Sunday, June 27, 2010

Road Trips

The travel junkie in me absolutely relishes road trips of any kind. Unlike many others who find such trips tedious and a drag, I revel in them like a compulsive addict. Taking off from my familiar haunts and driving on towards areas unknown, with the long, winding ribbon of the road ahead of me and the never-before seen vistas spreading outside my window is an experience that never fails to energize me. The family and I take mini road trips of sorts whenever the opportunity arises, and I'm really thankful for these small mercies in life. They are a welcome break from the monotony of our humdrum lives, and that's what I find fascinating about them.

To be able to take off somewhere on a whim is a blessing, and more so when time doesn't dictate your schedule and you're free to go on side explorations and mini adventures from the beaten path. I hate to march to the beat of time on such occasions and childishly long to do as I please and stay for as long as I want to wherever I please. Impossible for now, but it's my dream to do so one day. I always say that if I ever won the lottery or ended up with a big windfall, my career be damned ... I would just take off to parts unknown. I would stay for weeks or a couple of months at some given place, experience the culture, see the sights, and then take off for another part and do the same all over again till I 'd travelled to the ends of the world. Wishful thinking, but perhaps it's that primordial wanderlust in me talking!

Another simple thing I enjoy about these road trips is staying at a hotel without any timetable, lolling around on the bed mindlessly switching the television channels, getting up late in the morning because there's no particular rush, sampling the food at the local eateries, stopping and moving on as I please. There's no drill sergeant barking out orders to get going, and THAT I absolutely love. One thing I hate about a planned vacation is that it's so strictly regimented, with as many places to cover in as many days, thus robbing me of the spontaneity of the entire vacation. It's GO-GO-GO because sightseeing is the first priority in such a planned vacation. That's why I prefer the impromptu road trips where I can march to my own beat and do what I (damn well) please. I have decided to explore beautiful, British Columbia this summer, and am eagerly looking forward to many more road trips in the days to come!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happiness Is The Way!

This was something that was forwarded to me a while ago via email. I normally read and delete any kind of forwarded email, but this was one exception that prompted me to read it over and again for the profound truth of it all. Here it is:


We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we're frustrated that the kids aren't old enough, and we'll be more content when they are. After that, we're frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage.

We tell ourselves our life will be complete when our spouse gets his/her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there's no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It's best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Alfred D'Souza who said, " For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, or a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life."

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.

So, treasure every moment you have and treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time ... and remember, that time waits for no one.

So, stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school, until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, untill fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you've had a drink, until you've sobered up, until you die, until you're born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy.

Happiness is a journey, not a destination. Work like you don't need money. Love like you've never been hurt. And dance like no one's watching.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Poem For Recitation - II

Here's another tongue twister of a poem with a plethora of -ing verbs describing the waterfalls at Lodore! The poem by Robert Southey is a classic and I won a prize for being the first one in Grade 5 to memorize it and recite it without a single mistake!

The Cataract Of Lodore

by Robert Southey

"How does the water

Come down at Lodore?" ...

From its sources which well

In the tarn on the fell,

From its fountains

In the mountains,

Its rills and its gills,

Through moss and through brake,

It runs and it creeps

For a while, till it sleeps

In its own little lake

And thence at departing,

Awakening and starting,

It runs through the reeds,

And away it proceeds,

Through meadow and glade,

In sun and in shade,

And through the wood-shelter

Among crags in its flurry,



Here it comes sparkling,

And there it lies darkling,

Now smoking and frothing

Its tumult and wrath in

Till, in this rapid race

On which it is bent,

It reaches the place

Of its deep descent.

The cataract strong

Then plunges along,

Striking and raging

As if a war waging

Its caverns and rocks among.

Rising and leaping,

Sinking and creeping,

Swelling and sweeping,

Showering and springing,

Flying and flinging,

Writhing and ringing,

Eddying and whisking,

Spouting and frisking,

Turning and twisting,

Around and around

With endless rebound.

Smiting and fighting,

A sight to delight in;

Confounding, astounding,

Dizzying and deafening the ear with its sound.

Collecting, projecting,

Receding and speeding,

And shocking and rocking,

And darting and parting,

And threading and spreading,

And whizzing and hissing,

And dripping and skipping,

And hitting and splitting,

And shining and twining,

And rattling and battling,

And shaking and quaking.

And pouring and roaring,

And waving and raving,

And tossing and crossing,

And flowing and going,

And running and stunning,

And foaming and roaming,

And dinning and spinning,

And dropping and hopping,

And working and jerking,

And guggling and struggling,

And heaving and cleaving,

And moaning and groaning;

And glittering and frittering,

And gathering and feathering,

And whitening and brightening,

And quivering and shivering,

And hurrying and skurrying,

And thundering and floundering;

Dividing and gliding and sliding,

And falling and brawling and sprawling,

And driving, and riving, and striving,

And sprinkling, and twinkling and wrinkling,

And sounding and bounding and rounding,

And bubbling and troubling and doubling,

And grumbling, and rumbling, and tumbling,

And clattering and battering and shattering;

Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,

Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,

Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,

Recoiling, turmoiling and toiling and boiling,

And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,

And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,

And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,

And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,

And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping,

And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing,

And so never ending, but always descending,

Sounds and motions forever and ever are blending,

All at once, and all o'er, with a mighty uproar, -

And this way the water comes down at Lodore.

What an awesome poem to recite! It's a great mental workout, and once you master the lines, I guarantee it, you will not forget the lines till you're old and reclining in your easy chair, maybe 50 years from now!!!

On Psychopaths and Teen Killers

Much has been said about psychopaths and teen killers in history, but the case that has held my undivided attention in recent times is that of the Dutch teenager Joran van der Sloot who was just 17 when he caused the disappearance of Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway in Aruba five years ago. Natalee's body was never found, and exactly five years to the day of her disappearance, as bizarre and eerie as that sounds, on May 30, 2010, Van der Sloot brutally murdered Peruvian poker player and daughter of a politically-connected former race car driver, Stefany Flores Ramirez, in a hotel room in Peru registered under his name.Talk about bad karma returning to bite one's butt, Van der Sloot was nabbed by the Chilean police while on the run from Peru, and promptly handed over to the Peruvian authorities. Since then, he has confessed to the murder and sits in jail awaiting his trial.

I remember following the case avidly on Nancy Grace and was deeply rocked by empathy for Natalee's mother, Beth Holloway, a frantic mother desperately trying to find any information about the whereabouts of her daughter who had gone to the paradise island on spring break, only never to appear again. Joran van der Sloot was the last person Natalee was seen alive with, and though he was arrested twice in her disappearance, he was let go due to lack of evidence and because there was no substantial case of any sort without the body. The fact that his father was an influential judge in Aruba helped in keeping Joran from being locked up and convicted. Well, "murder will out one day," as the Revenge Tragedies put it, and now it's vindication time in Peru for Van der Sloot, finally. His father now dead, and the heinous murder having taken place far from Aruba, in a foreign land, there's no escape for the cold, psychopathic killer this time round.

I also recall Van der Sloot's mother proclaiming the inncocence of her 6' 3" 17 year-old, but what struck me the most was the absolute lack of remorse or empathy in the young man. Completely bereft of emotions, and devoid of guilt, as all psychopaths are, he was free to wander the streets for five years, till he struck again and preyed on another young woman he had met in a poker tournament in Peru. The reason he had so brutally murdered Stefany was that she had read an email on his laptop linking him to Natalee's disappearance, while he was out of the hotel buying bread and coffee. When she confronted him on his return, he had simply used his brute strength to break her neck and beat her to a pulp, after which he coolly sat back and sipped his coffee while she lay dead on the floor. The sub-plot to this psychopathic tragedy is that he had tried to extort $ 250,000 from Natalee's mother for information about her missing daughter, and the FBI had set up a sting to implicate him in this nefarious deal. He had been given $ 25,000 dollars as an advance, and alas, it was this money that had funded his trip to Peru, resulting in the savage killing of Stefany Flores Ramirez, before the FBI could arrest him for extortion and wire fraud.

There is no doubt in my mind that this baby-faced killer will be convicted soon, but it is very unfortunate that this young psychopath is not going to get the death penalty, as there is none in Peru, something which Joran van der Sloot so richly and rightly deserves! With all the evidence categorically mounting against him, I wonder if his mother will still be able to proclaim her child's innocence this time!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Downside To Living Abroad

While most of us choose to immigrate to foreign lands for a life of better prospects and opportunities, the definite downside to it is being too far away from one's homecountry and being unable to travel on whim, thus missing out on births, deaths, weddings, funerals, festivals, sundry celebrations, you name it! Of course, there are other negatives like missing one's friends, families, local ethnic food, previous work, familiar hometown neighbourhoods, etc., but in my opinion, the one that sucks the most is not being there for family events like births, weddings, and funerals. A very steep price to pay when you make the move to foreign lands and then unwittingly become a victim of circumstances that decidedly prevents you from visiting home when need be!

The reason that has prompted this blog post was that my beloved niece (the first grand daughter in our family) Sasha (Chinky to us) got married yesterday to Jeevan in Bangalore, India, and I was unable to be there for the joyous occasion. The best I could manage was talk to her over the phone and then keep thinking, "Oh, by now they must all be at St. Mark's Cathedral ... now my brother must be walking his little girl down the aisle ... now he must be giving her away ... now the Bishop must be solemnizing the wedding ... now all the guests must be proceeding to The Capitol near Vidhan Soudha for the reception" ... and so on. Not adequate enough to compensate for my actually being there! Anyways, for very many reasons that can't go on a blog, I was unable to make it and that's that! But here I am, wishing our "Angel Baby" (that's what I used to call her when she was a roly-poly infant!) and her new husband all the happiness that life can bring and many, many years of togetherness and companionship!!!

Just like this wedding that I missed, I also missed my nephew Julian's wedding. Now he's the proud father of two beautiful girls, both of whom (and his wife as well) I have seen only in pictures. He is now in Australia, and I'm not sure when our whole family will be able to get together, with my sister in California, one brother in Oman, the other in England, and myself in Vancouver! I was unable to attend my mother's funeral because I had just visited her in hospital a couple of months before her death, and it was impossible for me work-wise to return once again to bid farewell to her. The same was the case when my dearest father-in-law passed away. These are times I wish I simply hadn't left home. The distance is too great, the circumstances too difficult, the practicalities too hard, and the heartache too intense! I am not even going to go into the other factors that I mentioned earlier; perhaps in yet another blogpost than this one, because there are just too many of them that I can think of. The list is too big, as I grapple with life in my new country, continents away from my homeland and loved ones!