Making choices

The day you get your permanent residency is a very important day in an immigrant’s life. Today is that important day in TCG’s life and mine, thank you.

This means that we get to live in New Zealand for as long as we like, without having to worry about our visas anymore. It means that every time we go overseas and come back to New Zealand, we don’t have to stand in the long common queue for international visitors; we get to line up the ‘Kiwi’ queue, which is smaller and faster of the two queues. Cheap thrills, I know. I am silly that way.

It means that, God forbid, if we lose our jobs, we don’t have to pack our bags and go home.  It means we know which direction our life will be moving in, at least for now. It means that the uncertainty hanging over our heads is laid to rest, and we can focus on having small to medium term goals and achieving them one at a time; until it is time once again to do some serious long term thinking like where we eventually want to live; New Zealand, India or elsewhere, whether we want to buy our home here or in India, whether we want to raise our child (when that happens) in a foreign land or homeland…

But for now, we are happy. The dream we were after for so many months, has finally come true.  And it has put a lot of things in to perspective. We have some clarity now and we are no longer insecure about immediate future. It means I will have better job prospects, and I can perhaps hope to get a job of my choosing.

It also means having to decide whether we want to continue living in Wellington or move to Auckland. TCG and I have been toying with this idea for a while now; we haven’t been able to come to much of a conclusion.  You already know Wellington is a cute, little compact city with the best of both world. It has the glitzy city charm with its quaint cafes and popular clubs, as well as the laid back country side to it. It is big enough to find all modern-world pleasures and small enough to reach anywhere within measured time.

Auckland, on the other side, is the biggest city in New Zealand with the third of the country’s population living there. It is highly metropolitan and home to all the cultures of the world. It’s faster and glitzier and offers little more opportunities to do things on weekends. TCG has lived in Auckland for over two years, already has a thriving social circle (which sadly we don’t in Wellington) and knows the place too well. I have never lived there, and knowing my love for big cities, a part of me aches to give that city a shot. We would earn slightly better than we do in Wellington, but that would be set-off against higher rents and added costs of living. Living in Auckland will also mean accepting that traffic jams will be a part of our lives once again and we might not be lucky enough to stay close enough to work like we do in Wellington. Which in turn would mean spending an extra hour or two commuting at the cost of missing workouts. But if we manage to find good jobs, and a right place to live, it would mean a better way of life. And oh yes, it would mean saying bye-bye to cold, harsh and windy Wellington weather. Auckland is way warmer.

The reason we can’t decide is TCG has a hi-profile job here in Wellington; I, on the other hand started at the bottom and am making my way upwards slowly. My current employment contract ends in a couple of months. I have been working here for a year, and have hopefully gained ‘enough’ kiwi experience to get a slightly more interesting job.  There is a good chance that I find something of my interest in the very same organisation by the time my existing contract ends. Am I prepared to forgo a year’s efforts and start everything afresh yet again in Auckland? And would TCG find an equally satisfactory job? He quite enjoys his present job. We keep going in circles without making any headway. We are tempted but we don’t want to make any impulse decisions. I know it will boil down to prioritizing what is important to us, but it seems scary because lot is at stake.

Hopefully, we will figure out soon!

 

 

 

Home and back again

I know this post is long due. I know you have been good and waited so patiently to hear about my big trip home. I hope that each one of you has had a relaxing break and that each one of you has a great year to look forward to.

Truth be told, I have not only been extremely busy on my return, I have also been a bit scared about doing this post and confronting my feelings. Because there is a truckload of thoughts to process.  My mind is a landmine at the moment, ready to explode, if only i’d rock it a bit. But I sure can attempt to share a few highlights from the trip. It was one hell of a whirlwind trip.

The moment I saw my family at the airport is the moment I realised how much I had actually missed them all long. I was seeing them after almost a year. That’s a loooooooooong time. We didn’t bother to hold back our tears. And a few hurried hugs and kisses at the airport pick up point certainly didn’t seem enough. Hasn’t Karan Johar told us that it is all about loving our family?

The chief reason for this big trip home, as you already know, was the upcoming wedding of my brother-in-law. An event we were all looking forward to for so many months that we were tired waiting for it and just wanted it to arrive soon. We were a bit jetlagged, no doubt, but the endorphins kept us going. The first few days of our arrival before the wedding obviously had us running from pillar to post: to the tailors and to the salons and to the market and the caterers, the decorators, the photographers, and what not. Running zillion errands, last minute shopping, fittings and trials, bringing the whole mad house under control made us completely lose track of time until the day of journey to the far, faraway destination was finally upon us.

And how did the wedding go? Oh, it was beautiful, the journey, the venue, especially the gorgeous bride, the arrangements, the food, the dance…it all surpassed our expectations and had our guests grinning from ear to ear. No major hiccups, no glitches whatsoever! And what a big task that is to achieve when you are travelling with the entire baraat for two days non-stop. A few sparks are bound to fly, someone bullies, someone gets bullied, but it was all in good humour.

Soon upon my arrival back in Mumbai, we had yet another major wedding to attend. That of my first cousin. It wouldn’t be wrong if I said that in the past decade or so we have literally grown up together. We lived in the same neighbourhood, which obviously meant catching up with each other on a daily basis and sharing all kinds of stories, secrets, clothes, moments and many, many jokes. It is the kind of bond that only sisters can share. It was hard to see her go. I was simply not ready for that. And the knowledge that she would be moving to a different continent altogether was no comforter either. Thanks to Skype and what’s-app once again, we will survive. Thank God for technology.

Then came my first wedding anniversary. Looking at our busy schedule, I didn’t really expect it to be a biggie. But I was wrong. TCG whisked me away to one of the most exotic and classic hotels in Mumbai for the night and pampered me silly. Between gifts and hugs and over a 3 glasses of bubbly, he said all the right things that I wanted to hear so badly and made my day. I know I should have given him more credit than I did. Looking at our busy time, I really didn’t think that TCG would go to such lengths to make that day so special for us. That will remain to be the most treasured memory of this trip.

Soon after this, we braced ourselves for the big trip to Kutch. By this point, yes we were a little tired, yes we were sleeping very less, yes we were constantly squeezing in time to meet all the people we wanted to really catch up with, yes it got painfully hectic, so much so that we had to literally stick to a timetable to be able to squeeze in all. But the endorphins kept us going. This was my only chance to purely ‘family time’ and I wouldn’t sacrifice that for anything. TCG’s family and mine were together on this trip and I, for one, had the best time of my life. We visited the breathtaking ‘Kala dungar’ (Black Mountain) and the enchanting ‘Safed rann’ (White desert) and marvelled at the beauty that nature is. If you haven’t been to these places, I would definitely encourage you to go there. Several hundred photographs, entertaining conversations around bonfires that we had going every night to keep away the chill, awesome food and treasured moments with my families are the moments from this little trip that I have locked away forever.

After this trip was my last week in India, which I planned to spend at home in Mumbai. But I have two homes now, the house I grew up in and my in-law’s. And I was torn between the two. This was my first trip home after the wedding and sub consciously whenever I thought about home I thought about the home I grew up in, and not my in-laws. And that I think is natural. Even when I was visiting my parent’s home, I had so many things to do, and there were so many guests who visited that I never found any time at all to sit down peacefully with my folks alone, undisturbed, forgetting the new responsibilities that come with being married and asking them how they really were doing without me. I couldn’t ask them if they missed me, I couldn’t ask them if they were doing fine, I couldn’t ask them about their health, I couldn’t ask them about the new developments in their life. There was no time to do any of that.  It pained me to think how marriage has changed the nucleus of life. I know that my parents had been looking forward the whole year to spend some quality time with me, but that could not happen.  There always were people around; there always were things to do. The part that hurts me the most is that I could not find one private hour to spend with my mom and to take stock of her health. And imagine my guilt when I found out, soon upon my return to New Zealand, that my mom was admitted to the hospital. I felt terrible.

I know in my heart that ever since marriage, I have prioritized my marital home over my parent’s. I tried my best to give neither side a reason to complain. And I know for a fact that if anybody at all; it is my own parents who would have received a step-motherly treatment from me because I was always prioritizing my new family. But I guess that happens. I guess that is the called being ‘grown up’. I guess that is part and parcel of marriage. I went out of my way to make things happen seamlessly and to supervise and coordinate all the wedding-related and other arrangements. But I may still have fallen short. Some things may have slipped my mind, given the fully-packed nature of this trip. I may have overlooked a thing or two and I may have hurt some feelings unknowingly. And often the things you miss are the things that people take notice of. Right?  What can I say? I did my best. But I really hope I have given my fair share of time to all who matter. I think, every married Indian woman living overseas and visiting home once a year would be facing this dilemma of dividing her time between two homes. It sucks, doesn’t it? Being all grown up and responsible…not fun!

One of the most irritating and painful lows of this trip was a bad case of my dental health. About ten visits to the dentist, two ceramic fillings and one root canal is definitely not something I had on my itinerary at all. It took up a lot of my time, my mindspace, money and patience. And even upon my return to New Zealand, I still have one rigidly sensitive tooth that has just stopped obliging and behaving. And that it will cost me a bomb to get it treated here, is not in the slightest way comforting. Buying a ticket back to India and getting my tooth treated would be cheaper. AND I AM NOT EXAGGERATING!

The hero of this trip was my brother, silently slogging, chauffeuring us through heavy traffic, taking us around, helping us shop, lifting our bags (not literally), bringing us things, and overall just helping us with everything possible and treating us like we were the most important people in his world. He never once lost his cool. Vishal, you are the most amazing person in my world, and I miss you the most.

And since I am in the mood of giving credits, special mention of TCG is a must. He single handedly overlooked all the travel, all the wedding arrangements, all the coordination, and in addition to that all the very boring documentation work related to our visas. He with is Zen-like qualities is the epitome of patience and calm. I wish I could have a part of that at least.

It felt like the month raced past us in a blink of an eye. Waking up in Wellington felt unreal.

Growing Homesick

You can take an Indian out of India, but you cannot take India out of an Indian.

Having lived away from my beloved home for more than half a year now, I can’t help but nod in complete agreement to the above. May be it’s the distance that is making my heart grow fonder, but the fact is…it is growing fonder.

Isn’t it paradoxical that we realise how valuable some things are to us, only when we have lost them? I now realise how I have (like many others) taken so many things for granted back home. Small joys, small conveniences, family, friends, flavourful food…the list could well go on.

In most cases, people get homesick once the initial frenzy of new life, new city, new country, new friends die down. Once the initial excitement fizzles out, they begin to miss the old life, the old country, the old city and the old friends. Old is after all, gold.

In my case, I knew from the start…that no matter how well I embrace the new, the old in me is so deeply rooted that it will always be on the ‘snooze’ mode. It will keep resurfacing time and again, reminding me of what I have left behind. It can get so overwhelming sometimes. You can actually watch movies like ‘Swades’ and go all teary eyed. Because you can relate to the story so-darn-well. Not an hour passes by, without thinking about India in someway or the other. No Kidding!

It is a complex set of emotions. I am so happy to be with TCG, to be experiencing everything new, to be enjoying every bit of it, yet at the same time there always is this longing to be at home. Every time I see something new, get to experience something beautiful, see a picture-perfect scene of the endless sky in the myriad of colours, gorgeously contrasted by clear green waters of the sea, I wish I could be with my family. I wish they could see what I am seeing. I wish they were here to enjoy the marvellous view. I wish they were here to comment on how beautiful everything here is. What I am meaning to tell is, all the beauty and all the new experiences that otherwise should have been counted amongst the ‘best experiences of life’ are not so best without having shared them with my friends and family.

It’s funny but every time I hear the word India, my heart skips a beat. Every time we pass an Indian restaurant and see the locals going gaga over ‘butter chicken and garlic naan’, I feel my heart swell up with a teeny weeny bit of pride for my country, though I have nothing to do whatsoever with the evolution of Indian cuisine. I feel like telling each one of them, “hey that’s our food from our humble country, isn’t it delicious?”  May be because there is something beautiful about seeing ‘other’ people experiencing and appreciating what you have experienced and taken for granted all your life.

Every time I read about India in local papers, I inadvertently feel a small tug at my heart. Every time I hear someone saying positive things about India, I feel good about myself. Every time someone shares a negative experience, I feel sorry about it and feel obliged to correct the misdoing. It’s like that figure of speech we learnt in our grammar classes in school – part for the whole. When something is said or discussed about India, I can’t help but take it personally.

Indian food, Indian customs, beautiful Indian clothes (haven’t wore them for 7 months?! What?!! Really?!), Indian movies, Indian festivals, Indian ways, Indian attitude, Indian spirit, Indian jokes…I miss it all. I have tried to keep it alive here, inside me. The Indian inside me is too proud to let all these things just disappear into thin air.

India might have its problems. Its inconveniences, its issues, its peculiarities. But then, which country doesn’t? It is what makes us who we are.  I am so grateful to be born Indian. Things I am grateful for: Reason # 21

I miss you India. I will see you very soon.

So what is happening on this side of the world?

For the past few days, we have been very agile. And on our toes at the slightest of the sound.  Even sleeping we are, ever so lightly. Wellington has had two moderately big earthquakes since Friday and quite a few aftershocks.

Wellingtonians are as surprised as anyone else, because earthquakes are not a routine occurrence here.

When the first earthquake occurred on Friday morning, we were in the office, going about with our regular office activities. And the next thing we know, the whole building was rattling. It takes a moment or two to realise that it’s not just you who is suddenly feeling a little dizzy but it’s an earthquake. Then because you are not used to such an occurrence, you panic, not knowing exactly what to do. In spite of having learnt all your life what to do in case of an earthquake, your mind just freezes for next few moments. Then you watch everyone else ducking under the desks and you follow the suit. You slide under the desk and watch the building rattling, the doors banging, the furniture falling, the files falling and the swiveling chairs sliding across the floor on their own will. 12 seconds later, you gingerly come out from under the desk, and try to absorb what just happened. EARTHQUAKE.

It was scary. Though there wasn’t any substantial damage to property or any casualties, it still was enough to freak us out of our minds. When you are finally able to absorb what just happened, it hits you harder. It could have been worse. It could have been fatal.

Ever since Friday morning, the thought of earthquake hasn’t left our minds for one second. A few aftershocks have followed, and every time we felt the slightest of the movement, we scurried to hide under the table. Just as we were trying to leave the thoughts of quake behind and try and focus on life once again, another quake followed on Sunday evening, this one longer and more destructive than the one on Friday. I was in the kitchen, making coffee and TCG had barely just woken up after the afternoon nap (We hadn’t slept well the previous night, in case we find ourselves in yet another quake). And once again, the house started rattling. Once again, I fumbled, panicked and ran to the living room while TCG motioned me to get under the table. We ducked under the table, and saw the ground throbbing and house rattling for the next 12 seconds.  No major losses or injuries apart from the bump I got on my head while ducking under the table.

But in many places around the city, there were a few losses and damages to the property. Our office too suffered some cosmetic damages, a few ceiling tiles came down, the water pipes broke and the things went flying around the empty office. Thankfully, it was a Sunday and we were all at home. The office remained closed on Monday and Tuesday for repairs, but even these holidays didn’t do much to lift our spirits.

We have been told to be prepared and expect more quakes in the coming few weeks. And you can very well imagine how edgy we are, and how alert we are all day.

Apart from this, the past few days have been pretty meh. No inspiration, no interest and no ideas or motivation to do much, leave alone blogging.

So while life crawled back to normalcy today, we are still a little edgy and have the emergency kit packed. But I hope we never have to use it.

Top ten ways to beat the seasonal mood swings

Sun plays a very, very important role in our overall wellbeing. I am not saying anything new, am I? Everyone knows this.

But this taken-for-granted-sun has really made its point. And how well! Till very recently, I did not really understand how sun influences our personal and mental well-being and how much can it really affect our mood.

The full force of its power has recently dawned upon me. NZ is in midst of a full blown winter.  This means we have very short days here and very long nights right now. For the past couple of weeks, sun has been rising at 7.45am (OMG, can you believe that?) and sets at 4.57pm. On most days, its gloomy, rainy and windy. Sun just gives us a formal guest appearnace once in a while and behaves like a celebrity who walks into a party late, knows his worth, charms everyone and leaves just as quickly.

I am observing how depressing this can get. Not getting enough day light can seriously affect moods. When I wake up at 7, it is so dark, that I have to summon every little speck of power within me to leave the warm comfort of bed, and step into yet another cold, gloomy day. When I leave office at 5.15pm, it is so dark that it seems like 8pm. Ya. So basically, my exposure to sun is now limited to the weekends only, provided that sun decides to come out on a weekend. If it also decides to take a weekend off, it gets extremely dull and can also get quite depressing.

With this, comes a crushing realization of just how powerful nature is. And how paradoxical life is! And how it makes you want things you do not have! When I was in India, I used to rant about how hot summers got. And now when I am in NZ,  how much I crave for some sun and light. I really need a Vitamin D fix. Urgently.

There have been studies on this unique condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. People with SAD, seem to have depressive mood spells in autum and winter. I am not getting into the whole scientific part of SAD. Am just saying that what so many people are experiencing is not baseless.

But lets take charge of this and do small things to keep black mood at bay. Let us not let it affect us so much. It’s all in our mind, and we can control this.

Top ten ways to beat the seasonal mood swings:

  1. Try to be upbeat, and not have lingering, depressing thoughts. Stay happy. Train your mind to think happy thoughts.
  2. Surround yourself with postive people and people who love to laugh. You definitely do not need negative, overly critical, unreasonably judgemental, and people who constantly find reasons to complain. You need more positive aura around you.
  3. Listen to your favourite fast music. Your favourite peppy number. Have a go-to playlist for such days or listen to your favourite song in loop. Whichever way you like really.
  4. Steer clear of sad, depressing songs.
  5. Call, talk, meet, skype with your family and excahnge good conversations. It really lighthens the mood.
  6. EAT CHOCOLATE.
  7. Ease up on coffee and eat your favourite food.
  8. Watch classics and funny movies.
  9. Develop a hobby. If you already have one, lose yourself in it.
  10. And you may want to use more white lights at home as opposed to dim, yellow lights.

EAT CHOCOLATE.

EAT CHOCOLATE.

EAT CHOCOLATE.

Road trip to Auckland

Last weekend, TCG and I decided to go on an impromptu road trip. I was jumping with joy when he told me that we were going on a road trip to Auckland, which is a good 650 kms away from Wellington. And I think my chin must have touched the floor when he mentioned that we will be camping on the banks of a river? WHAT? I had always dreamt of camping-in-the-wild-kind-of-adventure and finally it was coming true.

Oh and by the way, he even mentioned that I would get to drive too. What??! Wow, is this my lucky day or something?!

While I got busy packing snacks, lunch, clothes and other such picnic paraphernalia, he busied himself with Google maps, making itinerary for our trip. Instead of taking a direct road to Auckland, we were to take a different route so that we could make the most of this trip and see other tourist places on the way. And I am glad we did.

Because what was to come was sooo beautiful and breathtaking; that in my mind I hadn’t imagined anything close to that. Let’s just say that God is the greatest artist. So, we started Thursday early morning, an hour later than scheduled, thanks to TCG.

“I told you we will be late. I told you we should start early. I was telling you since yesterday, I told you that,” started I.

“Relax, we are on a holiday. What’s the rush?”

It is hard to get TCG angered or worked up or tensed easily. I am a stickler for schedules. Sometimes, much to my dismay, my obsessive behavior takes over and makes me rant, before I realize it’s pointless. And this time I did agree with him. Heck, we were on a holiday and we needn’t rush. And we needn’t strictly adhere to any schedule. After all, we just make schedules for our convenience, don’t we?

It was a bright sunny day, the kind of day that begged for a road trip. First destination on the itinerary was a place called Taupo. The drive till Taupo was so beautiful that suddenly now my iphone wasn’t good enough. I wished I had a DSLR. It would do some justice to that sheer beauty that surrounded me and that I so badly wanted to capture. But at the same time, I didn’t want to get caught up with clicking pictures and missing the view in the process. I have told you before how I suck at taking pics, haven’t I? But I still managed to click a few, because I really wanted some pictures that would fill my memories in the years to come.

 

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Yellow, green, red, brown, orange trees symmetrically dotting the roads, thousands of happy looking fat, wooly, cuddly white sheep meekly grazing the lush green meadows, furry black and white cows scattered on the fields, sun peeping through the clouds and shining radiantly on a patch of lemony-yellow trees, happy birds chirping away flocking from one tree to another, gentle, cool breeze ruffling my hair and some of our favourite Hindi music playing in the background –  Can it get any better?

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Lake Taupo is huge. I didn’t believe it’s a lake, it looked like sea. And I am sure Taupo features somewhere way on top of things-to-see-in-NZ list. The beautiful Lake Taupo is about the size of Singapore – more of an inland sea really. At various places here in NZ, there are scenic look out points. We stopped at several places to get an eyeful of nature and scenic brilliance. Lake Taupo had me in its awe. I already want to visit Lake Taupo again 😛

Next we saw the beautiful, wild, roaring Huka falls. The sea green-blue gushing water flowed at a speed enough to turn a small boat over. A lot of tourists flocked this place and all we could hear was the angry sound of gushing water and click-click of many a cameras. The Huka Falls are the largest falls on the Waikato River, near Taupo on New Zealand’s North Island. The Waikato River, NZ’s longest river, stretches a massive 425km on the North Island.

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There after we parked at a spot near the lake, saw the sun setting down on us, went around the small tourist city exploring its bylanes while the breeze blew cool against our faces, before finally parking at a camping site called Five Mile Bay and calling it a day. Luckily for us it was a full moon day and we were parked right on the banks of the river, not more than 15 feet from the water. It was all very dreamy, moon shining on the water, and nobody but us to see that magnificence. The day couldn’t have had a more perfect ending. At the camping site – all by ourselves, and not a soul to intrude.  It was like our own private little piece of haven. Adventure at its best. Could it be any more thrilling? This was just out of my imagination :). And Oh my God, imagine waking up to the sound of waves and the mellow yellow sun peeping through a heavy blanket of clouds? What a beautiful morning!

A steaming cup of coffee later, we started our onwards journey. Next on the list was a place called Rotorua, a city on the Volcanic Plateau, having world’s most lively fields of geothermal activity, sulphur hot water springs and natural spas. This place is also famous for all the adventures it offers including skydiving, zorbing and luging.
Not prepared to do anything too serious for an adventure, I suggested we do luging, which is a cake walk really; but so much fun. After 3 luge rides, we checked ourselves into a natural hot water spa resort. And now, who doesn’t like spa?

 

 

Late that evening, we started for Auckland. Auckland is just another city now, but the biggest in NZ. People of all cultures swarmed the streets. It is like any other metro. We spent a whole day in Auckland socializing, meeting with all of TCG’s friends; hopping, skipping and jumping from one place to another. And there was one question that all his friends asked me. So you like Wellington better or Auckland? For a while I felt like I was back in India. Do you like Delhi better or Mumbai? May be this cold rivalry between cities is a  global thing, I thought.

Anyway, one day is far too less for Auckland. But we managed to squeeze out a little private time just before sunset and went viewing the skyline of Auckland from the viewing deck of the famous Skytower, the tallest building in the southern hemisphere.

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All in all, it was a trip that we will remember for a very long time. Until TCG takes me on a new trip and we make new memories:P

And just for the records, I like Mumbai better. Gosh, I miss Mumbai so much, I just realised that. 😐

P.S. Some images from Google, since I was too lazy to transfer photos from my phone.

New Zealand and its wonders

There is so much beauty that surrounds me that I am still not able to come to terms with it. May be such overwhelming beauty takes getting used to.

Every little nook and corner here is so nicely landscaped, so green and so picturesque. Imagine scattered sheep grazing the grasslands, quaint little wooden houses dotting the bylanes, beautiful colours of autumn juxtaposed against the lush green grasslands, quiet lanes out looking the sea and sunlight dancing off the surface of the sea in a myriad of wonderful colours!! It’s impossible not to be affected by this sheer beauty. These beautiful landscapes that make you want to be a painter.

This is where I live

I was in Singapore for almost a month before moving to NZ. Now no doubt that Singapore is also beautiful, but it’s nothing like NZ. I know that it is not an apple to apple comparison but these are the only two countries I have seen apart from my hometown. So I can’t help ‘not’ compare.

Singapore is painstakingly perfect. It’s plastic. It’s manmade. The skyscrapers, the brilliantly advanced, modern buildings are somewhat daunting. You feel somewhat intimidated standing in front of 150 storey high-rises, all glass and twinkling lights. The whole country is so prim and proper that it looks like a movie set. Moreover, in my entire duration of my trip there, I hardly saw anyone smiling. They all had frowning, grumpy expressions on their face.  I mean no offence to Singapore, it IS brilliant…but in technological sort of way. Not in a way that touches your heart. But that apart, I had a whale of a time with my family. We went around the city-state and did all things touristy, expect taking photographs. Singapore is all about malls, and women’s shopping, and luxuries, and brands, and Jimmy Choos, and Versace and Calvin Kleins and Tommy Hilfigers and Armanis and Coco Chanels and all things expensive. What is wrong with that, you would possibly ask. Nothing. Just that it gets overwhelming after a point. How much can you possibly shop?

Singapore

But I must admit that the infrastructure in Singapore is beyond awesome. The Public transport is so efficient, so reliable and so safe that is very easy and convenient to go from Place A to Place B alone at any time of the day, without using much help. The whole country practically operates on almost a Six Sigma Level of perfection. It is very awe-inspiring.

Coming back to NZ now. NZ is beautiful because of its natural bounty, because of its little imperfections. This place has a soul. People are warm, smiling, approachable and friendly. You have so many things to do here, so many beaches to see, beaches that stretch for miles, there are road trips to make, there are adventures to do, there is parasailing, there is normal sailing, there is camping, there is trekking, there is scuba diving, there is bungee jumping, there is river water rafting and what not. There is a lot to do for the city lover types also. There are bars, there are clubs, there are discs, and there are nice fancy places to eat out. There is something for everyone.

Last weekend, TCG and I made an impromptu plan to go trekking. We went to a place called Red Rocks Reserve. It was an easy 3 hour coastal trek. Yes, yes, walking along the coast for 3 hours. It was a surreal experience. These rocks were formed hundreds of millions of years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. And they are red, obviously because of iron oxidization. But there are legends that tell otherwise.

Red Rocks

Along the coast there, were three or four baches. TCG said that baches are simple beach houses, that have been around for hundred of years and have been kept in their original forms by their house owners.

Further down from Red rocks is a place called Sinclair Head, an area where hundreds of seals come and visit between May and September. Since we went in April, we didn’t see hundreds of seals, but we definitely saw a few scattered here and there lazying on top of the rocks. These were not the slimy variety of seals that I had grown up seeing on Discovery Channel. These were rather furry. An average fur seal weights upto 160 kgs. Yes.
Here, take a look.

Lazy Fur Seal

I love outdoors, and I love treks. And this one along the coast was long but easy. We had packed our lunch and ate it on the go. It was cool and very breezy and I had to run back to the car to fetch the spare sweater in there.  So in all I was wearing three layers. My t-shirt, my jacket and that spare jacket from the car. Yes, I was looking funny, but heck when it’s that cold, comfort should take over fashion, if you really want to enjoy outdoors. All in all, it was a day well spent.

And on our way back home, I got to see this. I had never seen Kite sailing before.

Human Kite sailing