Saturday, January 4, 2020

Water your rose

Relationships are like roses, Anu had once read. Give them attention, right amount of water, just enough sunshine and they thrive. You neglect, they wilt, and die, so slowly that you wouldn't know. And then any amount of watering won't make them alive.

If only she watered hers.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Mind game

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

"I can't tell if my mind is playing tricks with me. What if what I think I want is just my mind telling me because it is cooler than what I really want? "

"Like how?"

"Like I want to grow up the corporate ladder. I see women bosses with their own cabins and I desire that. What if I am chasing something that I never really wanted?"

"You know, people have all these questions. But they never stop to listen. The universe always answers. You gotta stop posing more questions."

The stores began to close but not their conversations.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

encuentro mexicano !

A flimsy line dividing USA and MEXICO

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

When visa situations forced me to quit my job temporarily and travel out of country, we decided to go to Mexico to get the paperwork done. Although, Canada was our first choice, life was hellbent on giving us lemons.

Now having already watched Narcos, and binge-ing on Better call Saul series, it didn't help with matters of forming a better impression on Mexico. On TV, Jimmy McGill was trying intensely to convince Tuco Salamanca that breaking one of the legs of the teenage boys would send the right message than killing them.

"We are not leaving the hotel room except for the consulate. And we will order food in." Sush declared, suddenly aware of our stark lack of any persuasion skills.

I grimaced but didn't say anything. This was a battle to be fought when time comes.

So in a few days, we were all set to go to Tijuana. The name was already familiar due to Tijuana Taxi and Tijuana Flats that we used to frequent. We flew to LA and drove via San Diego towards the border. The 'Last USA exit' sign on freeway was amusing. After parking the car in a garage close by, we walked towards the pedestrian crossing. The process is simple, although it gives a feeling as if you are walking into a prison with guarded high walls, security cameras spying all over you. Read along to know more on what it was like in a foreign country.

Some surprising things, trivia and funny anecdotes 

First impressions

~ Tijuana was surprisingly clean and neat wherever we went, as if the streets have been freshly swept.  I cannot speak for the rest of the Mexico, but when I was told to expect it to be like India - I was imagining noisy, incessant honking, trash strewn roads. Probably being a border city contributed to its well maintenance, I don't know, but I was delightfully impressed. 

~ The major mode of transportation is car, either Uber or personally owned. I also saw 10-seater taxis for public transportation. No buses or two-wheelers. The uniformity made the roads look less-chaotic and orderly, although I don't deny there was traffic.

~ We visited in August, which is basically still Summer. But being at an elevation with a pacific coast, the weather was sunny with a nice omnipresent chilly breeze. It made long walks from the consulate to the hotel an enjoyable experience as we soaked in the ruggedness of the city landscape. 

~ Pesos is the Mexican currency. One American dollar is equal to 20 pesos or Mexican dollars. While sauntering through the shopping malls, Sush and I indulged in a haircut and a pedicure respectively and it cost us 720$ ! In pesos :)

750$ for a pedicure !

While I was getting pedicured, I saw a man getting pedicured too, and then had his eyebrows waxed. The salon was unisex and pretty easy-going. And if you didn't already guess, not one spoke English.

Oh! the language

This was our first time in a non-English speaking country, and it didn't dawn on us until we opened our mouths. Nothing we said was understood. I started speaking in slow, broken English, hoping they would catch a word and get the meaning, but that only resulted in another barrage of Spanish.

Only a handful spoke English, like the receptionists at Hilton, and at the Consulate, and probably one or two people at some big restaurants. And in general, people seemed friendly and seemed to like to greet strangers with a hello, or a good morning or a good night. So we felt helpless when we couldn't return the gesture except with a nod and a sheepish smile.

Some hilarious experiences:

Once at a restaurant, we decided to practice saying "Good night" in Spanish and use it wherever we could. "Buenas Noches" I repeated for the 10th time in low whispers. When it was time for us to leave, the waiter was busy with the other guest, so we missed one opportunity. But then there was one more chance at the hotel. So armed with this new sentence, we entered the lobby. The receptionist was working at her computer and said something to us. Sush nodded to her.

"What did she say? " I asked, flabbergasted that I completely missed what she said.

"The same thing you have been blabbering since 30 minutes. Buenas Noches."

I couldn't recognize two simple words that I have been learning, when it came from her mouth. I immediately gave up my secret idea of learning 50 phrases while we were there. I thought I will  stick to the buenos and the noches and the dias for now.


Everything is written in Spanish - Billboards, menus in restaurants, you get the drift. 

For example, "tomillo, pimientos rojos, guisantes, judías verdes, arroz bomba de paella clásico con tiernos trozos de filetes de muslos de pollo y adornado con perejil fresco y limón " This is the description for paella de pollo (chicken paella). Except tomillo and lemon, I couldn't guess a thing. I later then learnt that pollo was chicken and I kicked myself for not remembering it before.

We would scour the menu card for familiar words, narrow down to one or two choices, then use the google translator to understand the ingredients. Asking the waiter any question is a waste of time if you do not know the language. I remember trying to ask her if she could add chicken to the pasta.

"Can you add some chicken to this, chicken.. chi-cken ." I broke it down to her as if she would understand. (Now you might think that was stupid of me, but I had the mindset that even the remotest villages in India know what chicken is, and sometimes shops have 'chicken center' written in regional languages. So I assumed they would know some basic English words!)

"si tiene tomates" came the confident matter-of-fact reply.

I stared at her mouth, hoping the words will miraculously make sense, but it was still Spanish.

"Chicken, meat .. chick-en..can you add to this ?" I repeated, now using sign language as well, furiously pointing to the menu, and doing the "add" action, ignoring the embarrassed look on Sush's face.

"si tiene tomates", she repeated, confidently. By this time, I was pretty sure she was saying tomatoes, but gave up.

Eventually, I got the pasta with some extra tomatoes.


At a beautiful view point, I asked Sush if we should ask someone to take a picture of us.
"Are you crazy!? If that person runs away with our phone, by the time we figure out how to ask for help, he would be in Mars". I didn't argue this time.


Spanish is spoken by 90% of the Mexican population. The rest 10% speak indigenous languages like Mayan, Nahuatl etc. Did you know avocado originated from Nahuatl ?

I gotta pee!

Restrooms are not as accessible as they are in the US. You cannot just barge into a restaurant or a coffee shop and use the loo. This took some planning and getting adjusting to.

Caesar salad was born here

 The world famous Caesar salad was first made here. It is believed that Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant operating restaurants in San Diego and Tijuana, invented this dish on 4th of July when his kitchen ran out of supplies and had to make do with whatever was available. By table-side-tossing-by-the-chef, he added a dramatic flair to the dish, making it popular.

The original Caesar salad. Not sure what the fuss is all about though.

This photo of Caesar's is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The busiest border crossing in the world

With over 300,000 crossings a day, TJ is the busiest crossing between two countries in the world. A lot of Tijuana's citizens work in San Diego or go to school there, crossing everyday to do so. Traffic can get backed up, making the border crossing over 3 hours long.
Closing this post with some shots we took on our trip. They speak a 
thousand more words. I wish we ventured out more, but this was good enough for starters. 
Border crossing

The infamous wall separating the beaches of TJ and San diego

Did you notice the 'Last USA exit'? Felt funny.

Can you spot me?

After these two clicks, I was so angry, I didn't talk to Sush the whole ride back to LA

First dinner in TJ. Hot yummy soup.

The views were breathtaking near the consulate.
Two police cars rounded us up as we took this pic near the consulate.

The view I was talking about.

Some gorgeous shopping malls

This one at Hilton made me smile! Someone really cares if you are being good.

Jalepenos in soy sauce in a restaurant

Thursday, September 12, 2019


PHOTO PROMPT © CEAyr for Friday Fictioneers

"Ok, You! Glasses! Get your ass up here and solve this!"

"Schmidt, name is Schmidt, Sir. "

"Were you a snail in your previous life, walk faster!"

Muffled giggles filled the air.

"You, Angrybird! You are up next. Wipe that scowl and get ready. And ponytail, kill the chuckle, will ya!?"

The giggles got softer. Cheeks flushed. Air was hot.

Next day when the teacher came into class, 'Welcome, Mr. Bleach' was written in bold all over the blackboard. If his face turned pale, nobody knew.

PS : This is a less-than-100-words fiction written for Friday Fictioneers, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Separation anxiety.

the tears refuse to stop
the lump in my throat
a stubborn presence
adjectives like heavy heart
slowly begin to make sense

images flash my mind
of you falling from the stairs
 'amma' filling the air
of eyes searching for me and
me not being there

I imagine if you will see
the same love in their eyes 
the same warmth in your grandma's hug
A dam of tears bursting
at that silly meandering bug

Its stupid
its irrational
My mind tries to reason
But every cell of my heart
decide to ache in unison

Is it my need for you
or the need for you
to feel the need for me
I am a hostage of this bond we have
beautiful and painful as can be

amid all this chaos
I also feel grateful
to have felt something so profound 
Its alright that it caused pain because
all beautiful things have that abound.

- its funny how sadness evokes poems. 

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