Clear Boredom

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This is the fifth consecutive day that I've stayed at home without stepping out much. Yeah, no office or anything. No, I haven't gone crazy but I soon will if I don't do something productive. So, here I am. What happened you ask? Okay let me start from the beginning. It was the year 2000 and I was in the 8th standard. I was the class topper and once I was asked to read out something from the blackboard. I stood up in pride and then realized that there was nothing written on the board. I squinted my eyes as the teacher looked at me with a puzzled look. She asked me to step forward and come right in front of the class and read. As I walked ahead, I could see the poem 'Silver' written on the board in faint handwriting. I loved that poem, but that was when it struck me that something was wrong with my eye sight. I read the poem and walked away really sadly.

When you study in a convent, you have a lot of privileges. We had regular health camps that spoke about puberty, acne and other "growing up" stuff. One such health camp was a sight awareness camp where all of us from the school had to get our eye tested. First embarrassing moment of my life, my dear friends. I couldn't read anything on the board apart from the first line. Of course that was only because that line was written in such big letters that it could have been read from Jupiter. Within the next five minutes, the doctor there gave me a note that I was supposed to give my parents. It read "Vision problem, please consult a doctor". It also had some random numbers written on it. For me it just meant one thing. If I gave this note to my parents, I'd have to wear glasses. When you are a rebellious teen, you know how insulting that could be. So I hid the note. If I squinted my eyes at a particular angle I could see the black board albeit not very clearly. But still, something was better than nothing.

I passed 8th standard as the topper and was awarded the 'Excellence In Studies' award. I walked up the stage to collect it and could only see a few hazy bubbles in the audience. I couldn't come back to find my mother in the audience as I couldn't make out faces properly. That was when I realized that I had a serious problem. My mom managed to find me and when we got home, I gave my parents the note from the doctor. They were sad at first that their youngest child had eye problems, but I was taken to an eye doctor immediately. Now comes the second embarrassing moment of my life. Sitting on the stool, wearing glasses that could easily be used to sight UFOs and reading out letters and numbers in front of me. Finally it was established that I have myopia in both eyes and I was asked to select a frame and collect my glasses the next day.

Fast forward to 2004 when I had to join my engineering. That was the major growing up phase and it was also the time to have crushes and boyfriends. I decided that it was also the time I switched to contact lenses and ditch my glasses. My parents obliged and soon I was glass free and loving it. The first day I wore contact lenses to college I felt like the world was my oyster and I could breathe rainbows. Years passed and I was happy with the fake eyes I was using. But while travelling it did become a pain. Wearing them and taking care of them now and again, replacing them every month was becoming a tedious affair. Just before I got married I wanted to correct my vision surgically, but my then boyfriend and soon to be husband was not very happy with the idea. He was scared for me and I continued to wear lenses. Last month when I getting ready for work and wore my lenses, my eyes started burning terribly and I had to sit down for twenty minutes to let it cool. He couldn't see the pain I was going through and decided that it was time for me to get rid of this for ever.

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So last weekend, I got a LASIK operation done and my vision is now clear and sorted. The procedure was not painful but scary as hell. I held my cool and it was over in 15 minutes. They asked me not to see light or use the phone/laptop/read and stay away from dust/water for 8-10 days. Then began the real ordeal. Everyone knows that I suck at taking breaks. But this time I had to be on a break and NOT do anything! I couldn't cook, watch TV, read or use the phone. I would have loved to be dead instead. Cal is working from home this week to take care of me and administer the eye drops timely and my agitation is not making it any easy for him. My vision was sorted and I could see everything clearly a couple of hours after the operation itself. I wanted to keep myself busy and I found myself in a helpless situation. Not going to work was enough to make me feel worthless, but not being able to do anything at home was driving me crazy.

But I'm not the one to take things lying down. I picked up my kindle and set it to a larger font and started reading 'The Girl Who Played With Fire'. I was reading a book prior to my surgery but the font posed an issue. I could read it but I was not supposed to stress my eyes, so the better option was the kindle. I was wearing the safety black glasses while reading though. It made me look a lot like Karunanidhi's kin, but it was either that or not doing anything. Gosh, I seriously am horrible at resting or doing nothing. I visited my doctor yesterday for a followup and he told me that I could do anything I wanted to as long as I don't stress my eyes much or not let water or anything else touch them. But I still am not fit enough to stare at the laptop for a whole day. That would take another week or so he told me, but I'm going to start work from next week. Else I'd definitely go insane.

I'm happy I got the surgery done and it will definitely take me sometime to get used to the fact that I can see things clearly without lenses or glasses. I still try to adjust the glasses on my nose or rush to remove my lenses before a shower. But there is nothing there. I couldn't be more relieved. But I will probably be more happier once I start going to work and doing my regular chores. Seriously, a time out is definitely not for me.

I want to feel normal again and this post is the perfect start.


Book Review: The Devotion Of Suspect X

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Title: The Devotion Of Suspect X
Author: Keigo Higashino
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group (2 February 2012)
Genre: Crime/Thriller/Mystery
Price: Rs. 264 on Amazon.
Pages: 488

Like most of us, I heard about this book after news spread that the movie 'Drishyam' was loosely based on this book. I absolutely loved the movie and the screenplay blew me over. I'm the one who always prefers books over movies, so I had to buy this one. After years, I walked into a book store and picked a book. Thanks to online shopping I had forgotten the thrill and satisfaction I get when I walk into a book store. Okay now about the book.

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced single mother who stays with her daughter Misato and works in a restaurant to make a living. Her neighbor is Tetsuya Ishigami, a maths teacher who harbors feelings for her but doesn't tell her a word about it. He visits her restaurant everyday to buy a lunch box though. And by everyday, I mean days that she works there only. They live mundane lives and go about everyday with their routines. One day Yasuko is visited by her ex-husband Togashi who threatens to kill her if she doesn't give him money. A bitter fight takes place and Yasuko and Misato end up killing Togashi. Hearing the commotion Ishigami comes in to inquire and makes sense of the entire situation and offers help to Yasuko. He disposes the body and trains mother and daughter for the police interrogation that would soon come.

When the body turns up and is identified as Togashi, the primary suspect is the ex-wife Yasuko. Detective Kusanagi is investigating this case and is convinced that all of Yasuko's alibis, even though sound, are manufactured. Yasuko seems to have the movie tickets that she went to the day Togashi was killed. She also has an alibi in the karaoke place she visited with Misato later that night. Kusanagi still smells a rat and confides in Detective Galileo aka Dr. Manabu Yukawa, a physicist and his college friend who frequently consults with the police. When Ishigami's name is revealed as the neighbor of the prime suspect, Yukawa recognizes him as his college mate who has exceptional skills in problem solving. He visits Ishigami and after a brief talk is convinced that he has something to do with the murder.

A cat and mouse chase begins and Yukawa goes out of his way to prove that Ishigami is involved in the murder too. Will Ishigami break? Or will Yasuko? How long will Ishigami hold on to the love and devotion he has for Yasuko? Especially when Yasuko gets close to a male friend of hers. Will jealousy make Ishigami give her up to the cops? The ending will leave you spell bound.

The writing is fairly simple with minimal characters. I like books that move fast and in this one the murder and the murderer is revealed within the first three chapters. What follows next is the cover up. The story is absolutely brilliant and the pace is just right. The silent love and devotion Ishigami has for Yasuko couldn't be shown much better. Yasuko does come across as a strong woman even though she piggy banks on Ishigami for almost everything related to the case. Kusanagi is annoying but when Yukawa comes into picture, this becomes as thrilling as it can get. Yukawa's analysis of Ishigami's plan comes in as a surprise as does the twist in the end. The writing is brilliant and there is now way you can predict anything in this story.

Drishyam was a fantastic movie, but apart from the fact that this movie and the book involves a murder cover up, nothing else is similar. This book has been made into a movie too. I would be watching that really soon.

Verdict: Absolutely brilliant writing and hands down the best mystery I've ever read.

Rating: 5 out of 5.



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Most of them will hurt you
Some will only push you down
You might be the queen in your world
Yet tongues will tarnish your crown

Humans are a scary species
Their own emotions they don't know
No matter how much love you sprinkle
The seeds of hatred they will sow

Jealousy comes so easily to them
Comparison is in their every breath
Such people will never change
Their will be ugly inside till their death

Blood is thicker than water they say
But pointed fingers first come from them
Gossip becomes the main agenda
From where their insecurities stem

If you do good, they turn green
If you do bad, they complain
Some people can never be happy
All your efforts will go in vain

It is better to stay away from them
No matter how close they are
If someone is only causing you harm
It is better you just move away far

Their problems are not yours
Your problems will only belong to you
Do what you want and do only right
To yourself you need to stay true

Tongues will wag and eyes will stare
You walk ahead with head held high
Break the convention, challenge the norm
Do not bow down to every how and why

Have a plan and grow with it
Don't let anyone kill your hope
Sometimes I feel that it is good
That I'm turning into a misanthrope


Book Review: David Days Mona Nights

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Title: David Days Mona nights
Author: Andreas Steinhifel/Anja Tuckerman
Publisher: Tara Publishing
Genre: Romance/Young Adult
Price: Rs. 175 on Amazon.
Pages: 158

Recently, I've only read books that have left me disturbed. After The Girl On The Train, Sharp Objects, Dark Places and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I wanted to read something that would not curb my sleep. I wanted a breezy read and just browsed through my book collection one day. David Days Mona Nights was a book that belonged to my husband and was something that he had read a decade and a half ago. As I read the blurb, I realized that it was a young adult romance story. Initially I thought I was a bit too old for that and decided to look up reviews on Goodreads. Sadly, this book wasn't listed there. Looks like there are a lot of people out there, who, like me had not even heard of this book. The concept was about a girl and a boy writing a series of letters to each other and then falling in love. Cliched much? Yeah, I thought so too. But I decided to read it anyway.

David and Mona both live in Berlin. Mona lives in Kreuzberg, in the centre of the city, and David lives in the suburb of Spandau. Through letters they talk to each other and fall in love. Mona is seventeen while David is fifteen. Their age difference becomes a matter of concern for David, but only for a while. David is hesitant at first to communicate only through letters, but Mona insists that they talk only via letters. Every detail about the city and their lives is discussed only via their letters. Even when they decide to talk on the phone and meet, the details of this is known to the reader via the letters only. No other descriptions, no other narration.

This book is really well written. Had I read this book years ago, I would have fallen in love with it. This definitely is a better book when compared to 'The Fault In Our Stars', although there is nothing tragic about this one. Mona has a secret and comes from a dysfunctional family and David spends most of his time taking care of his little brother. The writing is simple and effortless and easy to read. The way these two discuss their surrounding is surreal and you get a glimpse of Berlin in your mind too. Their writings mature as time goes on. When they are convinced it is love, as expected by the reader, the story takes a different angle where David realizes that Mona is not opening up completely. The book has an open ending, although one can predict how it would end.

Verdict: A breezy read. If you are a Mills And Boon lover, you will love this too.

Rating: 3 out of 5.


Action Replay: June 2016

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I know I'm a bit late in writing this, but I was caught up way too many things. To be honest, June was not a very good month for me. Personally, that is. Health issues coupled with insomnia did not do me good at all. I know that half the year has just whooshed by, but June just felt like a drag to me. Work was hectic as usual, but there was something else that bogged me down this time. I cannot put a finger on it exactly, but I'm glad that June is over and done with. Having said that, June was a month that left me with a lot of learnings. Now that I think of it, maybe it was not that bad a month altogether.

Apart from work, the prime focus for June was reading. I read six books this month and I couldn't be more happier. I read a diverse books this time. Reading back to back thrillers was leaving me disturbed and agitated. After P.G.W's 'Galahad At Blandings' which by the way is beyond excellent, I picked up the short story 'The Grownup' by Gillian Flynn. I have come to love her style of writing so much that I just cannot put down her books. I finished this one too in a single seating and loved every bit of it. 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' was what I picked up next and it is safe to say that it was the most disturbed book that I had read till date. The violence and torture against women got to me and it left me troubled for a long time.

That is the reason why I chose a breezy book for my next. 'David Days Mona Nights' is an unheard of book. This is one of Cal's old books and comes under the young adult fiction/romance category. Not being sure of wanting to pick it up, I looked at Goodreads for its review. Sadly, the book wasn't even listed there. I created a new entry for the book and decided to read it. It is a really small book of 120 pages. It is about David and Mona who only communicate via letters and fall in love in the process. A detailed review of it is coming up soon. I finally read 'Who Moved My Cheese' and loved it! Such a simple story and yet it made so much sense. 'The Devotion Of Suspect X' was what I picked next. Being sick at home one day, I finished the entire book in one sitting. What a beauty it was! I'll definitely be doing a review of this one.

I like doing book reviews, but only of those books that I have loved/liked or some book which I think people should know about. I'll try not to crowd this place with book reviews, maybe one a week will do. What do you say?

June also showed me all the sycophants that I have around me. People who praise me on social media and not think of me otherwise are people I've put in my 'ignore' bucket now. I normally don't let such things affect me, but when I've invested some time in building a friendship with someone and then not being acknowledged about it does trouble me. Such people do not deserve another second of my time. Now I also am able to differentiate the people who are happy for my success and those who are plain jealous. While the former is just a handful, I'm happy to have them in my life and I hold them very close to my heart.

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Another thing June taught me was how to handle failure. Of course like most of us, I'm not the one to take failure or rejection well. I normally handle it better, but this time I let it get the better of me. I let anxiety get ahead of focus and screwed it all up. I did not deal with it in a very good way. I was angry and pissed with myself and blamed everyone around me. It took me a while to realize that it was actually my fault and I should have been calm and gone ahead with it instead. Once I was able to accept this fact, it became easy to put it behind me and prepare more better for the next time. Failures are a part of life and without them how would you have experiences? I'm glad I finally was able to understand this.

In terms of writing, I didn't do too bad in June. Ten posts out of a planned twelve is pretty good I think. I wrote posts that mattered a lot to me this time. From 'Treating Food Right', 'His &His' to 'The Corporate Homemaker', all these are topics that I have been wanting to talk about for quite some time now. I'm glad I was able to write it down this time.

Okay I've managed to have done a lot of things in June and have got a few priceless lessons as well. Wait, June was a good month after all.

How did it treat you?


The Corporate Homemaker

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Today, I complete eight years of corporate life. Yes, eight long years with the same company. During the third year of my engineering, I was placed in the big blue and a day after my final fourth year exams, I joined the company. My joining location was Chennai and I hated the place from the time I set my foot into it. I was away from my family for the first time ever and for a true blood Bangalorean to survive in a place like Chennai is really difficult. I cribbed and complained and cribbed some more. Plus, since I was away, my long distance relationship went kaput and I was not in the right frame of mind to stay in an alien city. After four grueling months, I got a transfer and I was back in Bangalore. Since that day, there has been no looking back.

People say that work is worship, I don't know that exactly. But work for me is a lifeline that I cannot do without. My job might not be the greatest in the world, but I love it. The feeling of being financially independent is wonderful and I am really glad that I do not have to depend on anyone else for money. It just feels like yesterday that I drew my first salary and here I am having drawn close to a hundred salaries by now. Of course the amount has varied over time, and to be really honest I do not care much about how much I make. I know I give my job a 100% and I get paid in return. That is all that matters to me. I have friends who have jumped a lot of companies and make twice the money that I do today. These are the same people who crib non-stop about how horrible their jobs are how much they hate it. I get paid to do a job I love. So, who's the winner here?

Over eight years I have changed six projects. The first five was in a location close to my mother's place. I worked there until I got married. After marriage I moved to the other side of town and changed my work location with a new project within the same company. It has been three years since I moved here and I couldn't be more happier. Marriage did not change my perspective towards work and my husband knew that my job would always be my top priority. He loves me for being so serious about my job. I am not a procrastinator. I need things to be done when they have to be done. I plan my work first and then everything else around it. Be it vacations or medical follow ups. I would never compromise on my job in any way. It is important that I stay true to my job. Else there is no way that I could stay true to myself.

While I'm so focused on work, I do not compromise on my home either. I am a working lady yes, but I also am a homemaker. And I'm very proud of this fact. Most people I know call me a "working lady" and put a big full stop at the end. It is automatically assumed that she sucks at managing a home. Utter bullshit. I've been managing a home for more than a year now and we couldn't be more happier. I am the homemaker who has a place to go to every morning. I am the homemaker who finishes chores at home and then goes to office to do her job. I am the homemaker who doesn't have to wait for her husband for the basics. I am the homemaker who has contributed to the making of this home financially. I am the homemaker who takes care of the bills on time and can pay it from her own pocket. I am the homemaker who sees to that that her kitchen is full and the home is well maintained all the time. And yes, I also am the homemaker who manages a demanding job along with this.

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Of course you cannot do this without the right support. If there are people around you cribbing about the fact that you can't do a few things because of your job, it will only bog you down. Over the past one year my husband has been a great support to me and together we manage a home beautifully without any help. We even financially support both our set of parents along with taking care of our own expenses. My husband knows the love and respect I have for my job and helps me make it easy. A couple of years ago, this was just not possible due to the burden of expectations. Since the time we moved to a place of our own, we have been able to manage everything effortlessly. I know he's got my back, so that helps me give a 100% to my job and a 100% to my home as well.

I am not trying to blow my own trumpet here. I am tired of listening to the words "working lady" time and again. The societal definition of such a woman is one who is ambitious and is only bothered about her work. In that case let me get the definition of a homemaker right too. A homemaker is someone who takes care of the home and the people in it. She takes care of all the chores and handles the bills and everything else on time. She has a clean house and also keeps the family members close and brings the family together. I know of so many women who have failed as homemakers today. These women have maids to do all the chores for them and yet they miss out on so many things. Let's face it, we're all human. So, let us make it clear that a homemaker is not someone who can take care of a house better than a so called working lady. It all depends on the type of person one is. Being complacent and lazy does not help either kind.

In my opinion, every woman needs to be financially independent. Be it at a steady job or working from home on your own. While a lot of woman are happy staying at home and watch soap operas, there are a lot of woman doing something for themselves in any way that they can. They are earning enough to support their own needs. With the advent of the Internet, so many women have gone online with their home business and many of them are conducting cooking/art classes on you tube. It feels so nice to see something like this. Last week I saw a show on TV that showed a 82 year old woman entrepreneur famously known as the knitting nani. Her daughters have helped her set up a company and she's running it successfully now. A woman is strong. Be it a working woman or a homemaker. But it is important that they realize their strength and do something about it. Pick up a talent or a course to earn some basic amount, that's all they need to do. For themselves, not anyone else. Trust me, the feeling is something else altogether.

I've clocked eight years of being a working lady and more than a year of being a homemaker today.

Forever to go.



copyright-Rich Voza

"Is it that important for you to go and settle in the US?" Ria asks Rohan with tears in her eyes.

"Absolutely. You know how hard I've worked to get here. I'm going and I want you to come with me."

"I can't leave my parents behind, you know that. I'm all they have."

"We'll come visit them every year. Come on Ria, once we're married I think it's better we settle down there."

"But this the place I belong to. I do not want to leave."

"I will have to."

"Do I have a say?"


"Okay then, goodbye."

This drabble (100 word fiction) is written for Friday Fictioneers, 24th June 2016.


Treating Food Right

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It is no hidden secret that I'm a food lover. Check my last poem for instance. I think good food is a luxury and it is not something that should be taken for granted. Why do we all work? Why do we all struggle to make some decent money? At the end of the day we all are doing this to have a good meal and fill our stomachs. I am someone who thinks that food should be cooked for the right number of people and nothing should go waste.

At our office cafeteria we have a board that shows the number of kilos of food wasted per day. Today I saw that it said the food wasted yesterday was 70 kilos and that it could have fed 175 people. My heart just broke as I saw this. There are so many people around the world who do not have a basic meal to eat and here we corporate slaves are wasting food everyday. I'm not too sure how this can be controlled in an office environment. Maybe one should be given the chance to taste the food before actually getting it on to the plate. Also, one should just take the quantity of the food that one can possibly eat. We have some counters in our office where the rice and curry is unlimited and I have seen people helping themselves to four to five spoons of them. If you can eat it, then good for you. But more often than not, half the food remains uneaten and ends up in the dustbin.

I come from a house where we have fresh food everyday. My mother is a working lady and in spite of that made sure that we get hot fresh meals three times a day. I am someone who loves fresh food and I also like variety. I am not the one to eat the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In order to be able to have fresh food three times a day, it is important that one cooks only enough for one meal. I hate it when people make a pot full of food and then leave it in the fridge. When cooked food is placed in the fridge it loses its nutritional value, but nobody understands that. It is a matter of convenience and laziness for a few people. I have seen people store food for days together in the fridge and eat it over a period of two-three days. At times without even heating it. I find it utterly disgusting. Some times the food remains forgotten in the fridge and is thrown away after a few days. All this can be avoided if one cooked exactly for the number of people per meal.

I've mastered the art of cooking for two people. Even when I was staying with my in-laws my mother-in-law insisted that I only cook for my husband and myself. So I had the measurements right from a long time. Today I make breakfast and lunch in the morning. Since I cook the right quantities, the breakfast is over at breakfast and the lunch for exactly two people is packed. I am someone who can only eat hot food. So I warm the food in the office oven just before lunch. Breakfast and lunch is done with zero wastage. Once back home in the evening, I cook dinner exactly for two people. All the pots and pans are empty by night. No, I do not skimp on the quantity. I cook food that is more than sufficient for two people. If any food remains extra, I immediately give it away to someone who might need it. Cooked food going into the fridge never happens in my house.

Food is something sacred and it is also a luxury in every form. We should not abuse it. I also hate people who go in for easy food. Like making rice and then mixing it with a powder to have a meal ready. This is the height of laziness for me. Once in a while I would understand, but doing this everyday just for convenience is not something I would ever understand. Make food enjoyable. Try out different cuisines and makes different food for each meal a day. To be honest it doesn't take that much of time. I love food that is fresh and hot and that is something I always follow in my house. I know how much quantity of food is needed for a number of people and go ahead with that. Also if I happen to eat out once in a while, I only order how much I can eat. In case there are some leftovers, I parcel them and give it away to the less fortunate.

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Wastage is not only limited to cooked food. Some of us buy vegetables and fruits and forget it in the fridge at times only to find it gone rotten a few days later. If one understood the time and effort that goes behind growing vegetables or fruits, you would think twice before throwing it away. Thankfully all of us can afford to buy vegetables and fruits, but must we buy them for a month or two? I have seen houses where the fridges stink of rotten food, cooked and raw both. Makes me want to puke as I think of it. Buy vegetables that would last for three days or maximum a week. Wash them, pat them dry and store them well. Use them as often as you can and do not forget about it. Being the OCD freak that I am, I plan a menu as soon as I come home from the vegetable store. I alternate vegetables with spinach and pulses and decide what dish each vegetable would be a part of. It just takes a little while and I feel sorted.

Food is something that keeps us alive, so let us treat it that way. Think twice before cooking or throwing away food. Cook the right quantity and the food will be of excellent quality. As much as possible try to cook and eat within an hour or two. Do not carry over food from one meal to another. Or from one day to another. Only cook how much is needed and only serve yourself how much you can eat. At home or at any restaurant. This would help avoid food wastage to a certain extent.

If you think of any other way we can reduce food wastage, please let me know in the comments below.


Love At Every Sight

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When I look at you
It is all about love and lust
Your presence in my life
Has now become a must

It was love at first sight
And then the second and the third
My heart then speaks to you
Its beats I'm sure you've heard

Oh dear, how pretty you look
I just cannot take my eyes off you
This is not the first time I've been in love
But this time I know it's true

Holding you makes me feel so nice
When my lips touch you I feel so high
Your fragrance intoxicates me
In happiness I want to fly

People asked me to stay away from you
They say you're not good for me
I don't care what they have to say
You and me together, I can see

I love the way you dress up
I could sit and look at you every day
My eyes then talk to you
When I do not have a word to say

I crave for you every second
Smoking hot, you always look
Round has never been this good before
Be it in any magazine or book

Oh dear, how much I love you
Stay with me morning, noon and night
I'll never ever give up on you
With you, it'll always be love at every sight


Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy #1)

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Title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Quercus; UK film tie-in ed edition (7 January 2010)
Genre: Thriller
Price: Rs. 198 on Amazon.
Pages: 542

When I looking to read more thrillers, my dearest friend Sreesha suggested this book. Almost instantly I placed an order and within a minute the book was on my kindle. I started it with zero expectations. When a book is translated into English from Swedish, you do expect it to not have much of finesse. And if the original title of the book meant 'Men who hate women', then your interest would automatically tend to pique. This is what happened to me too. But then the story shook me to the core.

The book is divided in to fours parts and each part talks about the atrocities that the women of Sweden have had to face. In fact, actual statistics are mentioned.

There are three parallel tracks in the book. First follows the life of Mikael Blomkvist who is a financial journalist. Second is about Lisbeth Salander, a private investigator. Third is about the Vanger family. Mikael Blomkvist is the co-owner and publicist of the Millennium monthly magazine and is currently on trial for publishing a story defaming billionaire industrialist Hans Erik Wennerstrom. He is convicted and expected to spend some time in prison. Henrik Vanger the head of the Vanger family and ex-CEO of the Vanger corporation gets in touch with Blomkvist and tells him that he can help him get even with Wennerstrom if he does an assignment for the Vanger family. Henrik Vanger receives a pressed flower in a frame on his birthday, every year. This was a ritual set by his grandniece Harriet, who disappeared thirty six years ago during a Vanger family gathering. But the flowers still show up every year, and Henrik is convinced that it's Harriet's murderer who is sending him the flowers year after year. Henrik has been obsessed with the disappearance of Harriet for all these years. Henrik Vanger entrusts the curious case of the missing Harriet to Blomkvist and gives him a years time to find out what happened to her.

In order to do this Blomkvist has to spend a year on Hedeby Island with all the Vangers. With the help of a few photographs he manages to get some clues about what could have happened to Harriet. This involves deep disturbing secrets of the dysfunctional and toxic Vanger family and its members. When Blomkvist asks Frode, the family lawyer of the Vanger family for additional help on the case, Frode directs him to the very person who did a background check on Blomkvist before he was hired by the Vanger family; Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth Salander works as a researcher and computer hacker for Milton Security and is excellent at what she does. She is as disturbed as one can get and battles demons of her own. With piercings and tattoos, it is an easy guess that she's the girl with the dragon tattoo. Due to her troubled past, she is considered legally incompetent and is under the care of a legal guardian. When her guardian Holger Palmgren suffers a stroke, he is replaced by Nils Bjurman who expects sexual favors from Salander in return for money. Her own money.

Blomkvist and Salander come together to investigate Harriet's case. Blomkvist has a good friend and occasional lover in Erika Berger who is the co-owner of Millennium. But Salander develops a liking for Blomkvist and they end up in bed soon. This doesn't stop them from focusing on the task at hand. Thanks to a clue deciphered by Blomkvist's daughter they figure out that Harriet's disappearance might be linked to a series of serial killings all across Sweden over the past forty odd years. When they dig deep into the history of the members of the Vanger family, they bring up buried secrets and not everyone is happy about it.

What exactly happened to Harriet? What happens to the Blomkvist-Wennerstrom issue? What happens to the girl with the dragon tattoo? This is what the book is all about.

When I posted on social media that this is the book I'm reading, I got a lot of comments saying that I'm in for a very good time. A few pages into the book and I actually believed them. The intertwined stories blend together really well keeping the mystery at the core. The writer does a good job in introducing all members of the Vanger family and giving us a rough blue print of Hedeby island. The presence of way too many characters did take a toll on me and I was struggling to catch up. I did predict what would have happened to Harriet much earlier and although the circumstances were different, my prediction was right. The language used is good and reading does seem effortless in spite of the 542 pages this book has.

As characters none of them stay with you and you will thank the author for this. Salander is someone whom nobody can identify with, unless and until you have a dark history of sexual violation. Blomkvist could have been more enigmatic and charming, than what he is shown to be. I did not understand his relationship with Erika at all. She's married to a painter who is okay with the fact that his wife continues to sleep around with Blomkvist. In fact they even plan holidays in a way that they can share her. Every family does come with its share of shitty secrets, but this one was quite something. The violence, the rapes, the sexual assaults, the crimes, the brutality - all on women are described in vivid detail and is disturbing and will leave you shaken. The book troubled me so much that I couldn't sleep for a couple of days. So does that mean that this book is bad? No.

The mystery is brilliant and the characters though eccentric weave a wonderful story among themselves. Although it is a long story, every loose end is tied convincingly. I will be picking up the rest of the Millennium series soon, but after a while. I need some time to get this book out of my system.

Verdict: The most disturbing book that I've ever read. And I've read 'Red Dragon'! If you do not mind some disturbing yet realistic content, do go for this one.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


His & His #PrayForOrlando

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In an instant, everything changed
The music soon turned to a scream
It all unfolded like a painful drama
Scarier than any ghastly dream

It happened right in front of me
In a room that was filled with love
One second people were holding hands
Then it all became about push and shove

We all were trying to survive
The world looks down upon us anyway
All we did was fall in love
And yet others had lots to say

The first shot shook me up
From where I was, I saw him fall
The screams of others blinded me 
For help, I couldn't even call

He shot at the crowd randomly
Spitting and hurling abuses all the while
I ran and hid in the bathroom
When I looked back I saw the bodies pile

I managed to call my mother
Told her I loved her for the last time
She couldn't believe what was happening
Loving someone was not a crime

He did come for me soon
I lay down, pretending to be dead
I thought he would walk past me
But I felt a bevy of bullets instead

In those last minutes I looked at him
His face was slathered with hate
He looked like he wanted to do this
Like it was a part of his fate

Fifty of us lost our lives
But humanity died a thousand deaths that day
Those who survived would never live
The price of love, they'll have to pay

Homosexuality is not a sin
Taking a life surely is
Why should a gun be able to decide
The fate of his and his


Mama's Girl

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I've always been a fiercely independent woman and I hate dependency of any kind. Depending on someone else for anything completely ticks me off. This is the very reason why I don't have a maid or a cook at home. I don't like waiting around for someone to get my own things done. More often than not a man who is dependent on his mother for everything is called a "Mama's Boy". And every woman hates such a man. Because who wants to be stuck around with a man who waits for his mother to do things for him or follows her orders to the tee. The mother clearly holds the leash of the son and guides his every move. Sadly she refuses to let go off the leash even when he has a new woman in his life now. Yes, we have all heard of the quintessential Mama's boy. What about the Mama's girl?

At the risk of feminists boycotting my blog and dissing this post, I'm still going to come out and say this. The concept of Mama's girl does exist and is more prevalent than the Mama's boy syndrome. I love my parents and I care for them, but there is no way I would discuss every aspect of my life with them. Or particularly with my mother. I'm a working lady with a very busy life and I also am the home maker of my home. My mother is a working lady and a home maker too and there is no way I would want to burden her with my stuff. I have seen friends of mine calling up their mothers every second asking for recipes, or to complain about the in-laws or just gossip in general. There also are a lot of mothers I know who take way too much interest in the marital lives of their daughters and want to be involved in every aspect. This is something I completely disagree on.

Mothers need to let go of their children once they are married. Sons and daughters alike. If the children are grown up enough to get married, they are grown up enough to make decisions and take care of themselves. The same way, children should let go of their parents and not depend on them for every small thing. I have seen married woman call up their mothers every morning and give updates on the day and about the other family members. I find it surprising that the person on the other end of the phone has the time and patience to listen to all this. I'm not only talking about newly married women out here. I know that most new brides miss their family and want to be in touch with them as often as they can. But somewhere the line has to be drawn. There are even women who have been married for decades and have married children who still make it a point to call up their old mothers and smother them with unnecessary information. From the smallest thing to the biggest will always be discussed with their mothers.

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I talk to my mom every day for like a minute or two. I ask her how she and dad are doing and that's about it. Till date I haven't felt the need to discuss my marital life with her or to bitch about my in-laws. I'm not that jobless, plus, I know how to handle my problems on my own. I know that it always helps to talk to someone if you are going through something, but one should leave it at that. Discussing minute details of the house to the behavior of the other people is nothing but plain bitching. Such women complain to their mother about how their MIL/DIL is not helping them, or how horrible the food cooked by them is or how they do not understand their feelings or just talk about the family problems in general. This is completely unnecessary.

A woman always leans towards her mother for comfort when she has a child. But depending on her completely to take care of the child is not right. She will help you, no doubt, but having her as a baby sitter 24x7 is definitely not right. Also, every woman likes her mother's cooking the best. Constantly talking about my Mama's this and my Mama's that, is annoying to the core. Every woman needs to take control of her own life and deal with it. Being on the phone with the mother all the time and discussing minute details of ones life is uncalled for.

If you are a woman who complains about her husband being a Mama's boy and if you actually discuss this fact with your own mother, then it is about time you took a closer look at yourself.



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It's only on rainy days
That I think of you
The memories piercing
Still fresh as dew

It rained that day
When you held my hand
As you held me close
Against the wet land

Those drops of water
Sliding down your lips
Made me go crazy
As your hands felt my hips

Love or lust, hard to say
Meant something, it sure did
You and I, together
Naked emotions, nothing hid

The passion was great
As we created fire
Embedded in one another
We learnt about desire

Year after year
The feeling did last
And then it all went dark
Like a shadow was cast

It was over quick
Just the way it did start
There was not much pain
Just a void in the heart

Love or lust, hard to say
Most days I just don't care
Yet when the rains come down
You still are present somewhere

It's a sign of your presence
In the petrichor I look for you
A part of me does hope that
Perhaps, you're doing that too


For The Love Of Books

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They take you on an adventerous journey
Even with blind eyes you can take a look
You get to meet so many people
In a magical land called 'The Book'

A plethora of new words you shall learn
Knowledge is hidden in every nook
Get carried away in the flow of the language
Just lay your hands on any book

You'll witness murders and feel the pain
You may even fall in love with the crook
A million lives you shall live through them
All within the confines of a book

You'll get new ideas of romance
Some will keep you at the edge of a hook
It may take a turn any side
To know it, you must finish the book

Some of them take place in a skyscraper
Some classics just stick to the brook
The stories are what remains with you
Long after you're done with the book

A family affair or a court room drama
Murderous tendencies that will leave you shook
You will come to love all of these
When you immerse yourself in a book

You can get lost in them anytime
While you travel or as you cook
For me, there definitely is not a world
Where I am without a book


Action Replay: May 2016

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Only seven posts last month. Do I need to say how busy I was? Well, it was not only that. After the over hectic blogging that happened during April, I intentionally took it slow last month. I normally am someone who would write five posts a week, but this time I could barely come up with one a week. Work was drowning me with back to back projects. But you know what? I enjoyed it to the core. If there is one thing that I love, it is being busy. Even if it means I do not have a few minutes to spare. This month was completely like that. But I did plan well. And this time blogging was not a priority for me. Twenty six posts in April and that too 'All about me', squeezed every ounce of writing energy from my body. I then focused on something else that I was lagging behind. Reading.

I read three books this month and I'm half way through the fourth one. This is the pace I love in reading. I normally try to finish a book in a day or two, but with work piling on, it was tough. I planned my time well this time. Work was strictly reserved for office alone. Once I got home, it was only reading and then the household chores. I read a bunch of thrillers and a mystery this month. 'Sharp Objects', was a wonderful read while 'Dark Places' was good but not great. I enjoyed it thoroughly though. Sidney Sheldon's 'The Tides Of Memory' by Tilly Bagshawe was a surprisingly good read. I've hated books of Sheldon she's written until now. 'Chasing Tomorrow' was particularly disappointing, but this one was really good. I'll be reviewing this too in a while. After these intense reads, I picked up P.G. Wodehouse's 'Galahad At Blandings' and I always have a smile whenever I read it. I'm halfway through and looking forward to pick up another thriller soon.

Everything else was pretty much "as usual" in May. Cal and I are slowly ticking off things from our resolutions list. Our weekends have been really busy because of this, but then you need to lose something to gain something. I spent some time in the company of great friends too and felt instantly rejuvenated. When you realize that your blogger friends have slowly now become your offline best friends, the happiness that comes with it is quite something. A couple of them have become my go to people for everything I need. Right from listening to my random rants to discussing some juicy gossip, they always leave me with a smile on my face.

Cal and I were following the IPL from day one, the cricket buffs that we are. This time we went and saw a couple of matches live too. It's a pity that RCB couldn't lift the cup this time and I honestly feel that the team, especially the bowlers let Virat Kohli down. What a player he is! But the fact that eight men couldn't come up with eighty odd runs in eight overs is something hard to digest. Sigh. What's over is over, right?

Work is going to be taxing this month as well, but I love the energy that comes with it. But writing will be a priority too. Especially since LOL has made it to the directory of best Indian blogs for the fourth year in a row. I owe it to her (my blog's a female, yeah) that I keep her updated and healthy. I did lose a lot of readers this month and the comments on the few posts that I wrote were minimal. I know that I haven't replied to the comments on my posts from April, but that was such a hectic month that I barely had the time to breathe. I'll get around to it soon. Very soon.

June is going to be a very happy month, I can sense it. Habits and hobbies are taking good shape and this makes me happier than ever. I'm going to try to have atleast three posts a week from now on. 12 posts a month is pretty decent, right? I might also finally finish of that fiction series of mine. Oh damn, I've forgotten the story myself. I shall try and complete it at one shot, if possible.

Okay now enough about me. Tell me how did May treat you?


Book Review: Dark Places

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Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 448

When I bought the entire Gillian Flynn collection consisting of 'Gone Girl', 'Sharp Objects' and this one, I saved this story for the last as I had read really wonderful reviews about it. People were raving about the mystery and I couldn't wait to dig into it. I always save the best for the last and I did the same with this one too. So, was it worth it? Read on.

The Day's are as dysfunctional as a family can get. Head by Patty Day, a divorcee who is struggling to make ends meet, this family is anything but happy. Patty's only wealth is her family farm that is not able to give her enough returns and her four children, Benjamin, Michelle, Debbie and Libby. Her ex-husband Runner walks in and out of her life as her likes with the only intention of squeezing as much money as he can from her. And he is willing to go to any lengths for it. Patty's only solace and friend is her sister Diane, who helps her out emotionally and financially time and again. Ben is a troubled kid and hates his sisters, his mother and his poor life. His girlfriend Diondra spends money on him and laughs at him at the same time. Her friend Trey laughs at Ben for this poor lifestyle. There also are rumors spread about Ben that only makes him more infamous. In short, Ben is disturbed by everything around him.

When Patty, Michelle and Debbie are found brutally killed one fine morning, the first suspicion moves towards Ben. Seven year old Libby was the only one who escaped that night and she also happens to be the key witness to this gruesome crime. She testifies against her brother whom she swears she heard talking to their mother before she was shot. Ben is now in prison and Libby is left to the mercy of well wishers and Diane. Twenty five years later, when Libby finds out that her funds are almost extinct, she agrees to help out a club who are obsessed with the case of her family's murder. The Kill Club headed by Lyle Wirth swears that Ben is not the killer and that something else must have happened that day. As time passes and truths are exposed, Libby learns that Ben in fact cannot be the killer. But who else would want to wipe out an entire family for no reason? Can it be her father Runner? Or was it someone else altogether? Or is Ben hiding something?

The main story is told from Libby's point of view and it flows really quick and in a structured manner. The parallel POV's are that of Patty and Ben and the story toggles between past and present every now and then and yet remains easy to read and not confusing. I must say that I love Gillian Flynn's style of writing, but this story in general did not please me. I loved the premise the book sets. The tragedy, the poverty, the survival and the reckoning is brilliantly shown, and yet the story seems to lack a certain level of intrigue in it. I did predict the ending halfway through the book, but it only turned out to be half the ending. The other half seemed very juvenile and did not go with the story. Especially with the character in question. Convinced, I was not.

As characters, your heart does go out to Patty Day and you feel for her. The troubled kid Ben is easy to identify with as most of us have faced battles while growing up, but he is not given enough space in the story. Technically the whole story should revolve around him, but Libby being the eyes of the story was probably not the right choice. Libby is the most lazy character I've ever read. Even if you sympathize with her for her back story, the fact that someone survived only on donated money for twenty five years and did not bother to make a living for herself is something that troubles me a lot. If you have had a hard time growing up, that should make you twice stronger to survive later. Or am I the only one who thinks so?

The book is a good read. The mystery is interlaced with other aspects of human emotions and you want to be a part of it instantly. The narration is fast paced and it makes you want to not put the book down. The story however, needed a bit more something.

Verdict: Dark, yes. Thrilling, yes. Predictable, well almost. But sure worth a read.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.



Decoding Sri Lanka

On Our Flight To Colombo

Sri Lanka was our first choice of destination for our honeymoon three years ago. I had visited the island country earlier on work and had fallen in love with the peace in the country. I was keen to come back on a holiday soon. However, circumstances got difficult back then and we couldn't plan an international travel for our honeymoon. But we were able to fulfill our dream for our third anniversary in March this year. We began the planning from January.

Our first step was to book the tickets so that we can get the main task off the list. No matter at what time we checked, all the International Airlines that flew from Bangalore to Colombo were really expensive. We then decided to change our starting point. The International Flights from Chennai to Colombo were much cheaper than the ones from Bangalore. We saved close to Rs. 15,000 just by booking our flights from Chennai instead of Bangalore. The return journey was directly from Colombo to Bangalore. Chennai is just a six hour journey via train from Bangalore. We booked the Chennai Express and now our travel was sorted.

Next, it was time to plan an itinerary. We sought help from some local agents who put us in touch with a travel company in Colombo. Many plans were drawn up and it took quite a number of revisions before we could settle on an itinerary that suited us very well. It did include a quite a bit of travel within the country, but we didn't mind. With the tickets and itinerary sorted, we relaxed. Soon, it was time to pack and get set to leave. The train from Bangalore to Chennai left at around 8 am and we were in Chennai by 2.30 pm. After exploring the local places and converting some cash into Lankan rupees, we got some good rest before starting our first international trip together.

It took us an hour and ten minutes to get to Colombo from Chennai. Mihin Lanka was the flight we chose for our onward journey and it was a pleasant experience. We were met by our tour guide at the arrival and the first thing we wanted to do was to get a local sim card. I have paid close to half a lakh of phone bill once thanks to an international travel and I didn't want to risk it again. A local sim was bought with enough currency in it to last us for a week. The only calls we would make was to the guide as well as our parents back home. Since we reached Colombo before noon, our vacation started on the same day. This is how we explored Sri Lanka on our third year wedding anniversary.

Day 1: Chennai->Colombo

Independence Square Arcade - The Shopping Mall

After getting a couple of hours of rest, we freshened up and began our holiday. Since we had only half a day in Colombo, we went in for a city tour. The first place we visited was the Independence Square Arcade and the shopping mall. The arcade was so neatly maintained that it surprised us. Not a speck of dust any place. The place was beautiful with strong pillars and neat marble flooring. The shopping mall was so unlike the malls we see in India. This looked like a palace or a beautiful church. There was so much of greenery around it and beautiful flowers and pristine clear fountains. We spent a good amount of time walking around here and basking in the beauty. The next stop was to ODEL, Colombo's number one shopping destination. We did not shop for anything here as everything was ridiculously expensive and most importantly everything was available back in India too! But we did have some ridiculously expensive gelato though. After a light dinner, we were back at the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 2: Colombo->Bentota

The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Bentota is a three hour drive from Colombo, so we started early after breakfast. The roads are so clean and wide that the journey did not seem tiring at all. We enjoyed the cool breeze and even though the sun shone way too bright at times, it was not troublesome. We stopped by the Kosgoda turtle hatchery where a group of people were working on the conservation of the turtles. These people pay the fishermen to get them turtle eggs from the beach and bury them in sand for sixty to seventy days until they hatch. They are then released to small ponds where they learn to survive initially. After 21 days they are then released into the ocean. Out of a 1000 turtle babies released to the ocean, only one manages to survive, they say. After visiting the turtle hatchery, we had the rest of the day free where we decided to explore the hotel and it's beach. After a great dinner, we dozed off instantly.

Day 3: Bentota->Mirissa->Galle->Bentota

The Gorgeous Mirissa Bay - Look at the color of the sky reflecting on the water!

Anniversary Day! It had to be special. Mirissa Bay in Sri Lanka is famous for it's whales and dolphins. Although this was not included in our itinerary, we decided to explore it as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We paid an exorbitant amount for this, but we knew it would be worth it. We left early at around 4 am to get to Mirissa by 6.30 am where a boat was waiting for us.

The Life Jackets

We were here for the whale watching, where they would take us hundreds of kilometers in to the ocean and we could spot dolphins, whales and other sea creatures. We were given life jackets and after taking medications for sea sickness, the boat of close to 120 people left. Soon we were in the middle of ocean surrounded by nothing else but water. We spotted quite a lot of dolphins but sadly we couldn't spot a whale. We did see wonderfully colored turtles though. We spent seven hours in the sea and it was such a magical experience!

The Colonial Buildings - Pretty As A Picture!

On our way back to Bentota, we visited Galle. Galle is filled with colonial buildings and it is quite a pretty sight to the eye. We visited the clock tower and the stadium after a quick lunch and explored the city a bit. The weather was slightly hot and we saw the most beautiful beach ever. The water was clear blue and the sky reflected so beautifully on it! Tired from waking up in the wee hours of the morning, we drove back to Bentota and hit the bed straight.

Day 4: Bentota->Pinnawala->Kandy

Pinnawala - How Peaceful They Look!

The elephant orphanage of Pinnawala always stood out in every itinerary we received. We left around 9 am and this place was not too far away from Bentota. The elephants are left free here and the young ones are a treat to watch. They play with each other and just enjoy themselves. The violent ones are tied to be tamed. Sadly, the whole thing is now commercialized and the mahouts charge you to touch the elephants, feed them or to just take a picture with them. Although free, the animals were never free. We visited a tea factory on our way to Kandy where we were shown how the tea leaves turn into tea powder. We even received a complimentary cup of hot tea that was surprisingly refreshing in the scorching heat.

The Tooth Relic Temple

We reached Kandy in a couple of hours and after a really good lunch of pure vegetarian South Indian food, we headed towards the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. When Buddha died and his body was being burnt, his tooth fell off the funeral pyre. A devotee picked it up and decided to set up a shrine for it. Over the years it passed many hands and finally ended up here. Once a week the tooth is put out to display for the devotees, but sadly the day we went was not that day. The temple was however really beautiful and very well maintained. The sun soon set and we were then taken to our hotel in Kandy.

Day 5: Kandy->Dambulla->Sigiriya

The Entrance To Dambulla Caves

Buddhism is a religion that has always fascinated me. If I did believe in religion, I would be more than happy to follow this one. Right from the beginning of our vacation, I was excited to visit the Golden Temple at Dambulla. We left from Kandy early and in a few hours were at Dambulla. A tall golden statue of Buddha greeted us and we were told to walk up the caves behind and explore the place. After a certain point you are not allowed to wear footwear and the scorching heat made it impossible for us to walk. With great difficulty we managed to get to the caves and it made me realize that the trouble was so worth it. There were thousands of Buddha statues all over the place. Most of them really alike and yet very different. There was something so peaceful about this place that I never wanted to leave it. The roof of the caves were hand painted in different patterns and the color was still intact from centuries ago. It was such a treat to the eye!

Lion's Rock - Sigiriya. We Had To Trek Up This!
Whatever Is Left Of The Lion

After lunch, we left for Sigiriya. Lion's Rock is the main attraction of Sigiriya. It is a really huge rock/mountain that needs to be climbed up, almost like a trek. On top there is a huge Lion carved out of stone whose face is now destroyed, but you do get to see the majestic arms. The climb was really hard and the heat was not helping either. It took us a couple of hours to get to the top, but the view from there was gorgeous! Green and blue and nothing else in between. It finally felt like the point where the sky and the earth meets. After basking in the view for a while, we headed back down. Coming down was easier and we came down in half and hour. We were drenched in sweat and our clothes and shoes were completely muddy. We got to the hotel and took a nice shower before hitting the bed.

Day 6: Sigiriya->Colombo->Bangalore

The Dambulla International Cricket Stadium

Our vacation had come to an end and it was now time to check out. After a hearty breakfast we left the hotel and were en route Colombo from where our flight was. We stopped by the Dambulla Cricket Stadium on the way and bribed the officials to go take a look inside. There was a local match going on and it was a delight to watch it. We reached Colombo a couple of hours before our flight and checked in. Srilankan Airlines was our choice for the return flight. The journey was pleasant and hassle free. While we were up in the air we thought about the wonderful trip we had had and what a great experience it had been.

We reached Bangalore by late evening. We were exhausted, but we did have a bright smile on our face.
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