Category Archives: Places

Visit to the Jingly Jangly Zoo

I’ve been to the Hyderabad zoo five years ago and all I can remember is seeing some emaciated animals. However, I’ve been wanting to take KT to a zoo for a long time now. We, along with our friends, decided to go last Saturday. KT was super thrilled when we told her that we’ll be taking her to the zoo. The week prior to that she woke up everyday, wide eyed with excitement asking me, “Amma, going to zoo?” 

Sadly on Friday night, Vj was given some important assignment at work that had to be done on Saturday. He told us he wouldn’t be able to make it to the zoo. I was at the verge of dropping the plan, but I just didn’t have the heart to disappoint my little girl. So, KT and I joined our friends and went ahead with our plan!

Although KT missed Vj’s company a lot, she had a great time. The weather was perfect – cloudy and cool. The zoo and the animals were so much different from what I had last seen. The zoo has been cleaned and renovated for its 50th Anniversary next month. Loads of new animals have been added and it was wonderful to see them in large enclosures very similar to their natural habitat.  The animals looked really healthy and well fed. Most of the animals like the white tiger, hippo, Himalayan bear and a few others, though massive in appearance, were hardly a year old!

IMG_0740

Although, we often think a Zoo is meant only for kids. That concept gets shattered when you are face to face with exotic wildlife creatures.  Unknowingly, you become a child once again. A sense of wonder and amazement grips you when you look at God’s unique masterpieces. Walking past the cages and gazing at the animals and birds, my friend and I were discussing how every aspect of God’s creation matters to Him. Each animal has an identity, a unique feature. Each bird so beautifully color coordinated. Just incredible!

IMG_9412

KT on seeing the hippo, reminded of Gloria in Madagascar dancing to “I like to move it”, asked me, “Amma, why hippo not dancing?”

We loved almost every other creature we saw. Nonetheless, our favorites were, the miniature wild cats (Mini leopards and cheetahs. So petite and majestic!), a cute little monkey (Don’t know its name. But it was no bigger than an adult’s palm), the tigers, giraffe and the huge birds! Even the chameleons put up a mesmerizing show!

collage

It was one fab Saturday with great friends and animals for company!

If you are in Hyderabad, do visit the zoo. It is the best time for a visit as even the weather is very pleasant. It is said to be one of the best zoos in India with almost 380 acres of land and loads of interesting animals to see. Visit www.hyderabadzoo.in for more information!

Weekend at Carmel Campus & a Mommy’s Request for all Christians

The Ramadan weekend gave us and our church youth a much-needed break. Basically, it was our church annual youth camp. If you are wondering how Vj and I qualified as ‘youth’… Well, we do consider ourselves physically and mentally young. Secondly, Vj was in the organising team. So both the factors gave us a reason to join our youth!

Of all the camps in the past, the venue chosen for this year’s camp was the best! It was at a place called Carmel Campus on the outskirts of Hyderabad. It’s a 12-acre land, very lush and green. It was a pleasant contrast from the noisy, dusty, crowded, concrete city. The atmosphere was calm and serene. We couldn’t hear anything but birds chirping and cows mooing (and of course a bunch of giggly youth!).

Apart from the facilities such as rooms, dorms, chapel and auditoriums, the campus also had a good number of domestic birds and animals!

IMG_8921 copy

IMG_8920 copy

KT and her little friends were simply enthralled by all those colorful variety of creatures! They would make faithful visits to each bird and bunny every morning, noon, evening and between camp sessions!

Each time a bird would chirp, KT would tell me, “Amma, birdie calling me!” and she would run to its cage and speak with it. Once she told me, “Amma, small birdie hungry. Give chicken. Birdie will eat munch, munch!”

IMG_9156 copy

We were announced all those birds were for sale and those interested can purchase them along with a cage. Living in an apartment complex, it is not practical to have birds although I was so in love with those tiny ones. But I simply asked KT if she wanted to take a few birdies home. She nodded, “Sure, Amma!” I then told her, “But Sweetie, the birdies will keep dirtying their cage. It will become smelly. Will you clean it?” She replied, “Amma, Dadda will clean!” 😀

collage copy

The geese playing in its little pool was another sight KT and I enjoyed!

IMG_9019 copy

The pigeons and chicken were an adorable lot. They shared their space and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company, unlike the grumpy turkeys!  I don’t know how many of you like turkeys, but I find their face quite unappealing. They were restless, aggressive and kept shooing us away by puffing up their feathers!

collage1 copy

IMG_9155 copy

 

Although, the place where the bunnies and cows were put up was slightly smelly, they were such darlings that the kids simply enjoyed watching them!

IMG_9041 copy

The campus also had a small play area. Nothing fancy. Just an ancient steel merry-go-round, a slide, a see-saw and a couple of swings. But for these kids who are growing up in apartments, starved of a good play area, this one was a treat!

IMG_9036 copy

IMG_9022 copy

On a serious thought, it is really disheartening that growing cities have deprived our kids of such simple joys – greenery, playgrounds and parks. Wish the government takes an initiative to build parks in each neighborhood in such a way that commuting to local park should not take an hour or more like it does for us right now!

???????????????????????????????

The kids had such a blast. What happiness a little greenery and fresh air could bring!

IMG_9047 copy

I had a wonderful time as well. Not just the campus and the creatures, the camp itself was powerful, reviving, refreshing and life-transforming!

At this point you are probably wondering what’s the ‘request’ I’ve mentioned in the title. Here it is –

On Day 1 of the camp, as the first session began, the kids were fine with praise and worship. But the minute the speaker came to stage and started teaching, the little ones became very restless. KT started to beg and plead with me to take her out as she was eager to see all the birds and animals. In the past there was an incident in UK last year, where I was asked to leave the church along with KT by a member of the congregation when KT made the slightest noise. On that particular evening there was no Sunday School and neither was there a playroom for children. So I spent the entire two hours outside the church taking care of KT! On other instances, though people didn’t as KT and I to leave, we’ve got angry stares from people, compelling us to leave!

As KT was becoming persistent and with voice levels increasing, I was reminded of that incident and immediately ushered her outside not wanting to disturb the youngsters listening to the sermon. Moments later, the speaker’s wife, also a mother of a 4 yr old and 7 month old, followed me out. She came to me, courteously invited me back inside and said something that changed my whole perspective. She said,

“Mj, bring KT back inside. Don’t worry if she’s noisy. My husband doesn’t mind. It’s important that you listen to the Word of God that is shared. Also, we may think that kids won’t understand the sermon. But without our knowledge, God’s Word that is so powerful will impact their spirit!”

Oh! How glad I am that she shared this priceless truth with me. I spent the next three days attending all sessions, listening to some incredible spiritual truths! And yes, with KT 🙂

The reason I wanted to share this here is because so many moms and dads, like me, miss out hearing the Word by taking their kids outside fearing they may disturb the serene atmosphere. This happens on a very frequent basis especially in our Indian churches and meetings because they are not well equipped with a children’s room or mother’s room where volunteers take care of kids.

Here’s something we need to know – JESUS IS NOT DISTURBED BY THE PRESENCE OF LITTLE CHILDREN! In fact, He Himself said, “Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them!” It was the disciples and now us who feel children will distract and disturb. How wrong we are!

Mommies and dads, next time DO NOT sacrifice listening to the Word for the sake of your kids. We need the Word and so do our kids. Here are a few tips to keep the little ones occupied and quiet during the service –

  • Have a kiddie bag exclusively for church and prayer meetings
  • Pack it with a coloring/activity book and few crayons
  • Stack the bag with their favorite snacks and fruits
  • A bedsheet, which you can quickly spread and put them to sleep

This works out great for toddlers and preschoolers. It may not guarantee you pin drop silence, but definitely a great peace of mind!

And a kind request to pastors, speakers, elders in church, parents of grown-up kids and youth (UNTIL, you build children’s room and provide children’s volunteers), please be more gracious and tolerable with babies, little kids and their parents. Look at them they way Jesus did. Don’t allow the smallest noise to distract you from listening to the Word. I agree, a parent must usher their baby/child out if he/she is crying insistently or making way too loud noise. But on other instances, enjoy a child’s presence. If Jesus could tolerate it while addressing thousands of thirsty souls without a microphone and speakers, I think we have no reason to complain about a child!

Having said that, I thank God for the great time we had and the piece of heaven we got to enjoy =)

IMG_9076 copy

Merina Memories Revisited

2005 – 2007, my years of absolute freedom and joblessness in Singara Chennai. Well, I did have a job, a good one and a fun one. But by ‘jobless’ I mean… those chunks of time you have in hand and do not know what to do with it when you are unmarried.

My hostel and workplace were situated on either ends of the Marina beach. On most mornings, my hostel friend Jane (wonder where she is? She was an amazing girl!) and I would go for a long walk along the beach at 6 am. Let me tell you that’s the best time to visit Marina as the crowds are far lesser and the early morning sun shimmering on the see is a spectacle one mustn’t miss! And oh the sight of the fishermen returning from their night long catch on their teeny tiny fishing boats – another picturesque sight I say! ANNNNND if you are lucky enough, you’ll even get to do some celebrity spotting!

A couple of pics from yesteryears I managed to dig from my photo archive!

S8001478 copy S8001508 copy

On evenings, half an hour prior to to leaving office, I’d ping the few friends who were in the city, find out how jobless they are and we’d cook up some lazy plan for the rest of the evening. So while my married friends hurried to catch an early train to reach home, I’d either head to the City Center Mall or where-else Marina beach to meet my friends! Those where the only places from where I could return to my hostel by 8 pm sharp before those giant gates get shut!

If the venue we picked to meet up was the beach, we’ll line up along the shore, talk all about our day at work, recollect good times from college, pull each other’s legs, laugh and quietly gaze at the relentless sea and the setting sun when we run out of topics! A little while before each could disperse to our respective homes and hostels, we’d stop at one of those baji stalls, order assorted plates of baji – containing onion, chilly, potato, cauliflower and brinjal bajis. How crispy and yummy they used to taste dipped in that chilly sauce!

I remember, my friend Helin and I would sit in front of the sea, yap for hours on end about our dreams of travelling the world and becoming pop stars. She’d say, “Macha, can you believe all those stunning cities and countries we dream of going to are just on the other side of this ocean!” 

My! I’m now getting carried away by those memories! Anyways, I typed all this so you know that’s how much my life revolved around Marina beach!

IMG_8272 copyLast weekend, we were at Chennai for my Granpa’s funeral (you can read my tribute for him here). We wanted KT to have a change in atmosphere, so we decided to take her to the beach. It was already past 6 pm and Marina was the nearest if KT had to see a beach before the sun sets. Those of you who have been at Marina beach would know that it’s quite a long walk from the road to the waters. Our friend C carried KT on his shoulders. Walking on the sea sand with my footwear in hand, memories of those good old days flooded back. The beach was packed. It was windy. The shore littered with all possible trash, but not a soul cared. At one glance along the shore, I could see people from all walks of life enjoying their moment in time with nature. The tides were pretty high. The sea roaring and relentlessly crashing on the shore just as it used to. Nothing had changed!

Although I love the beach a lot, I am not a water person who enjoys getting wet. I’m the kind who prefers to stay dry and enjoys clicking pictures. So I entrusted KT with Vj. KT at first was hesitant to dip her legs in the water. But once she did, she refused to come out. She’d patiently wait for the waves to engulf her tiny feet and she’d cling to her dad in excitement. As the two stood in front of the vast ocean, the sun quietly set!

IMG_83012.jpg copy

There was so much happening on the beach – little boys selling sundal, baji stalls, horse riders, game stalls and what not. The entire stretch lit up with color lights as soon as the sun set. My little girl was simply enthralled! She didn’t want to miss out on anything that she saw! So it was the horse ride next!

IMG_83067 copy

She then spotted this merry-go-round (I’m not sure what its called! So excuse me if I’m wrong!). It looked a little unsafe for children as it had no safety rods. But KT was adamant and we had to give in. I decided to accompany her and when I put my arms around her waist and held her close, she tells me, “Amma, don’t hold KT. KT is big girl!” 

IMG_8324 copy

It was quite a fun ride for just Rs. 20. I’d have priced it a little more considering how difficult it must be for those young boys to manually rotate it. While many mums and kids were screaming and pleading the guys to stop it, my brave soul thoroughly enjoyed her ride and asked if we could go on it just once more! So we did!

Wouldn’t a visit to Marina beach be incomplete minus the bajis? Our last pit stop was a baji stall. On my suggestion, hubby ordered an assorted plate. Gosh! How good they taste! In no time at all we gobbled an entire plate and ordered the next! There’s something very special to a beach baji, Marina beach in particular. It will always and forever remain the perfect beach snack!

IMG_8313 copy

What an evening it was! There are three things that will always captivate me – clear skies, majestic mountains and the vast stretch of blue sea! Cheers to Marina beach!