Sunday 29 December 2013

A Mumbaikar in Bergen

- So, how are you settling in? - What do you think about the city? - Have you adjusted to the weather? - Do you like the food? - What do you miss from home? - How is it really? 

No, no. It is not me (the homecoming expat) being bombarded with questions. This time I am the one doing the bombarding. Great fun, I tell you! Because here we are talking about a person who has done exactly the opposite.. Meaning: We took the big step and moved from Bergen to Mumbai, right? Well, this guy moved from Mumbai to Bergen. Can you blame me for being curious? Is he ok? How does he find it? I am bubbling over. He is not just anybody, you see.

Let us rewind. Last year when we moved to India, some new friends appeared - and kind of just stayed on, by our side. One of them was Mrudul. The Greek's colleague who became a friend. We have talked, laughed, shared meals and festivals. He came to our home, and he opened his home to us. And when he married his Kirti we shared their joy. He and his family, including his lovely mother, has become dear family friends.

A month ago, he left India to work abroad for a period - in my home town Bergen! So, here we are - catching up with our Mumbaikar friend! We are all dressed a bit differently than back in Mumbai: we are talking heavy jackets, caps, gloves and scarves. (Be gone, O Golden sandals:-( ) But other than that - we do what we always do! Only this time we are the curious ones! Yes, he likes it here. Yes, it is cold. Yes, the food is .. interesting and the prices are a bit .. crazy.  But he is positive and enthusiastic. He is telling and we are listening - expat tales the other way around! How fun to see my home town through his eyes!
A Mumbaikar trying out Bergen X-mas food:-)
Two happy friends united: The Greek, the Mumbaikar and 2 coffees - in Bergen:-) 

For me - coming home for Christmas, like we did this year, means most of all to spend time with my family. To have fun and share good moments. In addition,  it is catching - up time with old friends. Living in India, so far away from them all, can be challenging, and I cherish the time we spend together now. And then - making new friends - like Mrudul and Kirti - has been so wonderful - the sunshine of our Mumbai expat life:-)  

So, yup, we will miss our family and friends again when we leave, and that includes our Bergen-expat-Mumbaikar-friend. I hope my hometown will continue to treat him well, and that he will have memorable expat moments! Like we have in Mumbai! Then we can exchange expat tales - next time we meet:-)

Today let us celebrate friendship, dear reader! Old and new! Best to you!

Here is to my friends!

  • A friend is someone who sees through you, and still enjoys the view. (Wilma Askinas)
  • Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget. (unknown)
  • The best mirror is an old friend. (George Herbert)
  • A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out. ( Walter Winchell)
  • Friends are the sunshine of life. (John Hay)

Tuesday 24 December 2013

Merry Jul and Happy Christoujenna!

It's Christmas time! In a few hours the shops will close, the roads will empty and at 5 pm the church bells will chime all over the country. People will gather for Christmas dinner, to dance around the Christmas tree and and to exchange gifts. Today Christmas is celebrated in Norway. We wish each other God Jul - for Merry Christmas. Jul is from Norse meaning winter period. In pre - Christian time, the big celebration was on the darkest night of the year - 21.12: Here is to the sun taking us to brighter days! And as in Diwali, light is so important..

In Greece we say Καλα Χριστουγεννα (Kala Christoujenna) for Merry Christmas, and we celebrate on the 25.12. In my family we exchange gifts on that day, or on New Years Eve. On Christmas day we have a long delicious Christmas lunch, with turkey as the main star. And when I say long meal, I really mean long meal...

The most important for me is to hang out with family and friends, to make some good memories together. That is what matters the most, I think. So here is to the moments, dear reader!  

And am I one lucky lady, or what?! One of the greatest benefits about living a global life is the chance to join in on celebrations from all over the world - because when in Rome, do as the Romans right? And it has been some amazing celebrations in Mumbai this year! And now - it is time for Christmas!

Ι send you warm wishes, dear reader! I am so grateful for each and one of you and feel so grateful that you follow my blog! All the best!

Merry Christmas - God Jul - Καλα Χριστουγεννα!!

Thursday 19 December 2013

A desynchronized expat

No, no no... I close my eyes again. I turn the pillow. I turn myself. I count those sheep for the 11th time. I turn the duvet. I sigh. I get up and head for the washroom with my eyes closed ( following the theory that if I open them I will wake up for real) I stumble over some toys on the way back. Back to bed. I close my eyes. My mind wander off. My eyes open. And they stay open. I glance at the watch. 04.05. I am wide awake. Now what? Do I surrender or do I continue the fight? Ok, you win! Good morning sunshine! Good morning jet lag.

Yup. Jet lag. The spice of expat life. A spice that usually stays far away from me, luckily - but not this time! So, that is why I find myself at 4.30 am in the kitchen, sipping tea and googling "jet lag",  (or "desynchronizing" which is the medical term (!)). So, I read that it should be easier to travel from east to west (than from west to east)..HM, and AHA: The cure is to expose myself to daylight in the daytime, and avoid light at nighttime. I sip my tea and stare out the window. It is so dark out there. I had kind of forgotten about the Nordic winters with the short days... I will have to rush out soon, to chase that daylight! Light, the key to synchronizing that stubborn I-am-not-leaving-Mumbai - body clock of mine!

The Nordic winters - with short days, but with those amazing blue hours.. I go for a walk and enjoy the light and atmosphere. The Christmas lights and decorations are up, and add some extra magic, just like with the Diwali celebration in India. Good to be outside, and wonderful to get back inside, curl up in the sofa with a cup of cocoa, and light some candles. Here are a few more moments from my holiday, dear reader:
During the afternoon blue hours, and with the Christmas decorations up
- to bring some extra light. (and yes, that is a Christmas tree floating in the lake!) 
A few hours later in the afternoon: - dark - but with Christmas Stars above
Christmas decorated homes 
Want one of these outside your house?
Oh Joy: After a walk in the cold: catching up time with good old friends in a cafe (with a yummy bite:-))
And coming back inside: light some candles, make a cuppa, and finish my blogpost:-)

Oh well, dear reader. So, I am still working on that synchronizing over here! As a B person, I kind of like the late evenings you know, so the Rise and Shine at 4.05 is just not... quite me...:-) I hope you are fine wherever you are! Synchronized or desynchronized..:-) Chasing or not chasing - that daylight:-) All the best to you!  

Sunday 15 December 2013

Back home - in Winter Wonderland

Already when the plane is still above the white clouds I can feel it. It gets stronger when I get the first glimpse of the snow - covered mountains, hills and trees, and when I can spot the tiny wooden houses with snow on the rooftops and the lights along the roads. It intensifies when the Passport Control Officer smiles and says: - Velkommen hjem, da! (Welcome home!) as he hands me back my passport. And as I grab my suitcase and wander through the customs, it overwhelms me - because suddenly - there she is: one of the persons I have missed the most: my sister. And the butterflies release themselves. Little Norway, I am back! 

Yes, dear reader, when you read this, I am on vacation in Norway. Not in my home town Bergen, but visiting family in the capital Oslo. It is a perfect pre-Christmas atmosphere. Quite cold, and the trees are covered with snow. It is quiet and peaceful. The houses are decorated with small light bulbs, and in a way it all reminds me of the pre-Diwali atmosphere in Mumbai. Anticipation... 

A small shock though, coming from summerly Mumbai, to snowy Oslo. My golden sandals - no good here, I tell you! But, oh joy, I brought my purchased-in-India bright red winter jacket with matching red ear-warmers and gloves. Oh yes, needing them! But who cares about the weather anyway! The people count, right! Catching up time again, dear reader! Catching up time! 
So, from one scenery .... 

... to another... 
Christmas decorated (and fully packed) shops..

I hope you have had a good weekend dear reader. All the best to you - from Winter Wonderland:-) Stay tuned for more tales, and thank you for following! 

Monday 9 December 2013

Shopping for Christmas - Mumbai style

I think I might have a love-hate relationship with shopping in India. Either I am in and out so fast that the trailing staff only gets a quick glimpse of my fluttering dupatta as I head for the exit OR I start to chat with the staff and I kind of just stay on, at least until I have had a chai, heard their life story, and I can wander happily off knowing that I am now part of their extended family:-)

Yes, December is here and some Christmas shopping is inevitable. I have decorations, remember?- now we are talking purely presents! I find it a bit tricky to recommend the best places for Christmas gift shopping in Mumbai- because we all have our taste, right - and I humbly admit that my knowledge of shopping here will always be limited, as I discover new places all the time! I think you can live here a life time - and still be exploring new shopping options! But, let me share some of my favorite spots and tips for good buys - as they are right now! And remember- it is personal, and my view may have been influenced by a good chat over a spicy chai:-)

Where to shop? 

You may probably either love or hate shopping at the open door markets in Mumbai. Perfect - if you love hoards of people, lots of noise and endless rounds of bargaining (look here for some basic tips)  - and an opportunity to get unique presents and get a feeling of the bustling crazy Mumbai life. Here are markets I like, and also some gift-tips:
  • Bhuleswhar market - for clothes and fabrics, garlands, decorations and last but not least: my favorite spice shop: Motilal Masalawala. (Turmeric (haldi), Garam masala and chicken masala are my favorites, and I got some for presents too.)  
  • Crawford market - for lamps, ornaments, decor and trees head to Lohar Chawl. Really cheap (also brand) all kinds of beauty stuff at Beauty Centre. Delicious sweets, dried fruits and nuts at Ramanlal's. Something special for the passionate baker - at Arife's.   
  • Chor's bazaar - for old Bollywood posters (I love those), artifacts, coins, souvenirs and antiques
  • Gol Deval markets - My favorite! bangles, copper cups & mugs (to keep the cold drinks cold, and the warm warm:-), - just a that-something-special-place! Lots of handicraft-items. 
  • In other parts of the city you will also find some good markets, like the IIT market in Powai and the Santacruz market. In Bandra, I always end up at the bazaar-like ELCO market as my most beloved tailor is there - and I found some amazing embroidered kids' blouses in one of the shops:-)  

If you start to sweat just by the idea of open markets, there are lots of other options. Of course: the Holiday melas- often where the NGO's sell their products, and this year I was lucky enough to find a lot of presents there (and to chat - great combo:-) 

You can check out the Oberoi arcade at Nariman point - chatting with Kavita at Le Printemps (a pure paradise for leather-lovers:  you can get or have made just about anything there) or with Navin at Rishi Gems (artifacts, small statues, boxes etc) is always fun

Many Mumbai expats know Harry at Bhaghem Bombay, Fort (souvenirs, art craft, and last but not least: jewelry). Now, that is a shop where you can easily spend some hours. I did quite good, until I discovered that Harry spoke Greek and he started to tell about back then when he helped Greek seamen in Mumbai to phone home. I was lost, and so was my time schedule. I could just picture the mustached Kostas (in tears of homesickness) talking to his mama in Athens on the phone from India - with a compassionate Harry next to him, patting his shoulder, handing him napkins..

Oh, well. If you are down at Fort, you may as well also drop by Chimanlals - remember? The place for gift-wrapping stuff. My tip is that you will easily spend quite some time in that paper-heaven. At least I did.

For a not-so-personalized-but-more-efficient-shopping round, you may want to hit one of the many huge Mumbai malls - Phoenix High Street in Parel, Phoenix Market Centre in Kurla, R-city in Ghatkopar or Infiniti or Inorbit in Malad, which are the ones I know the best.

What to shop? 

  1. Books. Since I love receiving books, I also believe it is a perfect present:-) If you are an expat, make your folks a favor and introduce them to some of the many excellent Indian authors - whether it is fiction, non-fiction, novella, poetry, travel-books or cooking books! Or a 2014 calender- with decor and quotes and an overview of all the Indian festivals (so they can plan when to visit you next year!). You find bookstores like Crossroads and Oxfords in most malls.  
  2. DVD / CD. Why not spread some exotic feel-good Bollywood stories and music? Most films come with English subtitles. I like English Vinglish and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. Dvd's and Cd's are also sold in most bookstores. 
  3. Clothes. You can bling someone up with new Indian outfits. But don't go completely crazy - a silver glitter sari is maybe not what your aunt in a snowy village in the Alps has on top of her list. Or who knows? Maybe it is! Anyway- lots of choices, or you can settle for some shawls or dupattas - thin or thick - they are usually a hit:-) 
  4. Jewelry. Good expat gifts (take up no space in the suitcase, right?). I like the colored stones, and the watches are beautiful. And if you can not find anything, you can have jewelry made for you (read: for your gift-receivers) - just as you want them. One piece only, how about that? 
  5. For kids. From my own experience these items has caused standing ovations among the recipients: A) Indian Barbie dressed in sari, preferable wedding sari. B) Plastic rickshaws. C) Art craft sets to make bangles, magnets, cards etc. All with fantastic Indian colors and motives. D) Soft toys- elephants and camels:-) I like the toy shop at the Infiniti mall.   
  6. For teenagers. Phone and PC covers and bags are popular gifts. You can find them ready made or have one made in the pattern and color you like. Also bags, jewelry and sports stuff may be a hit, but again: know your recipient - teenagers are... well teenagers:-)      
  7. General gifts. At Good Earth, Bombay Store and FabIndia you can find souvenirs, gifts, tablecloths, clothes etc. Also knock yourself out in the malls. No lack of shopping opportunities!

    My hottest tip (!): get a gorgeous gift bag or box, and fill it up with Indian tea, Indian spices, some sweets, nuts or dried fruit and maybe a product or 2 from the Biotique Botanicals Ayurvedic series- facial cream or bodylotion - or a Jasmine perfume. The magic scent of India - perfect for Christmas:-) 

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little tour-the-shops-of-Mumbai-tale? As you see, the greatest shopping experience for me is the one which comes with a friendly smile and a really good story! The best presents can be just that, remember? A smile, a chat, a tea or a meal shared with friends...

So, the shopping is done! Yey! Now, I sit at my balcony - in 30' degrees and sunshine, with my cup of tea and Driving home for Christmas. I light a candle (!), send some warm thoughts to people I love, sharpen my pen, and I start to write my Christmas greetings.

Warm thoughts to you, dear reader!  Have a wonderful week!

Saturday 7 December 2013

Romance, love and violence at Times Literary Carnival

Tread softly, Breathe peacefully, Laugh hysterically  (Nelson Mandela) 

The power of words can be immense, and as a symbol of that, Nelson Mandela was honored also here in Mumbai. You see, the Times Literary Carnival Festival is now on! That means 3 whole days of sessions, workshops, readings, lectures, book-launches, stalls, entertainment and cafes - all in the venue of Mehboob studios, Bandra. My friend Kiran and I spent the day, in company with fellow readers, writers and book-lovers, exploring different sides of Love, Romance and Violence - which are this year's themes. A great event for Mumbai, and a true inspiration for me personally. Indeed, what a powerful tool words can be!? Here are some moments from our day.

Writer and filmmaker Hanif Kureishi - (included by The Times in " The top 50 British writers since 1945") gave a lovely keynote. I enjoyed how he described how love can be the love from a writer to the story they are telling, and how a romance can be a romance between the reader and the current story they are reading:-) ( And oh crises- we all know what happens when the romance ends right?)  

The festival has several studios and a garden for the sessions. In the middle, there is a large open square - perfect for getting a cup of tea, a bite of something yummy, buying a book, or just hanging out chatting in between the different sessions. A very relaxed atmosphere:-)

The festival has a lot of sessions within a wide range of themes. Who would have thought I would learn so much about Bollywood in the -50's for example? Well, I did - by attending The Flawed Heroine session - on the book about one of the most prominent Hindi actresses Meena Kumari! What a life!
Panel on the Meena Kumari book: Author Vinod Mehta, in discussion with Rachel Dwyer and Mahmood Feroqui. 
The highlight for me was the book launch of "Women of pure wonder". With tears and laughter we listened to some amazing ladies who had very touching stories to tell. We listened to Laxmi, who at the age of 15 was attacked with acid and has now become the symbol of the fight against abuse and attacks on women. We heard the stories of the ex-sheriff of Mumbai, the professor, the sociologist, the top-leader - some of them making their path  - against all odds. And expat-in-India-me really enjoyed and learned a lot from following the debate and discussions on women empowerment. What does it take? Where do we go from here? How to do it? They could have gone on for hours, and I would have haaanged in there! Front row!
The launch of "Women of pure wonder! 
Nandini Sardesai, Priya Dutt, Zarine Screwwala and Indu Shahani.
After the wonder women session, we had to ease our excitement with some ice-tea and Indian sunshine, and then we enjoyed listening to the author Bapsi Sidhwa reading from her book Ice Candy Man (Cracking India) - and sharing anecdotes from the process of making it in to the Deepa Mehta film Earth.

Bombay, the city we lost! - ? well, we had to check out what that was about, right?

So, after Bachi Kakaria's book-launch, Charles Gorrea held a very interesting session, comparing Mumbai to other grand cities - regarding construction of new buildings, city plans, public transportation, parks, green lounges - or more or less - lack of such - and the impact that will have on the people living in the cities.
Charles Gorrea, Bachi Karkaria and Gyan Prakash. 
The festival has a lot of sponsors, and is therefore free of charge. If you are up for some love and romance (and violence - themes..?), and you are in Mumbai, you can still make it! It goes on all weekend! Today and tomorrow -  packed with interesting sessions! Check out the website for detailed schedule!  And if you are not in Mumbai, - well, then maybe next year?

I wish you a continuous wonderful weekend dear reader!

The Times of India Wall - the symbol of the festival:-) 

Wednesday 4 December 2013

The Versatile Blogger Award - to expatliv:-)

So, we just keep the party going - my 1 year old expatliv and I! Just as we had landed after celebrating the Liebster Blog Award, my dear friend in Canada: Alexandra - with her wonderful blog Madh-Mama nominates us for the Versatile Blogger Award! Thank you, Alexandra!

Like the Liebster award, this is an award given from blogger to blogger. When you are nominating a fellow blogger, according to the rules, you need to consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered and the level of love displayed in the posts and photographs. Through this award you honor those bloggers who bring something special to your life - whether it is every day or just once in a while.

So, this is an award where I get to congratulate a fellow blogger for his or hers unique quality blog - a blog which has touched me in some way? Yey! I get to give a pat on the back and encouragement to another blogger? Sure! Would love to! And as an extra bonus: maybe even more people will discover their great writings and pictures as well.

The rules for accepting the Versatile Blogger Award are:

- Display the Award Certificate on your blog
- Write a post and link back to the blogger who nominated you
- Nominate 15 other bloggers
- Inform them of their nomination via comment in their blog
- Post 7 interesting things about yourself

So, to you, dear fellow blogger: I simply love your blog! You write with uniqueness and quality. Your pictures has really moved me. Your blog has just given me that little extra. I appreciate you and what you do and therefore I pass on the Versatile Blogger Award to you. Thank you and keep blogging:

And now to the tricky part ... 7 interesting things about me ( this was hard... someone please give me questions instead... ) Ok. Here we go :
  1. My blog has most readers from (in this order): India, USA, Norway, France, UK and Australia. 
  2. My most popular post has twice as many readers as the next one on the list. Guess someone likes tzatziki... 
  3. Together with my best friend, I ran a hospital for insects - when I was a kid
  4. My favorite color is green
  5. I can say unpleasant things - in an extremely pleasant way.
  6. My confirmation dress was strongly inspired by Princess Diana's wedding dress 
  7. I love late evenings,  -  never manage to go to bed in time..  
So, thanks again, Alexandra. I feel happy and humble, and I am grateful for your encouragement:-) I hope paying it forward will make the day for someone else too.

Oh, well, back to reality - busy days coming up here in Mumbai.
Stay tuned dear reader, and thanks for following!

Tuesday 3 December 2013

A book for Meena

- Miss. Miss. This is the last one!
I look up from my papers. She is standing 1 cm from me, repeating:
- This is the last one. 
I see pride in her eyes, and also..sadness? And I have no idea what she is talking about: - What do you mean, the last one, Meena?
- This is the last book only, Miss.
And then I see the book in her hands: Cairo Jim, On the trail to Chacha Muchos. 
And I get it.

The last one. You see, Meena has now read every single book in our library. She is proud of it but I can also feel her anxiety. Now, what is she going to do? What is she going to read? Because she is a reader, you know. Whenever I see her, she has a book with her. In class, she has a storybook hidden under her notebook, supposedly a secret..:-) And now, she is the only one of the kids who has read every single book in our library, and even though our library is not the biggest- we are still talking lots of books!

So, I can not wait. I have to let her know the good news today. Because we have more books! They are ready, waiting to come along for next time we all meet - in just a couple of days. Donations and gifts has made it possible. And even some brand new books will come! I break the good news, and I can see how this big smile is spreading on her face. Yey! It does not end after Cairo Jim finishes his Chacha Muchos adventures! There will be more books! More stories! The reading continues!

I head home, and I can feel this silly smile spreading around my face too. Ahh, those book-lovers are all the same around the world, aren't they?! But can you imagine - not having a book to read, when that is the only thing you really really want to?!

A good moment today dear reader! It feels great to see so much joy! The readings will go on, and so will my Mumbai tales. I hope you have had a good day! Thanks for ... well,...  thanks for reading:-)  

Monday 2 December 2013

The Liebster Blog Award to expatliv:-)

Yey! My blog got awarded! Thank you dear blogger friend Pallavi - Diary of an Indian Girl in Singapore - for making me the recipient of The Liebster Blog Award!  Unknown to me until now, - but hey - my blog is only 1 year old, so with enthusiastic childish joy we embrace and celebrate anything new and exciting!

I still felt the need to find out some more. So, I did a bit of research and discovered that the award exists only on internet, and is passed on from blogger to blogger. No physical award, no judges, no absolute rules, no website and no big ceremony (with standing ovations and the world press present). This is a reward you receive from a fellow blogger who in this way shows you that your blog is appreciated and loved, because leibster (German) means exactly that: beloved, dear, kind, sweet, lovely, endearing etc. Originally, it seems to be an award given to new bloggers - as an encouragement and to welcome them to the blogosphere. So, I feel the award says something like: Hey fellow blogger friend. I love what you are doing, and I really think more people should discover your blog! 

So, you can accept the award, thank the person who nominated you and then pay it forward to your favorite bloggers. I think it is a good opportunity to give someone a pat on the shoulder - to show them that you love and appreciate what they do, and also an opportunity to connect with more bloggers, and a chance to discover other blogs.

The rules for receiving the Liebster Blog Award are:
  1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  2. Answer the questions given to you by the tagger plus create 10 questions for the people you have tagged to answer.
  3. Choose 11 more bloggers and pass the award to them.
  4. Go to their page and tell them.
  5. No Tag backs.

Here are the questions I was given by Pallavi, and my answers (in blue):
1. What is your favorite thing about blogging:
- The joy of writing just for fun. And the people (and stories) I meet through my blog
2. If you were granted 3 wishes, what would they be:
- World peace, food and school for all kids:-) 
3. What is your favorite memory
- The moments when my children had just been born
4. What is your dream travel destination
- I can travel anywhere, in the right company:-) Right now: Maldives  
5. If you could turn back time, what is the first thing you would do
- To place Hitler on a remote island   
6. What is the song that makes you feel happy every time you listen to it
- Vaya con Dios' "Nah Neh Nah"
7. When you close your eyes, what is the first thought in your mind
- Right now: my sister
8. Who was your first crush
- Had a biiig crush on George Michael in Wham! Bummer...
9. Your favorite season
- Summer (so Mumbai climate suits me perfect) 
10. Where is that one place that you go when you want a moment of peace
- The balcony:-) 

Yes, I want to show some of my fellow bloggers that I really enjoy what they do, and I want to encourage their blogging by passing on the award to them. So, dear fellow bloggers, I am paying it forward - Watch out! The Liebster Blog Award is coming your way: 
  1. Cindi
  2. Alexandra
  3. Jay
  4. Megha
  5. Prasad -
  6. Asmita
  7. Amar -
  8. Magda
  9. Smitha - 
  10. Ms Mulberry
  11. Jeena  

I have to admit: I did not do tons of research as to whether you have received the award before, or on how long you have been blogging. I just simply love your blog:-) So, if you are in on the fun, here are my questions for you: 
  1. What do you want your blog-readers to get from reading your blog?
  2. Have you learned anything as a blogger that surprised you? If yes, what?
  3. What time of the day and where do you usually write?
  4. What is your favorite food? 
  5. What are your top 3 favorite travel destinations? 
  6. Describe one happy memory from your childhood.
  7. Describe an achievement you are proud of. 
  8. What is the best thing about you?
  9. What makes you laugh out loud?
  10. If you were the main character in a movie, which actor/actress would you like to play your role?
Thank you again Pallavi! It felt lovely to receive your token of appreciation, and I had fun participating. For me that is the best award possible: having fun, enjoying the moment and having readers who like what they read on my blog. I am very grateful. Thank you to each and one of you:-) 

PS. And I am learning:  I just now added the Google Friend Connect gadget- follow us there:-)

All the best - from a very happy
now-Liebster-awarded 1 year old! So long, dear reader! 

Sunday 1 December 2013

2 awards and some mela - moments

So, my red chili on the balcony can again enjoy the company of shiny stars and blinking bulbs! I sip my tea, enjoy the warming sun, and admire the result of last year's hunt for Christmas decorations in Mumbai - which has now been put up around the house again. My favorite place is the balcony: palms, bushes and flowers dressed up in tiny light bulbs. Happy December dear reader! Am I in Christmas spirit? Nah.. 

I am sitting here feeling grateful though. You see, 2 fellow blogger friends have nominated me for 2 awards - to show that they appreciate my blog. Yey! Someone enjoy what I write:-) It feels good:-) It seems to be "pay-it-forward" awards - so I will in return show appreciation to some of the bloggers I like! Looking forward to that: - to give a nice encouraging pat on the shoulder, in a way:-) Stay tuned on that one.

So, plenty of X-mas decor from last year - no need for new stuff - but you might remember that I have loads of gorgeous wrapping paper, boxes and gift-bags laying around? So, following the urge to find something to put inside all that - led me to a mela, organised by the American Women's Club.

Mela is a word from sanskrit, meaning a fair, a get-together. It is used in India for all kinds of gatherings f.ex cultural or commercial. It can include activities, shopping and dining options and entertainment. This mela included lots of stalls from Mumbai NGO's - selling their products - so a good opportunity to get great handmade gifts and supporting a good cause at the same time! Here are some of my mela-moments:

Akanksha is an NGO working to empower children from low- income communities, with a special focus on art classes. The kids' art is the inspiration behind the products: bags, watches, bangles, cards, calendars etc.
Great mousepads with quotes and colorful motives. 

Save The Children India is an NGO which runs a number of projects and focuses on improving education, health and living conditions for underprivileged children. They also have projects for women.
Beautiful bags for sale - at the Save The Children India stall. 

The Mann Center is an NGO which focuses on education and growth of children and adults with special needs. They provide training and adjusted programs to enable them to live as independently as possible.
Very lovely people at the Mann Center stall - and gorgeous stuff for sale too:-) 
Please check out the AWC homepage for a list of all the NGO's that were present at the mela, and for more info about the event as well. You can also order items through many of the NGO's webpages, or choose to support their work in other ways. They are doing a lot of good things. Many of them, like "my" NGO, are working for improvement in education and living conditions for children. What can be more important?

And talking about kids - my friend fell so head over heels in love at that mela! She ended up walking happily away - carefully carrying with her 4 handmade elephants and 2 camels! Lucky kids - who will get a soft elephant from auntie for Christmas:-) Although I do suspect she will keep at least one elephant for herself:-) 
Cute elephants from fourtyredbangles:-) 
Hope you have a good Sunday, dear reader! Bye bye from the red-chili-and-star-decorated balcony:-)