Friday, 18 July 2014

published pieces: March-July 2014


bazaar came out with some beautiful covers this year.
(The cover with the beach, however, is from June '13. Realized it later :/)

While it may seem like my writing has taken a backseat, that's only as far as the blog is concerned. Here are links to my published articles in Kuwait's bazaar magazine over the past few months:

March: The Essence of Travel
For those who were following the Deutschland Diaries, this is a succinct account of gastronomical experiences in Germany :)

April: Why the Litter?
Commentary on littering in Kuwait (beaches in particular) that comes dangerously close to a rant.

May: Prague: Off the Beaten Path
Collaboration with the mother on a few gems of the Czech capital. The digital issue makes for a better read owing to the gorgeous pictures (page 130).

June: Why Do We Love Sports?
Piece on what makes us invest so much of our time and emotion into watching sports.

July-August: The M√ľnchen Marathon: 10 KM Lauf
An edited narrative on the first official run that some of you might have read previously :)


Criticism is always welcome. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

The Deutschland Diaries Part 3: Lautersee and Beyond - A Pictorial Journey


A bus took us up from Mittenwald to the glimmering lake, Lautersee (see is German for lake).

I turned to get a better view of my surroundings and spotted—SNOW!! The top half of a hillside caked with the stuff! I hopped over the wooden fence, ran across the meadow to get a better look but was called back by the mother who feared I was trespassing. How is it my fault if the snow decides to land on private property instead of on the road?

I needn't have bothered, as we shall soon see.

The lake lay still and clear, allowing one to see what lay beneath the surface, bunches of dried water reeds separating it from the road. A few trees stood bare, having been stripped of their autumn glory. Pine trees surrounded a part of the lake on the farther reaches of its waters, their once deep green leaves fading into ochre and red. The brilliant whites of the snow capped peaks that loomed behind neatly overshadowed those of the sparse clouds floating right above the Alps.

We followed a trail that led up a hill, away from the lake. The weather app foretold the mercury was falling to a single digit and I was still dressed in just my trusty windbreaker, thin sweater and jeans, but the stiff uphill climb kept my blood from coagulating. There was no wind to speak of; the sun shone bright but the trees lining the path before us cast long shadows upon it, so much so you couldn't even make out the colour of the earth.

And what did we see?

Snow.

So. Much. SNOW!!

I packed some into a fist-sized ball. There was no one around to indulge me with a snowball fight so I told the mother to turn around and tossed it at the back of her coat. When we came to a field by the road where the white fluff lay untouched, I dropped flat on my back and waved my limbs against the snow to make a snow angel. The attempt drenched my jeans, but it was worth it! One-third of #13 on the Before I die list—make snow angels—can now be crossed off!

(Note: All photos in this post were taken with my iPhone 4S and appear before you au naturel, i.e. no edits or filters)

The mother wanted to move in the direction of the Schloss Elmau—going to a castle (the German word is 'Schloss') in the mountains couldn't be bad, right? Distrustful of the signboards that clearly indicated which turn we had to take, she asked a trio of old Nordic walkers passing by which way to turn. They offered to guide us and so we tagged along, pausing at intervals as I gleefully discovered more snow. We passed quite a few hikers, all of whom would greet us with a smile and a cheery 'hello!' =D Nothing quite like brief encounters with pleasant strangers.



First snow angel :)
We continued our hike and came upon another lake called Ferchensee. The air was so still, the scenery and its reflection met to form perfect symmetry. 





We marched on through woods, glacial rivers thundering by us. The trio of Nordic walkers graciously pointed us in the right direction, bidding us farewell. The trees began thinning out and a couple of cranes, almost camouflaged in the autumn hues, came into view much to my disgust. And finally, there stood Schloss Elmau. 

Corny, but I kept singing 'Walking in the Winter Wonderland'


Go forth!
Camouflaged cranes

We had been misled. Schloss Elmau was no castle, just a fancy resort. Disappointing, but the surrounding countryside more than made up for it. The sky is never this blue in Kuwait. 

Schloss Elmau





Lush green meadows lay concealed behind hillocks, and a steep climb on one of these revealed...

a basketball hoop. Strange place to have one but to each his own..

The commotion from the construction nearby was nerve-wracking. Add hunger and weariness to the equation and even a place as stunning as this can't stop irritation from building up. We walked to the resort to grab a bite to it but were daunted by a swarm of bees that were whizzing around. No freaking way was I going to eat there! The receptionist at the front desk arranged for the driver to drop us off at the train station a few kilometers away, without us even making any request of the kind. It was really nice of her. 

Once back in Mittenwald, we had seafood for dinner at a little restaurant. Ah, food. Food makes me happier than it should.

Friday, 7 February 2014

oh hello 2014 or picking up from where we left off


In the last few days of 2013, I introspected on how the year had treated me and imagined a conversation with 2014.

Me: Went on unforgettable trips to Bombay and Dubai, survived CELTA, switched careers, lived in Europe for nearly two months, spent the best ten days ever in Germany, started teaching, was gifted a mountain bike for my birthday, had seven articles published, started running, ran two 10K races... let's see you top that, 2014!

What I imagined 2014 to have said: Challenge accepted.

What 2014 actually said: Bugger off, you twit.

Sigh.

I've been completely brain dead since mid-December, so much so that I've had to shamelessly delay writing my annual resolutions post, which sucks. Two jobs that took up 11-12 hours a day left my mind and sometimes my spirit in shambles at the end of the work week. Thankfully, I get both Friday and Saturday off. I've a new found respect for single parents that work long, grueling hours to support their children.

Why am I working two jobs, you ask in bewilderment? It was just to see if I could handle it. The first is just a temporary one that I'll be done with in 11 days. Hallelujah!

The other's a part-time teaching stint at a language institute. I taught a six-week course that ended less than two weeks ago and I loved it. I've realized that teaching English is a lot about give and take, if you allow it. I learnt so much about my students' cultures, countries, customs and traditions. They loved talking about food and we'd feel so ravenous at the end of class!

The only other interesting thing that happened since this year began is an injury which resulted in my right index finger getting swathed in an over-sized bandage for a week.

What happened, you ask out of idle curiosity? I was blending some meat and some of it got stuck in the blade. So I popped my finger in to dislodge it. Meanwhile, my left thumb suddenly developed a mind of its own and pressed the power button on the blender... while my finger was still in.

Quite a bit of blood sprayed around the kitchen and we might have consumed some that night. My finger however, is firmly attached to the rest of me. I am truly blessed.

My bike is perhaps my most treasured possession right now. I'd been planning to buy one for some time but the purchase was delayed when I traveled. My friends amongst the Q8FootSoldiers gifted it to me (and right in time, I had a meeting planned with a seller the same weekend!). My parents weren't happy at the prospect of me sharing street space with the psychopaths here but since I don't care for cycling amidst the traffic either, I mitigated their fears with the promise of either cycling early in the morning or with friends. The mother said she was glad I didn't tell my friends I want a dog.


I didn't meet many of my resolutions for 2013. And I don't feel the drive to even keep any for 2014. I made a list that I misplaced and I don't really care about finding it.


It's been ages since I wrote the last Deutschland Diaries post and Day 3 has been saved as a draft for over two months. I do intend to continue it, so stay tuned. There'll probably be a long overdue audit first.