Gift of dreams.

Sometime back, when I slept in peace, I had a dream. It was a beautiful colourful dream, full of poignant memories, bursting with love and happiness. It was so beautiful, I wanted to keep it.

So I hung it up.

Everyday, I looked at it. Looked it in the eye and admired it. And as my eyes would graze lovingly at it, I waited for the day it would come true.

When things looked bleak, that dream would wink at me and say, “Hey! I stand here, before you. For you. I am something to look forward too. This day shall pass, and our day will arrive. I will make you smile, and I will make your heart leap”

For days I waited, sometimes with bated breath, sometimes with a wry smile. The one thing I knew was the dream waited for me, was with me and would never disappear. It was mine. To have and to hold and time would make it a reality.

One day, after a troubled sleepless night, I woke up. The dream was gone. It was stolen. Taken away, by the very person who had gifted it. Brazenly, and without a backword glance; leaving me heart broken and on the floor.

Now I wonder, which was the dream. The dream I hung up, or the dream which was stolen??

 

Our side business.

The secret is out and I am busted. Well it had to happen someday. It was only a matter of time.

It was those empty bottles I kept asking for, from friends and family. Empty alcohol bottles. They were for decoration purposes. You know? When you can get the top cut off, and add some jazz and make it into a candle stand? With a little more innovation they can also hang off branches and parapets! Well, I did use them for that too. I had to – time and again, to keep up appearances. People attended those parties and did the compulsory “Aaah and Oohh” when they saw the decoration, so I thought I am safe. I even sent off legitimate Instagram pictures for the world to see. Up until that fateful day, when RB caught on to it. And I was busted. It’s true that, only he knows the actual use of those bottles. But once two people know something, its no longer a secret.

It started quite unexpectedly. Our coast was hit by a sand storm, and as the sand swirled, then rose and fell, I took a long walk, alone on the beach. It was empty, as most people don’t like sand in their eyes. But I am an old pro. I have survived many such storms, and know how to walk without getting sand in them eyes. We had camels on the beach in my childhood days. I have learnt a lot from them. It comes in handy now and again.

I heard someone approach me. Since I had 2 dogs with me, I was not worried. But lets face it, strolling in a mild sand filled hurricane, using a specialized walking technique of avoiding sand in the eyes – how many people can do it? Not many, and I knew almost all who could. It was an old friend, one who could, even play football, in such conditions. Our local boys are not the mild variety. Football presides over everything, even earning a living, so what’s a sand storm?

Soon we were walking side by side and he came up with a business proposition. Now had he asked me any other time, I would have run home and become a goody goody girl and gone all judgmental about him and his gang. But I was wired up that day, (so the walk in a sand storm!) and feeling very rebellious. In these kinds of moods I should be locked up with only bread and water, because I make very impulsive and stubborn decisions. The idea was extremely dangerous, and it would make me an immediate rogue. I loved it. After he left I sat down, in the now falling rain, and imagined rough seas, illicit pirates and shady whispers. How perfect!

It had to be done in a very clandestine manner. Every 3rd Monday, (There was a researched logic to it. The beach has few late night revelers and the cops normally take a breather. And – the empty bottle collection would get quite topped up) I would sit on my deck. Around 1 am, far into the sea, I would see a light swaying rhythmically. Eight times right and left. If it was a red light, the show was a go. My contact had a great network of spies, so on rare occasions when the light was its original yellow, the mission would be aborted immediately and all traces of our meetings were instantly scrubbed away.

When I would see the red light, I would send back a signal. My room lights going on and off, 4 times. In the next five minutes, the husband and me would be on the beach with our trawler. It was customized to move smoothly in the sand. Within 10 minutes money and barrel loads of liquor were exchanged. 30 minutes later, the bottles were filled with amber colored aromatic alcohol, and given back to our contact.

45 minutes every 3rd Monday was filled with thrilling, surreptitious, unlawful activity.

And now my bootlegging days are over. All because of one smart aleck who thought he was FBI’s second in command. But hey! We cared for our clients. The bottles were used but sterilized. We always, always, refilled them with good quality alcohol. It never had boot polish!! We ourselves served them once in a while, in bigger gatherings. It hit faster and gave a wonderful euphoric feeling. And lastly and more importantly gave us good money along with the thrills.

All in all, it was good going, till our racket went kaput. Now I will actually have to use all those empty bottles for decoration.

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, city of Buzz. I love it. The noise, the restaurants, the loud bargaining, the shopping, the sights. Everything. Don’t get fooled by its size. It looks like a small island, but hides inside it, a plethora of tourist attractions and varied entertainment joints.

Its another city, I mark as “ An ever going project” for I will keep visiting it and loving it.

Places to visit

Lantau Islands and Ngong Ping Monastery.

This is near the airport. Take the MTR to Tung Chung. And from there take the cable car to Lantau. If possible (and if you are not deathly scared of heights) take the crystal car. 1) This is faster and you don’t have to wait that long in the ques. 2) It has a glass bottom, so you can see all the hills and waterfalls and beautiful trekking paths on the way.

Once in Lantau, there is a lot to do. We just went and saw the Giant Buddha statue and visited the Monastery.

The Steps Leading to Buddha.
The Steps Leading to Buddha.
The Great Buddha.
The Great Buddha.

Here is the web site, which gives all other options for Lantau.

http://www.discoverhongkong.com/au/see-do/great-outdoors/outlying-islands/lantau-island/index.jsp

If you reach in time for lunch, do have a meal, at the Monastery. Its pure veg and rated very highly. They also have a café, for snacks etc.

Shopping inside Lantau was prohibitive.

Once the cable car takes you back down, you can go to the Shopping Mall, near the entrance of the cable car office. Its an outlet mall, but has all the best brands, Hong Kong has to offer. Definitely worth a visit.

Lot of restaurants within the mall area,

TIME REQUIRED: If shopping and seeing Lantau in leisure and in depth, I would say give this a full day.

The Peak

It’s a train journey! A small cute train journey. The Funicular takes you to the peak. Please don’t go on holidays, the queues are toooo long. And equally long to come down.

The view is awesome in the day. But – spectacular at night. I’ve been both in the day as well at night. I would definitely suggest the night. Many restaurants in that area, but preferably book elsewhere. Food wasn’t great.

If need be, one can come down the peak in a taxi also. Its expensive, but the view is amazing.

The View
The View

Lan Kwai Fong.

The party never stops rocking. One bar over the other, in front of another, next to another. Though one must visit it, at least once, to see and experience true debauchery, this trip, I was a bit put off. Every bar is trying to beat the other, with louder music. While walking down the street, the auditory nerves are bombarded with retro and the next second, house and at the same time Latino numbers from the opposite bar. It’s confusing and frankly nerve racking. To make the best of the music, locals get their own drinks, and stand on the road and drink, whilst enjoying the music screeching from the bars. It’s a no car zone.

After a quick tour of The Lan Kwai Fong, lovingly called LKF, we went up one street. (Middle of LKF – a staircase goes upwards.) , To Wyndham Street. The bars were classier, crowds better and more importantly, the bars were spaced well.

Try The Wine Bar, and Tivo. Great music, good service and enjoyable.

LKF is a good place to have lunch.

Other places I know are worth visiting, but I have not visited are Ocean Park and Disney. Great for kids. Ocean Park is good for older kids too.

Stanley Beach is also ranked high, in the TO DO list.

Walk along the Avenue Of Stars. It’s a promenade, very akin to Hollywood Walk of Fame. Very interesting.

Lounge Bars

Hong Kong is big on lounge bars. The latest must-go bar is the OZONE. It’s on the 118th floor of the Ritz Carlton hotel. The view is unbelievable. The bar itself is nice, great drinks and the roof is open air. It’s an amazing experience. Not reservations required.

SEVVA. Situated on a rooftop, over looking the ocean and the high profile bank buildings of Hong Kong, this bar should be number one on your list of to dos. Fantastic service, great food and tantalizing views. They also have a restaurant inside. It has great reviews, though we have never eaten there.

10 Charter Road, Hong Kong. +85225371388

The other lounge bars I have read about are Aqua. And Dragon I

Restaurants.

Chilli Fagara. Reservations needed. It’s a very small restaurant and very popular. The service is pathetic, but if you are a worshipper of spicy food, forget everything and go there. Do have their beer. One – it will go down really well with spicy food Two- They serve it in a bowl, which is a fun way to have it.

51A Graham Street Hong Kong. +85228933330

Knutsford Terrace. Many restaurants. We love Paparazzi.

Tsim Sha Tsui.

Boqueria In Lang Kwai Fong. Great Spanish food. Good Meal if you want something different.

Dragon I. Opposite Lang Kwai Fong. Fabulous Chinese Dim Sums. Lovely ambiance. It turns into a lounge bar at night.

30 Wyndham Street. +85231101222

Amouse Bouche. If you feel like having a four-course meal, this is the place you must go to. Reserve in advance. You will not regret it.

The Hennessey. 256 Hennessey Street. +85228913666-

Flying Pan Yup! That’s how it is spelt. The Chinese version of Frying! Wyndham Street. After a night of pub hopping in LKF head up one street to this all night eggery. Omlettes, fried eggs etc. A fantastic meal to soak up all that alcohol.

 

 

The Zen.

Many years ago, I was suffering from severe vertigo. There were days when I was fearful of even moving out on a crowded street. Driving was out of question. After a year or so of trying various remedies, homeopathy and acupressure did the job.

Ecstatic, I started kickboxing. Everybody around me lost it. Kickboxing is one of the most strenuous, limb stretching, accident-prone workouts, one can pursue. I started with a group workout, which was a disaster. My legs could barely lift themselves. Reaching a target at head level was an impossibility. My punches had no zest. My body ached and pained and hurt. But something about martial arts has always held me enthralled. So even when the group broke up, I started private lessons with my Sensei.

Now, when I kick way above my head and my punches push him back, I think back and am so glad that I did not listen to the naysayers. Of course I have bruises everyday, and sometimes bleeding or sore knuckles, but for me it’s a character trait, and not debasement of beauty.

I have no clue, who told my friend’s husband I kick box? But, we got talking and he sent me a book. And it has consumed me. Till then I thought, ZEN was another three letter, celebrity concept.

I primarily learnt kickboxing as a defense technique. A goon has slapped me in college, and I have never forgotten it. I wanted to learn how to fight back, or at least cause some sort of damage.

As I would gear up to start my workouts with Sir, I would gather up all the anger I felt towards random people in my life and I would punch and kick at them. Their faces and actions would show up on the boxing bag and I would have a good go at it. It left me extremely satisfied and worked out. But sometimes at night I would have dreams, that my punches have absolutely no effect. They would bounce off the target like I was hitting a huge mountain of a man, with a non – effective small, plastic toy. These dreams are my nightmare.

As I grew stronger and my hands could hit harder, Sir would keep warning me to not hit anyone too hard. He felt I could do great damage if I connected properly. “And that’s the point, right? “ I would tell myself. I have learnt kickboxing to do damage and to beat up assholes. I was waiting for an opportunity.

It arrived when I was wearing a salwar kameez and going for a condolence meeting. To cut the pre drama short, I was confronted by 2 people, one man and one woman, in the middle of a very busy road. They were both extremely aggressive and angry, and trying to rile me up. At one point I was holding off the woman with one hand and the man with another. My feet firmly rooted to the ground, both my hands busy controlling them, my eyes were digging into the man’s. He tried to shake me off, but failed. Finally I let go and he threatened to hit me. I moved closer to him and crossed my hands, and asked him to go right ahead. He was so shocked, that after a few seconds, (which felt like a few hours), he backed off. I got back into the car. At that time I did not know that I was practicing ZEN.

Anger without action and action without anger. Anger, blocks sensible action. It’s a haze in front of our eyes and we keep missing the target. Action without anger is very effective.  The body remains relaxed, and just before the moment of contact, all energy is collected and pushed into that punch or kick. My all time hero, Bruce Lee could punch within an inch of space between himself and his opponent, and have his opponent moving a few feet backwards.

A quick temper will make a fool of you soon enough – Bruce Lee

With my thoughts running all over, ZEN is something I really need to learn. A few days back, I just could not sleep. I actually held my skull and pleaded with my brains to calm down.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee.

For a wonderful all consuming, rivetting read – “Zen in the Martial Arts” by Joe Hyams.

Stay Calm and ……..ZEN!!

 

 

Dentists.

There is this hotel, near my house. When you drive up to the lobby, the car vibrates terribly, because the road is made that way. The tires grate on the driveway and make terrible sounds. It instantly makes me feel as if I am on a dentist’s chair, and my teeth are being ground with some offensive drill. As it is, I am not too fond of this hotel, and then to arrive to it as if I have just visited a dentist – not happening!!

sets the "teeth" on edge.
sets the “teeth” on edge.

Sometime back, I was called to cater to an opening. I went to meet the client, and when I heard she is a dentist, I shuddered. She saw it and said, with great dignity, “We are fairly painless now, you know”. I catered, but I could not congratulate her!

So they say!!!
So they say!!!

As a kid, mom took us to a “Pediatric Dentist”. Pediatric – my foot. She was the spawn of an evil witch, destined to be more evil than her mother. She had a shrieky voice, rough hands and absolutely no dentist – chair – side, manners. She probed and scraped in wild glee, and kids were not allowed to show their disapproval. I think – no I am sure she did not like kids – that’s why she became their dentist. Easy prey for torture techniques! She had a very, very sweet assistant, and I would always ask for her. One day she was gone. Apparently, one was not supposed to be nice to kids! The day, she had my sister unconscious under general anesthesia, was the day I complained to my dad. And that was the end of our visits to her. I don’t know if she still exists. I am sure, her torture drove one of her patients, to grow up, and kill her. Even now, when I pass the building, which housed her clinic, every hair on my body stands up.

She practiced war moves on us kids!
She practiced war moves on us kids!

Then, mom decided, I needed braces. Which I must have, as I sucked my thumb, till an unmentionable age. I don’t remember the first dentist. But as the braces went in and he tightened the wires, I remember feeling so upset, that I pinched him. Hard! Then at some point the orthodontist changed. He must have been unable to bear the pinches. The second one was a sweet fellow, but he decided every six months, that I needed the braces, for six more months. Mom had stopped coming with me for visits, so, I one day told her he shut down his practice. Just like that. She believed me – perhaps for the last time, and changed the doctor. The third, was told categorically by me, that the braces have to come out. He was not a good doctor, or I must have snarled nastily, because he complied, and put me in retainers. I threw those out a few years ago, from the pile of memorabilia my mom handed to me recently.

images (1)

So you see, I have a valid – morbid fear of dentists. I am not an inherently empathetic person. Mostly, I would like to give a dithering, whining person a slap on the face, and ask them to snap out of it. But someone has to just mention an impending visit to the dentist, and I become all soggy inside. That person is my hero till the visit is done.

All this is revealing itself, because I had teeth extraction yesterday. Yup! Two, of them. Nasty it was. In the middle of the night, when I was trying to sleep, 12 hours after the surgery, the clot dislodged itself and my mouth was full of blood. I resembled a cross between a vampire and a werewolf – on a full moon night. After the husband and me leapt out of bed, and called the doctor, and all the blood dribbling down my face was cleaned up, I went into further panic, because the brushing of the teeth with good minty, mouth cleansing toothpaste was pushed further away.

Today morning, even the dog was not willing to meet me.

My friend.

I pick up the phone. My hand is dripping with blood and I am trembling from head to foot. “Hello! *****, I have just murdered that molesting bastard.” And I hear a click on the other side. She has hung up the phone. I go back to trembling, but now that dread is slowly subsiding. That person on the other side, is – I know – madly running and sliding to get to me, after she has thrown all her cash into a bag. I might need it!

She arrives, and takes one look at the situation. A few hours later, I am bathed and clean and the body is nowhere to be found and, never will be. She has helped me hide it! And we both sit down to celebrate the passing away of one more ass hole from this world!!

That’s my friend!!

She came to me late in my life. At a point when I was very comfortable with myself. I had very few friends, and very few friends had me! A stubborn me was about to change.

I love her and admire her. She has told me stories about her family, some are printable and some not. Her mother, who has baby sat her dogs for 2 months, her easy going baby brother, who when, push comes to shove does away with drama in one bloodless slash, her husband, who has the principals of – well I don’t know whom to compare him to, not seen another like him. Her son, whose smile melts the hardness around people, and her dog, who has made me his girl friend. And listening to these stories, was learning. Without realizing I have lost a lot of hardness and biases.

Today, we as a group bid her farewell. Well, I wont! For one, she luckily moves to a city, which is second base for me. I have already booked a snoozing room in their home. For another, friendships never come to an end. Most good ones, go over lifetimes. And this one bloody well had better!

I have always felt, that life is a series of crossroads. We walk down a few longer than others. But when one road comes to an end, it’s always nice to remember the scenery and memories and look forward to walking down another.

I wish everyone, a friend, who will help you hide the body of that person, you murdered!

My hands..

I wrote his exactly 17 plus years ago for the son! I have just unearthed old pictures and both the kids’ baby books. I’m alone in Bangalore, and chuckling loudly. Ive perhaps had the best morning in a lot of mornings.

 

I’m very irritated!!

My hands, they wont co-operate,

They move on their own accord….

… and leave me feeling desperate.

 

The other day..

I felt a tickle in my nose.

I tried to scratch it, and

I got pretty close.

But, zooped slipped my hand.

With a might of its own, they

Went and scratched my cheeks.

Boy! You should have heard me shriek.

 

New Year’s eve was another story.

Mamma felt Oh! So sorry.

I was trying to hold a conversation over the phone

With someone in the other zone!

Instead my hand grabbed my hair and yanked it hard.

And it just wouldn’t let go,

Till I howled off the ground floor.

 

Yesterday didi (Kanak) kissed me very hard.

It hurt, so I wanted to scratch her back.

Obviously.. my unsteady hands.

Patted her cheeks instead.

 

Because, of all these problems.

I howl when I’m unwrapped.

I like to stay tied up because,

Then I know..

My naughty hands are trapped.

 

Tanay Somani

2nd January 1996

Thirani House. Breach Candy.

photo

No time to stand and stare….

I am busy de cluttering, reorganizing files, throwing away tons of useless stuff, and leading a laid back indolent life. There is no kid at home to feed, drop or shop for. The work is on auto mode, and so far the empty nest is not biting at me.

A few days ago, people who are not used to see me doing nothing, said I couldn’t keep living this way. I should find some work! Knowing the old me, it was a very well meaning and concerned statement. I have always given out this image, that if I am not busy, I shall wither away and die.

I have spent years and years being “busy”. First school, the need to excel (not in studies!!), college, early marriage, coping with a new set of parents and grandparents, family crisis, kids, their schooling, my 19 hour work days, the need to prove myself, my further education, then the kids going off! Whew! When did I breathe?

I have a huge lacuna in my music files, off those years when I was newly married and kids were skirt pulling, attention seeking toddlers.

Now, I look into all household and work responsibilities in the morning. Then I am free. And indolent. And laid back. And lazy. Some days I watch downloaded serials for hours, some days I DJ and mix music endlessly, and other days I read incessantly. I party most nights, and find friends who can help me with that.

I absolutely, adamantly with stomping feet, vehemently, refuse to be useful any time soon. We live in a world of the unknown, and soon an emergency will draw me out of my sloth state. For nothing remains the same forever.

I sit now and watch butterflies flit across the garden. I watch my favorite tree bloom and shed its beautiful flowers. I slurp honey collected from a neighboring beehive. I have a beer in the afternoon and wine with my husband at night. I meet friends, and write love notes to my kids. I blog. Its all one big “I” right now.

Blooming trees andfliting butterflies.
Blooming trees and fliting butterflies.
my time to stand and stare.
my time to stand and stare.

This summer my elder one read books, woke up late and was basically a retarded non-productive human being. When I chided her, she made a statement, which has made me sit back and think. This is definitely the one time they can be most productive, but this is also the time when they can bask under the protective atmosphere of their parents and not worry about the next meal or the next promotion. Four months in college, are spent, working furiously, trying to prove her self to herself. Cooking, cleaning and basically always remaining alert. At home she lets go. Someone else is doing the worrying, feeding and protecting. When will she be able to do this in future?

We all get so busy in our lives, that, we forget to count the stars.

Now I sit and think. A lot of me has changed. I have shed the overcast cloud of influence of one person who had me in her grip for as long as I can remember. Free from her power over me, it now does not matter that she is angry or upset with me. The lightness of being is terrifying. It is taking some getting used to. With barriers dropped I am doing things I have never done. Making friends and becoming a non-biased, non-judgmental person.

All this reminds me of a story. A busy white collar, climbing the ladders of success and promotions, had a flat in a small road in Goa. While a shabbily dressed but peaceful looking man, repaired his flat, the white collar could not help feeling distressed at the laid back attitude. He asked the Goan “ Why don’t you work? “ “ What will happen if I work?” asked the Goan. “ Well! You will earn money. Get rich. Buy a house and then retire. Then you can live a peaceful life” The Goan smiled and said, “ Why should I break my back and earn money, to do what I am already doing?” Not necessarily, what we want to teach our children, but there is some element of truth in it.

This is another crossroad in my life. I am walking down one path. I might not reach the end, and might turn back and take another road. But for the moment every scenery of this path is breathtaking.

 

 

 

T is for Travelling

The formula of my life has changed.

(Kid 1 + Kid 2 * Grade 12 = Gone for Undergrad ) * 4 years = Empty Nest.

There fore Empty Nest * What to do? + Work on automation = Travel.

There fore Travel * Travel= Travel (2)

Therefore Travel (2) * Packing + Shopping = Crisis.

 

I have never packed in my life. Ever! Well except for this once, when I was returning back from my course in London, after 3 months. The husband does it for me. I pull out all that I need to carry, and leave it on the sofa. He comes in and sweetly packs it all in and asks if I have anything left out. Yes! I agree! He is adorable. When we were newly married, I, like all good wives, offered to pack. Sometime later I heard him clearing his throat, trying to find a way to tell me to buzz off! I think I was a bit offended then, but trust me, now it’s a sacred pact between us. I shop, he packs.

The one time I had to pack all on my poor own,  was when I was returning back home after 3 months. And as the date to depart neared I was horrified and biting my nails in desperation. I had not packed a bag for a 2 day holiday, and now here was 3 months worth of luggage, equipment, shoes etc staring accusingly at my face. Needless to say, I almost cried but managed. Of course the bag looked like it had just about survived a war. Things were caught between the zipper. The bag looked pregnant and  like it had jumped out of a comic book. And then it was over weight, and I had to pay excess. I have sworn throughout the flight at them check in women! The husband did not catch even a glimpse of the bag until it was unpacked.

Bursting at the seams.
Bursting at the seams.

A cousin was traveling abroad, from school. I happened to be visiting them, and there was a lot of excitement around her packing. She was allowed to carry only 1 bag, and the well meaning mom had packed in some food too. The bag was filled in and emptied out approximately 4 times ,by 5 different people, amidst sighs and growls. Finally her grandfather came in, cleared everybody out and proceeded to pack. When my cousin saw the bag, she was sure he had left out almost half the things, because no way was the bag going to look so happy and non explosive. It should have been bursting at the seams. She went back to check, but everything seemed to be in the bag. We were all, marveling at his dexterity and engineering skills. She told me later, that when she had to repack it for her return journey, she was in tears. Because there was no way anyone could replicate what he had done. She had to buy a handbag and carry it in the cabin, AND leave some stuff back.

Recently on our return journey, there was a huge back up for check in. We went into the next counter and asked them to help us out, and just as well or we would have been left behind, not just our scheduled flight, but I think even the next one. There was this man from Qatar, (we peeked at this passport cover!) So –  man, 1 wife (thank god. For after you read this, even you will agree that a second one would have given him angina pains that day!) 4 kids, 2 maids and, get this – 21 pieces of large sized luggage and 4 cabin bags. I heard the wife, ask him if she could go and sit on the chairs with the kids (age 3 to 8) and he waved her off. Every single piece of luggage was over weight. He would weigh one bag, find it over weight (this airline will charge you for an extra bag, but no bag can be over weight) and his maids would proceed to pull out random things from the bag and stuff it into another bag. Once the weight reduced it would go through, but the next bag would be over weight. Again the maids would pull out stuff and shove it into the next bag. Then that would be over weight. And the saga continued. And the man patiently handled every single bag. I must say, only, on this one observation, that the woman was one of the luckiest I have ever seen. I still want to know if the check in guy, just gave up and let it go, or he painfully, went through the entire procedure. I also want to know, how much that last bag finally weighed, after all the – passing – the – excess – into – another bag; finished.

husband

The husband packs really light. I could never make up my mind and carried way more than I wanted to. One day we had to change trains, therefore change platforms, therefore run down and up 3 flights of stairs, all the while pulling that heavy bag. I yanked my shoulders so badly, that I had to visit a chemist for a pain killer, even before we checked into our hotel.

Singapore-Airlines-Excess-Baggage-Fees

Now we travel light, but come back a wee bit heavier. I separate from the husband when we reach the customs, because the cheeky man always carries back more alcohol than he is supposed to!

 

 

Chicago

This blog is dedicated to Akshat T. Thanks for your suggestions. We tried every single place you suggested and you are now my official go to person, if I visit any city you already have.

Devyani N. Who visited Chicago, instead of Ireland!!

Chicago was 2 days of sheer debauchery. A friendly change from crowded busy and unfriendly NY.

Places to visit. 

Millennium Park:  This is in the centre of Chicago. Huge, with loads of things to do. There is the Crown Plaza, with the water fountain and digital face. It was hot, and kids were playing in the water fountain. I felt like joining them too.

Crown Plaza
Crown Plaza
View from Millennium Park.
View from Millennium Park.

 

Cloud Gate – know as The Bean, for its legume shape. I found this to be one of the most fascinating pieces of sculptor, I have ever see. I could not stop marvelling at the brains behind this fabulous design. When I researched, ofcourse it turned out to be an Indian. Anish Kapoor – 2006. Its a pure stainless steel structure, but the way it has been choreographed (there is not better word for it) is stunning. With every angle one sees myriad designs and reflections.

photo 5 (8)

Sky line reflected from the Bean
Sky line reflected from the Bean
Reflection - THE BEAN
Reflection – THE BEAN

Theater – There was a Jazz festival going on. Open seating. People had come with garden chairs and picnics. I dont know much about Jazzz, but I believe the artists performing were fairly famous. 

Out door Jazz FEstival
Out door Jazz FEstival

Willis Tower : Where the sky deck is located – on the 103rd floor. It’s a crazy experience. Once stands on a glass floor. And when you look down, huge container carrying trucks look like miniature dinky cars. Not meant for those scared of heights.

photo 5 (6)

Navy Pier: It was a bright summer, wednesday evening. We went for a show (Cirque – Shanghai Warriors – amazing) and then roamed around the pier. Typical american peir. Open spaces, loads of restaurants and bars, and shops. Worth spending an hour or so. If you are lucky you might catch a fire work show.

photo 5 (7)
Sky line from the Navy Pier

Magnificent Mile and Oak Street: Shopping areas, boutiques and great restaurants. Walk!

Wicker Park: Local neighbourhood. A little further from central areas, so we could not visit. But I have been told its worth a visit.

Architectural Tour : The boats take you around Chicago, can be done with or without a meal and drinks. Again we could not make it. But heard its worth it.

Places to eat. And DRINK

The Aviary: What a concept. Its merely and only a bar. Very little eats menu. One can choose a 3 course or a 5 course cocktail menu. We took the 3 course one. There were 4 of us and 12 drinks. The mixes, the ingredients – pure mixology genius. Its an experience and one must absolutely go there. Lets leave aside the fact that we were walking at odd angles after this.

Aviary - Bird CAge. Bar tenders and Mixologists at work.
Aviary – Bird CAge. Bar tenders and Mixologists at work.
Flaming drink - second course.
Flaming drink – second course.
4 drinks 4 different tastes. Weird ingredients which make so much sense to the pallette.
4 drinks 4 different tastes. Weird ingredients which make so much sense to the pallette.

The Publican : Belgian brewery and restaurant. With close to 160 different beers. Communal tables. Definitely worth visiting. PS – even the food looked good – though we did not eat there.

Signature Lounge : The view from this place is crazy. Its on the 96th floor and has fantastic drinks. We had a ruby martini, which had lemon shorbet dissolving in it and leaving behind mild notes of citrus. If possible book a place by the window, difficult but worth it.

The view from Signature lounge.
The view from Signature lounge.

Fig and Olive: We went there for drinks as well as lunch. Wonderful place, fabulous service, great food, great music. Must go. Booking required.

The Girl and the Goat: We could not go there as we had no booking. Booked solid for atleast a month in advance. Our friends managed a walk in. They said it was fabulous.

Pump Room : Our first meal and Chicago and it was unforgettable.

Spiaggia : Even though we reached drunk and left even more drunk, I still remember tasting the food and going all round and goggle eyed. Great wines. Try for a window table. Book. BTW: fantastic service. They indulged our drunk rambling.

photo 3 (3)
WIne colllection in Spiaggia

The Chicago Deep Dish Pizza : We had it in Lou Malnati. A must go, but go with time. Many different venues. Loooong cues. And amazing pizza, though the deep dish cheese did a number on our stomach. I also heavily recommend the thin crust pizza. We had a taste, and regretted not having an appetite to eat one of those. The spinach one was outstanding.

The other places where its available are Giordano’s. We did not eat there though.

Next: From the makers of Aviary. We heard about it, but it was under renovation. Name’s so, because it changes menu and CUISINE every few months. Innovative to say the least!

I loved Chicago. The vibe, the zest and the view. I would go there again in a heartbeat. Place for foodies and those who love their alcohol and are willing to experiment a bit.