Tag Archives: Humour

Breath-taking Locations to Motorhome

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Picture Credits: Namish Gulati

Motorhoming or camping is for those who want to seek solitude and the beauty of the natural world.

Our first campsite was Loch Ness Shores a franchise of The Camping and Caravanning Club. What newbie campers must know in advance is that campsites do not operate like your regular hotels, there are office timings (9 am to 6pm in most places, but do check) to be respected as well as quiet timings (11 pm onwards) to be strictly adhered to. Some places even have barriers to enter and are locked down at 11 pm or thereabouts. We being unaware of these rules arrived at 10 pm and were ticked off by Donald, the warden, for arriving late. An elderly gent he was right to do so having been at work form 5 a.m. In our defence the drive from Edinburgh to Loch Ness is so scenic and the fact that at 8 pm also the day is so bright that one easily loses track of time completely.
Any which ways, Donald showed us to our pitch.

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Picture Credits: Namish Gulati

A pitch is the word used to define your reserved space at the campsite. They can be either soft (grass) or hard, soft pitches are for tents and smaller campervans. The hard pitch is for the Motorhomes. A pitch will be provided with an electric point and a water tap, you hook-up your home on wheels to both these for the duration of your stay. The electric hook-up saves you the use of fuel and gas to heat up the interiors and the water tank of the motorhome can store up to a 100 litres of water. At the campsite you will also find well-appointed shower rooms and toilets, a space to wash utensils as well as paid washing machines and dryers. A café and provision shop also are quid-pro-quo. Other features are disposal points for grey water (kitchen and bath) and black water (chemical toilet.)
Once we had hooked up and felt less like chastised teenagers, we set out to explore Lochness shores, the only campsite we had booked beforehand from India. Tucked away in a corner of the banks of the loch, Scots for Lake, famous for the Loch Ness Monster here is where one can find a solitude that is soul reviving. The highlands frame the lake and the rippling, yet calm waters belie the threat of a Monster lurking in its dark depths, but then the legend of Nessie dates back to the 5th Century A.D. and is still a phenomenon that science has neither explained nor refuted completely. An anticipation of the promised beauty of the Isle of Skye was tinged with regret as we left Loch Ness two days later.

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Picture Credits: Namish Gulati

My first view of the morning at the Glenbrittle Campsite the next morning made me quickly forget any such regrets. Clean cold air laden with moisture and a hint of salt, the waves soundlessly crashing on the dark sandy shore and far on the horizon the pinkish blush of the sun hiding behind a thick blanket of pregnant clouds.
Sitting by the sea always makes me feel as if I’m at the edge of the world and when you get the opportunity to view this majesty meters away from you the moment you open your eyes, you might agree with me that the state achieved is total Nirvana.

Our next stopover was at the Glencoe Camping & Caravanning Club site. A 1963 song by John McDermontt the words Oh, cruel was the snow that sweeps Glencoe. And covers the grave o’ Donald makes one wonder at the bloody history of a place described also to be one of the most beautiful in the world.

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Picture Credits: Namish Gulati

As one crosses over from the picturesque town of Fort William to the verdant Glencoe, the views of the highlands flanking it are truly sublime, even a blink is too much time to take off them and while I soaked in the gorgeousness of it all, I felt only gratitude towards Nature for her selfless bounty.

Upending the Beaten Path in a Motorhome

 

To explore is as basic a need for humans as to breathe. The world and all its horizons having been explored and splattered across Facebook and Instagram, awoke in us the need to do our exploring a tad differently. If you have fond memories of childhood engrossed in the wondrous world of Enid Blyton, you would recall the Caravans that added to the allure of them. So, we decided to embark on our much anticipated discovery of Scotland ensconced in what could only be called a home with a motor and therefore a Motorhome. dsc_5766Having booked one from Desh, procured the necessary insurances to go for it and watched enough You-tube videos to have a false sense of bravado at the enterprise; My Spouse (who shall henceforth be lovingly referred to as The Man), two teens and I landed in Glasgow ready for a dash of adventure in a monster which can carry and sleep 6 adults or children within its caravanous hold.

I must amend my narrative to point out that, while the parents were bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to experience the Lowlands and the Highlands, the two disgruntled teens were not. They would rather have experienced Scotland via warm rooms in comfy Hotels vis-à-vis life experienced outdoorsy with toilets that required to be emptied out like chamber pots.

After a bit John’s (our helpful instructor at Atlas Motorhome & Campervan Hires) lilting Scots accent became familiar we finally understood the myriad workings of the interior of the van. It seemed daunting to remember so many details till he shared the written guide on everything that we could carry, I breathed a sigh of relief and promptly stopped concentrating.

Soon, excited and not in the little bit perturbed we set out and got our first learning that it might not be as easy as we had thought. With a well equipped kitchen the Motorhome carried there was a noisy issue for the crockery and other kitchen equipment rattled loud as the van meandered out through the cobbled streets of Glasgow onto the Motorway towards Edinburgh. To understand the full scope of the sounds, I can use no better expression than the one used by the Man, who soon would christen the rig a Haryana Roadways Bus! There would be many more learning along the way as we spent seven nights in our home literally on the move.

The first thing is size. Motorhomes are big. Really big. Ours was a monster that comfortably housed a not so slim couple with their five and half foot plus teenage kids. Delightfully called a Premier Motorhome – 2-6 Berth with a rear lounge or realistically the Rollerteam 746 can be a comfortable nest to explore the outdoors.  However, driving it is not as easy even though the vehicle is only two feet larger than an ordinary car. Judging the extra length while driving and reversing it as well as finding parking near cities is problematic. To top it all the wind speeds in Scotland can rattle the most confident of drivers, which The Man certainly is. Nevertheless the locations you can spend your holiday literally in the lap of Mother Nature make up for the ruts along the way.

Do look out for the next piece on Motorhoming:

https://vasudhachandnagulati.com/2019/01/04/breath-taking-locations-to-motorhome/

 

Patience is My Darkest Teacher

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SNAP! BOOM! BANG! is how I like to make decisions. Malcolm Gladwell in his best-selling novel —Blink, waxes eloquent on the ability to intuit things at top speed and make snap judgments. “The first task of Blink is to convince you of a simple fact”, Gladwell writes: “decisions made very quickly can be every bit as good as decisions made cautiously and deliberately.”

This blog post is not on Gladwell; nevertheless, I evoke his name as the book certainly gave enough supporting evidence I wanted to hear and though there were various contradictions, I choose to ignore them. I have been accused way too often for being, wait for it: Impulsive! And if that weren’t an affront enough, Impatient, gets added to the litany of accusations against Lil’ old me. Contrary to those who accuse me (my queasy better half and my long-suffering mother), I like to think of myself as decisive and quick on my feet. As opposed to their thinking and over-thinking running around in circles, I prefer a rather swifter style: leaping in head first, thought later. And honestly speaking, there’s not been many terrible outcomes to report and no regrets since I put down all life’s experiences as learnings which help me evolve. If there’s any regret it is forced by the sanctimonious halos around their heads when I have landed with my brains splattered around me after a rather nasty fall resulting from the leap-first-think-later philosophy. Everyone is entitled to slipups once in a while, so what the hell I’m not claiming to be perfect.  And don’t they love to rub that in. But! However! Ergo! don’t even get me started on making the thinking-and-over-thinking people take a decision! A whole elegy can be written on the pains I suffer over this herculean endeavour.

What gets my goat though, is when the universe conspires against me. When events take their own sweet time to get moving. When delays happen over decisions the thinking-and-over-thinking people have finally taken. And then Patience, the unhurried witch, becomes my darkest teacher. She ekes out every moment deliberately, stretching me out on the rack and hangs me out to dry. With no mirage in sight, I suffer and learn.

There is a school of thought that I subscribe to: we come into this life willingly accepting unresolved challenges for our spiritual growth. This thought extends to taking multiple births in order to overcome said challenges. My accepted challenge or learning I guess is to cultivate the virtue of patience and one would think she would help me some once in a while, right? While I persevere and fail then begin again, she isn’t kind or humble, she’s bold and forceful, much like my Math teacher in High School: Mrs. Sunderajan, God bless her soul.

She might have been the kind advisor to Milton in his throes of despair and guided him to wisdom, but in my case, she continues to be a hard mistress. And, “when I consider how my light is spent”, Patience doesn’t in her innate kindness respond: “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair

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As I mentioned in my last post, I made a Godawful promise to myself and as a result spent 10 bookless days. Since January is too soon to give up on a New Year resolution and I must stick to it till February at least, I had to write the review and fast. This time I was smart, I wrote the review as I read along.

When I got my hands on this 615 pages long innocently titled The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker, to be honest I wasn’t very thrilled. Would you be with a title that long and cover page revealing an empty town? However, once I began I couldn’t stop. Hastily prepared meals, ignored emails and exercise regimes, and  feigned ignorance towards the needs of the spouse and kids, I finished the book in two days flat. Well…two days and one all-nighter.

By now I must have piqued your interest, so without further ado, let me share the many reasons why you must read The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker

For a good juicy Mystery

If there is one thing I absolutely abhor is the Rubix Cube. I am convinced Erno Rubix invented the damn thing to flummox the likes of me. I manage to solve one colourful (generally blue, since that’s my favourite colour) side and then the all the other sides resemble a punk’s dream come true. In school and college my friends gave up and now my kids have given up on trying to explain the ‘simple’ funda (as they call fundamentals) behind solving it. My daughter when she was 11 shared a YouTube video too hoping I would get it, but NADA. And then the Piramix, astride my Whizkid son’s palm, walked into our home. Let me not even get started on my battles with this Rubik’s cousin from hell. You may be wondering why I’m lamenting on my incapability to handle this ‘simple’ puzzle when the post is about a book deceptively named The Truth About The Harry Quebert Affair.  The reason is rather simple (please, detect sarcasm here).

Fanny Blake of the Daily Mail describes the book as ‘An expertly realised, addictive Russian doll of a whodunnit’, I cannot find a better expression than hers. Having read whodunnit’s from an early age, there is not much that comes as a surprise in books anymore, and even though I had guessed who had ‘dunnit’ early into the read, Dicker made it tough to say: Aha! I knew it, at the very end. Every turn of the page became interesting as new information was revealed and confused the hell out of me on who would be the inglorious murderer. Joël Dicker can probably solve the Rubik’s cube and the Piramix with a few twists like my progeny, but I’m convinced he also can break it down to its spare parts and join them together without breaking a sweat. For he sure broke the plot of this book down, scattered the pieces, let his pet or offspring run riot over it and then put the pieces back together in the most ingenious novel within a novel. If that isn’t reason enough for you to pick up the book here’s the next.

You should read it for the protagonist, Marcus’s Mom

The most fun conversations happen between Marcus and his Mom. To the son’s frustration he just has to say something and the mother twists it into something else entirely, these conversations brought out many a chuckle of delight as I read on. She is the quintessential mother, always questioning all her son’s actions and choices resulting in hilarious conversations with her bewildered  child, who needed to get on with investigating a murder, exonerating his mentor and writing a book all at the same time. If I were Marcus, I wouldn’t have lasted, I would marry the first woman I came across just to shut her up. Sarcastic Moms have always been my favourite characters in books and Mrs Goldman lives up to the expectation and more. Need more reasons to read the book? Well, here’s the next.

If you are a budding writer

Read it for the dollops of writing advice dished out by Harry Qubert to his protégé Marcus. The many doubts I constantly deal with, are answered in this book with equanimity.  Here’s one to whet your appetite: “A new book, Marcus, is the start of a new life. It’s also an act of great generosity: You are offering, to whoever wishes to discover it, a part of yourself. Some will love it, some will hate it. Some will worship you, others will despise you. Some will be jealous, others will be curious. But, you’re not writing it for them. You’re writing it for all those who, in their daily lives, will enjoy a sweet moment because of Marcus Goldman. You may say that doesn’t sound like much, but its actually quite something. Some writers want to change the world. But who can really change the world?” 

You still need more reasons, right? Phew! Demanding, aren’t we.

Well here’s the last one. Every book should leave you with having something you would like to go back to again and here’s one from this one I wanted to share for all those who spend most of their life worrying about reaching the top of the mountain.

Harry:   “So you felt like you’d won?”

Marcus: “Yes, I did. Even if technically, I lost the match, I felt as if I had won.”

Harry:   “Well, there’s your answer: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose. What matters is how you fight between the first bell and the last one. The result of the match is just a piece of news for the public. Who can say you lost if you feel like you’ve won? Life is like a foot race, Marcus: There will always be people who are faster than you, and there will always be those who are slower than you. What matters, in the end, is how you ran the race.”

Amazing, right? So simple, yet a resounding message about what life should really be about.

I now gleefully reach out for my next read The Wonder by Emma Donoghue. Watch this space or rather my blog for the review.

 

 

Vegetarian by Choice

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I’ve been itching and threatening to write this one for quite a while, so those that know me well, will not be surprised with today’s post.

I am a vegetarian!!

As soon as I drop this bomb, new acquaintances do a double take. “But, you don’t look like one,” pops out of their mouth before they realize. Out of politeness, now I nod and smile having heard this a million times. I have pondered over this statement many a times, what does a vegetarian face look like? The face I wear somehow does not suit that stereotype.

Is it a Buddha like serene countenance that is required? Or a look of profound piety, which I do not possess? So pray (I wonder) do I carry the look that is carnivorous? Or is it cannibalistic, the face that the creator furnished me with? Whatever the reason, I’m not yet enlightened. Since polite folk just laugh when I ask them back what a vegetarian looks like. “Not like you, certainly,” said one and another afraid probably of my cannibalistic looks hurriedly pacified, “No, no I didn’t mean to offend!”

Still with doubt in their mind, the next question that comes, “Is your family vegetarian? Were you forced to by your in-laws,” they ask with pity in their eyes. If they knew me well enough, they’d know how remote that possibility is, as my long suffering in-laws can testify, forcing me to do something against my will. Well, that just doesn’t happen. The doubting Thomas’ need to confirm, “Must have left it for religious reasons!”

Here I give up, my genuine, ‘I don’t relish the taste of non-veg,’ doesn’t suffice. For you see, I do not have the ‘looks’ to convince.

Grudgingly, they wonder what to feed this strange creature who does not fit the mould and upsets their well-planned menu. Now, they must add some vegetarian options to it. Sigh!! More work!! What to add is the next dilemma, what do vegetarians eat? Grass, we cannot serve, she is after all a guest. Salad, she’ll think we are commenting on her weight, she needs to shed but how can we be so obvious. Vegetables are sides, to be had with meat (that is the actual food.) Then they have their ‘aha moment’! They hit on just the right combination – aloo (potatoes) as appetizer and Paneer (cottage cheese) for mains. There, what a fancy menu, she’ll surely be glad we know what a vegetarian’s palate be fond of. As I eat their carefully selected choices and smile in wonder at another thoughtful meal of aloo and paneer. There and then I promise myself to get to the writing of my long overdue cook book, “Vegetarian Party Cooking – Not a single Aloo or Paneer Recipe!”

 

 

 

 

Blithering Idiot!!

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You have to say this about the Brits that when they insult they do it with humour (Yes, that’s the way it is spelt in Britain, so word-check please stop showing me the wiggly red line.) At the end of the Harry Potter series when the Death Eaters are the gates of Hogwarts the following exchange totally cracked me up:

Professor McGonagall: That doesn’t mean we can’t delay him. And his name is Voldemort, so you might as well use it, he’s going to try and kill you either way.

Neville:  Are you really giving us permission to do this?

McGonagall: Yes, Longbottom.

 Neville: Blow it up? Boom?

Professor McGonagall: BOOM!

Professor McGonagall: I’ve always wanted to use that spell.

 Professor McGonagall: And Potter… it’s good to see you.

 Harry: It’s good to see you too, Professor.

 Filch: Students out of bed! Students out of bed! Students out of bed!

 Professor McGonagall: They are supposed to be out of bed you blithering idiot.

The British are famous for their sarcastic and self-deprecating sense of humour, which they use to lighten even the most tense or unhappy of moments such as in the example above.

Reading novels from a very young age I took to and up this baffling (to my better half and many of my friends) unique style of laughing at myself and at others. Sometimes quoting directly from books that I have read, to the consternation of others. And sometimes from Aunty Acid who seems to say exactly the wrong things at the right times.

How to recognize someone who is afflicted with and the key to understanding the humour of the English is that nothing is sacred and everything is game to be made fun of including failures. Sarcasm, irony, puns and a healthy dose of self-deprecation are the symptoms of this malady.

So today’s post is sort of an insight into what tickles my funny-bone. Why do I write this? Obviously to explain myself to those who are often confused by what I like to think as my quirkiness and save myself in some pretty awkward moments that I will surely land myself into in the future, leaping in where angels fear to tread.

My mother, a loveable lady to most, was quite a disciplinarian for my brother and me. Once while I was young we heard that there were a spate of women being kidnapped in the small town that we lived in. During a discussion on the dinner table my father cautioned her to be careful, to which I quipped, “Don’t worry, whoever takes her will beg us to take her back in a day’s time.” The silence following this was uncomfortable to say the least. I wished then that I’d been asleep “as my life tends to fall apart when I’m awake”- Aunty Acid.

My kids have also not been spared my caustic tongue and when my teenage son doesn’t get a haircut I don’t berate him, I just thank him for the money he’s saving me by not visiting the barber. And when he, being a millennium child laughs at my foibles with gizmos, I gently remind him that I’m the one who taught him to eat and clean his technologically advanced, ahem, unmentionable. His reactions are a sight to be seen but I’m equally delighted by his comebacks that make me secretly proud that, he’s certainly a chip off the old block. With my almost teenage daughter who is unfortunately being brought up with a heavier dose of verbal sparring by the son and me has a more difficult time of it. Yet we always let her know that we love her to bits, by pulling her leg. For you see a surefire sign that people suffering with my strange condition really like you, is that they will surely poke fun at you. We can find humour in almost any situation and it is not intended to offend rather it is the best medicine in times when life knocks you down and the nation is turning so intolerant. Oops! Did I do it again!