Monday, 21 November 2016

Amreekaa!!! - A fairy tale dream...

That's what it felt like, friends... my recent vacation to the USA

Mmm.... where shall I begin?
Okay, let me start with my fairy tale romance with Lufthansa - my flight carrier.
Checked  well in time for my mid night flight. Ground staff looked a bit disoriented...
The In-flight crew more than made it up.
It felt at home, eating hot South Indian breakfast and lunch - not to miss the pongal, vada and mini dosas.  Basmati rice, dal and paneer

I should admit, the airport and in flight experience reminded me of 'English Vinglish' a lot.
Just one Tamil movie and couple of Hindi movies.
The ground staff and in - flight crew of Frankfurt - Detroit, out did the first set of crew by their kindness and assistance.
Man... how do they keep running about, all thru 8 hours of flight... commendable indeed!!!

After the 21 hour flight ( which felt like never ending one) finally landed at the automobile city of the USA - Detroit.
Met with family, felt really relaxing with all the comforts and pampering...
Mr Jetlag went soft on me... didn't trouble me much thankfully.

Lo and behold! it was long weekend and we had to put it to good use...
We drove to Chicago. Stayed at The Residence Inn Mariotte... wow, cool place to be in:)

Drove around the city. Felt on top of the world, from the Skydeck view point, at Sears Towers (Willis Towers).
Visited Navy Pier to watch fireworks for July 4th weekend.
People and more people, as far as the eye could see. The special firework sight seeing cruise - a guided tour of all those structural and architectural wonders along the way, was a visual treat indeed, especially with the evening lights. The momentum picked up as the night ended with the fireworks display.

Chicago and shopping - oh yes!!!.  The many Malls, Nordstorm, Coach, Levis and all the brand names you can think of... The Magnificient Mile, near Dearborn street, it has it all.
Visit to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to the Devon Avenue - The little India isn't it? I should say, I was very much impressed. Have heard in the past, as to how dirty it used to be...
Its very neatly maintained now, the streets, pavements, the shops, restaurants and exclusive parking lots. Being an Indian from India, the shops did not attract me much, but is a good collection for those Indians who miss being a part of India.

Great food options - Italian, Uno Pizzas, Mexican...
So long.... shall be back soon with next city...

Friday, 11 November 2016


Hiii Folks!

Back from the siesta.

Great vacation indeed... Mixed bag of feelings...
Home sick... Missing family...
Interestingly, nostalgia struck hard too...

Stumbled upon Nukkad Hindi TV serial on Youtube.
What a fantastic series it was!!!

Brought back memories of my childhood "Nukkad" experience.

Our home was a corner plot, bound by three roads perpendicular to each other.
Fourth side was the lane. Full of shops, brimming with life and activity.

A tea shop just like Nukkad series...
It was so interesting, to watch over the different kind and class of people, who visited on a regular basis. Early morning meant brisk business.
Could  clearly see across the street, the way coffee was made and cooled, the traditional way. Between two glasses, the coffee flew across like a rainbow.

Roadside benches  had people reading the newspaper, gossiping, sipping their coffee or tea or munching on the ever popular masala vada.

Next to this was a crooked muddy lane winding in to the thatched settlement.

Adjacent to the lane, was a godown stocked with hay and cattle feed. It used to open once a week or so when stocks came in or sent back thru bullock carts.

These bullock carts used to arrive evening around 5 pm. Once stocks were unloaded, the ox were given water and food. The cart men used to relax for a while. They found the huge mango tree in front of our house to be their haven. The barb wire fence made it easy, to tie the ox, which irked my grandpa. He always picked up a fight with them.

It was a sight to watch those guys cook and wash. They used to buy small portions of basics and veggies. Put it all together in a big vessel on a make shift fireplace. Once done, the three or four cart men used to share it. The night was spent under the breezy mango tree, on the hay stack. Early morning, even before sunrise, they would be gone.

The godown wall leaned almost on to the adjacent tailor shop. He made the best of clothes when he really did. Otherwise, he was no better than the "bewada Kopdi" of Nukkad. He was always drunk. People used to say, he cut perfect when he was really drunk...

The petty shop next to this, was the most enchanting one for us, kids. He sold toffees, candy, biscuits, peanut laddus, goli soda, bananas, pencil, rubber, pen, sticker bindhi, colour ribbons.
The most attractive one being, the different coloured cool drink he served. The shopkeeper had atleast 6 different flavours of liquid fruit mixes which he added to water and served with crushed ice to make a huge glass of sherbat. It used to feel like heaven in scorching summer.

Yet another muddy lane here, led into the slum, which also housed a small Devi temple. Momentum picked up during the Adi and Thai months every year. The Thiruvizha (Temple Fair) used to take place with all pomp and show. You could see the entire crowd of the hutment, clad in their best and moving about enjoying the festivity. Loud speakers used to blare into your ears broadcasting devotional songs, alternated with drum beats from the temple.

Next was the laundry. Our only source,  mainly for pressing clothes. Though they did take up washing and pressing, it was always a demanding situation, to get the school uniforms pressed in time.

The barber shop right next to the laundry, always buzzed with men and kids. The man cut, trimmed hair less and filled in ears with gossips more. I used to wonder, when was the last time he sharpened his pair of scissors or a razor, leave alone buying a new one.

The next was a cycle repair shop. This man had a full day business between filling air and replacing a puncture.

Just round the corner was a firewood shop, loaded with all kinds of fire wood logs and cow dung moulds to be used in households.

Later, shops changed with time and new ones came about. These shops met with all the day to day small necessities of everyone's life in the vicinity.
The families settled around the society, the slum dwellers and the shopkeepers all knew each other for ages. The whole family was a known face, which kept the rapport going strong. The camaraderie was worth a mention. Many of the shops were owned by the dwellers so it was also a matter of trust and loyalty.

Its becoming harder these days, to see such settlements, who served from heart and not from sale point of view. Its also heart rending to see, a few such shops thrive, in today's world of supermarkets and online grocery services.

So long friends.... Adios!!!