Surprise.Love.Happiness

I received a gift of happiness! A gift from oceans across, far away dreamy land, from an Angel who lives deep into the snowy mysterious woods.

Surprise!

Surprise!

You are just too precious Kathy!

Lake Superior Magazine

Lake Superior Magazine

From the cold, freezing cold Lake Superior, to the Queen of January from India; a January Edition.

Joyful moment to be cherished forever

Joyful moment to be cherished forever

As I opened the magazine, I found the autumn leaves inside – those I always dreamt of, the ones I always wanted to feel, the ones I wanted to collect and keep inside my books, the ones I wished to draw on, the ones whose color I love. Look at the snowy picture on the pages behind! Is the lake frozen now?

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

They come from Lake Superior. They are the special ones. The original. The pure.

Some more..

Some more..

I am deeply touched. Misty eyed. Is this true? I’m so thankful to you Kathy Drue.

Look at that! The shade!!

Look at that! The shade!!

The most beautiful one.

Lovely

Lovely

Gift of Love

Gift of Love

And then…oh my!!!!

A card! Work of Kathy's hands.

A card! Work of Kathy’s hands.

Tell me, isn’t this the most precious? This is so adorable..so sweet!

These are worth the thousand words...

These are worth the thousand words…

I feel blessed. I’m so thankful. Life seems much more beautiful..

I just can't leave them down

I just can’t leave them down

You made my day so much more beautiful, dear Kathy! You added several colors to my morning & this will be remembered forever..These are a treasure. May you be blessed abundantly with beautiful colors of joy in your life too.

P.S. I showed them to my colleague at work amid-st the bustle of daily chaos, and she was excited to see them too. She specially liked the hand made card. She says I must visit Lake Superior some day..

What’s for the innocent?

On the cozy and cushy couch laid out at the reception area at my music school, sat an elderly lady who looked to be a foreigner. A German I thought. The lady wore a red color salwar kameez which looked gracious and blended well with her skin color. She was busy typing something on her laptop. The only place available for me was next to her. I sat beside her and opened my music sheets to revise my theory.

In about ten minutes time, a tiny little Indian kid ran towards her yelling fluently in German. My guess was right.
The kid then asked me in English, about my schedule. I told him I could understand him if he spoke in Deutsch as well. The kind lady was surprised and we exchanged some thoughts.

My music teacher called me in and we wished each other a happy new year. This was my first class for this year after Christmas vacations. He also offered a delicious cake to me, as a welcome note. Being curious about the Indian kid and the German lady, I was told that she has adopted this little kid. I also heard that the piano trainer is frustrated due to the kids slow performance and has asked the lady to discontinue his music schooling. This was followed by some heated arguments between the lady and the music teacher.

Several thoughts came to my mind. A foreigner, being kind and raising this little Indian fellow and giving him the best education. ( the fact that he spoke such fluent German and our music institute is one of the best & most expensive). May be he was slow in learning the music, and perhaps could have been given more time..

It wasn’t a pleasant scenario to me because I believe music is something not so easy to learn and produce. It needs constant practice. It needs a lot of time, dedication, and of course motivation from others. For kids, its more about learning to enjoy the music and being more confidant because they do not understand the meaning of what they play so well. I have seen other kids and they just produce what is written in the sheets without adding the finesse. Their tiny fingers needs to be trained. They need to learn to handle the big and complex instrument. Its perfectly fine and normal for the learners to take a little longer time to learn and get used to. It was heartbreaking for me to know that they asked this kid to discontinue the school. I heard the lady was disheartened too.

What is your opinion? Do you think if the child is slow he must be discontinued from a school?

Newness

I woke up to a beautiful morning, not so cold and just lovely. For me, its the first weekend of the new year, here in Bangalore.

Life seems new. New activities, new passions, new people, new goals, new feelings, new outlook and newness in everything. A transition time towards being better, controlled, focused, relaxed & being joyful. Aren’t we all so lucky to experience the gift of being in 2014? Its going to be a splendid one. I trust.

For me, the year 2013 was fantastic. It laid a beautiful foundation and added several new dimensions. Carrying the same forward in this year, in a much more advanced, sophisticated level seems amazing. I am going to enjoy every bit of it.

What are your new year plans, dear readers? Are you equally passionate about being in the year 2014? Do you also feel the newness?

I wish each one of you a wonderful time as the days and months come along. Best of luck :)

Take a break, relax & chillax!

The deadline is today & how can I not participate for the Photography Assignment 27 by Scott Thomas on my favorite topic Vacations?

It's ok for me to have everything I want

Pack up!

What to carry on a vacation trip, what not..

What to carry on a vacation trip, what not..

Solo traveller (At Goa Intl Airport)

Solo traveller (At Goa Intl Airport)

With Rebekka from Germany, Goa Express.

With Rebekka from Germany, Goa Express.

Amusement park?

Amusement park?

Holidaying with Shammi Kapoor ;)

Holidaying with Shammi Kapoor ;)

Cave Resort

Cave Resort

Enter in, don't worry..

Enter in, don’t worry..

Told ya, you see the beauty  on the other side of the  cave..

Told ya, you see the beauty on the other side of the cave..

The best of vacations…..

Nirvana!

Nirvana!


The last vacation of this year is just around the corner & I’m hoping for much more fun. I hope you too have a fun December!

Henry?

Wearing my viollette skirt and a weiss blouse holding a blaue umbrella, I walked past the village Chapel. I barely noticed anything on my way, neither did I realize the stubborn smile not wanting to leave my face and my ears listening to Henry absolutely without my permission.

Who is Henry?

An uninvited spare who has been glued to me on his toes. A chap who has arrived out of nowhere. A complete stranger whom I have no intention of knowing. But here, I have my eyes and ears so devout, so still, as if they do not belong to me anymore. My hands automatically raise themselves holding his and he drops my fingers from the top, making a pattern which if fallen on the grand Piano in the same pattern would produce the best music in the world!

When Henry begins his counseling speech, my eyes, ears and hands listen to him so devotionally as if he is a master of all, descended from God. They act as if they are receiving the worlds number 1 training.

I let them.

Months past, and I observed them get sharpened. I left the rest of my desires for which I needed them to act upon. I let them do as they like. I did carefully observe if Henry was spoiling them, being suspicious. He did not.
They are so fond of Henry. Its like they share so much with him, they spend hours together. They are always obedient to him. They get pretty close!

Whenever I sit in-front of the Ritmullers Grand Piano, I look into the music sheet. But, before I even begin reading the signatures, my hands are already on the keys. My eyes screen over the scales as if they have mastered them. My ears listen to the tempo and verify that its just perfect. My eyes, hands and ears are so much in sync! There’s hardly anything that I need to do to get them under control.

Astonished by this, I laid back. Rest of the hours I spent thinking endlessly. Who is Henry after all? From where did the forces come in? How is my body not even paying attention to my mind which is filled with other crap – of work, of hatred, of displeasure, of loneliness, depression…

I searched everywhere, until I stumbled upon this book. Below is the cover picture:

Henry Steinway

Henry Steinway

Henry Steinway? Oh, that’s you? You are not a stranger! you are not an intruder! You are Henry Steinway!!! The one who made Pianos in Germany and United States [Henry E. Steinway (February 15, 1797 – February 7, 1871)

All I did was scream out a big WOW! I mean, WOW!!

Well, below is what I play:

Ritmuller Grand Piano

Ritmuller Grand Piano

Isn’t it amazing?

Light up!

Sometimes universe offers so much to us which simmers us down so deep that we are left with only silence. I would say such moments are a wonderful times that soothes away any pains and helps us discover our innermost self. We get driven inwards deeper & deeper to find the answers to our questions not from the universe but from the core of our soul.

The universe does send the messengers delivering hints to us about wanting to be reactive towards its events. Thus, it compels us to open up and swirl outward farther & farther, as much away from the innermost core. We remain strenuously engaged in finding the right balance between the extremes.

In the recent months, there has been a realization of many of the aspects and their influence on my being. This has been majorly due to the spiritual endeavor for being oriented inwards and surviving the process of receptiveness through learning.

Well, there is a lot I could talk to you about. Perhaps, in the coming days there shall be more.

~~~~~******~~~~~

Before I leave for the day, it was the International Friendships Day last week. Did you notice how the facebook wall was filled with greetings, flowers, friendships quotes and what not from the folks across the globe so-far-yet-so-near!

Its always satisfying to know that we have our people even across several oceans whom we count on, its such a comfort!

Today, as I look up & count my blessings I realize that several of them are the people who have touched my life. The ones who have been close, so close that even from a distance they have helped me get up, pushed me forward, inspired me to believe that life is meant to be lived graciously. Those people, many of them much elder to me by age, I call them Friends. Of course, many of the special ones are you, my dear readers. Cheers! :)

Colors of my World

According to Karma’s photo hunt contest , We must choose a color that we are drawn to and post at-least three photographs.

This is a perfect challenge! I’ve been thinking which would be that one color and finally just one day before the deadline I have the below photographs:

The Marigolds

The Marigolds – I like Yellow nowadays..

Love

Love… Yes Red, Red it is.

Rangoli - Siemens, Mumbai

Rangoli – Siemens, Mumbai .. I always like purple. I do..

Variety

Variety – Pink! Pink!

One color? Which one? I’m sorry Karen, it was hard to choose. Every color is special.

Hiding inside, there was a Pearl

It was a perfect afternoon, a perfect one for a journey of hope.
With a light lunch and prayers accompanied by the signs for the unusual or rather, a sign of a flying feather holding good luck searching to attach itself to my hair, I left the home.

I entered the train compartment. As the train started moving, I began losing the sight of my people. There I was again, alone in the crowd.

Before I could take my seat, I noticed those curious eyes waiting to grab my attention. Those eyes, so hopeful, so stubborn, that they would not go unnoticed. I could not help but let our eyes meet, and those eyes returned a sense of satisfaction & relief clearly stating that we have something, within each of us, that the other needs. We cannot let each other pass by, without exchanging something that we must. I have no idea, but it was a strange encounter. Least expected.

Though I was still analyzing the latent thoughts of the subconscious mind, She was impatiently trying to dive into a conversation. I was a little worried about a tiny personal thing, while she continued staring at me just waiting to get that reaction from me which would say, “Yes, you can hello me now”.

She smiled. A very special, a beautiful smile, that at once brought me where I should be. Such a shine! I smiled at her back. I could see that she was dying to make a conversation. The only foreigner in the train, all alone, little amused by the tea/coffee and samosa passerby’s. She needed a company. And so, I asked her where she was going. She said “Hubli”. Now, Hubli isn’t a tourist destination. Moreover, she was alone. What would she be doing in Hubli? I was too inquisitive. I asked her where she came from and she said she is a German who now lives in Scotland. She said she was in Goa for about a week & she was going to Hubli to meet one of her old students!

Well, A teacher who came flying across the oceans to meet her student? I was about to “Wow” and she said, No I am not a teacher. She smiled and said, I was just a mentor. A mentor to someone who needed me once upon a time.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of noise & confusion in the train, people still searching for the right berths, the tea/coffee vendors screaming out loud, the TC shouting angrily to some people & what not! The dear lady could not really understand what was happening & she asked me if she could sit next to me. Why not, I thought. I gave her the window side, so that she could have a look at the country side western mountain range and the beauty of the Konkan parts.

She seemed delighted. I was surprised to see her animated behavior, her expressions, sheer joy & excitement, her eyes would suddenly sparkle if she spotted a stream or the color of the sun rays through the jungle trees or the rail side activities. She asked me several questions about India – food, culture, people, work, colors, seasons, and everything she could possibly think of. She had a great style of speaking. She spoke well!

Such a happy soul, I could not help but inquire about her life. Her story goes like this:

She was born in Germany, to a couple who lived quite an unhappy married life. Her mother being violent by nature, would at times physically abuse her when she would have quarrels with her husband. There was no love, no peace, no life! Her parents showed absolutely no interest in her growth. She grew up, and decided to move out of home. She moved to Scotland. While on her journey to seeking happiness, she came across an organization through which she got a chance to travel to Australia.

While in a small region within Australia, something very special happened to her. She met a whole new world where she could see only happiness. Everybody there was joyous. Tremendous pleasure, love and cheer, everybody was kind and polite, they were all content, they partied, sang, danced. There was everything a person possibly would need to be happy. That place was abundantly blessed, by God. She had an encounter with God, & the people taught her to converse with God, to trust, to build faith. She experienced the wonder. Her life since then was never the same.

She committed herself, to live and work for God, our creator. After that, she has been constantly serving the world, as a Gods disciple. She has traveled 27 different countries. She has touched thousands of lives. Though she has no much financial backing, things work for her miraculously. Sometimes, its so harsh that she doesn’t have a penny to feed herself. She told me few of her experiences where God helped her survive through the thick and the thin. She says to God, “I am doing your work, for the life that you have created, if I need something to be able to do so, you must provide. You need to give me the strength and good health so that I can serve you better, day after day.”

Though she had a very difficult childhood, always beaten up, never being loved, she prays to God day and night for her parents so that their life improves, so that they stay happy for the rest of their lives. She believes that the lost love shall return back to their family some day.

In Scotland, she lives in a beautiful mansion located by the Ocean. She described how she spends her time by the shore.

She got me completely tangled up into a bundle of thoughts. I looked outside the window, and what say! Our train was passing around the famous Dudhsagar waterfalls. I told her to look around, and at once she took out her camera. Oh my! She was amazingly thrilled. I just hoped she did not jump out of the train because she ran to the door and almost hung herself to the doorway with one arm and positioned her camera with the other. She stood by the door until our train completely took a turn around the waterfalls. She told me she loves cascading falls.
After about 20 minutes she returned back to our seat and she said, India is so beautiful! I love the hills, the water, the green and the blue! Her face turned even more pink as she said that and I laughed at her amazement. She continued, “I want to go to Mumbai, I want to see the dhobis and how they work!”. I was awed, I never knew the Dhobis from Mumbai had such a reputation, oh they do..

Meanwhile, Another lady, old enough whose age I could not guess, entered our boogie, panting, huffing, with a walking stick in one hand and an old rugged bag in the other, and a lad helping her reach the right place. She thanked the lad as she settled down and spoke to herself, “So this is the BE-2 coach that goes to Bangalore, and the remaining train compartments go to Delhi. Thank God, I finally reached the right place”. We looked at her, but said nothing.

There was another man sitting opposite to the old lady. She and him seemed to converse a lot while I was lost in conversations with my new German friend.

The train stopped at a station, where the compartments which must go to Bangalore are detached and the remaining compartments start off to Delhi. This process usually takes about 2 hours and the passengers usually get off the train and walk on the platform or try some snacks.

I mentioned about this to my dear friend and at once she got off the train, walked along the platform and spotted a small snack shop where they were selling “madur vada”. She bought some and relished the vadas with chilly sauce. She then walked more and narrated some silly jokes about her previous travels, stray dogs, spicy food and the like. From a distance we saw the same old lady walking quick steps, gleefully, holding something in her hand. She came towards us and said, “There. Both of you come with me. There that person is selling delicious Shrikhand. Why don’t you girls try it out! Come with me”. Off the three of us rushed to the shop and bought three scoops of really yummy fresh shrikhand.

The old lady enquired about us and we did not hesitate to tell her about our life. She then told us that she is a part of a mountaineering club. She returned from New Zealand recently. Before that she went mountaineering in Nepal. She excitedly told us about her adventures, her group, all the people and many more stories. We were so happy to meet her. I just happened to ask her age, and then she said she is 81. A 81 yr old lady, absolutely fit, full of life and energy, filled with cheer! What a gifted life she lives! She says “Your life is how you want it to be”.

It was almost time for the train to leave and we entered our compartment back. Now the four of us quite knew each other, and we discussed certain topics mostly about the travel and general things. Again, the old lady and the man got back to their discussions about topics like political parties, state well-fare and the like. My dear friend and I spoke about friends, marriages, different cultures, employment, career and similar. We had so much fun together. She became very sentimental whenever she mentioned anything about her parents and family and so I decided to keep the topics drifted away. After every fifteen minutes we mentioned to one another that we’re so glad we met, and that there is something special in our meeting this way.

It was the time to dinner. As usual, I had carried my food packed from home. She had placed an order in the train canteen. We waited for her food to arrive which wasn’t too late. We arranged all the containers, mine and hers. She told me that she would like to pray before we start eating. I allowed her to do so, and she said a prayer, aloud, on behalf of all of us, thanking God for the lovely journey so far and to bless our food. She was so grateful. She brought such peace in the chaotic train.

The two of them loved the shrimps and oyster shells which my mother had cooked. We discussed about different cuisines and exchanged few recipes.

It was about 9:00 p.m. The train was moving at a rapid speed. The darkness had fallen. She was suppose to get down at Hubli station which was 2 hrs away. We took a few pictures. We spoke about what we wish to have. About our dreams, predictions, destiny. She told me more about the power of God. She told me more about the service she has been doing, for the poor, the abandoned children, the old aged people, the sufferers. She told me about the education she provides to the people about service to mankind. She also described how she speaks to God and about the conversations. She says, “God is so powerful. God can vanish the suffering from the world. But he wants to do it together with us. He wants us to participate. We must all work and help each other. It is the responsibility of each one of us to help the needy. And we help God”.

Suddenly, her face turned blue. She said, I wish this journey never ends, at the same time she would count minutes to meet her student.

She said, “Sonali, You are so kind. You have a special heart. I want to pray for you. Is there anything you wish to have? Is there anything that makes you sad? or is there any message that you want to convey to God?”

She held both my hands gently. She began praying for me. For a better life, for the happiness in its best, for all the love, for success, for everything she could think of. She asked God to be with me always and never to leave me in loneliness. She prayed that God may always show me a way to victory and prosperity, and bless me with loads of beautiful things.

Though I thanked her, I do not think I could express to her how grateful I truly was and How thankful I was to God, for sending her for me.

It was time for her to leave. Both of us stood by the train door until the train took a halt. Her eyes were shining and she repeatedly said She would miss me, and how glad she was to meet me on her journey. Tears rolled down from her eyes onto her cheeks as she got down from the train. We bid Good-Bye. She was smiling at me, at the same time wiping her tears. The train started moving once again and we waved out to each other until we lost the sight. I stood by the door for the next 20 minutes, without any reactions, only feeling the breeze blowing on my face.

I came back to my berth and saw that the same old lady was laying the bed spreads and arranging the pillows for me. I did not say anything, but only a “Thank You!”. May be she understood something at that point of time.

I wished the old lady a Good Night! I lied there. I could not stop thinking about her. I closed my eyes and within few minutes, tears rolled down from my eyes, uncontrollably.

It was an emotional touch!

Black and White

Once again, I pick up a photography assignment from Scott Thomas and this time its about Black and White photography.

The details about the assignment can be found @
http://viewsinfinitum.com/2013/03/06/assignment-24-black-white-photography/

The intense black and white photographs can be very catchy and deep, in contrast with the vibrant colors. Most of my pictures are converted to B & W. Well, below is my contribution:

The paddy fields. Coorg, Karnataka. In our Era.

The paddy fields. Coorg, Karnataka. In our Era.

Don't the fields remind of the olden times, in B & W ?

Don’t the fields remind of the olden times, in B & W ?

Stream of water deep down, @ Munnar, Kerala

Stream of water deep down, @ Munnar, Kerala

Mehndi Designs. How many of you like when its black and not red?

Mehndi Designs. How many of you like when its black and not red?

Traditional carvings @ Mahabalipuram , Chennai, South India

Traditional carvings @ Mahabalipuram , Chennai, South India

The hills - country side. can you spot the water stream? @Coorg, Karnataka, South India

The hills – country side. can you spot the water stream? @Coorg, Karnataka, South India

Autumn

Autumn

Backwaters, Houseboat @ Kerala, South India

Backwaters, Houseboat @ Kerala, South India

We. Rowing by the river around a friends house @ Kerala, South India

We. Rowing by the river around a friends house @ Kerala, South India

Parasailing @ Colva Beach Goa, Western Coast,India

Parasailing @ Colva Beach Goa, Western Coast,India

The most favorite of all Sunset at Colva Beach, That's where I belong, Goa, Western Coast, India.

The most favorite of all.. Sunset at Colva Beach, That’s where I belong, Goa, Western Coast, India.

I Hope you enjoyed the photographs. Thank you!

A Dialogue with a Zealous Outlander

He walked into the restaurant named “Majestic Indian Veg & Non-Veg restaurant”.  A very small & cramped not-so-tidy place. He took a table in the corner, looked around and found me, alone, composed, lost in the state of tranquility.

Mr. M: Excuse me, Are you alone?

I: Halloww!! Yes..  *smiles*

Mr. M: Would you mind if I join you? (In a soft & slow accent)

I: Yes, Please. I’m glad to see you! (I looked at his backpack) Are you travelling somewhere?

Mr. M: Yes, I am going to Gokarna.

I: (totally surprised to know that the foreigners also visit Gokarna beach? What’s there?).  Where do you come from?

Mr. M: I come from Germany.

I:  And what are you doing here?

Mr. M: I teach. I teach English to children  in a village school, further from Mysore. Its a very small village named Mirle.  I work here for service &  no pay. I don’t earn money here.

I: *Surprised, thrilled, quizzical looks*  Sounds wonderful! How did you end up there?

Mr. M: Through a missionary. We were given a list of Countries to choose. I chose India & I love it.

I:  Where do you live here?

Mr. M: I live with an Indian family in the village. They provide food & shelter to me. A very good family. In fact, I love my village. Everybody is so friendly. They invite me for tea, to dinner, to play. I have many friends. I love the school too. Its a great job!

I: Wow! I can see that you love what you’re doing. But, It must be difficult for you. Are you able to adjust with the weather, food, languages, culture?

Mr. M: I totally love the food here. So many different varieties. I am here since last 7 months. We were taught a little bit of Kannada language because the village kids don’t understand English at all.  The village is very beautiful. We live so close to the nature. I don’t like the city life.

I: Doesn’t the school pay you for the Job?

Mr. M: You see, I do not have complete qualifications. I haven’t completed my Education. I am only 19. I wanted to do a service to the needy world. So I took this up for a year. One year of service commitment without earning any money for it. The school gave me an opportunity to do so. Its such an amazing experience. We are a group of Germans here. Some of us work for the orphanages, old age homes and some of us teach the Children.

I:  How delightful! I’m touched by the passion. And what are your next plans?

Mr. M: After I finish one year, I’d go back to Germany to complete my graduation and post-graduation. After that I will be doing my PhD. I have a long way to go, I have lots to do, for my career. During this one year, the people belonging to my age group are busy at the peak of setting up their career, competing  to get admissions in the best universities, choosing their field of study. But, I took a year off for social service. I have another 30 to 40 years for a job & making money, but now when I have the energy, I want to serve the world.

I: Do you like teaching? Do you see yourself being a teacher/professor?

Mr. M: Well, No. I do not want to be a teacher for my profession. I like auto mobiles design. I will be taking up that line after I go back to Germany.

I: Well, I appreciate that you devoted an important year of your life to service. Its a wonderful experience. And I’m quite surprised that you were allowed to do so!

Mr. M: Right. My mother did not like the idea. But my Dad supported me. He told me. Go, explore the world. See, what life is,  beyond where you are. I’m thankful. I’m very happy and I have no regrets for giving away my important year to the world that needed it more than me.

*** We ordered food together, I was also surprised to see him eat food the Indian style. ***

Mr. M: You seem to be friendly and kind. I’m happy to meet you.

I: I am happy to meet you too. Well, You are about 8 yrs younger to me, and I’m impressed by the work that you are doing. There are ample opportunities in our Country and not many of us pay attention to it.

Mr. M: Are you not worried to talk to me because you are not married to me?

I: *Confused Smile* Worried? Ah! Not at all.. You are not scary ;)

Mr. M: *cute smile* I asked because, in the village the girls don’t talk to the men who are strangers. I also learnt that they do not like love marriages, they only do arranged marriages.  So initially, I was worried to hello you, thinking you might take me wrong.

I laughed to myself.

It was the time for us to leave, we waved each other Good-Bye. I still continued laughing.

What a wonderful lad!