Tuesday, December 2, 2014

rickshaw driver sits facing customer's back Something new I am seeing in Nicaragua

one of the oldest church in Lean, Nicaragua.

statue of very  plump woman.

traditional dress of local people

Julio and Ellen with baby Nirvana

Sana, Ellen with baby Nirvana, Julio

jamuna,Sana and Julio

jamuna and Sana at the park in Leon.

Sana, Elen, Jamuna las Penitas beach, ,Leon.

musicians playing local  musical instrumensts

Julio with his mom Maira at Mashaya, Nicaragua.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Our Tokyo Visit

Our Tokyo Visit
July 6th,1992
We enter the hotel bobby near Tokyo train station. The hotel receptionist at the counter gives us welcoming smile. “What can I do for you sir?”
“We need your help” Rup my husband replies.
The receptionist waits.
“We want to have dinner in your restaurant, but our taxi is waiting outside. We need to pay for it. Can we get some yen in exchange of dollars?”
“Of course” the receptionist responds. He is happy to help and hands over the amount of yen in exchange of our dollars given to him.
We come out of the hotel lobby while the receptionist turns his attention to the next customer waiting. I feel a little guilty as we leave and head for the Tokyo train station instead of eating at the restaurant but we have no choice.
Yesterday after reaching Narita International Airport by Japan Airlines whcin took off from Los Angeles, we stayed in Hilton Hotel Narita which is about 10 minutes drive from the airport.
Earlier today when we boarded the JR train from Narita for Tokyo city, we are mesmerized by its speed and the sparled interior of the train. The screen showing the speed and destination is really astonishing. Rup is spellbound watching the technological innovations of this country. After about an hour in the train we reached Tokyo staion.
We got out of the train and walk around the city but stay close to the station. Admiring the landscape of the city along with skyscrapers and greeneries side by side, we stroll around for some time. We finish our lunch and do some shopping for souvenirs to take home. We lose all track of time and suddenly realize we are short of yen for our return journey.  The banks are closed now.  Running out of time, we try nearby shopkeepers for exchange of dollar with yen. But no one is ready to help us. In other countries we have visited, we have never experienced like this. It has been always easy to get local money in exchange for American dollars.
The train ticket for going back to Narita has to be purchased with yen only. As our flight to India is next day early in the morning we need to be in the hotel at Narita tonight. We are in a fix.
It is at this point that we see the hotel with the nice receptionist. My husband and I enter the hotel and we are lucky to get our yen through the trusting unsuspecting receptionist. My admiration for this country increases as we leave the hotel and I hope the receptionist does not feel bad  that we did not stay to eat at the restaurant. Despite our problem we did buy some great souvenirs. One of them is picture below. 
 My Trip to Nicaragua:

Visiting León

It is a city Intensely political, buzzing with energy and, at times,,, drop-dead. It is gorgeous in a crumbling, colonial kind of way.  León is a city of awe-inspiring churches, fabulous art collections, stunning street escapes, cosmopolitan eateries, fiery intellectualism. It is believed that if one walks-everywhere, can experience the  happenings of  nightlife. There is a saying that many people fall in love with Granada, but most of them leave their heart in León.
León used to be the hub of cotton growing but that has declined and the economy is relatively down Tourists are typically not a large one But Leónl is a university town, filled with students,backpackers, volunteers. León has more colonial churches and cathedrals per ca pita than any other place in Nicaragua. .
Day 1. United Airline flight number 340 is in time on September 2, 2014 and takes up at 6.20 am from San Jose for Houston airport. The day before departure, 2014,  I have been busy getting ready with things to be taken for Ellen as desired by her mom Sana.  I have been waiting for call from Olivia and to confirm when they are coming to my place to drop the things for Ellen. After waiting whole day I finally get call from Oli suggesting that I go to their place so that Sudeep can drop me to the airport which is about 10 minutes drive. That proposal seems to all of us quite good and Shobha, Lall and I reach their place at Santa Clara around 6 pm. Oli is not there while Sudeep is busy playing table tennis with Reyden. Shobha takes up the game with Reyden while Sudeep and Lall engage in their talks. Olivia comes back after shopping and joins us. After sometime Lall and Shobha leaves for home while I stay back in their house. Alarm is for 5 o’clock but I cannot sleep and every one hour I’m awake.  So I take shower at 3 am and get ready for airport. At 5 am Sudeep and Olivia come out and check the luggage. The suitcase I am supposed to carry is bigger and heavier than mine. Sudeep drives me to San Jose airport and on the way I withdraw $200 as I forget to carry my travelers check.  Since I have first class ticket it was easy to carry two suitcases and the  journey is smooth with enough space for legs. Of course there is lunch for the first class travelers. My lunch, Chicken and mashed potato is good and I enjoy it. We land at  Houston Bush International airport in time at 12pm ( local time.)
At Houston airport I have enough time and enjoyed the United club lounge’s fruits and snacks there. Relaxed for some time and I need to eat some solid lunch and hence take half a sandwich from the shop and it is more than I can eat.
At 4.15 pm united airline # 1421 P takes off for Managua, Nicaragua. The flight takes about 2hrs and 30min. Reach Managua around 6.40 pm and after going to immigration and paying $10 at the immigration counter I am allowed to go in and take luggage. A porter helps me to take the luggage. Julio (Ellen’s husband) holding a banner with my name on it is standing outside. I am glad to see him for the first time. He is such a pleasant and charming fellow and very friendly person. I pay 2 dollars to the porter which is quite a lot for him in local money which is about 26 cordobas to one American dollar.
 When we reach their home at Leon it is already about 9 pm because of traffic congestion at certain places and baby is already asleep. Above is the picture of the baby with her parents.

Day 2. Leon, Nicaragua Sept 3, 2014

Julio Ellen’s husband took Sana (my Manipuri friend) and I to local market to get some vegetables, fruits, and fish. The market somehow reminds me of our home town Imphal’s market. We spend the day at home and Nirvana, their two month old baby’s  cry  is  a trying moment for everyone. In the evening Sana and I go for a walk toward the market.
Day 3. Nicaragua, Sept 4,2014
Sana wants to sleep as she is not feeling well. Ellen carrying her baby with the carrier takes me to the Center where the biggest cathedral is situated. I could see the oldest university in Central America is by the side of the church. It is quite a walk and I enjoy the walk even though there is no proper path and few pot holes here and there.
Nicaraguan flag.
we have to be careful while walking. We enter a store on the way back which has quite a few interesting items and get one pillow for Sana as she doesn’t have one. The house where they live is an ancestral house from forefathers as Julio’s father got half the portion of the property. Also come to know that there is a prospective gold mine in Nicaragua and that is the reason why Julio happens to choose Leon because of the proximity to the mine. But his partner couldn’t get proper support and hence has to abandon the idea. Now they plan to move back to Managua.
Day 4. Managua. Sept 5, 2014
We have to go to Managua to renew Sana’s visa for staying for another two weeks and there she needs to renew every month. She has to pay local money Cordaba 640 for renewal fee.  We spend sometime in the Mall while Julio wants to complete some of his business while we wait for him.  We let him finish his work while we have meal. The Mall is not big and hence we cannot spend much time window shopping. I had coffee and other things are quite expensive there.
Day 5, Leon, Nicaragua, Sept 6, 2014
A street in Leon, Nicaragua.
Morning, Sana and I go to another market where the road is occupied by the stalls of seller which remind me of Karolbagh and Lajpat Nagar of New Delhi, India. In the evening Julio took us to the museum but it is already closing time and hence decide to come back next day.  He takes us to the   park where there are different statues of well known poets of Leon and Nicaragua are installed. We take  quite a few pictures. I have purchased a souvenir for myself a leather notebook.

Day 6. Leon Sept 7
Old fashion type of running water from the pipe connected with water storage, a   concrete place for cloths to be rubbed with soap and water, then to be rinsed in the next cubicle of cemented tub. After rinsing squeezed and dried in the rope which are all around the open back lawn and under the shade which has two or three rooms attached with a toilet and bath for the helpers. While Sana cookd what she likes I makr onion sliced and lemon juice and salt with green chillies. In the afternoon we get ready to go to museum and have to drop the idea when Julio’s car is found locked and the key left inside. He has to call a mechanic but it is too late to go to museum and hence we drop the plan. After sometime Julio’s father and his family come over and we are introduced to all of them including his wife and two daughters.
Day 7, Sept 8
Bicycle rickshaw.
We, (Ellen with Nirvana, Sana and ) I go to the center walking and we spend some time at the park.   Have ice cream and after sitting for some time we decide to go to the restaurant nearby for a cup of coffee but it was expresso and bitter. Sana couldn’t believe to have  coffee like that so Ellen asked for more milk and sugar which made it more drinkable. We purchase some vegetables and fruits from market.  While walking back starts  drizzling and hence we takek the rickshaw The most unusual thing is the Ricshaw cyclist faces the customers while the customers sit facing the road. We get down a bit far away from their house so that no one should think we have gone too far with the baby.   

The rickshaw fellow wants us to pay for 30 cordobas and we agree. After we get out a bit away from Ellen’s house  and pay the amount he wanted plus five cordobas more.  Once inside their house we sew Julio’s father and his relatives sitting there in their sitting area. We were introduced to each other again.
Day 8, Sept 9,2014
Our plan to see full moon rise in the Beach is not coming as rain starts pouring with thunder. We can’t go to museum also. During the day I cook boiled chicken sautéed with onion and garlic. For breakfast maize paratha which is liked by Ellen and her mom.
Day 9, Sept 10,
Julio takes us  to the Las Penitas Beach. Enjoy the view and I am surprised to see the color of the sand blackish. The water of the ocean is also dark like the dark clouds. The Poneloya Beach town near Pacific Ocean is a beautiful town. Julio’s father has a beautiful beach house.
Las Penitas Beach
Sun set  at Las Penitas beach.
We visit Julio’s father’s  beach house which is inside the town and it is nicely kept as a holiday cabin with a small swimming pool.

Day 10, Sept 11,
We go to the museum with Julio and Sana. Sana is upset as she drops her hat on the way and could not find it. The paintings were mostly from the Latin American and as well as from Europe. Paid in dollars for the entry fee.
Day 11. Sept 12, 2014
I lost my poetry for a while
And stumble again in Leon, Nicaragua
A place of appreciation for poetry
Birth place of Ruben Dario and
Other well known poets like Alfanso Cortes. (scripted by Jamuna)
  Ruben Dario.(poet, journalist, diplomat)
Ruben Dario has been praised as “the prince of Castillian letters” and Father of Modernism”  He was known as Felix Ruben Darcia Sarmiento on January 1867. He was a poet, journalist and a diplomat. He died at the age of 49 on February 6, 1916 at Leon, Nicaragua. His pen name was Ruben Dario. He was honored by the local and buried in the Leon Cathedral.
Day 12, Sept. 13, 2014
We get into the mini truck of Julio’s father has kept in Leon for Managua around 8 am. On the way we get some things from the store. At Managua we pick up Julio’s mom Maira and she is waiting for us. After we pick her up to head towards Granada which is well maintained compared to Leon even though the buildings are kept as the same as of colonial time. The view of the town near the lake is breath taking. Lake Managua is the largest lake in Nicaragua. There is a popular island in the lake but we couldn’t go because of baby Nirvana who is just less than two months old we don’t want to make her restless. After taking pictures near the lake we go toward Masaya. I find the road toward Masaya very scenic and reminds me Shillong the beautifu hill town in North East India.

typical houses in Granada and Leon.
I like Masaya the best with it swindy roads and trees and bushes around. See lots of nurseries around. Seems like it is good place for plants. Masay is a tourist place with lots of restaurants.The ultimate spot we find is a small lake and the restaurant overlooking the lake are attracting tourists. We enjoy  the visit to Masaya with lots of memories of the food and the music.
In the evening at home when we are busy in the kitchen something unexpected happens as I handle a hot pot on the stove. The pot is unlike the other pots does not have handle heat proof. My right hand on palm side has got burnt. Sana gets met aloe vera and is rubbed on the burnt area. Also ice cubes are put which help  a bit but starts getting hurt whenever we stop using the ice. Ellen asks Julio to get a cream from the pharmacist and that helps me lot not getting blisters.
Day 13, Sept 14
I see pictures of Baby shower for Monica in San Ramon CA. It was a like a big affair since all the husbands  were around. It is independence day at Nicaragua and celebrations  are going on. Lots of loud  crackers at night and morning go on disturbing sleep of everyone.
Day 14, Sept 15
We go for a walk with Maira and Sana to the center and purchased some handicraft of Nicaragua. I get a bowl made out of a local fruit known as Semilla Llijecaron out of which many things are made like spoons, bowls, and decorative piece.
Day 15, Sept 16 and 17, 2014
We go to Supermarket to get one rum bottle for Lall and Dev for $40.00.even though I put on alarm at 3am to be ready by 4 am I couldn’t sleep and wake up every one hour. Hence I take shower by 2 am and is ready for the airport. We all get into the car by 4 am and leave for Managua airport. We reach around 5.45 am and get ourselves into the gate in time.  At Houston we have to get our luggage out and then put into the check in to be delivered to San Jose airport.
At Houston we have about six hours and hence spend time walking around and then sitting down watching people around. Done a bit of shopping there. Suddeep comes to pick us up and when we reach their house Lall and Shobha also just come. We take  out my luggage and leave for home. I am quite tired. Needs few days to re energize.  
The end.

Yesterday around 10.30 am I was ready to resume my regular walk around the creek. Changing regular direction I took the right side and up on the path of the slope of the hill. My attention shifted to that lady crossing the stop sign and then taking the same slope of the hill I intended to go. I was curious and wanted to have a conversation with her. I tried to patch up the distance of about 2 yards. Yes, I would be able to catch up with her and I was determined to do so. Finally I said "Hello" to her. She turned to look at me cracking a little smile from her lips and spreading to her whole face. I realized she could not converse with me in common language English except few words even though she understood what I asked her.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Meeting my old friend

After long 12 years I met at Las Vegar my friend Radha on 25th December. It was her birthday too. Her daughter-in-law Priya brought quite good gifts for her mother-in-law Radha, that same day as she happened to return from India. It was a perfect day for Radha's birthday.
She was my buddy in Kalikota, going  together for prayer meetings of Sathya Sai Baba in the same city and also at Puttaparty in Southern India. She moved to US while I moved to Canada around same time from India early 1990s, but we kept in touch regularly for some time. Eventually I moved to US in Northern California where she also lived. But after some time she moved away with her children to Las Vegas and we kept in touch but not regularly.
This time during Christmas 2013 I had chance to meet her and spent the evening on 25th December evening with her in her home and then in one of the casinos. Well It was the most memorable day of my visit  among all my previous visits to Las Vegas  Meeting my friend after more than a decade was a special day.