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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Isle of Man

Hello everybody,
                              I am back soon as I promised. I have this so-called 'travel bug' in me, though I am not a frequent traveller. If I travel a lot, in the sense, leisure travel, this blog would have doubled up as a travel blog because I love putting down in words and pictures, the experience a new place gives me. So it is no wonder that somebody like me will always cherish the visit to the first place or a country abroad.
                                                   The very first foreign land on which I set my foot was many moons ago. The name of it is not San Fransisco, not London, not Sydney or Melbourne but Isle of Man which belongs to British group of Isles. This island looks like a drop from an aerial view and is perched in the Irish sea between UK and Ireland. It was hitherto unknown place until my husband had an assignment there for some months. My first-time-ever trip was arranged along with his colleague who was also travelling at that time. The journey and the route is still etched in my mind. From Mumbai International airport, my first international flight was in Lufthanza airlines. I kept on watching the route map that was flashed on the TV screens and I clearly remember that we flew over Istanbul of Turkey. Forget WiFi in flights, that was the time when cell phones were just getting common and so there was no way to communicate in flight or when I reached a particular airport. Wish I could land in the Frankfurt airport again to relive the experience of setting foot in the first airport abroad. To go to Isle of Man, the connecting flight was from Manchester airport. The aircraft was charter type and it flew low with some turbulence. As we were nearing the place, I used to peep from the window to have a glimpse of the land, but what I could get to see was the endless sea water with no trace of land anywhere near. As the plane lowered down, I still could not see the land and for a moment I thought 'are we going to sea-land or land on water?? Just when I thought our plane was going to descend in water only, I got the first glimpse of Ronaldsway airport. The airport itself is on the banks of the sea.
                                                      Image result for isle of man images
                                                  Image result for isle of man images
                                                           The above images borrowed from google....
                                                            The above top is the one I bought from a charity shop.

                                                              Yep, finally I am going to see a new land of which I had construed some images. It being December, I had a suitcase full of winter clothes to protect me from the frosty, biting cold. But I was totally unprepared for what I was going to experience. The moment I came out of the plane, I had to fight the strong gusts of winds which I had never experienced in my lifetime and which would have swept my feet away. I had to fight for my breath to brave those winds and extreme cold. My husband was given accommodation in an apart-hotel in Cherry Orchard group of hotels in Port Erin. For the first time in my life, I was seeing all empty roads with not a soul in the sight after coming from India. I was all alone in our room, scared and managing the jet lag. Another thing which scared me was the place became pitch dark after 4 o'clock in the evening and I could see the daylight after 8 o clock in the morning as it was winter and the days were much shorter. I thought how were people living in a place like this? Slowly I started liking the quietness, charm of the place. The accommodation we had was a 2BHK which was quite comfortable, bright and airy. It had a patio on which I could not step out and enjoy due to freezing cold.
                                                       I filled those short, winter days by taking strolls in the nearby streets, visiting those shops multiple times, some of them being charity shops. I found the discarded items in the charity shops more attractive and cheap than the ones in the normal shops. People who run those shops were friendly and talked about how they came from other places to settle there. The other major attraction was the supermarket 'Shoprite' where I regularly used to go to get food and other grocery items. After some days, I had the company of my husband's colleague's wife and we used to go to interior of the place by catching bus. As the population was sparse and the buses were much more comfortable, travelling by it was a luxurious experience. The island was very small and everywhere the sea was just a stone's throw away. Douglas, the capital of  Isle of Man, was the hub of all the activities. There was  a shopping street, casino, the one and only Indian restaurant (then) named 'Taj'. Weekends used to be fun filled with time spent in the casino and then going to the Indian restaurant. Peel was a place where we went to see the castle and enjoy the spectacular sunset.
                                     Tynwald is the open Parliament of Isle of Man which is supposed to be  the oldest parliamentary body in the world where lots of Governmental decisions are still made. Another major shopping area is in Ramsey where multitude of shops and markets are there. Another pass time during the weekends was visiting various glens and admiring the natural beauty and experiencing the sound of the water flowing in the glens. There is one giant wheel known as Laxey wheel which is a must visit. Cregneash is a remote village where there is a museum exhibiting lot of items and equipment used by early settlers showcasing the way of life. The Pebble beach is situated in Point of Ayre, which is at the northernmost tip of the island. In this beach, we can find a variety of pebbles instead of sand. Why so much pebbles are there is still a mystery. Port Erin is the southernmost tip of the island, and we could see another small island from its shore and it is known as 'Calf of Man'. I could get to see the mountains of Ireland arousing the curiosity of another country, though we did not visit there (Ireland... :(  ). I used to take lots of strolls on the beaches, though I never ventured into the water as it would be ice cold. The whole island as a place is charming in its own way, and the one I would like to visit again. As the days passed by, the duration of the days got longer and the days became brighter. By the time we were about to leave, I totally fell in love with the place, never wanting to say goodbye to it. The small, sweet, quiet, windy, frosty island has found a permanent place in my heart!!! The mountains, beaches, roads, buses,shops, charity shops, casino, glens, the countryside charm.......I feel that I am again in Isle of Man now that I am writing about it. When will I see you again, my dear???


P.S. Next article is about my maternal aunt whom I never got to see more of her..


Friday, January 22, 2016

Street shopping, supermarket shopping, online shopping

         How is the new year, or rather this leap year treating you?? Leap years have fascinated me for reasons not known. Of course, for those uninitiated, the concept behind a February having 29 days is that our earth takes 365 & 1/4 days to complete 1 revolution and so to make up for the lost time, 1 more day is added to February once in 4 years. Every leap year is also the year of Olympics. If one is born on Feb 29, how will he/she celebrate the birthday every year?? Of course, you have no option but to celebrate on March 1st, but the confusion will always persist.
                                                   Now, coming to the main topic, shopping is an integral part of life, be it in any form. Shopping is nothing but the activity of purchasing goods from the shops. But the activity of purchasing goods from the shops have been redefined from time to time. Before the arrival of monetary system, goods were bought and sold on the basis of barter system. Merchants travelled all over the world by roads, deserts, ships to sell their goods through barter system and later on through the coin system. Through the centuries, the nature of shopping went under various stages of evolution and it is still evolving to this date!What was more common during my childhood is becoming obscure today and what was not there before is the buzz word in shopping world today. The online world of shopping was something unheard of about 20 years back. Who would have thought then that many shopping and retail outlets will be affected badly with the advent of online shopping?
                                                     Shopping has become more of a woman's domain as she is aware of the needs of the whole family. Women also come under the group of 'compulsive shoppers' which should relieve them of the stress of everyday lives. I, being a woman, am not a shopaholic and have no patience to roam around the shops endlessly. I have mentioned in one of my earlier articles that shopping is not in my blood and it bores me. I go to jewelry shops like an alien! Maybe one of the reasons is that I don't need to invest in jewelry for future and that is why the interest did not develop. I am not crazy about gold jewelry and diamonds, and I would be happy to keep on buying funky jewelry!
                                                              Before the advent of the online world and also cars about 30 years back, the shops we had around were pop and mom or grocery stores which used to cater to most of our needs, and some handful of department stores or supermarkets whose sizes were nothing compared to the present day mega supermarkets or hypermarkets like Metro, D Mart, Walmart, More. During those days, the middle class families were modest and the needs were much simpler. As the communication devices like telephone, cell phones were less or non existent and also private vehicles, our parents or grandparents had no option but to go by public transports to buy things. Our moms used to go with their friends or neighbours to share the burden or the pleasure of shopping and thus automatic friendship or bonding used to be there between the neighbours who will be living in the opposite or adjacent compounds. That strong, invisible bonding survives even today between them even though many would have migrated to various places to be with their children.
                                      As a woman's priorities have changed from 'just housewife' to a full-fledged career woman, the old ways of shopping have taken a beating. In metro cities and two-tier cities, the grocery shopping is done over a weekend or once a month in hypermarkets or super markets by enduring the long serpentine queues with tots sitting on the shopping cart. Though these markets cater to most of our needs, I don't feel that it gives the pleasure of doing shopping on the roadside shops and with vendors. The so-called bargaining gene is ingrained in the Indian mentality and that can be done only with the roadside vendors in our adjacent street and not in the supermarkets. The multitude of things arranged in the never-ending shelves in a supermarket do not seem to make connection with us. On the other hand, I have felt that one can strike a chord with those roadside vendors and those who run pop & mom stores. The 'non-working' women who go out together to shop after finishing the household chores in the morning have reduced as people do not know who lives in the next flat.
                                                   Image result for shopping images in India
                                       To make our busy lives even simpler, lots of online shops have sprouted up who are ready to deliver items at our doorstep. This sure saves us a lot of time that takes to commute to the shops and one can devote their weekend time to spend as a family and also to pursue other passions and interests. Many online retail giants like Flipkart, Jabong, Myntra, Amazon, eBay, Snapdeal practice 'return policy-no questions asked' which makes it all the more convenient to go ahead and use these sites. As these sites are offering highly branded items at a much cheaper or competitive rate, the existing shops have taken a beating as the so called customers compare the pricing and then buy them online. Book shops are slowly going out of business as books can be easily purchased online. As the online shopping evolves everyday through various apps, there are lot of things that still need to be purchased directly from the shops as they require the feel and touch before purchasing. It is to be watched how the shopping scenario will change drastically in future. A few words about malls around us.... Malls have become places to hang out during weekends where movies are watched in multiplex theaters and eateries thrive. The shops in the malls mostly look empty as people do not go there for real shopping.
                                                      Meanwhile, this article is from a person who is not an ardent shopper. I would like to spend time at the stalls put up at fairs.


P.S. Next article to watch out....'Isle of Man'!!!