Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge: The Complete Works

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


As A-Z winds to a close, if I think back and reflect, I have to say what an amazing month this was!
From the challenging timeline itself to trying out different styles, I have thoroughly enjoyed the journey!
Here's a listing of everything that came out during this period!
A-Z might be done, but I'll still be around! Hope you'll be too!

I love your comments!!

Z for Zimbabwe: And Ever and Ever

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

Sadly, this post also marks the end of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge. I have enjoyed the entire journey and hopeflully you enjoyed reading the posts as much as I loved to write them!


If you haven't read Part 1 of the story yet, read it here

Two years later
Thursday, 12-Apr-2018 (In Person)
“Please, Tanya. I’ll be gone for only a week this time, I promise.”
“I don’t know, Imran. This feels like deja vu. You got a second chance back then because of your excellent workmanship. But that’s all I can afford. There will be no third chances.”
“Monday it is.”

Wednesday, 25-Apr-2018 (Via Telecon)
“I remember your case. Tanya had finally relented to take you back on the project. What is it this time?”
“My brother’s wedding, Sir”
(Pause)

“Didn’t you say you had only one brother?”
“Yes Sir. Only one brother.”
“Didn’t he already get married in Yemen?”
“Yes Sir. That was Yemen. This is Zimbabwe.”
(Pause)

“Polygamy is legal in Zimbabwe, Sir.”
(Long Pause)

“Would you like to collect your termination letter personally or would you like me to fax it over to your brother’s address in Zimbabwe?”

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Zimbabwe recognizes legal rights for a man to marry multiple wives making polygamy extremely popular in the country. Link: http://www.sundaymail.co.zw/polygamy-two-sides-of-the-same-coin/

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Y for Yemen: Joined in Harmony, For Ever and Ever and Ever

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


Thursday, 21-Apr-2016
“I’ll need a day more, Tanya. I should be back on Monday.”
“You’re already a week late, Imran. Just one more day. I’ll expect to see you on Monday.”

Monday, 25-Apr-2016
“There’s just the last bit left to wrap up. Tomorrow for sure.”
“You were going to join today, Imran. You better report to work tomorrow.”

Wednesday, 27-Apr-2016
“If you’re not here by Friday, Imran, I’m going to have to talk to HR.”
“Please don't do that Tanya. The festivities were so drawn out, I kept getting pulled into everything and I’m from the family, Tanya. I had to help. I’m so sorry. I’ll join tomorrow for sure and I’ll make up for the delay.”

Friday, 29-Apr-2016
“No Sir. I feel so horrid. I never knew it would stretch out so far. It was just supposed to be a wedding. A quick week off. But then this is Yemen. The wedding feast has been going on for the past nineteen days and it’s my brother’s wedding, I really couldn’t get away. Please do consider this as a genuine personal problem, Sir.”

Click here to find out what happens next in Imran's story!

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Yemeni weddings are a matter of pride and social prestige. Wedding feasts typically last for an average of 21 days. Link: http://www.travelingeast.com/middle-east/yemen/ten-interesting-facts-about-yemen/

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Friday, April 29, 2016

X for meXico: Too Hot To Handle!

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


“You’ve ordered this dish at your own risk. Please do not complain that it is too hot or spicy. We will only join your friends and laugh at you some more. Bon Apetit!” says the note accompanying the dish. Whoa! That sure trumps up the dare quota a bit.

Habanero Hell Peppers. The name of the dish does sound a little intimidating but then how spicy can it be for an Indian, right? And with that thought, I give AJ a thumbs up and we go for it!

We gingerly pick up one each of the two deep fried balls and chew off a bite slowly. AJ rolls his eyes at me and shrugs. Boy, are they underestimating us or what! And so, we proceed with the rest of it.

Thirty-six seconds later, I’m on fire. Unbelievable, unquenchable, fire. Like my heart would pop out of my mouth. Like I’m drowning and cannot come up for air. Gasping, wheezing. It takes us three dollops of cream cheese each, two glasses of water and some ice cubes to finally put it out. Underneath the cream cheese, we find a parting note.

“The world’s hottest chili. With love. From meXico.”

The above story is an exception to the A-Z 2016 series since no characters or events depicted in this post were fictional.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Note: Since there aren’t any countries that start with X, meXico was kind enough to step in. Native to Mexico, Habanero peppers are rated as the hottest peppers all over the world.  Link source here.  Also, this Youtube video would probably give you an idea of what we went through!

I would love to hear your views!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W for .. well sWeden: Parenting 101

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


I wiggle my toes inside the bunny eared sock Mom has pulled over my left foot. My other sock is coming off but Dad doesn’t seem to have noticed. The lady he’s talking to oohs and aahs over me. I put on my angriest face for her. She laughs “Aww he’s so adorable.” Ok, angry face clearly not working. Switch to plan B. Bite her finger.

“Oooh he’s sucking my finger!!! Teething, is he?” Get away, woman!

The wind starts howling all around me and Dad takes off saying his goodbyes. This new blanket I'm bundled in is so soft and smells like cotton candy. We’re almost home. Hey, wait? What? Dad where are you going? Helllloooooo eleven month baby left outside home in stroller, anyone listening?!! Mom! Help! It’s cold, brrrr! I hear them arguing in the kitchen.

“Where’s Krish?” Mom asks.
“Left him outside for some fresh air, he’s fine,” he says.
“Are you crazy? You’ve lost it! This isn’t sWeden! This is India! You don’t leave babies in strollers out the door!” she cries as she comes running to me! I love you Mamma!!!

PS: Since there aren’t any countries that start with W, sWeden was kind enough to step in.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Several sWedish children grow up acclimatizing to sub-zero temperatures from a much younger age, barely a few months to be precise as parents leave them out in buggies and strollers to get them a dose of fresh air. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-21537988

I would love to hear your views!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V for Venezuela: Baby proofing!

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


I hoist Tanya high up on my hip and juggle ten additional items. The diaper bag, car keys, my wallet, ready cash, a Dora sippy cup, a large packet of diapers, two bottles of Gerbers, a baby thermometer, candies and a tourist map highlighting nearby attractions.

Inching along the checkout queue at the supermarket, I receive looks of sympathy from people around me. I politely decline an offer of a cart. The minute I set Tanya down, those sympathetic looks would turn to looks that kill. My two year old can break ear-shattering pitch records of the opera. As my turn comes I place the items on the counter and hand over the cash.

“Certificate dahling?” she drawls.
“Eh?” I draw a blank. “No food coupons. All cash.”
“This eez Venezuela. You want baby items, show me birth certificate? No certificate, no buy.”
“You’re kidding, right?” I say, exasperated. The mere thought of spending two more minutes hashing out technicalities seems undoable now. I do the next best thing I can, guaranteed to get me out of here with all of it, certificate or not. I seat Tanya on the counter.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Venezuela is a country that despite its riches practices grocery and basics rationing religiously. In order to buy diapers, mothers are expected to show birth certificates. Link Source1 and Source2

I would love to hear your views!

Monday, April 25, 2016

U for Uganda: For the love of SRK!

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


“Legs off the sofa, or you don’t get pasta!”
“It’s ok Mommy. I don’t want pasta,” says my seven year old, matter-of-factly.

Now that’s unexpected. Pasta has always, ALWAYS worked before. I ponder a change in strategy when he scoots over and forks in a mouthful of penne.

Uganda is in Africa, Mommy. It’s a poor country,” he says between bites. “I’m going to help the people there.” My heart swells with pride at this.

“… meet Shah Rukh Khan there,” he exclaims, cheese dripping off the corner of his mouth. My little one, all grown up, helping the impoverished … wait, what? Where did Shah Rukh Khan come from?

“Shah Rukh Khan? In Uganda?”
“Yeah Mommy. Ms. Nadia said Ugandans don't have enough electricity. He lit that light bulb in that movie, remember? So he can help, no?” Face palm. Scratch WHO and Red Cross. My son is more enamoured by the Bollywood actor’s role in a movie where he generated electricity for a village.

“Then they can watch Doraemon too,” he continues.
I console myself with the thought that hopefully, his empathy for the kids of Uganda outweighs his fascination with the cheesy actor. 

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Uganda continues to struggle with power generation and distribution. Hydroelectric power generation is now being looked at one of the top possible solutions to the problem. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/power-shortages-plague-uganda-2012-01-17

I would love to hear your views!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

T for Thailand: Monkey Business

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


There’s an electricity in the air, a nervous anticipation of the unknown. And then I hear it. A low murmur in the distance, picking up speed and volume as it gets closer. Like a tsunami, like the sounds of the ocean taking over your senses leaving you no time to react. Thirty seconds later, they are all over the place. Monkeys. Thousands of them. I watch horrified as they continue to swarm out of the temple in large numbers. Most of them focus on the food laid out for them. Some detour into the crowd of people gathered to watch the event. They climb up people’s backs, play with their hats, their sunglasses.

I locate him in the crowd and our eyes lock. He reaches down, pats the man he’s standing behind and before I can realize it, he has his wallet in his hand. I gasp. He moves along. This time to a lady with a handbag. Three slits and its contents falls into his waiting palms. In the distance the monkeys continue to keep the crowd entertained. I feel a nudge on my side. I look up and it’s him. He narrows his eyes at me, shoving the loot into my hands. “And that’s how you do it. Your turn.”

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Every year, one of the main tourist attractions in Thailand is the Monkey Buffet Festival. In addition to feeding the monkeys, people also dress up in monkey costumes for parades and other activities. http://festivalasia.net/festivals/Monkey-Buffet-Festival-2015.html

I would love to hear your views!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

S for Spain: Men will be men

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


It’s my first time at the festival. I’m only seven. Not Years. Kilos. Dad lays me down on the street next to Pablo. I hate Pablo. Barely a day older and acting as if he’s more experienced with the ladies. Pablo sticks his tongue out at me. I make ugly faces at him and look away. Up ahead, Nancy’s mom, Tanya, is bringing her over for the festival too. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Pablo inching closer to me freeing up space to his left for Nancy. The diabolical devil. I inch closer to him myself. Now there’s more space on my right. A few feet away, Nancy’s mom stops at the sidelines. Pablo and I exchange disgusting looks and edge away.

It’s my first time at the festival. I’m only twenty-nine. Years. Not kilos. My nine-month old Daniel lies in wait. Next to that dumbhead Alejandro’s kid, Pablo. There are eight kids lined in a row, a jump distance of maybe six feet. I tie up my shoe laces. To my right, the dumbhead does the same. He licks his thumb and uses it to smooth his eyebrows, flicking a smile at Tanya. As if she would ever fall for that, what an idiot! I can’t wait for him to make a fool of himself. As my turn comes, Tanya smiles at me. Knowing that Alejandro is watching, I wave at her, give him a smug smile and go for the jump. 1-0.


Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
One of the five strangest fiestas in Spain, the baby jumping festival of El Colacho is celebrated with much pomp and grandeur. http://www.spain-holiday.com/blog/5-of-the-strangest-fiestas-in-spain.php

I would love to hear your views!

Friday, April 22, 2016

R for Romania: Where Death Comes Laughing

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


The feeling of queasiness that I had initially felt when I had learnt of the destination on our itinerary is soon replaced by a growing sense of calm and acceptance. Colourful flowers and shrubbery form a lush inviting carpet. All around me are tombstones engraved with interesting epitaphs, several self-deprecatory in nature. The tour guide points out funny pictures depicting lives led, amusing rhymes describing highs and lows.

“The people of Romania believe that death is to be celebrated. It is after all just a passage to the after-life. Hence, the name. Merry Cemetery,” he says matter-of-factly.

He leaves us with a question in the end. “If you had to get something inscribed, what would you?”
On the way back, our group is silent. Contemplative.

Late that night, suspended somewhere between consciousness and deep sleep, words come together and take form.

This is where I rest, Dee was my name,
Battiness galore, I was as crazy as they came,
Happy was my life, mixed with some pain,
The sunshine I lived for, yet danced in the rain.

Of songs and dance and love and feel, 
Lost in my music, a world of appeal,
Days of a life where I could do it all,
Some days I would fly, others I would fall.

A restless mind of mine, a restless soul to add, 
 Many a close one I’ve driven away mad,
Life could be better, says every he and she,
All I say is that, I was as lucky as I could be.


Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
One of Romania's touristy destinations makes a very unique claim to fame. The Merry Cemetery - a different way to look at death. http://touristinromania.net/2014/01/27/merry-cemetery-romania-bizarre-graveyard-dead-silly-poems-tombstones/ 

I would love to hear your views!

Q for Qatar: Tipped Scales

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


In India, hundreds of thousands had joined the social activist Anna Hazare in his fasting vigil, a non-violent protest against rampant corruption in the country. 2,885 kilometers away, I sat smoking a cigar, trying hard to ignore the annoying arguments that Iram kept making.

“You’re still an Indian, Usmani. How can you forget your roots?” He cried out. I shrugged. Nineteen years ago, moving to Qatar, I had traded my roots for wings. Nineteen years later, it didn’t matter.

“What do you want from me?”
“Join the movement. Support the needy back home.”

I looked at him for a long minute, took a slow drag on the cigar and let the flavour settle in deep within me. The temperature had dropped considerably and the wind was chillier. The fire needed to be kept going again. I stoked the dying embers in the fireplace. It needed more inflammables.

As he looked at me beseechingly, I opened my wallet, took out a crisp five hundred riyal note and flung it into the fire. Money, for me, had never been a problem.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Qatar is the fastest growing economy in the world and has the most per capita income, making them the richest people all over the planet. The wealthy magnates  of Qatar have been known to burn 500 R ($137) notes to kindle fires during winter.

I would love to hear your views!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

P for Paraguay: Adios

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


I saw him as the metro rolled to a stop. He had more greys in his hair now. Made him look more mature. So different than the boyish face that came rushing through the memories. As the car I was in drew closer to where he stood, I grew fidgety. Suddenly, I did not want to come face to face with this person, who now a stranger, had once been anything but. I wouldn't know what to say. There were no words left to bridge the distance. No reason to anymore. And yet, I couldn’t help but wonder how he was. If he was well.

I alighted as he entered and our eyes met briefly. I said what seemed to be the courteous thing to say.

“Hello,”
He looked at me nonchalantly, nodded and replied. “Adios.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. This was Paraguay, after all. Where ‘Adios’ was a standard response to Hellos on the street, a shutdown response from people who were too busy to care, stop and talk. I didn’t know what was worse. The fact that he didn’t recognize me, or that I couldn’t recognize my own self anymore.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
What's considered rude for one might be perfectly normal for the other. Its a common practice to get an Adios in response to a Hello in Paraguay. It simply indicates that you're too busy to be bothered. http://www.10-facts-about.com/paraguay/id/901 

I would love to hear your views!

Monday, April 18, 2016

O for Oman: Slippery Tales

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


There’s a witty saying that goes ‘Women in Mumbai probably love their maids more than they love their husbands’. And so, when my maid announces that she would be quitting work by the end of the month, I am flabbergasted. The only other thing more difficult than finding a good maid in Mumbai, is finding a good house. Needless to say, I try to get to the root of the decision.

“We’re moving to Oman,” she says, clearly excited.
“But why?”
Didi, you don’t have to pay income tax there,” she says, referring to me by the generic nickname, typically meaning elder sister, a moniker adopted by millions of women in the country.
“You don’t pay income tax here!” I exclaim, almost choking on my coffee.
She is silent for a second. Then comes up with her second argument.
“Mohan, my neighbour, has been there. He said you don’t have to tip the people in hotels. So much money saving, Didi,” she remarks.
“Do you tip here?” I ask, a rhetorical question.
She goes silent again.
“What do you plan to do there?”
“Mohan says people who work with oil can make good money. Raghu works with oil, Didi.”

I sigh. Such naivete. Her husband Raghu offers head oil massages to vagabonds at the local beach.

 

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Oman, like several other Gulf countries does not cost its citizens income tax or sales tax. Instead the country relies on annual registration renewals of vehicles, property etc. to drive its income. Governments also require that certain businesses also provide for power generation to the area, development of roads etchttp://xpatnation.com/fun-facts-about-the-gulf-state-of-oman/#.a33i06q5L 

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N for New Zealand: Taking Flight

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


I watch him walk towards me with a swagger in his step and a sneer on his face. I try to focus on my work, tearing off pieces of rubber from the windshield wipers. He slows down as he gets close, his rubber soled shoes no longer thumping loud on the cemented ground. But I hear his every breath. I watch him from the corner of my eye as he attempts to sneak up behind me.

When he’s just two feet away, he swishes out his cell phone and holds it high posing with me in the background. Oh. Always ready for a pose, I turn around, looking square into the camera. A few feet away, a couple of girls ooh and aah over us. And suddenly, I am famous.

“Mom, look! It’s a Kia!” says a little Dora-toting kid. “Can I take her home with me please? Please, please, pretty please Daddy?” she whines, with a puppy dog face. Sigh, who can say No to that that! I am enjoying the attention when suddenly he lunges at me.

By sheer force of habit, I take flight, wings flapping and throat screeching, up into the air. But I don’t soar. Not high enough. I can’t. We’ve lost that ability to fly, you see. New Zealand has no predators, we see no threat and so we’ve forgotten to fly. The best we do is fly a few feet up and land back down – on cars or the road. Landing on a car some distance away, I start tearing off rubber strips again. They think we eat rubber. Not me. I’m trying to build a squishy landing area so even if we fall while we practice to fly, we can get back up and try again! I won’t give up hope.

PC Credit: http://www.new-zealand-pictures.co.nz
Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
The Kia or Kea, is one of the many birds on the New Zealand islands, that has lost its ability to fly. Guess evolution plays out in many different ways! 

I would love to hear your views!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

M for Maldives: Global Warming

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


I get home late from work that day. The house is unusually quiet, the telltale sounds of the television missing. I would have thought Tanya was out with her friends except I find her sitting on the bed, zombie-faced. Next to her, my travel suitcase lies open, its contents in various stages of unpacking.

“Babe? All ok?” I enquire. Fifteen seconds of silence ensue. She doesn’t move a muscle.
“Babe?” Sitting down beside her, I force her to meet my eye.
“Who is she?” She asks, her voice devoid of emotion.
“Who?”
“The one you vacationed with. You told me you went for work.”
“It was work.”
“All you got is scuba gear in your suitcase. Swimwear. No work wear.”

I am quiet, contemplating. She assumes this to be guilt on my part and continues. 
“Or you lied to me and vacationed with your friends?”

I grin at the mental image. It does sound tempting.
“Aah, I wish,” I say. Digging into my briefcase, I hand her the press release and media cutouts of the world’s first ever underwater cabinet meeting held at Maldives.


Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
The Maldives government, in a first of its kind, held the world’s first underwater cabinet meeting to highlight the impact of global warming and make a plea for climate change action. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1221021/Maldives-underwater-cabinet-meeting-held-highlight-impact-climate-change.html

I would love to hear your views!

Friday, April 15, 2016

L for Libya: Housing Matters

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

PC: Google images. No intended copyright infringement.
Click here to read K for Kazakhstan for the first chapter of their story. Continued ...

“What’s wrong with Farhan? He’s educated, makes decent money, he’s well-travelled, well read,” says her father, convinced that there couldn’t be a better match for his daughter.

On TV, a skin whitening cream commercial starts playing – a girl, the central character playing it smart and asking for more time as she would like to have a job and buy her own house, post which she would marry someone her ‘equal’. Naina’s mother hurriedly hunts for the remote and turns it off, but the damage is done.

“See?” says Naina. “Every girl wants to prove herself too, Dad. Let me buy a house first.”

But her father, not to be outdone, seems to have done his own research. And to her chagrin, in cahoots with Farhan. “Farhan has a Libyan residency. The government is so generous, you get married there – they gift you a house for free! God bless Libya!”

“Dad!” she says, vexed by the direction the conversation is taking.

“And,” he continues, winking at Naina’s mother. “Farhan’s family says no to dowry. All they want is … ten kilos of sugar!” he says with a chuckle as Naina throws a fluffy cushion at him.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Though the story was part fiction, part fact - under Gaddafi's rule, when Libyan citizens got married in the country, they were given funds towards an apartment from the government for free. http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-884508
I would love to hear your views!

K for Kazakhstan: Koffee Tales

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


She stood gingerly at the take out counter of Starbucks, stirring her latte. Even as her initial reservations about Farhan had given way to mild curiosity, she wasn’t sure how she could be expected to approve or reject the alliance on the basis of a fifteen minute conversation.

As Farhan’s coffee was being readied, she silently counted down the minutes to leave.
“Pass me some sugar?” he asked, bringing her out of her reverie.
“How many?”
“Hmm, I like it sweet.” he said with a smile, setting the cup of coffee in front of her.

She glanced at him for a long minute and then taking a deep breath, began emptying packet after packet of sugar in his cup as if daring him to stop her. To her surprise, the expressions on his face flitted from gratitude, to curiosity to absolute amusement. As she emptied the tenth packet of brown sugar into his drink, the boyish face broke into an ear-to-ear grin.

“Whoa! How did you know I like my tea so sweet! I don’t remember ever telling you that I spent time in and adore Kazakhstan?!”

Click here to read on to L for Libya, where their story continues.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Kazakhstan is known for serving coffee with sugar instead of sugar with coffee! Serving 10 spoons of sugar with their coffee is not unusual for the Kazakhs! http://www.travelingeast.com/asia/kazakhstan/ten-interesting-facts-about-kazakhstan/
I would love to hear your views!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

J for Japan: How's Work?

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


“Give me a glass of whatever’s available on tap,” said Amit to the bartender, as he slipped into the bar stool next to mine. The lounge was full of office colleagues who had to come to bid farewell to him.

“So? What really happened in there, bro?” I asked.
“This place sucks man. Good riddance anyway.”
I made the typical murmuring sounds to communicate my sympathies.
Rumour had it that Amit had been caught napping on the job, more times than one.

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe
“Give me a glass of whatever’s available on tap,” said Yuki to the bartender, as he slipped into the bar stool next to mine. The lounge was full of office colleagues who had to come to celebrate Yuki’s promotion party.
“So? What really happened in there, bro?” I asked.
Inemuri happened, bro! That’s what happened! I love you, Japan!”
I hi-fived him to communicate my agreement.
Rumour had it that Yuki had been caught napping on the job, more times than one.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
One of those rare situations when sleeping on the job has its advantages. But just like any other custom, there are rules to be followed. http://www.innovateus.net/innopedia/what-inemuri
I would love to hear your views!

I for India: All That Glitters

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


1:00 PM IST
“Why don’t you get a job? It would help you meet people.” Raj suggested. Sia, his socialite wife was bored and itching to do something different.
“I meet my friends every evening.”
“People from different walks of life?”
“I talk to the driver, the watchman, the maid. I get enough variety, Raj,” she pouted.
“Then do it to stay up to date with current happenings.”
“Eh, current happenings. Talk to Mrs. Sharma and you’d know the rate of gold for the day,”
“How about you do something to give back to society? For the country?”

8:00 PM IST
“What? How much did you say you spent on this?!” Raj was shocked.
“You only suggested that I should pay my dues to the country.” Sia countered.
“What does that have to do with this?”
“Did you know that housewives in India hold 11% of the world’s gold? It’s more than the American, Swiss and Germans reserves altogether! I’m making a contribution to my country breaking records. You should be proud of me!” mocked Sia as she held up the gleaming rose gold necklace set and winked at Raj in the mirror.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
India's innate fascination with gold continues as Indian households hold gold worth over $950 billion! http://www.omgfacts.com/news/15836/Indian-Housewives-Possess-More-Gold-Than-the-US-Switzerland-and-German-Reserves-Combined

I would love to hear your views!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

H for Hong Kong: Daddy's Little Princess

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


“Mommmmyyyyyy, Aryan won’t talk to me,” wails my five year old. The chubby face is streaked with tears as she jumps up the bed and settles into my lap.

“Hush hush. Tell Mommy what happened, Mommy will fix it.”
“Aryan wants to go to McDonald’s, Mommy.”
“And?”
“Daddy says I can’t go!”

I look across at Vikram working furiously on his own laptop. He seems to be immersed in work but I know he’s listening.

“Vikram?”
“Well..,” he says, as he scrunches his nose and looks away sheepishly.
“What is it, Vik?”
“I don’t want him getting the wrong ideas ..,” he shrugs. “This is Hong Kong. People get married at McDonald’s all the time!!” he exclaims, his eyes going wide at the possibility.

I grin. How can he be so impossible and cute at the same time? 

“She’s five, Vik! Your little princess isn’t going anywhere!” I roll my eyes at him. 
“Come on Sia, I’ll take you!” I say, as our little one squeals with delight.
“Don’t say I didn’t warn you!” he shouts out as mother and daughter head out the room hand in hand. 

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge! McDonald's wedding parties are so popular in Hong Kong, that the fast food giant offers a dedicated service for couples. Click here to read more.
I would love to hear your views!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

G for Greece: Spit Please?

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!


On the way back home from work, I am part amused and part drawn in by the infectious enthusiasm of the two twenty-something girls sitting next to me on the metro.

“I even have Greek costumes picked,” says one as she whips out her smartphone. She’s talking about destination weddings in Greece. “Look, the authentic Laurel leaf crown. Me gonna wear this too!” And so, on and on it goes until the grim looking man sitting on the other side of the girls thinks he’s had enough and decides to cut the story short. He turns towards the one who’s talking, leans over close, sucks in hard and spits on her.

Well almost. He stops short. I can see the horror on faces around me and can only assume that my face dons a similar expression.

“Aah, I was just warding off the evil eye. They do that in Greece. Make sure you wear an apron, you don’t want spit down your wedding dress now, do you?” As he coolly gets up from his seat and walks towards the exit, stunned silence gradually turns into nervous laughter. 

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Spitting (mostly a dry spit--a symbolic gesture) has been held as a sign of luck and good wishes by Greek people for centuries. It is not unusual for the bride to be spat upon from both sides all the way up the aisle! http://www.thinkwedding.com/WedTraditions-Greek.htm

I would love to hear your views!

Friday, April 8, 2016

F for Finland: Sleep Deprivation!

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

***

A million icicles are cutting into me. They stab and bite and slice through me. The icy chill permeates through my body and settles deep into my bones. I wake up with a start, struggling to fathom where I am. The surroundings look familiar but I still feel like I am drowning in ice. As my vision clears I see my wife standing by the bed, bucket of water in her hand. My wet t-shirt clings to my skin and I involuntarily shiver.

“What the hell you’re doing!” I yell at her, furious.
“Preparing you for what lies ahead, my Lord,” she says, chuckling at my state of despair.
“You’re crazy!!” I say and step away from the wet mattress leaving a water trail behind me.

“What! You think your friends there are gonna let you off so easy? My dear, let me remind you – you’re leaving for Finland tomorrow and National Sleepy Head Day is right next week! Guess who’s gonna get dunked into a lake! I’m just helping you get ready for it!” She laughs, her enthusiasm contagious and soon, I’m laughing along too. 

Copyright: As mentioned in the pic
Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Thank you for sending along the quirky fact for F, Sneha Duraisamy! Sure was a fun thing to read about a weave a story around!

I would love to hear your views!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E for Egypt: The Royal Afterlife

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

This post is extra special, because it marks the completion of a century with the blog! 100 posts and not out!



“WHAT??? That's what Mr. Buford's will says?” I cried.
“Yep, that’s what it says. Final wishes. He wants to be buried with a dozen beer bottles.” Neil, the will executor, reiterated. “Samuel Adams. Utopias. He wants the finest in there with him!”

I rolled my eyes at the proposition. It was one thing for the Pharaohs of Egypt to have stocked their tombs with items that they wanted to take to their afterlife, but for someone to emulate it in the 21st century was beyond my understanding. 

***

“Gonna be a long day tomorrow. I figured you might need a drink,” Neil remarked as he walked into my office that evening and pulled out two long stemmed Utopia bottles from his bag.

"You wouldn’t!" I gasped. 
" Well ... Why waste good beer? Plus, he just wanted the finest bottles in there. No mention of ‘em being full!” he said, flashing a toothy grin at me. 

“You're so mean!”
“Hey! You want some or not!” he said, dangling the exquisite bottle like bait.
It took me less than a second to fish it out of his grasp.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Pharaohs and Kings of Egypt believed they could take their wealth into the afterworld and hence would emphatically state their wishes to be buried along with it. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/equip.htm

I would love to hear your views!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D for Denmark: Pursuit of Happyness

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

D's up next!




“So one bets on fame, saying being famous is being happy. Another says success is happiness. A third picks money. And the last guy says power. That’s what they each bet 50 bucks on. The movie is about who wins it at the end of five years.” I am describing the plot of a movie I recently watched as we enter the Royal Oak Brewery.

“They should’ve just asked moi! Get out of India, that’s what you do if you wanna be happy! The key to happiness lies in Denmark! Gimme those 200 bucks!” sighs Jess dreamily, just back from a year long stay in the country. Andy is uncharacteristically silent. 

“Happiness is within us,” he says after a pause, tasting the first of the ales and setting it aside. “We try running after it in all those forms, trying to escape life. But it’s in the little actions we do every day that we can truly find it!”

“Hail Andy baba!” quips Jess after a minute of stunned silence and gives him a mock salute. I just look at my best set of weirdos and smile.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Ranked as “The Happiest Country in the world” 4 times in the last five, the Danish must definitely be doing something right. http://www.visitdenmark.co.uk/en-gb/denmark/art/happiest-people-world
I would love to hear your views!

Monday, April 4, 2016

C for China: Made in China

Every year, in April, the Blogging A-Z Challenge kicks off with a bang and now in its seventh year running, it continues to garner even more participation than ever! Click here to read more on the challenge! And if you're participating too, do leave your blog site in the comments! I'd love to visit!

The third letter of the alphabet makes its grand entry today! 


“Pillu! How many times have I told you to stop texting when we are walking?” I yell as I pull my fifteen year old out of the path of an oncoming cyclist.
“8,307 times Ma, to be precise.” Pat comes the reply.
“Stop acting over smart. Give me your phone.” I say firmly, putting out my hand.
“You’re the one acting like Lady Hitler!” he says with a sulk on his face.

Willing myself to start over, I reason that treating him as an adult would probably be a better solution.

“Pillu, do you think Indian parents are strict?” I ask him softly.
“Na, but it would have been fun to be Made in China,” he says, his fingers making double quotes in the air.
Wait, what? Whoa. China? Where did that come from? Huh?
“Ma, China’s soooo coooool,” he goes on. “They have these smartphone pedestrian lanes, ya know! Aside from the regular walking lanes, yoo! Sooo awesome, imagine having whole lanes to yourself, no lady Hitlers bothering you!” 

And somehow I know, I’m wasting my time.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
Mobile phone sidewalks, a 100 ft. cellphone lane, are a technologically driven reality in China - for people who love to text as they walk. Over the top but true. http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/sep/15/china-mobile-phone-lane-distracted-walking-pedestrians
I would love to hear your views!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B for Brazil:The return of Osama

Day 2 of the A-Z 2016 Blogging Challenge continues with B. For more on the challenge, click here!

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/shortcuts/2014/apr/27/brazilian-bar-sao-paolo-osama-bin-laden
Copyright: The Guardian
Seated in the air conditioned 9-1-1 call center at Jackson, Tennessee, Nancy pursed her lips as she watched the incoming number flash across her phone.

“911, what’s your emergency?”
“He’s alive. They said he’s dead! But .. he’s alive!” came the harried response.
“Can you please identify yourself, Sir?” Nancy asked calmly.
“I just told you he’s alive. It’s a national emergency!” He cried.
“Who is, Sir?”
“Laden. Osama Bin Laden. That’s who!” He cried again.
“State your location, Sir”
“Sao Paolo .. Sao Paolo ..  Brazil” He said, in short hurried breaths.

Nancy sucked in her breath. At the other end of the line, Tom broke into gleeful laughter.

“You should see him, Nan! He looks just like the real deal! It’s so funny! There’s scores of people clicking selfies with him! Alright my turn, gotta go!” He exclaimed, clearly fascinated with the find.

Shaking her head in mock reproach, Nancy suppressed a smile as she flipped her cell phone shut. Her husband sure had a flair for the dramatic.

Click here to access the complete works of the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge!
One of Brazil’s lesser-known yet quirky tourist attractions is the Osama Bin Laden Bar in Sao Paolo, named after and run by an Osama lookalike. http://www.theguardian.com/travel/shortcuts/2014/apr/27/brazilian-bar-sao-paolo-osama-bin-laden
I would love to hear your views!
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