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Sunday, 29 September 2019

Calton Hill

September 29, 2019 1 Comments


I took a short vacation to Glasgow and Edinburgh over the Easter break. While vacations bring on images of peace, tranquility and relaxation, ours was a bit overloaded. We were limited by time but not the number of things on my places-to-visit list! We each have our roles to play while planning for a vacation. N takes care of destination, dates, tickets, planning and I am left with only one job – research the destination and make a list of places to see. This time was no exception… While the whole trip was filled with beautiful and scenic locations, Calton Hill simply took my breath away with its easy access, scenic views, and grand architectures.


Calton Hill is centrally located and as the name suggests, yes, it is a hill. It is about 15 minutes’ walk up from Royal Mile. Once you get out of the city’s hubbub and get to the stairs that marks the beginning of the ascent to the hill top, things get quite calm and peaceful. The City Observatory building is the first thing we came across, but it was closed. The Dugald Stewart Monument was the next thing that we noticed. We did take a few photos with it in the background but I have to admit that I only discovered later (on Google after returning) that Dugald Stewart was a Scottish philosopher. Further up are the Nelson Monument and the National Monument. The Nelson Monument looks almost like a watch tower and I had mistaken it for one when I had spotted it earlier in the day from the Edinburgh Castle. However, it was used to send signals to the ships in earlier days. The National Monument is as memorial to the soldiers who died in combat during the Napoleonic Wars. Its pillars and arches are huge and majestic.


The view from the hill top is quite something. You can see the whole city and well into the sea. We had gone up there just after a spell of rain and like most things, the view somehow felt ‘clearer’ at that point. We were among the first few to get up there once the rain had stopped and as such we got to see the view in comparative peace. The place soon was full of people – both locals and tourists. It was a clear favorite of the locals as well who came there for their evening walks and to exercise their dogs as well. The open area and the greenery just add to the charm of the place. There is a quaint little tea shop up there, just in case anyone wants a cuppa to go with the view.


The beauty of this hill top lies in the fact that it brings together the view, the monuments and beauty of hills together all the while being within the city.

QOTD: Have you been to Edinburgh? What did you like the most about it? 



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Friday, 27 September 2019

Falling in love with Venice

September 27, 2019 1 Comments


As a kid I had this memory game card set that I loved very much. They had different photos representing each city. For instance, New Delhi had a snake charmer (yeah! :/), London had Big Ben, San Francisco had The Golden Gate Bridge and so on... The card for Venice had the picture of a three tier Gondola with the canal in the background. The idea of a city on water with canals instead of roads seemed very exotic to me. Ever since I have been obsessed with it and over the years my obsession with Venice had become my obsession with Italy. And guess what? I got to tick Venice off my bucket list in April!!


People say that you either love Venice or hate it - there is no way you can be indifferent to the city. And after dreaming of what it would be like for the better part of my life, I was prepared to be disappointed once I landed because I didn't think reality could beat my imagination. So after checking in at our hotel and a refreshing bath, we soon headed to Pizza San Marco. At first glance, the city seemed and felt like a typical tourist trap. Restaurants, Murano Glass Shops, Souvenir Shops and a lot of  tourist attraction points rammed into one square. There are attractions peppered all over the different islands, but Piazza San Marco is the center of all the hubdub. It is a city with a lot of art and culture to offer to its visitors. At the same time, it is also a city that can deliver gastronomic pleasures with its usual flair. It can also be a shopper's paradise.


But it wasn't until I had a look around and ended up sitting down on the bank at the Piazzetta for a break that I really took notice of the rustic charm of the place.  We ended up skipping a lot of "spots" that we had planned to visit and walked around the town instead. We switched off our Google Maps, and made it a game to see how long we could walk without having to cross a canal. Sounds childish perhaps, but it was fun discovering small cafes, churches and different piazzas on our own. We may have missed out on some of the "must see" places that makes lists look good, but we also got to avoid the crowd and see the side of Venice that perfectly planned trips do not cover. The beautiful bridges that connects the city, the modern touch ups on really old buildings, the really small alleyways (the last two things did make me think of Banaras/Varanasi for a second), lovers locks at random bridges, the gondoliers trying to convince you to take a ride with them and the chefs insisting that you don't have to pay unless you absolutely love their food - things that you do not seem to take much notice of at the beginning turn out to be the things that you take away from the city. To enjoy this city, you have to forget your plans and just follow where your heart takes you.

 

Venice did not knock me off my feet nor did it Wow me. It kind of grew on me and captured my heart. The really old buildings with crumbling plasters, the cheery Gondolas, the narrow alleys and the small pizza parlours - all it took was 3 days - to fall in LOVE.

QOTD: What do you think about a city on water?


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Sunday, 22 September 2019

Kailash Momo

September 22, 2019 2 Comments


Whenever we go out to eat, I like to go for anything but Indian food and N had been talking about Momos for quite some time. And so we did. We looked around on Zomato and short listed two restaurants. But we decided to go out to Kailash Momo because it has Sabhalay on the menu and that is something that I have been craving for quite some time.


Tucked between a hair salon and a nail salon, this plain looking restaurant is easy to miss. However, we had made the mistake of arriving at the restaurant without a reservation and as a result we were told that we would have to wait for 20-25 minutes. Instead of waiting there, we took a walk in the neighbourhood, always good for building up an appetite, and came back in 20 minutes. We were taken to our table immediately this time around. The establishment has set up the interiors in a way that gives its patrons the 'Tibetan' feel  - right down to their china pattern.


We ordered steamed chicken momo, fried chicken momo and chicken sabhalay. While the momo was up to our expectations, I was a bit disappointed by the sabhalay. The outer layer - the dough, was bit too hard fried and the chicken filling needed a little more spice. Momos used to be our staple food during college days and as such we have very high expectations and the restaurant delivered quite well on that front.


The food is VERY reasonably priced and the staff are quite friendly and helpful - these are certainly big plus points of the restaurant. However, I found the place to be a bit cramped and it is certainly not a place I would suggest to people who would like minimum level of privacy for their discussions over the meal. It was a bit discomforting for me as I am slightly claustrophobic and absolutely loathe alcohol. (I usually do not visit restaurants that serve alcohol ).

If these two points do not bother you - the place is a winner with its good food at a reasonable price. They have quite a lot to offer on their menu  in terms of variety and we plan to go back to try them all.


QOTD: Do you like Tibetan Food?

Address: 79, Woolwich New Road. London , SE18 6ED


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Wednesday, 18 September 2019

I Give Up!

September 18, 2019 22 Comments


As a new droplet of sweat ran down her spine, Agni woke up in a stifling dark room.

With the darkness and the confusion pressing onto her mind, she wondered whether she can take another day, or should she end it once and for all! She just couldn't take the pain anymore.

She reached towards the object she was wistfully looking at, a sole spectator to her pain and also the sole mean to end her pain.
In her eagerness to end the pain, Agni thought -

"Damn the power cut!"

P.S. Author's note: This short tale was written as an ode to the light switch, curious to know your interpretation.




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Sunday, 15 September 2019

St.Paul's Cathedral

September 15, 2019 24 Comments

Blame it on my missionary boarding school education or on the pleasant and welcoming atmosphere at St.Paul’s Cathedral in Kolkata – I have always loved visiting the local churches and cathedrals. So, St.Paul’s Cathedral was on my list.

St. Paul’s Cathedral was founded in 7th century but the present building is about 300 years old. This building was rebuilt after the Great Fire by Christopher Wren. This fact is only a drop in the sea of the rich history of the cathedral. The cathedral is filled with artistic masterpieces – from the statue of Duke of Wellington to the famous Madonna and Child to The Light of the World painting. Walking around and discovering each piece of art with its own history was indeed a fine experience.

The Quire Aisle and the huge organ take the spotlight on the main cathedral floor. The Organ boasts to be the fourth-largest in Great Britain in number of pipes. It felt really grand and inspiring even to someone like me who understands very little of the instrument. Another aspect that always attracts me in churches/cathedrals is the stained glass works. In St.Paul’s the only stained glass work one can see is behind the High Altar. Both the High Altar and the Quire Aisles were rebuilt after the Second World War and that is when the stained glass was incorporated into the building.

The Crypt at St.Paul’s is supposed to be the biggest in Europe and has many famous people buried under it. Christopher Wren, Alexander Fleming, John Donne and Duke of Wellington are among the few. The Crypt also has the Order of the British Empire Chapel. Then there is the Whispering Gallery which is 257 steps up from the Cathedral floor. If you whisper something at one side of the dome, it can be heard on the opposite side! Take another 119 steps up and you will reach the Stone Gallery. The view of London from the Stone Gallery is breathtakingly beautiful. And, it is just another 152 steps up to the Golden Gallery. You can have a panoramic view of the city from there.



What took my breath away though was the monochrome painting on the Dome. There are eight scenes from the St.Paul’s life drawn by James Thornhill up there. I spent majority of my time sitting down and craning my neck up to look at it. Stained glass and mosaic art is widespread and I this was my first experience (I am sure there are many around the world) of large scale grisaille work and I am bowled over!

It is a must visit while you are in London.


For More details visit: https://www.stpauls.co.uk/

QOTD: Do you notice the artwork in your place of worship?




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Wednesday, 11 September 2019

BDSM 1: A Guide to Breakup, Divorce, (fresh) Start and Memory

September 11, 2019 90 Comments
Let me tell you a story. There were once 4 women - each going through certain phases in their lives. These stories covers 4 such days in their lives. Many of you may be able to relate to these everyday incidents having lived through them yourselves. These stories are yours and mine:

100% true and lack any form of fabrication but has 100% exaggeration.

A guide to Breakup, Divorce, (fresh) Start and Misery


Divorce: Let us call her D!


D woke up with a start! Did she fall asleep again during the afternoon? Shit shit shit! The deliverable was due an hour back, what if she gets fired? Oh who cares! It's not like anyone stayed up beside her last night and hugged her when she was weeping and sniffling like an infant. Let them! Man O' man, she badly needs a coffee. Will her hotel have something strong and maybe, oh just maybe some chocolate cookies - D thinks as she twists her messy hair in a worn out black rubber band. Beside her email alert, her laptop shows a blank word document. D suddenly feels the urge to dump all that she was feeling. From her mind to the paper - she badly needed to unload - doesn't matter if the words no longer made sense - heck her life no longer made sense. She frantically starts typing......

Can I read this without cringing 10 years from now? Think, think, think! 10 years from now when you wake up in your house filled with a dog, maybe lots of books, a money plant and a bespectacled guy (maybe, a big maybe!), with a farrowed look on your face, reminiscing about the good ol' days and dig this up - will you regret reading this blast from the past? But then I am just following Dr. Phil's advice. Writing about your PTSD relieves you from your pain apparently! (bleh!)

We have now reached the juicy part of the story, WHAT THE HECK IS SHE WRITING ABOUT?

Well, I will tell you why. Because I got suddenly lost my exclusivity! My husband of 5 years suddenly stumbled upon some hot tamale (s) ( I know, there were multiple apparently) and found this plain ol' rice pretty tasteless! Come to think of it, Rice is the staple diet of 100% of South Asians so I wonder why someone would throw away something that is so stable and essential. Does rice bore everyone? Will you like biriyani/pilaf every day? Given a choice, it seems everyone would like biriyani/pilaf over rice. But then are we just consumers of human emotions like we consume food?

Think D, think! Damn that deadline on Materials Management! Suddenly her phone beeps, "You ok? Do you want to meet for a cuppa?" D takes a deep breath and writes "Yes please, the usual place?" Thank god for small wins in life like running into a kind soul in office kitchen counter and finding a friend for life.

10 years - come on D, all this will seem like a dream in 10 years time, she thinks as she tries to stuff her overweight body into her jeans.

For fun read: D in BDSM refers to dominance, the crux of a BDSM relationship. It's all about erotic power exchange, not one person having power over another.


 (fresh) Start: Let us call her S!


5-4-3-2-1 - S tried to get off from her bed. Her tired eyes protest against the effort. No! I don't need a fresh start! I want to curl up inside this stupid blanket and die! Her mind feebly tried to remind her of the great advice from Mel Robbins, LAUNCH YOURSELF LIKE A ROCKET!

Bloody hell! Who wants to get up at this god forsaken hour to go work out? Mel has someone to come back to - S is lonely and strives to be invisible. No, stop! S reminds herself - Remember! Start your day on a positive note. Shucks! She spoiled it again, didn't she - S thinks as she stumbles off from her bed and wearily makes her way to the boxing club.

S's muscles groan in protest as her trainer makes her run up and down the street. Huffing and puffing S thinks "Are all new starts this hard? Snakes can shed off their skin so easily but then caterpillars take ages to become beautiful butterflies." Her thoughts are interrupted with a bark from her trainer "What are you dreaming about, give me 20 push-ups". Ughh! She groans and starts her slow descent to pain. In a feeble attempt of motivation S tries the external validation route..."You will lose weight and look hotter to the guys in the gym!" But her brain was quick to jump in defense and reminds her "You are not even wearing your spectacles, can't even see if any guy is actually checking you out in the gym". Sighing S tells her screaming lungs "Oh! Just do it anyway!"

Come to think of it - hitting feels so good! Especially when S can land a punch on the tall guy in front of her. To all the naysayers in the world - she ain't done yet! S silently cheers for herself in her mind "Can you see???? I am still standing! None of you could destroy me fully. I am fire - I am a woman - I will reinvent myself every time you push me down..." S's string of thoughts breaks all of a sudden as she finds herself flat on her bottom with a look of pure horror in her face. Did she really slip in her own sweat while boxing in front of all these hyper-fueled muscular fit community of god bods? Man! Wish she could drown in her own sweat or shame! As her trainer extends his hand, S chuckles and pushes herself upright saying out loud, "I am still standing, ain't I".

"Man, a fresh start does feel good", S thinks as she continues with her boxing lesson.

For fun read: S in BDSM refers to Submission. It says, the true power lies with the submissive as he/she sets the actual boundaries in this exploration.


*

Can some of you connect to some of these stories? If yes - do share similar snippets from your divorce or any stories of fresh start that you have tried in your lives. Would love to connect with you via your stories. Together let us weave a cloak of familiar stories for men and women who are unable to share theirs. On a cold and lonely night when they will be searching for heat, may our cloak of familiar stories give them the warmth they are looking for and help them realize:

You are not alone. We are the average (wo)man of this world and we stand tall and proud, even at 5.2.


Wait for my next blog on how B and M dealt with a breakup and (old relationship) memories.




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Sunday, 8 September 2019

221B, Baker Street

September 08, 2019 57 Comments


Being a bookworm has its advantage and disadvantages. When people learned about my trip to London, everyone seemed to have opinions and advises for me. From what to carry to what to do and of course the places I must visit. But very few people ever guessed the first place I would visit after landing here. It should have been very obvious to anyone who knows even a teensy bit about me.


Visiting Sherlock Holmes Museum was the first thing on my list. As such, I headed to Baker Street within a few hours of landing in London. The road from the tube station leading up to the museum seemed oddly familiar after having stalked it on Google Street View for years! [Yes I am crazy enough to stalk dead fictional characters.] We bought our tickets from the Gift Shop and after about 15 mins in a very well behaved (being an Indian I was almost disappointed at the lack of impatience and pushing) queue, we got our chance to enter the hallowed grounds.

The ground floor houses the gift shop which is stocked full of Sherlock Holmes books, souvenirs and tidbits. The famous study room, on the first floor, is so well set up and maintained that it was as if it had come straight to life from the pages of the books. The bedrooms of Sherlock, Watson and Mrs.Hudson are equally well maintained. Then on the third floor are wax statutes portraying various characters from the stories - including the man himself and the notoriously famous Professor Moriarty.


There are knick-knacks spread throughout the house to give it an authentic feel. From Sherlock and Watson's personal belongings to what could be only termed as Sherlock's souvenirs from his various cases make for interesting decorative pieces. The aptly dressed up staff add to the air of this Victorian set up. From the policeman at the gates, who by the way is expert at spotting people taking pictures and then posing for them, to the maids in the house who were ready to answer queries and guide the visitors at all times - only made the experience more fun. But what was priceless to me was Watson's diary containing extracts from the famous adventure of The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was so precious.

The nicest part about this whole set up is that if you look out the windows of 221B Baker Street, you will still see a somewhat Victorian London. The buildings around 221B have been kept up and maintained in a manner so as to add to the whole experience. Of course, the cars and people with gadgets cannot be helped, but the buildings remain the same as 1880s - the time when Sherlock and Watson is said to have lived there.


If you visit Sherlock Holmes Museum and forget that he is just a fictional character who couldn't have owned a house or any of those materialistic things, I will not blame you! Go on... Go and experience the very real lifestyle of a very fictional character - You know you want to ;)


For more details visit : http://www.sherlock-holmes.co.uk/

QOTD: Have you ever tried 'traveling'  around the world with Google Street View?



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Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Why do I blog?

September 04, 2019 54 Comments
Well! For starters because my friend kicked my ass and made me a co-blogger in her blog 😜

At least that's what I thought! It's easy to make someone else responsible for your choices because then it's "their fault" in case of failure.

However, after opening the first word document, I couldn't stop... words came pouring out of me like corporate slaves leaving their workplace on a Friday evening.

Which made me ponder why am I adding "blogging" to the list of endless things that are already stressful in my life? It's not like I have a lot of hours in my day after slogging for 16 hours a day in the Silicon Valley. So what is driving me to open my laptop and type like a madwoman?

So WHY do I blog?

I have things to say! After I was born, I invested 1 year to learn how to frame complete sentences. I have been putting it to practice ever since and have not wasted a second of my day from implementing my "linguistic skills". Blogging provides an excellent medium to "talk through written words".

I like to connect with people - outside the framework of work and close friends. Just think of the butterfly effect. I like to believe (in my own dreamworld) that a couple of words written on this blog is going to create a ripple effect where a kindred spirit far far away is going to read my thoughts, while sipping afternoon tea/coffee, and decide to share their thoughts with me.

I had no better "fail safe method" to try and find the long lost creative corner inside me. Like many other corporate slaves, that creativity is long dried up and can only regurgitate crisp powerpoints and data driven excel frameworks. I crave to breathe in a world sans microsoft office and google suite, even if for a few moments...

I genuinely believe that I am the queen of mediocrity and boredom. I do not aim to achieve great things in life, rather strive to accept life as it is. And what better way to accept myself, my life, my experiences, my observations, my thoughts by sharing them with a group of complete strangers over the internet to get their feedback. Serves my need for external validation while allowing me to connect with the world.

MOST IMPORTANT REASON OF ALL: I am trying to heal myself and a part of the process is knowing yourself better. The more I try and articulate my thoughts, the better I know myself and can progress towards the path of healing.

What I hope to take away from the blog? Your thoughts/questions/criticism/stories and connection.


For the butterfly effect virgins

The term butterfly effect is closely associated with the work of Edward Lorenz. It is derived from the metaphorical example of the details of a tornado (the exact time of formation, the exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.  A very small change in initial conditions had created a significantly different outcome.





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Sunday, 1 September 2019

Why Anicca?

September 01, 2019 40 Comments

Welcome to this little space on the blogosphere that I am going to call home from today!

Some of you may know me as DDS from Bookish Indulgences Book Blog and for most of you I am a stranger. So, let me tell you a bit about myself before I tell you about this blog.
My name is Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay, which is quite a mouthful, I know! So, I usually go by DDS. I have been blogging exclusively about books since 2012, so no longer a greenie here. Aside, from blogging (which I think is a full time engagement) I also work as a Digital Publicist for Books and as a Virtual Assistant to Authors. I am also studying Psychology at the moment. So, you can say that my life is all about reading, studying and promoting books. But believe it or not, I have other hobbies and interests too. I love food (am a Bong so it’s kinda in my DNA), I love to travel and I love to dabble in the Occult.

I have wanted to branch out and blog about my other interests, but I just did not have the confidence. I still do not, but I decided to throw caution to the wind and jump in anyway. I hope to be able to share my varied interests with you all and improve my language skills at the same time. And that is where I need YOUR help – feel free to unleash your inner grammar nazi every time you read one of MY posts.

Now on to the name of the blog – Anicca, stands for impermanence in Pali. It is one of the three basic characteristics of existence in Buddhism. I love the sound of the word as well as what it stands for. Unless and until one realizes the fact that everything in our lives are ‘impermanent’ and prepare ourselves for it, we can never improve upon our quality of life. But choosing Anicca as the name of my blog felt right since everything is prone to change – including my interests and my view of life.

I hope that this helps you get a glimpse of the person I am for now, and that we will get to know each other through posts and comments on this blog in the coming days.

Please do follow me on social media not only to get blog updates but to continue supporting and encouraging me as I take on this new journey. Also, I am feeling kind of lonely at all these accounts at the moment!





QOTD: Do you remember what your initial goal/purpose was when you started your blog?




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