Sunday Sky

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“With the new day, comes new strength and new thoughts”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Have faith in yourself and in the power you have to do good. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you all have a peaceful week.

 

 

Friendly Friday Photo Challenge- Blue

Amanda   touches on a very important topic this week and I applaud her for generating thoughtful conversations through this week’s prompt. This is clearly one of my favorites and while I try to actively participate as much as I can, there are times when I miss out but watching and reading responses is also as much a delight.

   Mental well being is just as crucial as physical and while there is much more awareness now than even a few years ago, there is still, unfortunately,  a considerable stigma surrounding this. When someone is going through a tough time, just letting that person know that you are there is a huge help. And I speak from personal experience. It has happened to me and it has happened to  people I love dearly and I am glad and honored that I was in their thought and they in mine. As life continues to unfold in all its craziness and glory, it gets overwhelming from time to time and for many of us that builds up inside to a point that makes us feel less than what we are. The feeling of loneliness can be a pretty huge burden to carry. ‘How are you’, ‘how was your day’,’ how are you feeling’, ‘what can I do’, ‘do you need something’ are some simple yet infinitely comforting, and mostly appreciated, words we can use to let each other know that there are shoulders to lean on to, ears that are willing to listen and hands that are willing to help out. It is difficult to ask for help  when going through a storm…and so it’s only human to extend that helping hand. 

While the color blue is associated with feelings of loneliness, anxiety, sadness…I am going to focus on the gorgeous blue sky during spring and autumn months, an almost Prussian blue as that happens to be a very dear color. I am not a huge fan of the color otherwise but that gorgeous blue sky just draws me in. I do love turquoise and cobalt blue as well!

Sharing some photos from my archive for this prompt and hoping to capture some new photos this Fall. The Friendly Friday Photo Challenge is hosted alternately by Amanda and Snow. Go take a look!

 

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Know that you are not alone.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday Motivation

“In all things of Nature, there is something of the marvelous”- Aristotle

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Let’s take better care of the only place we can call home and enable our future generations to marvel at our incredible planet.

Thanks for stopping by!

Why so rude

This post was a long time coming…I had written this quite some time back but was unable to wrap it up. But I finally managed to do so this afternoon!

   In our intricately interconnected and ever-shrinking world, that seems to be coming up with more and more apps to that effect, we seem to be too quick to pass judgments on people we know and on complete strangers, alike.  When did this become a thing?   ‘Rude people have always been around, it’s just that they have social platforms to make that known on a larger scale’ -I can’t remember if I read it somewhere or heard it from someone but I think I agree with it! What happened to if you don’t have something nice to say,  don’t say anything at all? While it may not be possible to adhere to this under all circumstances, I believe it is not always impossible either.

   As an introvert and as someone who has always being a sort of ‘push over’, the fear of being judged has kept me from things that can be difficult to list. Be it social interactions, speaking up for myself, engaging in conversations on debatable issues, choice of attire, sharing photos- the list can go on- have all let me keep things to myself. It’s not simply because I am sort of introvert by nature but it’s also because I have found people to be unkind, unnecessarily (not that we need to be unkind, ever). People talk and talk loud. Just because someone is big it does not mean others decide what that person gets to wear; someone’s skin color should not be a marker in any conversation ever; someone can be Indian and dislike spicy food (FYI- all Indians do not eat or like spicy food and there is A LOT MORE to Indian food than the handful typically found at restaurants outside the country); my neighbor can choose to share 50 photos of her cats and I can choose to share 50 photos of the squirrel that comes to eat cookies on many mornings on our balcony!

   I am fairly new still to this blogging world but I think this is a wonderful arena to share our commonalities and engage in chats that let us know more about each other; it’s a  platform to learn from each other and encourage others to carry on and it’s a front row seat to the viewing gallery of majestic and  hidden natural treasures from around the world; it’s a recipe book containing recipes of grandmas and moms as well as those of professionals; it is lost pages from our childhood that we rediscover through story telling.

   In terms of photos, many of us are amateurs and we get to share our enthusiasm with all. Those photos may be imperfect for many, particularly the professionals, but here’s the thing…we are not professionals and may be we do not really know and hence do not abide by ‘rules’ that may or may not dictate a good photo. I also wonder if art should have rules though. Photos are memories, they tell stories and hold a special place in our hearts. They remind us of moments, of faces and transport us momentarily to an earlier time and place, stirring emotions at times and helping us reminisce.  It’s also a matter of perspective..something that I like in a particular photo might not be appealing to you. And that’s just fine! A lovely person, Manja had an unpleasant experience a few months ago when she shared a few photos (which were beautiful) on a social platform and when I came to know about that it was just baffling. She dealt with it in the most perfect way possible and has moved on since but it’s something that’s becoming more and more common and everyone we know has faced it more than a desirable number of times. And it’s just not right….not once, not ever.

   I applaud Manja again for the way she rose above pettiness and I think it’s a very important lesson too on how to deal with the not-so-nice! This post has been way long overdue but I am glad that I was finally able to finish it. And as I had said, I am sharing some ‘imperfect photos’:)

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This is one of my most favorite photos of all times. We were coming back home from a wonderful trip, our first long distance drive as a family of four and our son was trying to cover the rays of the setting  sun. The sky was brilliant and I am glad I was able to capture this shot. It can be edited to hide the flaws but I choose to keep it this way.

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Not exactly what I was going for but I still like this.

 

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I was trying to take a picture of this bench.

 

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The light was all wrong but I wanted to see how this would turn out.

 

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I thought this looked pretty. It was a special day…we took the little guy out for lunch as our baby girl stayed home with her grandparents.  While he was a little sad for his baby sister, he was very happy at the same time to be able to do ‘grown up’ stuff. Also, we had taken our smaller car, the one we had before our daughter was born, and it brought back memories we have made as a family of three and the little guy loved the car ride and he said that riding in that car made him remember some of the things we used to do before. This photo can be edited too of course but again, everything does not need to be!

 

Let’s look out for each other and thanks for stopping by!

Of light, lamps and load shedding

   The other day I was admiring some lampshades at a store and at the same time thinking about how ‘load-shedding’ (electrical outage/power cut) was fairly a regular occurrence during my early childhood and now as I am typing this, I am wondering why did that thought crop up at that moment! Anyways, I have always had a fondness for lampshades, big or small, contemporary or antique and I absolutely love candles, candle stands and good old fashioned candle holders. We currently live in an apartment with two little ones where there is not much scope for pretty lamps and shades but that doesn’t mean that I can’t admire from a distance. Lighting candles is almost out of the question too but once in a while, when I am cooking, I like to keep one lit in a corner.

   The early years of growing up,  memories of which seem to be getting clearer the more my life gets away from the city I grew up in, were part structured and part whimsical- as I suppose everyone else’s was/is. There was a set routine that we all followed from daybreak till when we hit the bed at night and even the unplanned seemed to follow a pattern at times. Unannounced guests who would be staying for days was normal and so was being reprimanded by the friendly neighbor for breaking his glass panes with a cricket ball. Life went on and we rolled with it. And ‘load shedding‘ (power cut/electrical outage) followed us around!

   Ask anyone who grew up in Calcutta during that time and they will all tell you their load-shedding stories. Be it the sweltering heat of the hot summer days or the humid evenings, load shedding was omnipresent. It could show up any time and play with all the plans that you had made- be it a post lunch siesta or watching that movie on the television you had been waiting for a while or getting ready for the wedding you had been invited to. Or finish that dreaded homework that was due the next day.

   On evenings when we would be vigorously studying (every single household with school going children in Calcutta, if not the whole of India had this in common) for the next day at school and scampering to get some homework done, it would suddenly get all dark and a collective murmur would fill the entire neighborhood- “Aabaar load shedding” (aabar means again in Bengali)! Summer evenings and nights, when it mostly struck, would find adults on the streets chatting and complaining,  kids who had finished their homework hanging around and there would be a sort of almost merriment. Mosquitoes buzzing around, a distant bark of the street dogs, the tinkle of some passer by’s bicycle provided the background score to such sultry nights. But for the likes of me and many I knew, it meant finishing that homework in the light of the candles or lanterns and cursing oneself for not having finished it on time. It used to be insanely hot  and humid and while I kept on going grudging, I remember Ma or Baba would patiently sit with me, with a handheld fan and keep me company, trying to make it less uncomfortable as I toiled in the flickering lights. And it often happened that my brother and I would go to bed and it would still be all dark. Twisting and turning from the mugginess,  we would drift in and out of sleep while also trying to be awake to hear the sudden spinning of the ceiling fan. Gradually, the fever and the fret of the world would  dissolve as Ma Baba would be there right by the bed, with those fans, trying to ease our discomfort.

   Those days of load shedding and hand fans are a matter of the distant past and now I am irked by the slightest change in the settings of the thermostat. Time changes a whole lot of things and it changes people and their perspective. As Ma Baba get older, they continue to hide their discomfort from me, lest I get worried. But unlike those nights, when load shedding made it difficult to sleep, I now am very much aware of their plight that has been shaped with old age, ailments and partial blindness. And I can no longer drift away to sleep in peace. Air conditioning fails to comfort me the way those tiring hands did.

   As I was going through my archive looking for ideas, these stared me at the face and tales from summers long gone, came rushing by.

Does this happen to you? What stirs bittersweet memories in you?

 

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Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely rest of the week.

Monday Motivation

   “Don’t allow someone make you feel like you’re not good enough”Anonymous

   There’s no use denying that we live in a world that at many times appears to be harsh, unnecessarily untruthful and full of negativity. While it is not true always, it unfortunately is a huge part of our daily living and that can be tiring. To continuously have to strive to find the good in people, to keep on being optimistic, to having the courage to deal with the negative- can be taxing. Yet, we focus on the good…we must. The good, the bad and the ugly coexist and it is up to us how we respond to these.

   How we choose to view the world around us is probably a ‘choice’ and while it may sound utopian, I believe that we can decide to focus on the good that is also found in plenitude. ‘Choose to be kind in an unkind world‘ is more than a print on a coffee mug or a T shirt. It can be a wonderful way of living, albeit frustrating at times and difficult to maintain but nonetheless doable. Everyday people, things, circumstances will work in inexplicable ways to make us feel bad about ourselves, about the choices we make in life; they will work tirelessly to bring us down and fill us with self doubt- do not let them. The power lies within us to not respond to such pettiness. My Ma always says that anyone who behaves in this manner is already beneath us and I couldn’t agree more. I understand that it is easier said than done but it is upon us to not let the weight of other people’s malicious behavior, their inanity and their overall disregard for anyone else but themselves, their hollow judgments take us down. Our convictions and inner strength can lead us in our own journeys that we each take and we meet an equal number of, if not more, people who enrich our lives with love, generosity, humility and awesomeness which brightens the gloom negative energy brings. Random acts or spoken words by strangers and acquaintances make us smile a bit and breathe easy and we know that love continues to grow and even if we are unable to see it, the world is still a beautiful place.

Thanks for stopping by and hope you have a happy week!

 

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Is it Fall already

   A couple of days ago when I walked into one of my very favorite home decor stores, what seemed like a gazillion pumpkins and Halloween decorations, stared at me from every other rack and I actually heard myself say- “Wait…what?” And I thought to myself how did summer get away from me?  When I walked out at around 8 the setting sun had lent a fiery glow to the sky that had dark grey clouds looming and I realized that the days had indeed gotten shorter and we were not very far from the colder months.

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   Having lived in India for the most part of my life, I am used to the heat and humidity, that is also characteristic of summers here in New Jersey but I cannot say that I like it. I never liked it back in India as well. I find it very difficult to be outside on hot summer days when ideally I should be soaking up as much sun as possible because such days last only for a really short period. It is good for the kids too as they can run around outside as much as they want, splash in the pool and be kids in general! Sunscreens and water bottles are all that you need. This is in stark contrast to the months that follow where they need to be bundled up in 5 layers of clothing and make more- than -desirable visits to the pediatrician’s office, that is sadly almost a routine during those 6-7 cold-ish and cold months of the year! But autumn, I love..who doesn’t! The celestial blue that makes for the perfect backdrop for the vibrant oranges, yellows and reds of the leaves, that crisp autumn breeze which makes you want to sip on a cup of hot chocolate and the  typical autumn smell…are some of the things that fill me with warmth from the inside during these months that portray Nature on the cusp of transition.

   Every year I plan to take photos to celebrate this beauty that is fiery and transcendental and I am never sure if I captured the moments I wanted to. This year I have a different plan. I have made a sort of ‘list of photographs’ I would ideally like to take to capture Fall in all its resplendence and festivities and am keeping my fingers crossed! Here is my list…would you like to add something to this? What do you think of this idea? Does it look too structured? It does to me and is quite opposite to the spontaneous nature of the way I take photos.  That’s why I am a bit curious too to see if I am able to follow this plan through and at the same time maintain a bit of spontaneity. Only time will tell!

Here it goes-

  • A pile of leaves
  • A tree in full bloom (with colored leaves)
  • Three trees with orange, red and yellow leaves (separately)
  • That brilliant blue sky
  • Bare branches
  • Pumpkin/Jack-o-Lantern
  • Halloween Decorations
  • A beautiful sunset or sunrise
  • A solitary leaf
  • Fall decor
  • Halloween celebration at my son’s school
  • Trick or treat
  • Thanksgiving
  • A favorite family dessert or meal (with recipe)
  • Indian celebrations of Durga Puja, Diwali and Bhai-Phonta (more on this in a separate post) that take place during the fall months
  • My family

   All this thinking about fall made me bake a chocolate cake last night and it was from here…a very easy and super moist cake (I used cake flour and not all purpose flour). And my son decorated it! The apartment smelled really nice and for a moment I could not help but think about that first feel of a crisp autumn day. Not that I am waiting for the cold months to come because when the snowy days seem to have no end in sight, I get jittery then and eagerly wait for spring to come! My son however is excited for his Halloween costume and this year he gets to dress his little sister too and there are many options apparently that he has been exploring for her:) He is waiting for Durga Pujo too when he will get to dress up in his Punjabi/Kurta (the traditional Indian attire for boys/men). And as I tucked him into bed last night, we talked about going apple picking and taking a hayride and he wondered if his Baba would have to get on top of an apple tree to get the juiciest apples like Peppa Pig’s daddy had to!

 

 

Thanks for stopping by!