Monday 31 March 2014

A for April = a different blogging month

Summer is coming in Mumbai. The kids have their exams now, and soon the schools will close down for a 2 months' summer vacation. They will go back to school in June - together with the arrival of the monsoon, and that is when the international schools will close down for their summer vacation. So, summer in April is soon upon us: the weather is warm and still no rain in sight!

On this last day of March we are celebrating New Year's. Yes, today the Maratis here in Maharashtra celebrate Gudhi Padwa, the beginning of the New Year according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. This day marks the end of one agricultural harvest and the beginning of a new one. So, Happy Gudhi Padwa!

Now, leaving March, I will tell you that April will be a different month on my blog, since I ( wisely?) decided ( after some long and hard discussion with my self ) to participate in the A to Z blogger challenge.

Yes. Yes. I will still be in Mumbai ( physically ), but in spirit I am taking you with me on a vivid journey across the universe. Throughout April we will together explore 26 Dream Destinations. Mine or others, close to me or far away. For real or ...not.. Stay tuned for some surprises along the way -  on this Around-The-Universe-In-26-Days-Marathon.  

But. I will still:
-- have brunches and chats with lovely friends:

-- be touring around the city:

-- be shopping at the local markets:

- well, in short: I will do what I normally do in April, just not so much of it.. In other words: I will spend less time doing what I normally do, and more time blogging.

And this is not only about me. This is about 1895 other blogger friends who are on this crazy train right by my side. Bloggers who have a passion for writing, who love what they do and who express their thoughts and views in the most fabulous ways. Masters of words, who some of them have been preparing for this challenge for months. This will take time and effort from us all. But, I think it will be a lot of fun and I can't wait to see what the others are up to. You can find all the blogs here.

As for me, I kind of feel the heat, as I am among those who have NOT prepared for months... to be honest. I think I'll just follow the advice I got before moving to India. Go with the flow.

Are you coming along, dear reader? First dream destination awaits tomorrow. I can tell you this much: it starts with an A:-)

Tuesday 25 March 2014

Happy Independence Day Greece!

If you have followed my blog for a bit, you might remember my writings of the "No - day" in Greece, back in October. Well today -  raise your glasses and throw your hats up high up in the air for the other National Day of Greece. Because today we celebrate Independence Day. Hurray!

You see, after 400 years of foreign rule, the war of independence broke out in Greece in March 1821. It was time to fight for freedom from the mighty Ottoman empire, and re-establish Greece as a nation. It should turn out to be a long and hard fight, and also the superpowers Russia, France and England intervened. But, even though, first in May 1832 as a result of years of negotiations (and fights...), Greece was finally recognized as an independent nation.

All over Greece, there are parades and celebrations today. The heroes from the past are remembered and honored and the future of Greece - the children - are celebrated. And the National Anthem is heard...

So, please join me for a tribute to the past:

And for a celebration of the future:
Pic from
And while we are at it - let's hear it for the present too, shall we? Here's to this wonderful country and to all our Greek friends and family: Hipp hurray! Χρονια πολλα! And what's not to love .... Just have a look:

Fruitsalad at the beach....
Outdoor concerts and plays at ancient ground...
Idyllic harbors..
The colors of Greece....

Cute houses... 
and a sundowner at the sea...
Update: So, I am a proud and very happy Write Triber:-) And today my " Making a Difference" post about the NGO I volunteer work was published on Write Tribe. You can read it here.
Also: Thank you dear Corinne, and to all (blogger) friends for your kind support and friendship:-)

Thanks for following dear reader! Good evening from Mumbai! 

Saturday 22 March 2014

A to Z Challenge: Theme Reveal

I don't know what happened. What was I thinking? I had read about it, and I had said to myself: nah, don't think so this year, this will be too busy, I won't keep up, I'll loose quality, I don't have ideas... 

Then I discovered that one by one of my fellow blogger friends signed up. They were in on The ultimate blogger challenge 2014. Write 26 posts on 26 days in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Woah, that's a lot of blogging... Nah - still not convinced. 

But then I discovered the explosion of amazing challenge themes at Theme Revelations at Vidyas blogfest!

I was sold. Some intriguing themes are coming up. I could also feel the excitement building up in the blogsphere, and I knew right then... I couldn't miss this party, could I? 

And when this walking-down-memory-lane-song - just came to my mind and got stuck there - I knew it. I had my theme for the challenge. 

And that is why - in April, through the A-Z challenge, expatliv will go traveling. My theme will be Dream Destinations. It can be places I have been to and loved by all my hearth, places I am dreaming of going to, places all around the world, in my city, in my street or simply places that exist in my mind only. And isn't it so, as said in the song: you might travel all over the world, but have you ever been to you

Ha ha. This will be interesting. May the force be with us. Countdown has started. 1 April we take off to our first destination. ( I am number 1468:-) ) Stay tuned:-)   

Friday 21 March 2014

Happy in Hong Kong

What can I say dear reader? It has been an adventure. As a first time visitor, I try, with open eyes and a curious mind, to take in the atmosphere. To feel, see and get to know this city, this country. All new to me. And I must admit: Hong Kong had me already when I could feel that sea breeze.. and then we hit the restaurants... Oh heaven: d.e.l.i.c.i.o.u.s food. Then this wonderful afternoon, sitting there, sipping tea, watching the green hillside and the ships out on the blue water and then strolling up and down the busy streets, all of them lit up with blinking neon signs in foreign letters. Fascinating.

I learned about an old culture and about new technology. I watched the cleaner on the street wash the garbage box on the outside, and the old woman in a pink coat sitting fishing from the bridge. I saw kids playing in the park, and I took in the lovely scents from the many eateries... Hong Kong was to me old and new, vibrant and intriguing. It was shopping, Madam Tussaud and Disneyland. It was temples, museums, parks, harbor and hills. Let me show you a few of my Hong Kong moments, I hope you enjoy them.

A fun part was just walking around in the busy streets....

What can I say other than: The food was sooooo yummy!! Sea food, and different vegetable dishes - in spicy sauces. Soups and noodles. Amazing flavors and presentation..

Some top moments:

And some surprising ones - because what do you know.. As we strolled around and turned the corner, a ship suddenly appeared in front of us.. No, no. We were not at the harbor, but in the middle of the city. A ship - which turned out to be...  a shopping mall... Ok..

And from the ship to the sea.. You know I have a thing for the sea.. so walking along the sea on a long and nicely made promenade - feeling the sea breeze in my hair - gorgeous.

So, Happy in Hong Kong dear reader! I wish you a lovely weekend wherever you are. 

Monday 17 March 2014

Expatliv goes Hong Kong

Yes, dear reader. I have traveled out of India, and I am now well placed in Hong Kong. Just popping in to wish you all a wonderful week, and to all dear Indian friends: Happy Holi! It will be a different one for us this year, but on the other hand: never been to Hong Kong before and what can I say: so far so good, well it seems amazing really. Here are a few glimpse from our first days:

Leaving Mumbai, we finally got to have a closer look at the new Mumbai International Airport T2 - beautifully decorated but still with an insanely long line at the immigration desk, at least when we left! One positive surprise: as a foreigner you do not longer need to fill out the "departure card", and I just loved the art work and all the various places you could sit down and relax. Way to go!
Nicely decorated Mumbai airport:-)

And then we arrived in Hong Kong. A bit grey-ish weather the first day, but still a pretty impressive skyline:

Evening view from Victoria Peak:

So, I am off to explore more of Hong Kong, dear reader. Sending you all my best wishes from here, and do you have any favorite Hong Kong moments of your own, please share:-) Ta ta !

PS: Expatliv goes Hong Kong - only temporarily though! See you soon Mumbai!  

Wednesday 12 March 2014

When Mumbai takes your breath away..

If you should wonder, in between last week's new-to-me-blogging challenge,  I did make it outside the house... barely. It was great fun to participate. I wrote more posts than ever, and I read some brilliant pieces from fellow bloggers. But now, it is time to take you around again - in this contrasty city I live in...

1. Because can you imagine? One day I participate in health testing of children living in the slum, to see if they are underweight and afterward we pass out fresh bread to a loooong line of people......
I love this picture from our visit to Dharavi... and a local bakery :-) 
 ... and then we go for lunch, and one of my friends has this dish:
... and I am all of a sudden in the middle of a choir of bread-complaints: Yeeek, I can't eat this! What's the purpose? Is it just decor? Can't chew it! Too hard ...  (and I hear this little voice: Shut up and eat your bread, lady! There are people starving out there!)

2. Another day I go to an opening of a new posh restaurant, I eat canapes, sip champagne ( hey! it's an opening), shop a bit ( Note to self: next time do the shopping prior to the champagne)....

 ... and in the car on my way home, with shopping bags, a full belly and still with some champagne bubbling in my mouth,  I look out the car window and I see this:

... and I think: This is the home of some people. Someone is living here, and they have children. I can see their clothes, kitchen ware, and something looking like a small temple - just there under the bridge on the busy highway.. 

3. On Women's Day I write about Geeta and her amazing story about survival and improving her life after being beaten and abandoned by her husband. I read fantastic inspirational stories, but then I start getting irritated by some of the ads and commercials. Because what?! Is Women's Day about flowers, wine, spa, chocolates and pampering The Lady?! Huh! No! That is not at all what it is about.

And then I receive this: 
... ok then, must be possible to hold two thoughts at the same time, right?

4. Another day I go to Crawford market again. It's in the middle of the day, the heat is intense, the bargaining is crazy, cars are driving in to the crowds, and wherever I turn, I bump into people. People, people and more people....

.... and then I go visit my friend who lives practically on Juhu beach. Ahhhh - sinking down into her soft chair, sipping ice tea, chatting and watching the waves.. Peace and quiet. Peace and quiet.

Oh, the different faces of this city...  it completely takes your breath away  - in just so many various thinkable ways...

I hope you have a good week so far, dear reader:-) All the best to you:-) 

Saturday 8 March 2014

Happy Women's Day 2014!

 - Look, I got it! A bright pink saree draped Geeta can't stop smiling as she proudly hands me the papers. - Look! She is laughing. I jump to my feet and grab them: - That is amazing! Congratulations dear Geeta! I can feel tears filling my eyes, and I look into hers. The same. Tears of joy and pride. She did it.

That was some months back, but Women's Day is about women like Geeta. Women who against all odds manage to improve their life, who are chasing a dream and taking a chance and an opportunity. Women who overcome obstacles and fight hard, but still take their destiny in their own two hands. With a little help sometimes, but in the end, they are the ones making it happen. 

Because life has been hard on Geeta. She was beat up by her husband, who in the end abandoned her and their 4 children. I know that they all live with her parents in a one-room hut. Still, besides working her 2 jobs, taking care of her 3 daughters and 1 son, she started to study to be a social worker. She completed her study and has now found a good job which has improved the everyday life for her family and herself.   

Women like Geeta doesn't make it to the newspaper headlines or to the history books. But to me, her success story, as small as it may be, is still a grande victory. Women's day is about securing the rights of women and making it possible for all to choose the life they want for themselves, regardless of gender.
Nothing to do with Geeta, but just some fun moments at the NGO's summer party:-) 
Some days ago I wrote about the brave Cecilie Thoresen who fought her way into University (which was only open for boys back then). She refused to take "no" for an answer, and became the first Norwegian female university student. Her struggle can be applicable still today, in various forms, but most of all it is inspirational. It is possible. It can be done. Changes can come, even though it seems un-doable at times...

On last years's Women's Day I wrote about Gratitude, in A Tale Of Gratitude. Because even though we must continue to support work for women's rights, we may also allow ourselves to celebrate a bit on a day like this. Celebrate the victories of the past, the changes that our mothers and grandmothers fought for. Changes that has led up to many rights we enjoy today, and maybe take for granted some times. Here's to them!

Happy Women's Day to all lovely people in my life, and that includes YOU, dear reader. All the best!


I have been participating in a fun festival of words this week, and today is the last day. So, this post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Wordswhich goes on from 2-8.March 

Today, Day 7, the topic is: Women and - an inspiring change. You can read more about the festival, and enjoy some of the other entries on the website. I am sure there will be a lot of great-reads today. Enjoy! Day 7, 8. March: 
International Women's Day 


I’m celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day by blogging for the 
#WomenInspire Campaign sponsored by USC’s masters degree in social work program. Join the blog carnival to honor a woman who has inspired you!


Friday 7 March 2014

Once upon an ancient time

The nymph Echo loved to talk. One day, goddess Hera was seeking her husband Zeus who she suspected was having fun with some nymphs... Echo managed to warn them so they could escape. As a punishment, Hera took away Echo's voice, with the exception of the ability to repeat the last word said. The echo..
Hera said to Echo:
You shall forfeit the use of that tongue with which you have betrayed me, except for that one purpose you are so fond of: reply. You shall still have the last word, but no power to speak first!

One day, Echo saw and fell instantly in love with the beautiful young man Narcissus. He felt her presence and yelled "Who's there?" Echo repeated "Who's there?" Repeatedly..... Finally, she went and tried to hug him. "Leave me alone!" he shouted and left. She mourned until nothing more than an echo sound remained of her....

Maybe another day, I will tell you more about Narcissus, a fascinating character...:-) 
Hope you enjoyed the small dive into mythology today. Have a wonderful weekend, dear reader! 

I am participating in a fun festival of words this week:-) This post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Wordswhich goes on from 2-8.March 

Today, Day 6, we were asked to write a story consisting of 55 words. Oh my, the art of constraining myself has really been tested:-) You can read more about the festival, and enjoy some of the other entries on the website. I am sure there will be a lot of good-reads today too: Day 6, 7. March: 55 on Friday

Thursday 6 March 2014

One stubborn lady chasing her dream

On 7 Mars 1858, a little girl was born in the village of Eidsvoll in Norway. She grew up with 3 brothers and a sister, and she was often spotted skiing and even ski jumping, which was outrageous, because that was a boy's thing to do (like so many things in the society back then). She must have loved it though, and didn't park her skis'. In stead she created a big commotion turning up at a ski-race with a friend - them being the only two girls there. Scandalous! 

The girl was Cecilie Thoresen and she was to become the first Norwegian female university student. In 1879 she graduated from a girl's school, and wanted to take an exam which would grant her access to university. But at that time, only boys were allowed.. Her father then sent a letter to the Ministry asking that she'd be permitted to take the exam. It was met with a prompt refusal.

Many people would have given up by then, but Cecilie appealed to the Ministry and University. Her requests were turned down. Again. And again. Finally she found an ally in a member of the Parliament, Hagbard Berner. He supported her cause and proposed a private Act of amendment, which passed in 1882, and Cecilie was allowed to study. She passed the exam in 1882 with excellent results, and enrolled at the University as the first woman ever. And in 1884 a law was issued that gave women in general access to university studies.

As for me, I get inspired by people like Cecilie who dares to challenge the "normal". People who fight for what they believe in, because they trust it to lead to something better, for themselves and others. People who choose the narrow path of life, even though they meet obstacles and are being fought every step of the way. People who have the courage to knock on some closed doors and open them for others (and if they will not open, they will kick them in). People who do not take no for an answer.

And I think that if it hadn't been for women like her, I might not have been able to do what I wanted with my life. Too often we take things for granted, but we forget that someone else may have fought for those things - on our behalf. So, I get inspired by her "do not take no for an answer" story, and also because I share her cause: education. I do wish for every child to be able to make their path in life, regardless of their gender and status, to go to school and to freely choose their study. And If I have a bad day, and think that it is hopeless, I can just close my eyes, and picture Cecilie ski-jumping with the boys, or writing letters to the parliament. That is inspiring to me.

So: make your choices, chase your dream and live your life - as you want it to be. Nothing is impossible.

Cecilie Thoresen (Pic from wikipedia)


I am participating in a fun festival of words this week:-) This post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Wordswhich goes on from 2-8.March 

Today, Day 5, we were asked to write an inspiring story: You can read more about the festival, and enjoy some of the other entries on the website. I am sure there will be a lot of inspirational good-reads today: Day 5, 6. March: An Inspiring Story. 

Wednesday 5 March 2014

The adventures of Allan Karlsson

Allan Karlsson has a thought. He is sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, waiting for his party to begin. It is a party he never wanted anyway, his own 100 year's birthday party. The local press will be there, politicians will be there, and there will be a big cake. But Allan does not want to go, and he decides to run away. With some effort ( after all, he is a hundred years old), he slowly climbs out of his window, into a flower bed ( in his slippers) and makes his getaway.

And this is how my chosen book starts out. In The Hundred - Year - Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared by Swedish author Jonas Jonasson we follow the escapades of Allan Karlsson. We travel with him for a month on his run-away adventures throughout Sweden, and believe me: it is anything but boring. His journey involves a suitcase full of money, some murders and a bit of romance, and he is chased by both criminals and the police.

Parallel to the present story, Allan's life-story unfolds, and that takes us on a journey through the 1900`. Of course it turns out that our Mr Allan was involved in many of the key events, often as a participant behind the scene. But also in some unbelievable moments like having dinner with the US president Harry S. Truman, hitchhiking with Winston Churchill, walking the Himalayas on foot and traveling on a riverboat with the wife of Mao.

The book is written in a very humorous way, and it is easy to follow. I feel I am right there with Allan all the way, and yet as a reader you are challenged ( this is just too crazy!). I also enjoy how we recapitulate the historic events of the previous century, but of course in this book it is done in a completely different way ( hey, we are having dinner with Truman!) It becomes very personal, and the angle is very different from what I am used to.

I would describe it as being a warm and really funny book. A genuine feel-good book. Because just how cool is it - to join a hundred year old who escapes from an old people's home? Its hilarious, and just the idea makes you want to cheer for Allan. Go, Allan, go! And as I mentioned - it has a bit of romance. In this book you will meet the 85 year old lady who gets a computer, meets The Internet for the first time, and of course she starts to blog!

What I love is that this book leaves you with the feeling of -  it is never too late! Whatever you want to do with your life: do it! And do it now! Seize the moment - just like Allan:-)

Title: The Hundred - Year - Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared 
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Issued: 2009, Sweden. Translated to 30 languages since then. 


I am participating in a fun festival of words this week, and you can too:-) This post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Wordswhich goes on from 2-8.March 

Today, Day 4, our topic was: Book review. You can read more about the festival, and enjoy some of the other entries on the website. I am sure there will be a lot of tips on good-reads today: Day 4, 5. March: Book review. 


Tuesday 4 March 2014

A walk on the wild side - free write

As I walk down the path I can see the sea. It is glittering through the dark green leaves and calls my name. I stumble down and it is there right in front of me. The little boat is further out, tied to a red balloon, going up and down in the waves. Is it too far out? I think so. Could I go there. No, I don't think so.

I come down to the beach and see that it is not sand, but small round white stones, all looking beautiful. I sit down and take some of them in my hand, letting my fingers caress them. Then I look up and the boat seems even further away now. Whenever there is a big wave, it kind of disappears for my eyes. I decide to go in. I take of my sandals and put them down. The stones burn my feet. I take small jumps. I take off my clothes, and go in the water.

The first wave take me by surprise and I loose my balance, but I continue. The sun makes me want to close my eyes. I go on, and I can feel the bottom disappearing under my feet. The wild side, I think. The wild side. I think of the wild side, as water is all around me. It is salty. I hum. Du duru duru dutturu. Du duru duru dutturu. It is cold, and when I open my eyes, I see them all there in front of me. People I love. Friends and family, even grandfather who is dead. How can they be here? She is waving at me smiling. I feel cold, and something is screaming inside me. No, this is not the way. I start to move my arms, They feel like two rocks, and my feet do not want to move.

I kick with my feet and slap with my arms. Again and again. I go up. I go up and I am up and can take in the air again. The boat is right next to me. I grab it and manage to drag myself inside. Exhausted I lie there on my back and look up at the blue sky above me. No, I say to myself, no. Enough of the horse crap. Because it is possible. Possible to be so scared of dying that you can forget to live. But not anymore. The warm sun does her best to warm my body and I can see a bird flying up there.

I start to laugh. Laugh and laugh and laugh. Bubbling and loud and I cry a little bit more while I smile. I want to get off the boat, and run up the hill and jump up to catch the sun. Instead I head home to make dinner.


I am participating in a fun festival of words this week, and you can too:-) This post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Words, which goes on from 2-8.March 

Today, Day 3, our topic was Free Write ( Write for about 15 minutes on whatever comes to you mind). You can read more about free write, and enjoy some of the other entries on the website: Day 3, 4. March: Free Write. 

Happy reading!

PS: On my mind - on my walk on the wild side:

Monday 3 March 2014

Blogs I love

When I arrived in India, I arrived with a curious mind and wanted to learn as much as possible about my new country. Also because I had a lot of curious friends and family back home, I started to blog. To digest my new Indian everyday life, for my own sake and for theirs. An unexpected but wonderful bonus to my blogging has been getting connected with other bloggers, and some has meant a lot to me when it comes to exploring India, but also for their take on life in general. Perspective - is the key word for me.

Here are a few of the blogs I love:

On my quest to explore the Indian kitchen, Smitha has been a big inspiration and a (secret) mentor for me. I was attracted to her blog by the title - who doesn't want to Cook With Smile right? I love her blog because she has introduced me to various and unknown sides of the Indian cuisine. Her recipes are easy to understand, she presents them with good pictures and they are delicious. She writes in an amusing way, and very often include info on where the dish is from, the story of it, what it was used for, different versions of it etc.  

Traveling can be more than just a visit to new places. It can also be a travel within yourself. More than anyone, Arti has the ability to showcase this aspect in her wonderful blog My Yatra Diary. She travels with her body and soul, and manage to express this to the reader. I love her blog because I have discovered many travel destinations in India there (that list is sooo long now), she makes them all so tempting, but also because her words just gives me that ... extra. Food for the soul, I would like to call it..

Whenever I long for the trees, fjords and mountains of Norway, Cindi's blog, An American in Norway, is where I go. Cindi is an expat in my hometown Bergen, and I enjoy re-exploring my country through her eyes. I love her take on life, how she cherish the everyday moment and how she manage to get that feeling through to the reader. And then the perspective thing again right? I love reading about other's similar experiences, and Cindi shares her in a very captivating way...

And there are many more...Wonderful blogs that every day gives me that little extra - whether it is new wisdom, insight, inspiration, and maybe some tears or uncontrollable laughter:-) Fellow blogger friends: You make my day! May we continue to inspire each other. Happy blogging!

I am participating in a fun festival of words this week, and you can too:-) This post is written for The Write Tribe Festival Of Words. Today was about sharing info on blogs we love: Day 2, 3 March: Blog Love