Friday, December 14, 2012

VSO India International Volunteer Day Celebrations

6-9 December 2012

YEY! VSO India celebrated the International Volunteer Day (IVD) through a series of events and activities in Delhi. It's a day to honor all the international volunteers all around the globe. As part of the celebrations, in-country volunteers based in States outside Delhi were called back to re-unite with Delhi-based volunteers for a day of fun and stress-free sessions of games and reflections.

(some) VSO India in-country volunteers and Country Office Staff

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Indian Marriages (some explanatory notes first!)

I believe it was when I read Chetan Bhagat's "2 States" (a book based on the story of his marriage) that I have truly been interested to learn more about Indian marriages. Coming from a place where the so- called "love marriages" (though we never called it like this) is the norm, the idea of "arranged marriages" in India seemed an almost alien concept to me.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fully booked

To say that my train to Kolkata from Mumbai has many passengers is the understatement of the century. Well, at least that is the case on the sleeper class bogie of Gitanjali Express that I am in.

I should have known it this morning by the very very long line of the passengers queued for the second class carriage or the general or the unreserved class. This was not the first time I saw the line moving and this morning's was indeed longer and more frantic than before.

SRO at night time

Of course, the Gitanjali Express is not dubbed super fast for nothing. It only takes 30 hours to reach Kolkata from Mumbai. Other trains I have checked that matches my schedule range between 32-36 hours of journey from Mumbai in the West to Kolkata in the East. (The hours of course not include the delays which happen with trains often.) I believe this is the reason why there are a lot of passengers in the Gitanjali. It's the Durga Puja season or the Duhserra (Dasara) festival which is widely celebrated in West Bengal, the state of Kolkata, an everyone wants to make it home.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Lost ticket scare

This morning, I was losing my mind as I frantically searched for my train tickets for the East India vacay! How can someone lose five tickets being showed off at Skype just two nights before?! The answer: forgetfulness blamed on stress and lack of sleep!

Ok, ok. Erase the stress part. My stress levels, I believe, is gradually going down as I have completed most of my tasks for YUVA Urban and for VSO and I have already secured my tickets for the five inter-state trains spanning thousands of kilometers and tens of hours on a non-ac sleeper class triple bunk. As Amanda commented on the Indian Rail system, "I'm just so amazed that it works!"

I sooooo love bus commuting

Three hours after I left the centre, I am still sitting on a bus, traveling. In days like this, I miss the overcrowded and dilapidated killer buses ruling EDSA in Metro Manila. For the simple reason that they are available in multitudes, almost 24/7.

It was the first time that I have taken an AC bus from Kharghar to, well at least I though I was heading to, Dadar. After almost an hour's waiting at the train station for the CST-bound train that never arrived, I decided to catch the bus. I actually wanted to take the Thane-bound train then catch a fast rain to Dadar but was advised by colleagues not to do so.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Agra Fort and Taj Mahal on Video

9 September 2012

It's really about Agra Fort and Taj Mahal. This sounds like "World's Funniest Home Video" to me but how else can I put it? :)

Here are some clips I took during my trip to Delhi and then to Agra and Taj Mahal. The playlist includes videos from Agra Fort, blog yet to be written, and several videos of Taj Mahal from the entrance to a bit of a close-up. Enjoy!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Taj Mahal - Finally!

9 September 2012

Before coming to India, I only know a few things about this sub-continent and what stands out among these is the Taj Mahal. I barely know the story about Taj Mahal before I came here, only that it is a must-see monument, one of the seven wonders of the world.

Oh hello there!

Bodh Gaya: the journey to Nirvana

30 September 2012

Ok. Actually, I just can't think of an apt title at this moment that I am writing this. Hahaha :) But, yeah, you can pretty much say that this post indeed is about the journey of Buddha, not necessarily into Nirvana but in the achievement of enlightenment. Also, this will be about the journey of me, Juls and Amanda as we tried to understand what Buddhism is and how it has began here in India.

my favorite of the snaps at Bodh Gaya:
the "pilgrims" with the Giant Buddha

Friday, October 12, 2012

Stress Attack like five years back

While I was lying on the mat thrown over the conference room floor and everyone surrounding me while massaging my numbing limbs, feeding me biscuits and making me drink sweet an salty water all the while telling me to relax, all I can think about was the scene more than five years ago when I have suffered from the same, uhm, condition.

Back then, the stress and lack of sleep and a more or less blatant disregard for meal timings was due to an unfinished undergraduate thesis and woes of college and org life. Today, it was mainly due to worries about my tasks at hand, which I need to complete if I dared dream of a long Eastern holiday next week, coupled with tiredness from the almost daily 3-hour journey to an from my Mumbai office and my place in its neighboring twin city. Maybe it's also because of the hassle and also partly due to again, an almost blatant disregard for eating on time and healthily.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vitamin C overload

Weather in Bombay has been very weird recently. From what was dubbed as the worst monsoon season to an abrupt change towards higher temp and humidity, everyone thought the rain's almost over.

I left Mumbai on a rather hot evening as I made my way to an even hotter Bihar morning 30 hours after. With the unforgiving heat in Bodh Gaya and a more understanding Varanasi weather, I thought my body will adjust well upon my return to a supposedly hot and humid Bombay. While on the way though through rural Maharashtra, the wind was cool and there was even mist from the rain that has just abated. While it was a pleasant train journey, what I was more concerned of is how my body would react. True enough,y fear was not unfounded as the next day, I started sneezing and coughing.

Well, actually, it wasn't just me. As the wearer has been erratic ie. rain then heat then more rain then hotter heat, pretty much half of the office are exchanging dry cough sounds. I guess coupled with a still weak immune system, I am more susceptible than the rest of the team.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bodh Gaya: the land of Buddha's enlightenment

30 Sep 2012

Oh yes! The stuff I used to hear from my history teachers is now coming into life! I am, at present, in Bodh Gaya, where prince Siddharta Gautama, later popularly known as Lord Buddha, was said to have achieved full enlightenment.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Modak madness (mock-up gold star!)

Yes, as promised, Pallavi (my line manager at the Mumbai office) has given me not one but two gold stars for the mock-up madness the other day!

Of course, it's not literally a gold star but a sweet called Modak, the favorite of Ganapathi aka Lord Ganesha! And, it came with a bonus gold-wrapped chocolate! Yey!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mock-up madness

Today, I felt like I was back in school and I was going crazy trying to make a mock-up of the resource mobilization brochure I am preparing for my organization.

Paper, scissors, glue and ink-stained hands after, tada!!! It's not yet final and, thanks to Sachal (VSO comm officer aka my comm mats go-to critic), Juls (co-volunteer and lay person POV critic) and YUVA staff around the centre for the patience while I show off the mock-up with matching enthusiasm of a 1st grader who just got her first gold star!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Real Bombay Rain

Ever since the monsoon came to Maharashtra last June, I have always had a great time with it. From the distinct earthen scent of the cracked soil getting watered for the first time in months, to the roaming in the rain with teenage girls, on to river rafting while getting even more soaked in the ravaging rains, and to a 7-hour bike ride with friends to a really cool (literally and figuratively) hill station.

Recently, however, the rain seems to bring me more harm than good. First, it affects my work schedule going to work in Dadar (as I need to travel about 40kms) and I refuse to go when it's a downpour, to protect myself and Aspi from risking getting wet. Second, if there was no choice (i.e. it was not raining when I went to Dadar but it was raining going back), and if I am unlucky, the rain will be heavy by the time I reach Kharghar and walk towards the Centre (auto wallahs are difficult to get past 9!) and I would end up getting wet and sick the next day! Third, if I am really unlucky, like last night, the trains will not be working and I would have to sit in a bus for a 6-hour journey through the flooded and crowded streets of Mumbai.

My First Tiffin

3 September 2012

Since I got a free tiffin container from my purchase of three soups at big bazaar last Sunday, I decided to prepare a tiffin for my work in Mumbai. And, as I haven't had an egg in the past two weeks, I prepared an omelette, with carrots, potatoes and onions!

Omelette: my first tiffin!
I was so happy when, except for some overflow, I managed to make the egg fold into a perfect empanada-shaped omelette! Of course, the overflow served as breakfast, although it now looked like the Rajie-popularized scramlette! :)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reliving good habits

So yeah, it's confirmed. My rashes were not dengue or malaria-related. Nor is it allergies. Best conclusion, the auto-immune skin disease was a result of stress+sickness+weak immune system put altogether.

While I may not be able to control my stress triggers, I can at least take better care of myself. Ergo, returning to good habits such as sleeping early (I'll try) and eating properly (love this!) to make my "recovery" faster.

Yoghurt with Muesli, Melon and Krackel Choc Bits

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hello South India (video version)

15-21 August 2012

Yep, by some miracle and after cancelling my Goa and Bangalore legs, I managed to get over the malaria scare and book a foreign tourist quota (after getting denied twice!) ticket to Chennai, state of Tamil Nadu, South India!

Chennai Central Railway Station

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More home-cooked goodness from Vasai

7-8 August 2012
I stayed two nights with my boss' family so that meant more home-cooked goodness from Sunila, Raju's wife. She actually got 'mad' at me for not letting her pack the dosa for my lunch when she found out that I had mung dal and thums up for lunch!

So, at night, I feasted on chapatti and rice, with dal, bombil fry (fish) ad a sabzi which I think is bell pepper. The onion and tomato salad is back, with added cucumber!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

All-Indian work snack

I know I should be eating healthier but I just can't help it. I am getting used to the different snacks available here and I must say, I am already getting addicted!

If you know me or if we have worked together before, you won't find it Asa surprise that I always end up munching on something while I am working. It's like second nature already. Sometimes, my brain just don't function as properly as I want it if I am not eating something.

Of course, I can always say that my brain uses a lot of energy while thinking so I have every right to eat while doing so. But then ago, we both know I'm just trying to justify my eating habits. Hahaha. Oh well, whatever works!
mung dal, khatta mitha mix, tikha mitha mix, sweet and salty biscuit
and of course, thums up!

Home-cooked idli dosa breakfast goodnes

As part of my website development work, I am currently staying with my boss' family here in Vasai since the 2.5hr (one-way) commute us just impossible.

So, since last night, I have been having home-cooked food courtesy of my boss' wife. Last night's meal was Bhindi (okra/lady finger) sabzi and fal with rice and chapatti. There's also pickled mango (sour ad spicy) and tomato onion salad (tasted like home).

And for this morning, we had idli dosa with green chutney. It's a south Indian dish. Honestly speaking, I am not yet that familiar or accustomed to the taste of idli dosa and chutney. Imagine a puto-looking bread that tastes like it was fermented or something. The green chutney is made of coconut plus other spices, the only one I can identify is garlic. I am not very fond of idli but it was the first time I finished it! So, you know what that meant right?!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Office meals

I am almost always on the run whenever I work at Dadar. It has something to do with the need to travel and the want for more sleep. So, I end up having my breakfast at the office. Of course, it's not breakfast as in tapsilog meals. It would more or less be like (not all together though!) bread, chips, biscuits, banana, and of course, chai!

chai and marie
And then, as I don't have the time (read: too lazy to cook), I end up ordering something from the nearby hotel (means restaurant or canteen here). And most of the time, I forget to order at 1 or 1:15 so at 1:30-1:45-ish lunch time, I end up not having any food yet. So, what usually happens is I get offered food from my colleagues and then I coerce them (since they're already full) to take some of my food upon its arrival.

Do not drink this coffee...savour it!

Another reason for CCD moment was because I needed to get a new coffee bag as I have ran out weeks ago and I'm desperately in need of caffeine these days.

One coffee bag is worth Rs 65 for the regular one, more or less for the mild or strong versions. But, a black rectangular tin can with "dark forest" words and design caught my eye and the cashier was so convincing. This is hand-picked coffee madam, he said. And I'm like, OK I'll get that. Didn't even put up a fight! Hahaha

Do not drink this coffee...savour it!

I had it this morning and it's good! I think it was less stronger than I expected but perhaps it's because the water and powder ratio was different. Anyway, I'll try again next time!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A different kind of shot

After getting rejected at the foreign tourist quota counter for my train ticket (the clerk said I have an Employment visa so it's not counted), I headed to the nearby CCD (cafe coffee day--it's ala-Starbucks in terms of number of shops but it's much cheaper and coffee is not the same.

There I met Naren, another couch surfer and a good friend (naka naman!!!), and stayed for almost two hours! We talked about different stuff--his raksha bandhan bracelets (given from sister to brother, his included nieces), my stressful work situation recently and computers and websites and CS meet-ups among other things. Oh, about our liking for tweety bird and how rich the angry birds developer must be like!

And, we tried something new! The dessert shots of CCD. As I'm craving for blueberry cheesecake but can't fid any, I got the shots instead! Mango and then Belgian chocolate. It was yum enough, commensurate to the 20rs price tag! And seeing how I lost a lot of weight, Naren was teasing me to get a 1kg cake! Of course, I declined. Gluttony!
Shots plus chili cheese toast

A taste of Sri Lanka - almost!

Earlier in May, I was planning on going for a long holiday south of India and then flying to Sri Lanka. I was really excited about it (and so did Cling who sent me an itinerary!) and even thought of traveling together with co-volunteers Rosie and Sue.

Currently, Sue is back in UK or Austria and I am heading somewhere else for the long leave days vacay! Rosie, AFAIK is still traveling to Sri Lanka and maybe we'd meet her in Chennai. I'm traveling south with Juls, another volunteer based in the east!

I was just reminded of all the Sri Lanka preps as I got a Sri Lanka coffee packet/sachet today from the Urban office. I like the chai here and all but coffee is still what my body really craves for! Especially since reviewing Queen Seon Depk eps kept me up late!

However, pani garmi hai kuch Nahin (or something like that) was the response of the admin guy. Meaning, hot water is not available! Ah, I thought today is Sri Lanka coffee day. Hohum. Oh well, like everything else, I'll have to be patient a bit longer. For now, Indian coffee will do! After 2 chai cups, coffee finally! The things is, though it smells different, I can't differentiate the taste anymore!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Allowance Day Spend Away

So yep, as I mentioned, it's indeed allowance day today! Woohoo!

So, amidst the pouring rain (didn't rain all day and then suddenly...!) I walked from the YUVA training centre to Subway, a good 10-minute exercise. I didn't initially plan on going to Subway. I was thinking of goin to Domino's pizza and then grocery shopping at Big Bazaar. I was actually already walking towards that when I remembered it's Chicken Teriyaki for sub of the day, which I have never tried. Therefore, I walked back and retraced my steps towards the opposite direction! I was thinking, I can have dinner at Subway and then go to More grocery store at Little World. Still a good option.

Going to Subway, I passed by the Java Green Cafe. I've gone there once, to meet fellow CouchSurfer Naren for coffee and chat. I was thinking of goin inside to check if they have blueberry cheesecake since I have been craving for it. But, I decided otherwise. Was also SMS-ing with Sravan and though he is not a dinner-eating person, he decided to go to Subway too and catch-up.

Upon arrival, the cashier guy recognized me with a smile and a nod. See, I've been Subway-ing myself often these days. When I ordered, I asked for Chicken Teriyaki. The guy made it with parmesan oregano bread, toasted with cheese, with all veggies except the chili and with barbeque, sweet onion and black pepper yoghurt sauce.

Yummy Mistake

Necessity is the mother of Invention

I am, finally, (almost) out of food stocks! I guess, when you prioritize entertainment spending (aka parties and trips) rather than grocery shopping, you'll eventually end up with an almost zero balance in your account.

As I live on a "good-enough-for-food-and-basic-needs-but-not-for-weekly-parties-and-trips" allowance that gets replenished as arrears (allowance for the month is received on the 1st of the following month), I should be spending my money more wisely. But then again, if the entertainment spending keeps you sane and de-stresses you on the weekend to make you charged up for the weekday, then YES! Entertainment spending should be prioritized! Hahahaha

Anyway, as it is 1st of August today, I would hopefully get my allowance to buy more food stocks coz today, I am almost out! I guess necessity really is the mother of invention. Why I believe so? Coz I managed to prepare breakfast which I otherwise wouldn't have thought of if only I had other ingredients. Hahaha.

Aloo and Soya Waadi sauteed with onion before getting stewed in
tomato and red chili sauce; tea with sugar and creamer from the train;
sweet and salty biscuits; and banana with oreo

But hey, it was still healthy and yes, YUMMY! Oh well. Grocery shopping later!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Breaking the Fast

Apart from the Muslim community who's fasting this month, so are the devout Hindus who are celebrating a festival real soon. As part of the preparations, fasting is in order.

For some, it's only staying away from non-veg dishes. Of course, for the veg eating population, that would mean as in fasting and skipping meals during certain times of the day.

As I am neither a Muslim nor a Hindu, fasting does not really apply to me--unless I'm on diet that is. Therefore, today's breakfast: dumdaar maggi masala with potato and soya bean waadi, nuts muesli and banana with dried green grapes. Yum!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sub of the Day Thursday!

26 July 2012

Yep, it's Sub of the Day fever at Subway! For Rs 85 (a discount of 40-80 rupees), you get your favorite subs or the-one-you-have-no-choice-but-to-have-coz-it's-much-cheaper subs from Monday to Sunday!

Today's Sub of the Day is Aloo Patty, which can be translated as potato burger. Or something like that. Hehehe. One round potato patty made of diced potato mixed with spices and I think flour or something is cooked in the oven and then sliced into two. With my choice of toasted bread (parmesan oregano) and cheese, mine had a lot of veggies--lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, green bell pepper, onion--and five sauces--sweet onion, honey mustard, black pepper yoghurt, chipotle southwest, and a little bit of red chili!!!

If the Sub of the Day treat/promo will go on for a while, I think I might just eat healthier but get poorer! :D

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gaining some normalcy through breakfast!

In the past days, I haven't been feeling quite myself. Add to that the remark from Kalabay, the head cook in the cafeteria, and the veggie vendor, that i have lost weight...and looking gaunt! Therefore, I resolved to do what I do best to make myself better--eat well!!!

I haven't had a proper breakfast in Kharghar for the past weeks. With the exception of breakfast at Rajie's place in Delhi, I think this is the only day I've had a full meal! And seriously, it felt awesome!

I vow to make myself better and to not sulk and be down by whatever stressful situations I got myself stuck in. So yeah! Hello food!

Tag Along Beach and Foothills Weekend - Kashid Beach, Alibaug

July 21-22, 2012

After having a wonderful lunch and having the adrenaline be used up from our system, we needed another boost and we decided to head for the beach. YEY!!!

Beach Ready!
The Kashid Beach is about 15-20 minutes by car from the Hillshore Bungalows area where we stayed. It's not really Boracay-ish or El Nido-ish but I was excited nonetheless!

Uber wide shoreline with fine grey-ish sand

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tag Along Beach and Foothills Weekend - Revdanda Naga Saga

21-22 July 2012

One of the definite highlights of this trip was the Naga Saga aka the visit of the snake that sent everyone into an adrenaline rush for a good 1.5 hours!

Pictures speak a thousand words and videos a hundred thousand more so here are clips from what happened!

From rearranging the furniture to running for our lives until reciting chants for the snake to leave us -- definitely an experience worth remembering!

Tag Along Beach and Foothills Weekend - Journey to Revdanda

July 21-22, 2012

Sravan, my CS neighbor and friend, called me up on Thursday asking me if I wanted to join him and his colleagues for their company outing. Since they've already booked the place, cars and all, it will be a shame to not put it into use and not have fun on the weekend. As my social calendar had no entry yet on those days, of course I said yes!

Kashid Beach, Alibaug, Maharashtra

Thai Food goodness after a stressful day

July 22, 2012

I was having a really bad day while heading home from work in Mumbai. It was fortunate that my friend Sanjana, a former YUVA volunteer and intern, whom I haven't seen since forever was also not in the mood to cook and is reaching Kharghar just a few minutes ahead of me. To top it off, she lives near the Little World and Hiranandani central areas.

We met at the newly opened Arcee electronics store near Little World. I was inside because 1) I was looking for a Blackberry (thinking of getting one) and 2) Because I don't want to stay outside. Hehehe :D

She followed me in and was on the lookout for a fridge. I'm really happy for her coz she's on the way of furnishing her 2-bedroom flat! Yey! She really loves to cook so it's good for her too! Anyway, after that, we decided to head to The Cinnamon Tree, a restaurant nearby. We've had dinner once at The Cinnamon Tree before and wanted to eat there again yesterday.

Sinigang na Hipon - a proper dinner!

After four and a half months of being here in India, I finally succeeded to find all the ingredients needed to cook a proper Sinigang na Hipon (Sour Shrimp Soup) for dinner!

Since it's been raining like crazy here in Kharghar almost everyday, I was just craving for a sinigang dish. Pork is most likely not available so the next option is fish. Though it was raining, I went out to the market after work and headed to the "machi" area. Last time I was there was almost two months back and the only shrimp available was the small ones (as in okoy mode). So, tonight, to my surprise, there's shrimp! Kind of semi-prawn actually. It cost me Rs 50 for 125gms. Not bad!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bahá'í House of Worship (Lotus Temple)

March 25, 2012

Another must-visit place we headed out to while in Delhi was the Bahá'í House of Worship, or more popularly known as the Lotus Temple.

As the name suggests, the temple is aptly named Lotus Temple because of it's structural design. If it is not that obvious in the photo, it's either I took a really bad shot or you need to have your eyes checked. :)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Penguin Books' Spring Fair (aka Learning About Contemporary Indian Literature)

March 24, 2012

After coming back from the Akshardham Temple, I decided to make good on my plan to check out Penguin Book's Spring Fair that was happening at the nearby India Habitat Center. This is in line with Penguin Books India's 25-year anniversary celebration.

The night's event was a reading, something like a competition in a way. The winner of the "reading competition" gets the shot at becoming Penguin Books India's next big thing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Swaminarayan Akshardham in Delhi

March 24, 2012

After eating, we went back near the Red Fort area to find another fort that's supposedly accessible to us. We went round and round till our faces burned (thanks to Kevin's sunscreen for damage control) and finally realised that the fort we were looking for is actually part of the Red Fort and can only be accessed by going through Lal Quila!

Anyway, by the time we realised that, it was already so hot that when I reminded Kevin and Rosie about my plan to go to Akshardham Temple (thanks to Brod Dwight Ronan for telling me about it), we settled to take a tuktuk instead of returning to the Chandni Chowk station and traveling towards Akshardham station (I think two train changes are required).

Akshardham from a distance

Hygienic Restaurant at Old Delhi

March 24, 2012

All that walking and basking (aka burning) in the sun made us hungry. Actually, thirsty at first but later on, hunger kicked in as we saw the menu on this "hygienic" restaurant.

Chinese Thali of some sort: chow mein, manchurian balls,
veg fried rice, and chili paneer

Old Delhi Red Fort - seat of the Mughal Empire

March 24, 2012

There was a time, long long long ago, when Muslims thrived in India. However, hundreds of years later, the Muslim population is now considered as one of the minorities in the contemporary Indian society. Nevertheless, the era of the Mughal Empire has been marked with several monuments (click on the monuments tab) like tombs, mosques and gardens.

Apart from these monuments and places of worship, the Mughal Empire also built the Red Forts to serve as their seats of power. I heard there are many red forts in India. One of the most famous is the Red Fort (Lal Quilla) found in Old Delhi.

Revisiting Old Delhi - Jainism and Shivaism

March 24, 2012

Do you remember the guided tour we had in Old Delhi? Kevin, Rosie and I decided to return to Old Delhi to visit the other monuments and places of interest that we missed. The main destination was the red fort but of course, there's always other things to see in between.

According to Wikipedia (yes, I am quoting Wikipedia!!!), the Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir, or the Red Temple, is the oldest and best-known Jain temple in Delhi. The Red Temple is directly across the Red Fort. The Lal Mandir was originally built in 1656. Red sandstone was used to build the temple for its current state, thus earning it the name "Lal Mandir".
Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir (Red Temple)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Ugadi Festival - Curtain Call and After Party

March 23, 2012

So, as if the dance performances were not a treat enough for us, we got invited to the after performance dinner too! But before that, photo opp first with Abhinaya, Seetha ji, and Mr. Nagajothy.

Photo opp! Kevin's not in photo since he was the one who took this.
(Abhinaya found my dupatta/scarf pretty. Explained that I wore it for
the occasion. Design had the Apsaras, the traditional dancers of Cambodia)

Ugadi Festival - Brindavani Thillana

March 23, 2012

For the finale, the group performed the famous Brindavani Thillana.

The opening pose. The most dramatic entrance of the night!

Brindavani Thillana explores the technical side of Kuchipudi that involves only the Nritta or pure dance of Kuchipudi.

I wonder what kind of discipline is required to be able to dance like these graceful Nritas!

Ugadi Festival - Adivo

March 23, 2012

This is a kirtanam by Annamayya. Despite the rigorous religious period he lived in, he was the first from his time to oppose superstitions and caste differences in his poetry and he mainly composed songs that were spiritual.

The formations look like the real statues of deities

Ugadi Festival - Shivashtakam

March 23, 2012

Shivashtakam is a set of eight verses written by the greatest Hindu philosopher Adi Sankaracharya. This is a vigorous dance that brings out many karanas or the athletic side of classical dance that has been mentioned in the Natya Sastra.

This is the solo performance of Abhinaya. I could swear, Seetha ji was looking at her very closely
during the performance. hehehe. Oh well. No worries. She was like a celestial dancer!

Ugadi Festival - Gajavadana Beduve

March 23, 2012

Gajavadana Beduve starts with the dancers going in a circular pattern on the stage.

This formation was repeated several times

According to Indian theatrical tradition, the Ashtadikpalakaas, the eight gods of directions, is prayed to in order to calm and pacify them.

Ugadi Festival - Ma Telugu Talli Ki

March 23, 2012

This dance is officially the first actual dance performance, as Vani Ki Vandanam is technically more of a ceremonial dance. :)

Look closely into their eyes--they speak volumes

Ugadi Festival - Vani Ki Vandanam

March 23, 2012

Vani Ki Vandanam is an invocatory dance in which the dancers welcome the audience to watch the Nritya Pradarsanam or dance performance of the evening.

First Pose

Ugadi Festival - Ceremonies and Explanatory Notes

 March 23, 2012

Our Hindi teacher, Seetha ji, also happens to be a dance guru. Actually, that's her real profession. She teaches classical South Indian dance. This is also how, on a fateful Friday night, we got invited to the celebration of Ugadi, Tamil New Year, at Delhi Tamil Sangam.

Lighting the Ceremonial Torch

Thursday, May 24, 2012

McDo Aloo Tikki

March 23, 2012

The next morning, we didn't have a class with Seetha ji since she's prepping for the dance performance in the evening. So, I went to Nehru Place with Rosie and Julie to shop for some more electronics and techie stuff.

While on the way to the shopping area, I saw the poster of John Carter and since I haven't tried watching a movie in Delhi, I thought this might be a good chance. So I got myself a 3D cinema ticket (the two didn't watch) for Rs. 350. I'm like, ouch! But it's ok, in exchange of the experience. :p

After the movie (sorry, no cameras allowed in the cinema house, even while not yet inside the theatre itself), I got hungry so I decided to check out McDo and I ordered aloo tikki! It's my first ever Indian fastfood meal. You can liken aloo tikki to burger McDo, in terms of price and popularity. :)

What could be inside?!

Oh. Now I know why they're falling for it!

The patty is made of potato (doh, aloo tikki!) and then, some onions and vegetables are added, with some sauce/spread. In fairness, masarap naman!

Afghan Darbar (second serving!)

March 22, 2012

Since we didn't get to have the spinach dish that was being raved about during our first visit at Afghan Darbar, we decided to head to the place again after shopping for kurtas and dried fruits and nuts.

Sold Out goods!
Unlike our first trip to Lajpat Nagar where Katie and Drew were there to guide us through, we had no idea (though we thought we had) where Afghan Darbar is. We tried asking someone for the Afghan restaurant (since we didn't know what it's name was) and he gave us directions. Great right?! We ended up in a different Afghan restaurant!

The other Afghan restaurant

AARTH-ASTHA Children's Art Work

March 22, 2012

As part of the ICO, we visited an NGO in Delhi. Pawan and Janet are placed at AARTH-ASTHA.

AARTH-ASTHA is an organisation that works towards an inclusive society where people and children with disabilities are respected and valued. AARTH-ASTHA's mission is to work in partnership with children and persons with disabilities and their families, with a focus on the most marginalised and to uphold rights and work with all stakeholders to build an inclusive society.

artworks by children being supported by AARTH-ASTHA

VSO Party for March 2012 Volunteers

March 21, 2012

It's not a welcome or a farewell but it is a party, nonetheless!
Bouganvilla at Delhi spring time

VSO India threw a party for the new batch of volunteers, US! The party was held on the rooftop of the VSO building and you can probably tell by our attire and body languages that it is freakin cold!

Shiver! :p

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Muhammad Shah Sayyid's Tomb at Lodhi Gardens

March 19, 2012

Since my doctor's appointment was concluded earlier than I expected, I decided to stop at Lodhi Gardens to check out the tomb that Amanda and I passed by while jogging.

Muhammad Shah Sayyid's Tomb

Monday, April 16, 2012

First Alone Time

March 19, 2012

Well, my skin's allergic reaction was getting worse. The tablet and the cream, originally prescribed by the doctor for my neck allergy, was working. I was sure of it since my neck and collarbone area has shown signs of improvement. Unfortunately, I started having rashes on my arms and legs as well.

First Prescription
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