This is an account of my brother’s trip to Japan! 😀

Goofiness Unlimited!

Hey guys I’m back again from my trip to Japan and today I’m going to tell you about it. Well you see in Japan we had lots of fun. But we had to train 5 hours a day on a regular basis. Sundays were off for us so we could have a break from karate.

Well you know we went to many places called ‘Harajuku’ ;Shinjuku’ ‘Akihabara’, the electronic city, the very famous Disneyland and Sudobashi amusement parks. We were staying in an apartment in a place called ‘Akasaka’. There was also a place named ‘Asakusa’ temple which was a very crowded place and the Japanese festival was going on. There was also a place named ‘Okachimachi’ which was a huge shopping center with everything available.

Well as I told you we trained 5 hours a day and the grandmaster of karate, Hanshi Goshi Yamaguchi taught us. It was a…

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Life on Cloud 8

Great moments happen in the bathroom. We have seen this throughout history, be it ancient or contemporary. Archimedes had his moment in the bathtub. Had it not been for Jack Canfield’s eureka moment in the shower, we wouldn’t have the tasted the chicken soup he made for our souls. So it was only befitting when such a moment struck me in my moments of privacy.

People need something to remember me by. When I get all rich and famous, I won’t have time to answer to every gossip starved reporter’s questions. Then it struck me. Why not write an autobiography? I ruminated while I showered. If the adventures of my life are ever chronicled, I would like them to be recorded in my own words, not those of some senseless biographer’s.

My book would be called Life on Cloud 8. I have even thought of how certain pages of my autobiography would read. It would probably be something that went like this:

“I was born and brought up with books. Ever since I was a toddler, I was taught to preserve and value books. My father would bind them nice and tight, never letting a loose page go astray. From the great works of Osho to the spirited talks of Dale Carnegie, he had it all. Book after book was piled until it formed a great mountain, climbing higher and higher until it threatened to vanish beneath those laden clouds of his shirts and pants.

My grandmother possessed the art of storytelling. Her beautiful poetry wove magic as she recited verse after verse in her enchanting voice. I didn’t realize it back then; I was merely three. All I knew was that my grandma was someone special. And as I look back over the years, I realize that it was this gift of hers that I have inherited.

I laid my hands on the first book at the age of eight. Mind you, I had read books before, but all of them had to do with the solar system and the geography of the earth. But this one was different. It spoke of a court jester called Tenali Raman and his witty tales. I felt so good after reading it! It wasn’t like the comic books I had read. It had no cartoons and no illustrations. Reading it made me feel less childlike, more mature.

Then began the era of Harry Potter: the boy, who lived. And indeed he did live, right from my childhood through my adolescent years. “Promise me you will send me to Hogwarts once I turn eleven!” I would say, tugging at my father’s sleeve. I was in love and no amount of logic could coax me out of my magical fantasies. I wanted my own broomstick and my own Sorting hat. And my little brother was more than happy to encourage my desires as he stood brandishing his pen wand shouting spells at me.

Till then I had only been a silent reader, merely enjoying and reading the tales others had to tell. It wasn’t until the fifth grade that I discovered my passion for writing. I had written a short story titled Spooky Night for an essay assignment in school. I was nervously fiddling with my paper as I waited for the teacher to call out my name. “I like it, it’s funny,” said my partner. An appreciative nod from her was all it took for me to delve into the world of words. I went home and I wrote and wrote and wrote, about issues ranging from saving the environment to terrorism. My parents smiled appreciatively and encouraged me to read each poem that I had written.

Pottermania continued into my teens: the age of hormones and impulsiveness. I was suffering from heartbreak. Lonely and morose, I took solace in the world of words. They befriended me easily and comforted me in times of need. What I didn’t know was that while I was building a new world of my own, I was also building walls. Walls that fenced me from mental and emotional intimacy. Walls that kept me safe. I was so desperate for an escape that I didn’t realize when one by one, the words slipped away. I was in a blank space, stoic and emotionless with only the walls to keep me company.

And then I didn’t write for a year.

But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did.  I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

-Steve Jobs

It was during one of my little detours to the bookstore that I stumbled upon R. K. Narayan and his Malgudi days. In the dusty winding streets of Malgudi I found my innocence, my former childlike self. It was ironic that the same books that helped me grow up were the ones that wheedled me into childhood. I was in love once again. I marveled at the woody scent of the freshly printed pages and the way the words danced before my eyes, inviting me into a realm so unearthly that it seemed almost divine. I cherished it dearly, rejoicing in those moments of stillness and those moments of skin prickling illusion of proximity with the characters.

My readings helped me see things clearly now, with a fresh new perspective. So it wasn’t a surprise when one night I sat in front of the keyboard and pressed the ‘Publish’ button. It was my first piece of writing in nearly two years.

I had recommenced my journey into the world of words. It was my personal space, my safe haven. I came across many people on this blogging journey, young and old who shared and refuted my ideas. While some relished the art of baking, others cherished capturing moments in a frame. Each had contributed a part of themselves, however small, in their own special way to the world. I made friends, exchanged pleasantries and came across some really astounding people. They were all beautiful, lovely and generous. They all had something to say, something to give. It was this small commune of writers, of artists that ushered me into a realm of awe and gratitude. I enjoyed these interactions as much as, if not more than the act of writing itself.

Sometimes there would be instances when I would find all that I been looking for in a fellow blogger’s words…in his pictures, rekindling a long lost part of me. It was this mirroring…this connection… that made the world’s random turn of events less random.”

The Dirty Picture: Simple people, simple rules.

Namaste. Welcome to India. I assure that you will have an enriching experience during your stay. My name is Ria Gandhi and I will be your tour guide on your visit to India.

India is essentially a land of simplicity. Simple people, simple cities, simple festivals and simple rules. First things first, let me brief you through the journey.

You will be taken to the four metros of India. Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta and a few stops in between.  On your ride, you are free to enjoy the rosogullas and the aloo tikki. You must try the pani puri and the dosas. Apart from that, we feast on a meal of roti, sabji, chawal, suh-laad (salad), pakoda, dhokla, chhole, naan, dal and jalebi. Simple menu no?

Our first stop is a collection of seven islands, home to Bollywood and the fisher folk, Mumbai. Its Ganesh Chaturthi festival will leave you in awe of the elephant headed god as you see idol after idol blocking the meter wide roads of Bombay Mumbai. (My sincere apologies, Thackeray :P) It’s not the idols who block the road. It is the processions and the non stop road orchestras.  I assure you it is quite natural if you find yourself complaining about hearing impairment the next day.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Ganesh Chaturthi

Make sure you have the spicy pani puri and the chaat of Mumbai that will leave you running for water all around. You will not get clean water from a Kinley bottle. Oh no, that is just water filled in plastic bottles from taps. If you really want to go for hygiene, go for the golas. The ice flavored candies, a specialty of Mumbai, will leave you sucking on the ice long after the syrup has drained off.  I assure you that the vendors use the finest quality gutter water. I challenge you to find a tastier gola than that found on Chowpatty beach anywhere else in the world.

Golas :D

Golas 😀

The Chowpatty beach

The Chowpatty beach

The Taj Mahal. The word speaks for itself. Don’t be surprised if your mouth drops open as the first rays of the sun bounce of the cool white marble bathing the edifice in a warm golden glow. The building reeks of love. Love of Shah Jahan for his pride and honor. Love that overwhelmed him to such an extent that he made sure the craftsmen of the Taj Mahal had their hands cut so that it could not be duplicated.

Me :)

Your tour guide 🙂

Disclaimer for the ladies: Be careful to cover yourself in the holy city of Haridwar. You wouldn’t want to break years long of penance of our priests, right? The pundits detest skimpy clothing, you see. As for themselves, they prefer to keep it minimal. Just a sheer see through waistcloth for their ash smeared bodies would suffice. Like I said, we prefer simplicity.

a sadhu in Haridwar

Harki Paudi

Harki Paudi on the banks of the Ganga

We then visit the great Mother Durga, and her kohl lined three eyed figurines.  She holds a striking pose as if watching over her Calcuttians as they  gorge on the rosogullas.

Goddess Durga

Let’s travel a little down south. Here  are the banana leaf platters and the finest of dosas, lighter than a muslin cloth. You have the intelligentsia here, who speak nothing apart from Tamil and undiluted English. Talk to them in Hindi and they will gape at you as if you are a mental asylum resident. Why bother learning the national language when you are aiming for globalization? Simple, no?

Traditional banana leaf meal

Finally coming down to India’s people. Like I said, we are a simple folk. Our politicians are very simple too. This simplicity is reflected in our rules. We believe in dealing under the table than over it. Over the table only talks are made. Of abolishing poverty, hunger and misery. We make sure we stay faithful too. Faithful to our countrymen as we make those promises year after year.

India isn’t a land of hypocrites. It is a land of simple people with simple rules who don’t follow what they say.

Mathematics and Statistics, and my pathetic attempts at avoiding it

“Please, if you really exist, please let me scrape a distinction in math!” I cried, looking heavenward. “I’ll do anything!” I said; ready to strike a deal even with the demon. “I’ll study well for my SATs! I promise!” I said, waiting for some kind of divine answer to pop up in the room littered with papers and books labeled Mathematics and Statistics Part 2 for grade 12.

Mind you, I don’t do this on a regular basis. Not that I am poor at math or anything…I was just in dire need of help. I scored a 95% in math in the tenth grade (Impressive, I know. Thanks.)

I was desperate. I needed something…something that would make my month-long attempts at slogging fruitful.

After 3 hours of study and brain racking calculus, I couldn’t take it anymore. I was gasping for breath. This was too much. I needed to get out of this place. After a brief argument with my mother, I stormed out of the house. Cranking up the music as loud as I could, I began marching to where my feet lead. I wanted to get away. From everything. The nagging feeling, the dread of the looming examination and the greatest horror of them all, returning to another night of calculus.

On my way, I followed a familiar trail to what I thought led to my old school. Walking past lanes and by lanes, I found myself in alien surroundings. The road was deserted, the silence so loud that you could almost hear it. It was broken by the occasional scrape of dragging feet and the cackling of  bats. I turned around to see a haggard, unkempt beggar, with long matted hair, dragging a load of junk behind him in what appeared to be a huge trash bag, making his way towards me. Uh- oh.

That did it for me. I turned and ran on my heels towards the only source of civilization I heard, not daring to look behind. After an hour-long of wandering, I found my way home.


I should study a bit more and then go to sleep, I thought, as I looked up at the clock that struck 11. With what started as a successful attempt at integration, ended in a miserable state of crossing outs and paper scraps. “I think I should go eat something,”  I said, rubbing my stomach. It was almost 11:30.

After grabbing a bar of chocolate and a glass of milk, I started with calculus again. With three sums done, I threw my pen across the floor and leaned back in my chair contemplating the horrors of the godforsaken subject. It seemed  like an eternity had passed. I think I should call up my friend, I need to check on her. It was 12:00 am by now. I think I’ll finish the rest tomorrow, I decided as I rubbed my eyes setting the alarm for 4:00 am.

I woke up to the sounds of birds chirping and stretched under the covers as I turned to look at the time.


6:45 am!!! I scrambled out of my bed and flicked open the nearest book I could reach. Cramming all the possible formulae that I could, I ran to the bathroom to grab a shower.

Too soon for my liking, the exam bell rang. Here comes the horror, I muttered under my breath. This horror was something that gave me panic attacks, made me sweat profusely and sent chills down my spine. This horror surpassed the fright of vampires and banshees. Hell, that wasn’t even a horror. And why would it be if you had Dean Winchester and his six feet of unadulterated hotness by your side? 😉

“Thirty minutes left!” rang the teacher’s shrill voice. Oh no! Had I been daydreaming?! With all the knowledge that I had crammed within the last few days, I scribbled some numbers and letters onto the writing sheet before handing it over to her.

I did a rain check as my eyes raked over the faces in the class. Their expressions showed me the amount of trouble I was in. From what I could gauge, many seemed unperturbed. And for some, like me, had it etched clearly across their foreheads, “The Paper Sucked.”

Sighing, I collected my material and ran out of the room not wanting to make communication with those overly eager people who wanted to discuss the paper. I had been through it once, to go over it a second time and realize my errors? No way.

Once again, in the train on the way home, I cranked the music up a notch to drown out the never-ending rants of my fellow exam givers. But no matter how loud the music was, it wasn’t loud enough to drown out snippets of their conversation that went like, “Oh that one was easy! Nah, that was a bit tricky! I guess I’ll be losing two marks. If I hadn’t been so foolish, I would have scored full marks.”

Seriously, where was a fairy godmother when you needed one?

Nursing a sore head and heavy feet, I opened the door of the house only to be greeted by my very welcoming mother. “Will you pass?” she asked.