To A World Of Glass: Corning Museum of Glass

The realisation that my imagination of the extent a glass could be shaped was far too limited came only after a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass.

Nestled in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, this world’s largest glass museum hosts 35 centuries of glass artistry and an international Glass market. It is about four and a half hour drive from New York City.

Instead of taking the shortest route back to New York  from Niagara, we took the country road through the Finger Lake area. The drive through the Finger Lakes was invigorating in itself with cool breeze caressing our faces on a wide black ribbon of a road flanked by thick foliage of trees that had yet to change to fall colours and no traffic!! Neatly anchored were the big and small boats that bobbed happily in the bright sun on the inky blue waters of the lake that we crossed.

Boats but no people around...

Boats but no people around…

With Halloween around the corner, many houses were decorated with cloth ghosts and painted and carved pumpkins. We passed the Tomion’s farm market and promptly stopped to check out fresh vegetables. Pumpkins of all sizes lay for anyone to pick and choose.

We started a little late from Niagara Falls after a ride in the ‘Maid of Mist’ and since we made many stop-overs on a longer scenic route, reached Corning by four in the evening. The shuttle bus service deposited us at the entrance of the museum from the parking lot. My limited knowledge was jolted right at the visitors’ lounge itself where a floor to ceiling

Serpentine Glass work near the visitors desk

Serpentine Glass work near the visitors desk

artwork of twisted snake-like green glass tubes shimmered under the focus lights and yet it did not prepare me for the colour, size, shape of the multifarious creativity that was going to leave me gaping at the skill and craft of the glass artists.

Divided into various sections from the age when glass originated, the museum houses Roman, Islāmic, Venetian, Asian, American, European and Modern pieces of glass art.

The attempt, to soak it all up and satiate my visual senses, was of no match to the amount of art displayed. Even if I had used up the entire capacity of camera’s memory card, there would still have remained hundreds of articles in the various sections. The museum occupied such large floor space that by end of the tour we were exhausted and welcomed the seated live demonstration of glass blowing by the artists.

The glass artist after a brief introduction of glass making and history deftly made some simple and curvy design from a small piece of glass tube. Enlightened and awed we finally moved to the shop within the museum.

The shop was another world in itself… from delicate glass flowers, miniature birds and animals, sturdier curios…the shelves and floor space was spilling over with colourful glass everywhere….so much so that I was afraid of my daughter’s excited hand gestures that might break one of the piece and reimbursing would have made a considerable dent in my tight budget!

There was even a vegetable patch…glass pumpkins and all…

Vegetable patch...

Vegetable patch…

Awed, inspired and with a renewed respect, I started for my onward journey to New York….to be in the world of humans who mostly hid a dark heart and failed to be as transparent as that humble small piece of glass. Leaving the museum behind, I was reminded of Cath Crowley’s words..

“If you treat glass right, it doesn’t crack. If you know the properties, you can make things; the colour of dusk and night and love. But you can’t control people like that and I really really wish you  could. I want the world to be glass.” Cath Crowley, Graffti moon

Facts and information:

  • Open everyday from 9 am to 5 pm and till 8 pm in summers. We got only one hour to visit which was too less to admire each and every section. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas.
  • Entry is free for kids and teenagers.
  • Discounted entry passes for students and military personnel are available against identity proof.
  • Make your own glass workshop tickets are better booked in advance at cmog.org We missed making our own glass for lack of time and I regret it even now.
  • Free shuttle bus service from museum’s parking lot to museum’s entrance is available.
  • There are on site eateries too.
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A little praise for the daughter-in-law…

Call me a whatever, but I refrain from watching all Hindi channels with over-painted women with either tearful or wicked expressions hogging the screen. Every time I surf the television the faces of those women flash on the screen with similar expressions across all channels. So I made it a mission to watch some serials on major channels throughout a week to find out what made them so popular with women that they discussed them even in parties.

But to my discomfort, all I could see was women pitched against women….getting sons remarried to beget a child while the first wife stands mutely, the mother-in-laws glaring at the daughter-in-laws with blazing eyes accusing them of small and big mistakes, punishing them with all kinds of housework, asking them to prove their innocence, trying to create rift between the son and daughter-in-law, manipulating circumstances to create unimaginable situations….and all this while men in the serials behave as props unable to see the what is right or wrong or just unable to speak up! A dialogue in promos of one such serial shows the mother–in-law thundering “bahu kabhi beti nahi ho sakti”(daughter-in-law can never be a daughter) “lagam kasi hai bahu ki”(I am reining in the daughter-in-law) or something similar…

Really?? Does it even work that way? Does fault-finding bring out best in a person especially a daughter-in-law?

How does appreciation work?

I read somewhere that if a wife appreciates small things that husband does in and around the house, the husband feels happy and contributes more without grudging…a little thank you once in a while makes him drool over his wife and keeps the love intact.

I have seen myself that the moment I praise some small effort of my almost teenage daughter, she is happier to help with a little extra work at home. Appreciation by her teacher ensures her good behaviour in school too.

And if I appreciate something, even my domestic help is willing to do a little extra that particular day!

Why is it then different for daughter-in-law? She is a human too who will blossom in the shower of appreciation …isn’t it?

The other day my mother-in-law nodded agreeably and read aloud to me “If daughter-in-laws start treating in-laws as their parents there would not be any need for old age homes to exist” . Nothing wrong I say but how about treating her like a daughter too? “Tali ek haath se nahi bajti” definitely it takes two to quarrel!

The newly married girl leaves all her familiar things, people and way of living to step into a new pattern. Instead of pointing out her small mistakes, would it not be better to ignore small things and let her take time to adjust gradually? Once she adjusts how would it harm to appreciate smallest of effort and keep ignoring a goof up here and an oversight there? Don’t we overlook our own children’s small mistakes? But no sir…every mistake needs to be pointed out, every action needs to be scrutinized, every word needs to be weighed and judged for hidden motive!

No woman gets married with a pre-determination to create problems in the new family. Praise makes even the worst enemy to calm down and listen… the daughter-in-law is family after all…why would she not start loving you back if she gets love and appreciation?

A very close friend Soumya, lamented to me few days ago “For years now, I have heard my mother-in-law say something only when there has been little less salt in the meals… “Aaj namak nahi dala…?”” A good cook that she is, Soumya confided to me over a cup of coffee “I have hosted many parties at home making food single-handedly for twenty-five people at times and guests have taken portion of some or other dish packed  in boxes for the next day but never has any lunch or dinner menu elicited an “acchha hai khana” from my in-laws!! The tea I made always either had less milk or less sugar or made too late or too early…the bread slices always had little too less butter, coffee always too watery…”

I wonder if people like Ekta Kapoor and other serial directors and producers will ever make tele-serials where the mother-in-law is all praise for her daughter-in-law from day one and stands by her at all times…may be the trend in serials will ease up and sweeten the real MIL-DIL equation!

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Book Review: Ramayana, The Game Of Life: Stolen Hope

Book: Ramayana: The Game of life (Book III: Stolen Hope)

Author: Shubha Vilas

Publisher: Jaico Publishing house

Picture1Most of my age have grown up listening to stories of Ramayan from our elders and can narrate the common and most popular stories from the epic quite easily to our kids.

This book from the series “Ramayana: The game of life” is book III ‘Stolen Hope’. In this book the duration of exile for Rama, Lakshmana and Sita is narrated through various stories that are interconnected to various other characters who each play a part in the epic.

There are many stories in the book which I was not aware of and only after reading those I could connect certain events to larger part of story. Author Shubha Vilas explains the context of stories in a way that might feel relevant to the younger generation.

The example of Maricha who turned himself into a golden dear and lured Rama away was the one which I found quite apt. With this example author explains that if we run after cheap thrills in life, we may be as well walking away from a good, balanced and virtuous life and endangering ourselves.

Another example when Ravana tries to woo Sita by disrespecting her relationship with Rama will relate well with younger generation too. He has described rightly that for love to have impact in relationships, there has to be transparency for respect for each other to bloom.

By giving the example of Surpankha’s shifting focus from Rama to Laxmana , author has brought to light the importance of loyalty in relationships. That an unstable and questionable loyalty can never be the basis of a long-lasting relationship is explained beautifully in the book.

The author has tried to connect with easy explanations of situations presented in Ramayana. There are many examples for reference to look at situations in today’s age too like Bharata’s decision to stay in Ram’s shadow, Sita’s way with words, Jatayu’s reverence etc..

However, if I go for nitpicking there are many proof reading and translation mistakes which jars the reading pace. The sentence formation is quite poor at many places. Usage of wrong words like ‘besiege’ instead of ‘beseech’ stick out like a thorn. The usage of adjectives seems too much forced. I was put off just for this reason while reading the text.

Read and decide for yourself whether it relates and applies to your daily interaction with all kinds of people.

 Also read on :

https://www.amazon.com/review/RHY8PFZIW0C7T/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B019ZFKQ0Y

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1536805009

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Prank That Sealed Our Love

There is a popular saying among the men in armed forces the ‘faujis‘…. “We work hard, we party harder”. What the others might not be aware of is that these men in uniform are big pranksters too!

One such prank not only showed me the lighter side of my husband but also reiterated that he meant the world to me.

Married to an Indian Air Force Officer, I was welcomed in ‘fauji style‘ into the folds of unit posted in Srinagar in 1999. Kargil war was fresh in my ‘civilian’ mind. The terrorist activity was also at a high in Kashmir Valley…. Jhelum flowed with her waters red..

The day I landed in Jammu as a new bride, there had been a fresh attack on the military base in Srinagar and there was a high alert. Men in olive-green army fatigues armed to their teeth could be seen keeping eye on every nook and corner. Deserted roads and closed shopping areas all were reeling under a pall of gloom. The tense atmosphere had already registered in my mind…and I was quite visibly disturbed.

After an overnight stay at the army transit camp, we flew to Srinagar. We were received by two officers who were the part of a prank that awaited me in the Air Force Station. Those two officers appeared very sad and quiet. Later in the evening one of them arrived at the door of the room we were putting up in…The prank was taking up its form. What I did not know was that my dear husband was also a party to the larger prank…!!

We were informed about a terrorist attack and that all hands on deck needed to report back to duty. Aby, my husband played along and psyched me further. He went away leaving me fretting in the room of Officer’s Mess. Late night I sat at the residence of Commanding Officer of the unit still worried. And then one officer walked in ….heavily bandaged, blood on his clothes, dishevelled, limping…. He told us that due to a landmine blast all in the vehicle were seriously injured particularly Aby and he was fighting for his life in the station medical centre.

I was totally shocked…. The other ladies were also a part of prank but they showed a concern causing me to panic. We all rushed to the hospital where the doctors scared me even more… I saw Aby lying on the table with blood over his chest, hands and eyes. As I sat near him shaking like a leaf, the doctor tampered with the wires of ECG machine. Soon enough the machine started showing a flat line denoting that there was no heartbeat !!

I had totally lost my cool and screamed for the doctor. The doctor did come and played the last cards of the prank. He very seriously informed me that I would have to resuscitate my dying husband by administering a mouth-to-mouth respiration!!

Without giving any thought to the doctor’s suggestion and not wanting to waste a single second, I complied though I had no idea how to administer a mouth-to-mouth respiration. No sooner I bent and my lips touched my husband that everyone broke into claps and Aby woke up from his supposed serious condition laughing….he kissed me back right there with everyone shouting “welcome to the Air Force”

With relief flooding me, I too joined in the laughter. With a loud “I love you” he folded me in his arms sealing our love.

I remember the evening as if it happened yesterday though it has been sixteen years now. We still laugh about the whole episode and he teases me no end.

And that moment of love and laughter and the twinkle in his eyes still tugs at my heart.

“This post is a part of #LoveAndLaughter activity at BlogAdda in association with Caratlane.”

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What Not To Do: Three Silly Mistakes and Narrow Escapes

Goof ups during travel are inevitable and the best made plans may also go haywire. Sometimes things just happen without any ill-intention but more often it is because of the ignorance…

On our maiden trip to USA, we were confident of our habits. We knew we would not be the kind of tourists who create unnecessary nuisance, complain about every possible thing and are generally pain in ….!! We definitely did not want to let anybody think that Indians are bad visitors so we tried to follow the system as much for our month-long vacation.

Inspite of arming ourselves with all information that included driving a rental car across the country we could not prevent few silly mistakes and man, were we glad to have narrowly escaped some serious altercations with law enforcement guys !!

So here are our silly mistakes…Laugh all you want at our goof ups..but luck might not favour you always as it did us..

Mistake #1: Discharged battery translates into a lost GPS signal

My husband Aby, being a pilot swears by the GPS. I, however, am little less into using the services of an accented girly voice who confuses me with ‘Naaeee Sarrack‘ instead of ‘nai sadak‘… after all there are enough ‘bhai-sahabs‘ and ‘bhabhi jis‘ on our roads who will guide us to a shop or an address…better still one odd might even offer to direct us to the address personally if only we were willing to give them a ‘lift’ till the ‘kone ki dukan(corner shop)’or the next ‘chauraha(crossing)’

Any ways, there we were enjoying a ride, marvelling at the sprawling meadows that lingered past our car, the early fall colours that peeped through the green foliage, the huge trucks with shining chrome, cars with boats trailing behind them… our cell phone guiding us through.

Past the open lands and colourful trees

Past the open lands and colourful trees

In all our wide-eyed fascination that usually affects people visiting America for the first time, we failed to check whether the charging cord was connected properly to the cell phone.

Last leg to Niagara

Last leg to Niagara

As we neared Niagara, it started pouring and simultaneously our phone battery drained off. Cars whizzed past us…there was no ‘bhai sahab‘ willing to stop by and help us, no auto -rickshaw walah to pull over along side our car to ask ‘kidhar jaana hai saab?‘ We kept driving, crossed the huge flyover and got LOST! A small insignificant board with words ‘Niagara lane’ pointed to our right. Since there seemed no other option, we took the turn only to find ourselves in a residential area with not a soul in sight.

We drove into someone’s driveway and after much thought decided to ring the doorbell unaware of the law against parking in stranger’s drive way. The house owners were away for the weekend and nobody answered our call. By then our phone which we re-plugged for charging showed just enough activity for us to call our hotel and ask for directions. but since we could not tell them our location properly, they could not help us!!

We sat there panicking and at our wits end… Only after half an hour or so when the cell phone revived and GPS signal was re-established then we realised that we were just few minutes away from the hotel. The rain had stopped by the time we reached our hotel but it was late evening and we missed the last boat ride to the Niagara falls, for the day.

lesson learnt: 

  1. When travelling abroad with family, it is better to take two cell phones with GPS and keep a check on charging!
  2. Never park in someone’s driveway. Had the home-owner been there that day, he could have charged us with trespassing or worse shot at us if he felt threatened by our presence( I was told about such incidents later by my cousin)
  3. It is always better to contact local police if in trouble.
  4. LOVE THY GPS!!

Mistake #2: Sleeping in the rear seat

On every road trip that we took within India, our daughter used to doze off on rear seat and free herself from the seat belt to lie down on the rear seat because sleeping in a seated posture was uncomfortable. I most times ignored it…

On our second road trip from San Jose’ to Los Angeles, the various stops along the picturesque Pacific Coast highway, tired her and she dozed off again. Being an outsider in a foreign land, I had instructed her not to remove the seat belt but due to habit she did take it off.

Cruising along the pacific coast highway

Cruising along the pacific coast highway

And then we were stopped by an officer of Highway Patrol(full story here). After confirming our credentials he left us with a warning.

lessons learnt:

  1. Never ever forget to wear seatbelt even in the rear seat!
  2. Be HONEST and ACCEPT your mistake when dealing with police.
  3. Have all important documents including driver’s licence, rental papers, hotel bills and itinerary details in order when travelling abroad.
  4. Do NOT argue when in a tight spot.

Mistake #3: Domino effect?

This one caught us off guard. Who knew x-ray machines get fooled by a harmless playing stuff?

While in San Jose’ my cousin gifted our daughter a box of domino tiles ‘Jenga’ which stacked up make the basic column and each player has to retrieve a tile taking care not to topple the column. With our suitcases packed to their teeth, we really did not have enough space in the check-in baggage. Running out of time to reach the airport I stuffed the game in the hand baggage.

At the airport, first the self check-in machine malfunctioned and by the time the airport staff helped us we were quite late and ran for last hand-baggage clearance before boarding. While we were cleared one of our bags, obviously the one with domino tiles was held back.

Game ?

Game ?

People had started the boarding but we were called back. A huge security personnel in army fatigues stood along with the airport staff near the bag. Panic clutched my heart and when asked to open the bag I kept fumbling. They took all things out scanned the domino box again through the X-ray and finally with a broad smile waved us off!

lessons learnt:

  1. No sharp items allowed in hand baggage stands true for toys too :(
  2. Keep enough extra space while packing for souvenirs, gifts or last minute purchases.
  3. Whatever things are not needed for immediate personal use should be sent with check-in baggage.
  4. Obey when asked to show contents of your baggage at check points.

Lady luck was on our side may be because we met only people who understood our predicament and were ready to help in restaurants, in airports, shops. But with our lessons learnt, I am ready for another travelling experience…

Have you made some silly mistakes on your travels? How did you escape from consequences?

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Book Review: Forbidden Desires

Book: Forbidden Desires
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Genre: Fiction
Author: Madhuri Banerjee

Forbidden DesiresThe educated Indian women are slowly but surely beginning to reclaim their voices which were being repressed since many centuries now. They are now being vocal about their likes, dislikes, emotions, desires. They are no longer crying behind closed doors and silently bearing the ill behaviour meted out to them by their own spouses. They have become bolder and are not afraid to walk out of a stagnating relationship. They know what they want and are working towards having it.

The ‘Forbidden Desires’ is a story of such women who at some point of life have realized that they have been betrayed in their relationship but instead of wallowing in sorrow, they free themselves and dare to find someone who understands them, reciprocates their love and stands by their desires to follow their passions.

The story is of Naina who gives up her passion of having her own restaurant to plunge headlong into taking care of family in the process losing the vivacity of her marriage and is betrayed by one whom she loved most. This is the story of Ayesha who never got an equal commitment in her marital relationship yet kept trying to find sanity in her marriage. This is also the story of Kavita who despite being a successful working woman could not find enough love and respect within her marriage. And story is about Kajal who dares to break the society’s rules by desiring a married man, fighting for her love and yet choosing to not tie herself up in a marital bond.

These women walk out of their marriages to find a new love and follow their dreams. Their lives are entwined. They realise the futility of hanging on to a dead relationship which binds both the partners.

I will not deny that marriages do not go through a rough patch when you doubt whether there is anything left worth saving but honestly speaking I haven’t yet met women who have dared to give up on marriages… May be there are women in similar situations as the characters of the story in reality too but who still are afraid to call their marriages a farce…. Or it is possible that real women have not met a character like author’s ‘Pinky’ who sets up the situations and fixes the meetings and forces the person to behave in an out of ordinary way when they are at their emotional lows.

The  bold step taken by the women of Madhuri Banerjee seems like a fantasy among the women I know. The story has a little glimpse of “Desperate Housewives” with the wives here being Indian.

I stopped being an active architect since the birth of my daughter and now I am a ‘housewife’ since last twelve years. Do I miss being a working woman? Yes I do…sometimes… Has it changed me into a wife with suppressed desires? I don’t think so… Most of the time I am pretty happy being at home indulging in my writing, painting, cooking and other house chores…. Has it driven away my husband to a more younger carefree woman for a wilder sex… Well I can safely say an emphatic no…you see he too has grown older and calmer and his physical fitness has also taken as much beating as mine ;p ;) But then the book is not about my story!

The book has forced me to think what if I face any of such situation…What would I do? I believe women should take charge of their lives and not suppress their dreams but in real life how many women take any drastic steps? It is not easy to break the shackles of society and swim against the flow. And more importantly is it always right?

Madhuri’s women want more magic and more romance in their monotonous life. There are small snippets from life of each character which many of us might relate to in small doses. The book makes for one spicy mix of stories so well woven that I found it difficult to put it down. As they say gossip about other people always make for an interesting topic…and I enjoyed peeking into the juicy life of the four women and their affairs(now I understand why women are crazy about Ekta Kapoor’s serials and their hideously painted women)

Being a screenplay writer for Hindi Cinema, the author has belted out a crowd-puller of a story. It would not surprise me if the book becomes one masala movie.

Read it if gossip is your tea…

http://www.flipkart.com/reviews/RVI614XCSI2EVNJKD

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1515019823

https://www.amazon.com/review/R1M0EAD4XWWZHM/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

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Book Review: When Our Worlds Collide

Book: When Our Worlds Collide

Genre: Fiction

When-Our-Worlds-Collide-1

I usually like to curl up on my cushioned settee in the bay window with coffee mug and a paperback book. This time however I read the Kindle version sent by WritersMelon.

I have not read any book by author so really was not aware of her style of writing. The story that Aniesha has penned is about few young adults with their lives intertwined with each other… It is a story of these twenty-somethings who have recently woken up to the challenges of adult life in a real world, be it facing their attractions or complexities of their parents’ lives, friendships, work challenges, finding their place in the world, prioritising their choices and relationship dilemmas.

The style of writing of the author makes for an easy and straight forward reading . There are no moral lectures, no complaints for the social system and no right and wrong. it is a simple story … a happily ever after but not in the conventional sense of boy meets girl, overcomes difficulties, gets married and lives happily after. This story explores changing definitions of relationships, of friendships and love. The protagonist Akriti changes her aloof behaviour towards her parents, mends her relationship with her estranged father, excuses him for betraying her mother and leaving her in a tender age, embraces his new family, understands the turmoil of her mother and empathises with her, turning into her mother’s friend and partner. She finally finds her happiness, after going through a phase of deciding what her true calling is, in managing the little cafe’ instead of a career in writing and proceeds to join a business management course. She emerges out of her crushes with a better understanding of friendship, love and attraction.

The good thing about this story is that though dealing with young love, there is no cheesy interpretation of love, no unnecessary paragraphs describing physical intimacy. Some young adults may find part of themselves reflected in the story.

Though a well written story, it is not my type of book and I would not have gone out to buy the book on my own. I prefer a more elaborate story with gripping words and some interesting situations.

This book is good for young adults who want to use few spare hours and are interested in light reading. I finished the book in a day itself but kept on delaying writing the review because I wanted to do justice to the efforts of the writer. Story telling is an art and putting your story out there in the world takes courage. I wish the author luck for her future endeavours.

www.writersmelon.com

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1509011148

https://www.amazon.com/review/R2VXQE9E9TQ28Z/ref=pe_1098610_137716200_cm_rv_eml_rv0_rv

 

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