Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vacations are dead! Long live vacations!!

Other than the saving grace of awesome food, last (long) weekend was akin to Rambo training to go into Vietnam. Hoping for a relaxed getaway at the family home in Mysore, I found the holiday to be anything but that.

After a sumptuous breakfast, and only 2 hours behind planned departure time, we took off to the homestead. A cucumber with salt stop at Maddur, and we were at our cousin's home in Mysore a little after 2. The eating started in earnest right there. Lamb chops, brain masala, mutton pepper fry soon disappeared in record time.

Fortunately, my nephew advised us against go-karting and bowling due to the crowds and I escaped that one for a dinner. That was a fiasco though as the place we went to had the most horrible service. We made up for this with some delectable desserts at Corner House.

Sunday morning is when the unwarranted activities began in earnest. First a hike up Chamundi hills, a hefty climb of 1000 steps. Luckily we got the driver to drive us down. A heavy breakfast of idlis with Gowda style fish curry pretty much wiped out anything burnt on the uphill task.

Back home, I was looking forward to a lazy Sunday afternoon. The walk up the hills, an endeavor I had never taken up in my lifetime was already too much exercise. My cousin, on the other hand, though in his late 40s is made of a different caliber. He had the brainwave to drive to Balamuri, a water spot, few miles from Mysore. Left with no choice, as everyone else was showing immense enthusiasm, I reluctantly agreed.

Balamuri had about 2 million people with similar goals as we did. Demurring at the crowd, we were about to head back when my cousin started talking to this guy with an auto. The fellow asked how many of us we were and when we said 13, he said 'No problem'. I was now very intrigued. An auto that can take 13 people? Well, my intrigue turned to dismay as the auto happened to be a cattle carrier type of contraption. The front portion was undoubtedly an auto, but the back was a metal carriage flatbed truck. As we were determined to have fun at whatever cost, the group piled into the auto thingy. A nephew of mine recently recovering from an operation down under was under a lot of stress as this was a ride that could give a normal person afflictions in the gluteus. We held on for dear life but luckily it was only a 2 km drive.

Arriving at Yedmuri, we found that the crowd was definitely less, but only by a million. Unfazed, my hyperactive cousin crossed the river (by foot) and found a private farm with trees and hence shade (for our lunch!). On the other side, we encountered an expressionless farmhand who refused to let us in. Complex negotiations followed (read - money changing hands) and we were in.

Food was as usual a treat. Mutton biryani for the non-veggies, chapatis, pulao, sabjis for the veggies, sweets, strawberry milk, fruit juices, the usual stuff one takes on a light picnic lunch.

A little bit of frolicking in the water for the brave and the energetic and we headed back to Mysore.

Again, no rest. Palace lights to be seen. I don't think I have ever seen the palace lights myself even though I've lived in Mysore long enough and visited it untold number of times. But, it had to be done. Luckily, we got in just before they shut the lights off.

Dinner! Well, we never thought we needed table reservations in our town. Apparently, we did! We couldn't find a damn restaurant with a table for 11. We finally ended up in Park Lane where we waited for 20 minutes and got a table. Food was good, but the service bad.

We managed to rush out at 10:30 and after ensuring the advance party had ordered desserts for us, we had our fill of ice cream with mango pulp, fudge brownie, hot chocolate fudge and other such diet products.

I was so bushed that day and cursed my 'bunny in heat' type of energy my cousin had. We finally got home and I crashed on the bed in an instant.

This was a vacation that never was. I have never gone to Mysore and done so much. In fact, come to think of it, I haven't done so much in all my time living there. I need to go back now secretly, without my cousin's knowledge and get my lounging time. But then, he does know the best places for mutton...hmm...what a conundrum..

Monday, January 12, 2009

All for love

If there is one word that describes yesterday, it's 'warmth' as a good friend succinctly put it. Overlooking the fact that I am an idiot and was clueless to the war-like plans hatched under my very eyes, the fact of the matter remains. This could not have been done without herculean efforts and dedication, especially by my amazing love. Words cannot begin to express how truly wonderful she is; my respect and love for her have reached unattainable heights. To quote from another friend last night - 'I don't think I would do something like this for anyone in my life'. That pretty much sums it all....

The day started innocuously enough. A lazy Sunday afternoon I thought and looked forward to a good lunch and a nice long afternoon siesta. But something was amiss. I was being pressurized to go bowling at 4 p.m. with my cousins. While there's nothing wrong with that, I just didn't want to get out at that time and was raising a big fuss to change the status quo of my lethargy. Vaish was to go shopping with my nieces and she said she felt guilty leaving me alone at home, as the kids were with my parents. I should have smelt a rat right then as this guilty feeling of leaving me alone at home has never occurred in the last 14 years! But, as I said, I'm an idiot and let things go.

Sure enough, around 4 p.m, my cousin and his wife show up to take me bowling! Their daughters are going to stay back at our place and go shopping with the wife. Nothing out of the ordinary I thought.

We picked up another cousin and his son and headed out to M.G. Road. As I had been rudely awakened from a fitful afternoon slumber, I was still a bit groggy and sorely needed some caffeine to come to grips with this afternoon outing. We hung out at Barista and then on to Amoeba. Looked like it would be a long haul to get a lane so we decided to go towards Bowring Institute where we were to meet with the wife and the kids who were supposedly done with their shopping.

Still in the dark, I tagged along, having peanuts and paani puri on the way, loitering around and taking things easy, unsuspecting of the deep dark plots churning in my wake.

We finally got to Bowring around 6:30 or so and my cousin said we'll wait in the lounge till the others show up. Again, no raised eyebrows from me as I am quite content in going with the flow. A discussion ensued on gyms and my cousin tells his wife that he wants to show her the new gym in Bowring. Apparently, they had redone it. Obediently, I got up and followed like a puppy. We got to the pool and more small talk occurred on swimming pools, gyms and other important matters which undoubtedly were time delaying tactics. As the gym was obviously closed, my cousin said he would take us through the side and up the stairs. Like a lamb to the slaughter, I continued walking....

At first I saw nothing, just darkness. A second later I could see a few flash cameras menacingly hidden in the night. I could distinctly make out figures in the shadows. My cousin nonchalantly says that there seem to be some people there....

Still uncomprehending, I walked on and all of a sudden, the lights go on, cameras start flashing and there are a 100 people in the open hall shouting and yelling "SURPRISE!!!!". My brain couldn't process anything at this point. I see family members, colleagues, ex-colleagues, friends all at the same place and I am in a dream.

I don't think I'll ever get over my 40th birthday surprise party. Vaish is a stupendously talented and amazingly resourceful girl. WOW!! What a woman!! And how in the world did I get so lucky?? I can't even imagine how tough the last month must have been for her; to do all this without letting me know. Just outstanding....

My surprise didn't end there. There was an emotion filled slide show of my life in pictures, from my early years to current day and the nostalgia just got to me. In addition, my most wonderful friends from the US had recorded a video clipping of their wishes and this was more than I could take. As another friend said 'When I turn 40, if there is 1 person who can talk well about me, I consider myself a success, and to have so many talk about you, shows how well you are doing in life'. So true, so true! I am truly blessed with the best family and friends any human can hope for. My life can only get better from here and believe me it's been a great 40 years.

I don't want to get into the Oscar Award mode of thanking everyone. You know who you are and how much you've done for me and how much you mean to me. It was the most loving gathering I've ever been a part of and years from now, when I look back, this will hands down be the most memorable moment of my life.

As for my old woman, I will deal with her in due course of time! Didn't think she could keep even a small secret and she successfully planned an entire event without even giving me an inkling of the goings on! My wife, my love, my life....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

An interesting time

After Sol died, I didn't want to write anything else last year. He is just too much in our minds and the 'time heals all wounds' doesn't seem to work here. We still miss him like we did the day he left us. Some hurts never go away.

Anyway, on to more positive thoughts. Turned 40 this week and loving it. Not that it feels any different but I suppose it's some sort of milestone...or so everyone tells me...

We had a great year end bash. The family took off to Allepey for a house boat vacation for a few days, about 30 of us. That was a blast though the coordination between four houseboats remained an everlasting challenge.

My birthday went off without too many surprises which is how I wanted it. The breakfast at Dwaraka cafe was great. Other than idlis, we ordered everything else on the menu. It was actually quite an effort to not order idlis.

As usual, no resolutions this year. 2008 was an interesting year, not necessarily the best I've had. I almost reached my target weight. Got rid of 20 kgs and now need to maintain the body.After all, I'm getting old and can't afford not to!

I'm coming to realize how fragile relationships are (kinda late in my life) and how lucky I am ; just when I was going to take things for granted. Too many problems I've been hearing about in so many lives, near and dear ones, friends and family alike. I hope everyone sorts things out this year, because it really sucks otherwise. Good reason to sort things out, right?

I've been asked by my highly significant other to write serious stuff this year. Not sure if that's going to happen, but will give it a shot, though my core competency remains in inconsequential events and the lighter side of life. Time will tell how that goes.

And, in case it wasn't clear before, I can't get over Sol's passing. The tears still come out in his memory ever so often....

A wedding in Chennai

It's been a while since we had a massive wedding on the wife's side of the family. This one was especially important as it was the...