Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Chocolaty and Christmasy 'Belgium'...

What comes to your mind when you read Belgium on the map? The immediate answer would be Belgian Chocolates! Indeed very famouus for wafles with various toppings, rich chocolates and again rich culture. I don't claim that I know Belgium but two cities that I saw are Ghent and Brussels, enough to give me an impression about the richness of this country. Very famous for its Gothic architecture apart from chocolates.

Recently I had an opportunity to visit University of Ghent with my research group. We couldn't thank enough to Rob for booking an accomodation in central Ghent. If it was not for this visit, I would have never realised that Christmas+Belgium are such a beautiful combination. Christmas lights, hot wafles, local markets and such lively ambience...I fell in love with Ghent! 

Belgium succumbed to mammoth Germany in the second world war and that is the reason why those beautiful Gothic structures were saved from destruction unlike London that was completely destroyed due to bombing. A war is never good for any country and never an penultimate solution for any problem! Not going into those details let's get some flavour of Belgium.

The language spoken is Flemish, which sounds like a mixture of French, German and Dutch. Only half an hour apart, it was surprising to see that Dutch is widely spoken in Ghent whereas French in Brussels - what a diversity! But I quite liked this diversity that adds so much to the richness of Belgium. 

 Famous Tower of Ghent and there is anew interesting torcher museum in this tower.
 In the midst of classic Gothic architecture there are modern shops and yes ready to welcome Santa!
 These two guys striked a cord of beautiful music amalgamating in crisp winter afternoon...
 A walk in the city, perfect lights and a perfect photo
 Christmas market with local shops and yes Tram runs through the city...very much a part of day to day life.

 Chilly night and a walk along the canal couldn't have been more beautiful...
 One more click along the canal, clear water and floating reflection of those buildings..aah lovely sight
 One more along the canal...No special settings on my camera, it naturally made an awesome pic
 Walking under these decorative chimes makes you feel royal :)
 Glitter everywhere declaring that Christmas is just round the corner!
 Another classic picture with perfect lights
 What a beautiful church!
 The same church but an early morning view from my Hotel room window
 Lovely woven carpets probably. I saw a lot of these in Ghent and Brussels
 Collection of stamps and coins and many little precious things
This is a Court in Ghent
 Jingle bells...Jingle Bells...
 Christmas is coming....
 A very beautiful piece of Gothic art!
 Local market with lots of woollen hats...which one do you like?
 It is winter...right? But this old man knows that winters+rain+wind= sturdy umbrella is required!
 Again a beautiful bright Christmasy decoration
 Wafle anyone? Well don't eat this, click a photo!
 Polar bears are getting ready to make a cozy cottage for winters
 Rudolf the red nose Reindeer...wait but this one is an illuminated Reindeer
 I suppose these are some Greek monuments...Greek gods..are they?
               Little precious things again
 This statue reminded me of my daughter...mother and her child, so precious

A day time click along the canal,day and night have their own importance and beauty.
Christmas tree...makes everything look perfect
So much of brightness, I couldn't adjust a contrast on my phone camera...this is all what Christmas is about...lights...
Hang on Mr Patel's shop is here...:)
White Christmas tree...whole city has donned white and red
               Onions...they look beautiful like pearls in your kitchen
Baby potatoes being cooked in sauce...Wait! this is not for Vegetarians
          Such a lovely gesture outside a Bar
      Do I want to go away from these lights?
It isn't any festival if Children don't have fun...they make everything special..what would you like to ride on?

Christmas market with modern little shops set up in between these mammoth Gothic a different feel...Best of both era's
Ganapati Bappa Morya...he is waiting for Santa to arrive :)
I went mad clicking anything and everything but literally this anything and everything is what Christmas market was all about.

Signing out with a hope that you all will love these pics and a mini drive through this Christmas market. Enjoy and see you all in my next post...Dank U, Merci!!!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friends Forever

A bright sunny Sunday is what everyone loves in England.

A cup of tea was what Stella Reynolds wanted to begin a lovely day. A hot steamy cup in her lovely garden made a perfect start of the day!

With water boiling in a kettle on her kitchen platform, Stella was ready with a tray of biscuits, milk, sugar and tea bag. Wrapped up nicely, Stella was gazing at her lovely garden from her kitchen window, beeped her smart phone - a Facebook friend request! Carefully pouring boiled water in the cup she carried her cell phone and tray, Stella strolled into the garden.
With a sip of refreshing tea, she checked FB invitation; it was Paula Baker, her beloved school friend. She quickly accepted her request which transported her 55 years back when she was 5 year old and it was the first time Stella and Paula had met! They were together for next 12 years of their school life, like soul mates.

Lost in her thoughts, Stella came back to senses with a ping on FB from Paula. 

Paula: Hey Hun, how have you been?

Stella with a gorgeous smile: Not too bad, thank you. What a pleasant surprise! Where are you? 

Paula: I was in Kenya for last 30 years. Now, in England for good

Stella: I am so happy to have you back in my life

Paula: Fancy meeting over lunch today at Boat Club? I am dying to meet you after ages.

Stella: Sure darling, I am in.

Paula: See you at 12'ish, Boat Club, City Centre - opposite to Primark…Xxx

Extremely happy about meeting her school friend, Stella finishes her cup of tea.
So far her Sunday has been exciting. 

Boat Club is euphoric on Sundays. These two friends needed no time to identify each other. In their 60's they looked fabulous, smartly dressed and so young at heart. They spoke about career, Paula's life in Kenya, Stella's life in England.
Paula was happily married to Matt for 35 years and had 2 daughters. She couldn’t have asked for more.

'What about you Stella, did you find your Man?' questioned Paula.

Paula had an idea of failures with regards to relations in Stella’s life and Stella always chose not to speak about it, nothing like she was ashamed or embarrassed but some matters are best when unspoken!

Paula said, ‘It is a lonely world outside. We are connected with these modern social networks but yet don’t you feel the need to be with someone whom you can disturb anytime, share your sorrows and laughs? That someone with whom you have a glass of wine but no compulsion to speak a word…silence speaks a thousand words!’

‘Stella, I am worried about you, care for you. I know you are a strong woman but everyone wants to be loved, pampered and spoiled by someone special’, said Paula.

There was silence…awkward silence, not that Paula spoke out of her limits but something that was never asked to Stella before. Who would ask her? She had no one who cared for her. In this journey of life we meet many but how many etch a place in our heart? Certainly not everyone…very few…very very few!

Stella knew she needed to elaborate on this and she spoke her heart for the first time with great composure.

She said, 'I never saw a perfect relationship. At the age of 18, my Dad left for work and never came back. My Mum received divorce papers later. My mum wept her heart out and begged him to come back for me and my brother but he never bothered. This made me realise how irresponsible a ‘Man’ can be! I always knew their marriage was a compromise. My Mum lost her interest in us and her life. Rob, my brother grew up insensitive and immature. He had no one to guide him ever. He too left us and I don't know where he is. Rob could have made his life worthwhile, made us proud but he chose a wrong way. While I was coping with these tragedies of my life due to men, I met David, love of my life and later found him cheating on me. He already had a family but was attracted to me. I always thought if I was unlucky with men or men were unlucky for me. While I was coping with this I never knew that my colleague James at work was planning his promotion by portraying me as inefficient, feeble and unfit for the post. Each time I knew I was right but I suffered because I was knowingly and unknowingly dealing with wrong men. A series of such incidents in my life made me think if I really needed a ‘Man’ to complete me and my life? An irresponsible father, a careless brother, a selfish lover and an opportunist friend – all Men, can’t be a coincidence!’

Stella then cheekily said, 'I don’t generalise that all Men are mean and imperfect but the more I know of the world, the more I am convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Paula laughed out with teary eyed and said, ‘I am glad that you are still open about this and may you find one soon’.

As they were busy sharing their emotional laugh, beeped Paula’s phone, a message from her younger daughter, Katie.

Very hurriedly she searches for the phone in her handbag and finds it, puts on her glasses and reads:

Katie: Mum, when are you coming home? I need your little help. It is my first date today evening, what should I wear?
Paula: I will be there in an hour
Keeping her phone back in her turquoise handbag, Paula with a sigh says, ‘Well, Katie needs me and I have to leave but it was really nice meeting you’.

Stella with a grin said, ‘Indeed. I am so proud of you on being such a doting mother’.

‘Life teaches you everything. It puts you in a situation and gives that courage to face it as well. It was never easy to live in Kenya with no family and friends around but we survived and eventually evolved as a strongly bonded family’, said Paula. She continued, ‘Different people, different culture and so many challenges! There were times when I wanted to come back but I took it as a challenge and when I look back, I feel proud for what I achieved. I have evolved as a wonderful person. Raising two daughters was emotionally challenging as well but how beautifully I and Matt did it, is what counts. I am lucky to have him in my life. We have had our differences but they sublimed'.

She gently placed her hand on Stella’s and said, ‘Not all Men are imperfect and I am sure you will find someone who would change your every perception’.

Stella knew that Paula cares for her. They both re-discovered a soul mate in each other.

They both enjoyed their salad lunch and it was indeed a perfect Sunday! It never felt that this was their lunch after ages.

Such is friendship - distance, age and relations never affect it. Friends are forever.

If this story of mine has made you miss a dear friend of yours then call her/him and say that you still care for them!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Happiness is to be cherished and sorrows are to be shortly lived! 

Do we really want to be living in sorrow, marooned and soaked in thoughts of something that popped up a question - Is Life worth living? 

Recently we lost a dear family member. This was more of shock as it came unexpectedly. Only when you feel that you have a hold on life, you are jolted back to reality. One can't hold life, can't control life...take it as it comes.

This fact of loosing someone has hit me hard again. Whatever I am doing, I am subconsciously thinking of life and death. What solves this complex question of life and death? Everyone who is born has to die then why is it so excruciatingly painful to accept this one reality?

Bring vulnerable is a part of being human. The effort we as humans put in to cope up with this loss, vulnerability and uncertainty is definitely commendable. As one grows,there is sort of understanding and acceptability towards such losses!

Today, waiting for the train to arrive I thought of getting back to reading. I wanted to come back to normalcy....sort of tell my brain to stop thinking about this complexity. Nothing much but only want to enjoy my day as I did before but then there is a fear..of being jolted again!

Condolences are expressed by saying that whatever happened is for good but a loss is a loss - age and sex hardly matter. A person who left has also left a void behind,.which will always be there. Over a period of time the family gets along with life but void is still there!

One of the beautiful abilities bestowed to mankind is to get over and get going. Nothing wrong in it really for what is gone is gone.

I am exactly unaware about what I want to write at this moment but here is something I realise with every loss:

Live like you haven't lived before.
Laugh your heart out.
Weep your sorrows completely.
No place for misunderstandings and egos.
Life is too short to hate.
Be kind and generous to one and all.
Never complaint - trust me whatever you possess is the best of all.
Treasure family and friends.
Life is really beautiful if you could wipe a tear off
Always see positives of a person, appreciate niceness

I am indeed sure that I have missed some more points but today I am only following my emotions. 

Finally, this post is dedicated to Anurag my nephew who was very brave and fought a battle of Life vs Death. He succumbed but faced everything bravely. Wherever you are, we know you will be happy and seeing us. You have left a void in our hearts and lives. You have left a saga of enormous strength and courage, which is to tough to be mustered by anyone.

                     Rest in Peace Anurag!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

I think...

What is it that continuously lives within us? What are we doing always, subconsciously if not consciously? Starting with too many questions is like hitting hard on my readers but this is interesting and I am sure it is making you 'THINK' for an answer and before you have thought, let me tell you that thinking is a process, which goes on knowingly & unknowingly within us! 

A glimpse of my viscious thinking cylce.

I think about should I sleep for 10 more minutes,
Then I think about my morning cuppa when out of bed,
I think about what for breakfast
How lucky I was as a kid, runs a thought!
I think about the little one so cute and curled up in her cot,
I think about not waking her up, should I kiss her or not?
Tik Tik Tik - I think about the running time,
I think about what to dress,
I think about what to eat for lunch when only my breakfast has settled in my tummy,
I think about which train to catch,
I think about, will I get a seat?
When on train I think of work,
I think that I am so unprofessional about sneaking in late at work,
It's OK I say with a smirk,
When at work I can't stop thinking about the little one at nursery,
Then creeps in the 'mother's guilt'
I think about what to cook for dinner while eating lunch,
Finally I pack my bag to leave and think if anyone has seen me leaving early,
As I walk I think about the bus and train,
On the train I again think about my day,
When I get off the train, I only think of my little one,
Then we walk back home happily,
But as we walk, I think about what to feed her for dinner,
I think about some recipes I noted for her,
I think about not giving her junk is better, 
And finally the day is officially over and I am tired of thinking,
But I realised that one can't really get rid of it,
There is nothing untouched and unreachable,
At last I go to bed thinking about the day next!!

Am I the only one who 'thinks' always?



Monday, September 15, 2014

Links to articles on Women Web

A summary of  my articles published on Womens Web...

Happy Reading..

Proud to be a WOMAN...:)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Indian? - South, North, East, West or Central

Being an Indian, brown skinned, dark eyed, black lustrous straight locks is definitely enough to attract those lovely blue eyes. Aadhya often grabs a heap of attention on the train, bus, park and nursery for having those beautiful tuft of hair with lovely black big eyes.

When I met an English lady:

Waiting for my turn to come at 'Supercuts' and Aadhya sleeping on my lap, seated besides was an old lady. She was lovingly looking at Aadhya and asked me if Aadhya eats well, sleeps well and if I get enough rest. Humbled and touched with her queries I answered.

The first thing she noticed was Aadhya's tuft of dark hair. She loved them and mockingly said,'I would trade anything for those lovely black locks'.

I smiled and started stroking Aadhya's hair and realized once again that they are lovely.

Looking at my toe-rings she must have guessed about me being Indian. With a twinkle in her eyes she said,' I had been to Kerala long ago. I still remember those lovely long hair with freshly cut, woven flowers tucked in. How jealous I was then?!'

Getting a bit carried away she continued, ' I love India. Kerala, Rajasthan are so beautiful. I had been to the Ajanta caves too. Explicitly beautiful. As a memoir I bought beautiful fabrics, sarees with golden borders for my friends and family. That trip to India was so currilicious and aromatic.'

Full of charm, diversity and so much of variety to offer, India for outsiders is like a different world. It hurts when anyone mentions about poverty, corruption  and rapes though.

I must confess that by now I was missing India to an extent that I wanted to board a flight right away! This was India for her probably she only shared the best and probably kept the worst experiences with her.

Meeting an Indian in the UK:

Coming back to track, we Indians are blessed with very attractive sharp features. Some of us are so blessed that they guess right from which part of the state you belong to on the basis of skin color, height, accent, ornaments etc etc. 

Brown skin, big eyes, distinct eyebrows and raised cheek bones is enough for an Indian to make out that I belong to the southern part of India. Are you a South Indian? My patriotism towards Maharashtra and Karnataka is being questioned then. I reply, 'My mum is a Kannadiga, well from North Karnataka and Father is from Maharashtra.' The next question shoots, ' You said Trupti Sharma, which sounds non-Marathi'.

Well I expect this question these days and then with a smile I reply,' I am married to a Punjabi'.

We are so inquisitive about xyz's origin. To speak to an Indian one has to know whether he/she is from South, North, East, West and Central.

Meeting an NRI in UK

Recently on my journey to Cambridge, I had to change my train from London Paddington. First timer on a tube at Paddington and presentation at Cambridge this time, I was a bit nervous. The tube arrived and I stepped in. Unsure whether to sit or stand, at times I am so indecisive about small things and finally perched, noticing that besides me was a gentleman wearing a 'Kadaa-bracelet' symbolizing that he was a Sikh (I too am blessed with guessing ability). Settling down, opened my bag and took out a map, which was tucked in a novel that I was reading. With some handwritten points on the ma,  it was evident to anyone on the tube to make out that I was a first timer travelling on  tube. 

When nervous, diffident and upset 'soliloquy' helps a big deal. I whispered a little louder to myself, 'Good, you are doing well'.

Folding the map and tucking it in the novel, I packed my bag waiting for St Pancras station. 

'Hi, I am Michael', said the gentleman perched besides me.

'Oh Hello, I am Trupti', I replied with a smile.

'Are you a first timer on the tube? You seem nervous', asked Michael.

'Yes I am but I should be fine. Earlier it was with my husband that I had been on tube and this time I am all by myself' , came my reply.

'Don't worry, I am walking towards Kings X and I can accompany you', with a very English- English accent showing his concern.

Not sure whether to say yes or refuse, I finally agreed to walk with him. 

After knowing that I am off to Cambridge for a presentation, he definitely was impressed.

He hesitantly asked me, ' I guess you are a South Indian'.

I quickly replied, 'Partly. Now that I am married to a Punjabi I feel that I am an Indian first then anything else because I feel that I am part of a National Integration program. My daughter will have traits of Maharashtrians, Kannadigas, Punjabis and if we stay her for a bit more longer then English too'.

Michael laughed and said, 'I guessed that you are a South Indian as I saw that novel in your bag. There is something very classy about South Indians - 'Books are for them'. 

He chuckled and added,' A Punjabi with a novel is a rarity, instead a can of beer suits better than a book!'

We both laughed off.

I unconvincingly said, 'There are some exceptions though. My husband likes reading only Science Journals but not a can of beer'. He too agreed about this exception.

We spoke volumes about the current scenario in India, changes needed, scope of progress and touched many topics about India. Some discussions may not lead to a Eureka moment but might leave you feel happy and satisfied. This was one of them.

At last we reached our destination. Saying 'Good-bye and Thanks' I had almost forgotten about my presentation and nervousness was miles away!

Got into the train and couldn't stop thinking about how being Indian is sidelined when it comes to South, North, East, West and Central! India has more to offer besides 'curries and chutneys' and why is there a necessity to tag ourselves with South, North, East, West and Central?

Conversing to an old English man on the train long back, his sentence struck me like a lightening that forced me to think.

 He said, ' I love India. For me India is India and I don't believe in South, North, East, West and Central'.

He questioned to me, 'What about Indians, do they feel the same?'

I was speechless and without an answer.

The best I could do was only smile. To my rescue my destination station had arrived.

Rushed to the door, alighted the train with lot of thoughts in my head but a blank face!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

'Eat-sy Beet-sy Wrap'

It is tough for me to decide whether I enjoy writing or cooking. An amateur in both cases, love them to the core. They both surprise me and everytime I indulge in either of them I feel that I have reinvented myself.

I don't want to keep you all waiting, presenting 'Eat-sy Beet-sy Wrap'. My 30th blog, a healthy, delicious and filling wrap. On my way back from Bath Spa to Bristol one corner of my brain is subconsciously thinking of 'what can be cooked for dinner?' Today it striked me that I have lot of left over stuffed in the fridge and I never bin any left over unless unfit to consume. Eureka 💡, a wrap striked me like a lightening!


Beet root - grated, medium sized
Red Onion - finely chopped, medium sized
Cabbage - grated, same as the size of Beet
Baby Spinach leaves - about 20
Carrot - grated, same quantity as Beet and others
Dill - finely chopped, fistful
Cucumber - a small cup, finely chopped
Mixed herbs - one tsp
Chaat masala - one tsp or according to your likes
Humour or any spread will do.

Left overs:
Rice, Cholle/chick pea sabzi, steamed green moong, dahi wale alloo sabzi. Everything in the same proportion as the Salads. Frankly this can be made without setting any proportions.

Now take a mixing bowl and mix all the ingredients. Add a tsp of mixed herbs, a tsp chaat masala, finely chopped Dill enough to add some flavour, salt to taste, drizzle pepper, squeeze half a lemon juice.

Take a tortilla wrap (wholemeal, white or any of your wish). Warm it as per instructions. Spread some houmous or any spread evenly. I also used a spicy burger spread to make it more delicious. Any spread or chutney of your choice goes well in this wrap. 

Take the mixing bowl, add the salad and left over mix on this base very evenly. Remember that the layer shouldn't be neither thin nor thick, optimum enough to impart the taste and crunch. 

Voila...your deliciously nutritiously heavenly easily preparable wrap is ready in 20 minutes! 

Tips: Lemon juice has vitamin C which enhances the assimilation of iron/ferrous. This prep is rich in Ferrous due to Spinach and Beet root and hence squeezing lemon juice is a must!

Any vegetables, lentils, left overs can go in this wrap.

A colourful delight is good for your health. Beta carotene, chlorophyll, fibre, protein, carbohydrate. In short a 'nutritious punch'

I hope you'll try this or many of them know this! Eat healthy and think healthy...Cheers!!!!