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.

Crimson Skies

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Shards of glass
Edges sharp
Hues of red
Drop by drop

Annoyance wins
Rest all dies
Anger triumphs
Revealing crimson skies

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.

Corporate Netiquette

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Next month I clock eight years of being in the corporate world. While I do consider myself lucky to be working with one of the biggest IT companies in the world, in a job that I have come to now love; there are quite a few things I'd like to do away with. Corporate is a wonderful space to be in, where you will meet different people from different walks of life. Some stay on your mind for good enough reasons and some well, just remain stuck there for reasons you don't even know. One of the things that I have noticed more often than not is the corporate etiquette, or rather the lack of it. Now if you are looking to understand the title of the post, it stands for corporate non-etiquette. Yeah, I just recreated a word for it and it is not the same as the normal netiquette.

Today as I walked towards the entrance of my office, a man was walking from the opposite side towards the entrance as well. While I was in no hurry to enter first, the man on seeing me started rushing towards the entrance. I was already at the door by then and he just brushed past me hurting my shoulder and walked in almost slamming the heavy entrance door in my face. He did not even turn to offer an apology. I was appalled and angry. It took me a few seconds to come to terms with what had happened. Once I was back in my senses I realized that this is not the first instance of corporate netiquette that I've seen. They are way too many to list down but I'm just going with a few here.

~ Opening doors - I am not talking about bias here as I'm not the sort of woman who would expect a man to open the door for her. Chivalry is definitely appreciated, but is something least expected in a work place. Here more often than not, people brush past you and walk in through the door first and just let the door ram after them. It is only basic decency (men and women alike) that you hold the door when you see someone walking in after you. But how is it your business, right?

~ Entering lifts - The rule is simple. First you give way to the ones exiting the lift and then you enter it. How hard is it to understand this? I work in the first floor and I seldom take the lift, but sometimes when I do, it is a nightmare. Once the first floor is reached and I need to get out, a huge group walks in like I'm almost invisible. I then have to push my way out of the crowd with people looking at me with "What the fuck is wrong with her" on their minds. Then again, rules are meant to be broken. Aren't they?

~ Printer rooms - Our whole floor shares the same printer and xerox machines. But when I go to collect my print outs I have always noticed that the printer room is perpetually crowded with people going through all the print outs before finding theirs. I understand that since a large number of people can give a print at the same time. But what I don't understand is that why do you have to read the entire document before figuring out that it is indeed not yours. I once caught a guy looking through the printout of my flight tickets. Unless he had wanted to print tickets at the same time and for the same airlines, there was something very wrong about it.

~ Lunch queues - I always take lunch from home, but at times when it doesn't happen, I'm in a nightmare. People who stand in queues for lunch always forget to leave space ahead of them for their plates. So when I'm spooning something into my plate, my elbow always touches the other person's plate causing it to go off balance and then I get really horrible looks. I also hate people who take forever to serve themselves an item when the entire line behind is waiting for him/her to finish.

~ Excuse me. Not - This has happened to me at least 8632579865 times in my eight year old career. People walking behind you will say anything but an "excuse me" if they want you to leave way for them. I once had a man push me aside and walk ahead, a lady who grumbled curses in a native language until I heard it and made way, another lady who chose to tap my shoulder and let me know she wanted way, yet another lady who tried to squeeze in to the 0.5 inch gap that was left and ended up hustling me anyway and this is still not the end of it. Seriously, how hard is it to blurt out an "Excuse Me"?

~ Pantry - You know those kind of people who come in for a glass of water and stand right in front of the water filter until they finish drinking the entire glass and sometimes even go in for a refill? Yeah, these are the kind of people who I want to kill. Take a glass of water and move aside and then come back for the second glass, but then again who has the time for all that? Once this guy was standing so close to the filter that when a lady bent to fill in her water bottle she hit him with her butt. I did not know if I had to laugh or cry.

~ Conference calls - "While not talking, please put the phone on mute", this is the first line you see in the mail whenever you get an invite for a conference call. This also happens to be a magical line that is visible only to a few. I have heard coughs, guitar strumming, traffic, cooker whistles, glasses clinking, babies crying, dogs barking, people yelling and sometimes movie dialogues too while being a part of a conference call.

~ Phone calls - There is a special place reserved in hell for people who talk on their phones during a meeting and they will have company from people who talk at their loudest in their cubicles and the ones who leave their phone in ringing mode while in office. I once heard a newly married lady coochie coo with her husband while the speaker was on. One of those times I wished I was deaf. Speaking of being deaf, I do think that people who leave their phones in the ringing mode while at work are deaf if they cannot hear their phone vibrate instead. As much as I like music, listening to "Suraj dooba hai", "Didi tera devar deewana", "Fevicol Se", "Abhi toh party shuru hui hai" and any other song/noise/tone while I'm busy trying to get something done before a deadline makes me want to throw their phone off the window. Again one of those times I wished I worked on a higher floor instead of the first.

These are just a few of the corporate netiquttes I could think of at the moment. I do know there are a lot more out there. If you have one, please do leave a comment.

Reflections: A To Z 2016 #AtoZChallenge

This was my third consecutive year of signing up for the A to Z challenge. It was really tough the previous two years as well, but somehow I managed to get past it and complete the challenge successfully. I thought it would be the same this year as well. I had my theme planned out by January, but I had no clue what post I would write for each alphabet. Towards the end of March, my work load tripled and I was left with zero time for anything else. By March 31st when others had most of their posts scheduled, I had no idea what I would write the next day for 'A'! I panicked so much that I barely slept that night.

I woke up in the morning with the same thought. While I was doing my daily browsing of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had checked in to an airport. And that's when the idea came. None of my posts were scheduled. Every topic was thought of at the last minute (No, I'm not very proud of it) and almost every post was posted at the last minute too. The posts for Saturdays always spilt over to Mondays as weekends were the only time I got some rest. I did not want to touch the laptop then. By the end of the month I had some good quality posts that stuck true to the theme. I chose 'All about me' because I thought it would be simple. Turns out it is really difficult to talk much about yourself. Had I been the narcissist I was a few years ago, it would have been a breeze. But now, I struggled to talk so much about myself everyday. Having said that, I enjoyed writing every single post as much I enjoyed reading the posts of others.

Airports was a very personal topic to me. I have been wanting to talk about it for quite sometime but somehow it never materialized. But when it did, I could see so many people relate to it. Blunt had to be written, because that is what I'm known for. Chick Flicks was a light post about a serious topic and I'm still so shocked by the fact that there are a lot of people who think that chick flicks and rom coms are the same thing. Diaper Talks had to be spoken about as this was something I wanted to scream out from the roof tops. I did lose a few friends because of this but I'm not complaining. Engineering is such a waste in my life that it had to be a part of all about me. The only thing good about it was that I got a campus placement and I love my job till date. FRIENDS is a piece of me that will never die. There is no other show that has held this space in my heart till now and I'm sure never will.

Generation Gap was something that I wanted to talk about as I see so many people in my own generation act like they belong to the 14th century. Being Home Alone is very important to me and I wanted to share my feelings about it. Indian Mentality and Indians will always be a never ending topic, but Indian behavior on flights completely pisses me off, hence the post. Justification was a post justifying the fact as to why I hate justifying things. I put an end to it once and for all. Keeping In Touch had to be spoken about. People just come in and out of your life and blame you for not bothering about them. Live And Let Live was written for the same reason as well. Motherhood perhaps is the post most close to me as it was everything I had to say about not wanting to be a mother. No was an important post as I only learnt to say that recently and I knew will help others as well. OCD, I had a crazy OCD to write about it. And yes, in a particular order. Poetry, well, just had to be written.

Quirky had to be there if I was talking about myself. Hello! Relationships too was a post close to my heart as I have lost quite a few of them. Regrets? No. But learnings, yes. Simplicity had to be spoken about in an era where people use fancy words in day to day life just to appear cool. Trebuchet MS was an extension of my OCD, but it sure deserved a post of its own. Also I couldn't think of anything else for T. Unlearn is what kept me going all these years and Vanity helped me stay off a lot of people and trash the memories I had with them. Woman Vs Woman is something I firmly believe in and I just wanted to throw some light on how women are hell bent upon bringing other women down. Xerox Copy was a post that I wrote in ten minutes flat. Well, what else could I write about for X that was about me or what I thought?

You was the most important part of me and also my favorite from the whole A to Z so far. Zero was an advice to people to pick themselves up and do something. At least take one step instead of five. But did it help anyone? I'm not too sure.

So A to Z 2016 was one hell of a ride and I was more than glad when it ended. Having said that, will I sign up for it next year? Hell yeah!

Cheers to all of us who took part and completed this challenge. We are survivors! See you next year.

Book Review: Sharp Objects

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Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 254

After 'Gone Girl', I had fallen in love with Gillian Flynn's style of writing and picked up this book which happens to be her first one on an impulse. The gist of the book was about a toxic family and this piqued my interest. So one fine day once I was back from work I sat down with a cup of tea and started reading this. The fast pace of the book was good because no body likes a prolonged mystery where the author takes ample amount of time to build a case and sneak in a clue. That was the only problem I had with 'The Girl On The Train'. This book moves fast with every page and the mystery gets deeper and deeper. So, what is the book all about?

Camille Preaker is a reporter working with a newspaper in Chicago. Her boss, Frank Curry asks her to visit Wind Gap, the place where Camille grew up, to report about a murder that now seems like a serial killing. As much as Camille is trying to be successful as a reporter, she is battling her own demons most of which are rooted in Wind Gap. Coming to Wind Gap to cover the case would mean that Camille now has to face her estranged family that consists of her mother, Adora, a step father, Alan, a dead step sister, Marian and another alive but precocious step sister, Amma. Camille comes face to face with her hostile mother and is uncomfortable in the very house that she grows up. She consoles herself that it is only until she cracks this case open, and after that she would be back in Chicago for good.

The case in question is the the killing of a ten year old girl named Natalie Keene. The MO of the killing is same as the killing of Ann Nash, aged nine, who was killed a year ago. No sexual assault, but all their teeth had been pulled out. Camille tries to visit both the Nashes and the Keenes, but is unable to gather much information. According to the police, Natalie's brother John who is eighteen is the primary suspect in the case. There also is James Capisi, who claimed to have seen the killer while Natalie was taken, but no one wants to believe him.

Camille along with Richard, the detective from Kansas work side by side although not together to solve this mystery. As the mystery unfolds, Camille finds out really disturbing facts about her own family. Her mother doesn't seem to be the perfect woman that she is on the outside. Her thirteen year old sister Amma, is all grown up once and is a kid the next instant who is obsessed with the perfection of her doll house that is the exact replica of the house they are living in. Camille has her own weirdness too, which sums up to the title of the book. But is the title justified? Well, not for me, unless the author is talking about the human brain.

Just like 'Gone Girl', this book too revolves around the intricacies of the human mind and it's obsessions. With a handful of characters, every character has enough importance and is etched out beautifully. The inner turmoil of Camille is shown so well that I could feel my skin burning as she traced her fingers on the words etched on herself. The human mind is a really dangerous thing and when people use it in more dangerous ways by manipulating themselves and others, a relationship and everything involved with it does become toxic. The killing of these little girls is disturbing to say the least and the scenes describing them made me look away once or twice. But the most disturbing fact of the book remains the dangerous levels to which humans can go to get what they think they deserve. Be it attention, love or anything else.

It took me two days to finish this book due to work and other commitments. But throughout the two days, I have been disturbed by the story. There was something constantly nagging me about the scenes that I had read about. I did predict the ending of the book much earlier than half-way through, but the way it unfolded was something else altogether. The descriptions, the dialogues are so believable that it is almost scary.

As characters, it is the three women who stand out and each one is better than the other. Camille, who knows the truth but is finding it hard to come to terms with it. Adora, the perfect and loving mother who is always obsessed with the wellness of her child who is not Camille. Amma, the twisted teen who wants to be a whore to attract boys and yet turns into the baby kitten in the hands of her caring mother. These relationships are nothing like they seem and everyone here is as toxic as they can get. The climax, though predictable, comes together very well and forms a nice closure to the case, the characters and the story.

Verdict: Dark, disturbing and more disturbing. And this is exactly what makes the book worth reading. If you are intrigued by human psychology, then do not give this a miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Action Replay: March & April 2016

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I couldn't do an action replay post for March, thanks to the A to Z challenge in April. March has been a wonderful month for me in terms of everything. Work, personal life, travel etc. Cal and I finished three years of marriage this March and we went on a vacation to Sri Lanka for a whole week. We had planned to go to Sri Lanka for out honeymoon back then, but couldn't due to a lot of financial constraints. This time we planned well and took a week off from work just for some good relaxation time and a celebration. I've been to Sri Lanka before on work and I loved the country. The whole country was so clean and well planned. So unlike ours. I had decided back then itself that this would be a place I'd come back one day with Cal.

Our flight to Colombo was from Chennai and we took a train from Bangalore to Chennai. Our first train journey together and we enjoyed it completely. Chennai is a place that holds really bad memories for me and I had decided never to return to that place. But when Cal suggested that it was time I let go of my demons and made peace with it, I agreed with him. This time I looked at Chennai completely differently. Cal and I ended up having a wonderful time walking around the place and exploring different kinds of food. We stayed there for a night and I finally had made peace with this city. The next morning, we were on our way to Colombo.

Sri Lanka is a very beautiful place. We had planned a customized itinerary and everything was sorted from India only. We were welcomed by our driver at the airport and from then on, it was bliss. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country that is very well planned and very well maintained. We traveled a lot and covered quite a number of places. While the first day was reserved for the city tour of Colombo, we went to Bentota the next day. Bentota is beautiful with its pristine beaches that are so clean that the water is bright blue in color. Such a pleasure to the eye. We also went dolphin and whale watching in Mirissa. Seven hours in the sea was quite something and thankfully we did not feel sea sick. Although we couldn't catch a glimpse of a whale, we saw thousands of dolphins and beautiful turtles in the middle of the ocean. This was an experience that we would remember all our lives.

We also visited Kandy, Dambulla and Sigiriya. Buddhism is very prevalent in Sri Lanka and it is a religion I'm fascinated with. I like their practises. If I were a firm believer of religion and God, this is what I would choose. But sadly I'm not. We visited many Buddhist temples, monasteries and caves and saw Buddha in almost every form. It was such a beautiful experience. Cal and I spent a lot of time together and enjoyed every bit of it. We did not want to come back, but did we have a choice? Having made peace with the fact that we have to return, we came back to Bangalore feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

While March was mainly about anniversary and travel, April was primarily about the A to Z 2016 challenge. I did this challenge for the third consecutive year in a row, with a relevantly simple topic, but it was the hardest this year. There was a lot of work to be done at office and the Bangalore heat was not helping either. You get exhausted so soon that by the time you get back home after work, you're dazed. While I managed to write most of the weekday posts on time, the posts for Saturdays were always posted the next Monday. I hate using the laptop during weekends and I never write anything during my time off from work. This time is for Cal and me to do what ever we want to do. I crawled past the weekend posts and finally am done with the A to Z for 2016. But to be honest, I did enjoy it the same amount like the past two years. It makes you want to pull your hair out. But in the end it is always worth it. More on the individual posts and the topics I chose in the A to Z reflections post coming up on May 9th.

How did April treat you? If you were a part of the A to Z 2016 challenge, then congrats my friend, we did it!