A day at the beach

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Curving roads. Empty roads. Surrounded by greenery roads. With arching trees and creeping vines. Like a grand entrance beckoning us, offering so much more in the great beyond. The cool moist air with a hint of the ocean as if caressing our cheeks. Off the highway, the empty back roads tell us this isn’t season time. Instead of drunk raucous revelers we encounter silent trees out for a parade covered in their greens. This is Goa in the Monsoons.

It is drizzling now, a hint of rains yet to come, but it is pleasant enough to be venturing out. We tell our driver to take us to the beach. Candolim being the nearest, we go there. He tells us that it’s a short walk to Calangute & Baga and we can call wherever we chose to get off the beach. It’s an interesting idea, probably more so because strolling on…

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Travel Budget Blues

I have done something bad. Something i never thought i would do and now am mentally freaking out at making this work. Impulse buying a BIG thing.

You see, it started with an email i received announcing sale fares to 6 destinations on Malaysian Airlines. I had to do a double take when i got to the airfares they were so low. Lower than i have ever seen before. So the next day i walked into my friendly travel agent store and bought 4 tickets for a family holiday to Dubai.

Now that the excitement of buying the tickets has worn off, i am left with a major problem – arranging enough money to cover our 3 week holiday. I have started dreaming of travel vaccinations, passport photos, and assorted other expenses. 

I have only 4 months to arrange $10,000+. I need to get a grip on my panicking brain and start thinking about what i can do to save up.

Options so far:

– find an evening job – but then i will need to figure out what to do with my girls during that time 

– sell anything i don’t need

– we are already quite a frugal bunch so don’t know how much more i could squeeze from our food budget

How you you funded your trips on short notice – maybe you can help me with your tips on what i can do 🙂

Auckland – the tenth most liveable city in the world – again…..

I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience life in a clean, green and peaceful place like New Zealand. So far, I have lived in Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton and visited most parts of NZ. Sometimes you tend to take things for granted once you get used to them and when I read this morning how Auckland has been rated the 10th most livable city in the world I had the chance to mentally review all the things I love about living here.
So in no particular order, here is my list of why I love Auckland:

  • You can drive in almost any direction in Auckland and still be within 20 kms of a beach. My fave beach is Maraetai in South-East Auckland – a beautiful white sand beach full of colorful gorgeous sea shells, a long pier extending into the blue sheltered waters, a great playground for the kids, and a fish and chip shop and ice-cream parlour right across the street.
maraetai beach, auckland

maraetai beach, auckland

  • Auckland is a multicutural melting pot and it is not unusual while walking around the city to see a multitude of cultures often in their traditional attire and hear numerous languages and accents. Auckland is also home to many events celebrating the festivals, food, arts and cultures of its various immigrant residents.

 

Maori dance

Maori dance

  • The friendliness and helpfulness of kiwis in general – I often see such wonderful stories of human goodwill and it is a powerful reminder of what a wonderful community we live in.
  • The elusive work/life balance – If you have children you may be familiar with the difficulty in finding enough quality time to spend with your family and friends. Luckily Auckland offers you the chance to really have it all – a career in a thriving metropolis and the chance to get home at a decent enough hour to spend time with family
  • Free things to do – Auckland has so many beautiful parks and other facilities that are absolutely free which is great if you have young children. My faves are:

– Auckland Art Gallery – my kids love to see the art exhibits and also try their hand at creating their own art in the childrens room

auckland art gallery

auckland art gallery

– Auckland Museum and Domain Wintergardens – we have spent so many days here enjoying the offerings

wintergardens at the domain

wintergardens at the domain

Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum

– Michael Savage Memorial – has wide panoramic views across the city and is a great place to look for Tuis, a native bird with a distinctive call

michael savage memorial
– Parnell Rose Gardens and Judges Bay – for beautiful walks and a spot of swimming

 

It is spring now and I cannot wait for glorious summer to start going on picnics to the places above. Just a little longer now, just a little longer…….

The Ghost House – a true story

Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay on Lake Taupō, over 10 metres high and are only accesable by boat or Kayak - Photo Coutesy Abaconda Management Group.

Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay on Lake Taupō, over 10 metres high and are only accesable by boat or Kayak – Photo Coutesy Abaconda Management Group.

 

Albert Einstein once said – “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”

For those who believe in the supernatural, no proof is necessary. For those who do not, no proof is enough.

What I will share with you today is a personal glimpse into this mystery.

Growing up, many summer vacations were spent in my grandfather’s house in Mumbai – it was a big house with one whole room wall to wall with books. This was my own personal heaven. My favourite ones were books on the paranormal – from astral travel, meditation, psychic phenomena to near death experiences. In the days I would read and in the nights I would try to replicate the methods to bring on an out of body experience or develop ESP. I am very sorry to report that I was never successful at these attempts; however that could have more to do with my own levels of excitement and impatience than anything inherently wrong with the techniques.

Looking back at this now, I like to imagine that this has turned me into what my sister calls ‘a magnet for the mysterious’.

Subsequently I have had many many weird experiences throughout the years but I one I want to share with you today happened in New Zealand, in Taupo.

About 2 years ago, my niece was diagnosed with a brain tumour when she was just 16. She had a dangerous but successful surgery and while she was recovering, she was given a weekend at a holiday house by a charity that supported children with cancer. Our 2 families made the trip to Taupo on a beautiful bright day and everybody agreed that the house was just great. It had a play area like the ones at Mcdonalds inside the lounge and a tiny room just covered with all kinds of vintage dolls and even a trampoline in the garden.

Once we had settled in we started playing a board game in the lounge and slowly we began registering sounds other than our own. We could hear wood creaking like someone walking over a loose floorboard, things shifting inside cupboards in the kitchen and noises in the roof and in corridors leading to the bedrooms. We made light of this and teased each other about being scared. The noises were not constant and not seemingly related to any wind or weather activity. We soon got used to these and enjoyed a fun afternoon outside. In the evening after dinner we were all gathered again in the lounge. And the noises started up again. But this time, something new was happening as well. The doors of the kitchen cupboards would start slowly opening by themselves, just enough to make you wonder if you are imagining it and lights would be left on in the unused rooms that no one would admit to being in.

That night, I was sleeping in the bedroom at the end of the corridor, and my daughters were in the creepy doll room a few rooms down, with an older cousin. In the middle of the night I awoke – I don’t know why exactly but I could hear little footsteps coming down the corridor towards my room. My first instinct was that one of my girls had woken as well and was trying to find me. There were no nightlights in the room it was completely dark. I could feel the footsteps coming closer and coming inside the room and near my bed. I kept waiting for my daughter to put her arms out to find me or jump into bed with me but nothing happened. I waited, and waited some more – I called out – Nothing. But there was still the chance that it was my daughter just lost in the dark in her sleep. I got up and turned on a light – no one in my room. Now I was scared. I went up to the doll room to check – the girls were fast asleep with their cousin’s arms around each one. So I went back to bed and eventually fell asleep.

The next morning, I noticed an almost sombre mood around the table. I brought up what happened in a light vein to give everyone an opportunity to tease me but instead I was met with strange stares. It turns out that everyone had heard footsteps and also little giggles in the night. We all agreed that the activity we had observed here did not feel at all malicious, in fact the house still had the same air of cheerfulness we felt when we first entered. This made us think – what if there were some children who had holidayed here but lost their battle with cancer and lingered on to relive cherished memories of time spent here?

We made our peace with the invisible occupants of the house and in fact made it a game to observe the creaking and door opening so we could acknowledge & involve them in our good times.

We even said goodbye to them when we left & still look back fondly on that holiday.

This quote from William Shakespeare that perfectly sums up how I feel:

“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Have you ever had any unexplained experiences? I would love to hear your stories……..

 

 

 

Viva New Zealand!

Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel

Cathedral Cove in the Coromandel

New Zealand is my adopted country – and what an amazing country it is!

For my first ever post I thought I’d shine some light on what living here is like.

This country has given me everything I ever wanted – from a loving partnership and adorable girls to a satisfying career, a house of my own and the freedom and lifestyle I’d dreamed of.

I came to NZ’s sandy shores as a young girl of 24 and fell in love instantly with not just it’s magnificently beautiful landscapes but also the people who make this land what it is. Most kiwis I’ve met are grounded and resourceful who love to get their hands dirty (both literally and figuratively). Coming from India with it’s extreme chasm between the very rich and the very poor and the different attitudes on both sides, it was refreshing to see this culture where money and status were not the sole determining factors of your identity or your destiny.
Kiwis are quick to have a laugh (even at themselves) and tolerant of different ideas. It also helps that religion is not as much ‘in your face’ and by and large kiwis are not bound by much religious dogma.
Auckland is a thriving multicultural city not without it’s own share of problems, one of which is housing affordability and another is traffic congestion. Of course this traffic is nothing compared to many other metropolises like Bombay or New York but still far worse than anywhere else in NZ.

Travelling through New Zealand is a wonderful mix of the old and quaint country towns, breathtaking beaches, high adrenalin adventure activities, and the energy of it’s bigger cities.
In the 12 years I’ve lived here I have been fortunate to travel the length and breadth of this magical land and live in different parts of the country – many posts to follow will elaborate on these adventures.
If you have any questions about NZ please feel free to drop me a line anytime.