Friday, September 30, 2016

Moved Ahead!

Hello readers!

I have moved to a new site. This is me trying to bring in some change!

Click here to view my new blog. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

I am back!

Wow! Didn't realize I would return to blogging after 6 months. But yes, sometimes it does take long, I guess.

So, this is me getting back to the blogging world...slowly. 

It feels good to be back!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Looking Back at 2015

2015 is finally coming to an end and what a year it has been. Even as I look back I am so amazed at the wonderful memories I have been given and I am thankful to God for them.

Sharing theses memories in the form of pictures.

A group selfie to capture a dear friend's wedding
A dear friend from the States
My First International Trip - Dubai!
My first 3k race
Catching up with an old friend after 7 years or more
Celebrating dear sister's birthday
Thank you Jesus for your faithfulness and for these precious beautiful memories!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

How I Ended Up Riding a Bicycle!

If you are one of those people who are completely dependent on public transport for getting to places, you will always have my undivided attention. And if you happen to live in my city then you have my deepest sympathies. Well, in this post, I won’t be ranting about the woes of public transport nor shooting venomous attacks on those scary bus drivers either. Instead I want to share about what caused my sister and I to buy a bicycle and eventually ride it!

As I had mentioned in my previous post, rickshaw drivers in my locality are allergic to travel short distances. So, if you are like me and have joined a gym that is round the corner where the distance can’t be walked, then you are at the total mercy of these rickshaw fellas.

So, instead of lamenting and complaining (which honestly isn’t good for the soul) we decided to do something about it. Thankfully, since our locality breathes residential, buying a bicycle seemed like the best way to overcome this commuting problem. Honestly, I was quite reluctant to do so. But again, thanks to my sister who was persistent, and after much research, we zeroed in on a particular brand and soon became proud owners of two bicycles.

I had learnt to ride the bicycle when I was a kid but I never had a chance to practice it. So, when I mounted on the bicycle after so many years, within a couple of minutes I was able to balance it and ride a short distance. Wow, so much for muscle memory!

I had no clue that I would enjoy riding a bicycle. It is so much fun and healthy. Being a fitness enthusiast, riding a bicycle became a part of my exercise routine. Since my society is situated on a slope, there are a lot of uphill and downhill terrains, so it is perfect for a cardio workout.

After many practice sessions and a number of breaks, I knew I had to go out on the streets. Today I had my maiden a.k.a test ride on the streets in my area and I was really scared. Geared with my helmet for protection, I ventured out, praying that I would not be knocked over by a moving vehicle. Thankfully, all went well and I came home feeling so accomplished! :)

There is one thing that I have learnt for sure. I can either choose to have a complaining spirit (which does not honor God) and rant about all the difficulties that come along or find a way around it and enjoy life in the process. My sister and I not only stumbled upon a solution but we also found another way to be fit and enjoy riding a bicycle!

In all of this, we learnt to be content in accepting our current circumstances of commuting woes and discover innovative ways to overcome them. God is good! :)

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Chronicles of Travelling Sisters – Dubai

Here I am after a long hiatus for this post on travelling. I am excited as this is a post about my first international trip to Dubai. My sister’s ex-colleague and friend who lives in Dubai invited us to stay with her as she knew how keen we were on travelling abroad. After a couple of conversations, we began our preparations for Dubai.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

Honestly, there is so much that I want to squeeze into this post but that will only ruin the experience! I am going to share certain things that will hopefully whet your appetite for travelling.

It is good to plan ahead when you are travelling abroad for the first time. This includes blocking the days for travel, getting your leave approved, saving enough money, booking flights, and getting your visa for that city.

Flight Bookings and Visa
There are many direct flights from Mumbai to Dubai. Since we were planning to fly on the weekday, we decided to fly directly from Pune. Unfortunately, there is only one direct flight from Pune to Dubai. We had no option, so we booked our tickets on Spice jet.

Then we shifted gears to apply for the visa. Getting a visa to Dubai is easy. All we had to do was collect the required documents and submit to the main visa center in Pune called Marhaba services. The fees are about 6500 rupees per person. We received our visas within 4 working days.

At this point, I want to commend my sister who actually did the groundwork for planning the itinerary. Also, a big shout out to our hostess Siobhan who coordinated with my sister through countless emails and Skype for zeroing down on the things to do in Dubai. Siobhan, we had a great time in Dubai! :)

We decided to visit the Burj Khalifa and get a view from the 124th floor. We got a voucher for the same, thanks to quick thinking by our hostess. The next day we planned to do a Dubai tour that targeted on showcasing various parts of the city. This was a 4 hour tour.

Then, we thought of the desert safari and a trip to the beach which we had to drop off our list due to the weather.

As the D-day approached, I couldn’t contain my excitement. It was like stepping out for a big adventure. I didn’t know what awaited me on the other side but I was ready to embrace it. My sister and I boarded the 8.15 pm flight from the Pune airport and we landed in Dubai after 3.5 hours. My first impression of Dubai was that of amazement. As we were landing, I couldn’t help notice the entire city shining like bright stars in the sky.

Photo Credit: Creative Commons

At the Airport
Dubai being an international airport has many flights that land there.I was amazed to see so many people from different parts of the world in one place. The airport is massive and there were many terminals to accommodate various flights from different countries.

We had to go through immigration which strangely included an iris scan. After that, we went to the baggage counter and collected our precious cargo and waited for our friend to pick us up.
After we met our friend, we got into our friend’s vehicle and drove out of the airport.

Once we were on the road, the first thing that struck me was the traffic. I was amazed to see people following the lane system. Seriously? For someone who for her entire life has seen chaotic traffic, this looked so unreal. Wow! Second, nobody honks unless it is an absolute requirement. Honking in my city is so second nature that people just presume that if you honk, vehicles will automatically move. That level of impatience on the roads so gets to me! As a side note, I will not, in the world, be surprised if I turn deaf soon.

The Metro
For someone like me who uses the public transport often, traveling by the metro was a divine experience. Since we had to go to see the Burj Khalifa, we decided to take the metro and get down at the stop and walk to the tower using the Metro link. The metro link opens into the mall and you have to walk a wee bit to reach Dubai Mall.

When we reached the metro station, we couldn’t help notice the architecture. In the words of our hostess, it looked like a spaceship! There are two central lines: Jebel Ali and Rashidiya. We had to take the metro on the Jebel Ali line.

The metro is spotless and there were people from all walks of life commuting to work or on other business.When the train arrived at the platform, commuters waited for the ones from the train to get off and then boarded it. I couldn’t help appreciate the fact that folks in Dubai followed instructions to the tee. The ride to our stop was about 10 mins and we enjoyed the view of the city from the train.

Drinking water and chewing gum is strictly prohibited inside the train!

Dubai Mall

Photo Credit: Creative Commons
To reach the Burj Khalifa, we had to go through the mall. Dubai Mall is the world’s largest mall with 1,200 showrooms. Honestly, it is a jaw-dropping experience. So many shops, so many people, the sights and sounds of it were amplified! The mall also houses an underground zoo, aquarium, and the ice rink. This place houses 250-room luxury hotel, 22 cinema screens plus 120 restaurants and cafes.

Burj Khalifa
Photo Credit: Caroline Kaunds
We had a voucher to a view on the 124th floor on the Observation Deck of the Burj Khalifa. We took an elevator that took about a minute or more to top the 124th floor. It was surely another wow moment for me. The view from the top is amazing.

Burj Khalifa is the tallest artificial structure in the world. It took about 5 years for completing the tower. It includes 30,000 homes, nine hotels (including The Address Downtown Dubai), 3 hectares (7.4 acres) of parkland, at least 19 residential towers, the Dubai Mall, and the 12-hectare (30-acre) man-made Burj Khalifa Lake.

Dubai Tour

Photo Credit: Caroline Kaunds

The next day we took the Dubai tour to get the look and feel of the city. The tour began with the visit to the museum, the art gallery, and view of various places like the Jumeirah beach, Palm Jumeirah area, the Atlantis hotel, and back to Dubai mall.

There is no dearth of malls in Dubai that will not satisfy your thirst for shopping. You can shop for gold, electronics, clothes, dates, chocolates, spices, and perfumes. The list is endless and the choices presented before you is irresistible. Thankfully, my sister and I are not into shopping so we were quite content with window shopping.

We got to sample Middle Eastern food like Arabic and Lebanese. We even enjoyed Chinese, and Japanese cuisine. I tasted sushi (veg) for the first time in Dubai. And I quite liked it. At the Dubai Mall, we tried a Chicken Sandwich and quiche for lunch. Boy! The flavors were out of this world. My good old friend from college had taken us out for brunch at Jumeirah to an Italian restaurant called The Lime Tree Café. I tried the English breakfast, the usual, grilled bread, scrambled eggs, hash browns and sautéed mushrooms. It was mouthwatering!

Photo Credit: Caroline Kaunds

People in Dubai are polite and friendly. Whenever we had any trouble navigating to a place, folks were more than happy to help. Dubai is a multicultural city. People from different ethnicity live and work in Dubai. I was surprised to see a big population of Filipino crowd. It was the usual mix of locals, Arabs, Indians, Pakistanis, South Asians, and Europeans.I didn’t expect to see a lot of expats in this part of the world. This city is a melting pot of myriads of cultures, languages, food, fashion, and experience.

This was my first exposure to a world outside my own country. And I am so glad that I picked up Dubai as it gave me a glimpse of what to expect in a nutshell. Words fail me as it is difficult explain an experience. You have to travel to understand and feel it. Travelling to Dubai has educated me in many ways. I have come to appreciate a different culture, food and develop a sense of tolerance and respect for people who are not like you. Diversity is attractive!

In another way, I have come to understand and see my own country with fresh new eyes. There is a lot of comparing that takes place in your mind when you travel. I must confess I did that too. But all in all, I was happy to return home to my country and to my city.

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it.”- George Moore, The Brook Kerith

Monday, October 19, 2015

3 Things I Learned from a 3K Race!

Last weekend I took part in my first ever 3K race. This was an initiative by BMC Software Company for a charity event called Global Run. My sister and I participated along with a friend of ours. The response from the people were tremendous. Around 1000 participants had gathered early in the morning to be a part of this event. Apart from the 3K category, there was the 5K and 10K one as well. I was amazed to see the number of people excited to run for a cause. The energy was electric.

Happy on winning the medals - Photo Credit: Axhat Singh
The event took off with a warm up by a zumba routine for the 5K and 10K category. Similarly there was a zumba warm up for the 3K group with the takeoff. I was one of the enthu cutlet dying to run for the 3K category. And boy! I had fun.

There were three things that I learned from this race.
1. Preparation: You got to be well prepared in advance for a race. It doesn’t matter how excited you are, if you haven’t prepared your body for such an activity, it will show. Ability to sustain in a race is the result of hours of commitment, discipline, and dedication done months or days prior to the race.
2. Endurance: Well, you got to have them in abundance as it is the fuel that will keep you from giving up the race in between.
3. Prize: The thrill of completing the race and receiving the medal is tremendous. The struggle, the sweat, and the effort put in boils down to that moment when you receive the medal.

I enjoyed taking part in this race and I am looking forward to many more like this.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Lessons of Faith from the Ordinary

Getting a rickshaw to travel a short distance is quite a task in my city. For some unknown reason they are always reluctant to go. Or they try to take advantage of your situation and charge a bit more than the normal fare.

It so happens that my gym is located at a weird distance from my home. You can’t walk it nor can you easily get a rickshaw to take you that short distance. For those who are wondering, I don’t ride any two wheeler or a car. That’s my project for next year, hopefully. :) So I am always dependent on public transport.

Every evening after my workout, it is a tedious task of trying to get a passing by rick to take you home. Or you are bargaining with them about the fare. Honestly, it gets downright frustrating. Of course you have these OLA rickshaws but at times, they aren’t available in your area.

So, one evening after a decent workout in the gym, my sister and I came out knowing fully the potential of not getting a rick home. I mentally geared up to face that evening with waiting, and trying to get a decent fare home. And we were so tired!

As we reached the main road, we noticed a rickshaw passing by who slowed down after noticing us. We were a bit hesitant to ask him as he was going in the opposite direction. We were like, “Anyways he is not going to go and he might ask a high fare.” Finally, we decided to ask totally prepared to hear a flat refusal!

Imagine our surprise when he agreed without any resistance and that too with the proper fare. Wow! We were shocked. My sister and I exchanged glances, thankful that we asked. Think of what we would have lost, if we had not asked! :(

So many times I think, as children of God, we fail to understand the privileges that we have to the throne of grace. To know that we can ask God through prayers, requests, and supplications of the things that burden us. He is our Father and He wants to hear from His children. We have Christ as our advocate who has gone before us and provided access to this throne of grace.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and  you will find, knock, and it will be opened for you." Matthew 7:7

Let’s make much of this privilege that God so graciously has granted to us through faith in His Son that we can turn every need or anxiety for the purpose of prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses understanding will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Monday, October 12, 2015

Trusting God's Timing

I am always fascinated by movies that deal with time travel where the protagonist travels back in time to change a series of events to safeguard the future. Watching these movies gives me a sense of control knowing that if things did go wrong in my life, how nice it would be to enter a time machine and simply undo them.

One of the biggest struggles in my Christian walk has been on the issue of God’s timing. I noticed that the timelines I had calibrated in my mind about the timing of certain events and God’s timelines of those very events never seem to match. For starters, I had hoped to be married by the age of 25 but here I am still single in my mid-thirties. As days pass into years, I am left wondering if this season will ever change.

God is sovereign and His promises in His word are true. God is the God of all comfort and Father of all mercies and yet, here I am struggling when it comes to the question of His timing.

I know that God has graciously placed me in this extended season of singleness and there is a purpose which He is fulfilling at the moment. I have experienced the joy of walking close with Christ, spending uninterrupted time in His word and in prayer and grow in my Christian faith. I have been able to meet up with friends for a cup of coffee or babysit my friends’ kids on a day’s notice. It was in a minuscule way of learning to die to self. At work, God provided many opportunities to witness for Christ. These are things that I will never trade for anything else.

I am reminded of Abraham and Sarah who waited and waited for the promise to be fulfilled. I love how it says in Romans 4:18 “In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.”

One of my favorite promises in Scripture that helps me stay grounded is from Jeremiah 29:11 “  For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

God wants me to trust Him completely and that includes my season of singleness. Somehow, my gaze is always fixed on the uncertainty of my situation than in the unchanging nature of God. I need to see God as my loving Heavenly Father who in His infinite wisdom has allowed my singleness to last for a long season. It is futile on my part to cling to my understanding of when this season should change.

True joy is found in the Person of Christ, not in my changed status.

It is so rightly said in the book of Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Musings of a Working Professional

Life as a working professional is invigorating and draining at the same time. 5 days a week of corporate life is tough and yet there are good days of productivity and satisfaction. Of course, I am very grateful to God for my job and all the benefits it offers to me. But on the flip side, there are long working days, tight deadlines, and tiring commutes to work.

And before you know, you are sucked into the daily humdrum of life. Sometimes I am too busy to notice anything as I am keen to reach work on time. Or by the time I reach home after work, I would simply prefer to retire to bed.

But it’s in this busyness of life that I find the joy of slowing down and gaining a better perspective of the world around me. There are a couple of things I do to keep myself focused as a single working Christian.

Being Connected
No matter what folks feel about this, I have experienced the blessing of beginning every day with God. I know for me to do that means hitting the sack early so that I am refreshed and eager to meet God through His word and prayer. There are days when I am tired and my mind is heavy with other things. But the moment I begin reading His word, it helps to get my mind off myself (for once) and focus on the majesty and immensity of my God. It really helps to prepare for the day and pray for the things ahead of me.

Being Available
As a single working woman, I have the blessing of being available in church and to my family and friends. That means helping my family or friends in times of need. I remember many years of babysitting my friends’ kids over the weekends. Of course, I had the option of enjoying time with my single friends. But it was such a neat opportunity to serve and not be selfish with my time.

Being Fit
My work forces me to sit in front of the computer for hours. And what better way to break that sedentary life than to exercise! Exercise for me is either walking in the morning, or hitting the gym in the evening. And I add cycling and swimming to my list of activities.

Being Adventurous 
I have just started travelling to places and I cannot begin to tell you the benefits of it. I mean, if you are working so hard, it does help to unwind by visiting new places and experiencing life in a totally different manner. It has helped me to keep in touch with friends and I am able to appreciate the simple blessings of life.

Being Generous
I think it’s easy to fall into the temptation of being miserly with your time and money. I have struggled a bit when it came to being generous with my time with people. I am not very good with interruptions and lack flexibility in my schedules. But I have personally experienced the joy of meeting friends and spending time with them when I would have preferred to read a book at home. Same holds true for money. Experience the thrill of spending on others, whether it is paying for lunches or coffee or buying gifts. Trust me, life as a hoarder is no good!

These are some of the things I do to keep the balance of my work life. What are some of yours? I’d love to hear them.   

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Sufficiency of God's grace in trials

One Sunday morning, while waiting for the worship service to begin, I noticed a visitor walk into the church with the help of a crutch. For a minute, I couldn’t place that visitor in my memory, but then I recalled he was the same person who had met with a severe accident a couple of months ago. His brother was a regular at our church and he had sought our prayers when this accident occurred.

Watching him walk across the room with the crutch, released a flood of memories in my mind. I immediately recalled the phase when I walked about with the help of an elbow crutch. Of course, mine was a minor accident compared to his, just torn ligaments in my ankle and badly bruised bones. It took me a couple of months to get back on my feet. Literally!

Those days constantly reminded me of my frailty and how much grace I needed to go through it alone. The day I got confirmed in my new job was the day I met with the accident. Looking at the severity of my injury, I knew instantly, I had lost my job. I was job hunting those days so I knew what I had lost. And six months earlier, I had undergone two dental surgeries within a span of two months. That had put a considerable toll on my health.

Now, with the ankle injury, I was battling a lot of emotions. I was confused wondering what went wrong. Here I was practically immobile and without a job. Placing my foot on the ground sent a shooting pain up my leg. So, I had to hobble my way around the house. Being fiercely independent, I struggled to accept help from my family. Walking, an activity that I didn’t think much about now required my complete attention as I had to be very careful in the way I placed my foot. This was so humbling and really tested my faith.

But praise God for His word. Truly, it is a light unto your path. James clearly says that we will meet trials of various kinds and this is to test and build up my faith. (James 1:2-4) He calls us to have an attitude of joy! Christ has promised that His grace is always sufficient in any trial we go through. (2 Corinthians 12:9a)

Paul experienced that promise when he suffered under a great trial of having the thorn in his flesh. He prayed thrice to God to have it removed, but Christ only said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor.12:9) I always marvel at Paul’s response to this promise of Christ, "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Cor.12:9c). This is true grace manifested in our weak bodies!

I have known Christians who have survived a car wreck and undergone several operations. I have seen their godly response to such deep suffering. I have seen Christ’s grace manifested not just in their attitude towards suffering but in the humble acceptance of what God in His immense wisdom has allowed to pass. I saw this same attitude in the person I mentioned in the beginning of this post.

Coming back to my injury, I did recover completely and landed a beautiful job a couple of months later. I could have wished this injury to have never occurred or to lose my new job but that loss pushed me to rely on Christ’s strength as I dug deep into His word and prayed to Him for grace to go through this trial. “But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.” Job 23:10

I am humbled and at the same time marvel at God’s ways. This in my sight is truly a miracle!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Of Change and Transitions

It’s been so long since I have posted something on my blog that I am scrambling for a topic to write. The last couple of months were full of changes and moving from one transition to another. I got a new job which meant new workplace, new colleagues, new commuting route, and new challenges. By the time, I got adjusted to this particular change; there was another set of changes that needed my immediate attention.

All I wanted at this point of juncture was something that was familiar, something that didn’t need too much of my attention. I am a creature of habit and I love things functioning in an orderly fashion.  Any sudden change or unwanted interruptions puts me on edge.

I had two options: first complain my heart out or face this change with courage. Thank God, for I chose the latter. As a Christian, I am called to do all things without complaining or grumbling. I need to remember that God in His Sovereignty has allowed these changes to surface for my good. I was afraid to face these changes thinking I would fail miserably trying to adapt for these very things. The words in the book of Joshua encouraged my heart.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

So here I am standing face to face with the new things in my life and I am not as stifled as I was before.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Captured Moments

These are moments captured on the camera. Fond memories.

Selfie moment
Stationary moment
Poised moment
Beautiful moment
Nostalgic moment
Happy moment

Photo credits: Nanda, Narendra, and Chayanika.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Looking Back

One of the things I love to do in the last week of the year is to look back and reflect on the past year. It’s easy to be anxious about what is to come, but it is so much better to recall some wonderful moments from the year gone by.

For me, most of 2014 was a blur and yet there were some treasured moments that I wanted to jot down. I will be going month wise as each month had something new to cherish or certain challenges that were overcome. But all in all, there is much that I am thankful to God for the way He’s brought me and kept me in His grace. His all sufficient and all encompassing grace for every second of every day! So, here goes….

January: Dad’s successful brain surgery. So thankful to God for granting dad, healing and quick recovery from the surgery.

February: Abigail and Aaron’s wedding. It was sweet to witness God’s favor as these two dear folks were united in marriage.

March: Caroline and Nidhi’s special birthday gift. This was a huge surprise for me. I was so overwhelmed to see the amount of work, time, and secrecy maintained by my sis and Nidhi to bring to life a memento of birthday wishes of my dear friends from all across the globe. Loved every moment of it!!

June: Dad’s Cyber knife radiation treatment for his brain tumor. We had to take dad to Bangalore for this treatment and it was a success. Much thanks to God!

October: Shifted to a new locality and the way things fell into place was amazing. Praising God for the same.

November: Visited Akshay and Trisha in Mumbai! It was so good to catch up with old friends and meet new ones too! Attending Mumbai Bible church was a sweet experience. 

December: Holding Abigail for the first time! Spending time with the Williams family was such a joy! Not to mention meeting Captain America and Sheeba!

Even as I stand on the threshold of another year, I am confident in Christ that it will be an exciting and an adventurous journey ahead!

"Let the favor of our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" Psalm 90: 17

Thursday, November 13, 2014