Monday, 29 July 2013

The Dark Side of Arranged Marriages

India has come to the point that, when families place advertisements to find suitors for their sons and daughters, they set out a list of criteria that would make you think they were picking out an appliance or a new car.

You will usually find an educational demand — must have at least a master's degree. A financial requirement — "six-figure salary preferred" and, of course, the ever-insulting skin-tone requirement. Most families want a girl with a "wheatish" complexion for their sons, which is a clumsy way of saying "dark-skinned girls need not apply."

This is just something you will see in any newspaper. I understand it is a tradition and traditions are important. And I can already hear some readers shouting "It's not that big a deal." Family pride is one thing, but trading your children like objects is quite another.

However, so often we come across people who are married purely by merit of caste, community, religion, family connections, etc., without getting to know the partner, simply because the families insisted on it and have lived to regret it. Families still put pressure on their kids to marry. Washing their hands off their daughters once they are married and turning their faces away when she cries for help, is like selling your daughter to slavery and sex. So this is a note to all parents out there who believe their kids must marry the partner of their choice: That if they expect the trust and respect to be given to them by their children, then they must live up to that trust and respect post the marriage too. Your kids helped keep your respect, help them retain theirs too.

Who you will marry is one of the most important decisions you will make. Some questions that crop up include: What sort of a girl/guy do I marry? Will they adjust with my family? How can I decide just by meeting her/him a few times? When should I marry? What if I make the wrong choice? Many men go for beauty when looking for a suitable bride. Sure, looks are important, but that should not be the most important criterion. Later on in life, it is her maturity and behavior that will make all the difference. Important thing in arranged marriages is just be yourself.

Those days are long gone when youngsters getting married hardly knew anything about each other. Now you can ask just about anything and no one is supposed to take offence. Today, a lot of young people may already have had a previous relationship. Though having had a relationship is neither uncommon nor something to be ashamed of. There is nothing wrong with it, if it is a thing of the past. What is more important is to be faithful to each other after marriage. An example of weird questions a girl has to face. Read it in some confession round. Worth reading and contemplating! Where is our generation heading?

“Are you pure?” asked the guy who came to see Bani for marriage. “Pure????” She couldn’t get his question. “Pure as in untouched?” he clarified. She now understood what he wanted to ask. “What are you looking for? A girl to marry or ghee?” she replied agitated by such a question. He was shocked at such a reply, but before he could say anything. Bani continued, “Well you can say if there was an exam about ‘purity’ I wouldn’t top it!” His family left. Next day he rang up her dad and told him that he cannot marry Bani as she is a girl with low morals. Bang on! Welcome to the progressive India where we claim to be modern people but still make virginity a base to check a girl’s morals or her capability to become a good wife.

Today when we claim that women have an equal status in the society with that of men, we still are under the orthodox views of using a white bed sheet on the first night of marriage just to check the bride’s virginity! The guy may himself have slept with number of girls but he wants a “pure”, “untouched” girl as a wife. Why? Answer- just to satisfy his male ego that the girl he is going to spend his life with has been and will be only his “possession”. If today a girl loses her virginity with a guy she loves truly but the guy turns out to be a cheat then she is tagged as a “slut”, “characterless girl”. Mind you these being the most decent words I can pen down, else there are a million more worse words in our mother tongue vocabulary. I ask what is the mistake of the girl? She loved a guy? She slept with someone she thought she would marry? Or, she now has lost her purity which would satisfy her to-be husband’s male ego and make him believe that she is fit to be his wife! And again no answers I could get!

I completely support the fact that we Indians should not give up on our morals and accept everything that westernization gives us but I wonder how can a biological wall in a girl’s body by breaking decide the level of her morals? Bani could have been a great wife, she was marrying the guy her parents chose, maybe she had a bad past. But all that was seen was that she wasn’t pure! Now I am forced to wonder that what would happen to those rape victims? Who would marry those girls? Moreover a girl from a sports background has always been told by the orthodox distant relatives to quit it, why? Simply because playing may result in the breakage of the so-called “moral wall”! “Urggghhh. Disgusting that is!”, that’s what I have always thought after hearing that!

Yes, I am also a girl, an Indian girl, who values her morals, for whom her “izzat” is priceless, who has always dreamt of her “raajkumar” coming on a white horse to marry her, and who has always planned her wedding dress! But I am also a girl who belongs to the globalised world, interacts with the opposite sex, loves, has break ups, overcomes them and smiles again and no one has a right to tag me anything for that reason! I just request you that next time you go looking for a girl for marriage, search for a true heart and not something like “pure ghee”, because she is going be your life partner and not your meal to satisfy your hunger of ego. People even ask, 'Are you from a co-ed college?' Heights that is!

When you look at a beautiful girl coming dressed in a red lehanga leaving her world behind, to become a part of your world, accept her, make her life a bed of roses rather than testing her loyalty by making her lay down on a bed with white bed sheet because true love will make your marriage successful, her “purity” won’t!" Also, a ruptured hymen is not an indication of having had sex. Women can lose it while horse riding, doing gymnastics, etc. Therefore, virginity should not be a question on a girls’ morality. And definitely no girl owes any guy or his family an answer to stupid baseless questions. Heaven’s sake, it’s the twenty first century!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Thoda Hai,, Thode Ki Zarurat Hai . . .

/*So how many of us crib daily?
Water shortage issues? Train problems? Heavy rains? Not satisfied with the job at hand? Internet issues? Not happy with the cooked home food? Sometimes just low and you can’t even reason out the cause!
We humans are hypocrites. When we get what we prayed for all the way, we are still never satisfied. We fuss about just anything and everything. Small or big.
What we forget is there are people in this world who are not even blessed with these things in which we find flaws! The people less fortunate than us.
A short poetry instilling positivity, and saying ‘Find a reason to smile. Thoda hai thode ki zarurat hai’*/

Sometimes in life we feel so blue,,
But someone, somewhere is not as happy as you.

Somewhere far at the border when a soldier sleeps,,
Missing his loved ones he silently weeps.

Somewhere a mother painfully sighs,,
'Coz her new born baby didn't open her eyes.

Somewhere a poor dad silently cries,,
When he sees his son begging for a bowl of rice.

Somewhere in an orphanage a little girl's sad,,
When she misses her mom and dad.

So at times a reason to smile you may not have any,,
Say to yourself that you're happier than many.

'Coz life is beautiful,,
its not always blue,,
And someone, somewhere is not as happy as you.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Letter From A Newly Married Girl To Her Mother..

Disclaimer: I read this on FaceBook. This ain't written by me. I loved it and thought it essential to share!


Like every girl, I was excited about marriage right from my childhood days.

I never thought beyond the time that I would spend happily with my prince charming. But today when I am married, I realize that marriage is not all roses.

It’s not just about being with your beloved and having a gala time. 

There is so much more to it. It comes with its own share of responsibilities, duties, sacrifices and compromises. I can’t wake up anytime I want to. I am expected to be up and ready before everyone else in the family. I can’t laze around in my pyjamas throughout the day. I am expected to be presentable every time. I have to talk in low voice, respectfully with everyone unlike home where I could scream and shout at things and demand. 

I can’t just go out anytime I want to. I am expected to be sensitive to the needs of the family.  I just can’t hit the bed anytime I want to. I am expected to be active and around the family. I can’t expect to be treated like a princess but I am supposed to take care of everyone else in the family. 

And then I think to myself, ‘Why did I get married at all?’ I was happier with you, mom. Sometimes I think of coming back to you and getting pampered again.

I want someone to cook for me too, run after me to eat food and bring something for me to eat like you always used to bring whenever you visited the market.

I want to come home to my favorite food cooked by you every evening after a nice outing with friends. I want to sleep on your laps like I have no worry in this world. I want to ask money for enjoyment from dad and again from you but now I have to think twice before purchasing anything. I was possessive about all my belongings but here I have to allow everyone to use my stuff because I cannot annoy anyone.

But then I suddenly realize, had you not got married and made such sacrifices in your life, I wouldn’t have had so many wonderful memories to hang on to. And suddenly, the purpose of all this becomes clear - to return the same comfort, peace and happiness to my new family that I got from you. And I am sure that as time would pass, I would start loving this life equally as you do. Thank you mom for all the sacrifices and compromises you made. They give me the strength to do the same. I will try to be a complete woman like you.

Love You Maa,
Your Princess.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Come Baby, Lets Be Practical!

“How to forget someone you love?” Have you ever been in a situation where you desperately wanted to avoid someone but still felt attracted to them? The biggest challenge? Your own lingering feelings. Often overlooked but depressingly common relationship phase – break up.
Breaking up with someone you truly loved will remain one of your most significant life experiences. The process of forgetting someone you loved can break you. Or it can transform you into a stronger, more balanced and more mature version of yourself, with a much higher potential for choosing and creating deeply fulfilling relationships in the future.
Rule #1. Don’t stay in touch, the ‘NO CONTACT’ policy.
There are many ways of forgetting someone you love. The one way which will ensure you can’t forget them ever is continuing to “stay in touch” with them. It’s dangerous, however tempting because human emotions are irrational and staying friends with someone we have romantic interest in makes us falsely believe that they’re somehow somewhere available when they’re not. It makes us always available to them as a fall back option. (Be honest – if your ex wants you back you’d only be too happy, right?) And most importantly, the cycles of getting your hopes high and disappointment sap all your emotional energy and don’t give you anything to show for it. So overcome temptations to talk to them. Don’t abruptly stop taking their calls. That’s unfair to them and difficult for you. Clearly communicate your decision to follow the No Contact Policy. Cut off all contacts. Completely. Utterly. Permanently. No remaining friends. It is the only option if you want a healthy end. Somewhere in our lives we’ve all struggled with that sickeningly painful period of forcing someone out of your life because you know it is right, even though it’s not easy for you.
> May be because you’ve ended a wrong relationship but are still weighed down by guilt and sympathy.
> May be because someone has ended a relationship with you and hence you know you have to move away from them.
 Preferably write an email (Written communication gives you the opportunity to present your thoughts precisely, effectively, and most importantly – without interruption). Pour your heart out. Write down everything you want to tell them. All your accusations, blames, hatred … or may be not – may be longing, wistfulness and attraction – pour it all out in that white electronic space, for the very last time.
Rule #2. Don’t force-hate them.
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to hate someone you want to forget. Hating someone puts them at the centre of your life, and doesn’t let you forget them. The key is to shift your focus away from them instead. Lies you don’t need to tell yourself if you don’t believe them already include:
“I never loved them.”
“They’re evil.”
“I was too good for them.”
Instead tell yourself, “Everything has its time. I’m happy for the good times I had with a certain individual. The time for that person in my life has now passed and it’s time to look forward.”  
Rule #3. Focus on yourself.
The best way to shift your focus from somebody you want to forget is to channel it into something you can love with equal passion. Focus on that most neglected but most important guy/girl – yourself. Now is a great time to take a fresh look at your life. Concentrate on the gifts of singlehood. Re-evaluate your life goals. Is there something you can do differently? Jump headfirst into that hobby you’ve always wanted to pursue. Take that short trip you’ve never had time for. This is a great time to learn to find happiness within your ownself.
Rule #4. Don’t try revenge.
It never works. Holding on to your dignity at all costs is liberating. Keep those vengeful urges at bay. If you try to take revenge at this moment of emotional upheaval, you are likely do things you’d regret immensely once you’ve gained your senses back. More importantly, it would tell your ex how important they still are to you – definitely not the kind of ego boost you need to give them.
Rule #5. Open up.
It’s OK to feel the shock, pain, anger etc. Bottling up all of that can be detrimental to your emotional health. Open up to friends and family. If you don’t want to share this with anyone write it down. It helps immensely.
Rule #6. Don’t trust indiscriminately.  
After a deeply debilitating experience like a break-up, you’d remain in deep shock and pain for a while. You might have tendencies to talk to anyone who’d listen. But this is dangerous, because you’re at your most vulnerable at this point and might unwittingly reveal more than you should to not-so-trustworthy people around you. Make sure you connect only with people who you’re 100% sure of, like family or long-term friends.  
Rule #7. Don’t try rebound.  
Don’t jump into rebound. You’re emotionally unstable at the moment. If you get into a rebound relationship out of your desperation, the chances of making mistakes are sky high. It would also be rather unjust to the person you involve, as you’d be using them as a replacement for someone else. No one deserves that. And most importantly, this would cement your belief that you can’t function without having “someone in your life”. You would deprive yourself of an opportunity to find stability and fulfillment within yourself. This is essential before you can even begin to assess your needs from a future relationship.
Rule #8. The Replacement Strategy.
Resisting your urges of engaging in a particular activity (contacting them, etc.) is basically about replacing that activity with something else. When you have the urge to call them or think about them, tell yourself, “At the moment I’m free to do anything I like apart from calling them or thinking about them. I reward myself for not calling them with 10 minutes of Facebooking, watching YouTube, playing games or listening to my favourite music.”
Don’t be too hard on yourself at these moments of weakness – there’s no need to replace the activity of calling them with something productive. It is important to replace it with something fun. Don’t “punish” yourself with work/studies (anything you don’t actively enjoy doing) for successfully resisting your unwanted urges. “Wasting” a few minutes of your time won’t kill you. Instead reward yourself with activities you just love doing.
Make sure the process of forgetting someone enriches you, rather than destroying you..

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Welcome Baarish!

She’s finally here. :D
With due pomp and circumstance, due anticipation and due carelessness, expected charm and unexpected addictiveness she’s here.
For those of you who’re too bored with my predictable tri-chotomies, it’s our intensely seductive, oh-so-anticipated new neighbour – the rainy season – I’m talking about.
 “Monsoon.” (Replace with synonym in your mother tongue). What is it, really?
Is it just a welcome shower of relief after the (inevitably) volcanic summer?
Is it the unfortunate result of a gaping hole suddenly driven through the sky?
Is it just one of the innumerable divine punishments for the sins of humanity? (like in Uttarakhand?)
Or is it that time of the year which makes you feel alive again? Is it that pest of a pal of yours who forces your mind off the important stuff and out through the window? Is it that magic potion which acts against your natural instinct of self-preservation and doesn’t let you close the windows at night, ensuring you wake up coughing next morning?
Well, I belong in the fourth group – the “rains make me feel alive again” one. As if you hadn’t figured that out already.
I don’t know about you, but I’m all excited. Yes, in spite of the time and money spent on my daily commute having doubled. I’m fascinated by the mythological tales that surround the Mumbai monsoon. And I’m all geared up for soaking it all up for real this time.
So here’s a big welcome to the pesky droplets, to the addictive grey skies, to the erratic soaking blasts, to the shivers, to the pensive moods. Oh yes. Also to the puddles in the street, to the muck, to the un-usability of public transport, to the late trains, to the cough and cold, and to the utter chaos all around!
Welcome Baarish!!

Friday, 5 July 2013

The Idea Caravan

One of the biggest scar on humanity today is the big C- Cancer. And it changes your life, if you have lost a near and dear one to the deadly disease. Shree Bose, a 15 year old girl refused to take her grandfather’s death as merely an unfortunate death due to cancer. She wanted to get involved into research and find out why an abnormal growth or tiny changes in a few cells are held responsible for making a person so sick and eventually lead to his/her death. At the age of 15, she had decided she wanted to be a part of Cancer Research team. She mailed various professors and scientists. Faced rejection from many. But her undying spirit had to win someday. She was adamant on finding out why cancer cells developed resistant to certain drugs. It was this resistance that she wanted to battle and hence make the treatment more effective. She finally met a professor who believed in her passion and accepted her assistance.

Shree is definitely here to find out the cure of Cancer and for all that, I pray she succeeds at it soon. She is the Grand Prize winner of Google Science Fair 2011 and has many such awards to her name. She has met President Obama too. What strikes about this video is the confidence with which she speaks, the never-give-up spirit she symbolizes, the self confidence she recreates in you and a happy place she puts you in as the 10 minutes pass away. Her inventions at the 2nd and 5th grade she talks about lets you know that no one is small for anything. She refused to stop dreaming and followed what fascinated her.

Anything can inspire you, however small. Isac Newton was inspired by an apple! What inspired Shree was her brother’s childhood and her father’s unique thinking. Three unwanted words said to her father in regards to her brother- a curious child. ‘DUMB HIM DOWN’. These words could either make him or break him. Shree’s father chose the latter. He himself taught his son and let him discover things. Her father never said, “It is right, because I say so.” Or “It is not important for you to know now.” He always let him go and find out what he didn’t know. This is how those three shattering words turned into inspiring three words- ‘BREAK THE MOULD’ and they continue to inspire Shree even today!

Expectations- we put on ourselves, sometimes put by our parents, society, schools. What is important is, to think out of the box of those expectations and change what you think you can and cannot do. Following your passion is definitely daring. It tells you that you have a calling, and if you can discover it and muster the courage to follow it, it will be a big, bold move that would change just everything around. Steve Jobs, in his famous Stanford Commencement address, told the students: You’ve got to find what you love, don’t settle. Keep the faith. Do what you love. Shoot for the stars. Settling should never be an option.

What's more boring? Failing at having luxuries of life because you "pursued your passion" or getting a decent job you hate for 40 hours a week? It really doesn’t matter what you do. As long as you do something. With intention. With purpose. And enjoyment. Hold on tight to your dreams. Get some guts and go after what you want.

The secret of living is giving, if you follow your dreams then you will have something worth sharing with others, hope, inspiration and a meaning to live, and that to me, is a great contribution. Chasing your dreams will develop your courage. Courage is a fuel to achieve amazing success in life. In sure enough time, you will be unstoppable. Also, dreams can distract you from the negative events in life. You will weigh up what is more important.

What is not started today is never finished tomorrow. If you don’t follow your dreams, you eventually crush them. There are very few things worse than regret. Regret is a miserable place to hang out. Dreamers who took action have created everything around us. You might fail, but failure doesn’t come simply. It only means you are on the right path. Failure is just a step on the way to success, but it's a cliché because it's true! In fact, the bigger the snafu, the better it turns out in the long run.

You might live forever, but you might even die tomorrow, so take a chance. The purity of the goal really comes through when there is struggle. Nothing that comes easy is worth keeping. T.E. Lawrence said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes to make it possible.”

This video is for anyone who has a dream or anyone looking for clarity in discovering their dream. Passion is the engine that drives excellence. When passion meets performance, we experience our greatest satisfaction and impact in life. Passion is only lasting when it's connected to a larger purpose, something in the service of others. Something similar to a big cause, Shree Bose talks about.
All of us have dreams but not all of us fulfill them, so what does it take to transform your life? Are there particular traits successful people have that ensure their success? Yes. Tenacity is more important than talent. It takes courageous action, endurance, self-belief, passion and will-power to pursue what you want.

Whatever you're meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible. If you wait for everything in your life to line up before you act, you'll be waiting forever. Nearly everyone who's achieved something of significance has overcome great odds to do it. So, whatever your circumstances are, just get started! What you start today, will definitely show results tomorrow. You won’t win, if you don’t begin. Don't waste time lamenting the years that have passed when your dreams drifted by unfulfilled. It's a great waste of your creative spirit and won't affect anything except to make you too depressed to take positive action.

Almost every great idea is impossible when it is first born. Possibility thinkers turn impossibilities into possibilities. Because it is impossible today, doesn’t mean it will be impossible tomorrow. Success is never certain. And failure is never final. Disapproval is possible. But it is impossible to be at the top of the needle without getting pricked. People have their views. Learn to take it in your stride. Great people are ordinary people with extraordinary amounts of determination!
Today what seems all worth it to Shree, is not the awards and the recognition she has received for her research work, but the satisfaction and the hugs she gets from women batting Cancer whom she gave hope. The message she leaves us with is “Find your fascination. Follow your passion. Believe in yourself. Step beyond what you know you can do.” Every one of us has the ability to bring the change and make a difference. Don’t just wish for it, work for it.

You have not lived until you have done something for someone, who can never repay you back. Finding a cure for Cancer is the utmost need of humanity. Let us give them a purpose to live for, a new hope, an inspiration while going through this travail and ordeal called Cancer.

P.S: This is my take on the awesome and highly inspiring 10 minute video by Shree Bose. It is for ‘The Idea Caravan’ contest by IndiBlogger.

Franklin Templeton Investments partnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012. 

Monday, 1 July 2013

A Perfect ‘Road Trip’ Honeymoon

I am married to my best friend. My husband and I both love to travel. For the honeymoon, my husband planned us a road trip. With so much quality time together, I thought this would be the perfect time to throw together an “on the fly” date, so exotic! Planning a road trip, bookings, etc. can be hectic, but my husband spared me of the pain. All I was to do was accompany him! Lovingly, he asked me, “Hey, we have promised to walk together forever, even legally now. So would you accompany me to a road trip to Europe?” I was stumped! I replied, “I vow to! This is so sweet of you, Jaan! I had no idea it would be this exciting and Europe? When did you plan all this? My God, seems just so romantic!” What lied ahead was an experience for a lifetime! Honestly, he said the idea was borrowed from the movie ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’. I immediately told him, “Copy Cat!” Well this happens often, we often hurl “copy cat” at each other, since our courtship days and then hug each other! Just one of the koo-chee-koo things that couples share!

It was time to just unwind and take off, leaving the bustling world behind. The feeling of coursing through the road and the breeze caressing your face is something that needs to be experienced to believe in. Europe, the picturesque continent and its countries with their different cultures leave you fascinated anyway. Every place has a history. Europe has played a big role in the western development and western history as many revolutions started in Europe and it is a major player in world events. Things like the industrial revolution and renaissance began in Europe, the car was invented in Europe some 125 years ago, it's where the Greeks gave us democracy and the Romans started connecting the trade routes, it's where imperialism started and it's why North America was discovered. Through our journey we saw many sites- from the birthplace of the car to the most historic ancient castles and even check point Charlie. And thanks to the homework my husband did (his love for History and Geography I tell you, ugh!), I knew the background of all the places when I was there.  All means all! He believes that whichever place you visit, you should never be blank about its history. You should have an idea.

So I started packing. It was a week’s trip. A baggie included all of the yummy assorted treats, including chocolates, dry fruits, emergency kits, etc. and the other bag had clothes and other utilities. I then created a fun little countdown, grabbed a long ribbon & some clothespins, & mapped out our trip. I wrote down stopping points on the cards – which we would take off the ribbon as we passed through each location.

We reached San Francisco International Airport, the nearest airport to the location from where our road trip was to begin. Our travel agents had booked us a two seater Ferrari, a gorgeous classic car with style, power and comfort which can connect to all weather and roads conditions. It is reasonably good for a road trip, as long as you have to hop from hotel to hotel along the way. I wondered how much money my husband put into this trip. He took utmost care that everything was top class. On asking him, he said, “Money is not important, you are. I am with you. And you don’t ask me the cost again. Just be with me.” And we hugged.

We decided on maximum three four places a day. We had a week for the big city. Phew, planning was important. So we planned well. The good thing about road trips in Europe is you don’t need to travel considerable distances to experience the feeling of change. You see rugged mountainous glaciers giving way to breathtaking beaches which in turn blend seamlessly into plush green farm lands, all within a course of few hours. Different countries across Europe have signed a declaration called ‘Schengen Agreement’ which dissolves practically all borders between countries and makes it easier to travel through states without much hurdles. Information courtesy if you ask me? My husband!

Europe is essentially a massive peninsula surrounded by the Arctic ocean to the north, Atlantic ocean to the west and three seas to the south- Mediterranean, Caspian and Black. The topography is so unique- the south of Europe is very mountainous and north from the Alps the terrain descends into vast plains. It has always been a hot spot for travelers and tourists. There are about 50 countries that are connected via Europe's massive road network. 50 countries mean a lot of languages- English (proper English), German, French, Spanish, Danish, Italian, Croatian Russian and so many more. Even England is not a safe place anymore- lots of dialects makes Irish different to Scottish and so on. You can't possibly know each and every language, so a good advice is to try to know a few basic words before hand or you can consult your Phone/Tablet’s dictionary that can make your road trip easier. Atleast that’s what worked for us! Whether it's October Fest in Germany, a night in London's newest musical or a trip to the local Italian ice cream stand- a road trip across Europe has so much to offer. The fact that so many countries are connected gives you a chance to explore and taste so many wonderful things across this amazing continent. Even though understanding all the different languages in Europe is hard, paying for gas and hotel in your road trip isn't, because thankfully most of the countries use the same currency- Euro! 

Europe has the most challenging roads to drive, and the beautiful scenery along them just makes the drive better- that's why a road trip across Europe is one of the best road trip ideas you could have. You can drive on deserted Austrian lake side road and a few hundred miles later you can be on the German Autobahn, driving legally at 300 kph, really legally. Europe has no shortage of walking paths; indeed its cities and countryside are often best explored on foot too.

California’s coast is a haven for newlyweds with a plethora of romantic cities, gorgeous scenery, and fabulous food. We started our journey in San Francisco where we walked the hilly streets. What followed was some fun exploration and great eats. Then we hopped on the Pacific Coast Highway, which has incredible views, made a pit stop in Napa Valley and toured a few amazing wineries. The coast had some beautiful beaches, we even made a quick visit to Yosemite National Park. Then we reached the glitzy Los Angeles and continued down to San Diego.

Next day was lined up for the coast to coast trips. This gives you the feel that you are in for the honeymoon of a lifetime! Between city skylines and breathtaking landscapes, a trip across the states makes for the ultimate experience to share together as newlyweds. We made sure we had enough time to stop wherever we wanted and we even took detours for fun. We started in the northeast and stopped in Chicago on our way to Seattle and headed for Grand Canyon next.

Just him and I, enjoying the scenic road trip. Seemed so perfect that I never wanted it to end! Such an amazing and relaxing vacation! Lots of open roads, no regrets, no schedule, no destination and lots of good music.  We had a lot of fun, talking, laughing, dancing, eating yummy treats, and holding hands. There’s no better way to get to know your new spouse than to spend hours together exploring new places and enjoying your honeymoon on your time. Road trips are not only fun, but they are one-of-a-kind experiences with unexpected stops, new discoveries and extraordinary memories.

Around every turn was something new to discover. Whether it's a vibrant seaside town, the perfect spot to get ice cream, a one-of-a-kind shop, or a beautiful sandy beach, you're bound love it all. All you need to do is hop in the car, turn on your favorite playlist and let the road take you there! My husband had carried a collection of my favorite romantic songs. This fact was unknown to me. It came to me when I realized song after song, all my favorites were being played. So on the Europian roads, we played along all Hindi romantic numbers! Desi style you call it!

New England states are popular during fall months with gorgeous foliage and cool nights perfect for bundling up next to a fire. The routes we could take were endless. In Vermont, we followed Route 125, which starts at Lake Champlain and winds through the quaint town of Middlebury, and continues thereafter as the Robert Frost Memorial Drive complete with a mountain named after the poet and a beautiful trail. Next we had a long drive along the eats coast. It is full of captivating cities and beautiful ocean side resorts. We stopped in Annapolis, MD, and then made a few stops in Virginia (it is ‘for lovers’ after all!). We continued on to North Carolina where we relaxed on the beaches of the Outer Banks and Wrightsville Beach, which is right by riverfront Historic Wilmington.

Next day we had to travel Florida, well known as the Sunshine State. It has an impressive list of locations. In fact, because of its size and how much there is to do and see, Florida can be broken down into many different kinds of road trips. We started in Fort Lauderdale and made our way down towards Key West. Along the way we saw some great destinations, like Miami, and the Florida Keys. Each Key has its own beauty and mix of activities. We chartered a boat and toured the island and even indulged in fishing. On reaching Key West, the southernmost part of the United States, we had dinner. The nightlife here is rocking too.

Though agreed that, road trips are much more fun when you are organized. But one thing that I encourage you not to do is have a formal itinerary put together for your road trip.  Life will always throw you a curve ball like a traffic jam, a slow waiter, or an unexpected surprise that you might want to take the time to enjoy-such as a sunset. The better is, when on a road trip, go with the flow. Also, we avoided the large chain restaurants and tasted the local foods.  Although, we stopped every two-three hours and took turns in driving, driving plus all day travelling still exerts you. A halt at the hotel and we would indulge and pamper ourselves at the spa. At night, we did star gazing. It is one of the simplest pleasures in life. It would take away all the stress and tiredness. And for my multi-talented husband and his interest in Astronomy, by then, I knew interesting things about stars too!

We had three days left now. Next spot was Cabo de Sao Vincente in Portugal. Nothing can beat the exhilaration of watching the sun set over Atlantic sea as you drive through a winding road past rugged mountains and never ending vast ocean. Such was Portugal! The cliffs, beaches, wilderness make it very special, and it is a nature reserve. Then we drove to Algarve coast. This is a rural experience. As you cruise by in wonder, the surrounding landscape changes from barren land to lush vegetation with a sprinkling of small villages with tiled roofing, meadows and alluring sandy beaches. The next day, we drove to the Coastal road of Brindisi, Italy. It is an experience of driving at sea level, feeling the breeze brush against your face. There is nothing but sea and more sea as you drive by. Last day we drove off to Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse, Austria. This road takes you to the highest point above alpine mountain. It is not for the faint hearted drive. Hence, here it was my husband driving! It has numerous twists and turns as it courses by the highest glacier of the country. What really takes your breath away is the awesome scenary you see below as you climb the mountain. For this, it seemed all worth it.

Our trip was about to end. But the best was still left. Two awesome cities- Scotland and Florence. The stretch of Edge of Loch Ness, Scotland is for those who want to be real close to nature. Surrounded by ice caped mountains and plush green fields and sparkling blue lakes. It is the most spectacular drives! Our last spot was Pianoro, Florence. My god, this road is deemed to be truly romantic, romance is in the air here, literally! The countryside is dotted with quaint little villages and wine yards. Nothing but peace and serenity follows this road. Sometimes words are needed, but at times words fail and the serenity of certain places speaks more than words. Our trip organizers drove us off to Florence Airport, Peretola. It was time to be back to aamchi Mumbai. Though I wished the trip never ended, but I didn’t want my husband to turn bankrupt, so we were back with a lot of memories and many stories to tell.  We finished all the ribbon strips as we scraped our journey.

The trip has definitely strengthened my marriage and I can’t thank God enough for my spouse. This journey remains to be the most memorable, adventurous and epic one I ever had! In Europe, there are so many beautiful sights and quaint little towns along the way when you venture off the beaten path a bit. Remember to take lots of pictures, and have a great time! What made the journey memorable and special was, I was with HIM, my soul mate, my best friend, my husband, my life!

P.S: This is my entry for the contest "The Perfect Road Trip" organized by IndiBlogger for AmbiPur, India. For more information, check

Shaadi Waadi :P

Marriage is an important phase of life for everyone, but for a girl it is the most amazing decision of her life. She dreams and wishes for her life partner. It won’t be wrong to say, she does so since childhood. She prepares a list in her mind:

I want a husband who would hold my hand in lines at the mall or while crossing roads, so that I feel protected.

I want someone who would sing to me at random moments. 
Someone who would respect my maturity and love my innocence too. 
Someone who would bet with me on kisses and let me win. 
Someone who would let me fulfil my responsibilities towards my parents and would love my family like  his own. I want a guy who will accept me with unconditional love and make me feel a part of his family. Someone who I could share my fears, my laughs, my smile and my tears with. 

Someone who would not get angry over my mistakes instead scold me like my mother and then help me to learn doing that thing again. Appreciates me for my tiniest efforts. 
But mostly, someone who would be loyal to me, crave for me and will always be the reason for my smile. 

Someone who has a heart of gold. Who is honest, hard working and humble.
Who will have time to talk to me, listen to me. Tolerate me in my moody times and love me at my worst. Who finds me beautiful at every chance he gets, even if that means in my messy hair and pyjamas. Most importantly, who is proud to have me and is not shameful to introduce me as his own.

I don’t want him to be an already made man with a high profile job or a car, living in a posh estate. I know, for a fact that there is no perfect man on earth. Waiting for him is stupidity, as a woman. I will appreciate all he strives to be. And secretly, she promises herself that to such a guy, “I would always prove his trust right, I would be his family and would love and respect his parents like my very own and respect the fact that he promises me nothing, but tries his best to give me everything I will ever need.”