With my husband moving to the States, even if it meant for a period of time, was tough on me; since managing work and home was never easy and in his absence it only got me taxing and dissipated. Taking sabbatical was planned indefinitely. We knew little if it would happen or not, if an extended leave from work would ever be destined or never. We just hoped. And hoped through all those days of January and February. I felt being tossed on and off, like being slowly roasted on a fry pan, and flipped on both the sides to be cooked through, more so in its supposition and anticipation. In turn of moments, things moved cohesively and in the short span, a break from work worked out for our good. So what, even if it meant a leave for just 3 months, it was an opportunity to be seized. When this vacation came through, I intended to pack every bit of it with all that I wanted to do, that I had dreamed of if I could ever break free and gamble some time for myself.
While crossing continents three months ago, I carried along a long list of things to do - many must tries, places we wanted to visit together, cuisines to be explored, foods we wanted to eat, hobbies I had cared for and meals I wanted to cook with best of seasonal ingredients I could lay my hands on. Given the short period I had (3 months?), there was enough packed on my to-do list.
Toddler time - Cognizant about the lack of adequate time spent watching my little one grow older with me while I was away at work often put me in terrible guilt. I guess this complicity comes to all working mothers as a boon (or a bane?) with motherhood. The vacation meant a good time to bond. I distanced from the social radar and stayed away from cell phones. Basic phone calls went out to the most dear folks. No whatsapp. No instagram. No FB updates. No television. No radio. To say I missed them sorely in the first few days is an understatement. To take this stance was deliberate. I wanted to decelerate. Slow down and unwind from chaos of our technologically strung-out life. This, in every essence, was the occasion to pamper my little tot and inscribe the time she deserved. There was a lot we did together. We taught each other, bonded over long strolls, explored little things, ideated stories, amused ourselves with new games, chirped new rhymes, teased the dad, dressed each other, played keyboard on terrible pitched notes, baked muffins and rolled the dough, peek-a-booed a ton, cuddled beneath the blanket, shared unending kisses and laughed our hearts out at all crazy things we did. These were the best moments I am still reviving. Like in trance that treads along till it gradually fades into hinders. Saving and etching a memory for her and us.
To witness the snow and changing seasons - There's something magical about crisp flakes of fresh snow, the spread of black and white beauty the mother nature has blessed this region with during the winters. Our trip was planned to overlap between the fag ends of winter and the advent of spring and summer, so we got the best of both seasons. To witness this land in its monotone and in its burst of colors. Winters were undoubtedly beautiful, but harsh at the worst of its bearing.
Rest, and that too ample of it was the most needed and I made the best of it during these winters, yet it never seems enough to get more.
Travel - Both, my husband and I have gone exploring places as and when we could make time, the case being even when we were together in India. This trip was meant to have loads of travel packed in its itinerary. Our weekends were chalked out to exploring places in and around the New England region where we lived in. We made trips to Washington DC, Boston, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Niagara and NYC exploring far and wide as much the weather and our holidays could permit. I am touring you through a quick glimpse here. Really a short walk-through in comparison to the number of places we visited and the photos we shot.
Our first long distance road trip covering around 1000 miles round-about was to Washington DC (WDC). The roads to WDC lead us through various states of US, an eight hour drive, reaching apt in time to witness the Cherry Blossom festival, an annual celebration in budding flowers signifying the onset of spring, also commemorating the friendship between US and Japan. Given the breadth of this city and the number of sightseeing places Washington DC had to offer it was hard to cover it all in the short period we spent there. If you ever visit Washington DC as a tourist, reserve a handful of days to tour around in leisure. Above pictured in Washington DC... Capitol Hill, Washington Monument, Tidal Basin, Streets of WDC, Cherry Blossom Festival, WDC Street again.
A must visit to the beautiful iconic Niagara Falls, a collective name given to the three waterfalls that traverse the international border between Canada and the United States... Niagara, I guess, needs no introduction. Pictured above, Horse-shoe as seen from American border, The American Falls including the Bridal Veil Falls, Horse-shoe Falls, Night shoot of Ontario, Canada from American border.
There are some cities that welcome you beyond what you would expect. In them, there's an old world charm, a pride in their heritage they carry from the stories that have made into history. Boston was one of those cities that was as warm, friendly and welcoming as our friends over there. A city that is seemingly rustic and historian, yet it seamlessly blends and connects to the modern era of progressive today. Yet another city we loved, truly being a visitor's delight. Oh, did I tell you? Boston skyline is vogue and beautiful!
Vermont welcomed us with dreary skies and cold showers through most of the time we were there. Really, not the best of the weather to be in, but we did not want to let go a weekend either. Despite the onset of spring, it drizzled and remained icy chill. Yet, with heavy coats, curling toes and freezing nosetips we headed out to explore Vermont. If one would ask me to describe my go-to destination to retire, I think this would be. Vermont. Subtly rustic with an old country charm, it's countryside settlements on banks of meandering river beds, ogling out to stark grey skies and interspersed mountain peaks covered in depths of greens and browns, so beautiful and scenic that it left us mesmerised by the virginity of the scenic flora surrounding it. So colonial and submissive that we would have loved more of it. We hopped to Burlington city in the day to sightsee, while retired to Stowe at dusk, to nestle beside Vermont's highest peak, the majestic Mt. Mansfield. Despite not being in the right season to visit Vermont, it was quaint and picturesque, so close to nature than anything we had ever seen. Pictured above Lake Champlain, Stowe Mountain Ski at Mt. Mansfield and Cider Mill in the Green Mountain State of Vermont. Not the best of photographs given the dreary weather, yet I have no complains.
Contrast to our tour in and around New England and Vermont, New York City (NYC) offered us a view from the other side of life in US. A city in true sense. A city that you can easily draw similarities to our very own Mumbai in many terms, yet in varying degrees. Vivid, electric and fast. The moment you step into this city, there a sudden fullness in every nook you see. There's life in everything; living and material. Friction from shoulders of strangers dashing into. Pavements spilling with hustle bustle of people from all walks of life. Real estate crammed into one another. The skyscrapers so tall that if you craned your neck above to view their top floors, the skylight could easily blind you, yet it may be hard to see their receding point. New York is a maze with people and cars rushing by honking horns between tall buildings in parallels and cross roads. The unruly yellow city cabs, the neon flashing lights, the iconic billboards, the late night life is what sets it apart. It's this commotion that makes New York what it is. Yet for us, New York had more to offer beyond just the busyness of city life. Be it the metro train travel, or the view from 82nd floor of the Empire State Building or the night walk at Times Square, NYC leaves you smitten. The Lady at Liberty (Statue of Liberty) was beautiful. The Manhattan skyline, just stunning. Its wants you to be there and capture more of it. New York's hysteria and madness is so hypnotising that left us craving for more.
There was a lot we saw in past couple of weeks, tons of it registered, capturing as much we could through our eyes, our heart and our camera, in every attempt to record and inscribe beautiful memories for the three of us. We made long drives in and around New England region covering all possible states around and places to see. Although not captured here, Rhode Island and Martha's Vineyard were yet other favourite scenic spots we loved. Above, couple of shots at Hammonasset Beach State Park in Connecticut. I have 1000 odd photographs idling on my drive that are yet to be processed, so I spare you from going through more photographs of our travel here.
Travel apart, I was armed to cook a ton and bake like none. Considering my husband is not much of a sweet tooth and enjoys not more than a piece or two of any dessert, all of the cakes, muffins and cookies I baked went into adding couple of unwarranted inches to my waist-line. I did cook and bake a lot in the first month that I was home. But I switched over to baking pizzas and grilled veggies and enough breads were made to feed a gang.
For love of food and cooking, I instinctively love to explore local cuisine and ingredients on any travel I make. Many local fruits and vegetables that are seasonal here are exorbitantly priced and are sometimes hard to find in India. Back home, I abide by cooking with ingredients that are mostly procured fresh and locally. Glad I got to test and taste fresh produces like watercress, arugula, brussel sprouts, asparagus, variety of cheeses, berries, nuts, peaches and pears. I'm trying to figure out the craze for donuts, coffee and chocolate chips cookies, that in the past months I had seen so much of it, I felt compelled to make some at home too! On another note, the above pictured, Stew Leonard's was our hop on place to buy farm fresh produces; a place where I could spend hours exploring fresh ingredients.
A sabbatical also meant making time for hobbies galore. Well, the easiest thing to say, but hard to accomplish all. There was so much I have always wanted to do and learn for myself that the number of hours that sum up a day would never be enough if I had to accomplish it all; read books endlessly, sketch and paint from dusk till dawn (somehow my creativity is the best between these hours), cook, bake, photograph, write and blog a ton (well, I did that partly, but, if only I could have been any better), surf the net, gawk social networking (did I say this is a hobby??? shame!), listen and learn music (I have been harboring a secret interest to learn a musical instrument since long), stitch and knit dresses for my little doll and her dolls (my mother did a lot, I am certain I have it in my DNA too), raise a kitchen garden (I have flopped here in the past, I seriously need some lessons), do home interiors and carpentry (oh yes, I have a strange impression I could fare well here), watch tv, sleep, and sleep more, and shop like no one (if only I had a million bucks a day in this world). God, I wish I was blessed a week in a day please!
All said, this moment of life has been wonderful. I lived life of being a true homemaker, or rather a domestic Goddess as Nigella would put it through. A fortnight ago the daughter and I headed back to India, leaving behind the husband. We've stumbled back to a routine, adjusting to the contrast differences both the countries have to offer, each beautiful in their own way. I will soon be back with another post and a recipe. Till then wishing you guys a great Sunday!