This Is India 2017 – Part Seven

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February 28th, 2017 – Flight Home-Mumbai, India to Ottawa, Canada

The morning of February 28th I caught my last domestic flight from Cochin to Mumbai and had all day to go shopping in Mumbai and take it easy before my flight back to Canada.

Just when I thought my adventures were over in India, little did I know that my flights home were going to be more adventurous than I ever expected.  Some of you have heard this story before and I apologize in advance!  For those who are reading it for the first time, hold onto your seats because here we go 😛

Mumbai, India to Zurich, Switzerland- 1 A.M. IST Feb 28th: Halfway through the flight, I awoke to an older lady in the aisle who got upset because she didn’t make it to the bathroom on time so she started screaming at the flight staff and everyone around her. Passengers tried to help by yelling out to her, asking if she is ok, then the staff tried to get her back to her seat but she refused to sit because she had wet clothes. She walked throughout the plane screaming at everyone, sitting on armrests of other passengers and almost on top of a baby. Her son tried to calm her down and return her to her seat but couldn’t. The co-pilot came by and tried to convince her and couldn’t, he ordered the staff to block the emergency exits and he called overhead for a Dr to come help this lady so luckily a Dr volunteered. After an hour of convincing, he gave her some medication they had on board to calm her down because it was either that or make an emergency landing in Saudi Arabia and get her off the plane. That was a 9-hour flight and we were all happy to land in Zurich.  Whew!!  As soon as I got off the plane, I headed straight for the Lindt chocolate store and started eating chocolate right away!  The fact that it was 7 a.m Swiss time was irrelevant and I bought so much to bring home for my kids because we’re all addicted to it and proud of it 😛

Zurich, Switzerland to Toronto, Canada:  One hour into the flight, another overhead page for a Dr or nurse was made out of panic. Being a nurse, I got up to see what was needed and a lady who had surgery 4 weeks ago was traveling sooner than expected. She had abdominal pain, rapid breathing, increased pulse and was dehydrated from vomiting prior to boarding.  She was also on the flight from India like me so she had already been traveling for a long time.  After laying her down across 4 seats, we contacted a Dr. on the ground and I applied oxygen, took her blood pressure and pulse, started an IV right away and gave Gravol IV. Thank God I got the IV first try because they only had one cathalon on board in their emergency kit and it’s been 4 years since I inserted an IV!  It was either that or make an emergency landing but knowing we were over the Atlantic Ocean I’m not sure where we would have landed; maybe Iceland.  The staff was great with me, they wrote everything down I was doing and I stayed with this lady for the entire 8-hour flight while she recovered. When we landed the paramedics came on board to take her off first and I gave them the full report of what happened.  Air Canada gave me a discount for 2 people on my next flight because I was the only medical person on board and it was a way to thank me for the help which was very nice of them. Next trip will be with my 2 kids and the discount will help for sure.  So 2 back to back close call emergency landings later, I had one more flight to go to get home and I was praying it would be calm!!  As soon as I landed in Toronto I had to eat because I was starving 🙂

Toronto to Ottawa: The usual turbulence but other than that I arrived safely and exhausted.  Thanks to my great friend Diane for picking me up at the airport, I was so dead!  I missed you!!   Back to the chilling cold of Canada.

I’ve been home for about eight weeks now and it took me roughly 2 weeks to recover from the jet lag, my vacation, and the flights.  I started a new job 2 days after getting back so it’s been very busy for me ever since but I am enjoying my time there.

Many thanks to everyone who has been following my This Is India blog adventures, it’s been just as fun to write as it is to read and answer the comments ❤  Many thanks to everyone who played a part in my This Is India blogs, you guys are the best, love you lots!  For those of you who would like to connect with my friends, here are their blog links:

Darshith – https://darshith0000.wordpress.com/

Nimitha – https://nimzrevealed.wordpress.com/

Pratyusha – https://naughtyinnocence.wordpress.com/

Deepika – https://deepikakumaaraguru24.wordpress.com/

Vineet – https://vineetpandeystories.wordpress.com/

Rafat – https://imrafat.wordpress.com/

Rupali – https://lettersandpoetry.wordpress.com/author/missbookthief/

KP –  https://kp14191.wordpress.com/

Karthik – https://powerfuloverflow.wordpress.com/

Noorain – https://theplatememoirs.wordpress.com/

Neerja – https://ametalk.wordpress.com/

Vipul – https://thehorsemanhitsagain.wordpress.com/

Nitin – http://tinytidbits.in/

If you’ve never been to India, you have to go.  If you live there, you are extremely fortunate and if you ever want to get away, please come to Canada and see me 😉

That Was India, 2017.

 

Lots of Love ❤

Jen 🙂

**P.S:  On a different note, my next blogs will be about my upcoming book release which is right around the corner in May so please stay tuned for that, I am super excited to tell you all about it!!

 

 

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This Is India 2017 – Part Six

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February 20th-27th, Bangalore – Many cities within Kerala; Cochin, Thodupuzha, Munnar, Maniyamkavu, Puthenchira, Vellangallur, Kodungallur

This was my final week in India and what a week it was!  I decided to take some time just for myself during my trip and the time was in Cochin, Kerala at a beautiful hotel called Ramada Cochin Resort that had an amazing swimming pool I could just relax in and do nothing.  It was a busy but fun holiday so far and I find it’s always nice to take some time out along the way.  Things are very affordable in India compared to here and I was extremely happy about that!  This Is India.

So for the next 4 days, the main things I did at the hotel were, sleep, eat, swim, suntan, repeat….

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I also met a very nice young lady by the pool on my first day there who was also taking in the sunshine.  Her name is Emma and she’s from the UK.  We ended up spending the entire day at the pool together, chatting about our solo tours around India and she visited some really great places I would also like to see one day.  We had so much fun talking and getting along that we also had supper together and later that night, Emma had to fly back to the UK.  I was happy to have met her and now we are friends and keep in touch through Facebook.

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After 4 days of relaxation, it was time to move onto Thodupuzha to see my blogging friend KP again and his family who are extremely nice and full of hospitality!  They own a restaurant and hotel that makes a great dosa and lime juice drink you’ve never had!!!  KP’s entire family is so welcoming and they invited me, Rafat and Darshith to stay with them because we were all going to the next wedding together.  That is one house that is full of happiness!  😀 KP’s mom was very generous to let me borrow 2 of her saree’s to wear to the next wedding, it was such a lovely offer I felt very grateful and gladly accepted!  I was excited to wear them and show her my pictures later.  We all stayed up late talking until I could barely keep my eyes open then I had to go to bed while everyone else stayed up and played Scrabble!  I was so dead 😛

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The next day, KP, Darshith, Rafat and I had the day to visit an amazing place in Kerala called Munnar that is known for its tea plantations.  The scenery is just gorgeous and the temperature is cooler which felt great!  After awhile, +40 C is very draining, especially without a pool nearby!  KP drove us there and all over town while we stopped at random places and took many pictures of Munnar and each other!  We also took a boat ride which was fun and something different, I felt like a kid again and that’s never a bad thing.  We had a great day and then went back to KP’s family home to sleep again.

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After a great night’s sleep, it was time to wake up and go to the wedding of our blogging friend Nimitha.  It was a few hours drive and KP was up for driving again but that same day so was Rafat!  Halfway through the trip, KP and Rafat switched places and Rafat took the wheel with attitude and got us to the wedding!  We even made a live video during the drive and it was so fun and got many hits on Facebook.

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Day one of the wedding was in Maniyamkavu, Puthenchira and the Mehendi ceremony took place at night in a big auditorium.  The dress code was traditional Kerala saree for women and traditional Kerala Dhothis.  Rafat and I had some help from Nisha, Nimitha’s sister and her family to drape our sarees. It was really hot, even at night but we had so much fun wearing the sarees and taking several photos!  A cute young boy about 8 years old sitting beside me said he liked my saree and asked if he could get a selfie with me so I said: “of course!”  Before I knew it, a huge group of kids came over and asked if they could take their picture with me and before I knew it, everyone was taking selfies with me!  I had that celebrity feeling again and it was fun.  We all made our way to Nimitha and her family who were also very welcoming and extremely kind with us.  I met so many people at the wedding and once again, I was the only foreigner and in a saree!  The food was amazing and we all ate so much, the food in southern India is spicy compared to the north and yes, I love spicy food! ❤  Nimitha arranged for us to stay at a hotel that was close by and once again, I was the first one to sleep and the others stayed up all night partying!  It was so funny, my age was showing… 😉

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The next day was day two of the wedding and we had to be in Vellangallur, Kodungallur in the morning so we could see the Nikkah ceremony, then tying the knot.  I wore the second saree that day and a team of 5 young girls in Nimitha’s family put it on me, which was really fun to watch them!  We had a very beautiful lunch and I met Nimitha, her husband, and her entire family again who were so nice.  Being able to attend another wedding in India was a huge privilege for me and I was grateful again for meeting such kind people, eating such wonderful food and learning so much about the India cultures.

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That night, our adventure was ending, Darshith and Rafat had to go home by bus, I went back to the hotel and KP went back to his home.  We all said an emotional goodbye and went on our way.  Thank you so much to you and your entire family KP for treating me like one of your own and touring all of us around Kerala.  Your house and everyone in it gives off a powerful happy vibe that lasts forever.  Darshith, it was so good to see you 3 weekends in a row during my trip, I am very grateful.  Miss Rafat (Sana), you are such a beautiful soul, it was great seeing you at both weddings, getting to know you more, chatting about life and everything about it.  Nimitha, thank you for inviting me to your beautiful wedding, it was so good to meet you, your friends and family.  I hope you can all make it to Canada one day soon so I can show you around here too.  And bring Miss Rupali too 😉 I miss you guys! ❤

I had to get a good night’s sleep because the next day I was going back to Mumbai to catch my flight home to Canada.  I couldn’t believe how fast my trip went but I also couldn’t believe how much love I received along the way which felt great for me after everything I have been through.  At the same time, I was looking forward to seeing and hugging my kids again and showing all the gifts I bought.  Even though we talked and laughed each day online, it was going to be great to see them again soon.

Stay tuned for the final chapter…

Much Love ❤

Jen

 

 

This Is India 2017-Part Five

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February 17th – 20th, 2017 – Bangalore, India

So far my flights were on time no problems, until now.  I was in Cochin airport which is 100% solar powered and for some reason, many flights were being delayed that night.  I didn’t have any plans until the next day so it was ok but I wanted to get to Bangalore soon.  Finally, the plane took off and I was in the air again! 😀

Bangalore is known as the IT capital of India, therefore a great place to work if you’re an engineer.  Many of my friends are engineers and I was about to meet one of them again…Darshith!  🙂  As it turns out, it’s Darshith’s birthday so a very big Happy Birthday to you Darshith, I hope you have a really fun and inspiring day that is full of gifts, cake, and love ❤

When I arrived at my hotel which was an hour cab ride from the airport, it was really late and I was tired so I didn’t do anything except text my friends, that I arrived and went to sleep.  The next day I had plans to meet Rafat, Darshith and Pratik, another friend of Darshith’s, who is a very nice guy too.  Unfortunately, Rafat wasn’t feeling well so she couldn’t join us, so the 3 of us set out to Cubbon Park in Bangalore and there was so much to see there!  First, we went to eat which was great because all 3 of us were hungry already!  We had dosa, salad, noodles, everything was so good, I’m getting hungry again!  Then it was time to go to a museum in the park.  We took lots of pictures, saw many things including a 3D film on bugs which was very good!  We even took turns to go on TV to tell the weather to all of India!  It was fun being silly and feeling like a kid again in the museum, we had such a blast!  We later went for a walk in the area and Bangalore has some really nice green spaces and the weather there is awesome.  I took some more pictures and then we were all hungry again!  Time for supper!  We had so much to eat, I don’t remember what we had but I do know it was great and really fun.  The day went so fast, but I was glad we still had Sunday to roam around.  Darshith was so nice he gave me 2 books and some sweets that his lovely family had made for me which were so delicious, I ate them at the hotel and throughout my trip!  A very big thank you to you and your family Darshith for taking great care of me!  It was really great to meet you too Pratik, thanks for a fun Saturday!

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On Sunday, I met Darshith again and we set out for the day.  First, we ate lunch at an amazing buffet!  If there’s one thing about Darshith and me, we love to eat and we are always hungry!  We definitely worked up a good appetite trying to cross the street in Bangalore in their traffic because it’s like taking your life in your hands and tossing it up in the air!  What would normally take about 20 seconds to cross a street here, it took us 10 minutes to inch ourselves across the street while standing in the traffic in the middle of the road while cars circled around us, honking, not stopping!  I held on for dear life and we finally made it.  This is India.

Darshith was so sweet and bought us tickets to see a speaker named Dirish do an inspirational talk called A Take On Life.  The topic was on Connections and it was one of my favorite things to talk about and listen to so it was perfect.  The talk was held in a bookstore and people of all ages gathered to not only hear what Dirish had to say, but to participate too.  I have to say, this was a great activity that inspired everyone and once again, I was the only foreigner in the room so when I spoke, I had lots of fun!  Please check out the page A Take On Life on Facebook and see what it’s all about or attend a session if you’re in Bangalore.

When A Take On Life was over, we met another blogger friend of ours, Noorain, who is a professional food blogger in Bangalore!  What a perfect night out for all of us!  Noorain and her husband picked us up and we were heading out to a great restaurant called NH8 that Noorain knew was awesome and with all her moutwatering pictures on Instagram, everything she posts is amazing so we were in GREAT hands!  NH8 was so good, they served Rajasthan style food and so many dishes were on one big plate!  I was stuffed way too early, I wish I had that plate again now!  Noorain you have such a bubbly personality that is very fun to be around, I hope to see you again soon!  Thank you so much for a great time Darshith and Noorain and for the gifts, you both gave me as well.

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The weekend flew by so fast but I was still in Bangalore for the day on Monday and another blogger/published author and friend of mine was coming all the way from Tamil Nadu to see me for the day!  Miss Deepika Kumaaraguru!  This inspiring young lady is in her early 20’s, she wrote her first book at 17, published it, wrote a second one recently and published it, now she’s working on a 5-part series that is due to come out this year.  I’ve never met anyone like this and she’s one of the biggest commenters on my blog with multiple emoticons which I love 🙂 ❤  I was very excited to meet her and on Monday morning, she arrived with her mom and grandma at my hotel.  We hugged so tight and I talked with her mom and grandma so much. They are all very sweet and lovely and I felt like they adopted me on the spot!  Later, Deepika and I stayed at the hotel while her mom and grandma went to visit Cubbon Park for a few hours.  We talked so much over lunch, it was great to meet this wonderful friend of mine that I only knew from the comment section of my blog and her writings as well.  Deepika was so sweet, she gave me a copy of her book Etheral and I am very honored to read and review it.  I believe there are still copies of it on Amazon for you to purchase.  Thank you very much, Deepika for taking the train from your home with your family and meeting me in Bangalore!!  I have such great memories of our meet up and talks! Lots of love to you ❤

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That night I was flying back to Cochin because I had plans to stay at a nice hotel with an awesome pool and just relax and do nothing for a few days on my own before gearing up for the next bloggers meet up and wedding!  Stay tuned for more stories of This Is India

Much Love ❤

Jen

 

This Is India 2017-Part Four

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February 14-17th, 2017

I took an Ola cab from Pune to Mumbai on the 13th and cabs in India are not expensive.  I was able to ride 3 hours for about $40.00 Canadian.  In comparison, for me to go 40 minutes to the Ottawa airport from my house, it costs me about $60.00 Canadian.  I don’t even want to think about how much 3 hours would cost here, I’m getting heart palpitations already! 😛 Then I realized, hey, This Is India!

I met my friend Vineet again because the next day we were heading to Alleppey by train and he was able to have the time to visit some places with me which made it fun not to be on my own all the time.  On the 14th, we boarded the train and the trip was going to take roughly 20 hours to get there.  Trains in India are not the same as here.  They run slower because of the tracks so it takes longer to get there which is ok because there’s more time to look at the scenery and talk.  Your seat also becomes your bed so every cabin has bunk beds along with sheets, blankets, and pillows.  I liked this idea because I could stretch out my legs the entire trip and not be sitting the whole way.  I slept like a baby and workers on the train came around to serve food, chai, and coffee.  It was a really great time to experience train travel there.  Alleppey is located in Kerala which is more tropical than Mumbai so as we got closer, the vegetation changed and so did the temperature which I loved.  Temperatures were at +40 C each day!  That’s better than -40 C here in February!

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Prior to leaving Canada, I spoke with another friend of mine, Srinath who connected me with his friend Soni who connected me with his friend Binu in Alleppey because Binu owns a houseboat there.  And when you go to Alleppey, you have to try a houseboat ride on the backwaters of Kerala.  When you board the boat, you are not the only ones out on the water.  Numerous houseboats are out at the same time each day showing tourists the beauty of Kerala.  The houseboat ride was roughly 6 hours long and lunch and snacks were included.  The food was incredible and we docked at lunchtime to eat.  Binu was very good at taking great care of us, picking us up and touring around the town.  Many thanks to everyone for arranging this day in advance for us.

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Alleppey is a nice place that’s not too big, it’s on the Arabian Sea and the water is so warm and clear.  The hotel was located right across the street from the beach and it had great views from the restaurant and also very good food.  The sunset was amazing and we were lucky to see one on time, so many people were on the beach at that time compared to during the day.

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I bought some famous banana chips and managed to bring some home for the kids.  I think I liked them more than they did, I’ve never had such great banana chips!  This Is India!  🙂

It was great to see the southern part of India and have good company along the way.  Thanks for joining me Vineet, I had a great time traveling with you! 😀

On Friday the 17th we went our separate ways because I was flying to Bangalore to see more blogging friends for the weekend!  😉 ❤ Stay tuned for more fun and excitement…

 

Much Love ❤

Jen

 

 

 

This Is India 2017-Part Three

 

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February 11th – 13th, 2017-Pune, India

Why does 3 a.m. come up so fast?  My alarm went off telling me it was time to wake up and get to the Hyderabad airport so I could fly to Pune, India and see my friend Neerja.  We had planned to meet at the airport and go back to her place in time for breakfast which is exactly what we did.  When I saw Neerja at the airport, we gave big hugs to each other and started chatting immediately!  It’s just in our nature ❤

After catching a cab and arriving at Neerja’s place, I felt very relaxed, it felt so good to be in someone’s home and it was familiar to me since I was there last year.  I saw Dinesh, Neerja’s husband again and all three of us enjoyed chatting, laughing, and eating together.  I can’t even describe the feeling of happiness I felt and still have when I think about being with them because we all get along so well.  For breakfast, Neerja made Paneer sandwiches with coffee and it was soooooo good!! 🙂

My energy reserves were running low by noon and I couldn’t believe I had to take another nap!  I felt like a cat that was never recovering from jet lag because of all the excitement happening.  When I woke up it was time for lunch and I was spoiled again with some amazing rajma and rice, made my MasterChef Neerja!  We all took it easy that day and spent time visiting which was really amazing and just what we needed.  I was very happy we didn’t have to go anywhere big that day, but we did take a walk outside near Neerja’s place and sat in a nice park while some kids played in the playground.  After that, we came inside to relax and eat some more!  For supper, we had stuffed green eggplant with chapatis.  I have never had such amazing vegetarian food before and I regret not taking pictures of these creations but I think I was too tired and hungry to think about my phone.

Speaking of my phone, I was searching for a SIM card this time and the rules had changed which made it harder for anyone to buy one unless you could prove your residency there because of the demonetization with the Indian rupee.  Luckily, Dinesh had an extra SIM card that I could use and it worked on my phone!  Hallelujah!!!  Now I could finally use the Ola app to book cabs everyone was talking about! 😛

On Sunday, we woke up and had poha for breakfast which was new to me and delicious.  Later on, we had dal fry and rice for lunch.  That day, we had planned a bloggers meet up at a nearby Starbucks.  Prior to me arriving, we arranged for this to happen with anyone who lived in Pune to meet us there at 3 pm.  Nitin and Vipul came to meet us and we all had coffee, chatted and got to know each other in person since we knew each other from blogging.  It’s a really amazing experience to meet people in person that you only know from the online world.  We managed to get a picture of all 4 of us even though it’s so dark!  The lighting in Starbucks needs some adjusting.  Either that or I need a new phone which is highly possible! 😛

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After having some great conversations, it was time to head home and this time, I rode on the back of Neerja’s motorcycle which was really fun!!  What a nice change from the cabs! ❤  You look awesome NJ! 😀

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After arriving back home, we stayed in the garden area of Neerja’s place and took some pictures of us together.  It was a very nice setting and we had so much fun taking them.  After the photos, Neerja was back to work in her kitchen and I took notes on everything she had made that weekend.  I wanted to make so many things for my kids when I got home because they love Indian food too.  For supper, all 3 of us had matar paneer and chapatis which were so great!  Also, during the weekend, I was able to have Neerja’s famous Chai her entire family raves about, so once again I was spoiled!   I’m getting hungry just writing about everything!

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The weekend went by so fast and on Monday it was already time for me to head back to Mumbai and catch the train to Alleppey!

Thank you so much Neerja and Dinesh for an amazing weekend of great conversations, laughter, food and fun, you are both outstanding friends, and I loved spending time with you guys! 😀

Much Love ❤

Jen

This Is India 2017-Part Two

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February  9th– 11th, 2017-Hyderabad, India

After landing in Hyderabad, I felt the heat in the air more than in Mumbai.  It felt really great since Canada was so cold at that time of year and I was enjoying the high temperatures very much 😀

Karthik and I caught a cab that was pre-arranged by our friend Pratyusha who was getting married very soon.  I think Pratyusha is the most organized bride I’ve ever known and seen!!  We had time to go to the hotel and meet our other blogging friends and when I saw them I was so excited and gave them all the biggest hugs!  I hadn’t seen Darshith since last year and this time I met KP, Rupali, and Rafat which was so amazing, I felt like I knew them forever 🙂 It’s always fun to meet people in person and feel their energy that you already connect with through their writing.

We all arrived at the ceremony which was taking place all day and night.  One of Pratyusha’s friends asked if the girls wanted to do a ritual with them called Mangal Sanam which involves pouring water over the bride’s head as a symbol to wash away any bad omens and everyone gives good wishes and blessings.  It was the first time I was doing this and also the first time I was meeting Pratyusha!  It was such a nice moment and I couldn’t believe all the beautiful and colors everywhere, not to mention the gorgeous outfits all the women were wearing!  I met Pratyusha’s family who are so warm and welcoming, they made me feel like family immediately.

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We all sat down for lunch and I was impressed yet again with the presentation of food.  There was a banana leaf instead of a plate and on it was vegetarian food served by many people.  Not only was it interesting to look at but it was so delicious too.

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We all left to go back to the hotel again and change into our next outfit.  It is customary for people to perform a song or dance for the bride and groom if they wish and since I was the only foreigner at the wedding, I decided to do this!  I did a salsa dance to the song Bailando by Enrique Iglesias and faced my fear of being in front of a crowd!  It’s easier to do something like this in a room full of people you don’t know that much!  A very big thanks to Darshith for filming it 😉 one day I’ll be brave enough to post it..Haha 😛

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After the 24 performances by people of all ages, it was time for everyone to get really dressed up for the big wedding ceremony which was happening at 1:49 am on Feb 10th.  Pratyusha and her family arranged to have a saree ready for me to change into and off I went to get wrapped in this beautiful outfit for the first time in my life.  Pratyusha’s make-up lady was so good at folding and wrapping it around me and after I was all dressed, I went outside the room to find the wedding photographers waiting for Pratyusha.  Since she was still getting ready, they asked me to do some photos while they waited which was really nice and fun!  Thanks to Muninder for the impromptu photo shoot 😀

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It was such an amazing moment to feel so part of something and look so different.  Everyone was extremely kind with me and I had many pictures taken again with my friends and Pratyusha’s family there.  The real star of the show, though, was Pratyusha in all of her outfits and she looked absolutely gorgeous, this is one of my favorite pictures of her!  The next picture is of the bride and groom looking amazing, it was really interesting to see the wedding ceremony at that time of night and all the rituals that happened afterward until about 6 a.m.  The supper was to die for and I loved everything about it ❤

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My friends and I slept at the hotel for a few hours and then woke up to check out.  We all went our own ways at that point but I knew I would be seeing some of them again soon.  I was so tired I ended up sleeping the entire day away, which I never do!  By night I was feeling better but was also really hungry and when in Hyderabad, you have to try the famous Hyderabad Biriyani which is exactly what I did with Pratyusha’s brother Praveen 🙂  We went to the famous Bawarchi for supper and it was so good to eat this food and get to know Praveen outside of the wedding.  The only thing missing was a picture, I think both of us were so tired, we forgot to take one, but I guess that just means I’ll have to come back again and visit!  Everything was arranged by Pratyusha’s family to take care of me and they did it so well.  Many thanks to everyone for all your care, generosity, and help, I really appreciate everything you did for me, I had the time of my life ❤

Despite sleeping all day, I was able to sleep at night which was good because I had to leave by 3 a.m. to catch my next flight to Pune and visit my other blogging friend and master chef Neerja.  We met last year and she insisted I visit again for a fun weekend of cooking and eating at her place 😀

To Be Continued…

 

Much Love ❤

Jen

This Is India 2017-Part One

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Saturday, February 4th, 2017 – Ottawa-London-Mumbai, India

I am finally writing my blog about my trip to India, it’s been a crazy month of March with a new job, finalizing my book, and getting back to normal from the jet lag.  Thank you for your patience.  So let’s begin!

Feb. 4th at 7 pm, my great friend Helene drove me to the Ottawa airport and my kids came with me to give me a loving send off.  I was traveling solo again because of the time of year and the kids had exams to write but I wanted to make sure they would be with me when I left so we could have the maximum amount of time together.  They are so amazing, understanding and loving towards me, all they want is for me to be happy and I am.  Next time I go to India, they are coming with me for sure.  I was also happy to have Helene with me because she always lightens the mood if it gets emotional and she was there not only for me but also for my kids.  Thank you so much, Helene!! XO

I boarded the flight and slept most of the way to London, Heathrow.  Once I arrived I texted the kids to let them know I was safe and en route, then I texted my friends in India.   Heathrow is such a nice airport I wandered around during my layover and then boarded the next flight to Mumbai.  I sat beside the most adorable couple who were in their late 70’s and they were big jazz fans and lovers of Mercedes cars!  We talked the entire flight and had so much fun, I felt like I knew them for so long.

It was 4 a.m. IST on Monday, February 6th, when I landed in Mumbai, India and all I could do was grab a cab, go to the hotel and sleep!  I arrived at the Sheraton Vashi, slept for 5 hours, ate breakfast, slept for another 6 hours, ate supper then relaxed for the night.  My blogging friend Vineet arrived to welcome me to India and we had a good time chatting about many things and made plans for the next day.

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I stayed in Mumbai for two more days and I spent my time at the hotel pool, touring Mumbai with Vineet by foot, cab, and train while eating in many great places.  We had so much fun going around and I can’t believe how big a city it is!  We went to South Mumbai and ate at Leopold Café which was really fun 🙂  I always felt like a celebrity whenever I went to a restaurant, the wait staff are always men and they are not afraid to ask me questions as to why I am visiting.  I explain “to visit friends, attend 2 weddings and relax.”  They found that so interesting because I was solo and I enjoyed answering their questions just to see their response.  Marine Drive is a nice place to see at night because the lights resemble a pearl necklace that lines the curved edge of the bay.  We ended up talking there for hours.

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One time while Vineet and I were going to eat supper at the hotel, the wait staff said the restaurant was closed for a private function and suggested we attend a free whiskey tasting event in the hotel and they would be serving free food there!  So off we went even though I don’t like whiskey, and sure enough, we walked in and sat down at a table in a room full of people who were sampling 6 types of whiskey.  I recognized a few bottles and then the host did a contest asking if anyone knew what type of dogs were on the Black and White label whiskey and I threw up my hand with the answer!  “Scottish Terriers,” I said and I won a 40 oz bottle of whiskey!  I couldn’t stop laughing because I was the last person in the room who probably wanted it so I gave it to Vineet since he is a big fan and he was super happy 😉 We ate lots of food and it turned out to be really fun and unexpected which is what life is all about sometimes.  Going with the flow and not planning too tight so you can remain flexible.

I wanted to spend my time relaxing in Mumbai before the first big event which was the wedding for my lovely blogging friend Pratyusha!  Karthik, who is another blogging friend from Mumbai was going to be attending Pratyusha’s wedding too so we planned to meet at the Mumbai airport on Thursday, February 9th and go to Hyderabad together and we would meet even more blogging friends at the wedding!  I finally met Karthik at the airport after my phone gave me wifi trouble and that’s when I realized I needed a new SIM card.  Ugh.  Not a simple task this time around.

If you’re familiar with my This Is India 2016 posts, you’ll remember my excess baggage charges and my giant water bottle going through security no problem!  Well, the same things happened again this time, where I had to pay extra for my bags even though I packed lighter this time and my water bottle still managed to sail on through security on the moving belt.  Amazing!  Karthik and I boarded the flight and we were on our way to Hyderabad, excited to see everyone there!

To be continued…..

 

Much Love ❤

Jen

 

 

India Travels: My Journey,Meditation and Dedication

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As I embarked on this healing journey, I had intentions to deal with my own DUKKHA-the gnawing sense of dissatisfaction and heartbreak in my life-and to free myself from the shackles of fear, anger, sadness, attachment and aversion for my own benefit and the benefit for all sentient beings-and that is the highest aspiration, BODHICHITTA.

And as I travel, I breathe and focus on the journey-and that is the singled pointed concentration, SAMATHA.

And as I journey to see my blogging friends, we open the windows of our five senses and that of our mind.

We hear the babble of water, the roar of engines, the chirping of birds and our inner silence-and that is SOUND

We see the towns and the beaches, the brightness of sun and the darkness of starry nights-and that is SIGHT

We breathe in the aroma of spices in the markets, the fragrance of incense in temples and the stench of exhaust-and that is SMELL

As I journey to see each and every one of you, we hug one another with total happiness and excitement for being able to meet in person for the very first time-and that is TOUCH

As we eat, we taste the texture of Paneer and spiciness of Golgappa, deliciousness of Chapatis and sweet comfort of Chai-and that is TASTE

As I fly from city to city over rivers and mountains, I watch my mental state, emotions and thoughts come and go-and that is MIND

I become aware of sound, sight, smell, touch and taste and bear witness to my wandering mind-and that is insight-VIPASSANA

As I travel, I see that my outer landscapes are ever changing and so are my inner landscapes; my thoughts, as well as my mental and emotional states; they rise and fall and go through cycles-and that is impermanence, ANICCA

The traveller is one with the path, the friends are one with the traveller, we are all part of the journey and the journey becomes a part of us.  We travel as one, we share joy and pain and as we do, the sense of our separate impermeable selves erodes and diffuses, and whether we are men or women or Canadian or Indian, we breathe as one and feel as one-and that is no separate self-ANATTA

As I go deeper in my compassionate silence at night, I realize that all the things surrounding me, lack their own independent existence-and that is great emptiness-SUNYATA

As we share our emotions without reservations, we do so with compassion and without judgment toward ourselves and each other-and that is loving-kindness, METTA

And through it all I experience the deep, mystical intuitive wisdom of the heart, not the wisdom of knowledge or trying to figure things out-and that is perfection of wisdom PRAJNA PARAMITA

And so my outer journey through time and space becomes one with my inner journey into the arms of forgiveness and healing heart and the discovery of who I really am-and that is MEDITATION

And underlying this entire journey to India and to myself, is an overwhelming sense of gratitude:  to the country of India, to the spiritual healing I came searching for and found and most of all I am grateful for my lifelong friendships with all of you and look forward to many more times being spent together in person-and that is MY JOURNEY, MEDITATION AND DEDICATION TO YOU

I hope to see you again and all my new friends in India soon

 

Dhanyavaad ❤

 

Jenny
xo

 

 

 

Book Review: Hope We Never Meet Again

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I not only had the opportunity of reading Hope We Never Meet Again, an amazing psycho-thriller novel written by Srinath Krishnamoorthy, but the privilege to follow his blogs in WordPress and meet him in person recently.

Srinath, I’m throwing my hat up into the clouds right now for you my friend!  When we met at the Delhi Airport and you brought and signed my very own copy of your book, it was a moment that I’ll never forget.  Is it true that it’s the first copy to leave India?  Thank you so much for that and for meeting me in Delhi while promoting your book at the Delhi International Book Fair.  Now that I have read it cover to cover, I would like to give my book review for you.

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As you know, our friend Darshith was the one who introduced me to you and your book because he gives great blogger and book recommendations for me 🙂  When I first read the sample chapter on Amazon I was hooked and had to have it.  You immediately caught the reader’s attention by breaking the silence and taboos of sexuality and relationships by the way you described the thoughts of desire that naturally run through everyone’s mind.  You carried that “Indian spiciness” throughout the book especially in the last three chapters… Wow!   After having visited India and riding in an auto-rickshaw, Chapter 6 gives the auto-rickshaw a whole new meaning!  No wonder your book is flying off shelves and into the hands of readers who turn the pages like the wind!  Sexuality is a normal part of life but some refuse to acknowledge that.  Pretending it doesn’t exist is unrealistic and unfortunate.  Bravo for speaking up about it all, I was hooked and obviously I wasn’t the only one!

I really liked the way you had different story lines happening with flashbacks and suspenseful twists and turns at the end of each chapter.  There are several life lessons integrated within the book as well like how it’s important to say what you need to say to someone before it’s too late.  And sometimes by taking the wrong path in life is okay because it leads you to the right one eventually.  Most of all, one small shift or decision such as scribbling a phone number down from a bathroom wall can change everything because ultimately it’s our decisions that shape us.

It’s ironic you mention Canada a few times in your book before we even met.  There are no coincidences in life, only miracles.  This Canadian girl gives your book two big thumbs up and I’ve been recommending it to all my friends and family here since I got home after an amazing trip to India!

Srinath I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I Hope We Do Meet Again.  And it looks like we will 🙂  Keep writing, keep inspiring and keep on being YOU.  You are a shining example of how many of us WordPress bloggers can live the dream of becoming an author one day.  Thank you for all your encouragement for me to write my story as well.

Cheers to changing the world, one book at a time!

 

Much Love,
Jenny
xo

All My Gratitude

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I know I’ve been on a roll lately with my This Is India mini-series and I just wanted to thank everyone within and outside of WordPress for their love, support, kindness, likes, comments and friendship.  You guys are amazing!  Thank you for joining me on my healing journey through India by following me and reading all my blog posts, it was a way for me to get my story out.  I really enjoyed reading the comments every day and answering them with a smile or laughing right out loud!

All my gratitude to everyone in India for making my experience so memorable, Piyusha, Shambhavi, Chandrajit, Darshith, Binay, Bhavya, Neerja, Dinesh and Srinath.  You are all in my heart.

I have made even more WP friends in India because of this mini-series so it looks like my water bottle and I will have to make another trip one day to more cities and hilarious airports.  In the meantime, if you would like to connect more with me and see how crazy my life really is, join me on:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

 

All My Gratitude To YOU From Around The World,

Jenny ❤
xo

Finally, my friend Michelle reminded me about this song by Canadian artist Alanis Morrisette titled Thank You and it’s about taking time off, letting go, forgiving, being vulnerable, exposing your true self courageously and thanking all the consequences that happened to you.  It’s a true story of her career and her time off in India, while thanking India for the healing.  How appropriate, connected, relevant and amazing.

Thank you India