It's always assualt-style weapons: an immigrant's perspective . . .

"America is not my chosen home, not even the place of my birth.  Just a spot where it seemed safe to go to escape certain dangers.  But safety I discover, is only temporary.  No place guarantees it to  anyone forever.  I have stayed because there is no other place to go."  - Irene Klepfisz, "Bashert"

I was in Vegas last weekend.  Three days after the massacre at Mandalay Bay.  I expected to find a ghost town or at least a city crawling with police sirens; 'Do Not Cross' yellow tape; and/or gun-toting security patrols. Nope. Instead, while the world watched as another American male murdered other Americans on American soil, Sin City was business as usual. The poker tables at Bellagio where I stayed were full.  The slot machines were humming.  Later that night while attending a private celebration at the Hakassan night club, I observed how quickly the dance floor got packed with young nubile bodies.  At midnight there was a line snaking outside the women's restroom.

Is it because this is America's new reality, I asked myself.

There is something about safari life that makes you forget all your sorrows and feel the whole time as if you had drunk half a bottle of champagne—bubbling over with heart-felt gratitude for being alive.”  - Isak Dinesen (Out of Africa) in a letter to his sister.

Anybody fortunate to go on an African safari[1] understands how difficult it is to answer the question: If you’ve seen the Big 5 (http://www.anoopjudge.com/blog/african-safari-adventure-the-big-5) on your first game drive, why continue with it? The early start, the four-hour game drive in the scorching African sun, the hard seats and the bumping and bouncing around in the dust?

The answer:  the essence of a safari is not just about seeing the exotic game (commonly known as the Big 5)—it is also about the dramatic landscapes unique to this continent, it people and its cultures.  For those who value being in the great outdoors, there is nothing more magical than a close encounter with the continent’s less famous but equally fascinating wildlife. 

African Safari Adventure: The Big 5

You wake up to the shrill insistent ring of the telephone.  Tring, tring, tring.  It demands an answer.  You squint at the clock on your bedside table.  It's only 5:30 a.m.  Your voice is slurred with speech when you answer. 

“Good morning, wakey, wakey ,” is the cheerful accented voice on the other end.

You groan, put on some clothes, grab coffee and bagel from the breakfast buffet at the dining room and run outside where an open jeep with a driver and ranger awaits you.  As you drive with six other people into the jungle, you begin to revel in the clean crisp morning air, the cold and the dust, the stark beauty of a panoramic sunrise, the silence of the morning and the sense of wilderness all around you . . .then, you round the corner and there in the middle of a half-paved road stands a leggy giraffe, it’s long neck rising majestically into the sky.

“Aaaaaah, morning sunshine,” we croon as the giraffe arches his neck towards a tree and begins to nibble on the leaves.

This is the quintessential African safari.  An adventure.  

HAMILTON: What is the Fuss All About?

Caveat: This article contains spoilers, so beware if you've not watched the show:-)

I finally got to see Hamilton, which re-tells the life of the American founding father, Alexander Hamilton through popular music and hip-hop.  I'm an immigrant, so I didn't grow up learning American history in middle school, like my kids did; I thought I could skip the history lesson and skip Hamilton.  But, there were so many rave reviews of the musical, that I finally succumbed, bought the pricey tickets and went to watch it at San Francisco's Orpheum theater.  And boy, am I glad I did!

So what's the story behind a show that's become a Broadway must-see with no marquee names and no special effects?  Here are five reasons why Hamilton is a big deal.

1.    IT'S A SMASH

The best cure for a short temper is to keep the mouth shut. . .

I’m practicing what in Sanskrit is called ‘Mauna Vrata’ meaning, the vow of silence.  The belief is that, if practiced from time to time, it will help master one’s tongue, which can kill as well as heal.  In the ancient Vedas, it is said, when the tongue evolved, God ordered it to be kept locked in a cave-like fortress, and even so He was not satisfied so He provided 32 guards to watch it. Even then when it speaks it spits out poison.

 

I’ve concluded that I specially need to practice the art of ‘voicelessness’ around my 16 year-old daughter, the high priestess oflow tolerance.  Just yesterday, I told her to get her applications for summer programs done and this was only because the pricey high-school counselor we’ve hired had sent me 3 e-mails, each marked “Urgent,” with the subject annoyingly labeled as “Needs immediate attention!!!”

An Inspiring Story: Tell Me Something I Can't Forget. . .

What I should have known about that incident is that it would indelibly be engraved in my subconscious.  I should have known that my mother's words would define every future action, every decision I took.

My memory of it is blurry as childhood memories often are.  

My brother who's two younger than I were squabbling. I may have been 11 or 12 years old. We were fighting as we were inclined to do, and soon it developed into a full-blown scuffle where he hit me on the side of my head.  

"Pow." My brother was two years younger than me but bigger and more aggressive.  

"Waaaaah." The force of his blow knocked me down. I remember getting up from the floor, nursing my hurting head in my right palm and running to my mom to complain.  

My Adventures in Corfu, Greece. . .

The sleepy and rural island of Corfu is different things to different people.  It is home to 4 million olive trees, thanks to intermittent but torrential rains from September to June.  It's also a designated Unesco heritage site because the Old Town of Corfu, dominated by its fortresses of Venetian origin constitutes an architectural example of fortification.  In addition, it's home to endless sandy beaches with stunning sandstone formations, as if the Ionian Sea moulded the sand like a potter.  How many shades of blue can you count?  Just sit back in your lounge chair and watch the waves breaking. . .

Eat Your Heart Out . . . Intermittent Fasting Works!

Let me begin by saying that I'm a girl who loves to eat.  Being East Indian, food has always been a driving force in my life.  

Cookies with morning tea?  Yes, Please.

Rice with beans for lunch.  Yes, please.

Cookies with evening tea?  Yes, please.

Chicken curry and Naan for dinner.  Yes, please.

Hot halwa for desert?  Yes, please.

But I'm also a girl who loves to look good in my clothes.  So, any time, the scale tips by even one extra pound, I either hop on a new diet or I'm pounding away at the gym.