Common ground

We come from different background. So different, in fact, that we came to this marriage with very little in common. Our personalities, hobbies, food habits, approach to life situations, temperaments, communication styles…… were all very different. The only common thread in our dissimilar lives was our interest in amateur photography and the fact that we worked in the same organization.

Starting off on opposite sides, we were lucky to  find a common interest early on in the marriage. Birding. We discovered it quite by chance on a trip to Coorg. We enrolled for one of the early morning birding tours on the property we were staying at and took a liking to it. I struggled with the binoculars, preferring the camera instead. The camera we had was a DSLR, one that brought far off objects close by to a fair degree, but not one with the right lens for capturing birds. The lack of appropriate birding gear didn’t deter us from enjoying the morning excursion. A quiet activity, it introduced us to nature, giving us an opportunity to marvel at its beauty and diversity. It made us realise how dis-connected we are from nature and how much abundance and joy nature is willing to generously share with us.

A book on birds was purchased on the way back to Delhi and V spent a good deal of time browsing through its pages. Subsequent trips to the hills introduced us to more birds and our interest grew. The book is now our guide and we go back to refer to it frequently. A field trip would mean frantic photography session in the morning hours trying to capture each bird we spotted. It would be followed by a session of identifying the names of the birds and then another session of photography in the evening. With our basic birding gear our work was neatly divided. V would spot the bird either with the naked eye or the binocular, I would do my best to quickly capture it with the camera and then we’d go home to our faithful book and find out the names of the birds. It was a great outdoor activity.

Back in the city, we tried to keep the interest alive. I was sure we wouldn’t find anything beyond crows, pigeons and mynas. It was going to be a challenging activity in this polluted, concrete jungle of ours. But when we keep our eye peeled for the flighty, feathered little creatures, we found a whole lot of them! There were starlings, green pigeons, oriental eyes, barbets, bulbuls, robins, lapwings, ducks and even gulls! What a delightful surprise!

We’d like to present in this post, some of our best or most favourite pictures of birds. They are in two categories: Birds in and around Delhi and Birds in the hills (south and north both). Photo credit varies with each picture. Sometimes its me and sometimes V.

Birds in and around Delhi

109 - Copy

Silverbills

548 - Copy

Spot billed ducks and Stilts

603 - Copy

Red whiskered bulbul

152

Peacock

IMG_1255

Red muniya

057

Babbler

Tailor bird

Tailor bird

RTP1

Treepie

BS

Starling

IMG_1768

Yellow footed green pigeon

CR2

Robin

Birds in the Hills

095

Red billed blue magpie

Laughing thrush

Laughing thrush

Nuthatch

Nuthatch

Asian Barred Owlet

Asian Barred Owlet

099

Spotted dove

Great Barbet

Great Barbet

Brown fronted Woodpecker

Brown fronted Woodpecker

380

Grey hooded warbler

IMG_0641

Oriental white eye

IMG_0511

Green backed tit

One

This marriage turned one in November. An achievement that deserved a post. A post that was written and the promptly lost (irretrievably) somewhere in the new WordPress system. I wish to make a note of this milestone and thats the only reason I am back at my desk.

The past year was a roller coaster ride for me.  It involved moving in and moving out of homes (two to be precise),  coping with cultural and value-based  differences, meeting unexpected challenges at the work place, trying to develop new and unstable personal relations and what not. If I were to describe the year in short, I’d call it the Year of Settling In. I am not entirely sure I have settled in completely yet, but compared to November 2013, I can safely say  I am doing well.  🙂

The year was a mixed bag. It brought  with it moments of happiness and sorrow, frustrations and achievements.   It also taught me some important life lessons. Those are rather personal and I  would like to keep them off the blog.  The learning continues – as I see it, the path ahead is long.

Here are the highlights of the year:-

The good:

  • Setting up our own place. Rented but still. It a simple, no-frills accommodation that comes with a balcony where you can sit out and watch the tall trees. I have a line of potted plants that is my contribution to enhance the greenery around.  The house meets our needs perfectly and we have cooperative neighbours who regularly bring us special dishes to eat, keep our letters and tell us when the maid is not going to show up for work. We are fed-up of the recurrent seepage problems, but honestly that is the only major drawbacks of the place.
  • Finding common interests and pursuing them. We’ve discovered birding and we both enjoy it equally. The pictures we take aren’t outstanding that’s mainly because we can’t afford cameras that cost over two lakh rupees. I personally find bird watching exciting and educational and I am even willing to wake up early for it.
  • Travelling together. The more you travel, the better. Sharing this simple philosophy we’ve managed four trips ( one to the south and three to the north) in the year. Work travel was additional. We would have liked to get out more often, but we need to keep our jobs (to fund the travel).  New places, new people, new food, new experiences. All good.
  • Saving up! From distinctly independent people we gradually inched towards the “joint” lifestyles. We’ve (after a bit of a struggle) got the joint bit of the financials in order too. A good move, I think. Money multiplies faster when two people work at a goal.  It’s also one of the ways in which we build trust in each other.
  • Acquiring worldly objects, some big, some small, that has made our lives comfortable.
  • Rediscovering cooking. If you lived alone (as I did) or lived with a large family (as he did) there isn’t much reason to cook. In the first case you can survive with anda-toast/ sabzi-roti and in the later there will be enough people happy to cook for you. When you live together, you need to cook because after a point eating out is not an option. It gets expensive and only helps you pile on the kilos while being malnourished. Both are avoidable outcomes. Old cookbooks have been dusted and brought into use. My cooking continues to be simple (nothing beyond 5 steps) but the results are getting consistently better. He believes he can cook but that usually doesn’t go beyond tea, eggs and toast and pasta.

 The not-so-good:

  • Establishing relations hasn’t been easy. I am told is never is.  Its been a partly-bumpy ride, but its getting smoother.  Because it was extremely smooth with my parents, the benchmark is high, and I feel that’s a part of the problem.
  • Getting accustomed to different communication styles, religious beliefs, family traditions and accepting the differences and moving beyond them was a challenge. Some of the issues continue, but fortunately with reduced intensity.
  • From leading a quiet, single life to being amidst a large number of people with frequently socializing with friends and family was a big change.  The one I haven’t yet mastered.
  • Moving from a fit and energetic person to a borderline over-weight, the one thing I didn’t want marriage to bring me, it brought! Corrective action has been initiated in this area and I shall hopefully have something positive to report on that soon.

Fingers crossed, the next year shall make the list of  The Good longer and The not-so-good shall shrink to half.

Explaining the absence

A lot has happened in the last 6 months, leaving me with little time and even lesser mind space to blog.

Some time towards the end of the November that just zipped past recently, I got married. And I did everything I said I never would.  I married a Delhi boy (oh my god!), had a full-scale wedding (oh my god!!!!!) and will now be staying on a more permanent basis in Delhi (oh dear Lord).

Since November I have moved 3 homes in a span of 4 months. From my solitary existence in my tiny, stone’s –throw-away- from- office accommodation, to a full family and a house in  the NCR,  to  finally settling down in an apartment with the spouse close to office, its been months of packing and unpacking.

I have acquired a brand new set of relatives. The names of many are still muddled up.  I have also acquired a new set of friends.  Work doesn’t allow much time for socializing but the circle has certainly expanded to include many more people than before.

There has also been a good amount of travelling. A trip to the hills with the mother before the wedding, a trip to south after the wedding and another trip to the hills in the Holi break.   Five months and three trips.

Finding a half-way decent accommodation that fit our budget and our need for sunlight and ventilation and was close to office was a task.  Setting it up as been both fun and exhausting.  Its not entirely done up yet and unfortunately we keep meeting some unexpected problems with the place, but we are ready for visitors. Despite the problems the house and the landlord keep throwing up, the place makes me feel  settled. To be honest, it’s the most settled I’ve felt since November. So while I know a lot can be done with the place (some of it needs to be done), I am happy with it.

Hopefully with the mind at peace and some smart jugglery to save time, I will be back to regular blogging.

Half a year

Half a year gone by and not a single entry on this blog.

The blog title says “ Churningthewordmill is in transit…. and has been forever..!” That should explain the reason for the absence.  We’ll come to the details of the transit in a while; but right now it’s at attempt to revive this blog with a comedy show.

Did you know that Delhi has a Comedy Club? The New Delhi Comedy Club exists and one of the things it does is to organise comedy shows in the city. (They don’t have a website so its hard to know what else they do) I attended a stand –up comedy show by the Club at Akshara Theatre with a bunch of friends.  It was a new experience for me. So far comedy has been limited to whatever the tv or radio dish out.  A live show had never been watched.

The format of the show was pretty straight forward. Three comedians with a 15-20 minute slot each performed their act and did their best to get the audience in splits. The comedians on the show were Adam Learner (a foreign national who spoke with an American accent and held a full time job in New Delhi), Denny George (an under 30 who looked promising) and Rajneesh Kapoor (the main attraction of the evening). Maheep Singh, another comedian, was the emcee for the evening.

The show lasted an hour. Each comedian came prepared (one came with cues written on the back of his hand!) with his act. All managed to catch the attention of the audience. Some lines got smiles,  others lead to outburst of unrestrained laughter.

The emcee, a comedian himself,  contributed his share of jokes for the evening. Some free merchandise (badges and posters) were given away to at the end of the show. I am not sure if they were truly free. The emcee mentioned “ There is merchandise we can’t sell so we are giving it out for free. But you can pay for it also.” Unsure of whether that was to be taken seriously or not, I stayed away from the merchandise.

The overall execution of the show was good. There were no technical goof ups. The comedians didn’t forget their lines. The sound quality was good. The audience was well behaved and decent.  They kept to the time limit. Well, almost. 10 minutes here and there is alright. That is, in fact, the norm in Delhi..

India doesn’t seem to have a culture for live comedy shows. Or at least I haven’t been exposed to them. So from that point of view this was an interesting experience for me. It was funny too (in parts. Not all the jokes were my type). Definitely a good break from  the string of silly Bollywood movies I have been watching.

Would I go for another comedy show? Probably yes, if I got good company to go with. As a one-time experience I recommend it to all.

As the seasons turn

The mornings become cool and breezy. The day draws to a close earlier, making the evenings shorter.  The garden isn’t full of blooming flowers.  The AC is no longer in use and the refrigerator setting  has been moderated.  Winter should be here soon.

As monsoon turns into winter, I look back at my photography of the rainy season. One day particularly stands out.  It was a day when it poured like never before. It was also a day when I went out for photography without a memory chip in my camera. :l It’s a good thing that the SD cards are not camera model specific. J  A fellow photographer was kind to share his SD card. It did  turn out to be a pain to frequently turn off the camera and transfer the card, but we got a few  decent shots and it was all worth it. More than the photography, it was driving through the city and attempting  to get a few frames  in the downpour that  made the day unique. A few pictures follow.

933

The North Block.  The policeman was too hesitant to leave cover to ask us to move our car. High security means you cant stop and take your time clicking photos. Innovatively, he sent a message through another citizen driving down the road.

942

The water drops from the  fountain merge with the raindrops.

972

A very wet India Gate.

911

The traffic blurred with the pelting rain.

988

The good old faithful umbrella is brought into action.

978

Drenched and alone.

924

Football!

961

 

Bhutta, anyone?

998

The sunset after the rains.

Time flies

It really does.

It’s been 3 years since I moved to Delhi. THREE.

It was sometime in August 2010, when I landed a job and made the move. The parents came along to settle me in a rented place.  Everything I brought along with me fit in 2 metal trucks and 1 suitcase. I had traveled the Mumbai-Delhi circuit tens of times on the Rajdhani. But the journey of August 2010 was different. Unlike all the other journeys, this one was heavy with a mix of high emotion,  a bit of anxiety and a lot of hope.

It wasn’t an easy decision to move. Mumbai was home. It was familiar. The family lived there.  I understood how the city functioned and how its people were. I loved its sultry and hot weather, the 4 months of incessant rains. Its overcrowded roads, the locals and the ubiquitous vada pav and bombil were integral to my life. I was used to its pace and energy. Anything slower was boring.  This was the city where I studied and subsequently entered the professional world. I learnt the basics of my profession; made my errors, fumbled and learned at the workplace.  All the relatives felt Delhi wasn’t the right choice. This wasn’t a city for single working women and it wasn’t the “right” age to move away from home.  It was too much trouble “for a little more money”.  Inspite of all this, I moved.

Delhi, though once familiar, was a faded part of my history.  It had undergone such a degree of transformation in the years that I had been away, that I didn’t recognize it. Everything  was sharply different from what I remembered it to be. Everything felt new. And like a new shoe, it dint fit. Anxious and unsettled, I set about making this city home, knowing  at the back of my mind that it would never really be home.

Naturally, there were challenges. An unbelievably difficult landlord.   Impossible maids. Harrowing experiences with the public transportation system. Culture shock at the workplace. Unexpected tests and trails on the professional front. Severe bouts of homesickness.  Unresolved  personal issues that caused mental stress.  Health issues that showed up every once in a while.

Despite these obstacles, I stayed on.  And to my surprise and delight, Delhi rewarded me. I’ve found acceptance and recognition at the workplace.  Personal finances look better than before. Old friendships have been revived and some new ones established.  I learnt to handle difficult people (landlords/office staff/neighbourhood grocer/bus conductor).  Finally I’ve learnt, at least to an extent, to mentally separate office life from personal life. Delhi helped me develop a new hobby-photography.  It charmed me with its gardens, broad roads and open spaces historical monuments and friendly people.

Through the 3 years of ups and downs, the parents were always only a phone call away. And on some occasions, just a flight away.  Eternally grateful, ma and pa. The serene and calm environs  of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram and the Dakshin Delhi  Kali Bari also deserve a special thank you.  Both places were visited frequently. Both never failed to calm, encourage and reassure.

About 6 months back, I reassessed my life. I had achieved more than I had hoped to.   And just when I thought my work here was done and it was time pack the bags and head back to Mumbai, I found a reason to stay on.  The ways things have developed, it seems like Delhi will be home for some time now.  I thought this journey was over.  May be its only just begun.

A quiz it is!

All you  Marathon Bloggers, I bow to you. How you  churn out post after post, I know not. I do know,however,  that I promised you a “proper” post yesterday and so far  I’ve got zilch written down.  Its been a long day and at 10 PM and I am operating at sub-optimal levels. How are you guys doing this? I need to know.

A promise is a promise and must be kept. So here’s my attempt at salvaging the situation- a quiz! Take a look at the two pictures below. They are of a historical site in Delhi. One of the lesser known sites of Delhi, you may have seen these pictures on some Delhi tourism brochure or website. You have to guess the name of this site. If you get it right, you get to bunk one post in the Marathon month.;)

IMG_2443

IMG_2445

If you are on my Facebook, you’ll know this. May be then you shouldnt participate….