Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Big Little Man.

His head was round and stature short. His shoulders were broad and he walked with his head held high. His moustache reminded me of Charlie Chaplin and his calm made me happy. I called him Papaji, and the world called him Dr. G.R Sachdev. He was my Nanaji (maternal grandfather.) 

Born 96 years ago, he was illness free and strong as a mule with an unshakeable belief in all things good.  Life threw him quite a few twists and turns and yet he never uttered a foul word. A few weeks ago he moved on to a world where the angels and his wife of 60 years reside.  He was and will always continue to be an inspiration of an honest simple life, well lived.  Most kids are lucky if they can bond with one or two of their grandparents. I have been blessed to have actually lived with all four of my grandparents during childhood. I spent my tweenage with both sets of my paternal and maternal grandparents.  Papaji taught me how to live life in a positive way.  

As an 11 year old I remember waking up to his saintly chants at 5.30am and covering my head with as many pillows as I could. I remember the walks and feeding the ducks. I asked him, "why do you feed them every day?" He said, "some of them are my ancestors," and I remember looking at him quizzically. 

Papaji was a man of little words. He didn't say much but what he said was always meaningful. Today as he continues his journey into another world, leaving us behind to think and ponder about all he taught. I realized that most of my life beliefs came from his quotes. He was an ardent admirer of Saint Kabir and his verses.  

Every time I said something wrong as a tween, he would recite: 

"Aisee Vani Boliye, Mun Ka Aapa Khoye
Apna Tan Sheetal Kare, Auran Ko Sukh Hoye"

Translation: Speak such words, sans ego's ploy
Body remains composed, giving the listener joy

While reciting he didn't necessarily look at me or talk to me. He would many a times be a totally different room and pretend to be talking to himself. Always staying away from confrontations, he believed in the simple fact, that when one believes in God, it all eventually falls into place. 

Born almost a century ago, he may have been little in stature, but he had a very big heart and was progressive in his thinking. While his generation prayed for sons, he took pride in his three daughters and two sons. He believed in education and gave good quality education to all his five children thus allowing them to thrive as independent adults. 

Age and Father time don't stop for anyone. We can be as young at heart as we desire, but there comes a time when this machinery starts clucking and clanking. He has been with us for so long, I never thought he would go away. And partially that's his fault, he always said, I have an agreement with God, "I want to complete my century before I go." And we would smile and say not only century, beyond that because you need to see your great - grandkids get married too; and he would then throw his hands up, rub his bald head and laugh loudly.  

Sending him off has been very hard. Maybe because he was the last of the grandparents to go. Every time a grandparent goes away, so does a stream of unbiased blessings. Yes, it is selfish, but I miss those blessings. 

For some little girls, it is their dad who tastes the first dish they cook but for me it was my Papaji. I had made bharta and roti. Bharta was not even close to being good and roti was not circular and yet he ate it and gave me a prize too :) I like to think that's why every time he came over he looked forward to what I was cooking. Any time he came to stay with me, he wanted  Gobi ka Parantha and Diet Coke. Yes, he loved Diet Coke. If we would leave him unsupervised, he would gulp down the 2 liter in minutes :) 

He was a stickler for time and schedule and believed: 

 "Waqt bahut balwan hota hain...Pal mein Shehanshah, pal mein rank" 

Translation: Time is very powerful. One minute you are the king, the next a servant." 

I learnt how to respect time at a very young age from him and to date do not appreciate those who keep others waiting.  

"Funny how we listen when they are gone." 

With every new memory comes a fresh tear. Today as hard as it is, I am bidding him farewell. He will always be alive to me.

His life and its journey through it re-affirms my belief in the circle of life. He lived his prime years in India, spent his senior years around the globe with his children and in his final phase, life magically whisked him across the seven seas to India. He passed away in the same place where once he bid farewell to his beloved wife. With that his life completed its full circle. 

Papaji, you were and are beyond all of us; continue to be the fiercely independent honest big little man that you are.  

Here's another one of your favorites: 

"Maati kahe kumhaar se, Tu kyun rondhe moye….
Ik din aisa aayega, Main rondhungi toyeee….

"Translation: “Soil says to potter, why do you crush me. One day will come, when i will crush you ”
This Gobi Parantha is for you Papaji. Have fun and continue to celebrate .. the sounds of Sukhmani and the brilliance of St. Kabir couplets will now liven up the heavens too. And, oh.. say Hi to Naniji for all of us. We love you. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Picto Blog _ Point Arena Lighthouse, Mendocino County, CA

Once again, we decided to stay away from the crowds and go to a lesser known destination and enjoyed our spring break. 

Mendocino County, CA is not unknown. It is famous for its quaint artsy downtown and fabulous eateries… but we skipped it all to go to the Point Arena Lighthouse, CA

Approximately a 4 hour drive further north from the bay area, the light house marks the end of continental USA.  You can use the GPS blindly only to end up on the treacherous Mountain View Road or read up the maps and take 101 followed by either 1 or 128. 

US 1, is windy but so is 128. The advantage of US 1, its much more travelled and it's more alive. If you decide to take 128, please do not take the Mountain view road, take 128 and then take US 1 to Point Arena Lighthouse.  Plan so you are at your destination during day light hours. 

You're probably wondering why not take the route to the hotel first and then the lighthouse, well, because that's a little known secret of this place. The lighthouse has cabins right next to it.  The cabins are not inexpensive, but they are well worth the price and the experience is unlike any other. 

I hope you enjoy this trip. 

As we wound our way via 128

Once you take US 1 after 128, you will come across this random stop light. Please don't break the law.
It looks kind of crazy to have a stop light when there is no traffic, but this is a one way road for now. We stood here for 2 minutes :) 

The view as we entered the restricted light house area. 

And then we were blown away by this. 

The Point Arena Light House standing tall and proud. 
I stood for a very long time at this intersection, just staring at the ocean. It was mesmerizing and very calming. 
Complimentary Wine :) Happens only in CA. 
I stood here for  a very long time mesmerize and at peace. 

Birds of the same feather flock together. 

They crashed against the rocks only to come back stronger. 

As I stood staring at these ways, I realized the importance of "respect" for the ocean. 

The kids did not miss Wifi, all they had was this one kite, but it was enough. 

The Cypress behind the cabins. 

As the sun sets on day 1

… we realize how much there is to be thankful for.  

.. And the sun rises to give birth to another beautiful day. 
Day 2 starts with a tour of the Lighthouse. Yes, we climbed the 145 steps and spotted a whale.
The excitement was too much to capture on the camera. But we saw the spout and the guide confirmed it for us :)
He also mentioned that the light house is located on the Pacific Plate and the St. Andreas fault is only 5 miles away. 
Below that white surf, is an underwater mountain. We were told, until they knew better, ships have crashed into it. 
We then head to Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA.
The white is not sand, its tiny pieces of polished sea glass.
If you go, make sure you go to the left side of the beach and climb down into the little cove. 

Humans leaving their sad mark. 

Another breathtaking view _ this the right side of the glass beck, much more kid friendly. 

Wonder what their thoughts are? 

Just enjoy the view. 

One of the many caves and tunnels water winds its way through in Glass Beach. 

After Glass Beach, Next Stop is the Botanical Gardens. Sorry, I don't remember the names. Just enjoy these beauties. 

As we drove back, there was this rustic grocery store OR you can do what we did, go to Safeway in Fort Bragg, CA :)

The Market is open. 

Guiding the lost soul for decades

The wind was really blowing by now. 

The sun sets on another gorgeous day. 

Day 3: We decided to head back on US 1 debating where to stop for lunch. As the passengers continued to argue, the driver turned into this random place on US 1. 

It's an RV park? But we need lunch… 

And then we see this .. quaint little place.. MoMo's Galley. 

For a family that is constantly debating between vegetarian and non-vegetarian food, this place was god send and the food was heavenly.  Absolutely fresh food cooked from scratch. Yes, we actually spoke to the chef Mo as he whipped up the most amazing Chicken Satay, Pad Thai and Ginger Chicken. A definite stop next time we travel this road.
Like them on FB at: MOMO's Galley on 2001 Hwy 1, Bodega Bay, CA

… And so ended a short but amazing vacation.

Hope you enjoyed this trip with me.. until next time. Keep traveling, even if it is virtual :) 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Woman, Are you Real?

"I love to read your blog, I don't always get to, but what I do I am always amazed at your spirit ,and your way of making us all,Feel like Alice looking through the looking glass of life! Keep up the great work!" 

This is one of the sweetest comments a follower posted on my blog. Thank you for visiting and taking the time to write. Looking glass it is! We all including myself have a looking glass that helps brings things into perspective and then we look away to accept the reality as it is. I honestly don't blame anyone who does so, life is challenging and if all of us can just be, that itself is an achievement to begin with. 

Coming back to today. This blog post has been in the making for decades now. It took this share on FB to bring it to reality. I'll let u read this first. 

So what do you think? Who are you? 

I don't think my house is always clean and I never have enough patience, enough smiles or enough kind words on a daily basis for everyone I cross path with; and yet I am a WOMAN in every sense of the word.  

Who is a real woman? Is she the perfectly dressed lady you cross paths with every morning when you drop of your child at school, or is she the amazing multi-tasker who manages her work and home like clock work and still has time for her kids or is she the one who says "I can't do it all. I need time for myself," and so she hires help to take care of the routine stuff. 

I think they all are the real woman. If they choose to believe otherwise, that's their decision, but they are amazing women in my world. 

We are trained to think of beauty and perfection in a certain way. Some blame it on mythology, some on world pageants and I blame it on no one. It's a perspective, there is no right or wrong about it. 

Today as the world leans in, the pinks move into the shirt aisle and the Lego's are now pink and purple too, I look through my looking glass and see myself years ago. I maybe an odd one out here, but I love buying dolls for little girls. What's wrong with that?  I loved dolls as a little girl, I loved flaunting my adolescent beautiful long hair and enjoyed just being a girl, and yet today I can use a drill machine with equal ease. 

Don't get me wrong here, I am all for girls being taught science and taking leadership roles but like every thing else today the word "feminism" is going through a shift too. Feminism is often considered a synonym to misandrists, today it's not.

Feminism to me is simply celebrating being a woman, and she can do that as she flies a plane,  builds a deck using power tools or simply by choosing to be pretty.  

When the post above, says that you must be a man because no woman in the real world does all of the above. I disagree. A real woman does not need to do all that. 

A real woman: 
  • Is honest
  • Cries her heart out every so often
  • Screams if she needs to
  • Understands the power of silence 
  • Knows her worth. She will let others get away with only so much :) 
  • Is confident in her steps
  • Wears sweat pants, does not wear make up and is comfortable in her own skin
  • Sometimes takes her own sweet time to find her objectives and goals in life
  • May not have all the answers and is not afraid to ask for help
  • Has one AWESOME girl friend
  • Needs to vent out, and hey sometimes even just b**** about life. 
  • And yes, when she meets a real man, she is not afraid to spend her life with him. She will make his dreams her own and push him to achieve them even if it is at the cost of her dreams
  • But if she doesn't meet one, she is confident to take those steps alone and make her own dreams come true. 

It's not about the hair, the house or how elegant her dress is. 
It's about her; and to her it's about being real and hers.