Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Traveling List for Women: Is Your List the Same as mine?


People say that it's much easier for a man to travel lightly than a woman. This reminds me of a good piece of advice from Susan Heller who said, "When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money." But first, a trip down memory lane.



Travel: From Iran to Africa at the age of Six Months 
I've been traveling from the time I was just six months old. Obviously, I don't remember packing then but my mother does with vivid details. She says we were whisked off to Teheran when i was barely 6 months old and that she found it heartbreaking to be so far away from her mother and her family because those were the days you couldn't make phone calls so easily from continents away to mother or brothers. So there,  my mom was stranded with tiny me for company in a sweet little cottage near the Caspian sea in Iran.  

If you google "caspian sea," you will get tons of interesting information on how this sea is surrounded by several contries such as southern Russia, Turkemenistan, Northern Iran and so on.  
Coming back to my traveling list for women, I learned from my mother to be able to travel lightly, totally fuss-free and at anytime to anyplace. After all, from Iran we headed to Africa in the most bizarre circumstances. 

But this doesn't mean that I travel light the way my husband does. He travels really light. But I am not too bad at it either.

And now let me take you through what is in a lady's 'light' travel bag. Most women carry handbags and  they don't like anyone even their husbands or boyfriends looking into their handbag space. 

Here's what my handbag has when I travel: 
  • Press ID Card
  • Baby wipes/hand sanitizer
  • Bottle of water, some mints, chips or biscuits. 
  • Purse (with very little cash - as is usually the situation with me)
  • Two sets of books - one for me and one for my son Adi
  • Camera with battery charger
  • Pen, notepad, cell phone and iPod.
  • Comb
  • Burberry.
In a small pouch that is packed with the girly essentials such as face scrub, toothpaste, toothbrush, sunscreen, daily wear moisturizer, stuff like that.

In my travel suitcase, you'd find at least two pairs of jeans, shirts or kurthas that go with it, one traditional outfit and then my laptop. I have a couple of nice stoles that go with all of this. If you are traveling in India, a stole is your savior of sorts. Opt for ones that are super light. I usually pack two pairs of footwear so that if something goes haywire, I have my backup.  A medicine kit is something I always carry with me though there are so many medical shops you can buy medicines from while traveling in India.

Tips for Women traveling in India
Don't pay attention to what hard core feminists tell you, that you can walk naked down the street and no man should do anything to you. Sorry girls, that's utopian because if you try something like that in India, you alone will have to bear with the consequences of it. There is no legal, moral or social support system that will help you in case you are in danger. So, be careful while traveling in India.

The key thumb rule to stay safe while traveling in India is: Dress in a way that you don't attract unwanted attention to yourself especially if you are traveling alone. This isn't a safe country for women and the earlier one realizes that one's safety is of paramount importance to one self, the better. Be wary for strangers who are over friendly, or when they ask you too many personal details, just be alert for your own sake. Always keep a pepper spray handy. Try to keep contact numbers of friends who may be from the city in case of any unforeseen emergency.

Some of my globe trotting friends from Kerala tell me that whenever they travel alone or have to stay even in five star hotels by themselves, they first check their rooms for hidden cameras to be doubly sure. They also recommend that it is best to switch off the lights in the room in case of changing clothes and stuff and switch it back after you are dressed and ready. Perhaps this is a case of extreme caution but I'd rather see that you are over-cautious than careless about your own safety. This is about your safety, okay? But ultimately, you take the call on what works for you. That's the way to be. 

Coming back to packing lightly, it simply means our everyone in the family can pitch in to carry their respective little bags easily. And the best part is that you can shop without worries from wherever you are visiting. 

By the way, I tend to collect unusual local things from places that I visit. For instance, I always like to buy the local sweet speciality or food speciality. I also collect key chains from all the places that I visit. These key chains would have some special local characteristic that catches my fancy. 

In Haridwar, I spotted key chains with the deities Ganeshji, Manasa Devi and Chandi Devi. I bought ten of those key chains, I kept three for myself and gifted the rest to my closest friends. It depends on what I like and what I see. 

But I have a confession to make. Every time I visit Kerala, these rules go for a toss. I come back with tons of stuff besides calories and calories of course. Loving gifts come from all sides and I just can't say "no" so I bring it all back to Delhi - the home made masalas, pickle jars, sweet banana chips, mysore pa and so on.

Enjoy you travel. Remember, as Bill Bryson said, "To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Divine Plan: Do you believe in it?

To believe in the Divine Plan is the toughest thing to do but it is the best expression of trust that you can offer to the Lord. 

Are you ready to believe in the Divine Plan

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wallaby: What happens when your little boy wants to hold one

Look at the delight here as my darling nephew Vihaan is totally captivated on seeing a wallaby. He is reaching out and wants to hold the wallaby.

By the way, I didn't even know what a  wallaby is till I saw this picture and googled it to know more. 





Well, you can find Wallabies across many parts of Australia. Known as marsupials, wallabies look like small kangaroos. They have small front legs, strong back legs, long feet and they can hop on their back legs. They turn active during the night and rest during the day. When they move, it looks like they are bouncing.

Sounds like fun, isn't it? I just love this snap as I could sense Vihaan's excitement and curiosity even as my cautious sister is trying to not let him go too close. So, I wanted to share it with you. 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The Secret Wishlist by Preeti Shenoy


Have you ever been banished from your parents' good books because of a secret kiss when you were just sixteen?

Did you spend nearly all your life trying to win back the trust and approval of your parents for that one mistake you made?

Have you regretted your marriage that your parents rushed you into and you agreed out of sheer guilt? 

Have you ever made a secret wishlist with something like "have sex with someone other than husband" on it? 

Yes or no, don't miss reading Preeti Shenoy's recently released novel titled 'The Secret Wishlist.' 




From page one, you are bound to get pulled into Diksha's loveless marriage, her constant adjustments to Sandeep, a husband who expects everything to be done to suit his preference at all times and her need to feel valued as a person. There are so many instances when you would simply grit your teeth and wish that her boor of a husband would do something, anything, to just appreciate his wife. But no, that doesn't happen.  

While reading this, I thought of another book that I had read titled 'The One and a Half Wife' by Meghna Pant about an Indian girl whose parents arranged her marriage to a rich and handsome NRI but he is constantly judging her and finding fault with her than appreciating her and yes, they end up divorcing. 

The protagonist Diksha in 'The Secret Wishlist'  goes through and how she finds her character becoming more defined and sharpened when she makes the choices for her own happiness. I was also reminded of 'Custody' by Manju Kapurwhen Diksha meets Abhay her old school crush and they begin to meet secretly. (Correction from a reader called @Anonymous: It is not Abhay, it is Ankit whom Diksha meets secret....) A big thanks to Anonymous for pointing this out.  

I liked the character of Vibha who helps Diksha to put together a wishlist. But the same Vibha  distances herself from Diksha when she finds out about her leaving her husband for Ankit, her old school crush. Hard, tough questions are bound to come up in a society that is conservative about other people's choices, particularly that of married women. But once Diksha makes up her mind, she steels herself to face what lies ahead, even the reproach and anger of her parents and brother. 
   
There are some aspects of the story where as a reader, I wished to know more about. 

For instance, while Diksha and her husband are obviously locked in a loveless marriage, it would have been good to know his side of the story too. I wanted to know more on how Diksha's husband perceives her or what is his back story for the way he behaves to her, something on those lines.

Just as a coin has two sides, every character has a good and bad side. Diksha does try to communicate with her husband but I felt that she gives up too easily on him. Or is that she fears to confront him? Ultimately, the marriage breakdown is also because the couple did not communicate to each other clearly enough.  

Abhay's feelings about his mother's relationship with Ankit is another aspect of the story that would have been interesting to know about in greater detail. 

Secretly, I had liked the character of Gaurav, the salsa teacher, so much that I had hoped that Gaurav and Diksha would fall in love with each other and make a life together. They seemed to have 'chemistry' sizzling right from the time they meet. So it feels slightly like an anti-climax that it is Ankit who boomerangs back into Diksha's life again and somehow Ankit's character at the beginning wasn't one that you'd feel impressed with as a reader but then there is the issue of age - he was probably playing his age at the time. Gaurav, on the other hand, seemed to be perfect hero material for Diksha.

 In her writing, Preeti Shenoy deftly grasps a reader's need to be encouraged to live, to love and to be of significant value in the lives of loved ones.

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♥♥  I thank you with all my heart for reading my post. I dedicate this post with love and gratitude to all those who enjoy reading books by Indian writers. REQUEST: Please SHARE this article on your favorite social networks. Every share, like or tweet makes me reach out to more people who love reading books by Indian writers. I am grateful and I appreciate you for doing so. ♥♥

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