Category Archives: Life

Independence Day Celebrations

The results of the recent elections in India, show that leadership is based on hard work, effort and vision. It is not based on heredity. I have always considered it a blessing that we have a constitution, which gives us the freedom to dream and achieve. Independence day is the time to show our gratitude for this freedom. I always attend the 4th July parade in Monroeville. The participants are different institutions like the church, schools, local bands, fire brigade, etc. They throw candies and chocolates at the waving crowd. Its so nice to see families standing on both sides of the road and cheering them. The best part is the kids, who come with their bags, baskets or buckets to collect the sweets.

The parade starts at 9:00 am. People come with their folding chairs and umbrellas and sit on both sides of the road. The performances by bikers, gymnasts, dancers makes it all the more enjoyable. As the parade proceeds, it feels as if the entire city has become a family. Fireworks are organized in different parts of the city at night. Independence day is the time to show our respect for the freedom we have. Its so nice to see some families make it a tradition to attend the parade. These traditions make the children aware of the constitution and their responsibilities. I just hope these traditions are made in all families everywhere and all of us respect the freedom. Happy Independence Day.

Father’s Magic

My clipboard at the end of college

There are few rituals we used to do before exams like preparing a schedule for studies, questions for last minute revisions, ensuring stationary was up to date, etc. One of them was to pull out the clip board and clean it. I had a brown clipboard. By the time I was in fifth grade, my clip board was so scratched that it had started looking old and worn out, just like the bark of an old tree. A week before the exams, I told my father, its looking so old as if it was older than me (I was 10 years old then). My father smiled and said “Leave it to me”. Two days later, there was a bright yellow clipboard at my study corner. I was surprised because a yellow clipboard was not available in the stationary stores that I knew then. That year everyone asked me about my clipboard in the exams. I was so happy that I wrote my name twice on it. The bright yellow always brought a smile even in the nervousness of exams. I continued to use the clipboard till the last exam of my college.

One might be wondering Papa must have brought a new one but my father was practical. In spite of all the scratches, the clipboard was good enough to continue a few more years. All the doors of our house were being painted at the same time when I mentioned my old clipboard. My father painted it with the left over paint and then nicely quoted it with varnish. It was properly dried and placed at my study corner. These were the moments when the magician in my father came out. There are many instances when our fathers become magicians in addition to being our friend, philosopher, guide, cheerleader and parent. On this occasion of Father’s Day, let us take an opportunity to appreciate the creative genius that we have as our Father. Happy Father’s Day.

An evening with Musical Fountain

Summer is the time to be outdoors. An evening with a cool breeze is the best time to spend with family and friends. Most of us go out for dinner but the dinner becomes memorable when we have it outdoors. On a nice summer day, after cruising on the three rivers of Pittsburgh, me and my friends decided to have dinner at the station square.

The rhythm of the station square fountain with the music has always impressed me. Whenever I went there, it was always soft music. That night the fountain was dancing on rock music. I had never seen it before. The water came out in different colors. It was majestic. The place was full of kids. Each time the water came out, they would clap. We looked for a restaurant with a view of the fountain. Although we were hungry, we waited till a table on the patio was available. Once seated we ordered our food. The best part of eating outdoors is no one bothers about being loud. Dinner with a fountain dancing on rock music along with the cheerful laughter of kids, is simply mesmerizing.

When we look back, the time spent with family and friends brings that warm smile on our faces. We often wonder about special locations to be with our dear ones but its the company which makes the place special. The best place would be a location where one can speak and laugh as loudly as one wants. A simple meal with the loved ones on a moonlit sky or a garden with cool breeze is all one needs to create those special moments which become treasures of memories.

Meeting Santa Claus

One of the most cherished events of Christmas is arrival of Santa Claus. His loud ‘Ho Ho Ho’ and the jingling bells can bring smile on any face. As a kid, I used to wonder what might be there in his big bag. I always thought he dressed in red and white. While walking across downtown, I came to an exhibition in Winter garden. Although it was -4 degrees Celsius outside, the presence of warm smiles drew me towards it. The place was every child’s fantasy. A huge Christmas tree with ginger bread houses all around it. A live orchestra playing Christmas carols. But the most amazing part were the Santa Claus of the world. It seems he is known by different names in different countries and each culture has its own representation. But the sparkling eyes, genuine smile and the adorable personality was common in all of them. As I walked past each of them, I felt as if I am transported to that country, waiting like a child for my Santa to arrive. It seemed as if I was meeting Santa Claus differently. The aroma of cakes, muffins, biscotti and hot chocolate added the festive flavor to the event.

Santa Claus can bring smile even in freezing temperatures. It reminds me, a genuine warm smile can win our hearts even on the coldest day. Often we are so carried away in our day to day issues that we forget to smile properly. Sometimes a smile from a dear one is all we need to solve the biggest of problems. Maybe that is why festivals are held, just to remind us to smile, meet our dear ones and be happy. They are also the time to go out and enjoy the city. So the next time if someone asks you to describe Santa Claus, make sure to mention the smile because his outfit may be different but the smile is the same genuine, adorable one.

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.

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.

Bridge of feelings

There are very few rare places in the world which signify commitment towards relationships. One such place is the Schenley bridge in Pittsburgh. The yellow bridge is filled with colorful locks on both sides. Its a beautiful sight. These are love locks put up by couples. There is lush greenery around the bridge. While walking over the bridge, one is reminded of those hundreds of couples who put up the locks as a mark of their commitment. Seems like it is a bridge connecting their feelings which would stay forever. This is a complete contrast to all the noise around broken relationships. As I looked on, the bridge seemed to be saying, no matter how bad the times are and how far the people are, true feelings would always remain immortal. This filled my heart with an amazing sense of positivity. A poet would have captured those words in a poem. I was able to capture the bridge in my cellphone camera.

The next time you are in Pittsburgh or when you are feeling low, just take a walk over Schenley bridge. It would fill your heart with optimism.

The Snow Heroes

The snow covered view from my window

It had snowed all night and when I looked out of window, everything was covered in a thick white layer of snow. It was a beautiful sight. I opened the window to feel the cold air. It was so cold that could not even stand for a minute and closed the window. I changed all plans of going out. For me it was a holiday but what about those who had work or other commitments due to which they would have to go out. My question was answered by a truck with a snow plow. It was removing snow from the roads, keeping them in usable condition. As long as it snowed, the truck kept on cleaning the roads at regular intervals.

The Snow Truck

Be it low temperature or snow storm, this truck would always be there to ensure the roads are clean. Hats off to the people driving it. They remind me of Heroes, even though they don’t have superpowers or jazzy outfits, the Snow Heroes. They make sure if need be we can always go out. In a way, they motivate us to go on, no matter how rough the situations are. Think about it, heroes are always identified by their outfits or powers in movies but in reality its the situation which brings out the Hero within us. There is a hero in all of us, it just needs the right motivation to come out. So the next time someone asks you who is favorite hero, don’t just think about the ones in movies but also those who are around you, making your life better everyday.