a holiday in california

To all fellow bloggers, do you have posts that are in your draft folder and for some unknown, forgotten reason has never seen the light of day?  I do. And this is one among them. Why I took the effort of typing out a post of 900 odd words and not hit “Publish” I do not know. #scratchhead #agecatchesup

We had decided to call in 2015 with some of our friends in Sonoma County. The agenda – sipping some wine by the day…& the night, vineyard  hopping, wine-tasting…..its a good omen if the word wine makes an appearance in your sentence more than once. 😀  Tickets were booked, stay organized, zero itinerary planned which left it for us to do things as we went along…..2015 was off to a promising start.

Before heading to Sonoma we thought it best to make a stop at Santa Clara, bunk with our friends for a few days, meet up with family living in the area and explore San Francisco & a few other sights. Aahhh SFO….what a beauty you are. The best way to explore any city – at least the method I prefer the most – is to walk through it. That’s what we did when travelling through Europe wayyy back in ’12 but that’s another post by itself – one that I’ve been meaning to write for so long & I promise I will get to it soon. Walking through the city gives an experience that’s unbeatable. Your body & soul tends to absorb every minute, every sight, every scent wafting through the streets – every sensation is heightened. We would have loved to do just that in our visit here but since we were stressed for time we opted for the SFO city tour with a ferry ride to Sausalito. Another beautiful town. It’s like America’s answer to the French Cote d Azur. A few ferries & boats docked at the port, pretty boutiques lined on the street by the bay, restaurants by the bunch offering “everything seafood” & a few stores offered something I’d been on the look out for a long time – “saltwater taffy” (a lil disappointed with it. It tastes like your average Fruitella. Oh well).

Some fish n chips & a yummy scoop of Lapperts Iceceam later, we headed back to the main inland and it was time to tick off some of the popular attractions.

While it was great that we were able to cover ground in a day’s time, it definitely left us craving for more. There are some places that I would have definitely spent more time in than what was allocated. But hey, that’s what it is. You win some, you dimsum. 😀 (Which we did at Yank Sing on our last day in the city. A must do!)

A day after the city tour, we rented a car & explored some parts north of SFO. We’d originally planned for a day in Muir Woods but instead headed for Point Reyes Lighthouse. It was a long, long ride & one that seemed that would never end. Hours later, stomachs rumbled and we stopped en-route at an adorable inn for lunch for one of the best meals that I’d had in a long time. By the end of the meal, we decided to skip Point Reyes as the weather forecast predicted fogs and the views were going to be restricted. Instead we hit up Limontaur Beach and spent some time dipping our toes in the freezing ocean. The day was a complete washout in terms of things we’d set our minds on, but at least we got a good meal & some moments by the beach and that’s good by me any day.

The next day we headed up to Monterey Beach and since I’d missed on the Fisherman’s Wharf at SFO, I was determined to make the most of it here. It was the perfect place to snack up on some yummy crepes & for one of my fav pastimes in any city – people watching. While men look at the ladies,  women on the other hand eye at their footwear and make a mental note to buy some additional pairs! :). A couple of hours in Monterey later we made way to the 17 mile drive as recommended by our friend. It’s a scenic road through Monterey Peninsula much of which passes famous golf courses (Pebble Beach), mansions (there were a lot of Oooohs & Aaaaahs in our car) & a few attractions. The sights were beautiful, the weather was a great ally – all in all it was a great day out.

The next few days &  some after New Years were spent cozying up at a rented home in Sonoma County. We picked a day to do some wine tasting at the local vineyards & mini hike through the woods nearby – it was the most relaxing way to ring in 2015. A great vacation is what I’d call it. Most of the pics you see here have been clicked with our mobile phones & I for one am impressed with the quality of the images. I kicked myself on our return as I’d missed taking my dslr with me in our tour of the city, but hey i guess that means another vacation is due, right ?  😛

Where did you take your last vacation at ?

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let’s not talk

Since our time here in the US, people back home often ask us about our experience here. How we’ve adapted to a new city, a new country and a new culture. We are no strangers to the States, but calling it as “home” has been somewhat unfamiliar for us. Initially, at the least. These days it’s easier to answer when people ask us where we are from. I just explain, in not too many words mind you, on how we migrated across two continents. And why we chose to do it. And how exhausting it has been. Yadayadayada. My husband would rather I just let him take the lead on answering the question. Have you met Mamta? The master story-teller. She often doesn’t know when to stop. *sheepish smiley*

Sheldon & I have a thing or two common between us.
Sheldon & I have a thing or two common between us.

 

Considering that I can talk non-stop until the cows come home, you would think social conversation is a piece of cake for me. Urm, no. And if there is one such custom that I have observed in this new city of mine, it’s this – small talk. It is everywhere. In the beginning, I too engaged in friendly banter with anyone who initiated it. The fish monger at our local Whole Foods, the barista at the corner Starbucks and the server at the pizza place. I assumed it was the way of the western world, you know. The polite thing to do. People commented on the weather & I told them what I really thought of the Texas summer!  This lasted for probably a month before it got old. I am a reasonably social person. Some may even go to the extent of saying that I am a friendly gal. I am not saying I cannot engage in small talk, I just don’t see the need for it. We don’t need to talk about the weather, we can look it up online…for days ahead ! We don’t need to swap recipes, there’s Pinterest for that. No I did not watch the game last night, I clearly know nothing about american football (Which I personally believe is the most frustrating game to watch. Next to Test Cricket.) Silence is sometimes golden. Especially when getting a pedicure.

small-talk

Back home, the only small talk I indulged in was with my maid. This was perfectly fine by me. I had vested interests. As is common amongst other Indian women, I respected my relation with my maid. I daresay it was something….sacred. I was ready to do anything to ensure the continuity of her employment in my home. In India these days it’s not the gais (cows) that are worshipped but the bais (maid). The three little words that hold importance in your life isn’t “I Love You”.  It’s “Memsaab kal chutti” (Madam tomorrow holiday).  Women develop a sixth sense when it comes to these situations – one can anticipate it coming their way. The maid who would zip her way through the house and finish chores that would usually take her a mere half-hour, now takes a full hour. An extra effort is invested while mopping the floors to make it look shiny. Dishes are unusually sparkly. There are some unexpected smiles thrown your way.  You look back and wonder if it is meant for someone else. Then it hits you. This was just a scheme to get you. You’re it. You mentally prepare yourself to manage the house all on your own and reach out for the take-out menus for the corner Chinese restaurant. It’s going to be all right. She will be back. Soon.

 

We Pray Thou Shall Come Tomorrow
We Pray Thou Shall Come Tomorrow

 

Here in the States, we have no maids. Neither do we have the convenience of an istriwala (one who irons your clothes). I have missed them all dearly. DIY (Do-It-Yourself) takes a whole new meaning here. I am pretty sure the term was coined here. Why else would this place be crawling with so many Home Depots, Office Depots, Hobby Lobby & Lowes. The king of them all is IKEA.  It cannot be a Swedish company. Unless Sweden also does not have maids.

Maine-kyun-KEA
Maine-kyun-KEA

 

You may ask me how I am handling small talk these days? Exceptionally well I might say. I avoid all possible eye contact. No lookie, no talkie. 😀

I’m Bach

Well, hello there! I am glad to see you are here and now that I am back too, maybe we can continue where we left off? No explanations needed? Sounds wonderful.

-Sigh-

Only if it were that way. I know you have questions, I know I would ! “Why does she disappear ever so often? Every six months, or in this case a whole year! Do you think she is a werewolf in hiding? Or maybe a covert agent who just blogs in between her missions while she waits for the next assignment to come by?” *snickers* I hope my overactive imagination amuses you. It does keep me occupied at times 😉 I didn’t intend to wipe off my entire existence from this blog, although it sure does seem that way, but somehow that’s what happened. Life caught on and I found myself strapped for time to blog. Which is so ironic, because the one reason I created this blog was to document my thoughts on life! Ha! Didn’t see that coming….but nevertheless here I am back for good …. let’s just not say anything definite for the moment, I don’t want to risk proving myself wrong all the time!

So what has been happening you ask? Well, the last time I blogged I was in Bangalore and this post is coming to you from Austin! We’ve moved ! And what a year it has been so far. I’ve taken my time settling into life here, exploring this wonderfully weird city and places nearby; catching up with old friends & making new ones; rediscovering life a day at a time. It’s been exciting & a little nerve wracking too. Our day-to-day lives look a lot different now, some changes for the better & some could be better 😉 Change is good. Except when it comes in pennies. (Sorry. I couldn’t stop myself.)

So my loyal readers, who is probably just my sister (*waves at her*), you will be seeing more of me henceforth. Unless you don’t want to…..Meh, I’ll still be here! Ta!

bach-3
Couldn’t resist this one either

 

 

 

happy days ~ 100 days or eternity?

If you would remember in this post I had mentioned about my 100happydays challenge. For the lack of a better topic & since this is my blog and I can write about what I want..yadayadayada…I thought of doing a round up of some favorite pics from my 100happydays journey!! Get excited ! 😛

These pictures aren’t overly great and neither are they extraordinary. Insignificant as they might seem however, they did make me happy. Could it be because I was on the look out for a lil joy? Is that how the process works? You seek happiness..lo and behold there it is! As I type these sentences I feel a deep sense of epiphany sinking in. Life could be so much more sunshiny & bright if we actually go looking for happiness everyday, rather than wait for it to fall on our laps. And if the concept is really this simple, then why aren’t we doing it enough? Happiness for eternity. Sounds so alluring! Could this be because we, at times, sometimes aren’t truly grateful enough ? *cringe* I realize how I have the same outlook at times. A lot of times. I stamp my feet in frustration at all that is going wrong. My designs for life that don’t necessarily work out in the order that I want. A plan that goes astray. I tend to get so caught up in my “issues” that sometimes forget to take account of all that I am blessed with. The most loving family. Friends. Health. Security. Independence. And so much more. Touchwood (I am that superstitious if you must know. We all have our quirks, don’t we? 😉 )

There are tons of people around me that take everyday, good or bad, in stride. I think these are the ones who truly employ the idiom “Live today to it’s fullest“. They remain unfazed as life throws them challenges, however big or small, often assuming that there is some learning that the situation would provide. A lesson that would turn out most useful for the future. Like me they could choose to think its bad luck or fate, but I see that their attitude is to be calm, patient, humble & hopeful that the tough days too would pass. These people brim with positivity and I am so blessed to have them around me – my father, my sister, my husband to name a few. And I have so much to learn from them & imbibe in my life.
But I am digressing from my original topic, aren’t I? I am sure you understand how the wayward mind works :-). So without further ado, here are my top favorite picks from the 100 happydays challenge. May the happy days continue, for me & for you!

bangalore evenings. so mellow.
bangalore evenings. so mellow.
Walk slowly, breathe deeply, savor the moment. #goa
Walk slowly, breathe deeply, savor the moment. #goa
some shadow play
some shadow play
a cliched click. overrated, yet magnificient.
a cliched click. overrated, yet magnificient.
an interesting, easy read. #booklove
an interesting, easy read. #booklove
a lazy holiday by the beachside. my favorite kinds. #varkala
a lazy holiday by the beachside. my favorite kinds. #varkala
funny poster sighting in the restroom of a local restaurant...and what is life without really holding it in :-P
funny poster sighting in the restroom of a local restaurant…and what is life without going through one of these days 😛
A beautiful view to look at everyday ~ and right at home! #ilovebangalore
A beautiful view to look at everyday ~ and right at home! #ilovebangalore

good reads….and this is not the app !

Books! Who doesn’t love them……right ? Yeah!

I was a voracious reader growing up. Come summer holidays and I couldn’t wait to hit the local library – so many books to read ! I remember starting with the “Famous Five” series by Enid Blyton. The secret sleuth in me also took very well to Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys (Why didn’t anybody notice how ridiculous this title sounds….including me 😐 ) & the occasional Agatha Christie. OK that was a lie. I tried a couple of times but  for the life of me couldn’t finish an Agatha Christie novel – It was a bit slow paced and the whole “parlor-room” variety of mystery is definitely not my cup of tea !

Eventually, the Sidney Sheldons (I remember vividly that after reading The Stars Shine Down my sister & I hoped that one day we would open our own chain of boutique hotels. Silly us); Jeffrey Archers; Erich Segals came calling & then I found Michael Crichton. What a delight it has been reading his books – fast paced narrative, sci-fi plots, packed with action adventure. Not all his books are gems though. Sphere anyone ? Aah that was a snooze fest. And come to think of it I wonder how the cynic in me never scoffed at the possibility of dinosaurs walking the earth…again? At that point in time it seemed entirely plausible, you know. Young minds still fresh & one open to all ideas – logical or not. I love me a good sc-fi, but my mind is yet to wrap around the idea of Star Wars. Or Star Trek. Zzzzzzzz.

In recent times, I have tried & tested a whole lot of genres & a whole lot of authors. It helps when people around you read & in due course you end up swapping books with them. And isn’t that great? I would have never discovered the simplicity of Khalid Hosseini’s writing if my cousin hadn’t raved about his “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, I wouldn’t have chanced upon David Roberts’ “Shantaram” if my sister hadn’t mentioned how close it’s setting hit home aka Mumbai (and the constant reference of Cafe Leopold only grew our curiosity), I wouldn’t have read Sidney Sheldon’s “If Tomorrow Comes” (which was my first SS novel) if I hadn’t come across it in a big parcel of old books that was passed on to us, I wouldn’t have read the wonderful collection of hilarious short stories in P.G.Wodehouse’s “Mr. Mulliner” if I hadn’t taken it on loan from my neighbor’s precious book collection. And the best part of borrowing books as against buying them is sniffing those old, yellowed papers. I love taking a whiff as soon as I open a book – it takes you back in time! You will never get the same joy from an iPad or an ebook reader, you know. I use a B&N Nook (love the convenience of carrying a thousand books in a single device), but it will probably never replace the authenticity & warmth that I feel with a book. Sometimes brand new, sometimes old. Filled with pages. Dog-eared pages (yes I am one of those who can’t figure out the use of a bookmark). With some random notes written (always the case when you borrow from a library. I know this must probably annoy a lot of you but I like reading these too. I try to imagine the person writing it – it tends to says a lot about them. Once a book had a whole lot of concentric circles drawn all over it – I assumed it must be the handiwork of a bored child. A random phone number scripted on top of a page – whose is it ?). Books handed over as gifts with lil notes & personal messages inscribed by their loved ones – it’s such a wonderful gift, books.

That I am supportive of borrowing doesn’t necessarily mean that I am not opposed to the idea of buying books. How else will you build your own library ? It’s your treasured collection of personal picks. And one that you can reach out to at any point in time – especially if you are like me & re-read your favorite book time and again. One such book for me is Belva Plain’s “Evergreen”. I stumbled upon this book as a teenager and stayed up many a nights to complete it. The characters are some that you end up caring for deeply & stay with you for a long time. I remember, during our early courtship days (does anyone even call it that anymore?) I had mentioned, in passing conversation, to my fiancee (now husband !) about my fondness for this book & how the paperback copy I had was tearing away to pieces – He went on a secret mission to find the new edition & had it shipped from overseas just in time for my birthday. I was in tears, and rightly so. And you would be correct to assume that it was at that moment that I lost a piece of my heart to him. You can go ahead and do your “Awwws” & “Ooohs” now 😉

I would end this post now as I think nothing more can be said of the matter. However, I would love to hear what your views are. And especially, if you have any book recommendations for me? Let me love, what you have come to love! 😀