Diwali- The festival of Lights

Diwali- The festival of Lights

Diwali, the day when every part of our house is lit with lamps and we make sure no corner of our surrounding has a tint of dust or dirt. The best clothes are worn, the best of sweets are made and the sky is lit with crackers. The sound of crackers, the smell of good food, the happiness in the eyes of little ones for getting a day off from studies and the glitter on the face of old parents who waits eagerly for our arrival. Deepawali has a distinct fragrance in itself. With Diwali comes a sweet smell of winters in the air, the fragrance of beautiful flowers, the smell of the burning oil lamps make Diwali an attachment, a beautiful feeling that you want to return to every year.

Time passes by and with time changes our priorities. With age, the festivities become just another day off from work. We try to recreate the festivity but the aura of Deepawali fades a little every year. Money may give us the power to purchase as many crackers as we want but it takes away the excitement that buying it from little pocket money used to give. The simplicity of pleading Dad to buy another packet of rocket or stealing sweets from Mom’s kitchen that was strictly made for guest had a charm that no expensive sweet shop or fancy cracker market can give.

Time has changed, oil lamps have been replaced by fancy fairy lights, homemade sweets has been replaced by home-delivered sweets, meeting friends and celebrating the festival together has mostly been replaced mostly by online greetings. But then, amidst all the deadlines, tight schedules, work commitments and modernizations, the festival has managed to keep its essence alive.

Having said that, my heart gets really sad on the day of Deepawali, it searches for the festive vibe that I know can never come back,  so I decided to go to some far off place, away from all the glitters and hype or the convention.

This time I decided to explore Vattavada, the land of strawberries. It is a  small village in Kerala. Best part being, you need to cross a dense forest to reach this isolated place. There were small little celebrations but nothing compared to the metro city hype.

It was just another winter evening with a cool breeze blowing and some forest birds chirping here and there. The weather was so beautiful, that I couldn’t stop but go out for a walk. The darkness and silence were making it difficult to believe that it was a festive night. But then some real magic happened. I guess universe was not ready to accept the fact that I was not celebrating Diwali

I could hear some soft humming sound around me and something magical caught my eyes.No it was neither crackers nor fairy lights they were real fairies with light. The little fireflies

Not just one or two, they were thousands of them hovering around the place. Within no time the place was lit so beautifully. I couldn’t believe my eyes. My excitement had no bound. I suddenly felt like a kid running around those little souls. The same excitement that  I used to feel on seeing my dad come home with a packet full of crackers on a Diwali evening.

This thought passed my mind and I just froze, so many memories passed my mind and I was just still. I stood at a place just gazing at those fireflies. Slowly I felt like they are welcoming me to their family. A sense of joy surrounded me as they started playing around me. They were all around me. Some on my hair, some on my shoulders and some on my fingertips. I felt a beautiful sense of calm from within. I guess even they wanted me to join their Deepawali celebration. They made me one of them.

 It felt every element of nature was celebrating Diwali in their own way. These little creatures brought back the long-lost childhood vibe of Diwali back. I had almost spent an hour on that new moon night with these fireflies without any track of time. But then came the time when I had to return back. I started to walk back to my hotel but my mind was still with those fireflies.

In such a little while, they taught me so much about life and living. They made me realize that life itself is the biggest celebration. These little creatures do not need jazzy clothes, expensive ornaments or even a reason that comes once a year to celebrate. Every evening is a Deepawali for them. The moment the Sun is down, it’s their time of celebration. Whatever they have might be very little yet they its unique and they know to appreciate themselves. Everyone is gifted in some unique way or the other. If we realize it and start appreciation that uniqueness, life itself would be a celebration.

This piece of writing was there with me for a long time. It was written on some  Deepawali night when life was harsh on me, eventually, life has made up to me in more ways than one, so no regrets at all. But I couldn’t find a better day to share this moment with you. Hope you like it. Do tell me about some unique thoughts or experiences that may have crossed your mind. I would love to hear from you.

Lots of love to all the wonderful readers of my Storyovens family. Thank you for showing so much love and support.

Please do come back to enjoy and be a part of this never-ending journey to explore the meaning of life.

Have a happy and safe Deepawali. Sending you lots of good wished and positive vibes.

Lots of Love!

Your very own

Banjara Girl!

To know about a different love story you can read When a Banjara Soul Falls in Love

Here is a  Letter From Your Hoste, do give a read!

Ever thought what conversations would you have Only if books could speak? Come let’s find out

 

(Pic courtesy: Pixabay)

 

 

When a Banjara Soul Falls in Love

When a Banjara Soul Falls in Love

Is a Banjara soul allowed to seek love? The same soul for whom attachment, love, compassion has no room. You must have always seen her in Zen mode. Nothing really affects her. She, who gets thrown into extremely difficult situations but rarely does she get consumed by them.

Form very early in life she had decided her problems can never define her. She tries not to have any strong emotions in life. Her emotions are always from a distance. Be it love, hate, smile or cry. She believes in Banjara life with nothing to get attached to. There is no other way of life known to her.

But now  I feel this Banjara girl is trying to find solace. She who was always overprotective about herself, has finally dropped all armors around her but what’s the outcome of such a drastic decision?

Heaven knows man. Honestly, I am quite scared, coz its the 1st time in life that she is missing company on a solo trip. Now, that’s unbelievable. Loneliness is her best friend, she is her soulmate, she has never needed anyone else in life to make her happy. She is badass.

It’s the 1st time she is so restlessly checking her phone every minute. Is there a call, a message or some sort of an indication that she is been missed? She opens the screen lock anxiously. An unread message brings an ear to ear smile on her face but no response makes her sad. Is this love? She asks herself. Is it even normal to get those butterflies in the stomach? It feels scary, immature and kiddish but she is loving every part of it. Maybe it was always there but she was too scared to acknowledge it.

She is here to share a message with all her lovely readers, who are scared to show their love for someone because they feel banjaras are not meant for love, or because you were not brought up in a loving happy family, or you like to have your own space or taking yourself self out on a date or a trip.

Do not be afraid to fall in love. Do not doubt yourself just because no one understands your way of life or love. Doesn’t make you less loving. You too can love, the love of your life with all honesty and passion. Simply because love is beyond any definition. So what, if you do not fall into the conventions of society.

So do not give up you solo trips just because you started loving someone. the time you spend with yourself, helps you unwind and retrospect. It works as a detox in life. Nor stop yourself from loving someone passionately because you feel you are ditching the lonely self that has been your first love who has been your sole support all through thick and thins of life. None of it is a sin.

So why punish yourself by choosing one over the other, when balancing is the key to life. So get lost to meet your true self, come back with all new positive vibes and spread it all around.

 It is possible to fall in love with the same person every day a little more without giving up on things that you love to do. So yes this Banjara girl loves her life, the love of her life and loves to be lost in her banjara life to find herself. Her love is increasing, intensifying and maturing over time by being a bit more immature every day!

So never ever sacrifice what you love, be it your work, your passion, your dreams for the love of your life. Neither let anything in life stop you from loving someone passionately. Coz it’s your life and high time you set your own rules rather than trying to set yourself according to societal norms.

That was your Banjara girl who has the immense passion to travel and loves her partner to the core. Let me know about your passion in life and how do you pursue that. If you want to know about my travelogue please join me as I take you for

A backpacking trip to Kerala-Gods own country

Explore Varanasi

The Culinary relationship of China with Kolkata

 

 

Thank you, Raghu, my life partner for these lovely clicks. Also for accepting my way of love and life.I will always be grateful to you my love!

(Do check his page @bikerwithlense for some killer biking experiences)

 

 

Some more exciting content coming up. So stay tuned. Thanks a lot for your love and support. And just to let you know, I am always waiting to listen to your stories. So please do share your thoughts!

Until next time, this is your traveller Sreya signing off. Please share your feedback, comment below and share with your friends.

Lots of love!

Sreya

How are you Kerala?

How are you Kerala?

 

Kerala, the God’s Own country has always embraced me. This is the place that always kept me nested. It is like a womb that has incubated me from all emotional turmoils. So when the flood hit this state recently, a part of me felt restless and homeless. Like many of us, I did whatever little I could for a couple of days and then I just got consumed in my daily works of life. Days passed, the water level reduced, people returned to their homes. Things slowly and steadily started getting back in shape. I know a few months down the line, the scars will be healed and this disaster will slowly turn into memories and then fade away in time. But I wonder what is the emotional state of Kerala now.

Whenever I get directionless in life, I travel. It helps me escape and create a reality of my own. Where simplicity, positive vibes, and happiness in little things is the other name of life. The vibe of some places takes you to a reality you never want to escape from. The only name synonymous to all this is Kerala.

But where do you go with your distressed self, when the dreamland of yours is itself in distress. Do you both help each other get out of the pain or you go into a deeper melancholy?

This time I choose to spend some time in Fort Kochi just after the floods to seek an answer to this. Fort Kochi was not that severely affected compared to other parts of Kerala but the moment I entered the place, I could sense the vibe was missing somewhere. The roads were a lot empty, the makeshift shops were mostly closed and a number of tourists were close to none. The lanes looked dull and the charm was somewhere dried up. The city looked exhausted. Regular visitors of Fort Kochi could hardly even recognize the city.  It felt like the city is so stressed that it doesn’t even care anymore. I felt unwelcome but deep down I knew somewhere my inner hollowness was resonating with the city making me even sadder.

I was so done with the city that I decided to leave the next day itself.  The following morning, I thought of taking a stroll along the beach early in the morning before leaving. I sat at the beach for a long time looking at the fishermen, the football players, the joggers, and the cyclists. Then I met the violinist with whom I jammed with, on my previous visit. I was happy that he remembered me. That’s the beauty of traveling. The trails you leave in some peoples lives are forever. Irrespective of whether you revisit those trails or not.

I slowly walked down the Jew town, had a cup of tea at a shop that is over 100 years old. Struck a conversation with the owner lady who was so excited to share with me the story of her life. She told me how her ancestors came away from Goa years back and started a tea shop here in Kochi. I could see the happiness and content in her eyes. She is so proud that she could continue her ancestral legacy to date.

Pic courtesy: Vishnu Prasad

My next stop was a roadside breakfast joint where a middle-aged man in white shirt and “mundu” was preparing some fresh and delicious looking local breakfast dishes. The fried snacking items attracted my eye. I asked him for “Pazham Pori” and a cup of tea. I was taken aback when he refused to take money from me. When I asked the reason and refused to take the favor, he told me he had a daughter of my age whom he lost recently. He told me how my face reminded me of her. He went on telling me stories of his daughter. Helplessness in his eyes and voice was breaking my heart. I sat with him for some more time before leaving. While parting, he said “I felt my daughter came back, we used to sit for hours and talk like this you know. Please come back again!”

I didn’t say a word. Just touched his feet and left. I was sad, but a part of me was content that at least I could make him feel a bit light.  The emptiness that I felt the previous night was filled with overwhelming emotions. And now when I sit at a roadside tea stall trying to listen to the voice of the city, it smiles back at me.

That day I learned a lesson in life. Our state of mind is a big part of the vibe that is created around us. We are the vibe that we create. I decided to stay back for a couple of days more, with a hope to meet some more interesting people and get to know their inspiring stories. Spend some time with my Pazham pori uncle and enjoy my exclusive time with this city for few more days! 

The sad vibes are gone. It feels like the city is giving me a tight hug and whispering to me,

“Whatever problems you have in life, I am always there to bring you back on track. I will never give up on you. I will make sure you always find the inspiration to keep going. Yes, I am exhausted, and a bit broke but I can never give up on people who need me.”

Let nothing stop you from coming back to Kerala, The God’s own country is ready to embrace you with open arms.

To know what to do when you are in Kerala please read backpacking trip to Kerala-Gods own country.

This was quite a personal experience, let me know if you have gone through any such experiences while traveling. I will be waiting for your comments and you can also suggest me some places where you want to travel and share my experiences.

Be in touch my lovely readers. Keep travelling and keep smiling. Until next time, this is your traveller Sreya signing off. Keep me in your prayers and thanks a lot for being a part of my family!

Lots of love!

thetraveller_sreya 

Thank You Vishnu Prasad for helping me out with some of the clicks!
Hello Sunday!

Hello Sunday!

Sunday, the day when the entire world takes rest. The only day of the week most of us look forward to. These 24 hours are just dedicated to the love of your life. Be it a person, a hobby or just leisure. The worries, tension, and anxiety of the whole week come to a magical halt with the arrival of Sunday mornings. They are the sweet rewards for the pain and agony that we go through the whole week. It is actually more treasured than our hard earned monthly salaries.

 

Sunday comes with a blanket of comfort. It brings along the pleasure of not getting up with the irritating alarm clock. It comes with the privilege of enjoying the comforting view from your balcony with an extra cup of tea. Sunday is the day to unleash the real you that is otherwise trapped in the rat-race of society.

 

But what about the people who have no Sunday?

No Sundays? How is that even possible? Yes, there are people for whom Sunday is no different from any other day. Actually, you don’t have to go too far in search of these people.

Let’s find out!

Let’s start with the Mothers. Do they really have anything called Sunday? They always end up sacrificing their privilege of a lethargic Sunday morning so that we can enjoy ours. Their leisure starts much later as the afternoon sets in.  After everyone has had their breakfast and only if there is still sometime before the sumptuous Sunday lunch. This little time is when she gets to bask in the sun with her cup of chai and the newspaper.

Sunday market

We the 90’s kids are quite familiar with the famous Sunday shopping. Back in those days, the favorite morning activities of the father figure of the house were to go to the Market for some fresh vegetables, fruits or fish. Things have changed a lot over time. Local markets are now replaced by air-conditioned supermarkets. The only thing that remained constant is the busy schedules of the shopkeepers. Sunday for them is no pleasure. Rather it means a little more business than the weekdays.

“Madam if I start celebrating on a Sunday who will get the supply for your delicious Sunday Brunch” – said the fish vendor when I asked him if he had any special plans for the day.

Every day is a struggle for these people. Sunday sometimes comes with an additional burden of extra rush in the market. They might earn some extra bucks by the end of the day, but with a huge opportunity cost.

The Ultimate Bliss

Now comes an interesting set of people who has no Sunday but not for their demanding jobs. Neither do they sacrifice their Sunday to earn some extra profit. For them every day is Sunday.

On my trip to Varanasi, I was privileged to meet a few Sanyasis on the bank of River Ganges. Having a conversation with them made me realize, you do not need a special day if you enjoy what you do every day. These sadhus have the privilege to lead their life the way they want. So every day is Sunday for them. They never stop meditating, because they are never forced to meditate but they do it out of their love for meditation. They celebrate life not just once a week but every day.

Making the most of this day!

Not all of us are lucky to celebrate every day as a Sunday. But most of us are lucky to meet this day once a week. Sunday brings with it enough joy and positive energy to sustain us for another week. I guess this wait of 6 days makes Sunday even more special. This is the only day of the week that gives us a window to be a bit closer to our own self.

So, guys, this is your day, make the most out of it. Pick up that book that you bought but never got the time to read. Finish that unfinished painting that is lying at the corner of your room. Go out and click some awesome photographs that you dreamt of clicking. Cook a meal today and surprise your mom. Publish that article that is in your folder for a long time. Pack your bags and just go out to spend a day with nature. Go for that road trip you have been planning with friends since forever.

And to all the people out there who have to work on Sundays for some reason or the other, I just want to say you are doing a great job! It takes a lot of willpower to do such kind of sacrifice but just one message. Don’t neglect the time you have for yourself, that too is very precious!

And if you are a travel enthusiast like me, let go backpacking in Kerala

or a short trip in search of the hidden treasure of  Kodaikanal

or discover the town of China in Kolkata

That’s a small Sunday gift to my readers. Hope you enjoyed reading it. I will be waiting for your comments. Have an awesome Sunday everyone and let me know how do you usually spend your Sundays!

Sending you lots of love!

-Sreya

 

 

The Culinary relationship of China with Kolkata

The Culinary relationship of China with Kolkata

Kolkata & Chinese food- an emotional journey!

When we think of Kolkata, the common things that come to our mind is Roshogolla, Mishti Doi, Durga Pujo, Howrah Bridge, Chinese food. Not many of us know about a small world of China that breathes in the womb of this massive Kolkata. You will be amazed to see how a Bengali locality transforms into a Chinese fast food joint every morning at around 6.AM and ends by 11.A.M. You will be served with  authentic breakfast spread straight from the kitchen of Chinese Households, if you walk into this busy street of North Kolkata when most of the city is still getting ready for a long day ahead.

The origin of the cuisine called “Indian Chinese”

The history of this unique cuisine goes back to the late 18th century when people came from China and settled in parts of Kolkata. Eventually, they started making Chinese food with whatever was available in the local markets of Calcutta.

This was pretty much the introduction of Chinese food in the Indian Plates. The legacy that came in years ago has still managed to survive in small communities around nooks and corners of the city.

The best place to witness the pure Chinese flavors you have to come down to Senyet Sen street commonly known as Territy Bazar. This lane near the Central Metro station is like any normal dingy lanes of old Calcutta but turns into a Chinese food street every morning at around 6 A.M.

The area is filled mostly with local Chinese households selling authentic breakfast dishes in small makeshift shops on the road. This street-food trail has a lot more to offer than the so-called “Chinese Food” we are used to from childhood.

This street has some incredible breakfast dishes made by people whose origin are from Fujian and Guangdong. You may not like the aesthetics but let me assure you what every food you order is fresh, piping hot, authentic and  pocket-friendly.

What Territy bazar has on offer for you

If you are up for authentic Hakka or Cantonese breakfast you should definitely try :

Dimsums
Shumai
Fishbowl Soups
Fried wontons
Fish dumplings
Tai pho
Xiang Chang
WormWood cakes
Zongzi
Taro Cakes
Khwai Choi Pan
Momo (though Tibetian influences but a very tasty addition to the plate)

Kolkata- the cultural melting pot

This city that has seen a lot of changes over the years. It has been one of the most vibrant and welcoming city since time immemorial. Every big world event has shown some impact on the city in ways more than one. Be it the influence in the city architecture and introduction of the iconic Trams during the British Raj, the construction of Bow Barracks during the 2nd World war which later on became the face of Anglo India Community or the introduction of Jewish churches, schools, and bakeries after Jews found solace in this city. But the most valuable and popular contribution, especially on our dining tables, was from China.

Kolkata has been home to the Chinese community for decades. They have become a part us yet maintained their cultural identity so intact. Be it the schools with Mandarin as their medium of instruction, or the Chinese kali temples (where noodles are offered to the deity) or including us in their elaborate Chinese New Year celebrations. But the most prominent contribution will always be the bliss of the famous Indian Chinese food.

 

Our Country is known for the diversity. But once you visit these places it will make you realize, how big a role these small pockets of communities settled all around the country has in making our country a global home. So on your next trip to our City of Joy, do not miss a chance to visit this amazing Chinese breakfast joint at the heart of the city. And if you are in Bengal do plan a visit to Territy Bazar for some mouth-watering delicacies.

That’s the cute little world of Indianised China for you!

To know  about the culinary cultures of Bhutan click The taste of Bhutan

We also have a delicious spread for you from the beautiful city of Coorg- The Scotland of India

Do let me know if you liked this food blog and please share your experience as well. Let me know if you want me to write about any specific cuisine. It is always very exciting to hear from you.

Some exciting travel and food blog coming up real soon. Be with me on this amazing journey of travel, food and inspiring stories of life and of course have an awesome life, my lovely readers.

Lots of love!

Sreya

All pictures are clicked by Raghu. Check his profile for more photos!

 

 

 

A Letter From Your Hostel

A Letter From Your Hostel

 

Hi Friend,

I am your hostel speaking, hope this letter finds you in good health. Now that you are living happily in some posh part of the world, I don’t think you remember me anymore. I still remember the first day you entered the hostel with a small luggage and lot of dreams in your eyes. Initially, you hated me.

The small bed, shared washroom, bad food, no privacy – made your life even more messed up than it already was. Coping up with a new city, staying away from parents, being in a new place all by yourself was petrifying. You were happy to be independent but part of you was sad that your roots were falling apart. I could see a vulnerable child in you.

 

 

Time passed by, you started getting close to your new roommates. Early morning fights for washrooms, celebrating each other’s birthday, washing clothes, bitching about colleagues, eating tasteless hostel food with homemade pickles. These small little things slowly made those unknown souls from different parts of the country your new family. I was relieved to know that I could give you the comfort of a home even without any luxuries. “I became your new local address”.

 

 

You even started missing me and your roommates when you were on vacation in your hometown. You had terrible fights with your mates for petty reasons but never hesitated to be a strong pillar of support when required.

 It made me so happy to see you clean me like your own house. Even I felt the joy of festivity when you decorated the windows with lights on Diwali or Christmas. You playing with colours during Holi not only drenched my walls but my heart as well.

 

 

Your late night chats, you trying to find privacy in nooks and corners,  long-distance relationship, homesickness, infatuations, breakups, exam preparations, online shopping, job promotions – I have witnessed almost everything.

I realised you have slowly started liking me but I always knew someday I need to let you go. And yes, the day had finally arrived. You were now strong and established to face the world and deal with it on your own terms.

 

 

Your place was filled by another fresher just like your 6 years previous self. Nervous, immature and intimidated. I am like a womb to protect and nurture the embryo, and once its ready to face the world, I have to let it go. Every new entry in the hostel feels like a breath of fresh air to me and every exit is heartbreaking but a new ray of hope to the world.

I feel sad when you leave because I know you will never come back. That’s life and I cannot complain. I feel proud that at least I could be a part of your journey to self-discovery.

My best wishes are there with you, stay blessed and keep dreaming and keep on conquering those dreams!

 

With lots of love

Your Hostel!

 

To know what message the books from your bookshelf have for you read Only if books could speak

 

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