Friday, May 28, 2010

Five great travel photos

Nikon F3 Purple

There is this Travel photo contest  by Blogadda in association with Pringoo. Click on the links for all details. Since I love travel and I love photography (ok ok I love Blogadda too :) and I am not saying this for the contest. They have already interviewed me , you know  :-))  I decided to take part in this one. I had a tough time choosing just five photos because I have travelled so much and really have thousands of snaps! Here are my five. Please click on image to enlarge.

These are the gates of the Buckingham Place in London. I stared at it in admiration for a few seconds. They glistened. I wondered how many hours and how many people it takes  to polish them and I am quite sure they must be doing it every  single day!

This picture was clicked by me on Cromer Beach In Norfolk. The colours of these beach huts fascinated me.Summer time is a lovely time to visit these beaches, as it gets very cold in the U.K in other months. It was the first time in my life that I was visiting a beach where one had to wear heavy coats! I always associated beaches with Goa and presumed that all beaches would be just as hot (climate wise!) :-) I loved Cromer.

The above photo is a very recent one and was clicked in front of York Minister, in York,U.K. York Minister is the largest Gothic Cathedral in northern Europe. Cathedrals were representation of heaven on earth. When you enter the cathedral, the feeling of peace that descends on you is almost as unbelievable as it seems ethereal.  It is truly one of the greatest cathedrals of the world. Click on the link for more information.

This was clicked by me  at God's own country, Kerala, India. The National Geographic  has selected it as 50 destinations of a lifetime. Looking at the sun peeping out almost coyly from behind the forest of rubber trees, trying to hide its brightness, but failing and glistening instead  like a diamond, its ostensibly languid rays spreading out, it is easy to see why I felt enchanted as my eyes soaked in this scene. I simply had to capture it.

When I first stepped into Model Merrivale village at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, U.K I felt exactly how Gulliver would have felt when he stepped into Lilliput.This little village is a to scale model with amazing accuracy and astounding details. Every single thing has been thought of and taken care of. In case you want to read more about the above visit, you can go here where I have written about it in detail (yes there are more photos too).

If enjoyed looking at my pictures as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you be generous and leave me a comment :-)

Have a great weekend folks!

Addendum : 
My son who is only 12 is taking part too!! :) If you think my images are good, you should see his! (and this is not a proud mom boasting.) See for yourself:

Monday, May 24, 2010

How to make a handmade card even if you cannot draw

Till I moved to the U.K I had no idea that card making is actually a hobby for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people. There are many magazines here entirely devoted to this craft. There are many books too on the same. I was fascinated to discover them.

I have always enjoyed creating things. Some times I have given away cards on my blog, as a thank you to all of you who read me. (Remember my pop up cards  and the post where I had asked about the make of the car )
 Shru and  Amit have patiently waited for their cards and I finally got down to making them. Here they are! They will be in your hands soon!

Somehow I love handmade things! Getting a real card instead of an electronic one (which is also rare these days. Most people are happy just writing a hurried message on Facebook wall or sending scraps on Orkut ) truly brightens the day of the recipient. At least it does that to me. I love it when someone has taken the trouble to make that phone call or send a real card.

I had decided that I'd be giving away a handmade card to the 300th follower of this blog. I kept watching as the numbers went up, wondering who the 300th would be. When it reached the magic figure I went to the blog and left a comment asking for his postal address. He was delighted. The 300th follower was Addy.
 Addy, here is your card! It is in the mail and will reach you soon!

The first card was entirely painted by me. It is a water colour where I have used wet on wet technique. The second card, I painted the fish, then cut it out and mounted it on thick card. I then stuck crumpled blue handmade paper as a background and stuck the fish on it. For those of you who cannot paint, you can still make cards for your loved ones,  if you want to.(Use a printed picture instead of the fish I used)

The third card that I made for Addy requires no drawing skill at all.  Here are the things you will need and here is how to make it.

 Things needed:
1.A very sharp craft knife, (I used a Derwent Craft knife).Take extreme care while using this , else you could end up in surgery :P :)

2.Foam sheets of different colours which you can get in any craft store or stores that sell Art supplies in India.

3. A craft  punch  You get them now in India too. They cost about Rs.50 -70/- if I remember . Choose a punch whose shape you like

4. Hand made paper of different kinds. Keep looking for scraps of paper around you.(wedding invites, gift wraps, event invites) You will be surprised what different textures and what different kinds you can find. Even the smallest bit can be used for something. Collect them!

5. Fancy buttons: Again you can keep looking. Perhaps that Kurti which you have worn till it is threadbare has buttons that can be salvaged? Visit any craft store or a place where they sell embroidery threads and they are sure to have them.

6. A good glue. Fevicol is great :) I missed my fevicol while making this! I used something called Gel glue instead.

Now--the most important step: Use your imagination!!

What I did  to make the above card was
1. I cut out light blue handmade paper and stuck it as a background

2. Next I measured the base of the light blue back ground and cut a sheet of green foam with the same length and one third its height. Then I used the craft knife to cut the 'bumps' on it. I stuck this right at the bottom.

3.I punched out various flowers using the flower punch. You can use pictures from magazines if you like. Or you can cut them by hand if you don't want to buy a punch. You can also vary the shapes of the flowers and use your own imagination. Perhaps you want to stick a car? Or a bike? Or a tree? I stuck the punched out flowers. I also stuck a cloud.

4.I cut out thin strips from yellow foam to make the rays of the sun and stuck them.

5. I used corrugated sheet and cut out a small piece. I  wrote the word 'smile' on a cream paper which would contrast the corrugated piece. I stuck this on the corrugated sheet. Then I stitched a little tag with some embroidery thread. (you could stick this too)

6. I stuck the buttons and made the tag hang from the button. I also used a little glue while making it hang so it wouldn't come off.

Voila!! A handmade card is ready!!

Isn't it pretty?

Guys--make this for your girlfriend (Imagine the surprise on her face) and watch her MELT! :-)

All you single people : Make this for that great  friend  and make them feel on top of the world :-)

Moms and Dads:  You can make this as a special project with your kids

Oh--and don't forget to thank me  for showing you how to do this :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

And sometimes words just aren't enough!

It is a game we sometimes play when we are feeling extra affectionate towards each other and when too much love is flowing. :-)
She curls up into the cranny of my arm and brushes her cheeks against mine. I revel in the baby soft skin and inhale the sweet  baby scent of her  hair and pull her a bit closer, savouring this moment, committing every detail of it  it to memory. I want it to last forever.
" I am so lucky. Why did you choose me as your mother?" I ask .
She thinks for a fraction of a second and then without missing a beat she answers, trailing my cheek with her tiny little fingers.
"When God was sending me to Earth, he pointed out a lot of mummies. I looked around and you were the prettiest and the kindest and the sweetest. So I chose you! Simple!" she exclaims and breaks into a grin, like she has just made  the most profound statement on earth.
I smile too.

She turned nine today, my baby. It seems just the other day that she was born (at 5.45.A.M, the sun was just rising) and I had cried in joy, not believing that I could be so lucky to have a daughter.
"Don't cry, you can try for a boy next year," the Nurse at the hospital had said, presuming I had a son fixation which a lot of people in India do.
In my hormone crazed pregnancy madness I could have hit her.
"I already have a son. I had been longing for a daughter. I cannot believe I am so lucky. These are tears of joy." I had said haltingly, mumbling one third in anger, one third  in excitement and the rest in the sheer exhilaration of the moment.

I stayed up till 1.00.A.M last night making this portrait of her. She adored it. She has been asking me to make a picture of her for a very long time, but I had kept putting it off, being absorbed in completing my 2nd book and a million other things that go into it apart from my art, the children's studies and a lot more.(It has been hectic the last few days)
I am so glad I did. The million watt smile she gave when she saw the picture was totally worth it.

Happy Birthday my darling daughter. You are loved a LOT.

1.Happy birthday Manish Rahul  He is one of my oldest friends who went to school with me.!
2. Happy Birthday   Mamta Sharma who is now a good friend.

Somehow just the virtue of sharing a birthday with my daughter instantly endears them to me! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two power packed books

When Satjit Wadva first contacted me and asked me if she could use two pieces I had written (I had written one for Times of India and another was in my book' 34 bubblegums and Candies' ) for a book on 'women' which she was editing and compiling, I was honoured. I readily agreed. But I had no idea at that time that the finished product would be so good!

Last month she sent me not only that book but also her earlier book ' Life is Death is not'.

Both books are beautifully hardbound and a delight to behold! (All book-lovers will know what I am talking about when I say that.) Both are non fiction.

The first book (yes, my name appears on the cover page along with eminent writers like Taslima Nasrin and Khushwant Singh) is basically a compilation of deep, thought provoking pieces by different writers. All the pieces are well chosen. Satjit herself has written about the Dowry system in India and also another piece called 'Live Like a woman' which acts like a wake-up call and makes one think. The book also has  a wonderful piece by Sam Levinson which was read by Audrey Hepburn and also has a poem by Wordsworth.

Female  foeticide is an ugly truth which India faces and is not only  appalling but also heinous, unforgivable and unjustified to say the very least.  It is a brutal crime and deeply pained by this, the publishers decided to come out with a book like this, which they felt was the need of the hour.
The back blurb of the book says "Woman--many shades, many hues captures the multifaceted phenomenon  of a woman. It looks at how she is and how she has survived the stifling circumstances for centuries and yet come out not just alive, but vivacious and brimming with life." The book also contains some light hearted pieces.

Satjit's other book, "Life is, death is not" moved me deeply. She says that death is something we all have to face one day, yet we avoid talking about it as it is considered morbid and depressing. This book is an attempt to understand and accept the inevitability of death. It makes us contemplate on death It makes us realise how important life is. The first part of the book (which I devoured) contains in a nut-shell what various religions say about death.The perspectives are enlightening. The second part has many pieces, again written by various eminent writers about their personal experience with death. Satjit's own piece "The deaths I have lived" moved me a great deal. I also loved her practical matter-of-fact approach in dealing with rituals associated with death.With writings from Kahlil Gibran as well as Amrita Pritam and Khushwant Singh, this book is truly 'wisdom in a capsule'.

Both the above books are definitely not for 'light reading' but they leave a big impact on one.

 Incidentally, Satjit Wadva is the person who was my editor for '34 Bubblegums and Candies' and she did a splendid job. She was very supportive, very thorough and had endless patience. I am grateful to her. I began addressing her by first name as we had only spoken to each other on the phone  and later I learnt that she is above 60. :) When I knew that, the Indian values instilled in me made me want to call her 'Satjit M'am' but she said she actually  liked it that  I called  her Satjit. (I could understand as somehow I hate it when people call me 'aunty' unless they are my children's age! I find it an obnoxious custom in India that even 25 year olds call married women 'aunty'!! I am of course proud of Indian traditions but am anti the aunty culture! )

Thank you Satjit for sharing these two books  with me. I am enriched because of the same.

In case you want to buy a copy of these books, they cost Rs.295/- and Rs.300/- . You can get them directly from Satjit herself  (e-mail her on or from the publishers (email them on

Friday, May 14, 2010

What WON'T YOU do for love?

Something nice happened to me yesterday. It was a total blast from the past. I got a message on Facebook from a cousin's husband who had met me just twice--once  when I was 12 years old and then met me once again when I was 22. That was the last we met. I did not remember him at all. I did not even remember the second meeting.  I scanned my memory trying to salvage a teeny weeny scrap, trying hard to recall something  but I came up with a big zilch. (and that happens very rarely!)

But the stuff he mentioned  about me was absolutely right  and it made me chuckle.

 He mentioned my fascination with Ghost stories when I was 12 which was absolutely correct. All my younger cousins used to be totally enraptured and used to sit in rapt attention and pin drop silence as I went wild spinning tales after tales, lowering my voice dramatically and then suddenly screaming (and at this point they all fell out of their chairs in fright! I was such a wicked little thing) and frightening the living daylights out of them.

He mentioned that when I was 22, I had told him that my favourite band was Meatloaf! I have absolutely no recollection of this either! But I remember how my brother and I used to go completely crazy and berserk with our imaginations on the lyrics of this song. (See the video embedded below. It is a nice song)

For those of you for whom Meatloaf is ancient , let me tell you how the song goes. It goes:

"I 'd do anything for love, but I won't do THAT.."

My brother and I used to ask each other, what WON'T you do for love?

Then we would try to outdo each other with our answers which would range from "I won't drink the water from the toilet bowl" to "I won't eat a plate of cockroaches" to-- ahem-- more wild things which I cannot mention here as this blog is read by those under 18 too. So those above 18 reading this, feel free to use your imaginations . Heh Heh Heh! :)

This exercise of ours, completely took away the depth of the lyrics of the song , which are indeed beautiful and deep--but we were such sillies, ridiculing every single thing. Nothing was sacred to us, and how we would roll on the floor laughing at what we presumed was our own cleverness. :) We used to especially giggle over the lines "No-one else can save me now but you." :) Powerful lines, but how they made us laugh because by then we had got into that crazy laughing mode! :)

Now here is my question for you.

What won't  YOU do for love?

Tell me , tell me! I'd love to know :)  (but tone down the R rated factor please--some of my friend's kids do read this) :)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A car chase, a new site and more! Happy birthday Ajay Chauhan!

There are friends that call you up and wish you on your birthday. Then there are friends who send mails wishing you. Then there are friends who are happy to wish you through Orkut scraps and Facebook walls.
Very rarely do you find a friend who travels 2061 kilometres,  goofs up  on the ticket date, buys a new ticket at the airport without even a second thought about cost involved, and takes off a day from work, just so he can be with you on your birthday.  I consider myself extremely fortunate to have such a friend.(Yes, the above snap was clicked on my birthday)  I have mentioned him quite a few times on my blog and today I cannot help mentioning him again because...yes—you guessed’s his birthday today! :-)

Because of the nature of his job, which is really a high-stress one, he does not get home before 1.00.a.m most nights. Yet, he has been helping me so much, with not only content on my new website but a lot of other things as well.  He was as happy as me  when it finally went live yesterday.  (Yes! It is live! Check out  for a lot of stuff about me that you perhaps did not know :-))  

For my second book, he has been the one  pushing me so much to go on and write (especially at times when I felt like giving it up), reading my drafts, suggesting changes, pouncing on grammar  I might have missed (yeah the guy is really sharp. Maybe he gets it from his mother who is a writer too) , encouraging me such a lot  and being almost as involved as me . (and yes, my second book is finally complete too. I will be announcing  here  the final date of when  it will be out. It would take a few months more. Thank you for being patient!)

Now, a special request—actually it is not a request, it is a quest. Will the girl who chased him in a silver SX 4 on 22nd April on the roads of Gurgaon at around 11.30 in the morning, please contact him? He wants to ask you out for coffee and has been desperately trying to find out who you are!

 He even had it as his g-talk status message for 2 whole weeks hoping that someone would be able to tell him who she was. He says he does not know any girl who drives a silver sx4. He was driving to office Shumacher style, as he was late, when this car started following him like crazy. An Italian job  style Hollywood car chase ensued. He finally pulled to the side and this really cute girl pulls up beside him ,waves to him and drives off! Since the glasses were tinted in both cars he could not make out who it was and if he wasn’t getting late to work, he’d have jumped out and asked her for coffee right there!

In case any of you who read my blog (and more than 700 people read me —thank you folks, I am  honoured and delighted!) knows this girl, please pass on this message to her :-) It’s his b’day after all. Let us make the birthday boy’s day!

Happy birthday Ajay Chauhan!  Here is a little something  for you apart from that other something that I sent through another good friend. (Thank you Mayank!)

May you continue to shine and grow and may you get whatever you heart truly desires.

 Loads of wishes and positive vibes are being sent your way.

And yes—may you find that perfect girl too, with or without the car chase! ;-)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

10 very important things I learnt from my children

Mothers Day Pictures, Images and Photos

Really sorry--I have had to remove this post as it will soon appear in a book. Making it available online would have been very unfair to my publisher who has placed so much trust in me. I hope you enjoy the other posts as much as you enjoyed this one. A heartfelt thanks for your support and understanding.Thanks for continuing to read what I write.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The hardest thing in the world

The hardest thing in the world

The hardest thing in the world to bear
Is to watch a relationship die
And be handcuffed to it.

The hardest thing in the world to want
Is a need to talk to make things all right
But knowing that anything you say is going to sound all wrong.

The hardest thing in the world to hope for
Is expecting to be loved back with same intensity
When you know the source is barren and long dead.

The hardest thing in the world to do
Is loving someone with your whole soul
But not even being acknowledged in return.

The hardest thing in the world to understand
Is why truth lacerates the heart and soul
And the pain still feels raw each time it is thought of.

The hardest truth in the world to accept
Is knowledge that nothing lasts forever
But to continue life, pretending it does.
© 2009 Preeti Shenoy

For more poems click here. Some poems have already appeared in print.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Why is it important to say 'I love you'?

Is it really important to say the words "I love you?" to your loved ones--your closest friends, your family members, your relatives, your children and your spouse? If actions speak louder than words why isn't 'action' enough? Why do some people say these words easily and why do they choke in the throats of others like a fish-bone or like a large morsel of food swallowed hastily? If you are above the age of fifty you would probably find it harder to say the words, as you're conditioned to think and behave in  certain ways. But if you're not older than fifty (give or take a few years) you probably can say them if you  really want to.

The fact is that three simple words "I love you" when said, when you really mean them, have the power to uplift, to heal, to comfort, to calm and reassure. They are very powerful words indeed. All humans long to hear these words. They show an unconditional acceptance  of the other person and create a powerful shield around their vulnerabilities.

Everyone feels unloved now and then. There is enough negativity, stress, anger and hate in the world. The words when uttered by a loved one, enriches the giver as well as the receiver. It goes a long way indeed in making that person feel wonderful. Think back about the last time that you heard those words. Remember the emotions you experienced. The person you say it to, would of course be experiencing the same emotions. Who does not want to be loved?

Saying "I love you" or "Love you loads" when you really mean it, is in fact, an electrifying form of  communication. You can just feel the energy in those three words.

My friend Gillian says everybody has a cup of love that needs to be filled every single day. I agree whole heartedly with her.By nature, I am very expressive, and I do tell the special people in my life often that I love them. Gillian does too (a lot more than me)  and it is no wonder that she draws so many positive people towards her.

 Why is it so important? Because life is very short and very unpredictable. People die. Relationships die.There may be times or there may be days when you want to say it but you're unable to. You cannot because that person is no longer there. It is one of the saddest feelings I have experienced. I know that on some days I want to hear it very badly. (Perhaps my cup wasn't filled enough that day)

When parents hear "I love you", they feel assured that they did not do such a terrible job of raising you after all. When a child hears "I love you" what he hears is "I am there for you even if you make terrible mistakes. you are not a bad person." When friends hear "I Love you" they feel appreciated and valued and loved. 

So just say it!  Text or mail if you're still shy about expressing it, but it is very important to express it.

I feel  so content when I hear these words from the ones closest to me. I'd much rather have my cupful of love than a pair of diamond ear-rings or an expensive perfume any day! Sometimes I demand it, but it is not the same as getting it unconditionally.

If you're able to say it and if you have people who say it often to you, then you are blessed beyond belief. Consider yourself lucky. Very lucky and blessed indeed.

May it always stay that way!