Istanbul, Turkey

Sunset - Istanbul
Sunset – Istanbul

I had been planning to go to Istanbul for ages. Finally, my dream shaped into reality as I landed in Istanbul with 4 other girl friends from all over the globe.

Istanbul is the largest city of Turkey and often referred to as the historic, cultural and economic hub which connects Europe to Asia. The city is mesmerizing.

Here is a list of my favourite places in Istanbul that you definitely should include in your ‘things to do in Istanbul’ list!

Blue Mosque or Sultan Ahmed Mosque

The mosque was built from 1609 – 1616 under the regime of Ahmed I. It is famously referred to as Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles on the walls of its interior. It is a popular tourist destination for both Muslims and non-muslims. It is open 24 hours a day there is no entry ticket. The magnificent architecture brings back memories of past glories and empires – the design is a combination of Ottoman and Byzantine eras.

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Hagia Sofia

Hagia Sophia is a gorgeous Church from the Byzantine regime. It was constructed in 5 years from 532 till 537. After the Turks conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, it was converted into a Mosque from a Church.

In 1935, it was converted into a museum – carpets from floor and white plaster from walls was removed thereby showing off the opulent mosaics and decorations.

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Virgin & Jesus in Hagia Sophia

Topkapi Palace

The Sultans (Royal Turkish Family) lived in Topkapi Palace for around 400 years, before moving to the grand Dolmabache Palace in 1853. It is one of the oldest Palaces and enjoys views of Bosphorous, Marmara Sea and Golden Horn. Topaki was not just a royal residence but also the hub of all state functions and entertainment for the elite royals.

Topkapi was converted into a museum in 1924. It was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1985. Presently, Topkapi Palace is an eminent tourist attraction and contains holy relics such Prophet Muhammad’s (P.B.U.H) sword and cloak.

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Topkapi Palace Harem

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Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar or Covered Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets of the world. With over 5000 shops, 60 streets – it is the focus of every tourist visiting Istanbul. It is populated with a wide variety of carpets, jewellery, antiques, hand-painted ceramics, painted glass lamps and fake branded hand-bags shops. The Bazaar was enlarged in 16th century and went a major restoration following an earthquake in 1894. Today, it still stands with a wide variety of stalls where all you hear is the loud roar of bargains….

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GrandBazaar

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Bosphorus Trip by Ferry

A brilliant sight-seeing tour where you see the connection between Europe and Asia. It is an experience that you can’t afford to miss if in Istanbul ever! You get to admire splendid views of European Side, Dolmabache Palace, Rumeli Fortress, the Bosphorus Bridge, Asian Side and more.

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 Taksim

Taksim is a major tourist district and is located in the centre of European part of Istanbul. It is renowned for its restaurants, hotels, cafes, shopping outlets and night clubs. The street never sleeps! It is always bustling and is more active and vibrant after sunset.

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Basilica Cistern

This is the largest of the hundreds of cisterns that lie beneath Istanbul. It was built in 6th century during the reign of Byzantine  Emperor Justanian I.Cistern stored water for the royal palace and surrounding builidings.It was ignored and forgotten after the Ottoman conquest and it became a dumping store for corpses and other sorts of useless junk. It has been restored 3 times till date.

The cistern was used as a location for the 1963, James Bond film From Russia with Love . In the film, it is referred to as being constructed by the Emperor Constantine, with no reference to Justinian.

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Dolmabache Palace

It is one of the most stunning Palaces in the world. It was the royal residence and administrative ground for the Sultans during the last years of Ottoman Empire. When the Turkish Republic was found, Mustafa Kamal Ataturk transferred all government functions to the youthful capital but on his visits to Istanbul Ataturk occupied only a small room at Dolmabahce Palace as his own. He entertained various state guests at the palace.

His room is still in the same way as it was when he passed away. Ataturk  spent most of his illness period in the palace . After his death, on 10th of November 1938 at 9:05 AM, all the clocks in the palace are stopped at this time. It is now a museum and is symbol of great respect and reverence for Turkish people.

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Spice Bazaar

Spice Bazar was built in 1664 and is located at the south of Galata Bridge. It is a delicate reminder of the flavor of the east with fragrant spices adding a unique flavor to the ambiance around the area.

Apart from spices, nuts, jams, dried fruits are amongst the other edibles present in the market.

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Turkish Hamam

Turkish Hamam or Turkish Bath is a form of ancient Turkish ritual. It is a variant of sauna, Russian bath and steam bath.

It is a mode of cleansing and scrubbing the body and became extremely popular in the Victorian time. A Turkish bath is similar to a sauna but is more related to ancient Roman and Greek bathing practices  The person taking the bath, relaxes in a warm room which is heated by hot air where he undergoes scrubbing and massage followed by a cooler room where the person is splashed with cold water. It is a highly relaxing experience and truly one of its kind…

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And now something about the people of Istanbul…

People of Istanbul are extremely hard to categorize. If on one side we had people yelling at us in Trams in Turkish (literally) for just having a normal conversation then on the other hand, women were defending us and standing up for us by saying ‘they are on a holiday, let them enjoy!’

Another story that I would never forget is a random guy standing up for us and telling 2 teenage boys off when they started bumping into my friend in an extremely packed train. One more incident that I definitely have to mention is our visit to Cistern where at the end of the tour, you can dress up in traditional Turkish attire and get your photograph taken. We got the professional photographs taken. On request of one of my friends, I was about to take a photograph of her from her camera when suddenly a middle-aged person started yelling at me and held his arm high up in the air, in an attempt to scare me that he is about to slap me. This was the worst part of our trip. Obviously the threat had the complete opposite reaction and he got retaliation from 5 girls, almost his grand-daughters age doing the same.

Overall, it  was extremely endearing to see strangers stand up for us in front of annoyed Turks.

Before going, we were told Turkish people are extremely vociferous. Little did we know, phrases like: ‘Cindrella, welcome to paradise!’ , ‘Annn-gelll’ , ‘Angelina’ , ‘You like flower’ would be the highlight of our trip.


Thats it folks! Pack your bags and head out to terrific turkey! It is awesome.Hope you enjoyed the post and definitely hoping you enjoy your trip as well 😉 xxx

Because I miss you…

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My shadow stalking me…

Every day and every night
In the land of our memories,I take a flight
When you taught me the distinction
Between wrong and right

When you set parameters for me to achieve
A glorious height
Not letting anything become an obstacle
Or an absolute fright

You saw me limping
But you never let go my finger
I witnessed perseverance in your glistening eyes
The very reason which never lets my zest die

You trusted me
When my goal, I myself, could not even see
You awakened my self-esteem
When I was not even capable of a dream

Today I fly in the sky
While you peacefully lie
In a different world
But every time, for you my wings curl

Tracing your presence
In the hollow ambience
Your touch
Your breath

For I terribly miss you
Every memory turns me blue
Narrating a tale of our link
As it was written with the eternal ink

I await the sight
The lovely day when we’d unite
When you would be mine
And I would be thine

xxx

Double Whammy!

OMG OMG OMG…okay cutting the drama!

 I am writing this post from a cloud. They call it Cloud no. 9! Thank you Salvatore Vionito for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award and thank you Petrel41 for awarding me Liebster Award!!!

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lliebester-awardI am deeply touched, honored and humbly accept these accolades. 😀

And now I shall begin my ‘speech’ *Drum Roll*

I would like to thank God, my mom, dad, cat (if I had one I would give her a cookie today), Neighbours, Teachers, Teachers families, Sorry I forgot to mention my grandparents earlier, my laptop, office desktop, my fish (yes! I did have a goldfish but she now rests in peace), my siblings, friends, foes,my children and their children (they are not born yet but I am pretty sure they would complain if I miss them)…..Am i missing out anyone? 😉

I just want to thank my blog family, my 774 followers who patiently listen to me  and bless me with their love, support and motivation. Thanks for listening to my ramblings and letting me be a part of your life.

I cannot nominate 15 blogs because I think each one of those blogs are unique and special in their own way. I would like to give it to everyone in my blogging circle.

You guys rock! Shine bright…like a star.

xxx

I remember it well…

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I saw you walking towards me

Getting closer and closer

With each swift stride

Plummeting the distance between us in seconds

That was the first time I saw you

I remember it well

I saw you sitting next to me

In a majestic Chapel

With stained glass windows and stone carvings

You watched me as my camera flashed

Capturing that moment

I remember it well

I saw you lying on the lush grass

While I sat by your side on a sun-kissed afternoon

Watching time go by, slowly and gradually

Under the calming shade of a tree

I remember it well

I saw you walking with me

In sun, rain and snow

Across different cities

Arms entwined

Steps synchronised

I remember it well

Days, months and years passed

I stopped seeing the same glint in your eyes

The glint that matched my own

It had gradually vanished followed by an immediate realisation

Making me question myself, of my value

In those gleaming eyes and your life

I remember it well

I still see you around albeit in my thoughts

Walking, sitting and lying beside me

Like parallel lines, you and I

Near or far – but never intersecting

Each going resilient in its own universe

In a different domain, estranged to the other

And I am going to remember it well...

Green Tea – Myth or Reality?

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My Green Tea Time!!! 😉

Green tea originated in China and is extremely popular in the contemporary world. Chinese have been drinking Green Tea for thousands of years due to the drink’s  innumerable healing and  health benefits.

So what does green tea do?

  • Burns Fat

Ever since I can remember I have been hearing stories about how green tea burns fats and slims you down. It affected me so much that I started drinking 2 cups until I was told, 1 cup has the same effect has multiple!

A study of overweight men in US reported that men with same diet routines and exercise regimes burnt 200 more calories per day after they started consuming green day and also increased their energy levels.

  •  Fights Cancer

Oxidation damages healthy cells of the body and have been associated to illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and strokes.The antioxidants present in green tea help fight against cancerous cells.

Scientists at the University of Strathclyde found that, delivered to skin cancer tumours in concentrated doses in a laboratory test, EGCG (antioxidant present in green tea) eradicated 40 per cent of them, while an additional 30 per cent were reduced in size.

  • Healthy Teeth

Green tea helps clean the teeth because of the presence of fluoride. Fluroide kills bacteria in the mouth that causes plaque and cavities. As a result, green tea is beneficial in maintaining healthy teeth and oral hygiene. It also helps in curing bad breath as it has high levels of an antioxidant, called polyphenols. Polyphenols attack bad breath by deactivating sulphur compounds produced by the bacteria.

  • Lowers Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a fatty substance called a lipid, made in the liver. High cholesterol leads to a lot of other illnesses. Drinking green tea frequently can benefit people with high cholesterol levels as it lowers the bad cholesterol (LDL) levels and prevent the accumulation of blood clots in the body.

The Peking Union Medical College in Beijing analysed the results of 14 random trials in which participants drank green tea ranging from three to 12 months. The study found that on average, green tea was shown to reduce total cholesterol by 7.2 milligrams.

 

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My fav green/herbal/min tea brand!

three_green_311x321_p258What are you waiting for? Want a cuppa green tea? GO ON THEN! xx

Pretty in Pink

Pink is ever-green! Always in fashion and personifying femininity and innocence since time immemorial.  However, having said that, we have come far ahead of the times when Pink only symbolized a gender stereotype. Today, many men rock pink with equal panache and flamboyance.

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Valentino Backstage

Powder pink, baby pink, shocking pink, fuchsia, magenta, carnation pink etc are the must haves for any wardrobe especially spring and summer. What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring in sun-starved London than to don a hot pink outfit and stride in the sun?

All you lovely people, looking pretty in pink does not entail being a Pink Panther from head to toe 😉

Even a pink scarf, pink lipstick, pink shoes, pink hair band, pink top or a pink skirt would do. Its how you use the color and brighten up your outfit!

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Its time time to THINK PINK!!!

Donna Karan 2013
Donna Karan 2013

Here are some fav PINK looks for men, women as well as animals (ENJOY!)

*Victoria Beckham and Kate Middleton looking marvelous in PINK

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*Pink dominated Fall Runways in London and Milan. And now its dominating the spring trends worldwide! 

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Designers featured above, upper left and clockwise; Emilio Pucci, Luisa Beccaria, Gucci, Eley Kishimoto, Giles, Sinha Stanic, Armand Basi, Marni)

*Pink was the most popular lip colour in Oscars 2013, hello pinkys!

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Jennifer Lawrence, Adele, Anne Hathaway all donning pink..

*Heidi Klum looks extremely fresh and lovely in the pink top matched with orange trousers. She pulls off this risky combination with sheer perfection! And FYI this was her grocery shopping look!

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*Men’s Pink Spring/Summer Lookbook Inspiration – I’m lovin’ it!

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Do you have it in you to carry the colour PINK? 😀

*Pink Jackets – Spring 2013 Runway Trend: Hot Pink Jackets – instantly brightening up any outfit

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L-R: Phillip Lim, Chado Ralph Rucci, Oscar de la Renta
*PINK MOI 😉 – pink sweater and pink converse!
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* Pink Accessories

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*Pink Pets – My favorite Pink Pets Fashion

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What are you waiting for? Its time to add some pink lovin’ in your wardrobes people!!!

Hope you enjoyed! xx

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Perfectly Pink..

Kiev, Ukraine.

404018_10150974648420843_1131980578_nLast year I went to Kiev with my parents. No, you didnt get that right, it was not to watch the final of Euro Cup 2012! :p

It was a short and sweet trip  to see family members living there and add a new place to my travelling portfolio.

Wizz Air flies directly from London to Ukraine and my ticket costed around a £100 – booked it a month before! Cheapest air ticket till date…

While checking in, my mother’s hand carry trolley was said to be higher than the allowed size…but how? we measured it at home! ‘Its the wheels!’ the guys at the counter snapped. Eventually, after paying £50 we were on our way to Kiev – my father ten seats behind me on the left, my mother fifteen side ahead of me on the right, Cheers budget airlines! Lets wizz through the air now.

Upon reaching the immigration counter in Kiev, three ‘green’ passports caused a high level alert in the least busy airport I have been to in my entire travelling history. And I have traveled quite a lot! The person at the counter took our passports to some room behind him. He stayed there for 2 hours while we waited…We were told they were being photo-copied (lazy machine I guess) as Pakistan was on the list of most dangerous countries in Kiev.

Finally we were allowed to enter Ukraine! Yayyy…

Kiev is a city of gardens, cathedrals, museums and and and beautiful women. Seriously, an average woman in Kiev is around 5’8 and watching their slender legs as they walked around was one of the highlights of my trip – in a very clean, non-sleazy way.

Below are some memories from Kiev and the places I highly recommend to visit

1.Kiev-Pechersk Lavra – Caves Monastery

This was built by Kiev monks back in 1051. It is considered as a holy place and many monks are buried in these caves.

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2.Mykola Syadristy Microminiatures Museum

Something very unique and different. Art is depicted on strands of hair, needle, grain of rice etc. Microscopes help to see these novelties.

Unfortunately, I could not take any photos of miniature drawings and cravings done by Ukrainian artists! But here are some images of the museum that I found online

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3. St. Michael’s Cathedral

A lovely, small church with a lot of history. There is no entry fee for this.

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4.Great Patriotic War Museum

Depicts vast collections of world war 2 artifacts, photos and vehicles. If you do not speak Russian/Ukrainian try and take a language translator or some translation device with you. Entry is very cheap and this museum is definitely worth a visit! DO GO!

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5. Khreshchatyk Street

It is refereed to as the Ukrainian version of  ‘Shanzelize’ street in Paris, France. Surrounded by shopping centers, banks, restaurants, it serves as a great commercial hub for both tourists and locals. It just never sleeps…lights, people, cars keeping moving from one end to another – bustling with life!

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6. Rodina Mat (Motherland)

Please do go to the top of the statue! Elevators, walks and after taking a couple of street laders, you finally get to the top. The view from here is spectacular!

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7.Kiev Funicular

Made available to the public on 7th May 1905 (constructed between 1902 and 1905), the Kyiv Funicular connects Uppertown and the lower commercial area of Kiev. The ticket is $0.20 one way!

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8.National Taras Shevchenko University of Kyiv

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv is among the oldest universities in kiev, Ukraine. Fuunded  in 1834, the University has made a commendable contribution to the education in Ukraine.

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9. Touristy Shops

There are plenty of touristy shops with lots of souvenir around the main city center. Loved them!

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10. Founder’s Monument

The monument is sculptures of 4 siblings: 3 Princes and one Princess, who was founded city at 6th centuries AD. Many people believe it is more of a myth than reality.

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3 brothers and 1 sister!
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Every ribbon represent a wish of somebody…

11. Eternal Glory Park

This is dedicated to the  soldiers of the nation in the “Great Patriotic War” and the actual complex is 9.5 hectares. The fire burns here, day and night…eternally!

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Other than these, YOU’VE GOT TO SEE places, below are some sites and places I discovered while walking and driving around the historic city of Kiev! Some of favourite sights…

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Kiev was the host of Euro Cup 2012

 

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View from the apartment I was staying at.
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Ukraine: Kiev – Famine Memorial
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Says everything…
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Awesome view from the founder’s park
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Newly married couple getting their photo-session done
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Upside down tree…whoa!
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Random street concert in Ukranian haha….was free!
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Best Chocolate shop ever! Lviv handmade chocolates.
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Johnny Depp follows me everywhere…
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Traditional Attire
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One sunny afternoon…
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River Cruise!!!
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Arch of friendship
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Walking Walking…
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Extremely friendly people. Made more friends in 4 days in Ukraine than I did in 4 years in London! FACT.
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Cold coffee cravings…

I would have taken more food photos if i knew I would blog about it one day! 😉

Hope you enjoyed xx

The ‘Very Inspiring Blogger Award’!!!

Thank you living with healthy outlook  and Motivationaltalks for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! It is my FIRST blog award and firsts are always special!!! 🙂

I am extremely honored, humbled and deeply touched by your kind nomination and I definitely accept it.

Inspiring Blogger Award

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

7 interesting things about myself.

1. I either fly high or lie below. Nowhere in the middle!

2. I wished to have weak eye-sight and a fractured bone while I was young. Since then, I have had both.

3. I have fallen in 3 gutters till date including a street gutter. My father’s friend pulled me out.

4. I scratched the attendant on my first day at school. So much so that she started bleeding and had bruise marks on her face. I was only 4 and thought she was kidnapping me away from my mother.

5. I love travelling anywhere and everywhere. New destinations and different cultures deeply fascinate me.

6. I aspire to run a charity one day and work for the underprivileged. Its my biggest dream after being a source of pride for my parents.

7. I am a people’s person. Nobody and Nothing is more important than my family and friends. Period.

Here are the Blogs I nominate because I find them awesome!

  1. Harsh Reality
  2. Paul Davis
  3. In a different place
  4. Good Times Stories
  5. Miss Scarlett teaches and learns
  6. Silvia Writes
  7. Yas Blogs
  8. Kooky Miss Match
  9. Maiden Aunt
  10. Golden Cage
  11. Everything Else Thrown in
  12. This is your best year
  13. Coco Michelle’s Lifestyle Blog!
  14. Bucket List Publications
  15. Wonderland by Tatu

Here are the official rules of acceptance:

  • Display the Award Certificate on your website.
  • Announce your win with a post and link to whoever presented you with the award.
  • Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.
  • Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have linked them in the post.
  • Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

Keep Smiling! 🙂

xxx

Happy Birthday Papa!!!


bbbWhen I was in grade 8, I failed Mathematics mid-term exam. To be specific, my marks were 32/100.

It did not matter if I had scored over 80% in the remaining subjects. The red line on my report card came as a lightening thunder for my Father. We were at a dinner when he was told and immediately his face went expressionless. A smile replaced by a grim, sour line across his mouth. Like, he was in utter shock. In denial. He did not say anything and yet conveyed his sorrow. Emphatically.

It was the worst thing to experience as a 12 year old especially when your father is your biggest source of motivation. I remember that feeling.  He was hurt and I felt like an amateur criminal, guilty as charged!

My father’s entire universe revolved around his children and continues to do so. He would never spend a penny on himself but ensured his children attended best schools, ate at the most famous restaurants  and gained international exposure through frequent travelling.

So….what did I do to make up? I went to school from 8 am till 2 pm and then took private maths tuition which lasted from 4 pm till 9 pm. I would sit in the tuition academy and practice every single Maths question – text books, past papers…everywhere!  I did this for the next half term.

Exhausted brain, aching finger joints, blurred vision, constant yawning were now my new best friends.

I kept pushing myself and reminding myself that life indeed begins outside your comfort zone. My final exam result was 90/100. Even till today I am baffled where did the remaining 10 marks go 🙂 but oh well…Thank God!

Maths and I had never been on good terms until my father came along. Everybody was astounded by my spectacular performance and there were accolades coming in from everywhere including friends, teachers….but I just remember one expression, the smile on my father’s face which glistened with pride for me. The smile was back.

A girl who couldn’t even solve a simple maths problem, ended up taking Additional Mathematics in O’levels (grade 9,10,11)  along with normal Maths and eventually scored A’s in both.

That’s how my father inspires me. He has taught me time and again, things worth having in life don’t come easy. If they were easy, then their worth would erode away, simply evaporate! And yes, failure is the first step towards success. Literally in my case! 😉

Happy Birthday Papa!

10th April 2013

Mornings

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Mornings are not my cup of tea

If it were in my control, I would just flee

Somewhere far away

Without a piercing ray

Enjoying my pacific sleep

Away from the alarms infuriating beep

Lost profoundly in blissful silence

Distant from clatters of morning violins

Free from the shackles of senses

Climbing over rusted fences

Into a different place

Breathing, at my own pace

Where sedated owls tranquilly sleep

In murky forests, thick and deep

Listen to your heart-beat, like a mother’s lullaby

Never losing out its rhythm even as time goes by

Shhh! Just close your eyes

Till the throbbing morning flies…

~~~

9.04.13