28

Why you shouldn’t be living alone and why you should be…

So you have lived with your parents or roommates all along and you decide to take a plunge into normal adult life where you want to live independently and on your own terms. Or you may want to get away from a totally neurotic 60 year old crazy woman who has partial OCD and doesn’t give you the key to her iron door and gives you a tiny, tiny stove in the name of a kitchen. Aaaarrrgghhh. You may want to taste that freedom before (if) you get hitched and bound for life. Meh. 

I just did it, and here is why I will give you some good reasons to not do it.

1. Your rent is going to increase multifold. I did a stupid accounting mistake thanks to bi-weekly paychecks and now I am scrambling around figuring out the major dip in my banking account.

2. Utilities. You will be responsible for those. All of those. You will suddenly realize that you are an electricity guzzler and internet freak. You will also be responsible to buy lame things like dishwashing soap, and toilet bowl cleaner. Yuk.

3. If you have lived with parents so far, you WILL have to cook. Don’t think about eating out all the time, because point number 1. If you had cooking turns with roommate, you will miss the days where you could just chill and your roommate slogged. If you were in a PG situation, then you may be used to it.

4. If you are a hoarder like me, you will have atleast 15 big boxes and 2-3 suitcases with 4-5 plastic bags of stuff. Your back will hurt like no tomorrow and you will feel overwhelemed looking at the stuff you have.

5. I label my boxes like ‘kitchen-immediate use’, ‘bags, headgear and steam iron’, ‘dinner set and towel’. But there are two boxes I had to call ‘random shit’. I hate items that don’t have categories because they are usually small and hard to organize. Where the hell do I keep my finger puppet?? At least my Viking helmet, bunny ears, Disney Minnie ears and witch hat belonged to ‘Headgears’. Do I sound a leeeetle bit crazy?

6. I usually end up losing some stuff. So will you. Agreed you will find money and stuff in hidden places, but overall, you will lose stuff. I am still looking for my car registration papers due in November. Mummmmyyy.

7. When you live alone, you will have to take care of the uninvited guests. The creepy crawlies. Yep. No one is going to show up with a slipper when you yell out Spiiiidddddeeerrr!!

8. You will have to throw out the trash on your own, every few days. And collect the mail, every few days.

9. You will have to clean the house regularly on your own so that it doesn’t look like a hobo’s shelter.

10. You are responsible for your safety and to check if all the windows and doors are locked shut every night. There won’t be another person to blame if God forbid, something happens. Just run very fast back to your room after turning the lights off in the living room.

ONE reason why you should live on your own:

NO MORE PANTS in the house!!!

  

16

Sisterhood of the world QnA

I got nominated for a fun questionnaire by Boiling Wok called ‘Sisterhood of the world Q&A’.

  

I have lurked on Boiling Wok’s WordPress ever since I started reading her comments on IHM’s blog. I loved her insight on certain taboo topics for women, and her take on gender inequality, feminism and the institution of marriage. Cheers to you, and your thoughts, girl!
She developed a set of questions and these are my answers below:

1. One beauty product you would recommend to your girlfriends.

If you have confused skin thinking that it’s a pimply teenager instead of a 28 year old over-the-hill adult, or suffer from extreme lack of sleep thanks to Netflix and Facebook(stalker!), MAC select cover concealer is your best friend. Period.

2.Three books everybody must read.

a. Harry Potter series : According to me, a person who hasnt read Harry Potter, is missing a bit of his soul. Although a word of caution that i have learned, do not start a fight about “How have you never read/seen Harry Potter!!!” on a date or with someone you are crushing on. Girl, its not gonna get you anywhere.

b. The Kite Runner : It changed my thought process. Past is not something to shut away for good. Revisiting it, facing those demons or just contemplation can help you become a better person. As long as the obsession over past is not unhealthy, it can be a catalyst for a good future.

c. Biology lessons from Std 12th science : It surprises, no, shocks me when women don’t know anything about their own bodies, forget about cluelessness about male anatomy. Ladies, you should at least know what the hell you have on and inside your body and how it functions.

3. Favorite online shopping site.

I am currently obsessed with Amazon.com since I am setting up my new apartment, but Target.com is where I get most of my packages from usually.

4. Favorite phone app.

Google maps! God gave me a gift to be able to visualize fluid motion in cavities, but took away my own sense of direction on roads.

5. One dish you are really good at making and its recipe.

I make really good tawa paneer and I follow this recipe here on Veg Recipes of India.

So, now I have my own set of 5 questions for you guys:

1. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your closet?

2. Which is your favorite ice-cream flavor?

3. If you could make a signature scent, what would it smell like?

4. Describe the last dream you remember. Bonus point if it was naughty. 😉

5. What was your last Google search about?

I would like to nominate the following ladies for this questionnaire.

1. Srishty

2. Moo’s Khayals

3. Bhakti

4. Kinmin

5. Pop Goes The Biscuit

6. Cookie

28

Stuff right now…

1. I fell sick over the weekend and Monday. It was an odd mixture of anxiety, panic, guilt(for some strange reason)and a teeny, tiny bit of heartache. It’s called PMS-ing. 😀

2. I have realized that my heart hasn’t turned into a tin foil robot and I am glad about that.

3. I have managed to lose all my Turkey holiday weight. *touchwood*

4. My friend from Lonavala days, Sayali, who was a fellow mechie, just booked her tickets and we are seeing each other after 6 years on this Thanksgiving!! Yay!!

5. I AM MOVING! I am renting my own apartment in 2 weeks and I am so excited to be leaving my roommate situation that I am literally bouncing off the walls. I am going to be so broke, but so happy!

6. I have imposed a shopping ban on myself. No comments about it are going to be entertained. Hmmpphh. The only exception will be household stuff for the new home. NO MORE CLOTHES.

7. I am very scared that I have lost my reading habit. I am going to finish at least one book before thanksgiving as a challenge to myself.

8. I have had very busy weekends since September started where I have barely stayed at home or even in town for that matter, but I am loving every bit of this.

9. My India trip tickets have been booked! Yayyyy! My saree for Shib’s wedding has been finalized. Super excited for all that! It’s going to be a short trip but hoping to meet a lot of people that I haven’t been able to.

10. I am in a good place overall, you guys. I am smiling more often, staying happy, no tears. Things aren’t bothering me anymore except the occasional pinch. Maybe this is what moving on is. This is good. I am happy. And I hope everyone is.

25

Travelogue : Turkey : Istanbul

The ultimate Turkey travelogue is here!

After Cappa, we were all set to catch a flight to Istanbulllllll baby! I was mad excited about that one and I did not let the late flight play spoilsport. We reached Istanbul around 2 hours late than my expected timing. The craziness of Istanbul and the men started right away. Men in Istanbul are flirts and that’s just an understatement. The shuttle driver while going tour hotel,  called me to sit in the front, asked me if I was ‘Hindistani’, said mashallah to me a few times and made me take my sunglasses off because he wanted to see my face! I tolerated all that only because he was giving me a legit tour of all the places we were passing.

We got to the hotel, and met the 15 yr old daughter of the AirBnB owner, Ecenoor, to be called Ej, who made Moo and me fall in love with her. She had a funny way of doing Umm-hmm when we asked her anything, had the most beautiful golden brown straight hair, and milky skin, and, err,….. so on. After chilling in the room for a bit and re-arranging the space to ensure we could open our bags and walk around, we left for the Sultanahmet square. It was barely a 10 min walk for us and the most important places in Istanbul are located here. We had the Sultanahmet mosque on our agenda for that day, also popularly known as the Blue Mosque, the reason being the intricate mosaic work with blue tiles. It was stunning! Just, stunning! Such a huge mosque, high ceilings, intricate art work! It was so beautiful. We went crazy clicking pictures there. On our way out we had a crazy encounter with this creepiest person who touched me inappropriately and had suggestions to party at night with him and his cousin. Ewww. The string of crazy encounters continued with shop-keepers, restaurant servers, random security guards, taxi drivers.

Day 2 in Istanbul, started with an itchy throat. I did not pay much attention to it and moved on. We had planned on seeing the Topkapi palace early in the morning and the city’s main mosques after. We had breakfast and started to walk towards Topkapi palace. Like I mentioned before, most important locations are at a stone’s throw from each other in the Sultanahmet square. But at one point, I decided to ask this seemingly normal looking old man of around 60-65 who told us to follow him and that he will lead us to where we had to be. After a quick glance to ensure enough people in the surrounding areas for safety, we started following him. He spoke to us about ‘Hindistan’, Hema Malini, about him being from Iran and other random things, seemingly jovially. While walking, we came across a junction where Moo spotted a park and a sign that said Topkapi palace. So we stopped there and told the man that err, we have reached. He said ok ok and held out his hand for Moo to shake. As soon as she took it, he lunged towards her with the weirdest pouty kissy face to give her a kiss! She leaned back horrified and I wrenched his arm away from her and both of us pushed him away. It was awful!!! In order to not make a scene, we said bye to him and I tolerated a hand shake where again I had to pull my hand away from him. We ended up having a big laugh about it later. The side view of his pout is burnt into my memory now. Arrrgghh. We have had the strangest encounters ever in Istanbul with the men.

Topkapi Palace was beautiful but very tiring! The palace was home to the Sultans of Ottoman Empire and their queens. My dad told me later that he had seen the movie Topkapi from 1960s which is about a diamond robbery. Indeed, Topkapi palace had a jewelery collection with huge diamonds. But to be honest, some of them did not have the facets that make a diamond shiny and I felt rather under-whelmed on seeing them. But, I will not mind if you decide to gift me one of those. I will adjust.

After Topkapi, we checked out some mosques in the Eminonu area which were walking distances from each other. While walking to the mosques we crossed the Egyptian market, Spice Bazar and the small internal Istanbul bylanes. It really felt like we were walking in the old town area of Pune. The activity, street food, hustle and bustle is so similar to home.

The last stop was Grand Bazar. On the way to GB, Moo and I took a cab and turned on Google Maps for good measure. That led us to realize that our cab was cheating us and we ended up yelling big time at him and paid only 20 lira vs the 40 he was demanding. By then, my itchy throat was feeling like a cat’s scratch post and was full-fledged hurting. We shopped, bargained, felt cheated, felt glorious, and felt extremely drained out  by the end of our Grand Bazar experience. It is huge, people! There are so many shops, so many trinkets, sweets, lamps, it is unbelievable! Of course the shop keepers flirt big time! In order to get magnets for cheap I had to endure getting propositioned for marriage, being told weird things about my lips and being questioned about my v*rg*nity. Goodbye self-respect. Going back to the hotel from GB also involved yelling royally at 2 cab drivers.

Day 3 in Istanbul started with a visit to Hagia Sophia or the Ayasofya. That place made me feel like I was a part of Dan Brown’s book.  It is a huge museum which was a church in the 500s and then a mosque in 1400s and finally restored and converted into a museum by Ataturk in 1930s after secularization. It is the only place I have seen which has Christian mosaics and frescos along with verses from the Holy Quran, side by side. The chapel was H-U-G-E! It was impossible for us to capture the entire ceiling in one go. The domes were decorated so beautifully! It was all just visually so stunning.

The next stop was the Basilica Cistern. The cisterns were used to provide water to the city during the Roman period. It was eerily creepy yet so strangely fascinating. There was water still in there with these giant fat fishes floating around. Somehow I had the chills the whole time we were down there. There are two pillars in there with Medusa’s heads that were not discovered until restoration in the 1980s.

One big surprise was that Vince texted that he and Proctor had just reached Istanbul last night and they would be free to hang out. Moo and I were planning to do the Bosporus cruise after lunch and we asked them to join us. Like every other water body in Turkey, the Bosporus is also a very striking shade of blue! The cruise was so relaxing! We had a pretty good time clicking tons of pictures, and generally enjoying the views. We even sneaked in a nap towards the end of the cruise on their comfy benches inside the boat. Yep.

We had dinner after in one of the many street restaurants over there which involved a huge confusion over the bill and the money we paid and tax and tips. But we chugged along.

Day 4 was our last day in Istanbul and we decided to take the train and check out the other side of the town and Dolmabahce palace. That is the palace which later also became Ataturk’s part time residence in Istanbul and where he eventually passed away after battling Cancer. The palace has been converted into a museum. As with other historical buildings in Turkey, even Dolmabahce features exquisite decoration and intricately painted ceilings and walls. It houses gifts exchanged with other empires and countries in form of Baccarat crystals, chandeliers, carpets, and paintings. A lot of political diplomacy could be seen at play in the pictures and paintings and the gifts. The grounds were lush green, well-manicured and looked out to the gorgeous Bosporus. I would not mind living there at all!

While we were there, the weather decided to play spoil sport and it started raining. But I really, really wanted to have this local street food Kumpir(a loaded baked potato) and Turkish waffles in the Ortokoy area and so we headed out over there, braving the storms, err, the drizzle. The Kumpir was heaven, but the waffle, was O-M-G! It was beyond delicious! So rich, and so yummy! All for 15 lira each which is like $5.

We headed back to our familiar Sultanahmet area back after and spent the evening strolling here and there and rounding it off with our last dinner of Lentil soup.

The next day, I said bye to Moo early in the morning to catch my shuttle to the airport. I felt bitter-sweet leaving Istanbul. They say that you feel sadness about leaving a place, not just because you will miss the place, but you will miss the person you were, the age you were at and the state of mind you had. I couldn’t agree more.

Turkiye, it’s been real. And it would be a real pleasure if I get to see you again. Till then, hello new lands!

Tips :

  1. 3 days in Istanbul are not enough if you get tired easily. 4 days should be good to be able to space out all places of historical importance.
  2. Go to the Spice Bazaar to buy most of your Turkish Delights(sweets) and spices. Rest of the goods are similarly priced in Grand Bazaar.
  3. Your bargaining must be at its A-game. Otherwise you are going to kick yourself. There shouldn’t be room for  hesitance in your voice. I think I am good at it. Always offer 1/3rd of the price they quote.
  4. Do go for a Tukish Bath/Hamam. I missed that and I feel bad about it. Don’t feel shy. Who knows you there? 🙂
  5. The cabs are expensive if you are alone or 2 people. For 3-5 persons, it is a better deal than public transport wrt to costs and comfort.
  6. I will not suggest Istanbul as a part of a leisurely vacation unless you don’t care about historical sites.
  7. Try and stay in the Sultanahmet area if you are touristy, and stay in the Beyoglu area if you like street cafes, bars and nightlife. You will have access to train stations from both places.
  8. Vegetarian food is available but not the greatest variety. Don’t expect a royal meal and don’t get fussy. Do try the desserts.
  9. Have the Turkish tea and coffee if they offer it in stores and such. It is a nice experience to sit and chat over tea. I am not too fond of tea, but I rolled with it. Like they say, When in Rome, do the Romans, do as the Romans do.
  10. Keep your eyes, ears and nose open. Take in ALL the sensory delights. 🙂 Turkey is amazing.
24

Travelogue : Turkey : Cappadocia

So, continuing the adventures of PB and Moo in lands far, far away, on our magic carpet(SunExpress airlines), we flew off to Kayseri Airport to get to Cappadocia/Kappadokya/Goreme, and any other name you want to call it. At this point, I want to mention the itinerary I prepared and how beautiful it was. I had taken printouts of flight tickets, hotel bookings, places to see, food, timings and arranged it neatly, had put color coded sticky notes and arranged it acc to the days. After my itinerary was complete, I felt like a certified nerd, or a professional holiday planner. I prefer the latter and I see myself dressed as Sonam Kapoor for some reason with a bright orange planner. I digress.

So when we were planning the itinerary, we were planning to go to Pamukkale for a day from Antalya . But Moo, made one single request and I had to honor it. She really, really wanted to do a hot air balloon ride. I had wanted to do it too but was in a double mind about it. Thanks to her request, I decided to fit in a night in Cappadocia instead of Pamukkale and check one item off my bucket list as well. So we landed in Goreme after our plane ride to Kayseri and a shuttle to Goreme. Goreme is gorgeous! It is such an unexpected landscape! If you remember my Bryce canyon pictures, it has similar structures but not orange, and rising from around you, and not in a valley. Like, we were pretty much in between those structures. The hotels are also called cave hotels and if you have a higher budget, you can live in one of those. But we had constricted ourselves to a per night limit and the idea that a cavey structure may house lizards, put us off the real cave rooms. After checking in, we had lunch, and went off to check out the Goreme Open Air Museum. It is a Unesco heritage site which was a Byzantine monastery. There are clusters of churches, chapels, housings inside of the caves and rock cut outs. They are extremely interesting with respect to the history.

Boy, was it hot that day! We felt like we were walking in a microwave with the sun baking us. I felt like a drained out battery and we kept hiding in the caves from the sun. At one point, Moo and I got into some cave room which looked like it was a kitchen and plopped down for about 20 minutes with some tourists flitting in and out, but we refused to budge. It was the best escape from the sun. And that day, I had for some reason decided to carry my zoom lens as well, which was adding to the bulk of the scarf/hat/backpack. We couldn’t even take too many pictures of us because for every pic, we had to take out 3 things atleast from our heads or necks at which point I gave up. 😀

Finally when it had cooled a tiny bit, we left the museum to walk back to the hotel. On our way back, we came across this adorable pottery shop where there were 2 trees covered in blue glassy evil eyes, and old earthen pots. The tree covered in blue was so beautiful, aah, I loved it! Finally, we had some energy back into us and we spent that in taking our pictures. Moo was drawn to alien looking zoozoos which I was kinda terrified of. Eeks. We had dinner after and called it a night since we had a rather early start the next day. It was still so hot, that I slept with a thin towel on me instead of a bedsheet. Haha

The hot air balloon ride called for a insanely early morning alarm, but you know what? Right from clambering into the wicker basket, the lift off, the soaring across the skies watching the sunrise, the intentionally bumpy landing, to popping the champagne after the ride, it was all so magical, so dreamy. I had never thought that watching the sun rise from 850 m high up in the sky could be this intense. The view was nothing short of spectacular and I will let the pictures do the talking here.

PS : There will be a part 3.