chicago hello to new Adventures

Monday, April 18, 2011

Raise your glasses....

Breathe.... Breathe... and then breathe some more.

A lot of things are brewing up... and some are winding down. It's like a roller coaster, sometimes up and sometimes down, but exciting all the time.
That’s my state of mind right now.
I know I am speaking in circles!!
Breathe... breathe...
There was a question recently: "What are you looking forward to most this year" and I responded: "Change"
And I know, there is more to it than just the word: "Change"
Here it goes-
We are moving, and not just a blog address change, it’s a whole street, apartment, home, and even country change. Yes, ... we are moving out of US. After almost spending a decade here, we are moving. And I don’t know how else to tell you.. but We are moving. To the other side of the pond.
I came to US about 9 years ago with two bags, puppy eyes, big glasses and lots of excitement. I completed my masters with the bestest of friends. We rocked the two years, we burned the mid night oil and travelled in sunny CA. I was super excited at sending the first copy of my pay check home. I was even more proud when I filled my own tax returns. Simple joys! Living with my closest friends made the single-independent-girl-living a whole load of fun! I met the man who scooped me off my feet and very soon, we got married. I moved to his city and enjoyed the process. Met new friends, met my friends-his friends- our friends. We travelled and travelled and then travelled some more. Having my brother on speed dial here did make me miss India less. Life pretty much was work-fun and then some more fun. We along with our friends pretty much painted the town red. Good Times.
Two become three and we move once more. To another city and we three learned to love Chicago... even with the winters, I love this city. Our friends, our late nights, mid-day lunches, email chains, long gossips, girls night, conversations, trips, shopping sprees, V's school, her trips, her milestones, my blogging buddies, work, all of them.

It will be unfair to summarize my decade here.
I will miss it all, not the city(s), not the weather, not the trips, not the locations and not even my barista.

What I will miss are the people! My friends, my family who made my years here, the most formative, fun and full of excitement.

I might have come to US with two over-full bags, but I know when I leave US, I leave with a lot more.... may be more than two lifetimes of memories.

Raise your glasses tonight- To Change! And To new adventures... and look around you and thank all the wonderful people who make life fun no matter where you live.

And yes, today I introduce new Tags in my blog: 'Expat in London', 'Moving to London'