The Strange Wish

It has started getting cold. People say, there is not much activity to do outdoors once the winter sets in. Last year I decided to explore the city of Pittsburgh in winters. Here is my first discovery. My hometown Baroda(Vadodara) was a princely state in past. So horse carriages are not rare but I never got an opportunity to ride one. I always wondered how would it seem to roam around the downtown in a Horse Carriage with all the modern vehicles around. They say sometimes even strange wishes come true. Last year I saw a long queue at Market Square in Pittsburgh. There were families with small kids who were waiting with bated breath. It was for the Horse Carriage ride. My curiosity made me join the queue. Within few minutes the Carriage came into view. It was a beautiful sight. The lovely carriage and the well decorated horse.

Babe and the Carriage

I was quite behind in the queue. The carriage soon got filled. I was just wondering my chance would come after two or three rounds of the carriage when someone shouted “Has anyone come in a group of 2, there are 2 seats left”. Advantages of being a solo traveler, I raised my hand and was able to board the carriage well ahead of my chance. Once we boarded, we were introduced to the horse whose name was ‘Babe’. We went around the downtown with all the modern cars and buildings around us. The reality was far more exciting than what I had wondered. All through the ride, we were entertained by stories of the Horse by the carriage driver who called himself a knight. We were waved by kids who passed by us. Another enthralling sight was to see our reflection in the glass walls of downtown. All in all it was an experience one should definitely have in life.

Once in a while strange wishes come to our minds and we shove them aside. When they come true, precious memories are created which makes our lives beautiful. This year when winter comes, don’t just sit at home but venture out, you never know which strange wish would come true.

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Frozen Treats with a Twist

Everyone waits for the arrival of Summers especially the children. The lovely carefree Summer Vacations for which we used to plan from February. In my hometown Baroda, the Summer was flagged by the presence of yummy bright yellow and orange mangoes. All the terraces used to be full of jars containing spicy pickles. All the roads were full of ice cream shops. I still remember tugging my Father’s hand the moment we passed the ice cream shop. These memorable events of life create an evergreen combination of ice cream and summer. Even today the very mention of Summer brings forth a sight of mango and ice cream. This has also encouraged creativity.

The first breakfast introduced to me after coming to the USA was Waffles and I immediately liked it. I have always had it with strawberry syrup but this year I was surprised. While wandering around the library I came across a nice shop called Waffallonia when I went to the library in downtown. There was a genuine smile on all the faces around that shop. They serve Waffles with Ice cream. I had the outstanding combination of Waffles, peanut butter and cinnamon ice cream.

Waffle with Peanut butter and Cinnamon Ice Cream

Summer is also the time for juicy fruits like watermelon, grapes, etc. My mother always made sure, we have lots of fruits. One of her favorite ways to make us eat fruits was through fruit custard. She was really fast at that. Anytime we made a request and it would be present as a dessert. Last week, I went to the local library. It was really hot so I searched for frozen treats around library and came across The Meadows. There I came across different varieties of Frozen custard. This time it was frozen custard with crunchies.

Custard with Crunchies

Waffles, cream, crunchies are mostly available but it never occurs to us they could create such amazing desserts. This shows creativity has no limits, one can do so even with day to day things. Both Ice cream, waffles and custard are part of my list of favorite dishes but this year I had them with a twist. The trip to library definitely helped me discover these in addition to books. Next time you go for Ice Cream, do ensure you look around for something new in your regular favorite.

Heart winning Event

This years shopping

There are so many questions in mind when one is moving to a new city. ‘Will I be able to adjust here?’, ‘Will the city accept me?’, etc., are just a few of them. These questions make a person nervous, which was my condition when I moved to Pittsburgh. Three weeks after I came here, a book fair was organized by Half Price books at a nearby hall. The streets were lined by small boards mentioning the sale. The moment I saw the boards, I felt so glad. The sight of a book fair always fills my heart with joy. It reminded me of the bookstalls at my hometown and cleared all the uncertainty and nervousness immediately.

The fair also consists of records and dvds in addition to books. The hall was extremely crowded when I entered. My excitement was boundless at the sight of rows and rows of books. There were books on fiction, cooking, photography, science, self help, etc. The collection had classics like works of R.L Stevenson, Jane Austen as well as new age authors like Danielle Steele. I discovered so many new authors here. It felt so nice to see so many people who enjoy reading. People had their shopping carts full of books. You can speak to any person and get knowledge on authors. People had come with their toddlers. The excitement of the children at the site of books was marvelous. I was moved to see parents encourage their kids for reading even in this age of gadgets. This event connected me to the city in such a way that I never felt I was new here. It just became my heart winning event.

This fair happens only once a year and I make it a point to attend it. These days people have to move to new places for job. When that happens, one should not crib about missing the old place but look out for events in the new place. These are the windows to the culture of the city. They are an opportunity to relate to the city. In fact they give us a chance to find new things about ourselves. So the next you face a transfer, remember to check the events that take place in the new city. You never know, the city you are going to may just be the one, most suitable to you.

A cluster of Museums

Its not often we come across places with historical significance. Today was a beautiful day. A nice breeze blew which urged everyone to move out of their homes. It was an opportunity to explore parks. While looking for a park, I discovered the Frick Art and Historical Center. It is a cluster of museums spread over 6 acres. One feels like travelling through time as the neighborhood around it has an old world charm. A warm smile greeted me as soon as I entered.

The paintings of Madonna and Christ in the Art gallery filled my heart and mind with positivity. There is a beautiful lane through the garden to The Car and Carriage museum.

One is immediately transported to the era of black and white movies. The carriages remind you of aristocracy. Each vintage car has unique identity making it an owner’s pride.

What really amazed me was that there were cars that were used to spread awareness about voting rights for women. It reminds us of the struggles that women went through to get the voting rights. They also showed how the evolution of Cars brought changes in women’s fashion. I next passed through the playhouse where soothing music was being played.

The greenhouse has an amazing collection of flowers and plants. There is also a Café, library and gift center. I did not have a ticket for the Mansion so that left me with a reason to visit again. A colorful garden surrounds all the buildings. Helen Clay Frick (1888—1984) was the driving force to preserve the Frick estate and allow it to open to the public after her death. One can feel her presence everywhere through the exhibits displayed around the area.

An exploration is successful when it leaves one with a purified heart and an enhanced mind. It also helped me do my daily walk as the garden was simply mesmerizing. So the next time, its a beautiful day and you feel like an explorer, make sure Frick Art and Historical Center is on your list.

Discovering a Sunny day

Farmer’s Market

It was a bright, hot and sunny morning, the day when you see everyone in sunglasses. The lazy person in me said “Lie down, listen to music and read a book”. “This is just the right day to go out and explore the place”, said the explorer in me. There was a debate between them, each giving the benefits of their proposal. Ultimately the explorer won. I drove to the community park to see the Farmer’s market. Be it vegetables, bakery products or honey, each vendor greets you with a warm smile and is eager to tell you about it. Every product has the human touch of the person who created it. Its a clear indication of how you feel when you put your heart and soul into developing something.

The park was throbbing with life. Each shade had a story to tell. One shade had a community meet, another had a family picnic, a wedding was going on in third and so on. The smiles of the people seemed to be synchronized with the brightness of the sun. The highest excitement was at a kids baseball match. The ground was surrounded by parents cheering their kids. It seemed as if a fair was near the baseball ground where people sold fresh lemonades, beads, sunglasses, etc. The small kids in the park, personified freedom. They ran, shouted, laughed and cheered. It reminded me of my school days when all that mattered was to live the moment. The sights at the park made me happy, contented and energized for the entire day, something I wouldn’t have experienced if I had stayed back. The Sun seemed to have infused everyone including me, with extra energy. We often tend to take the easy way in life but if you stretch out a little and wander, you will discover way more than you can imagine. Here is my discovery, a sweet and spicy strawberry-Jalapeno jam, which I had never seen before.

Option for an Individual

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

There are certain things which take you back to special moments of life. I recently had one such experience when I stood in front of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. It was raining heavily but I felt as if I had gone on a time travel to the first day of College. The 19th century architecture reminded me of my college days in Baroda University, which was established at the same time. How grown-up it felt to say we are leaving for college. There was one thing common in the first class of each subject. The professor suggested a number of books for each subject. We asked one of the professors how were we going to cover so many books in one academic session. The professor smiled and replied, those were books on the same topic by different authors. It is up to the student to select the book he or she wants to refer. Initially we referred to the books which were popular choice among seniors. But the curious ones could not resist the urge to explore all the books suggested by Professors and that lead us to the amazing stack in the library.

I entered the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in the same time travel mode. The entrance at the stack had welcome written in various languages including Hindi. The stack of a library is a special place. There is always pin drop silence although there are people. The atmosphere is so serene that one can almost feel the presence of knowledge. If knowledge were to have a fragrance, it would definitely be there in the stack. There are rows and rows of book shelves and benches on either side of the wall. There used to be a break of 3 hours between our theory and practical classes in the first year. We used to spend this time in the library. As I walked in the stack, I remembered how we referred to each book and then chose the one which suited us the most. It is so similar to life. We all are presented with an array of options be it work or hobbies but most of us go for the popular choice ones. We forget each of us is an individual and has unique abilities. Maybe its laziness or the fear of being different which prevents us from pursuing other options. But I feel, when we pursue the option which suits us we develop our personality. We feel satisfied and enlightened, something which is very rare in today’s life. So the next time you have to choose from an array of options, make sure to check each and select the one which suits the individual “YOU”.

The Recharging Cup

It was one of those beautiful days when the weather was so nice that you just want to be outdoors. So I went for a walk with my Father. We came accross a gift shop where many cups were laid out. This cup got my attention. The slight curve reminded me that things are not always straight forward. I was lost in thoughts when Baba (father) said, “Lets buy it”. My father always understood what we wanted before we even spoke out our wishes. As if he was some sort of a mind reader. From then onwards he always served me tea or coffee in this cup. There was an amazing magic in tea or coffee made by him. It used to make all challenges simple. Whenever we were down because of studies or work, he would never pester us with questions but serve us his magical tea or coffee. The steaming cup with its aroma would relax our minds. After drinking it we felt, no matter how bad the situation is we will definitely be able to face it. We often used to say, we are recharged. This was one of the many things he did, where he managed to motivate us without any words.

He was a soccer fanatic. Watching a soccer match on television with him with a cup of coffee was as exciting as sitting in the stadium and cheering the team. His knowledge on Fifa world cup history was incomparable. Today is Father’s day and one of his favorite teams is playing. 2018 is the first world cup he is not with us. I have tried many recipes of tea and coffee but still haven’t been able to create his magic. Maybe it was the trust and affection, with which he used to make it, created the magic. Preparing tea for your near and dear ones is a simple gesture which has deep impact. It comforts us and makes us feel cared. It is not the expensive gifts but simple gestures like these which create everlasting impact. So the next time someone makes that tea or coffee for you, do remember to thank him or her for the recharging cup.