A Winter Wonderland -Picture Speak

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”- Lewis Carroll

15940584_10158008572060721_7053955245001049013_n

Nainital, in Uttarakhand, India. I’ve lived and worked here and have lovely memories of this hill town.

15826097_10158008566435721_4000817542858487359_n15825926_10158008566980721_5233894723549154561_n15826474_10158008571370721_8695402041820035133_n

Advertisements

A visit To A Home On A Parcela

A ‘parcela’ means a large plot of land in the suburbs or outskirts of a city. They’re usually very big plots….going into acres of land. Back home, they’re called ‘farm houses’ even though there’s no real farm or farming happening on the land.

This was the first time I was visiting one which was private; the family lives there. Many such places are either rented out during vacations to tourists or then they’ve been commercialized as party venues with a crew of party planners who do everything for you. So, this was a first for me and I loved the place that was nestled in the lap of nature, so to say, and our hosts were gracious people.

Here are a few pictures that’ll take you on a tour around the house; no inside pics…it is a private residence! Even so, I’d like to add, the interiors were done up beautifully and tastefully.

fullsizerender

We drive up to the house (parking)

fullsizerender-2

Our hostess walks us along the driveway to the entrance….but we stop on the way to pluck a type of maracuja off the tree, and proceed to taste the fruit before we go ahead…no fruit gets fresher than this – fresh, off the tree, and sun-ripened fruit!

fullsizerender-1

One of the dogs accompanies us to the door.

fullsizerender-19

The part of the casa that opens out onto spreading green foliage – garden, tall trees…awesome place!

fullsizerender-4

Looking out at the far boundaries of the property, from the terrace.

fullsizerender-6

View on the left…

fullsizerender-7

Terrace sit-out…loved it!

fullsizerender-5

The outdoor barbecue area with picnic table and benches.

img_1845

The pool was so inviting!

fullsizerender-9

We come down to walk around and feel the beauty of nature envelope us.

fullsizerender-13

The patio…

fullsizerender-10

Patio…

fullsizerender-15

This little one was the cutest of the three dogs and was aware of it!

fullsizerender-16

fullsizerender-18

Rows of fabulous white roses.

fullsizerender-20

I couldn’t help clicking this!

fullsizerender-11

The Maracuja tree that stopped us in our tracks and got us eating the (unforbidden) fruit! That yellow submarine shaped thing hanging behind the flowers is a kind of maracuja.

fullsizerender-8

That’s what we were munching on…bright, orangey flesh, full of little seeds!

img_1847

Walking down a path lined with white rose bushes to see the vegetable patch and nursery.

fullsizerender-21

A closer look at the lovely barbecue area…

fullsizerender-23

I had a moment of fright and panic on the patio where I was relaxing with my legs stretched out…you don’t see it? A lizard! And I’m terrified of these creepy crawlies… :O

fr-wordpress

But my attraction to natural beauty got the better of me…I picked up courage and myself…crept fairly close and clicked a pic of this gorgeously coloured creature….(but I still remain terrified of lizards!)

fullsizerender-25

The three musketeers…one, the German Shepherd, doesn’t belong to the family, but you’d never know! He spends his entire day here and retires to his own home and family at night!

In retrospect, though I love the countryside (I’ve lived in one such place, back home) and at the time, as I was soaking in nature’s delightful ambiance; the peace and quiet…was so inviting and encompassing that I wanted to stay there forever, I know I can’t do that. I love the countryside, the wide open spaces, the tranquility – but I’m a city girl at heart. No, I don’t have a hectic social life and a nightlife on the town is non-existent. But I do prefer to live in a city and take frequent trips to relax in the quieter areas of the place…a get-away place! I’d feel pretty isolated if I were to live forever in a house on a parcela, however beautiful, attractive, and comfortable it was.

 

A Reason To Smile…Grandma speak

“…….Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.” –Roy T. Bennett

Smiling comes easy for me. I find numerous reasons to smile…some given by people; people on the streets who smile a ‘Buenos Dias,” at me or an unexpected “Ciao,” as I exit the elevator. A friendly wave and ecstatic grin from a shopkeeper, who I visit quite often, as I walk past her shop. The elderly concierges in the building who give me a broad grin as they wish me the time of day adding, “Como Estas?” And then so many memories from the past which come up and make me smile…a lot. Yes, there are many reasons to smile and I don’t have to go in search of any…they come to my doorstep and I just let them in.

The best reasons, though, in the past six years have been my granddaughters. And more so in these last three years, I’ve had the pleasure of living with my twin ‘nietas‘ and watching them grow. They’re two years and eleven months. Just watching them at play, or engaging in conversation with them is enough to make you laugh, smile and wonder what you have done to be so blessed!

Why, just last night, they were enacting the “Mary & Joseph & special baby Jesus” story, as they call it. They decided I should be a part of the play and informed me that I was the angel Gabriel! It all went well until the time came to go to Egypt to hide from the “naughty, naughty, wicked King Herod.” They took a donkey and came to inform “Gabriel” that they were fleeing.

“Where are you going?” asked ‘Gabriel’ as she looked up from the serial she was watching on Netflix.

“Joseph is going to Nazareth,” replied Mary (Mia) and her expressions conveyed the urgency of the situation, “And I’m going to Bethlehem,” she said in the same tone, as she waddled off quickly, wrapped in her blanky that she wore like a dress! (a reason for giggles…soft laughter…smiles!)

“But why? said Gabriel. (another reason for…soft laughter…smiles!)

“Because Herod cannot find us.”

(Just one of the many reasons for soft laughter…smiles…and that warm feeling of love!)

And then there are the feeling proud (beaming smile) moments too because of small accomplishments like these:

As we waited for our food to come to the table my Energy Capsules 2.11 (as I call them) came up with this lovely work of art.

drawncolor

Amu drew a smiley…with ease and speed…it was so easy for her to execute the circles and even add the little dots in the eyes!

fullsizerender-1

Mia preferred to colour and I think, for her age, she has executed it very well. Keeping within the lines is difficult for kiddies her age and she’s done a fine job!

And so it’s just one of those things…smiling! It makes the day brighter, it makes the heart grateful, it cheers someone up…including you…it makes the good better and the bad bearable. I can never forget what my MIL and her friend told me the day after my wedding.

“One is never properly dressed if one doesn’t wear perfume,” said my MIL as she gifted me a bottle of Madame Rochas perfume!

Her friend, Mrs Rudra, quickly added, “And also remember, one is never properly dressed unless one wears a smile!”

Well, though I didn’t lack in both those departments…I always wore perfume or eau de cologne and there was never a dearth of smiles; I had an abundant supply…still I carried the advice with me. It was given with love and I received it with love and respect.

A smile, even through my tears, has saved the day every time. Whether from a memory or a smile from across the room or street…it brings peace.

You have a choice…to live lighter, happier, more grateful and less fretful; more patient, tolerant, and with better self-control. There’s always something that can bring a smile to your heart…look for that reason and you’ll find it.

Smiles… Just keep them warm, heartfelt, kind, understanding…and friendly!

On The Threshold Of A New year

I’m not one to make resolutions at the beginning of a new year. There was a time when, against my nature, I would copy my peers and make a list of resolutions…and never look at that list ever again. And even if I thought of my resolutions, it was just a fleeting thought which I’d push away with amusement.

My resolutions come up, in ones or twos, throughout the year. Some of them through learning from my experiences, of what I should resolve to do or never do. This works for me. It also gives me the time to work on them, if I tend to slack off a bit. A list at the beginning of the year never works this way for me! I guess I might be a tiny part of a vast majority in this.

ano-nuevo

Clicked by me in beautiful Vina del mar.

Most New Year resolutions remain scribbles in a journal. I’ve met a few who feel awful that they haven’t been able to do anything on their list. That defeats the purpose of why one makes New Year resolutions which, I believe, is to make you feel good at the end of the year. That you’ve accomplished something…satisfaction at achieving an aim; a goal, by ticking off things on your to-do/to-be list. This is one of the reasons why I do not make a list of New Year Resolutions. It puts a strain on me to tick off things on the list and takes away much pleasure and enjoyment of doing things. Makes it too regimental or mechanical.

So, here I am, looking forward to 2017 with expectations; some great, some small. A lot of hope, and some dreams! God willing, I shall realize the best of all my hopes and dreams and expectations.

On that note: Here’s to another year and another chance to set wrongs right, to do what has been left undone, and love more, care more. Make new friends, travel to new places, try something new; learn something different. Change what has to be changed, in ourselves too, and become a bit better as we improve things. Revel in the blessings of family, long-time friends, God-given provisions for our needs – food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof over our heads, with a bit of change left over, jingling in our pockets…enough to fulfill some wants too! For children and grandchildren, for health, and available help.

From a place of gratitude for a year full of blessings – for help in difficulties, restoration of good health, reassurance when situations bogged me down and for material comforts too – to a place of hopefulness, faith, and the firm belief that God will be with me just as He was in the year that the world is ringing out…

I stand at the threshold of a New year and look ahead with joy.

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU! May you be blessed.

A Bit of Christmas Every Day

Yes, another ‘Christmas’ post! Why? You might ask. The day has come and gone.

Not for me. The so-called “Holiday Season” carries on for me through to New year, as calendar days go. I love this time of the year and loathe letting it go. So…

I wish I could bottle the spirit of Christmas in jars. Yes, and open each jar every month for a dose of ‘spirit’!

Actually, I do. I do store a bit of Christmas in my heart. Little pockets of the cheer, the joy, the hope and the love; the promise. Life for me is a celebration of all these things that culminate every year, in Christmas…a date; a day on the calendar, when everyone who believes joins in a common celebration and in gratitude for God’s love towards mankind.

jars-of-xmas-spirit

Unless you have carried Christmas in your heart, throughout the year, you’re not going to find it under a tree! Sure, there’ll be gifts, the kind you can buy off, of shelves in a store. The gifts of true value, however, cannot be bought but they can be received because they were paid for a long time ago. All you have to do is open your heart to get them. And the best part is…they’re available throughout the year! You don’t have to stand in long queues, wait for sales, scout for them in a hundred shops…you just have to ask and receive.

no-christmas-under-tree

The babe whose birth we welcome and worship, on Christmas, came to give us those gifts of love and salvation. He paid a high price. Now… It’s yours for the asking.

Just believe.

..

A Glorious Mess!

No matter how hard I try to keep things neat – a place for everything and everything in its place – it is near impossible on Christmas day. I’m constantly picking up things that shouldn’t be where they’re lying, pushing furniture that has, supernaturally, turned around or shifted from their original places…and so on and so forth! But, on this one day, the mess speaks of so much more than disorderliness, neglect or lack of aesthetic sense.

glorious-mess

It speaks of a higher number of visitors; of close friends, of relatives…of family, of children…in other words, of the company that you love. People who don’t or can’t get together at one place throughout the year. It’s the telltale evidence of much fun, much bonhomie, a lot of laughing, joking, gormandising…in general, a lot of a whale of a time!

It’s not the everyday mess. It’ll happen again after twelve long months. And considering the vagaries of life, who knows when ‘you’ll be all together again’ so I think of it as a “glorious” mess. One that stands testament to being together; eating together, laughing, playing, singing, dancing…even praying and bonding in a spiritual way perhaps. It’s that one time in the year when we’re all in one place and sharing everything…apart from the tangible the intangible as well – material gifts and the gift of love. After all, it is love, the greatest kind ever, that we’re celebrating on this day…for God so loved us that He sent us His son, Jesus!

You don’t have to go bonkers over a messy living room, at least for this one day. Let it be for a while, if you can. The next day or the day after, you’ll have all the time in the world to get things shipshape. Allow yourself to enjoy this glorious mess!

(It’s not easy…but if you sit still and just remember the moments you’ve spent, then, provided you were with the company you love, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy a cup of tea in this ‘glorious’ mess!)

Keeping ‘CHRIST’ in Christmas

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” -Steve Maraboli

xmas-prayer-breakfast-1

From the start of December, my prayer breakfasts got a touch of the holiday season! The mugs became cheery!

 Christmas, perhaps, is one of the most commercialized festivals, anywhere in the world. I may be wrong. I’m speaking from my own experience in my country. When we say “everyone celebrates Christmas,” what we’re saying is, actually everyone has fun and ‘celebrates’ Santa Claus! Jesus is not mentioned, not prominent anywhere; in any store, or mall, in the decorations in hotels and restaurants…all one sees is Santas in all shapes and sizes, adorning show windows, stairways, everywhere…and even on cards! To bring the point home, I’d like to relate an incident that took place one Christmas, long ago, at my sister’s place.

She had this huge Santa Claus, and when I say huge, I mean life size…a tall Santa. He was prominently displayed, by the entrance, inside the house – not that he’d be unnoticed, placed anywhere else in the room! Anyway, to get back to my anecdote, there were many people invited to the Christmas party that my sis was hosting at her place. Among them were a large number of close family and relations as well as friends, both, Christian and non-Christian. Everyone, or well, almost everyone walked in, admired the huge guy in his red suit, some laughed, some cracked a joke and a few clicked a pic with him and walked on. However, one or perhaps two or three of my niece’s non-Christian friends made a short stop to admire him and pay obeisance. They folded their hands, bowed and said, “Jai Santa Baba!” And one even removed her shoes before she approached and touched the rotund guy’s feet! These people did feel silly, later, when it became the joke of the night.

But, seriously, how can one laugh at them or be surprised at their ignorance? (We laughed too and still do, whenever we recall the incident!) But in all honesty, we really can’t. The joke is on us, not them. The most famous song sung in even Christian schools’ Christmas celebrations, and everywhere else is…’Jingle bells, jingle bells….’ and the most visible character is Santa Claus! Except for the church services and in the homes of those who keep Christ in Christmas, the day has been hijacked by a plump guy in a ridiculous red, fur-lined suit.

I’m not against the idea or concept of Santa Clause. We sing Santa songs, we talk about Santa and the presents he gets for kids, about his reindeer, especially the popular red-nosed Rudolph, to maintain the excitement for our little kids;  We grew up writing letters to Santa, addressed to some place in the North Pole! And we soon outgrew that. But, never ever did we, even remotely, think that he was the reason we celebrated Christmas. Our home was Christ centered. Anyway, in those days, Santa wasn’t a lucrative business proposition.

The commercialization of Christmas is a totally business centered, money centered concept in which Santa Claus sells like hotcakes. He doesn’t make people feel uncomfortable. But for some reason, I can’t comprehend, telling people about Jesus and his birth does. Why, even the usual prayers that we’d say and the carols and hymns that we’d sing before we started the party, has been dispensed with, these days, because we are embarrassed to do so in front of our non-believing guests. Or worried that we might offend them!

So, how can we laugh at someone who believes that Santa Claus is our ‘Babaji’ or god? When we ourselves speak more about him, think more about the social aspects surrounding the festival, and set aside an hour for church – and that too may not be on the agenda – to think about Jesus and what Christmas means to us and what the message of Christmas is. Why, I find that in the USA one says ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of Merry or Happy Christmas!

I’m not judging anyone, just saying what I believe and feel about how we allow people, even in our small world of friends, to take the ‘Christ’ out of Christmas. It’s not them, it’s us. We don’t keep him in it.

Keeping Christ in Christmas doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy and celebrate the festival. It doesn’t mean we can’t have a Christmas tree, or hang up stockings, or even a Santa or two, or build a snowman. We can do all that and still keep Christ prominent in our thoughts, actions, and celebrations.

Keeping ‘Christ’ in Christmas isn’t for just a day or a month, it is a way of life; the Christian life. A guide on how we must conduct ourselves. How we maintain relationships. How we treat people known and unknown. It is our everyday faith and belief in action.

Let Santa ride his sleigh for a night and leave. Let Jesus stay on.

Note: These are my personal thoughts. Again, I’m not criticizing or judging anyone. If you don’t agree, please, don’t read through the whole post and kindly refrain from posting any negative or rude comments. Thanks in advance.