My India: Goa

Yoga and meditation was the theme of this yoga trip. As it was winter in India, starting off south made sense to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather. Also, Southern India is less of a culture shock than Northern India. This was especially evident by the yoga teachers and participants who were mostly European or Australian.

Yoga ashram

The lush vegetation was soothing as I walked from my room to a yoga class.

Ashiyana yoga center Goa

An easy stroll through the village towards Mandrem Beach, reminding me that I am in India.

Street in Goa

Goa, located on the western coast of the Arabian Sea, proved to be a perfect place to limber up my body as I practiced different types of yoga with different teachers and prepared for the trip ahead.

Goa beach

 

 

 

 

My India: Mumbai

One of the books which I read before coming to India was Behind The Beautiful Forevers : Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo – a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist recognized for documenting the lives of people in poverty.

“Here, in the thriving Western suburbs of the Indian financial capital, three thousand people had packed into, or on top of, 335 huts. It was a continuing coming-and-going of migrants from all over India – Hindus mainly, from all manner of castes and subcastes.”

Slums in Mombai

The Gateway of India taken from a sea view seat at the Sea Lounge Café in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.

mumbai taj hotel

The University of Mumbai, The Supreme Court, and The Chhatrapati Shivaji train station.

University

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train station

Mumbai is a city of extreme contrasts. Extreme wealth and extreme poverty are openly displayed throughout Mumbai.

The number of people living in the slums of Mumbai in 2020 is over 9 million. 

 

 

 

 

 

My India

Juhu Beach 2 Mombai

Since I’ve returned from my trip to India I have been feeling quite rusty about posting. First there was the jet lag and then the putting our clocks ahead an hour. I was grappling for all kinds of excuses to put off getting back to my blogging habits. After all, there was lots of washing to do, bills to settle, phone calls to friends and family, groceries, cooking and cleaning.

And then there was what to write about.

For years, I have had a romantic relationship with India.  There was that time the Beatles went to visit the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi ashram in Rishikesh to learn transcendental meditation. That gave me a nudge. A place I’d like to go to someday.

Then, there were all the yoga classes and workshops I took: ashtanga yoga, hot yoga, hatha yoga. I got interested in Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion), Karma Yoga (the path of right action), Rāja Yoga (the path of inner illumination), Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom). Those all peaked my interest, especially Raja Yoga with its lure of inner illumination.

There was the literature written by Indians which drew me in. Anita Desai whom I mentioned in my novel Getting to Mr. Right and Bharati MukherjeeRohinton Mistry  and Yann Martel. The list of fine Indian writers with amazing talents is long. I have always loved reading a novel with India as its setting.

India also interested me because of their sacred cows, their holy cities, arranged marriages, Hinduism, Buddha, karma, reincarnation, meditation and Bollywood.

I travelled to India with a friend I met at a yoga class. Without going through a tour group we designed our own trip with yoga as theme.

Except for Mumbai and Agra we had the opportunity to practice yoga in Goa, Kerala, Pondicherry, Rishikesh and Varanasi with different yoga teachers both from abroad (mostly Europe and Australia) and from India.

Spending five weeks in India both in the south and the northern parts is hardly enough time to know a country so large and diverse as India. I was barely able to dip into its traditions and missed most of its day-to-day life.  At times, during the trip, when I was sick and tired of its constant honking of horns and trying to cross a street amongst tuc-tucs, automobiles, scoters (lots of them – practically touching you), whenever I was confronted with the dirt and poverty I vowed to myself that I will never return to India. India is too hard.

Yet, at the same time it is soft. That is part of its beauty. The photo in this post was taken at Juhu Beach in Mumbai. A typical Indian family out for a Sunday afternoon stroll along the beach.

Click for some spectacular photos of Juhu beach

I  hope that you will enjoy my series on My India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smorgasbord Book Reviews – #Psychological #Thriller – Warning Signs by Carol Balawyder

In the Creative Habit, Twyla Tharp, one of America’s greatest choreographers, urges the reader to take her Creative Autobiography questionnaire. One of the 33 questions on it is:

Does anyone in your life regularly inspire you?

I thought of Sally Cronin and her attention to other writers, including myself. If you are not familiar with Sally’s blog I encourage you to go over there and browse through it. You are bound to be inspired.

Thank you Sally for thinking of me.

 

 

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

I have just read and enjoyed the latest book by Carol Balawyder  – A psychological thriller – Warning Signs: A novel about Obsession.

About the book

Eugene’s research into his criminal mind is not about the why, but how to prevent his horrific crimes. Angie, a young woman starving for passion sees Eugene as her saviour from a lonely life of caring for her heroin addicted mother. How far is she willing to go in order to save her relationship with Eugene and his promise for a future together?

Detective Van Ray is out on a vindictive mission as he attempts to solve the murders of young girls in Youth Protection.

Their lives collide in a mixture of mistrust, obsession and ignoring the warning signs. A psychological thriller about human frailty and loneliness.

My review for Warning Signs February 22nd 2020.

This is definitely a novel about obsession. The…

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Bau: Visiting My Family

This is my family. My mother, my father and my little brother. I love visiting them. They are always excited to see me as I am to see them. I am also very happy to see Lyne, their mistress and her husband. I spent the first three months of my life with them so they are very special to me.  Also, they have a yard where I can run around and not have to go on walks where I must put up with other dogs barking at me or jumping on me.

While my mistress goes traipsing around India, I will be spending 5 weeks with my family. Party time!

Bau's family

However, I kind of resent that mistress has to go all the way to India. Even if it is one of her dreams to practice yoga in ashrams and yoga resorts, why does she have to go so far when all she has to do is practice with me. After all, I am an expert at Downward Dog!

2-incredible-india

Source: https://webneel.com/incredible-india-beautiful-amazing-photography

Because of her and her foolish dreams I won’t be blogging for a while. Just wanted to let you know that I will be back as soon as I can.

ABOUT MY BOOKS

 

 

 

Jill Weatherholt: A Mother for His Twins

 

a-mother-for-his-twins

 

I love a good romance and in her latest novel Jill Weatherholt delivers. The romantic partners in question are Joy (appropriately named) and Nick who were once high school sweethearts.

The author sets her story fourteen years later, though this time, in a professional setting. Joy and Nick are both vying for the position as principal of a mountain community school. Joy has had her heart and future set on that position, hoping “to fulfill her dream of following in her father’s footsteps,” while becoming principal is why Nick came back to this town in the first place.

After suddenly leaving Joy cold, Nick returns to town as a widower with his twin boys and a ton of guilt on his shoulders. It was truly refreshing to read of a male character who is in touch with his emotions and questions his parental role as much as his professional one.

As for Joy, I found that the author captured well what it is like to come home to the emptiness of a house, to cook just for one, to long for the security of a family and to acknowledge that  “… there was no such thing as a happy ending.”

The author skillfully reveals what happened during that fourteen year separation as she goes back and forth from past secrets to present scars: “both carried shameful secrets from their past that they were unable to escape.”

What makes A Mother for His Twins stand out is the depth of the characters dealing with contemporary issues. Think of the Me Too Mouvement, sibling jealousy and past wounds that have been shoved under the carpet.

The author has a knack of keeping the reader hooked. This is an engaging and enjoyable novel and I loved the unexpected ending.

A love story to warm the heart.

For more on Jill Weatherholt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sally Cronin: Life’s Rich Tapestry – Woven in words.

Sally Cronin Tapestry

 

I am the type of person that needs to read something before going to sleep, as many people I know do. I had started reading a bestseller (a real bestseller not one that you get powerful corporations to buy 500 copies of your book) from a well know author whom I will not name. The book bored me and so I reached for my iPad to see what I had on my Kindle. There was Sally Cronin’s book which I had downloaded with the intention of reading it on a long flight I am taking in mid-January.

I started reading it and really got into it. In fact, it is the type of book that I will re-read on the plane because this is writing that is rich in thought with too much to absorb in one reading.

Her book is divided into sections: The Seasons of the Year, All Things human, Fairies and other Folk, The Natural World, Remembrance, Celebrating Pets, Random Thoughts, 99 Words in a Flash, Short Stories, The Superiority of Cats, Speculative Fiction, And Last but not least…

I downloaded the book both on my Kindle and on my iPad. I found the iPad experience much more pleasant because the beautiful illustrations were in color, bringing out the richness of the text. One such striking illustration, by Sally, is of a peacock in its glorious and proud colors. Also,  because the screen is larger, I appreciated much more the visual shapes of her poetry.

These are magical, enchanting and touching stories where the good always win. They are uplifting stories though nonetheless profound and always about love in its many forms.

And I mustn’t forget that there are stories about dogs.  A mutt protecting his master from thugs; an old dog in a residence for the elderly showing how love can make one feel young again and a mistreated dog finds kindness in a half-starved young man.

There’s so much in this book that it is impossible to do it justice in a single post. You have to read it and re-read. Its title suits it perfectly: Life’s Rich Tapestry.

For more on Sally Cronin