Monthly Archives: January 2013

Exploring the most romantic city in the world: Paris, France

I know this post is long overdue but it was in my draft and I had to publish it. This will be my last post from my Europe trip and I will write about my Thailand and Nepal trip soon.

We had awesome time exploring Paris with the guide and also on our own.

Notre Dame de Paris

This is one of the Parisian icons decorated with gargoyles and gothic touches. Located at the centre of Paris and that of France, Notre Dame had witnessed some of the greatest moments in the city’s history. The graceful and inspiring Catholic church has dominated Paris since the 12th century, survived the Hundred Years War, the French Revolution and two World Wars.

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There was a long queue for the ticket there as well but as we were with our guide we got to go in straight away. As we walked in I was really impressed by the architecture and the stained glass made the place look very colorful.

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The sculptures and the stained glass show the influences of naturalism which cannot be found on earlier romanesque structures.

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The beautiful facade is divided neatly into three levels, with three overwhelmingly carved portals guiding the entrance.

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The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top. The design of St. Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide, Australia was inspired by Notre Dame de Paris.

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Musee du Louvre

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The Louvre is the world’s largest museum and has one of the world’s greatest art collections in the world. The palace stretches for about half mile between the Seine and Rue de Rivoli. It was originally a fortress built by Philippe-Auguste in the 13th century. 300 years later Francois I replaced it with a Renaissance style building. Many French kings continued to add to the construction and improve it.

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The latest addition to the building is the glass pyramid (also the museum entrance) that sits in the courtyard and was designed by I. M. Pei. The pyramid was unveiled in 1989.

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The Louvre’s collection is overwhelming in size and it includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, antiquities, furniture, coins etc. It is impossible to see everything in one day but most people run to see the two ladies, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the statue of Venus de Milo. They are always surrounded by a crowd of people.

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We spent lots of time outside the Louvre as well admiring the architecture and enjoying sun. Check out some silly photos we took there  🙂

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Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”)

The Cleopatra’s Needle (“L’aiguille de Cléopâtre”) is in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The centre of the Place is occupied by a giant Egyptian obelisk decorated with hieroglyphs exalting the reign of the pharaoh Ramesses II. Along with its twin, it once marked the entrance to the Luxor Temple. The ruler of Egypt and Sudan, Muhammad Ali, presented the 3,300-year-old Luxor Obelisk to France in 1826. King Louis-Philippe had it placed in the centre of Place de la Concorde in 1833 near the spot where Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette had been guillotined in 1793.

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The red granite column rises 23 metres high, including the base, and weighs over 250 tonnes. Missing its original cap, believed stolen in the 6th century BC, in 1998 the government of France added a goldleafed pyramid cap to the top of the obelisk. The obelisk is flanked by two fountains constructed at the time of its erection on the Place.

Arc de Triomphe

We were at Cleopatra’s Needle when we decided the next stop would be Arc de Triomphe. As the Champs-Elysées is a straight street, I could see the triumph. So when AS suggested to take a tube, I told him “Lets walk”. I didn’t realise that it was more than 2km away and the street was really crowded. It was a hot day so AS was unimpressed that we had to walk for more than 30 minutes to get there. Anyway finally we made it there and we were in front of the beautiful Arc de Triomphe.

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The Arc de Triomphe sits at the western end of Champs-Elysees. It’s the biggest triumphal arch in the world, about 164 meters high. The traffic around the arch is crazy so when accessing the Arc de triomphe we can’t cross the traffic circle but need to take the underground tunnel instead.

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The base of the monument seems even more massive when you’re standing right under the central arch. Along the inside there are names of 660 generals, with a line below the name if they died in battle.

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On the exterior side, on one of the sides there is face of Napoleon looking very much like a Roman emperor and being crowned with a wreath of victory while holding a protective hand over the city of Paris kneeling at his feet.

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The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victory but wasn’t ready for his bride entrance into Paris, 4 years later. It wasn’t actually completed until 1836, under the reign of Louis-Philippe. Since then it has been used for state funerals and parades.

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 The Arc saw its happiest moments in 1944 when the parade for the liberation of Paris passed under it. You can take an elevator or climb the stairs to the top. There you’ll find a small museum depicting the history of the Arc and from the terrace you’ll get a nice view of Paris.

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Below the Arc de Triomphe lies the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier killed in WWI, which was placed here in 1921. Every evening at 6:30pm the eternal flame at the tomb is rekindled with a ceremony, a tradition that wasn’t even interrupted during Nazi occupation of Paris.

The Champs-Élysées is the widest and the most well-known street of Paris. It’s a boulevard lined with countless restaurants, cafés and stores.

Lunch and chocolate and cookie store

We were so tired walking around all day that we stopped over for lunch at a small café by the side of the road. We had sandwiches and pastries and were really happy to rest our feet.

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Then we went to a chocolate and cookies store a few door down. The cookies and chocolates were freshly made and were yummy. I think we went overboard with our shopping that we had to bring them back to Sydney as we couldn’t finish everything while we were there.

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Opera

The Paris Opera (French: Opéra de Paris) is the primary opera company of France. It was founded in 1669 by Louis XIV as the Académie d’Opéra.

It is an architectural masterpiece of the 19th century, where ballet and opera have been entertaining and evoking overwhelming emotions of a diverse range for years. It took one and a half decades to build the opera house designed by Charles Garnier.

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The Grand Staircase of Palais Garnier, made from different color marbles, links various levels of the auditorium and the foyers. A pair of bronze female statues waving light bouquets welcomes the visitors at the foot of the stairway. The painted ceiling, divided into four sections, features music related allegories. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the library-museum, records opera’s history for three centuries. The permanent gallery exhibits drawings, paintings, scale models and photographs of sets. 

Please click here for more photos.

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From Kathmandu to Sydney

It is always hard to say goodbye and farewell but that is the reality of life. So with a heavy heart I left Nepal for Sydney.

I had an awesome time in Nepal and it was fun but it was time for me to get back to reality after 6 weeks of holiday.

Before I left I went and said my good byes to my grandparents in law. They were happy that I visited them before I left. As I mentioned in my post before, granddad is 94 and grandmum is 89 but both of them are still very healthy for their age.

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While having a conversation, granddad asked me why I was wearing Kurta Suruwal , not pants. My MIL explained to him that I normally do wear pants but out of respect for them, I chose to wear a traditional outfit every time I visited them. I was really surprised what I heard next. He said I should wear pants even when I visit them as it is comfortable and acceptable these days. I never expected to hear such a modern thing from him. He even went on saying to my MIL that she should wear pants as well as they are more comfortable than Saris or Kurta suruwal. So hats off to him for changing with time and having an open mind.

His one wish is to see a great grand son from us (he already has 5 great grand daughters) so asked us to come to Nepal with 3 members in our family and not just 2 the next time :).

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I also visited my maternal grandma and it was so sad to see her eyes full of tears while saying goodbye to me. She is 80 now and not as healthy as she would like to be. I really love her and wish she can be happy all the time.

As I told you before I did heaps of shopping for gifts before we went. I am pleased to let you know now that I was spoiled equally with heaps of gifts from everyone. I got a pendent with Ganesh, a bag, shoes, shawls and scarfs, earring, necklaces, titaura, sunnies, sukunda, and a cute teddy from my cousin. It was really nice to get all of those gifts as I feel loved and cared in return. 🙂 Also my MIL bought a nice sari for me as well as beads and some necklaces .Thank you everyone for making me feel so special.

The day before I was to leave for Sydney, I went to my new home from my parents place. Many people told me it is not necessary to leave for Sydney from there but I wanted to do the right thing by everyone so it was best to leave for Sydney from my new home. My parents were already sad from the previous few days before as I was leaving. I was the last one to leave after my brother’s family with my little nephew, then AS and now me. I told them to make sure and visit us soon so we can all be together again. So the afternoon I went to my new home, my MIL along with my FIL came to pick me up. It was a sad goodbye to my birth home but I knew that was necessary.

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Once we were at my new home, there were heaps of friends and relatives calling to wish me a safe journey. Also my cousin, aunty and few of my friends came over to say their good byes. I was distracted the whole evening and I didn’t feel sad . After everyone left and we had dinner it was 10pm. My MIL came to my room and the two of us chatted about various thing till midnight. It was really nice to have such a great time with her as we didn’t get lots of time with just the two of us. I feel blessed to have her in my life as I know how bad some MILs law can be.

The next morning I woke up early, finalised the packing and had breakfast. There were still some last minutes shopping left to do so my BIL was helping me with that. After a while my MIL gave me sagun and we left for the airport. On the way there, we picked up my parents and all of us headed to the airport.

At the airport, my mum put tika on my forehead and blessed me. I spent 20 minutes outside and it was time for me to go inside the terminal. In Kathmandu airport once you go in, you can’t come out. So after check-in and immigration, I was in the lounge all alone for 2 hours while my parents and in-laws went back home. I am so glad that my mum didn’t cry this time otherwise I would be crying with her as usual.

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From the airport, I called and messaged most of my friends and relatives while AS was constantly on the phone making sure I was ok and not crying. I felt really sad there but I didn’t cry. I really wished AS was with me that time but I knew I was going to see him in 24 hours.

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The plane took off from Kathmandu and I was in Bangkok airport after 4 hours. There I had 14 hours to kill before I would board my flight to Sydney so AS insisted on me getting a dayroom there and I am so glad I did. It was really expensive and they charged for every hour but still the rest was worth the money spent. The room was comfortable and cozy but the bad thing about the room was that I could constantly hear the PA system of the airport announcing various messages. I couldn’t sleep in the beginning so I went and got some cotton to put in my ears and finally I went to sleep.

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After a nice conversation with AS on Skype and a good sleep and breakfast I felt better when I boarded the plane for Sydney.

For the first time in many years I was unable to get a window seat so it was a bit annoying to stand up every time someone had to go to the loo. But I did manage to watch 3 movies before we landed in Sydney. I had an easy run with customs and immigration and finally I was outside in Sydney. It felt really good to be back as AS was waiting for me. It was nice to hug him after more than 2 weeks.

The weather was kind to me that evening as it was raining and cool after being super-hot for over 2 weeks. The temperature had gone up to 46 0 centigrade last weeks.

After a short drive , I was home after so long. AS had some food ready for us for dinner and home was in perfect shape . I was so glad to finally be back home but at the same time was missing family in Nepal. I went to sleep straight after a light dinner.

Today is my first day back at work. There were so many things from Nepal that I want to share with you in the coming days.

Till my next post take care everyone. 

Update form Nepal Part 4

Meeting Bashundhara and Meengma

I have to admit this blog has given me more than what I had expected. And this time in Kathmandu I was able to meet two of my fellow bloggers Bashundhara from Nepal mero maya and Meengma from iScribble.

I met Bashundhara with her better half and it was so nice to have a great conversation with someone who I have never seen and met before. The only common platform we had was our blogs but we still felt like friends who had know each other for so long. Thanks guys for the momo :). And all the best with everything.

Bashundhara

I also met Meengma with his better half and again I was surprised how comfortable I was with both of them. We had a great conversation and a good time together.

I hope to meet all of you again.

Spending the day with my MIL

AS I mentioned before, I am at my parents’ house now but I still meet my in-laws from time to time.

The other day I went shopping with my MIL as she wanted to buy me some stuffs. It was a great day out. We stopped at a pote shop as well as many other places.

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Then we went to a restaurant for lunch where we had pizza and momo. Finally we went back to AS’s home and spent more time together.

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I am so glad to have MIL who understands me and tries her best to make adjustment for me in her life. I do understand that there is a generation gap between us and it is not easy all the time but I am glad that she is trying her best and I am doing the same as well. Happy to be part of my new family.

Visiting the dentist

It is my ritual to get my teeth cleaned and checked every time I come to Nepal. After the wedding it has been even easier as AS’s cousin and her husband are both dentists. But this time I did a big mistake and left the check up till the last minute. And unfortunately this time I have to do more than just the cleaning of the teeth. One of my teeth has decayed and if possible they wanted to do a root canal but due to lack of time, I am just getting it filled, Hope I won’t have any problem with my teeth in Sydney.

Being sick

We have been so careful about food and water in Nepal to avoid getting sick. Also we are taking wheatgrass juice as well as supplements to make sure that we are not sick and in bed for days so we don’t waste our limited time in Nepal.

Unfortunately even with all the care, the other night I became really sick. That day I had lunch at my mum’s friend place and dinner at AS’s house. So for the whole day I didn’t eat anything from outside but still my tummy was unhappy and I vomited at night. I was so scared as I kept on vomiting which looked like food poisoning and it was making me weak.

As it was the middle of the night I was alone in my bathroom and had no energy to even call my parents. Luckily, my dog was with me and he kept on barking when he saw me sick that my mum came to check. I was so glad to have my mum’s care but I was really missing AS as well.

my dog

Love you mum so much and thanks for nursing me back to health. And lots of hugs to my dog who loved me so much too.

I am fit and fine now but I was really scared for a while when I was vomiting nonstop.

Inviting in-laws for dinner at my house

As I keep on saying, a marriage is Nepal is not just between two people but it is between two families. So it is normal for the families to invite each other over for a meal.

My parents had invited my in-laws for dinner the other day and we had a great time. My BILs also joined us and it was so nice to see both the family enjoying each other’s company. They do meet often when we are not it in Nepal as well.

Celebrating AS birthday in Nepal

I always wanted to celebrate AS’s birthday in a special way but last few years we were never in Sydney to have a lavish birthday party for him. AS’s birthday falls at the end of December and we always have a holiday around that time and so we are away from Sydney. I always feel guilty that I celebrate my birthday with a bunch of friends invited while his last two birthdays were celebrated by just the two of us if we don’t count the random strangers in the restaurant.

But this year he had a very special birthday and I am really happy about it. First of all we were in Nepal during his birthday which made it extra special.

On 28 December, me and AS went to a restaurant called Transit and celebrated his birthday. It was a special dinner for both of us and we indulge in snacks and pizzas. They had a live band playing some nice classic English songs so we had a great time.

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As the owner of the restaurant was someone I knew, I arranged a surprised cake for him and he was really happy. It was just a piece of his favourite double chocolate cake.  Also he got complimentary drinks on the house. And that was just a start of his birthday celebrations.

Celebrating AS's Birthday

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As I have mentioned many times before, Nepali calendar is different than English calendar. In Nepal, birthdays are not celebrated by date but by teethi (according to position of moon and planets). So he had his teethi birthday again after a week of his birthday as per the English calendar. That day, we celebrated his birthday in the traditional manner.

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His mum prepared puja and sagun for the birthday. In the morning, he sat down and his mum performed the janmadin (birthday) puja. First gods including Lord Ganesh were worshipped. Then, tika was put on AS’s forehead as blessing. It was followed by sagun (egg, bara, chicken, fish) and gifts from his family. It had been more than a decade since AS got to celebrate his birthday according to Nepali tradition so it was a happy moment for all of us.

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That evening, we had ordered a cake. So with his brothers and parents we cut the cake. It was his favourite rich chocolate and we all loved it too 🙂

Then, we went to a restaurant, 8 degrees with his family to enjoy the rest of the evening. The place was not too busy so we enjoyed our time there. The food was flavoursome. It was a great day for AS as he was spoiled with gifts and wishes the whole day.

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Then the next day, we went out again to celebrate his birthday and this time with my family. We took my parents, my brother, SIL and little nephew for lunch to celebrate in a Newari restaurant called Falcha. The food was hot and spicy there but all of us were happy to enjoy each other’s company. My nephew enjoyed his outing as well. We had a good time and my parents and my brother also had a gift for him.

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Overall I am super happy since AS got to have a great birthday in Nepal. I also spoiled him with many gifts and I feel good that he enjoyed his time here in Nepal with our families.

I wish him all the best for rest of his life. Love you dear.

Update from Nepal Part 3

Skinny and photogenic

90% of the people I meet in Nepal told me that I am too skinny and I need to put on some weight. I am not underweight so I am happy with it and as you all know I try very hard with exercise and healthy food to maintain my figure but most people in Nepal have their own ideas about my weight.

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In the beginning I used to get annoyed about it but now I am so used to it that I ignored all these comments with a smile :). Also if you look around Kathmandu, most gals are either similar weight like mine or even skinnier than me so I have no idea why they think I need to put on weight. I have a feeling being married is one of the factor.

Anyway I am learning to just ignore and concentrate in good eating habit no matter what people say. Also AS is on my side telling me I am OK and we just need to concentrate on being healthy. I am very happy to have such a wonderful hubby who understands me so well. But I think he has an ulterior motive as well. He doesn’t want me gaining weight and buying more clothes as I won’t fit into my current ones then 🙂

Most of the people especially from AS’s side has seen me only during the wedding. That time I was a bride so I was fully made up in the traditional attire. After the wedding, lot of his relatives added me on their Facebook. So that is the only way they have seen me in causal dresses.

Anyway, I have heard from lot of his relatives that I am photogenic. I am not sure I should take that as a compliment or not. I am just wondering because, normally I think photogenic means I look good on photo but at the back of mind I was wondering, does that mean I don’t look good in person.

Anyway I got that comment from many people so just sharing what’s on my mind here 🙂

Maghe Sankranti

According to Nepali calendar, it was Maghe Sankranti (1st of Magh) a few days ago.  Please click here to read more about this festival.

As I am married now, I was invited to AS’s grandparents house to celebrate the festival with my in-laws. AS missed the occasion but I was glad I was there as I got to meet all his relatives again.

As I mentioned in my post, this day we eat laddoos (sesame seeds candy ball), chaku (molasses), ghee (clarified butter), sweet potatoes, yam, khichari (mixture of rice and lentils), ginger and salt  and green leaf spinach. So a big feast was ready in the house when we got there.DSC04802DSC04800DSC04799

First his grandma put mustard oil on our head and blessed us then we all enjoyed the food. It was fun catching up with my new family.

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After a few days of Magh 1, AS’s Mama (Mum’s brother) also invited us for Maghe Sankranti. In Newari culture normally, daughter’s family invites SIL, daughter and their kids after the festival as nakhatya (festival invitation in newari) to celebrate the festival.

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I got to meet more family members in this function as well. As you must have guessed,there was a feast prepared which included laddoos, chaku (molasses), ghee (clarified butter), sweet potatoes, yam, khichari, green leaf spinach and many more  dishes. .

Ma fussy chu ( I am fussy)

Sometime words have two different meaning in different languages and I got caught into that recently.

The other day I was in a departmental store trying on few make-up items. The sales gal was doing her job well convincing me to buy something so in reply I said, “ Ma fussy chu ( I am fussy), so let me think about it.” But she understood completely different thing.

Fussy (pronounced Fashi ) means con in a gentle way in Nepali language. So she thought I was telling her that she tried to con me into buying something else. For a minute I didn’t understand her reply as it was out of context when she said, “Don’t worry I am telling you the truth” but after a while I understood that she thought I thought she was conning me into buying something different.

Now I think before I say something as it might have a different meaning here.

Pasni Party

While AS was here we were invited to a Pasni of one of our friends’ kid along with my parents. They live in Sydney near us but they came here to host the function like my brother. It was nice to go to this function and enjoy Nepali way of socialising. I met a few friends and relatives in this function because in Nepal, somehow everyone seems to be related. 🙂

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Wedding party experience

I am writing this as my own experience and have no intention to disrespect any caste.

As I have told you in my post here, Nepal is a country of four castes and thirty six sub castes which means all of these castes have their own tradition and rituals.

I am from Newar caste and in our culture wedding parties goes till late at night. It is common to see Newari party starting around 6 pm and finish at 12 midnight but other castes like chhetri or bhaunu may have wedding parties that start in the afternoon and finish a bit early like 6-7pm.

One of my friends (a chherti by caste)  had invited me for his sister’s wedding. He asked me if I needed a physical invitation card but I said it’s OK as I didn’t want to bother him. So I went to the party hall where he had told me in that day with one of my cousins.

When we reach the hall, the hall was almost empty so I thought either I mix up the day or the venue. But as I entered, I saw my friend. It was 7 pm at most but there were only a few people left there. Even the bride and groom had left as they had to travel few hours to reach their home.

He informed us that the party was almost over. I was a bit embarrassed because I didn’t know what to say. I had tried to contact him earlier to find out the details but he was unavailable as he was flying in from the US the same day. Even my mum had reminded me to check the time but I just assumed that it would be same as ours but I was so mistaken.

I was happy to meet my friends after a while but it was a bit embarrassing situation and for the first time in my life I reached a party when it was almost over.

Latest update

I am having a great time with my parents. I am spending lots of time with them talking and having a great time. We have been to many temples around Kathmandu which I will post details of later. I am really glad that I extended my 2 weeks holiday to spend with them as they are very happy to have me here and I am very happy to be here.

I still miss AS a lot but I will be seeing him soon. We talk on the phone or Skype everyday so I am happy to be in Kathmandu in my birth home.

Take care everyone till my next post.

Makka Ku

We are still celebrating our wedding after more than 1 and half years. I am still a new bride wherever I go :). While I was living at my new home a few weeks ago, my mum following tradition and sent a Makka Ku (pronounced ‘mock-ka ku’).

Makka ku is a newar tradition in which during the first winter after the wedding, the bride’s family sends some items which are necessary for winter to the groom’s home. Makka means olden style charcoal heater but these days instead of makka, electric heater is sent to keep the newlywed couple warm during the winter, along with a full set of warm clothes for the bride as well as fruits, rotis, blanket, electric heater etc.

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As we were in Sydney during our first winter, this winter was perfect time for my parents to follow the rituals for the Makka Ku.

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My aunt, my cousin along with my brother came to my new home with sweets and roti like anarsa, fini, laakhamari, ladoo, saun papdi, fruits: like oranges, mandarin, bananas, sugarcane, apples, masala: like cashew, almond and chocolates along with snow peas, yogurt, peanuts, sari, pashmina shawl, shoes, bag, electric heater and a blanket.

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It was a great day for me as I was so happy to celebrate our wedding again as this was one of the best decisions of my life and I am very happy to see both the family very happy with our union.

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It was a good time for both families to meet and chat. My family came and sat down with my MIL, AS and BIL and had a good conversation. They also checked out our wedding album which my MIL had made for the house.

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I had baked blueberry muffin that morning for tea so we started with tea and muffins and it was followed by Nepali feast for my aunt, cousin and brother. My MIL cooked the feast and I was the helper all morning in the kitchen preparing for the day.

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After lunch my family left and Makku Ku was concluded. As I told you before, in Nepalese wedding the bride is always the winner and it was true for this function as well as I got a full set of new outfit :).

For details and photos on our wedding functions please click the following links.

Life is too short

A while ago I blogged about my penpal and told you about one of my penpals named Raja Gurung who is my Facebook friend now. I was shocked to find out from his Facebook that he has passed away recently. I have no details but I am really sad to know about it.

Actually, I was shocked to read RIP messages in his Facebook wall and have no idea how to react.

As I told you before Raja was from Darjeeling, India and he was only a few years older than me. He was happily married, with two kids. I had met him a couple of times. The last time I chated with him was on Facebook which must be more than a year ago. He was telling me his plans of making a new family home and about his kids and now he is no more.

Life is short but looking around everyone seems to think that they will live forever. We spend time and money as though we will always be here. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow. But thinking about him now brings tears to my eyes as I know that he was a good husband and a father who loved his family a lot. But at very young age he has left this earth and his family to go far from all of us.

We think we have got forever and worry about millions of thing. We talk of killing time, passing time, and getting through the week, forgetting we are wishing away the moments that comprise our lives. We say time is money when in fact the time we have is all we have. Money can be borrowed, time can’t. We fear taking risks, unaware that the biggest risk we run in playing it safe is in fact living as long as we hope and never doing the things we dream of. And then it’s too late.

Every time someone around me dies I face the reality of life but when someone so young leave us it really makes me think harder on my choices in life because I know I may not live until tomorrow. So I am vowing to try my best not to piss anyone around me just in case. Also I want to keep my loved one close and tell them I love them a lot so that they know I will be with them even if I leave this earth before them.

I am a planner and I always plan my years in advance and it is working well for me but sometimes I wonder what will happen to my dreams if I don’t wake up tomorrow. Will my ghost haunt the earth and fulfil my dreams or will I be nothing but the ashes after cremation?

Today this is a reminder for everyone that life is short. It must, therefore, be well lived.