Last Christmas

Last holiday season, was my first time ever in New York City. I fell absolutely in love with it.  I was so excited, I had the whole trip planned out. The hop on-hop off tours; the holiday lights; places to eat; the Statue of Liberty cruise;meeting Santa and more. The highlight of my itinerary was – Radio City’s Christmas Spectacular.

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It was our first time at something of this sort. Frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect. We walked in feeling partly excited, a little skeptical, and very  christmasy. As soon as we stepped into the lobby, we were wowed by all the lights and decorations. The Spectacular, was well spectacular.

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Wonderfully choreographed sequences were beautifully woven into a touching Christmas story. The dancers were  graceful and exuberant. The performance was joyous, cheerful and thoroughly entertaining.

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I don’t want to give away the show, but I have to say this. So, *SPOILER ALERT* – The final sequence is a sublime nativity scene, complete with live animals. Although steeply priced, this extravaganza is definitely worth a dekho.

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Grocery and a Dove

Coo

We were in for a little surprise at the local Indian store last evening. There was a dove, white as a snowflake, quite at home amongst the groceries.
While paying for the shopping, I asked the girl at the till, and was told that it belonged to the owners. It normally roosted outside, but would come in when it got too cold.

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Another Old Friend – Another New City

Another Old Friend - Another New City

Learning her Beer!!

When we moved to Stamford, I did a quick check on my FB to see if anyone I knew was around. I didn’t really expect the search to yield any results, but it did. FB said Livea James lives in Stamford.
At first I wasn’t sure – should I message her? after all these years? We were good friends in school, but have not been in touch for more than a decade now. Would it be very awkward? The svelte woman striking supermodel-like poses in her FB albums was a far cry from the gawky schoolgirl I knew. She had turned into a successful professional, was well traveled, and an accomplished cook to boot. But I did message her, and I’m glad I did. While she is all of the above, she is also still the same person I knew all those years ago.
Back in school, we used to form a team with 2 others every year for the inter-school science project competitions. We won most of them. Livea was always most competitive one on our team. She would be eternally exasperated at our faffing around on project hours, while we would be constantly assuring her that we would get all the work done in time. Our first project was on terrace farming and drip irrigation. Our next project was on disposal of industrial waste. How guilty we felt, because we took the lab assistant’s help to weld together an incinerator! Our most challenging project was probably the one on using a gamma knife to cut out malignant tumors. If only I could remember half the research we had done for it! Our most popular project however, was on treating cancer… for the life of me, I cannot remember how! All I remember is it had something to do injecting a photosensitive pigment into the malignancy and then destroying it using light. This was a super-fun project to build. We even had live mice as a part our exhibit; a great draw for all the visiting students.
Livea has been a perfect dear. She has taken a lot of effort to help us settle into Stamford; right from aiding us in our house hunt by advising us about the localities and apartment complexes to guiding us on the best places to shop and eat locally. She and her husband, Nevil, are no doubt our best find in Stamford.
Just for the record, that sampler was shared by both our husbands, and not guzzled down by her.

‘Appy Burday to Me

Make-A-Wish!!I woke  up in the morning to a flood of wishes. Actually I fell asleep to a steady stream of birthday wishes from across the globe. One of the advantages of being a traveler is that you live in different time zones at the same time. So while it was still 9th night here in Stamford, it was already 10th in India and loads goodwill and cheer was being sent my way. But that was not all, when I opened my eyes and looked out, there was snow swirling around outside my window. So much love! I felt blessed.

While the snowstorm had turned the world outside into a picturesque winter wonderland, it also meant that the ice-skating lesson that was to be my birthday gift had to be postponed as the instructor was unable to make it. Instead the day was spent basking in the warmth of all the greetings and compliments. Besties called from different parts of the globe to let me they missed me. In the evening, the Husband took me out  to a Spanish restaurant for a lovely dinner. The previous evening he had taken me to a sweet little Italian place recommended by a friend.

What struck me most about both these places, and probably about the dining scene at Stamford is the joie de vivre. Both eateries and others, were dimly lit,  warm, crowded and noisy – on weekdays. Much like the dhabbas back home. Except that the dhabbas are generally inexpensive.

We decided to skip desserts in favour cake back home. The Husband had procured a delectable looking fruit-topped cheesecake. We were not disappointed. The day ended on an ambrosial note (rather slice!), but the celebrations were not over. I had signed up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity(HFH) the next day. Truly speaking, this was not part of the birthday plan. This was something I’ve been keen on doing for a long time now. We left home at around five a.m and I reached site by around quarter to ten. After a short briefing, the HFH team set me to work. We started carrying gypsum boards from the truck into the basement, where we would be working. Once that was done, they should me how to use a screw-gun. Having never used power tools in my life, I was a little apprehensive. But some support, some practice and voila! I was set. The day’s task was sheet rock the ceiling of the basement. We measured and cut boards to size and started screwing the on to the wooden cross-beams. In the meanwhile, we were joined by two more volunteers. Having more people around meant the work could be carried out in a more factory-like system. One team would measure, size the boards and tack them to the ceiling with a couple of screws. The following team, on which I was, would the put in the remaining screws. It was hardwork. The full extent of this, I realized only the next day. Standing on a little step ladder set on sandy ground, and putting screws in a board above your head is harder than it sounds.

20131216-172004.jpgLunch was some sort of local masale-bhaat with black beans, a dollop of steamed veggies and few pieces of steamed yucca, bought at a local deli. Flavourful, filling and inexpensive.  Post lunch, we were joined by more crew from HFH. We worked till around three in the afternoon and then packed up for the day. The crew helpfully dropped me off at the nearest subway station. I definitely going back, but the long and arduous travel ( 3 trains and a bus) might prove to be a deterrent in finishing what I’ve started.

On Friday, I finally drove down to the local ice rink for my lesson. It was a wonderful experience. I’m not sure if I can skate any better now, but I’m definitely more confident than I was on the ice at Bryant’s Park last Christmas. When the hooter sounded, I could hardly believe that the hour was up. The Husband surprised me with flowers in the evening, something he had planned but had been unable to do on my birthday. Later, we went for dinner with friends to a Hibachi Grill.

We had planned to do a wine trail over the weekend, but once again our plans were thwarted by snow. So, we finally got around furnishing our walk-in and coat closets with storage racks, bring all the extended celebrations to an end a temporary pause.

What a wonderful birthday it has been!