Friday, November 25, 2016


So I've been going to a creative writing class just to get my writing kickstarted in a serious way. As part of that class we were given a writing exercise which I'm sharing here. We were divided into groups of two and we had to tell each other a real life incident around which the other person would weave a story.

So here's mine titled 'Fear' based on an incident in our instructor Dina's life.

I held on to her hand as tight as I could and her nails dug into mine as we watched our seventeen year old surfing the waves. I could hear her breath catch in her throat as he jumped over a high wall of water and landed skillfully on the board again. Each time he was obscured by a new rising wave, her hand covered her heart and her eyes searched for him.

“Why won’t you stop him,John?” She said, turning to me in anger.
I smiled at her reassuringly and replied,” He’s really good, Sara! He’s going to be fine.”

She walked away. She couldn’t watch him any longer. We walked in silence to our quaint little cottage by the ocean. She settled down with a book on the lounge chair. I knew she wasn’t reading. She was looking at the endless and amazing ocean. I wished she were happy, that she smiled more. She continued looking into the infinite horizon glimmering in this tropical paradise. I continued to wonder how long a piece of her will remain missing. There was a place within her so utterly empty, like a thousand year old ship buried and lost to the world of the living, a home to the dead past.

Night fell and we sat at the restaurant in the resort. Dinner was a tense affair as Sara was sullen and Max couldn’t stop talking about going to Hawaii for the International Surfing Competition. He went on to describe just how high and dangerous the waves were. His excitement was palpable and so was Sara’s fear. Suddenly, she put her fork down, looked at our grown sun and said in a determined voice,” You can’t go.”

“I’m going Mom and you can’t stop me.” He replied in an equally resolute tone. I knew, this was the last straw. Sara picked up her uneaten food and threw the plate on the floor. Max was in a state of shock. The entire restaurant was quiet at seeing my usually demure and quiet wife behave so completely out of character. I know, I should have said something. I should have done something but how could I change her past? Even, God couldn’t do that.

As she sat crying by the swan made of towels on our bed, I was reminded of that day. The day that changed her life, and mine. We were both young and so full of that naïve belief that life could be nothing short of fantastic. She was riding her motorcycle as I sat behind her feeling mighty proud of my beautiful, strong and wild spirited girlfriend. She had driven with her fellow motorcycle enthusiasts from California to New York and back which was no mean feat. We parked in the garage of the house in which I lived with two roommates.

Mark was a quiet soul but James was far from shy and a creature of habit. Along with Sara we would never stop making fun of James’ finicky little detailed rituals. Sara was tired from the ride and threw her helmet and jacket of James’ writing desk just as he walked into the living room and began yelling hysterically at Sara. “Keep your stuff off my table!” he screamed. Sara was taken aback and then started laughing, making no move to pick up the objects in question. Soon, the seemingly small issue escalated as James got angrier at Sara’s mirth. He held her shoulders and shook her frame. She pushed him back and he fell. She picked up her helmet and jacket, put them on, got on her bike and all I could hear was the roar of 350ccs.

In a couple of hours, the phone rang. I rushed to the hospital and paced outside the Operation Theatre hoping the surgeons would be able to save my Sara. When I finally saw her, she whispered through her wired jaw, broken bones and shattered spirit,”I’ll never ride again.” Tears escaped through both our eyes. In the moment that truck had collided with her bike everything had changed. She never got on a bike again.

Max’s voice broke my reverie,” I’m leaving.” He announced. Sara turned to look at him. Tears flowed freely and she whimpered,”What if something happened to you? You’re my only child, Max.” Max dropped his packed bag and rushed to take his mother into his arms. ”Nothing will happen to me Mom!” He tried to soothe her. “You could die. I almost died.” She whispered through terrified tears. He held her shoulders and shook her,”You’re still alive! You’re alive!”

The next day, we rented a bike. Sara put on a helmet and sat behind her fearless son and left some of her fear behind on the road to courage.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Royal Bath

Today was kept aside for chilling utterly and not walking too much. Honestly, I'm thinking I'll sleep for two days once I get home. Not really.

We went to this place called the Royal Bath. You sit in a tiny pool of hot water which smells like Sulpher but feels very soft on the skin. After an hour of luxuriating in it my fingers were turning into prunes. After the bath, I lay on a marble platform and a woman scrubbed me with a loofah and did a soap massage. If you're expecting a shiatsu type of massage this is not the place for you. The woman alternately massaged/aggressively slapped and threw really hot water on me. As you can see, I was red as a monkey's bum afterwards. Oh, and you pay extra if you want a towel.

Afterwards we went to the Eastpoint mall. We are from Dubai, we must check out the mall. It's a small place but nice. Lunch was McDonald's. the weather was perfect with the sun beaming and a chill in the air.

Sweet little fountain in the centre of the mall.

This restaurant is close to our hotel where I regularly eat Kidney beans, Corn bread and rice for dinner.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Old Tbilisi

Today we went wandering around the Dry Bridge, Flea market. A lot of local artists sell their paintings there along with souvenirs, pottery, coins, jewellery and other knick knacks. It was a bit of a challenge to find the place as Georgian people are very helpful but the language barrier makes it very difficult to understand what they are trying to communicate and vice versa.

Finally we found someone who knew dry bridge. We stopped at a restaurant and asked about the bridge and the waitress said,"It is old bridge, not dry bridge." Finally we made it and found some lovely art. Most of it was very brightly coloured and depicted everything from landscapes to humans to cats in all sorts of varied styles.

I quite liked these brightly coloured, musical ladies.

I have to say the Georgian clay workers create lovely pieces. I bought a few things from this little collection which was very reasonably priced even before I drove a hard bargain.

This shop carried all sorts of music on LPs. I bought one as a gift for my darling brother Mukul, who collects vinyls.

Next on the agenda was the botanical garden located almost in the centre of the city. We hung around the cafe inside it, in the company of these happy flowers sipping our coffees. Natasha with her Americano and me with my latte.

At the end of the bridge was a tree, and on top of the tree was a kitten meowing woefully at people passing by. Natasha was so worried about the poor thing that we went and told the security that he must do something to bring it down. After a lot of misunderstandings he understood what we were trying to say. He got his friend and the friend got up on a low wall with a broom in his hand and the kitten got even more petrified and climbed higher. Reluctantly our rescue operation had to be abandoned.

All those who wander are not lost. Tolkien was on to something.

I'm not a fan of red colour but look how beautifully it occurs in nature!

After the Botanical Garden we went and did a spot of shopping. I saw another interesting doll hanging in the store window. They are so expensive that I feel like winning the lottery or something.

Look at these two dolls. They reminded me of the bond that only a woman can share with another, a friendship filled with trust, understanding and joy.

And yes, we're very happy and do not feel like going back.

Monday, November 07, 2016

The birthday girl

It's Natasha's happy birthday and I gave her a gift two days ago because I can never wait for the right time. Always in too much of a hurry to see the person't expression when they unwrap their gift.

Today we went to a nunnery. It had a little church in the middle and was surrounded by the wealth of beautiful mountains and little farms. The nun who started the nunnery is buried right next to the icons of the Gods and we prayed there and made wishes. We lit candles and I felt a connection with nature and the universe. It was a wonderful, peaceful and spiritual experience.

This is the beautiful view from the nunnery. As perfect as perfection can get. Please click on the picture to be able to see it better.

Next we went to Kakheti the wine making region of Georgia. We went to the oldest winery of the country run by this old man. His ancestors started this homemade wine business five hundred years ago. He was amazed that I did not drink and said ruefully,"My doctor told me I cannot drink and smoke anymore and for a Kakheti man that's like being half dead!"

The wine is fermented in underground, huge clay pots. The old man with many gold teeth took some out in a jug and Natasha had a taste. She loved it!

These are the farms where the nuns grow fruits and vegetables. I'm so sorry but I'm not going in sequence today because the internet is flaky and I'm a little annoyed with the hotel staff.

Here's a beautiful picturesque Georgian village whose name I cannot recall. I think I'm getting old, I keep forgetting names.

The nuns maintain the grounds themselves and they do a fabulous job of it. They keep themselves busy all day making jewellery, doing embroidery and gardening as well as farming. Their love shows in every inch of the place.

Next we went to the 'City of love' called Sighnagi. It is so called because it is a very popular amongst people as the perfect locale for weddings. This mural is surrounded by the names of the soldiers who died in the Second World War.

This is part of the same mural but I think this one depicts Georgia as a wine making country.

We had lunch in a cafe in Sighnagi where they were making the traditional Georgian Christmas sweet called Churchkhela. These walnuts are strung together and then dipped in honey. Delicious!

Salome and Rezi, our guide and driver respectively got a little chocolate cupcake covered in coconut flakes and lit two matches on it as Natasha's birthday cake. She blew out the matches and we sang Happy Birthday! I have a video of it which for some reason I am unable to upload here. But you get the picture! The happiness on her face was beautiful to see.

Happy birthday my sweetheart! May your life be filled with peace, love and happiness always and forever! I love you to the moon and back!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Chasing the snow

The internet at the hotel is slow and I'm sitting under the quilt and writing this post while Natasha is sitting, getting irritated with the hotel people. Now she's lying on the bed with her face to the door hoping to catch the elusive connectivity. She's waving the phone around saying,"Like this? Like this?"

Today we drove along with our tour guide as well as the driver to a place called Ananuria water reservoir. Our guide Salome loves talking about her country and she told us about the difficult past of this beautiful country which has been invaded by Mongols, Turks and Russians to name a few. So many of their churches and cathedrals suffered during these times when the invaders painted over their frescoes and even turned them into mosques or during Russian times even into warehouses.

And yet the people are easy going. They love music, wine and food. They are not a very rich country but they seem to be a happy one. The most commendable thing I found was the fact that the government has taken concrete steps to repair whole areas consisting of very old houses in the old town to preserve the heritage of the capital.
We drove through beautiful mountains and the conifers appeared in large numbers as we gained height. The people drive both left and right handed cars here even though the traffic is right handed. Day before yesterday our driver was so rash that he would get inches away from the car in front at high speed and my heart would be up in my throat. I thanked my lucky stars when I got back safe and sound to my hotel.

The driver today was much better but the problem is that the other drivers are still just as rash and you have to be very very careful while driving. I would not want to drive in this country for sure. I mean, I don't even want to cross the road without holding on to Natasha's hand she in turn holding mine just as tight.

The idea was to chase the snow today. I wore leggings, another pair of leggings, a pair of jeans, full sleeved top, warm coat, pashmina shawl and gloves phew! And trust me you need all of that when you get near to the top of the snow covered mountains. They are truly magnificent and beautiful.

 We reached where the snow was and got out to see this beautiful mural in the middle of nowhere.

This is part of the mural which is in the shape of a semi circle. All you can see beyond is pure white snow glimmering up to the skies. I took off my gloves to take pictures and my hands nearly froze. I was reminded of those cold mornings in Delhi when it was so cold I couldn't even write my exam paper.

I saw this beautiful fellow at Ananuria waiting for someone to feed him. I often see people feeding bread to the street dogs here.

This is the water reservoir and it was a really beautiful sight. The water was an emerald green and so serene. I loved it.

Obviously I'm very very happy.

The young woman with the big grin is our tour guide Solome and our driver is Rezi. It was a wonderful day and tomorrow promises to be the same. I just love this place!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Day 3

Today we were accompanied by a guide for a walking tour through the picturesque, old town of Tbilisi. On the left is the Metekhi Church placed so wonderfully as the calm waters of the river flow by.

This is the King of Georgia who is responsible for building the church. Our guide told us that Mtskheta was the original capital but once when the King came to Tbilisi for a hunt, his pet falcon got lost chasing a pheasant. The King sent out search parties who found both the pheasant and the falcon in a boiling pool of water. The King was so thrilled to find these hot water pools that he decided to move the capital to Tbilisi, which means warm. He built a fort in which he lived and the church that he prayed in. His wife lived in another fort. Our guide was of the opinion that they probably didn't live together because she nagged him too much!

Amazing shafts of light spilled in through the windows and illuminated the cross and Jesus' image.

We walked by a little waterfall right in the middle of the city.

Taken just before we started the tour.

A leisurely walk by the river.

Georgia is known for its decious wine and fried dumplings. They have a name but I'm not good with names as you would have figured out by now. Khinkali, they're called! I just remembered!

A gypsy woman's mannequin I think. I thought she was rather weird. Weird and yet unique in its expression and clothing.

These two dolls were hanging in a store window. Unrealistic body image I would say. Caricatures of women I think.

When people get married they put a lock on this bridge and I'm guessing they throw away the key to remain locked together forever.

These faceless dolls were interesting and I love the splash of red.

Madonna left her bra from the 80s behind.

This is the toastmaster. He is holding a horn in his hand and he has to drink all the wine it can hold in one go. He also has the power to tell people to behave when they get drunk. Apparently he is a very important guy in Georgia where every cafe serves alcohol!

A bell tower made by the Russians when they ruled Georgia.

A local artist at work wearing the Number 23 jersey. Lucky for me I'm born on the 23rd!

I fell in love with this brooch but I'm on a tight budget so I resisted the temptation.

There was wine tasting during which Natasha tasted the wine whilst I merely smelled it. It smelled so good, that for about a second I regretted giving up alcohol. But only for a second.