Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Xmas Xcursion Xtc!

This Year's final Holiday trip was not as grand as last year's (Hawaii) but still was as much fun or maybe more!
Some glimpses of the fun filled moments.

24th Dec. We started after lunch from Bay Area and drove for five hours towards Southern California. Ventura is the name of the city where we had booked our Xmas holiday abode. we stopped once for coffee break in between and reached Ventura at supper time. We had hoped to dine at the hotel itself but they closed early for the holiday. Since we are not big fans of McDonald's and Burger kings we went to the restaurant that the front desk person recommended. We ordered, hot and sour soup, egg rolls, kung pao chicken and rice. One of the worst Chinese we ever had. A revelation since we thought this was near impossible. Disgusted I came back and logged in to Yelp for future assistance.

25th Dec. We woke early morning to a cloudy sky. Denny’s was our savior. I ordered stuffed veggie omelet with muffins. SH ordered a Denny’s Special scrambled eggs and we shared a huge hot mug of chocolate mocha. The beach and harbor were off limits for the day since there was a wind advisory with waves being high - 20fts.
We decided to take a hike over the hills and headed towards nearby hill city Ojai. The drive was picturesque with beautiful hamlets amidst ranches and citrus orchards. The fruit laden trees looked wonderful and very pulp on both the sides of the road. It was soon drizzling and then the drizzle turned into a steady shower so we abandoned the plan to hike, instead decided to get lost among the hills. Just as SH kept meandering through the valley we reached Lake Casitas and on impromptu we decided to take a dekho simply because there was a ticket charge, which meant it had to be good. The rain drops receded by this time but it was windy and bone freezing chill. We braved the cold and spent a good hour walking around the lake watching the ducks and gulls going about their job. Lake Casitas is huge with patches of beaches around it. We gazed at the fall colors and lucky houses with owners who woke up to this view each day. When we got back into the car we realized it was 43F outside(Shivers!!).We drove back late afternoon. A piping hot white chocolate mocha along with holiday ginger and lemon cakes is so Christmas- Yee! The evening went by quickly walking by the harbor.
We headed back to Denny’s for dinner of Grilled Shrimp Skewers and Grilled chicken with rice pilaf, dinner breads and sides. This was rounded off with a hot fudge topping sundae. MERRY CHRISTMAS! We then drove in the direction of Santa Barbara just to watch Xmas lights and ended up on the boardwalk which was deserted. There was a beautiful lit Xmas tree and being there was so romantic. But then we realized that the few cars parked around were not empty. I am sure someone was upset on us just as we were!!

26th Dec. We woke up very early in the morning since we wanted to catch the 9am ferry to Santa Cruz, one of the islands that makes the group of NP Channel Islands. We planned to be back late afternoon to go for whale watching trip. When we reached the harbor we were told that the morning rides had been cancelled due to the high surf and tough wind forecast. So we chose to take the Channel Island ferry. Lightening can strike the same place twice, because the next place that we went for Chinese was worse. It was a crime to call that dung Chinese food. The two grumpy faces headed towards downtown to get some coffee and pastry to swish. SH spotted a busy joint where the customers appeared happy and the servers looked busy. The décor of the place was very European but the food options were mostly American fusions- Brownies with cream tops, wafers and crisps. I ordered a brownie with fruit toppings, cappuccino and SH ordered a Jalapeno bagel, white chocolate mocha. The food was so divine; it made us grin from ear to ear. Why does food rule our emotions?
All happy we headed to the harbor. The ferry ride to Santa Cruz Island (the biggest island among five islands under the NPS) was rocky. SH managed the backpack and avoided being rocked across the deck, But I pranced all corners of the boat taking pictures and making videos. Once on the island we took a mile long hike till Cavern point. We were breathless by the time we reached the top in spite of the short hike because of the altitude. 400ft from sea level in a span of half an hour. The view was gorgeous and as breathtaking as was the wind which almost blew me away.
We chatted long with the volunteer who was interested in knowing how many Indian languages I knew. And why I lived in India and not Bangladesh since we were Bengalis. Interesting question! Being an Indian is complicated- just the way we Indians like. We watched sunset on our ferry ride back, am I repeating “breath taking” too many times?
We got back to our hotel for some rest after such a rocking time (pun??).

27th Dec. After dreaming the whole night about desserts and frothy mochas, I was late for a breakfast so brunch it was again. We decided to go to the same awesome place. This time we ordered from the menu – crab cakes with Benito eggs, stuffed omelets with croissant and frothy creamiest white chocolate mocha cups. DIVINE. By this time we knew, this trip was turning into a bon appetite excursion. We drove to Santa Barbara to meet SH's cousin from Philadelphia, who was on a whirlwind tour across the west coast. Student’s life is the best- Carefree, no responsibility other than your backpack and more importantly youth. Priceless.
We were delayed by the young trekkers, who lost their way in spite of the Garmin help. After spending some time on the ocean front and the Cabrillo pier we started for Solvang. After an hour n half, we reached Solvang. Stunning is to say the least. Off the highway we passed beautiful vineyards and romanticized horse ranches before we reached the Solvang downtown. Between the hills of California we found a piece of Denmark. The houses were made in West European style, in keeping with the Danish spirits. The sight totally transformed us to a dream land that was so unexpected. We had done some research and knew that the bakeries and wineries were the highlight of the town. I had shortlisted three bakeries and all of them were a must. We took a map of the town and decided to take a walk through the town. There was a horse drawn carriage with footmen wearing bright red uniforms, giving the tourists a tour of the town. We were not sure how much time this ride would take, since we wanted to devote more time to our bakery tour, we had to forgo the carriage ride. It’s on the to-do-list for the next trip. The cyberShot kept shooting at every corner. Our first stop was at the Danish Mill Bakery. We decided to sit and gorge on some chocolate pastry and Danish almond wafers. One bite and we needed to order some more frothy mocha. It was an absolute high teatime perfecto. With a renewed vigor we started our expedition across the town. They have made quaint cottages, windmills, clock towers. The town also has a mermaid fountain, a smaller version of the Copenhagen mermaid. We visited Olsen Bakery and Solvang Bakery and ordered bread, Danish cookies, ganaches, strudels, almond Kringle and Danish wafers- this meant a lot of cream, sugar and calories but we have this one life to enjoy!Righteous So!
Reached bay Area by 9pm and ordered biryani, gosht to-gos.
Now I am going through the pictures again and again and reliving the past week.
What a wonderful way to windup the year.
I offer to raise a toast to many, many and some more years of fun and happiness.

See you all nextYear!! Happy 2009
Love, luck n’ laughter!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Road to Peace is a Bumpy One!

This picture is taken on a traffic stop. Just as I was ready to click, the lights turned to green and this is the result. I did not get a second chance. Do we get or give a second chance to peace and friendship? I was on a most wonderful holiday trip, but the mind has its own way to make you brood.. even during moments of absolute contentment, breath taking sunsets, scenic drives, soothing coffee sips, sufiana / Bengali songs. The mind will wander off….


A day before Xmas, I read a random post and commented (comment no.8) on an impulse. I read the comment response during Xmas break. I laughed it off as a sadistic stunt. Mostly I stay away from unhappy, malign rants. This time, I did respond and got ditched.
So I did some analysis for myself. The incident has no importance but I had to document so that I learn from my actions. The questions I posed to myself and the brainstorming follows-

Why I had to post a comment?
What Jagjit Singh said against the Pakistani singers is irresponsible but the post retaliation seems rather harsh. The language seemed so harsh, rude and ugly that I felt bad for JS even though I do not agree with his actions. The title and the content was just too violent for a Christmas Eve day. Personally, I am so happy and content in my current state. Just wanted to put a friendly word to forgive and forget. I saw too much of negative energy and ignored the call for individual freedom of expression.
I should have stayed away.
The comment response
It was meant to be hurtful and upset. Just because someone does not agree with your views does not require you to snub them. Freedom of speech is an act of responsibility and need not be practiced by only famous people. Being a nameless nobody does not mean one can act up as foolish juveniles.

My stand –
We can have differences of opinion without being hateful. It is a weak argument when people say that if he can talk like that why can’t I, because that is when Peace becomes extinct. Violence cannot be curtailed by more violence. I feel sorry for folks who lack the sensitivity and compassion to understand situations that do not support them. I successfully practiced it in this situation. I sent good wishes, pleasantries and humor their way (comment no.16). I will also practice forgiveness but never to forget because I need to remember and stay away from negative attitudes.
So enough about that blather, a passé.
A wildflower near Lake Casitas, Ventura. Braving the adverse weather.


The year is winding up with wonderful personal memories for me. I have many happy memoirs to share, and infinite special ones to dream about. I had a great Xmas time, with scrumptious brunches and delectable Danish desserts….. freezing but fulfilling hikes and long scenic drives.

And, I see beautiful rainbows on every corner.
Looking forward to a Wonderful New Year filled with Happiness and Good Fortunes!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Big and Cozy blogging Proximidade!

I am grateful to Goofy Mama who has once again bestowed a special award on me. I sincerely wish I can be a good friend to her as well as to all my loving friends. The term proximidade means neighbourhood or being in close proximity, meaning friends, people who are close and dear.
Me thinks!! I will take some time to decide before I pass on the award, because love and being loved, my honor and respect of others and being close to friends and holding close friends to my heart is something I do not consider light. Therefore I request sometime here.

Currently I have a paper publication to work on and some packing for a Xmas trip. We leave for Santa Barbara and Ventura tomorrow afternoon. It’s a five hours drive. Xmas day will be spent in a quaint Danish township and the following day we plan to make a trip to Channel Islands. I have heard that Whales make a crossing here and sometimes they make a break journey at the favored spot. That has me all excited.
So my dear friends I will see you after Xmas and hopefully before New Years!

Wishing ya’ll A Merry Xmas and Season’s greetings.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ma- Baba and Birthdays

It’s your birthday Baba,
Ma called to remind me.
I hesitate talking to you. You know.
Nothing I do is good enough for you.
Why did I come to US,
Why did I not sit for Civil Exams?
Why I choose to be a house-wife,
Not the lecturer that I was?
You forget it’s my life,
Not your dream.
I know you care,
And it makes me edgy.

I call you.
You pick the phone on one ring.
Were you waiting for me to call?
You sound excited and happy.
Why am I surprised?
Did I do something right?
We talk about fish, and gifts,
Cousins and gas/petrol prices,
Basmati rice and American economy.
Both of us are on best behaviors,
Ma is happy that we both are polite,
No heated exchanges.
Are we doing it for Ma?
Because I think I forgot her birthday too.

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Weekend update on a Thursday!

I can never be a Breaking News journalist. But then I openly declare my slothful leanings.
So the weekend goneby is the "Big Weekend" after three tough years, I want to chronicle.

Finally, SH is done with his MBA course and we are both relieved. I have been so excited and have dreamt with such passion about how we are going to spend our time post graduation; travelling, hiking, learning golf together and going swimming.
The Big day fell on 4th Dec. And for the lack of any talent to express how excited we felt, we fought and quickly proceeded towards a cold war to avoid any harsh language. So that’s how the night was spent without disturbing any individual routines and meals. It felt he still had his exams and I stayed out of his way.
Slight digress-our fights have always proved to be advantageous for me (read flowers, tiramisus, more importantly help around house!).
Then comes Saturday morning and since we had made big plans for our first freedom weekend we got dressed and walked towards the garage. Remember, we are still on a cold war!

We went to one of our brunch-favorite joint and ordered classic sandwiches on cibatta bread and creamy chicken, soup of the day. Since I love sourdough bread it was taken for granted that I will consume the bigger share of soup and he will finish my leftover sandwich. What with recession even “cold wars” need some love.

After brunch we dropped some food items at the food drive project for homeless and needy. Then we headed for some retail therapy. I wanted to check the sale season. The constant buzz of deeper sale than ever was enticing and one that I did not want to miss. By the time we headed home I had lazer-ed into the wallet with two jeans and 2 cute sweaters. I am so ready for the Xmas season. We picked “Singh is King” for a movie time.
It was such a hilarious movie that the cold war is just not happening anymore.

On the way back I lamented on not being able to find a wristcase for my ipod classic. All the cute cases are either for shuffles or iphone. The market is ignoring the classic, I say. And I also needed to buy toys for the toy drives we intended to participate.

This year because there is a rise in unemployment and homelessness all over the country, the local media keeps requesting for donations from individuals who can contribute to the cause, in kind or economically. We have been contributing for the toy donations each year but this year we planned to participate in the food drive as well. But I am still doing it in my way; no non vegetarian food although that is exactly what the American media emphasis upon. Non perishable canned non vegetarian. But I have found high protein options; almond mix cornflakes, kidney beans, pasta, canned fruits and baby food. And we have been doing this every alternate week.

On Sunday after brunch of uttapam and chutney, we picked the toys and then went shopping perfume for SH. Finally he bought Chrome Azzaro. After 6 months of coaxing. I also liked a wonderful winter formal jacket in camel color for SH which he liked so much he could not deny himself. Finally found an ipod wristcase and lastly we bought some fine red wine to celebrate. The wine was so smooth.
We feasted on delicious to-go from our neighborhood Chinese joint and discussed our on coming Xmas road trip.
We watched “Rock On”. The songs are wonderful and even better with wine.

Right now I am busy preparing for the party that we have on Sunday. A small gathering of SH’s grad school fellows along with their spouses.
For once I will have some common topics to discuss and reason to celebrate with complete strangers.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

In Appreciation...

Some time ago I had thought that each month I will talk about a couple of blogs that I like reading and discuss how I came across the blog and what I like about the blog. After all it was a blogger who inspired me to start my own blog.
And this seems the best way to start giving note to my beloved fellow blog buddies. I also need to acknowledge my fellow Blog buddies since most of the time I do not leave a comment to announce my arrival.
Also because I have yet to add them on my blog list although they are all on my computer favlist.

I have received my first award. Goofy Mama Bestowed a pretty award at My creative and Photo Blog. I am grinning like a drunk baboon.(check my profile pic for reference)

Thank you so much.

So this award goes to-
1. I came across Odessa when I was looking for fellow bloggers from Bay Area and I have become a fan of this quiet and talented girl with a lot of depth.

2. I reached Eve many months ago and she kept me from writing my blog posts because I couldn't stop reading hers.

3. I have to mention Orange because her Photo blog is so cheery and she reminds me of my schools/college times.

4. Absolutely beautiful things has introduced me to such lovely ways to be creative in my own limitations.

5. I love Creative Pooja because her blog is an inspiration for all foodies and proud vegetable lovers. Hers is a happy blog I want to go back to again and again.

6. Straight Arch in a Squarish Circle writes about life as it comes at you; then a dash of humor and a pinch of irony. He makes me go all nostalgic.

7. A focus in the wild experience is the kind of life, I would wish for myself. Her Photo blog and her work are very much appreciated by me.

8. I reached Roop through Unchaahi and she makes me realize that we all can make a difference. This award is for both because they are together.

9. Metrodad does not like awards but I can not help it. As a young married couple with no kids yet, he is the only parent blogger whom am able to connect with and who makes me reflect and realize that we have to make the best of what God has given us.
10. Indian Home Maker is one of the coolest Blog girl I have met "virtually". Her blog is an absolute thinking blog for me.
11. I would like to award it back to Goofy Mama because her quake rites make so much sense to my life. Also most of the traffic my way is thanks to Goofy here!

Live Full.Love Max.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Some things

This week I took some time to reflect on what is vital to my being.
I had a most wonderful weekend filled with lots of fun and laughter.
And I figured that Happiness and Love figure at top.

I recall some Kabir verses- One says that we must look inside ourselves when we want to find faults, while another talks about finding love all around when we give a chance to others.

And here are some things I love that I wish to share with others.
1. I love to take walks along beaches, with warm sand wrapped around my feet.
2. I love yellow. My wardrobe is shades of yellow; gold, mustards, oranges, reds, and some blue-greens. Can’t help it!
3. I love the sun! Bright, warm, sunny days bring me a lot of joy.
4. I love romantic and cute comedies. I love movies that make me cry (it’s catharsis), and movies that make me laugh like a Hyena is it?
5. I love crème brulee and bread-butter pudding. They remind me of my mother, my birthdays and that everything will always be fine with my world.
6. I love hiking on a sunny and breezy day, reach the top of a meadow and watch quiet deer family in their peacefulness. I love contentment.
7. I love coming across wild animals on our nature expeditions; elephant seals, wild dolphins, jackals, wild bears, bob cats and snakes. Few that I have been fortunate enough to spot.
8. I love my camera. And I appreciate all the love and attention that comes my way due to it.
9. I love being lazy and read a magazine or book, do some crochet/ knit or just be a couch potato.
10. I love the blog world- it makes strangers become friends It makes me aware of various information, ideologies, dogmas, I never knew existed. It helps me grow into a person I would like to be someday.
11. I love talking, being part of discussions and arguments simply because it makes me reflect within me and helps to expand my horizons.
12. I love to listen myself sing out aloud; Tells me I am truly happy.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Will I ever get over this ?

How can we blame Pakis, the terrorists and their leaders.
When we have such brain dead and loser politicians, I feel ashamed that these cranks are the leaders of our country and who represent us.
And I am not sure if even this complies with me.

This is something I agree with. And this expresses what I mean.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Need- Love and Prayer, Pride and Humility!

This conversation started here.
This is the response from H:-
I was busy mobilizing friends for the Candle Light Vigil last evening hence couldn't reply earlier. We had a turnover of around 300 people in the bone chilling winter of England. Yes I include myself when you say Indians and that is obvious and comes automatically..... so answering that question seems absurd to me.My grudge against us Indians is that despite being educated, landing into posh jobs and making a decent living, we are not concerned for India as a country. While I was mobilizing friends one of my Indian colleague refused to join us as it would meant canceling a dinner invite for her.... now when I look at that I wonder, what is the magnitude of tragedy that will move her to join a cause like this.Even at the vigil there were some notorious elements who kept commenting on us organizers as "Pseudo secularist", and other things...... I agree the desis in UK are called Paki and that is seen as abusive and you can take a person to court if it hurts anyone's sentiments.Yes, it is tolerance and respect that makes heterogeneity (read multi cultural/ethnicity/religion/region) beautiful else it leads to confusion and complexity...
And my reply to H is the following:
Totally Love your reply. You are a gem.
When ppl use abusive languages towards you/each other remember its always their own inferiority and weaknesses they are refering to. Uska koi dharm nahi hota.
When ppl avoid/abuse me I have always seen its for the same thing.
Reason- inferiority, and that has no religion.I am very proud of you.

The other friend of mine, who is Muslim by religion and an Indian national, seems so hurt that it seems she is unable to comprehend that both of us (she and I) are saying the same thing albeit in different languages perhaps.
For me the petty squabble ends here because there are much more important and bigger things to accomplish. But before I cremate this raw tide of emotions and make better use of my strong sentiments for our beloved nation. I have to state a few facts.
This childhood friend of mine, who thought it was important to defend herself as a Muslim has a very dear Military link. S’s brother is a Naval Officer serving our nation.
So this private friction is demeaning to our being. I am trying to put my energy into something constructive.
Please send me your suggestions and guide individuals like me how we can serve our nation even though we live half a world away. I do not want to just keep write about it but much more. Just cant afford to be a passive writer/reader anymore. I have to be proactive.

I bow at H’s inspiring words- it is tolerance and respect that makes heterogeneity (read multi cultural/ethnicity/religion/region) beautiful ........
.... the Core.