After A Hiatus…

It has been 22 days since I last blogged or even created a draft.

I wish there was a reason for this kind of a gap but there isn’t anything except for me being unable to gather my thoughts. And now that the thoughts are gathering, it’s akin to a storm brewing.

So I had a long-ish summer holiday with the offspring. We traveled a bit and had new experiences. Defining experiences for me as a parent. Am more confident of being able to chalk out holiday plans for the family without necessarily opting for safe options like a place with access to a pool or a beach. That’ll always be the fallback option but I am happy to say that slightly longer journeys, altitudes are no longer off the table.

On the personal front, I was sluggish to say the least. Didn’t get much done. Took a fraction of pictures that I’d normally have taken on earlier trips and pretty much retreated into the Kindle while still looking for something fun to give me a little impetus.

Speaking of the Kindle, it’s become an extension of my hand and I’m eyeballs deep into authors who primarily write about the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. To say that their books include the wilderness and dense forests and more than average snowfall would be to undersell it. But their tones are quite similar because these geographical areas of United States are very diverse from the sunny parts of the South or the West Coast. They are also quite different in the tone and nature of the people who are depicted in the novels based in the East Coast.

It’s bucolic but the climate, the geography is as much a character in the novels as the actual people themselves. Maybe it’s the weather that calls to me (crazy I know) or my mild yearning for Seattle based on years of binging on Grey’s Anatomy but I’ve had the words Puget Sound and names of small counties of Washington State and Minnesota tumbling through my head.

I’ve also discovered that I need to learn how to scuba dive because taking pictures of the husband and offspring underwater gave me a sense of peace and joy unlike anything in the last few years.

As basic the images were and while nowhere in the neighborhood of work such as this gent, it was still a lovely experience nonetheless and made me want to explore it further. In fact my list of places of hit (eventually) already includes this. Of course if we end up doing this, my main concern will be the offspring wanting to move undersea permanently or not coming back up till he spots all his favorite behemoths.

All said and done, long summer or not, it’s been an experience. Of growth, some backslides and lot of plans for the months ahead. Not a total washout in my book.

 

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The Malady of Summer Holidays

I’ve noticed that there’s a strange and inexplicable condition that happens to kids, especially mine over the summer holidays. They become deaf, louder, motor movements mimic being like marionettes with their strings cut or like mini Boomerang videos. Polar opposites but somehow they seem to be able to switch between them effortlessly enough.

The specific keywords that they don’t seem to comprehend are these:

  1. Get up.
  2. Slow down.
  3. Enough.
  4. No more (pool time, t.v., iPad, laptop, playing with water…till infinity)
  5. Get out of the pool.
  6. It’s late.
  7. Come home.
  8. Go away.
  9. SHUSH.
  10. GO. TO. SLEEP!!

Barring that it’s the same ol’ symptoms of childhood+boredom+curiosity all rolled into one delicious little buck-toothed package of silliness!

The Mine Field That Is My House

Many moons ago I had spewed a bit via this post but last night I realized that my modest home is quite fraught with stuff that’s likely to blow up (figuratively) or cause me to blow up (literally).

Case in point- My kid and his quest for building a dino army keeps showing up (read under) all foreseeable and some not so foreseeable places. Last night’s trip to the bedroom was an obstacle course par excellence!

This is how it went down- focus on the word down. Now the charming child I’ve brought into this world, had locked Red and I out of our bedroom? Did I mention we’ve been co-sleeping, exclusively? It’s not fun. But since his room and ours has a connecting window that opens up from his room, I thought I’d sorted things out quite alright. Erm…not quite.

So just on the other side of MLM’s window is a futon and ahead of the futon is a few open feet of room followed by the bed. I always keep a bit of a gap between the window and the futon for these reasons and also to make it easier to sweep and mop but that was to be my downfall in every sense of the word.

So the space behind the futon was littered with dinos. The pointy kinds. I think the beak of a Quetzalcoatlus (pronounced as  /ˌkwɛts(ə)lkəʊˈatləs/ for those who give a damn) or a Pteranodon (drop the P while saying it and you’re gravy) poked me in my foot leading me to leapfrog over the entire width of the futon and step on a Hotwheels car that effectively got me half airborne till I broke my fall on the futon. And being the superb athelete that I am, I was suprised that nothing was broken…bones and futon included.

So up I get, seething in anger and ready to grab the kid by the scruff of his neck and dump him in his room and his quite comfortable bed when I stepped on a marble and hopped on one foot to go and sit on the air conditioner’s remote which was parked right where I would normally sleep!

A lopsided, ballet through the air to land in a graceless manner in a bed where a rapidly growing child was sleeping diagonally across. Naturally.

Oh by the way, did I mention it was rather dark in the room just the LED glow from the AC spread a dim light over a negligible part of the room? Nevermind…that’s usually a given.

 

Out Of The Mouth of Babes

Well…just one babe to be precise. Mine. To be more..preciser(?).

This summer holiday has been fun for the brat. He’s always very happy with my folks and despite the heavier discipline here than at home, he manages to get away with doing his thing most of the times because we love his buck-toothed, lisping, pug-nosed, long-lashed self and he knows it too!

Some of the funnier (and always cute, let’s not forget that) stuff he’s said to me over the last few days make me laugh each time I think about it so am sharing it here with those who peak at my blog from time to time.

The cutest thing #1- Ayu (he always prefixes EACH AND EVERY SENTENCE with that word) if I kiss you, you’ll become a frog! And seeing my WTF expression he hastily explained…” don’t be upset. If you turn into a frog that means you are going to become a princess later.” For those who are feeling all at sea, the allusion is from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog.

The cutest thing#2- Ayu…I made lunch for you (indicating some utensils he picked up from my mom’s kitchen). It’s DEE-LI-SHUSH! It’s rice, banana and mushroom. All the things you like to eat!!

The cutest thing #3- Ayu…my tooth fall down (said with a really sad face after an extremely loose tooth fell out while he was rinsing his mouth). I need my tooth BECAUSE the Tooth Fairy won’t give me toys without my tooth.

There are other cute things he’s been spouting as well but these have been by far the cutest ones uttered.

Of course the one that took the cake was when he asked me if I knew that when he was a baby he was in my tummy and I had to make the proper astonished ‘you-don’t-say- face and send him off happy that he gave me an earth shattering news.

Such is the world we live in.

Amen!!

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Movie Review: Jurassic World

Image courtesy- screenrant.com

We’re a pro-dino family. The more teeth, the better. The bigger, the better. So it was a forgone conclusion that we not only had to watch this movie but had to appreciate things about it. But all dino bias aside here’s what’s good about it…

The story couldn’t have any entirely new twist in it because the whole damn premise is about an amusement park which has dinos running amok. The more time goes by they (the film makers) just find ways to make you jump more in your seats. Be as that may, they keep the interest levels up with the new dinos that they dig up (excuse the pun) and the ways that they wreak havoc on the sadly unsuspecting populace.

Spoiler alert…go no further if you wish to see the movie and not have the predictable plot laid out bare courtesy wikipedia.

Chris Pratt is good. He’s better than what he was in Guardians of The Galaxy and that’s saying something. Gone is the man from Parks and Recreation. He doesn’t go OTT with his ex-Navy man avatar and instead does what he’s supposed to as a wrangler/trainers of the velociraptors on Isla Nublar.

The rest of the cast basically function as props but one wonders why Vincent D’Onofrio takes on these negatives roles so often these days. Possibly all those years of Law&Order made him want to have fun as the bad guy for a change?

Irrfan Khan has no business being in a dino movie. He’s an actor of no little talent and he’s deadpan in the worst possible way and very little screen presence IMHO. He dies soon enough and carries very little weight even among actors who typically don’t take up dramatic roles much.

The hero of the movie and totally living up to his name is the T-Rex. He is the king and he IS the Indominus Rex more than the test-tube-petri-dish-hybrid dino that the mad scientists have unleashed in the park.

But this movie gets a 1&1/2 thumbs up for it’s entertainment value and because no one quite does it like Spielberg…even as a producer.

Worth 2 watches but only in the movie theater…it loses its charm on the smaller screen.

The Travel Diaries: Kolkata’s Waterways

Sunset near the Prinsep Ghat- small boats, ferries, barges can be seen throughout the day.

The city of Kolkata offers a tremendous amount of stimulation to a visitor; whether you’re armed to take pictures, eat your weight in the food available in and around the city or just sight see and take your fill of the sense of history that still lingers all over the city.

Even if you don’t have a massive colonial hangover, the gorgeous buildings, relics of the British Raj can’t help but capture your fancy with their massive pillars and high arching roofs. That people from a different century and generation are now flitting in and out of those buildings only add to their allure.

But there are a few things to keep in mind while planning a trip to Kolkata: a) avoid summers if you aren’t used to a humid climate and b) you cannot do justice to the city without factoring in its waterways.

The summers in Calcutta can be quite debilitating if you’re used to drier climates. The humidity saps your energy, making sight seeing a cumbersome thing. You are actually left with only the evening and pre-dusk time to visit places, many of which are in the process of shutting their doors for the day. Keep in mind that this city is pretty far east and the night sets in fairly early as compared to many other places. Ideal time to visit would be the winters which can be tackled with a light to middling heavy sweater.

But to move on to another extremely charming part of the city- the river Ganges which flows through it and also around it. Apart from the river cruises which are operated by the West Bengal government, there are quaint little fishing boats which can be hired out for half and hour or so right from 5 in the morning and till 8 at night.

Local fishing boat sailing under the Vidyasagar Setu- or the new bridge as the locals still call it.

Local fishing boat sailing under the Vidyasagar Setu- or the new bridge as the locals still call it.

Sunset near the Prinsep Ghat- small boats, ferries, barges can be seen throughout the day.

Sunset near the Prinsep Ghat- small boats, ferries, barges can be seen throughout the day.

One of the best places to visit via a boat or take a boat ride once you reach there is the Dakshineshwar Temple which is situated bang on the river. There are steps leading down from the temple courtyard into the river where the worshipers bathe and also offer flowers since the river is also considered holy.

Belur Math which is situated just across the river from Dakshineshwar boasts of a calm, serene setting as the international headquarters of the Ram Krishna Mission. Seeing the sunset from the steps just above the river while the soft chants and drones of the hymns float out from the prayer halls is something which has to be experienced. Atheist, agnostic or true believer, the ambiance of the place is just uplifting and while photography is restricted at both places, a sneaky click of the sunset over the river is something everyone attempts irrespective.

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Sunset over the river.

Sunset over the river.

The distinctive domes of the Dakshineshwar Temple.

The distinctive domes of the Dakshineshwar Temple.

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On another day, commute with the locals from one ghat (dock) preferably in the evening while many go back to their homes across the Ganges from the main city hub. The ferry boats or river taxis are chock full of office goers who rush to get standing rooms on the steamers for a 15 minute ride that terminates close to Howrah station. You will also see children cooling off after a long hot day by canon balling into the river while barges a couple of yards away.

One can get down, stroll around with a terracotta cup of hot tea made on the roadside and poured deftly by the vendor who seems to be able to dole out tea to 10 at a time, take the money and still keep an eye on the ever-boiling liquid for the next pot.

Of course, what is considered by most to be the ultimate river trip in this region is the trip down to the Sunder bans. Once the din of the city fades away and even the endless drone of the motor made peace with, the sounds of nature take over. The water is murky to be sure but it’s vast and areas around it lush. The ferry motors down past small villages where the river is a lifeline as well as a part of life.

Kolkata cannot be seen properly in just a few days. You barely end up getting a taste of the city and are baffled by what ought of be viewed next. A segment of the trip ought to feature the waterways to even starting to understand the tone, flavor and pulse of the city.

Next time you find yourself with a few days off and free to travel…take a trip downstream, or upstream and just go with the flow.

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.