Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 THINGS I CAME TO KNOW ABOUT AMERICANS AFTER MY VISIT

Hey, Glad to be back on my blog ;) I had just been very lazzzyyy at home and enjoying some Me time :) So, I visited US specifically Pennsylvania and some other states NYC, NJ for 3.5 months for a traineeship. It was my first ever visit to the North America and had a FREAKING AWESOME time there. When I reflected back my experiences, the people I met and had some chit-chats, I came to realize some funny, weird and also some interesting things.. So came up with 5 things I came to know about Americans :) Well, no offence ;) This is entirely based on my experience, hehe!



Here we go..
1. AMERICANS DON'T COOK, THEY MICROWAVE!!!
Are you lazy to cook and want things easy and quick? America is the place for you, hehe ;)  Being raised in a country like Nepal, I was never used to go any sort of mart to buy vegetables or even groceries or buy packaged meals.  Little did I know about them before even when Bhatbhateni supermarket was always there.  We have STREET markets ;) or say Street Vendors where you can buy literally everything. And importantly they are not processed. I was completely overwhelmed when I went walmart to buy things to eat.. I was like WHOAAAAA.... What should I buy? This looks sooo fancy. I am never used to eat things stored in canes and preservatives. It was a total stressful time for me and I loved cooking food. While I saw my American friends used microwave much more times than I actually cooked my food. I also tried buying that 1 minute microwave packaged rice and I almost vomited as soon as I ate a spoon of it. While I had tough time shopping for foods so I limited mostly to produce section and so-called ASIAN section which only includes Chinese and Thai noodles and some Indian spices plus the most important RICE!!!!

Everything is microwavable and it was quite fast but weird for me.
P.S I loved when they cook, it was more like a chemistry lab rather than a kitchen. They have different measuring cylinders, glasses, spoons and exact amount of everything while cooking. It was soo much fun watching them performing their lab works oops, I mean cooking. Plus, they even use dishwasher to do the dishes.. How Posh!!!! ;)


2.AMERICANS LOVE CHEESE AND BREAD
Well, In Nepal I only ate cheese like once in 10-12 years hehe. I remember buying yak cheese once when I was trekking in the Gosaikunda region and the cheese was famous. But as per an online source, on average, each American eats about 34 pounds of cheese every year.  I was startled that in some parties they only serve cheese and wine, hehe ;) All I know was Cheese made up of milk of yak, cow and goat... Well, I don't know about their origins but I tried to learn some varieties... American cheese, Mozzarella, Parmesian(which was great), Cheddar, Swiss, Ricotta etc etc... which sometimes also included chillies in it (peppers as American say). I never ate that much cheese in my entire life as I ate during my stay. Same goes with Bread, I have not even touched a single bread after coming back to Nepal. It's a same thing for me even if u may call them Hoagies, Sandwich, Burgers, Wraps, Panini or whatever. They all have salads, meats, cheese on them yet sooo many names and varieties. And their Motto is to Eat Big.. naah.. BIGGER as I read somewhere hehe..HAMBIGGER ;)

WHY COMPLICATING LIFE???




3. THEY CANT BELIEVE THAT VEGETARIANS EXIST
Though I met some vegetarian Americans, but it was very weird for most of them to realize that people can survive without eating meat. It was soo embarrassing that once one of the local restaurants did not even had any vegetarian dish and when I ordered a burger and asked them not to put meat on it. The waitress re-confirmed with eyes wide open and later came again with another option of adding Portobello mushroom in my burger( which was yummmy). But the usual question they asked me were: a) From where would you get proteins??? Myan, I eat lots of lentils, beans, mushroom plus much more protein rich food.
          b) Do you eat diary products? Do you eat sea fish? I love DIARY products and No Fish please!!
         c) Are all Nepalese Vegetarians? Noooo :( some but we don't eat Beef( Americans love it) !! It's Holy animal.
I also had to check every canned sauce and sometimes even cheese to make sure they won't include any meat. It was very tough and I missed Nepal sometimes hehe.


4. NOT ALL AMERICANS ARE  WISE n RICH


 Well, this can be more political but having Donald Trump as Presidential nominee is already an example of what I meant to say.
Plus, I don't know why people from poor or developing nations always assume that AMERICANs would be soooo intelligent, rich and wise. They are not super natural beings, hehe. They are like every other human being; some are wise and some are not. That's why we needed we aware, educate and inform people all over. Another thing I noticed was the problem of homeless people. I was utterly surprised to see soooooo many homeless people in the streets that you would not even see in Nepal while strolling around Philadelphia. They were begging, asking for food and trying all the reasons to fool and ask money with people. It was heartbreaking to see. I was even intimidated to walk around the streets as they would approach. 

Another thing that made me ponder the issue about Global warming and how US is contributing on it while politicians are aloof. It's very ironic that the country that would be most wise, many people still deny the issue or even if they preach about the problem and what the other countries could do to mitigate while Americans themselves are one of the biggest contributor to global warming almost 15.9% CO2 emissions. They do need to think about their role as global citizen too, what are they giving up themselves before asking someone else to restrict doing something. 



5. THEY ARE VERY FRIENDLY AND SOCIAL!!!



There may be many other points like USA is the only country besides Myanmar and Liberia to use the weird FPS(Foot, Pound,Second) system of measurement and also drive in the right side of the road ( In a simple way, drivers seat is on the left there)which was soo confusing for me.


Despite all these ;) , they are one of the nicest people I have ever met too. I can never pay back their kindness, generosity, love and welcoming attitude that made it easier for me to adapt easily. They aren't bully as many people think they are. They don't brag for being the world's powerful countrymen rather are very friendly and welcoming. I have been indebted my their love. Plus, as many easterners think that they are very selfish, self-oriented, reckless and always interfering in other's business, but opposite to my expectations, I found them very close to family, hard working people and wonderful people. Anything is possible there if you work hard to achieve your dreams. It surely has better system, stable politics and bureaucracy and lots of facilities compared to us but they work really hard as well that may lead in lack of personal time or time for family but that's how their society has been. Politics makes it worse and media makes it worst. Its normal that people tend to have preconception about any countries and its people even without ever going and seeing through their own eyes. The media creates illusion through the information they pass and we tend to believe. Trust me, people from all around the world are nice, kind and generous, the degree can vary but we can't label them without even knowing them ourselves.


I reckon, Diversity is surely an asset of America, the main reason for America to be the Land of opportunities. people from all class, religion, country ,color have been there and worked hard to make it Great. I will always love America :)
Pics Source : Google

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Following the Birds: From Nepal to Hawk Mountain

I sing a song Of the Blue Mountains that stand with pride
Of the cool breeze that passes by
And the magnificent raptors that fly by.
I sing the song of turkey vulture
That loves dancing up and down, back and fro,
Tickling my inner desire to dance and fly high
And inspecting at times if anyone is dead or alive. 
I do tell the tales of people and children
Who get captivated by the beauty of nature
Who come for pacifying their lonely hearts
Who come to rekindle long lost memories
And who make love with their beloved,
Enveloped in warm hugs and sweet kisses.
I also tell the tales of the rocks that rest, birds that nest
As they share about their life once when they were young.
“School in the clouds,” as said, lots to learn and lots of hymns.
My beloved Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, here I come!
Alarm buzzes at 6 a.m., boots tightened, equipped with my binoculars, field guide, notebook/pen, and my lunch, we head towards the mountain: Hawk Mountain. It has become my daily routine since March as a Hawk Mountain conservation science trainee at this small paradise in Kempton, Pennsylvania. Coming here was overwhelming already. I come from Nepal, a small and a beautiful country in Southeast Asia, where the USA is regarded as the distant land of dreams. Only some lucky ones will ever make it here.
I made it in a unique way: following birds!! Yup, it may sound strange, but my passion to know more about birds (raptors specifically) led me into this land and this amazingly awesome place called Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
Making it here was a long and adventure-filled journey. On March 22, I was scheduled to fly from Brussels to Newark. Shockingly, the horrible, suicidal bombing in the airport interrupted my travel. I was waiting to board when it happened and got stuck there for next four days. On the fifth day, I arrived in the States without my luggage, which was still sealed inside the Brussels airport.
On the first day at the sanctuary, Erin and Dr. Laurie (Director of Education and Senior Monitoring biologists, respectively) gave a short orientation about the sanctuary, various raptors that we would observe, and what would be our responsibilities as trainees. I was enthralled walking along the beautiful trail besides mountain laurel, rhododendron, and trees such as maples and oaks—I was expecting a bustling city like NYC! This is much better.I was exhausted when I finally reached the Newark airport, but equally excited. I was moved by the love and care all the organizers and my new friends bestowed upon me at my arrival. Dr. Keith Bildstein, Sarkis Acopian Director of Conservation Science at the sanctuary and leading scientist on raptor migration studies, welcomed me with warm clothes (knowing I had nothing with me); my new housemates from Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and Ohio greeted me with chocolates! What else I could wish for! A cool thing about this traineeship is that it provides a wonderful medium to exchange education and culture, and even multicultural foods!

Finally, we reached the lookout. The place where historically hundreds of birds were shot each spring and fall has become world’s first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation. Hawk lovers rather than gunners gaze skyward, aiming binoculars.First, we reached the South Lookout, a rocky promontory at 1,300 feet above sea level. The lookout on the Kittatinny Ridge provides a beautiful window to nature seekers. It rises in New York, marches across New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania, all the way to Maryland border. The native Americans gave the ridge its name; Kittatinny means endless mountains. It is the southeast edge of the Appalachian chain. We also learned about the various landmarks we will use to locate the birds on their migration. Then, we followed a trail towards North Lookout. Paulina, my Mexican roomie, helped me in identifying the birds we come across, including blue jays, brown-headed cowbirds, and chickadees.
                                                                          We follow her directions, and far above we see a dark-colored, large bird. Dr. Laurie says, “Do you see the white head and tail?” Oh my gosh, an adult bald eagle circling around the sky! I rejoice at this new treat to my eyes.We settled ourselves on the favored boulder facing southwest, since birds will be approaching from that direction heading north-northeast toward eastern Canada. We start scanning into the deep blue sky when suddenly Rachelle informs, “There’s a bird above the wind turbines, flying towards New Ring Gold, two glass views above the horizon.”

We learned how to record the data, which was equally exciting and more important. We have been counting the spring raptor migration since April 1 and will continue until May 15. Besides counting we also interact with visitors, conduct some programs so that we can inform them about what Hawk Mountain is doing and why, and how are we counting raptors, etc.
Every day we head to the lookouts hoping it will be better than yesterday. As the day gets warmer and air starts moving, it stirs the excitement to be able to encounter those mystical raptors flying by. Birds never schedule an appointment; they come and go as they will. Some days are disappointing for hawk-watching, but it’s never disappointing.
Hawk Mountain provides lots of other activities: hiking along the various trails, relaxing and enjoying the landscape view, including the Little Schuylkill River flowing beside an old train track along the base of the mountains and river. The sparse houses down in the valleys are no less than beautifully decorated dollhouses. Patches of Christmas trees farms, shadows formed by the clouds in the mountains, eastern tiger swallowtails flying around the North Lookout, blue jays and chickadees chirping, and a pileated woodpecker knocking wood is reverberated all over the forest—it is beyond mesmerizing.Hawk Mountain is a paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers, too. Many times visitors ask in awe, “Is this a painting or real?” Clumps of mountain laurel, rhododendron, mountain ash, hemlocks, sparsely distributed birches, oaks, black gums, maples, mountain holly, and shoots of American chestnut are beautiful. The panoramic view of the beautiful ridge valley along with the diverse vegetation carpeting the view with the advent of spring is spectacular.
According to my experience, a few days after rain have been the best for seeing larger numbers of birds migrating as well as for enjoying the view. The soft breeze that still penetrates to the heart, raindrops shimmering from the leaves and the rocks, the skyscapes formed by scattered patterns of clouds are usually ideal for observing hawks. Among all the birds I have seen and counted so far, including buteos, accipiters, falcons, and eagles, my personal favorite is the red-shouldered hawk. One mid-April day I saw a hawk flying right above us, circling, the sun behind it and shining through the wings. It glowed, cinnamon-rusty shoulder patches on the dark wings, the translucent white crescent in the edge of the wings, the narrow white barring in the tail blushed. I had never previously seen one of these hawks, but given my observation, I exclaimed with certainty, “red-shouldered hawk!” I was never so sure about any other bird. That was a sense of victory and accomplishment and hence, my favorite moment. Most of the birds I see here (other than ospreys) are not species I’ve seen in Nepal!
Turkey vultures are the major attractions of the sanctuary. Even on a no-bird day, they ease our eyes, soaring and gliding around the North Lookout. I feel happy for the visitors who come from far and wide to see some hawks and still get swayed by the way turkey vultures teeter in the open sky—very close to us many times. When the thermals are perfect, we encounter large kettles swirling and enjoying the hot pockets of air.
Every boulder, every passing cloud, and birds that fly across rejuvenate the withered soul and quench the thirsty eyes of every individual patient enough to wait for them. Every day is a new lesson, either from nature or from the wide range of visitors who share their time with us.

 I feel privileged to encounter this beauty of nature, to contribute to conservation in every possible way, and to learn among the wonderful people who are striving to make it happen, proving Hawk Mountain to be the epitome of a “School in the Clouds.”

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A tale of a fish and a bird

Bob(in middle) enjoying with friends


Once upon a time in a great blue sea, there lived a tiny cutie little fish named Bob. He ran across the corals, shells and every ridges within the sea and played wid his other frens here and there. He was such a sweet lil boy J smiling, playing and sleeping was all he loved. He also loved traversing into the sea with his friends but feared to go further away.  Helped the elderly ones, loved the younger ones ;) and very shy every time he came across beautiful girls.
His laughter would make the whole city bright (obviously the water kingdom) and hence called the soul of the sea J

Agnes gazing at the horizon
Similarly, very far from the sea kingdom, there lived an adventures and smart birdie, Agnes that soared high in the sky and dwelled in the mountains. She was such a badass. While other birdies were busy in their chores close to their home, she always liked to break the rules and explore the world. Many times, she put herself in troubles from predators and other times she caused lots of problem ;) Truly a trouble maker she was. However, she was a very modest and kind hearted too. She helped the needy ones and spread happiness wherever she could.

They both were getting the best of both worlds; but still at times they felt it is not enough. There is something missing in whatever they have. They had bigger dreams and aspirations in life which was beyond their conscience too.
Little did they know that their life was about to take a turn and their world was about to go upside down. That very day, lil fishy was going for an outing with his friends and a teacher. It was a warm, bright day and his was quite excited but lil anxious coz they were going little away from his hometown into a beautiful stream via lagoon. He had never came this far but he was enjoying it. He met lots of different fishes, crabs, turtles, nymphs, and even different varieties of plants. They reached their destination and were sharing lots of stories. Jelly, the teacher asked, 'Btw, does anyone know where does this water come into our sea or ocean?'
 Bob replied smartly,' Rainfall!!'

'Haha, well that's not completely wrong but large part of our waters are from mountains!!'
He was startled to hear about mountains so hurriedly questioned,' Ma'am, where are the mountains? They sound soo cool. Are they nice? '
The teacher grinned,' Oh boy! They are very large structures covered with snow and very cold. Their snow melts and form rivers which take many days or months or even years to reach to us. They are quite far from our reach. But, the stream we came is a part and it may lead to the mountains but we never know when?'

Bob was quite impressed by the mountains and felt a deeper call inside his heart. He wanted to see the mountains. After the lunch, everyone was playing around while his eyes gazed at the upstream. He thought of having a peek nearby but as his friends were busy, he decided to go on his own. While he was approaching nearby, he felt something above him like a hook. He tried to get rid but he realized that he got trapped. He was drawn rapidly out of the water and it was a giant stork with 4-5 small fish in his mouth.


'Come, you little fishy! Be my food tonight!' exclaimed the Stork in a cunning voice and flew back to his nest.

Bob was a very smart and adorable boy. He could even melt the hearts of his enemy with his soft voice and cherubic expressions. Stork rested into his nest and fed some fish to his lil children who were yelling out of hunger. 'One of them is dead, we need more food darling? Is there any way out?'- spoke the lady Stork in a very sad tone.

'Don't worry, these fish would suffice for tonight, I will try to find more tomorrow.' Stork sighed.
 All other fish were crying out of fear but bob thought of something else hearing their conversation. He gently asked,' Stork, have you ever seen the mountains? I have heard they are very beautiful and they form rivers and rivers form seas. That's where you can get lots of fishes.'

Stork surprisingly turned towards Bob, 'How come you know? Here, the humans are catching lots of fish from the sea so there is not much food for us and our children. Many are dying out of starvation.'
Bob gasped, 'My teacher was saying all about these. May be you should try going there tomorrow?'
Stork couple discussing
Stork wasn't sure but thinking about it for the whole night he came up with an idea. He had kept Bob in a small bowl of water. The boy was frightened and was missing his family, friends. He was never this lonely but something was instilling him the hope and courage.

The next early morning, Stork came and asked, 'Do you know the route to the mountains?'

'My teacher told to follow the stream and u will reach someday.'

'I am taking you with me so that if anything wrong happens, you will have to suffer.'

Bob smiled with mixed feelings. He could never believe he is going to the mountains.
Stork kept him into his salivary mouth and flew. 'You taste good ;) I don't know till when I will be able to resist,' said the stork and laughed.

Bob was happy seeing the completely different world; lands, trees, grasses, animals. He could also see people, children working, laughing, playing. Have you tried swimming? - asked Bob to Stork.
'Nope, I am sure that a fish is pretty excited to fly. You are lucky lil boy. '
They flew quite a much that day. Still, there was not a single sight of a mountain. Tired and frustrated stork sat down nearby a river leaving Bob to swim for a while and look for something to eat. I hope my children will be alive till I get back, he thought.
'Well, I hope' - murmured Bob, feeling sad for the stork.

Days passed yet there was not a single sight of a mountain. But the bird could sense that he is flown quite far and high. He felt little uneasy with the air as the oxygen level started dropping yet with the hope that he can get food for his children he soar high above.

While on the other side, Agnes was happy that her feathers were getting bigger. She always wanted to fly above the mountains and see the other side of the world. She always got curious about where does the river flowing towards? But, she wasn't capable enough to fly as her wings weren't strong enough plus her society wasn't allowing her to explore the world.

The birds were busy in their chores while Harry, the woodpecker came hastily and yelled, 'FIRE!!!! FIRE IN THE JUNGLE!!!' Everyone was worried and started panicking seeing a thick cloud of smoke out of the forest.


 'Some men were seen in the forest last night, they seem to have lit the fire. We gotta be cautious guys!', said Agnes. 'We can't panic coz it will only harm us. So, let's take a deep breath first and form 2 groups; one group would go in search of water and help in stopping the fire while the other group would make sure our families and friends aren't in trouble. What say? Are you guyz ready??'

She turned towards her father and smiled ;) and everybody shouted, 'We are!!!'  She formed the group and then rushed towards the scene.

The exhausted Stork and Bob had almost lost their hope to get to the mountains. They were thinking of returning back, while Bob said,' Stork, I am sorry for bringing you here this far and yet no signs of food for your children. On returning back, you can kill me and feed them.'

Stork became quite emotional with those words of Bob and hugged him dearly. But, all of sudden they saw a large flock of birds flying above them. Anxiously, Stork asked one of them what the matter was and realized it was a forest fire. Mike, the kingfisher was leading the troop to collect the water from the nearest large stream and helping to stop the fire.


Bob grinned and whispered to the Stork, 'He knows the place with lots of fish. Let's follow them.' 
The situation was getting worst in the forest. Animals were running here and there, many had lost their families and friends. Monkeys, deers, porcupines were weeping, crying, looking for their loved ones. The fire was still in rage, such a horrible plight it was. Agnes, with her troops signaled the animals where the safe spot is and helped them to reach. Likewise, the search mission was being carried out whoever inform about their lost members or friends. At the mean time, a parakeet came bursting into tears and informed that her nanny was still in the burning tree stuck in a branch and she just threw her grand-daughter out of the nest so that she would be alive at least. Agnes felt sorry for the parakeet and hurriedly flew towards the tree. It was all covered in flames and she was almost catching fire. Agnes, despite knowing that she could risk her own life jumped into the nest and helped her hard to come out of the nest. Everyone was worried for the birds. Luckily she saved her and they rejoiced but it was not a time to celebrate. The fire was engulfing the whole forest endangering the lives of many other animals.

So, they needed some plans to make it stop. Meanwhile, on the other side, as soon as the birds reach near the water, Stork and Bob screamed in happiness seeing the beautiful stream with lots of fish. Bob too dived into the freezing fresh water which was an awesome experience for him. Stork was also getting into the business focusing on fishes to eat first, hehe. But, rests of the birds were in grief. They were trying to dip into water and sprinkle in the fire region. Seeing them in so much pain to save their families, Bob and Stork felt bad as they remembered their families too and what it means to be away from them. Bob thought of an idea, he then called all the fish in the stream and help the birds to extinguish the fire. Archer was an excellent fish who could rocket water in a really long distance above water. Stork also called all the birds to catch the fish net that was spread in the stream which cud be used to hold some water and sprinkle water in the fire areas along with their body water. It would be better idea than just dipping into the stream and sprinkling water into fire. Everyone was happy with the idea.

Similarly, Agnes asked monkeys to call elephants at a place. Elephants can take large amount of water and shower in the fire which can be the best solution to extinguish the fire. While deers, porcupines throw soil into the fire, monkeys used twigs and branches with leaves to beat the fire. All the techniques were used and it was working well. The name calls were still continuing to keep records of the animals and birds. But, then Myna wasn't there in the list. Myna is Agnes's best friend and she is about to give birth. Upon hearing the missing of Myna, Agnes felt so feeble and felt really bad to forget about her best friend. She flew into her nest but there was no single trace of her neither of her eggs. Agnes still tried to look for her, called her in every nook and corner. But just at the edge of the forest, she saw a bird lying on the ground besides the stream. She immediately knew it was her friend and rushed towards her. She was shattered to see Myna lying still. She started bursting in tears which fell upon the river. Then all of sudden she heard a voice,' Wait, she is not dead yet, let me sprinkle water.'  It was Bob ;) Agnes, through her teary eyes saw this tiny amazing fish that was completely new to the place. But without further ado, they both sprinkled water in Myna's face and Bob also patted her face.  After a while, Myna did come into consciousness. Agnes was so happy that she hugged Bob and jumped off the ground hehehe.


Myna looked for her eggs. Bob had seen Myna's tree catching fire so he had asked monkeys to help her with the eggs. But as she was already unconscious, they brought her at the bank of the stream. Even the fire had extinguished by the time and everyone rejoiced along with their families and friends, while Bob recalled all those memories with his family and felt all alone in the new place. He took a dip into the stream as he didn’t want to show his tears. But, all of sudden, he felt something sharp pulling him out of the water. And as expected this time, it was a darter. He grinned and said, ‘U look delicious!’ Bob was terrified like anything and couldn’t even call others for help. They all were celebrating, dancing and laughing. Bob had no hope this time; he just closed his eyes and once again remembered mountains! But, at the meantime he felt he was thrown into the air and caught by Agnes. She gave a sweet smile at him and put him back in the stream again. ‘None can hurt him, does that make sense?-she commanded loudly. ‘He helped us in many ways despite being an outsider and now it’s our responsibility to make sure he is fine at out locality. He is our friend.’

Bob smiled back to her. He felt so good after really long time. Agnes approached towards him and said, Thank you!’ Bob!! U can call me Bob ;) She blushed,’ Thank you Bob, Would you love to join the party?’ He nodded and smiled as wide as possible. They both felt something strange deep inside their heart. So, a grand party was organized to celebrate life and friendship. Everyone cheered the bravery of Agnes and Bob. After a while of celebration, Agnes and Bob felt driven towards each other by an unknown force. Agnes started the conversation, ‘Hi, Bob! I have never seen you before, where are you from? And why are you here?’.

Bob was a bit overwhelmed by the questions but then answered like a polite gentleman,’ Well, I belong to ocean, it’s very far away. I just wanted to see the mountains but that seems like an impossible thing to achieve. I should return back tomorrow with the Stork, my friend.’ He sighed.
Agnes consoled, ‘Don’t worry Bob, you have made quite a long journey already. Father says that we give up when we are very near to our goal. We should try till the end.’ and patted him. He felt a sudden surge of emotions bubbling up within him after her gentle touch. He also splashed water towards her and they started giggling and playing around. He also told her about ocean, and his family, friends. They talked about many things.  After spending some quality times with each other, they greeted good night to each other.

Stork was quite happy that day and also been noticing the intimacy between Bob and Agnes. He spoke,’ You love him, don’t you?’ ‘Well, I know you do’.
Bob was gazing at her and smiling. She will turn around, just see’ again stork spoke. Surprisingly, she did turn around and smiled at him.
How come you know that? Bob was startled at Stork. ‘My boy, I am expert in the field called LOVE ;) I could sense it from miles. You both were so into each other, twinkling eyes, wide smiles, butterflies in the stomach, it’s all the symptoms!!’
Bob murmured to himself, ‘Is this love? I do like to see her only, talk to her every time, know more about her.’ He smiled but the happiness suddenly changed into sadness. He told to Stork, But it’s impossible. How can a fish love a bird? We are so different!’

Storked replied with a smile ,’ There is no control over love, Bob. It doesn’t see anything, it just feels. Do you deny the feelings you have for Agnes? Or just fear the outcome?’
Bob couldn’t speak a word. They both remained silent and gazed at the moon.
The next morning Bob told Stork, ‘Well, I know nothing about love but if all these feelings I have for her is love then yes, I love her and I will find mountains. ‘
On the other side, Agnes was feeling restless the whole night. She felt something strange for him and wanted to help him in his quest to the mountains.
He has saved my best friend’s life. It’s my sheer responsibility to assist him as well. She jumped out of her bed and ran towards Bob.

Meanwhile, Stork was about to set back home with lots of food but deep down he was sad to leave bob in the middle of the journey. He hugged him tight and was about to bid farewell when Agnes hurriedly came and also told him to not to worry about bob; She will take care of him. They both kept watching towards the Stork till he disappeared from the sight. And then Agnes mentioned ,’ Let’s go to see the mountains!’

‘What, are u serious?’ asked Bob in surprise.
Well, I am a mountain bird and I have been brought up in mountains. Don’t you trust me?’- she frowned her face.
‘Agnes, lets go!!!’
Agnes held him tight and flew towards north. The wind was getting colder and colder, while Bob was enjoying the serene beauty of the woods, beautiful white streams and her company. He was happy that she is leading him to the mountains.  She surely was a beautiful, bold and strong bird. She was soaring high above the clouds along the thermals and her eyes straight towards the aim.
‘Bob, can u close your eyes, please.’ She requested. Then, she slowly landed on a surface. Well,                                                             Welcome to the mountains.


Bob eyes were left wide open with the scene; he could see gigantic skyscrapers fully covered with milky white snow. They were so beautiful. First he was shocked then he jumped like a lil kid in sheer happiness and embraced Agnes tightly.  His dream had finally come true.
Thank you Agnes, it is so special moment for me and I am so grateful to have you with me here. I love you.
Agnes couldn’t say a word.
After spending some time in the mountains, they flew back to lowlands. On the way back, Agnes spoke gently, ‘Bob, please don’t me otherwise. I think we are good friends only. Let’s not complicate things.’
Bob felt so broken hearted after hearing her. He collected all this strength and replied,’ It’s Ok, Agnes. A fish can never dream to fly and we may fall in love but where will we live? I understand that. Anyways, I am leaving towards home tomorrow.’

They were both in tears but neither spoke a word. Agnes wasn’t being able to understand what her feelings towards him are while Bob was disappointed with himself. Anyways, he consoled himself with the sight of mountains and all the stories he has to share back home.

The next day, Agnes along with all her friends came to bid him farewell. Agnes hugged him one last time and smiled,’ Bob, see you soon my friend, bye.’
This time Bob set towards his journey all alone along the streams. He was happy to go back but sad to leave Agnes. It’s been more than 6 months, Bob and Agnes were in there own world. Everyone was happy to have Bob back. It was full of happiness again. He had many stories and adventures to share. But there wasn’t a single day when he wouldn’t think about Agnes.

 Similarly, Agnes was also missing him badly. She always used to talk about Bob with her friends and even families, all his stories, adventures and fun he had in the ocean. She even wished to see him again.
Agnes and her father discussing

Her father had somewhat noticed what she is going through, so decided to talk with her. Agnes told everything about Bob and what he said to her. She also talked about her confusion and her feelings. It was quite clear that she was also in love with him and becoz she was raised by her father, she was little naïve in such issues.

Her father then took her to the top of mountain and said,’ Do you want to know what’s beyond the mountains?’
She exclaimed, ‘Yes, of course!’
‘So, here is your journey ahead. Fly to the ocean.’
She couldn’t believe her father’s words but she was overjoyed.
‘You have been an amazing daughter I had ever imagined. You have always made me proud and I always feared coz I knew you were meant to break the rules and create your own destiny. I am sure Bob would be expecting you. Soar high, my daughter.’

She realized that she loved Bob dearly and as people say true love leads you to your dream, he surely has lead her into the world of explorations. She was so excited to fly to the ocean and meet Bob. She traversed all across the plains, ridges, valley, rivers that converged into an ocean. She didn’t have his address but she was sure they are destined to meet again and believed if you want something from your heart, then the whole world conspires to make it come true.

As said, she met the Stork J they were so happy to meet. She told him everything and how she decided to meet Bob and say what she feels for him. Stork then led her towards a lagoon, where the rivers meet the ocean. 'Bob always comes here and looks upstream, towards the mountain and you, Agnes.'



Agnes couldn't resist crying and her tears fell upon the water, where Bob was resting remembering his love. All of sudden he felt something that reminded him of her; the tears. He knew the taste of it once when he met her first time besides Myna. 'Agnes??', he asked himself surprisingly. He flipped towards the sky and he couldn't believe what he saw. Agnes was above along with Stork. He jumped off the water in the utter happiness. Seeing him, Agnes held him and spoke, ' If I have not said, I am sorry, I do and if I have not said, I love you, I do. I love you so much, my Bob. I am so sorry to take this long to realize. Regarding where we will live; I can teach you how to fly and you can teach me how to swim and we will travel together' 

They hugged each other and celebrated their reunion. Birds danced around and fishes jumped off the water. They stayed together thereafter exploring ocean and mountains J
Stork smiled while he narrated the story to his chicks. 

Foto source: Google

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Winter came and went. Nepal's Game of Thrones Continues



It’s been almost 10 months after the massive earthquake and people still fear even remembering it.  Nearly, ten thousand people got killed, about 850,000 houses got destroyed and millions are displaced. In addition, unofficial blockade by India has further aggravated the situation with stark fuel crisis and price hikes in the commodities.
Tired of Kathmandu’s daily struggle, I made my mind to visit my best friend's place i.e. Tupche, Nuwakot. It’s almost 3.5 hrs drive northwest of Kathmandu. It is also one of the worst hits by earthquake.  Her home was destroyed and they were rebuilding it so thought I could lend some assistance and also meet my friend.



After spending almost 8 days at the village, I came to realize how women despite being severely affected are playing pivotal role in handling the disaster and how late it has already become to act for the lives of the people.





Delay in rebuilding
Temporary shelter
Monsoon came and passed away, winter approached and about to end soon and yet government is way sluggish instead of carrying out the reconstruction and rebuilding as soon as possible. Tens of thousands of people are compelled to face the wrath of winter under thin tents or corrugated metal. And many of them even couldn't approach building on their own because they fear the new structures may not conform the new standards set up by government and could be knocked down.  Though the government had convinced people in starting rebuilding after the earthquake rendered millions of people, there is a bleak effort shown by government.  Besides, lack of male members in the family is a pressing issue for the families as well nation in the lack of labors for construction. Remittances from their family members working abroad was there to support them financially however, the families left with woman, children and elderly people have to go through lots of difficulties in the absence of young ones in the family.


Winter woes
Winter is quite severe in Nepal along with snow and rains. The families staying in corrugated metal or tents as shelters are suffering from fever, pneumonia, chest infection too. Women are having hard times for themselves as they have to look after the elderly and children who are already vulnerable. Plus, the lacks of fuel has promoted the use of firewood which in turn has severe effect on lungs and eyes.  All these have led to chronic illness among women these days in villages as well as cities.


Household issues
In cities women are having trouble in managing the house with increased price in almost everything. Vegetables, oils, food, and many daily commodities' price have tripled than the normal and woman have challenge accommodating all those in the limited budget. Similarly, in villages women are facing challenges of preserving the stored rice and other commodities from rats. Lacking a proper storage after losing houses is creating problem in rural Nepal as the food they retrieved out of the rubbles are being damaged by cold and also domestic predators.

Conclusively, women already had lots of pressure in consoling the mental trauma that children and elderly members of family are facing after the disaster. In addition, the blockade, labor crunch and winter woes have further worsen the situation for them.  While people are facing the worst of everything, government is still busy playing the game of thrones with no sign of relief to its fellow citizens.
                                              Some clicks in and around Nuwakot :)

With my besty :)



Trishuli river
The ancient Bhairavi temple in ruins after the earthquake

People performing shraadha(religious ceremony)at Betrawati river
the famous Nuwakot Palace

The most adorable ad amazing ladies I came across 



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Karnataka Calling-2: September 2015

Well, I would like to apologize for delaying to post the second part but finally here it goes :)

Moving from IISC to Mysore
After the conference, I had 2 more days at Karnataka and I was headstrong to visit Mysore aka Mysuru, the land of Mahisasura. It is about 140 kms away from Bangalore. I was already swayed by the legacy of Wadiyar dynasty and the flamboyant Mysore palace beforehand. Therefore, I sought some information with local volunteers, friends and concluded to go Mysore in a train. Early morning we rushed to SBC, Bangalore City Station in Majestic Street, this was my first journey via train and all I remembered was DDLJ and Chennai Express's train scenes when SRK gives hand to Kajol and Deepika respectively when they were late to get in the train.

 I silently smiled and wished for the similar scene to occur with me but a loud noise of the starting train shattered my dream and we jumped into a compartment. We sat wherever the seats were vacant and laughed at each other with a relief that finally we made it. There were very pretty women by our side and suddenly a very handsome lad came near our seat and we helped him to accommodate.

As I have mentioned earlier, I am a huge fanatics of south Indian movies, mainly Telugu movies and my favorite actor is Ram charan and the guy who was staying besides me was very similar to him. I was thanking God for at least sending someone like Ram charan if not Shah rukh ;) We all had a smooth journey in the train; shared our famous wai wai noodles and in return tasted a crunchy maddur wada (kind of pakoda), talked about cultures in both countries, they also enquired about the earthquake and our family which was very sweet of them. The ultimate spice of the trip was a gay dressed in saree as we see in lots of bollywood movies entered the train and asked for donation with all the men. Balkumar, my friend was quite scared and I felt like laughing at his cherubic face. For the first time ever, I felt happy to be a woman and seeing how males were being ragged publicly ;). We were so much enjoying the conversation and observing the people that it seemed the 3.30hr journey passed in a blink of an eye. Btw, Ramcharan like looking guy's name is Harsha and we have become good buddies already. Thanks to the Zuckerburg's creation!
Harsha,Balkumar n me ;)

As soon as we reached Mysore station, we were surrounded by some taxi drivers. After some minutes of discussion and bargaining, we hired one of them, his name was Ravi Chandra. I realized that he would be really happy when I called him Ravi Anna. So, he was our guide for a day and was responsible to help us in exploring Mysore. Our 3 main wish lists included:
                      1) Mysore Palace
                      2) Mysore Zoo and shopping if possible
                      3) Brindavan Garden with Musical fountains

Mysore is also regarded as City of Palaces and cultural epicenter of Karnataka. Mysore palace was the place I was craving to visit and as per my expectations, its charm never fails to enchant. Often termed as Pink palace was designed by English Architect, Henry Irwin was built in between 1897-1912. The three storied structure in the Indo-Saracenic style gleam with its beauty. A brief tour inside the palace took me to those times with its ornate domed ceiling, hanging paintings, glazing floors, jewel encrusted throne. It was completely enthralling experience. Likewise, Shwetha Varahswamy temple has further flourished its magnificence.
Mysore palace
After assuaging our eyes with the captivating palace, we rushed towards zoo. The city's proximity to famous wildlife sanctuaries and its own zoo make it a very popular attraction for the wildlife enthusiasts. I am usually against the zoo because I prefer seeing animals in the wild and free. I utterly disliked the way animals were kept in relatively narrower and smaller cages than they need. Many were abused and also indicating some abnormal behaviors. However, Mysore zoo has been famous for its well maintained and animal friendly compartments. We strolled around the zoo to encounter animals we had never seen before like giraffes, zebras, wolves and lions. The zoo was soo huge that I was completely exhausted. We had to rush out as our Ravi anna as he had apportioned 2 hours for zoo tour and then explore more of Mysore. All of sudden, I caught an eye of a hawker who was selling Gajra (Jasmine weaved hair accessory) which is quite famous in India and has important cultural value as well. I was looking for it and while waiting for rest of our friends I could buy it and pose with the flowers.
Mysore zoo
After that, we were taken to a government certified shop. The shop was famous of Mysore silk sarees and other traditional wears. Though they were expensive, I was lured to get some Saree and Kurta for my parents. I felt very accomplished with the gifts to my parents and then we headed towards Brindavan Garden. I did not know about the place but it was known for the colorful and dancing artificial water fountains besides Kaveri river. It was already dusky when we reached and it was so much crowdie.
 Nonetheless, we three crazy people made the hell of out it. It was already dark but we decided to go on a boat ride amid the beautiful colorful water fountains all over. It was such a mesmerizing experience. Then, as soon as we got off, we rushed to observe the main attraction i.e. dancing colorful water fountain. To my surprise, there was like thousands of people yelling out loud with their glow sticks which reminded me of having thousands of fireflies all over. The demonstration would be occurring every 10 minutes so we were waiting for the next one to come. Suddenly, there was this yodeling of Bollywood music and I was literally startled to see the water fountains dancing in the beats. Getting up higher and lower, red, green, pink and what not, it was a very entertaining showcase. The way they had used the water to be the source of attraction was quite impressive. It was getting late so ran like some crazy bunch of thugs. It was indeed a very serene feeling to be free like a bird.  It was a very short and sweet trip to Mysore which still leaves me in awe.
Mysore station
Next day, we rushed back to Bangalore and all we gotta do was shopping.Well, I would say it was a very intense day for me in terms of getting back, searching for place to stay and then get back to shopping. I am a very bad person to shop with but I had to.  We strolled around Gandhi nagar and later to majestic streets. It was a very busy day for the locals as well. The whole streets were full of hawkers and people, everyone was shopping, it somewhat resembled like a fair to me. You could get anything, anywhere J It was crazy as you even wouldn't have space to walk properly.  I was buying whole lots of things; dresses, cutlery, and much more. Bal Kumar was already getting pissed off as I was taking lots of time and buying lots of things. We had to get back to our Hotel but we were not sure about the exact location. As soon as we thought of getting back, there started a heavy downpour. After a lot of trying, we could get an auto. The problem was we didn't know the exact location. However, I did remember some of the landmarks nearby which helped us to locate our hotel Lavanya at the end. We were relieved that almost everything is sorted but then we were dog tired and starving. We even didn’t have time to stop and eat so we again went out nearby to get final south Indian dinner. 
Upma wid coconut sauce :) 
No matter how desperate we were to get back home, however there certainly was a strange feeling of sadness to leave this amazing place which embraced us soo dearly and bestowed  us with all the love and sweet memories to take along us back home. I am so much grateful to all the people I met, places I visited and myself ;) coz it all worked out soo well. I got back to all alone but this time I was more confident and happy :) Yay, Birdie gets back to her nest.


"It's good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." Ernest 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Diary of a Bachelorette

Like always, my morning started with updates from the facebook world. After scrolling for a while, I turned down my laptop and yelled, ‘Mom, where is my tea?’ I realized she was busy in kitchen so went to get it myself. One of my aunts had come and they were busy in their own chitchats. She is a hilarious woman and often reminds me of Indian daily soaps’ typical mother choosing most eligible Bachelor for her daughter and left overs to any other girls in the family.
She is a more a posh version of typical aunties


I grinned with a Namaste and as expected she scanned me from head to toe first and turned towards my mom, ‘It’s high time for her to get married; the perfect age, time and condition. I will update the list and contact you soon.’I interfered in a polite tone, ‘Aunt, look at me. I am still quite young, just completed my Bachelors. I will do my masters first and then think of getting married.’She gave a disgusting look and asked suddenly, ‘Do you have a boy-friend?’I replied innocently, ‘No. I don’t!’ Then, she started to convince saying, 'What’s the problem? You need to get married now. It’s going to be late!’

The discussion was never ending. Later, I turned taciturn because it was pointless to discuss with her. Moreover, I don’t want to be rude to her. I had to lie to escape from her saying I have some assignments to complete.

She was busy talking with my parent explaining how hard it has become to find a good guy. And her famous 'funnel' theory was, the more a girl has higher degrees, lesser the chances of getting a guy according to her academic level. For instance, if a girl has finished masters then she would need a man of at least Masters degree and a man with Masters degree will obviously less in number than the boy with Bachelors degree. Forget about PhD, you will only find old men. Hence, Bachelors is the perfect qualification to get married. 

This has become my daily routine these days. Every day, I am showered with marriage proposals; He is engineer in US, he is a government job holder, he is this and that. Sometimes, my parents try to lure me and sometimes they signal as if I won’t have any boy left for me to get married if I reject all of them. I have been also accused of disheartening my relatives who are so much concerned to find a better match for me. Man can get woman of any age but woman’s life is quite delicate like a glass. I often hear my relatives saying me that woman’s life is always on an edge; a small mistake and everything is ruined. The most important thing is her character which is directly linked with virginity to offer for her mate. She has to be decent, demure, modest, benevolent, civil, home maker, conflict resolver if there exists any, submissive plus much more characteristics. 

Nowadays, there is much more pressure on women as they have to manage office as well as home unlike past days. Undoubtedly, girls have to go through more nagging; however, men also aren't devoid of such family pressure. Parents want their daughters to get married sooner-the-better to get rid of the responsibility. Daughters are usually regarded as the keepsake and need to be returned to their real owners. So, it's better to get rid of the burden as soon as possible. In addition, they are also insecure about losing their pride in the society; what if she elopes with a boy from lower caste, what if she becomes debauched. They are plunged into the quagmire of doubts and insecurities. But what about all those dreams I have, what about all those small happiness that I want to gift them in return? The smile that they had holding me for the first time in their hands, those standby fingers that didn't let me fall or held me when I was about to fall. All those knowledge, life-long lessons they instilled in me can't be washed away that easily. I have whole world to explore, to at least be independent enough to support me and my family. It would be unfair to pass me to somebody else all of sudden as if I am a toy you are tired of playing with and gifting it to somebody else. That toy has a life and she wants to live life on her own terms. I have much more to achieve before getting married and I can't let them choked to suffocate.

It is quite strange where one part of the world is celebrating its victory on same sex marriage, the other is still struggling to decide for oneself either to marry or not. We are still crippled by the age-old malady based on caste, class, gender etc. I wouldn't deny the fact that the situation has been ameliorated than it ever used to be but it's equally unjust to judge a woman for not having a man in her early twenties. Many of us would be more than happy to share what we have learnt, accomplished or been pursuing by now rather than complaining for being deprived of man in our lives.

I would plea to every family to at least give your children liberty to make choices for themselves, to explore the world, to stumble yet to rise on their own. If they don't want to marry doesn't mean they are having affairs or they have problems but they are pursuing their dreams and will settle later or do what makes them gleeful. In addition, I do have a strong hope that our society would perceive woman on the content of their character over sexuality.