Welcome to my happy place!

        

        

How many of you have been playing this new tagging game on Facebook? The one where one of your friends tags you & asks you to list your top ten all time favorite books, and then you have to do the same, thanking the friend that nominated you plus tagging some others to post their favorites. I usually don’t do Facebook challenges, but when I did take part in this one, only because it had everything to do with books. It’s terribly difficult to choose just ten from the whole universe of awesome books around us. There are just too many books to love!

Here goes, in no particular order…

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd – Agatha Christie
    I am a huge fan of this author, I’d even read product labels, if she wrote those. Poirot is my hero. And this book in particular is the best from the author.
  • The Palace of Illusions – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
    This is the story of the Mahabharata from a different point of view, that of Draupadi. She who was born of fire, married to the five Pandava brothers by a twist of fate, lost by her husbands at a game of dice and dishonored by the Kauravas in a court full of royal elders, who swore revenge and finally achieved it in the battle of Kurukshetra.
  • Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen
    The first grown-up book that I read and instantly fell in love with. The setting in old English countryside, the adamant heroine, the distant hero, their love-hate-ego-clash relationship and the rest of the varied characters, all make it a novel to remember.
  • The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
    In fact I honestly don’t know which one of her books is my favorite. Although she has been analysed as being sexist in her works, I prefer to bypass that. I am thankful that her stories filled my childhood with so much imagination & wonder.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front – Erich Maria Remarque
    This is how war sounds when described in a young soldier’s voice. Despite having learnt about the skills needed in the field, what actually happens there will test the soldiers to the limit. It is a poignant story and a reiteration of the fact that war can never ever be good for anyone.
  • City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi – William Dalrymple
    You see my husband is from Delhi so I wanted to know more of his city. Also, my sister is crazy about the historical appeal of the city and she blogs about it passionately.  This book helped me discover a Delhi I had never known. And I kind of started to look at it as way more than the bustling metropolis that it appears prima facie.
  • The Namesake – Jhumpa Lahiri
    The author describes so well that feeling of belonging, and yet not. Finding your roots in a foreign land has never been easy, all the more when the world you are a growing up is so different from what you find inside your home.
  • The Pact – Jodi Picoult
    This book I read recently opened my mind to teen issues that I thought insignificant. I guess, growing up as a teenager is getting tougher in today’s world where every move one makes is up for scrutiny. It’s something I am definitely going to keep my eyes & ears open when I have kids of my own.
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
    This is a moving account of war-torn Afghanistan, revolving around the lives of two women brought together by fate and how their relationship grows from initial hostility to love and trust beyond life.

I am sure as I continue to read every day, this list might take a new shape, but for now, this is it. Have you read any of these? I’d love to find out if our choices match!

My best & craziest adventure evvver was a surprise gift from Mr.A on our very first anniversary – a sky dive. I shared this picture  as an entry for the ‘Adventure‘ prompt on the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge last week, but as promised, I am writing a bit more about my experience…

I had no idea about Mr.A’s plans until the night before we actually did the jump. It was supposed to be a vacation in Sydney, sight-seeing, wining-dining, relaxing, all of which went great. And then on the evening before our final day in Sydney, he drops this on me –  tomorrow, my dear, we do a sky jump. Bam. Whoosh. I go, whattt?! My first reaction was, are you kidding me? But it didn’t really take much thought to get all pumped up about the awesomeness of the idea!

Rightly said, too

Up

Up

Everything will be okay!

 

So next morning, off we went nestling butterflies in our tummies. We signed on at the office, suited up, then drove in a little van to the airs-trip. Ironically or appropriately, the radio was playing “don’t worry, be happy” at one point during that drive. Mr.A & I looked at each other and laughed, nervous, excited, pumped-up, all at once. At the air-strip a tiny plain stood to fly seven of us – 3 pairs of tandem jumpers and the pilot. It’s the smallest air plane I have even been in, no seats, we sat lined up on the floor, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t fully confident that this toy plane could actually fly even as the engine started and we took off to reach the jump level of 9000 feet.

Upside down

Down we go

Free fall

Whoosh!

I was the smallest of the jumpers, so my turn was first, and what can I say, it was the feeling of ultimate exhilaration when my feet left contact with the plane. I still hold that vision in memory, the airplane flying past my line of sight, glinting in the sun as we flipped over once and then… free fall! That rush I can’t really describe. Wind gushed past, I was so full of wonder I couldn’t blink , and I remember I wasn’t screaming either, just open-mouthed gaping! As we fell to a certain height, the instructor pulled the cords of the parachute and it spread open overhead. Everything became so peaceful and calm, as we glided through the air, watching the lush green fields and pools way below us.

As I said, best adventure evvver! Thanks Mr.A, you make me brave! <3

oh beauty

Slowly drifting

Gently gliding

You spotted me…

…and I spotted you!

Far below…

So, what’s your craziest adventure yet?

The ultimate adventure you ask? But of course, a free fall from the sky!

I’ll soon write a detailed account of my skydiving experience. Meanwhile you can read about more of my adventures and take a look at the previous photo challenge entries.

Update: As I promised, you can also read about this thrilling experience!

Say sakura

Is there ever a wrong time in the year to share some cherry blossom photos? Didn’t think so either. So stop and enjoy the flowers… Have a happy week ahead!

We visited the Lummelundagrottan, the limestone caves situated a few kms north of Visby, the main town in the beautiful island of Gotland. This is an activity you should try if you are into caves & rocks & geology or simply the curious kind. Gotland itself is primarily all limestone. Interestingly, ages & ages ago, before the world took the shape of the continents as they look today, the piece of land that is now Gotland, was supposedly part of a coral reef somewhere south of the equator!

The story goes that three teenage boys first discovered the caves on an adventure back in 1948 before it became a more focused subject for excavations and discoveries. Unfortunately, they were not given too much credit when the grown-ups took over, but these days their story is more widely known through a movie shown at the cave exhibition.

Inside the caves one can see some beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, dripstones and other limestone cave features. We were also showed some fossils. The caves have a stream flowing through and we were lucky to spot some trout that live in the water. It’s an educational experience for kids and very popular among tourists to Gotland. Unfortunately, not too many non-Swedes come here, so you have to request that the guide speak in English for your benefit. In summer, there are quite a few tours during the day, so it might be that the guide misses part of the English commentary & explains the story outside, at the end of the tour. However, that wasn’t a deal-breaker for us. The guides are quite pleasant & take your questions, if any. Oh, and an important tip, carry a jacket as it might get a bit chilly underground.

Note: Cave tours are open only from beginning of May till end of September, so you need to time your visit accordingly. Though private guided tours can be booked all year round. If you want to do more than the 300mt long tour, they also have a ‘cave adventure’ which means they take you a further 200 mts into the caves in a small rubber boat like the actual explorers did. But of course, that kind of activity comes with a price. You can find more information on their website.

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Apart from the caves, there is a small exhibition & a movie about the caves, a cafe with restrooms and a patch of woods with a tiny stream to walk around and get some nice pictures.

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