Wednesday, March 14, 2018

International Women's Day, March 8, 2018

We had started celebrating March 8th. International Women's day, since last year. It was great fun. So, this year, some of us decided to have a celebration, and start planning early. There floated many ideas for entertainment, food etc. Location was to be on the terrace. 
What i liked best about this year's party was that, those who wanted to take up responsibility for arrangements, came forward and put their hands up for different jobs to be done. There was no delegating, asking or requesting people to attend the meetings, and who would do what! One lady took responsibility for arranging the games (2 nos.), another lady for the decorations, yet another was willing to collect the money from the attendees and keep the accounts, One more decided to take care of the lighting, furniture etc. One of the residents is a great dancer, who was willing to teach others, if any are interested, to put up a performance; since no one was ready, she did a solo. 
In the preceding week I was conversing with a few women, and it struck me that I have a few ideas to share. I offered to do a short talk on the subject of women. 
The theme for the party was 'Retro'. Hmmmm.
Boy, did we get busy trying to interpret it and reinterpret? Which look to affect, did we have the clothes and accessories? how do we look in it? questions galore...
However we turned out, one thing I knew was that it would be a blast! we would have fun dressing up and laughing at each other's get-ups. It was a blast!


All the ladies discharged their responsibilities with precision, on time and excellently. Great retro music, great ambience, lively ladies, and a great time was had by all.
Here is the verbatim of my speech:

International Women's Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women's achievements. The theme for 2018 International Women’s Day, is, “Time is Now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”.
On this International women’s day, I want to share a few points that are close to my heart:
1.     Celebrate:
We may be young or old, fat or thin, fair or dark, educated or not, employed or unemployed, rich or poor. But one thing is common to us all. We are all beautiful. Each woman is unique and special. Celebrate that beauty. Celebrate that uniqueness. Being born a woman is a cause for celebration. Celebrate because, this is the only life we have. It is now or never. Donot put off enjoying life today, tomorrow and the day after. Make a list of all your wants and desires and start fulfilling them. Do you agree with me?
2.     Exposure:
Are we getting enough exposure to different peoples, different cultures, and different ways of living? Are we broadening our horizons? Or are we living in our own small worlds, like frogs in a well? If not, the time is now, because, Exposure gives experience; and Experience builds confidence.
Women, we need to be more confident!
3.     Autonomy:
Autonomy is the ability to make decisions about one's own life. How many of us women have autonomy in all the aspects of our lives?
·        Do we have the right over our bodies or is someone dictating who we should marry, how many children to have, how we should look and how we should dress?
·        Do we have the right to the kind of education we want?
·        Do we have the right to a career of our choice? Or who is deciding whether we should work or not?
·        Are we having a right over our money and financial assets? Is someone else making the decisions on money for us? Financial independence is the most important aspect of women’s empowerment.

4.     Sharing:
Share, share, share. I cannot stress the importance of sharing enough.
As women, we need to share our lives with each other. Share your thoughts, share your feelings, share your joys, share your successes, and share your troubles. There is no shame in sharing your ups and downs in life. They say, Happiness gets doubled by sharing, and troubles get halved...
Here is a forwarded message I received several years ago via email. It is about the importance of being connected to other women. I liked it so much that I wanted to share it with you all today:  
It is about sisters....
“A young wife sat on a sofa on a hot humid day,  
drinking iced tea and visiting with her Mother. As
they  talked about life, about marriage, about the
responsibilities  of life and the obligations of      
adulthood,  the mother clinked the ice cubes in her        
glass  thoughtfully and turned a clear, sober glance        
upon  her daughter        
'Don't  forget your Sisters,' she advised, swirling        
the  tea leaves to the bottom of her glass. 'They'll        
be more important as you get older. No matter how        
much you love your husband, no matter how much you        
love the children you may have, you are still going        
to need Sisters. Remember to go places with them now       
and then; do things with them.'
'Remember that 'Sisters' mean ALL the women...        
your girlfriends, your daughters, and all your other        
women relatives too. 'You'll need other women. Women        
always do.'     
What a funny piece of advice!' the young woman        
thought.  Haven't I just gotten married?        
Haven't I just joined the couple-world? I'm now a        
married woman, for goodness sake! A grownup! Surely        
my husband and the family we may start, will be all I        
need to make my life worthwhile!'   
But she listened to her Mother. She kept contact        
with her Sisters and made more women friends each        
year. As the years tumbled by, one after another,
she gradually came to understand that her Mom really        
knew what she was talking about. As time and nature        
work their changes and their mysteries upon a woman,        
Sisters are the mainstays of her life.    
After more than 50 years of living in this world,        
here is what she had learned:  
She says,       
“Time passes.   
Life happens.
Distance separates.        
Children grow up.       
Jobs come and go.        
Love waxes and wanes.        
Men don't do what they're supposed to do.
Hearts break.        
Parents die.        
Colleagues forget favours.        
Careers end.  
 Sisters are there, no matter how much time and how        
 many miles are between you.

A girl friend is never farther away than needing her, can reach.       
When you have to walk that lonesome valley and you        
have to walk it by yourself, the women in your life will be on the valley's rim, cheering you on, praying for you, pulling for you, intervening on        
your behalf, and waiting with open arms at the        
valley's end.     
Sometimes, they will even break the rules and walk        
beside you...Or come in and carry you out.     
Girlfriends, daughters, granddaughters,        
daughters-in-law, sisters, sisters-in-law, Mothers,        
Grandmothers, aunties, nieces, cousins, and extended        
family, all bless our life!      
The world wouldn't be the same without women, and        
neither would I. When we began this adventure called        
womanhood, we had no idea of the incredible joys or        
sorrows that lay ahead. Nor did we know how much we        
would need each other.” End of the forwarded mail.
Finally, let us do our bit to ensure that the future for girls is bright, equal, safe and rewarding. It is our responsibility to pass on the lessons learnt in our lives to the next generation of young women; lessons on - health, men, relationships, work, career, money etc.
Let’s also teach the girls and young women, how to live a life of dignity, how to hold our heads high, how to command respect, how to succeed, and most importantly how to fight back, and how to stand our ground.
All you wonderful women assembled here,
You light up the world.
Keep it going ladies, bright, radiant and shimmering!
Have a great International women’s day!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Leiria Castle, Portugal

On the last day of our stay in Alcobaca, we made a trip to Leiria, which is 31 km from Alcobaca. There is a regular bus service and it is a pleasant ride to Leiria. 
On alighting from the bus, and when you look around, you will be stunned to see the Leiria castle sitting atop the hill. It is so captivating that you cannot look away. There is something very magnetizing about this castle.
Here is a unique castle. Though built during the medieval period, it is not in ruins entirely. It has been beautifully restored in the 20th. century. It is a mixture of a castle comprising of royal palaces and a military base, the tower.
Road leading to the main entrance of Castle
Beautifully restored arched main gate, one finds a lovely path which keeps climbing. 
Inside the castle grounds, stand the ruins of The Church of Nossa Senhora de Pena, built in honour of Our Lady of Mercy and the Collegiada (buildings for the Church activities)
A beautiful terrace lined with potted plants greet the visitors!
As one reaches the Palace entrance, there is a pleasant surprise of huge urns and plants in them. The archway of the entrance door is restored to its former glory, I am sure. The bolt and the lock on the door look authentic.
As we stepped inside, we were in for a pleasant surprise, what you see are the floors, which are made of red bricks, the ceiling is in wood and completely new. There are twin windows, glazed, and window seats below them to enjoy the cool air and the distant view of the countryside. Special lighting is also arranged inside this space.
Adjacent to this main hall is a long and wide colonnaded verandah. Unusual arrangement of row of seats at the base of the delicate columns give the comfort of sitting at the same time views of the great outdoors.This area also seems to have been restored.
Sitting here on these lovely stone seating, one can visualise the beautiful and luxurious furniture and drapes, silverware, and plush carpets, beautiful paintings hanging from the stone walls, and discreet help at their beck and call.
From here, we could climb up the tower. You get a 360 degree view form here. From outside, it looks like a boring tower in stone construction belong to the medieval times; but once we entered, it is a different world altogether. What ever was kept inside this tower while the castle was in use, now, a four floor  structure is built in steel. At each level, there is display of armour, shields, swords and helmets etc. found here. 
I am truly impressed by the layout and the construction techniques of Leiria castle then, and equally if not not, more impressed by the restoration work done on it. It has come alive, gives us a glimpse of the bygone era, and it has taken on the look of a living Castle rather a bunch of ruins. One can easily spend half a day touring the castle.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Trek from Baga Beach to Anjuna Beach along the cliff, Goa

It had a dream of mine to go to Anjuna beach, trekking along the cliff, from Baga beach, ever since I saw a few people on the ridge, on our last trip to Anjuna via a boat ride. It remained a dream for almost 2 years, since there were no takers for a trek on a wednesday during the tourist season. Because it is on wednesdays that the flea market in Anjuna beach is open, that too during day light hours only. I love that flea market!!! My very good friend from Chennai came visiting for a few days, and he was game to try. Voila, my dream is coming true! Quickly got down to planning it; starting time, food to take, what to do etc.
There is Baga river separating Baga beach and the cliffs leading to Anjuna, and I never went that side before. To our luck, we missed an earlier left turn, and the next one took us past the Baga river, the road leading to the trek.
We found a nice parking spot, there were a few cars parked already, early birds and all that...
It was high tide and there was good amount of water in Baga river. The path starts from next to Baga river. There were  several motor boats waiting for tourists/passengers. It was real  tempting to get into one and float away to distant lands...
That dream for another day, right now the lovely path beckons a great trek. So, off we set went, one step infront of another, one path leading to another.
The views along the way were spectacular. Sprinkling of boats on the sea, in the morning sun was a tranquil sight. 
At places the path was rather on the edge of the ridge. If you look down, it was scary, but the views from the edge were great.
After crossing a tricky path of boulders, we could see a beach shack and umbrellas and sun beds. This shack can be accessed from this trek. There is no other route from the land side. So, one can imagine it to be very quiet, less touristy, and in the midst of rocks, trees and water... 
Decided to go to the beach shack and spend some time on my next trip.
 At places, there was a steep climb of a few meters. I quite enjoy these short climbs. If it looks tricky, then I use my hands to find a grip and heave myself. Safety is very important to me. I want to live another day to do another trek...  
The colours of dry grass, the reds of the rocks, the blues and greys of the sea are an artist's delight. Since only a few people take this route, one could take stop and take in the scenery.
The route offered varied experiences; at places, laterite stone boulders to climb, others, going through a cave of shrubs, and yet others, along the ridge ....
We are close to the end of the trek, after climbing the ridge and dipping to the sea level, almost, we are turning into the Anjuna beach.
The last stretch and when we felt we are there, guess what greeted us? A pile of garbage dumped in the side of the cliff. They were also burning it. The shacks on the beach perhaps think no one will notice or it could also be that there is no pick up of garbage along Anjuna beach. Whichever it is, it is a sore sight, and damage to the environment. The municipal officials should take note of it.
Finally at Anjuna beach. We sat down on the rocks, and had our picnic. After devouring the sandwiches we brought and a good drink of water, we got up to explore the Wednesday flea market that Anjuna beach is famous for. Great products at very reasonable prices, juices, snacks, make for an enjoyable experience of exploration and satisfaction.
Shopping for gifts to family back home, my friend and I were heavy with shopping bags and lighter in pockets, set out for the return journey by boat, as my legs were screaming one trek is enough.
This is a relatively easy trek doable, if you are a regular trekker or a young person with good strong knees and healthy heart. The scenery and view of the sea, boats, rocks more than make up for the little exertion you will feel. It took us 1.5hrs. at a comfortable pace to complete the trek.
If you are in this part of the world, on a wednesday during the tourist season (from december to march), trek from Baga beach to Anjuna beach along the cliffs and ridges.

International Women's Day, March 8, 2018

We had started celebrating March 8th. International Women's day, since last year. It was great fun. So, this year, some of us dec...