Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Terror Comes in Small Packages

Everyone loves their kids, but that is no reason to inflict them upon others.

OK, I will allow your kids to scream and shout in airplanes or trains because they are just as annoyed as we are being there. And I certainly wouldn't want a kid to just sit in a corner and not do any mischief - it is the essence of childhood. But where do you draw the line between adorably naughty and destructively intolerable?  Painting on the walls with crayons - naughty; breaking your brand new 42 inch LED TV (yes, it has happened) - intolerable.

In all fairness, you can't blame the child. They will only do what they are being allowed to do. As Freud would say, "Blame the mother." However, in the 21st century, both parents are to blame equally.

I've heard parents say that the child is too young to understand what's right or wrong at 3 years of age. To them I say, yes, that is why they have a parent who needs to tell them. Children are smart enough to know how to manipulate you to get what they want and to test the limits of what they can do. If he breaks your new TV and all he hears after that is, "No baby, you should not do that baby", then chances are your next TV is not going to survive very long either.

As I am not a parent, I am not in a position to give any advice (Because parents will take criticism of almost any aspect of their lives, but not on parenthood). And if you want your child to break every item in your house, then good for your interior decorator. But why, why, would you want to bring that kid in my house? 

If you don't want to teach your child basic discipline then don't take him to places where his misbehavior is going to cause others a headache. And no, I am not going to take "He's only a kid" as an excuse. He will always be "only a kid" to you all through his life. So for the sake of others, for yourself, and most of all for your child, teach him some discipline.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Work-Work Balance

Working from home has always appealed to me, and to many others I know. I always had this image of people working from home who had plenty of time they had saved not commuting to work, and not getting prepped to leave home to go to work. They would have enough time to do their work at a leisurely pace while handling other household related chores and personal work. Then I started working from home.

I tried the leisurely paced working, but that meant I was working in parts all throughout the day - and sometimes night. I tried managing house and personal work with the work I was getting paid for but I just ended up doing most of the things half-way because of lack of time. To top it all, I didn't have colleagues I could bitch about work with. I realized that even though I was saving on commute and having to 'dress up' for work, that was just about an hour or two at the most that I gained. And work was still work - it had to be done whether in a cubicle or your desk at home.

It has been almost 2 years since I started working from home. I've learnt to set a timetable for myself. I now work only during office hours and take a lunch and coffee break as any office would allow. I have taken on more work as it comes along so I've also learnt to prioritize. I try to manage house work as best I can, but if I can't make dinner one night I don't fret anymore - I have a few good places I can order in from on speed dial. It was hard to explain to myself that even though I am at home all day, I do have a paying job that I need to do so I should stop feeling guilty about store-bought food. I do have flexibility to take care of personal work as long as I deliver work on time. In between projects, weekends, or when the workload is not too heavy I also get time to indulge in hobbies.

There was a time when I was struggling to find some work I could do from home, but once I committed to doing only that, I've had work flowing in from all corners. Ex-colleagues, friends, and others who have referred my work keep getting in touch for some article they need written, or some document they need edited. Now the problem is that every time I think, "Oh good! I'll have some free time next month to take it easy", I get loaded with more work. Now I need to start working on how to say No.

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Weekend Getaway - Kaas & Thoseghar

We had been planning this trip for over a year now. The window to visit this place is too narrow and we had missed it last year. This year we HAD to make it.
Kaas is termed as Maharashtra’s Valley of Flowers (except it is a plateau). Mid-September to the first week of October is supposedly the best time to visit. The monsoons lasted longer this year and so the 1st and 2nd October were great days to be there.
We left Bombay at 5 in the morning. We were staying at a resort in Wai called Rutu Farms. Two reasons for that - firstly, we didn’t realise it would be 70+ kms to get to Kaas; and secondly, it seemed a much better place to stay than some of the closer options.
We reached the resort around 10 with minimal traffic. It was a smooth drive on smooth roads. Closer to Wai, the scenery gets pleasant along with the weather. We were pleased with our choice of hotel. Rutu Farm is a small place with 10 very clean rooms, solar water heaters, and good home-cooked meals. They have a small vegetable patch, lots of flowers and two adorable German Shepherd dogs - Alex and Angel. After freshening up, we had breakfast and were on the road again.


The plan was to visit Sajjangad and Thoseghar Waterfalls today, and Kaas the next morning. On hindsight, if we would have reached easrlier, we could have gone to Kaas for a few hours, had lunch nearby, and done Thoseghar and Sajjangad by evening. We could have avoided the second trip the next day. But, no matter - our plan worked in our favour as well.
We had to pass a toll booth to get into Satara. Sajjangad was about 10 kms from there. Apart from a small stretch that passed through the town, the roads were impressively good and wide. The hills ahead are topped with hundreds of windmills. It makes for an interesting sight.
We reached the parking area at Sajjangad at just before noon in the scorching sun. The we had to climb - a lot of stairs. Did I mention the scorching sun? In all honesty, upon reaching the top, I didn’t see what the big deal was about. It offered great views and there is a temple for the devout. But the climb in the sun wasn’t worth it for me.

Just a few kilometres ahead are the Thoseghar Waterfalls. The parking area is nestled in a narrow lane that is easy to miss. We stopped because we happened to see lots of people parked there. We had to descend a bit further to get to the viewing point. Just a few steps into the pathway and it started to drizzle. Thankfully we had an over-sized umbrella in the car that we took along.

As we made our way back, the drizzle turned into a downpour. The weather improved, but the stone steps going to the falls got slippery. Cautiously, we made our way to the viewing platform. The rains seemed to have unleashed the fury of the falls.  There were three falls that gushed out of the mountains, into the stream below. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Maharashtra falling 1,150 feet or 350 metres. It felt great to look at these falls standing there in the rain. Almost felt as if the mist from the falls were soaking us. Some of the more adventurous type found a way to go to the base of the falls. I don’t know if that was advisable, as it could be risky especially with the rocks being slippery in the rain.
While we were admiring the Falls, I felt a pinch on my foot. It was a leech! My gallant husband jumped to my rescue and removed it with his bare hands. We didn’t have any matches or tweezers handy, so that was what he did.
At the parking lot, we had a plate of bread and egg bhurji from the only vendor there.
The next morning, we left around 7 in the morning for Kaas. The road that leads to Kaas has a peanut vendor at the beginning. They were really tasty boiled peanuts. We tried from other vendors as well, but this was the best. The road here wasn’t as smooth as the ones we had gotten used to. This could be because just last Sunday, the plateau had over 75,000 visitors - in a single day!

There is a parking lot about 2 kms from the main plateau where you are expected park. We were told that there is a lane a kilometre ahead where you could park to avoid the walk. We weren’t planning to spend the whole day here and needed to save all the walking for the actual plateau. So we drove ahead. Forest officials shooed us into the lane and we drove on till we reached a temple. We were directed to a dirt track just before the temple. We journeyed on and were rewarded with some great views and beautiful flora. It led us right to the tip of the plateau where we parked and got off. 

The hills were alive! Flowers everywhere. There were people around, but not many, and not loud. We took our time to browse and look around. Some tried to get inside the fields, trampling what they came to see. Thankfully, Forest officials got there in time to remove the offenders. You can’t sit and eat there either - and for goodness sake don’t litter!
Flowers as far as the eye could see. It was such a pleasant sight. Though the expanse was dominated by two or three varieties of flowers, you need to look closer to find the uncommon ones. You’d find in a sea of purple, there would be one sprig of white popping out - just like that!

By the time we were ready to leave around 11, the crowd had started to build up. Some of the flowers bloomed even more around this time in the heat of the sun, and there was a subtle fragrance in the air as well. We realised that reaching around 9 and staying on till noon would offer the best views.


As we drove down, we saw cars parked in the aforementioned lane, parking spot and even beyond. And more were on their way! We were glad to be on our way out!

We stopped at Blue Mountain ‘Hotel’ for a good and simple Marathi thaali. It seemed expensive at Rs 100 for a vegetarian plate, but I guess this is the time they make their money.

We reached our rooms, took a nice nap and set off for home to our eagerly awaiting pets.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Nakuru, Kenya

Continuing with snippets from my Kenya trip 2 years ago (and yes, I am just getting around to writing about it), here are some pictures from Nakuru.

We just went there for a day trip from Nairobi to see the flamingos, have lunch and basically spend a day in the city without shopping. We reached early morning and were greeting my a sea of pink. The 60 USD entry fee is quite steep for a day but it was worth it. There were some migratory birds as well.

We went to the lake and walked around a bit - I even got my feet stuck in the clay trying to collect a few pink feathers. We went up to Monkey Mountain where we saw - monkeys! Lots of them. There were quite a few White rhinos dozing in the afternoon sun as well. It was hard to imagine that we were just a few hours from a bustling city.

We were told to make sure that we reached Nairobi well before sunset as the highway is very unsafe. In fact, they say that if you puncture a tire don't stop to change it. Rather lose a tire than your life!

The Pink Brigade @Nakuru, Kenya

Monkeying around @Nakuru, Kenya

What’s Black and White and all over the roads? 
Zebras @Nakuru, Kenya

White Rhinos @Nakuru, Kenya

Other Big Birds @Nakuru, Kenya

Small Birds @Nakuru, Kenya

The denizens of Nakuru, Kenya