It’s the season to plan for travel. Holi and Spring break are coming up, and summer is just around the corner. I’m exploring the possibility of going to Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan. Then, of course, there’s the Indian Village tour, Durshet, Manila, Upstate NY, and maybe another Indian city in store these next few weeks.

I’ve also signed up for a Kala Ghoda literature workshop called “Got them old travel writing blues, momma! A travel writing workshop”. Dilip D’Souza, a well-known travel writer, will be conducting it. I am so unbelievably excited! I can’t wait to hop on the Mumbai train tomorrow morning, search for the Elphinstone College and listen to an experienced writer. I love novelty and I’m earnestly hoping that the next two days will help me take the next step in my craft.

In the meantime, I have a lot of writing to catch up on, namely, the last installment of Mumbai by Night and Durshet, a Happy Accident.

So I thought it would be apt at this moment to inspire myself with quotations that illuminate, as I plod along this lonely writing journey–

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” — Marcel Proust quotes (French Novelist and Author, 1871-1922)

“We may run, walk, stumble, drive, or fly, but let us never lost sight of the reason for the journey, or miss a chance to see a rainbow on the way.” — Anonymous

“Travelers, there is no path, paths are made by walking.” — Antonio Machado quotes (Outstanding Spanish Poet and Playwright, 1875-1939)

I’m taking a brief hiatus from my Mumbai Night series. I’m just so excited and a bit high that I’ve passed the one hundred mark on two counts, which translates into I’ve officially entered WordPress geek-hood. The blogosphere is new to me so I’m still focusing on content content content, while finding my way through tags, giving constructive feedback to other blogs, and using my blog reader .

But today, I’m taking the luxury of pausing and celebrating that I’ve written 107 posts! I’m delighted! But I know also know that it means I have to raise the bar. So I’m off to my next goal of writing 200 posts, hopefully with better writing and photos. (Help help help, Daily Post! I miss your inspiration!)

Here's proof!

I was also surprised this afternoon when I saw that I was about to pass 100 site views today!

More proof!

I know it sounds like a low number but it’s a big deal for me! I waited, obsessed, until I saw “99 site views” and then “102”! When I looked at my referrals it said (not verbatim): Google Images Kala Ghoda Festival 2012. Of course, I searched it and found the photo of my favorite sculpture from yesterday–

I love technology! I love WordPress! I love Google image!

But tomorrow is a new day. A day to sober up and pretend my site views are zero. A day to search for travel adventures around the corner, camera case slung around my shoulder. A day to squint, strain my eyes, crave for quiet, write, slap out my editing knife, and practice practice practice. Write write write.

Whether anyone reads or not.

Consider this a half-blog entry.

Louie with B at Friendly's

I’ve been thinking about Louie’s hat. I’ve been thinking about how Louie’s hat has been traveling all over the East Coast visiting family and friends.

Verrazano Bridge

I’ve been thinking about Louie’s hat, which is some sort of autobiography, and have even challenged him to take a traveling hat photo a day.

Louie's wedding anniversary in Don Pablo's restaurant, New Jersey

There’s also a picture in my head, a picture of a children’s book. A children’s book about a traveling hat. Or a picture book that seems to be about a traveling hat, but is actually about Louie’s life. Perhaps for Faithie and Eli and his other grandchildren.

Consider this a half-blog entry. A seed idea.

For a future picture book.

So now for the real list! (Heart beating fast in chest.) In my previous post, I mentioned that I bought this book in a Colaba bookstore–













Here are a list of sights, tours and restaurants that I would like to experience. Once I’ve posted an entry about it, I’ll make the list item a link so I can share my experiences with you.  Hope you enjoy this adventure as much as I do! 🙂

Sights and Museums:
1. Matheran
2. Wine Tasting in Nashik
3. Vasai Fort
4. Mumbai Port Trust Garden
5. Kala Ghoda
6. National Gallery of Modern Art
7. Jehangir Art Gallery
8. Prince of Wales Museum
9. Crawford Market
10. Dhobi Ghat
11. Mohammed Ali Road
12. Chor Bazaar
13. Kamala Nehru Park
14. Chowpatty Beach
15. Juhu Beach
16. Mani Bhavan
17. Sanjay Gandhi National Park
18. Gorai Island

1. Reality Tour’s 1 Day Village Tour
2. Reality Tour’s Mumbai by Night Tour

1. Bade Miya
2. Samovar
3. Busaba
4. Cafe Churchill
5. Ling’s Pavilion
6. Woodside Inn
7. Moshe’s Cafe
8. Tea Centre
9. Britannia
10. Mahesh Lunch Home
11. Kebab Corner
12. Highway Gomantak
13. Mia Cucina

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.–Unknown

I wasn’t sure whether to call this the Mumbai or Maharashtra bucket list, but considering some of the destinations are outside of Mumbai, I’ve decided to broaden my horizons and name my bucket list after the state instead of the city.

But before I embark on my bucket list, I want to take a detour on the topic of blogging. I started this blog in July, hoping to cook and log my healthy eats. I stopped in August because priorities at work demanded more of my attention, then hopped back on the blogging wagon on January 2. I was a wreck in December 2011. I was fat, and full of negativity and resentment. During the holidays, I slept half of the time, recuperating, tapering from twelve to fourteen hour workdays, while watching a haze of Star Trek in between.

But on January 2, in the internet cafe at the Detroit airport, I started to write my first entry for the year. It’s been 24 days and I’m still writing. Right now, it’s not about being perfect in my prose or photography. (Hide the whip, Sacha, hide the whip!) It’s just about being comfortable with writing and taking photos and not feeling pressured to figure out the manual settings of my digicam. It’s about reading other blogs and books and joining the conversation and expressing my appreciation for other people’s work. I’m still figuring out how to navigate the WordPress blogoshpere and feel like I’ve walked into this exciting new world, with diverse voices, ideas and new ways of rendering photographs.

I’m also trying to photograph different aspects of Mumbai every day, which means that I have to get off my soft Goregaon East butt and ride trains to South Mumbai, chase sunrises, and make conversation with strangers. It’s only been 24 days but because I’m on a quest to know my current city and document its complex layers and beauty, I’ve become more positive, more alive, and more in love with Mumbai. I’m hoping that this passion drives me for the next 24 days!

Last Sunday, yes it was a perfect Sunday!, after saying goodbye to Arlene and Annabelle, and fading into a sea of tourists in Colaba, I found myself inside a store, buying this book–












Perhaps if I make my bucket list, and commit to visiting the places in my list, I’ll learn a little more about the city I will one day leave behind.

Last Sunday, I attended church service at Every Nation in St. Andrew’s, Colaba. I know that many people are skeptical about God speaking to us in this day and age. I understand. I used to be skeptical too.

At this point, all I can say is when you’ve had a personal encounter with God, and I mean the hair-raising, transformative kind that you can’t explain with logic, after all, it is an affair of the heart, and when you have that personal encounter, if you choose there is no turning back, scales falling off eyes. Only a way forward. Forward, pushing into deeper peace. Deeper security. Gone will be your days of emotional neediness, black holes, confusion, swirls, lost, striving. And you know that whatever happens, with a security that refuses to be shaken, storms, blizzards passing, than in this life, the next life, you know you always belong to Someone. You always have a home.

Last Sunday, Pastor Conrad, Pastor Kevin’s brother, a guest speaker at our church, he shared a powerful message about spending time with God and listening to Him. He looked at me, his words cutting my heart. I haven’t been listening as much as I should. Pastor Conrad shook a notebook up in the air with notes from God. He wrote down God’s words, words jumping off pages. Words coming alive, writing life. That’s how passionate Pastor Conrad was, as he generated story after story about God’s power, His plot, His story, His love for us.

One day, I will also listen as much. Listen as long, in quiet space, capturing every word. Listening to His every song. And story. Like now, perhaps, one more second, one more day at a time, sitting at His feet, trying to shut ears from the world, attempting to listen.

I video-taped the beginning of the sermon. I hope you are as inspired as I am.

Guilty as charged!

I’m one of those people who buy book after book after book. I never read them. Never finish the whole book. I visit the bookstore. Online. Offline. Amazon, Crossword. Now into Flipkart. I read the blurb at the back of the book and convince myself–I must have this! I need to know how to do organic gardening! What do you mean the World is Flat? Why are men from Mars? I want to write like Paul Theroux!

So I read the first few chapters, cuddled with a book in bed. Fall asleep. Wake up, forget about my latest chapter and move on to other things. Things with screens. I tend to like the fast read these days. Twitter. Facebook, just anything quick. Brain trash. Then I go back to the same book a few months later, try to catch up from the dog-eared page but no dice. Nothing makes sense to me. Tune out. Once again I go to the bookstore, read the blurbs at the back of books, and the cycle starts again. Read, sleep, abandon. Leave book on top of bedside table, dust-covered. Petrified. Forgotten. Because Facebook status updates and X-Factor are just so much more compelling.

What happened to me?

I used to fall in love with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s bloody rivers in Chronicle of a Death Foretold. My Unbearable Lightness of Being copy was read five times and annotated. The Stranger‘s image of a French man mercilessly killing an Arab on the beach is seared in my memory along with The Cure song inspired by the same title.

And I actually also used to be able to write! Short stories, poems, plays. Essays. I used to be able to express myself in lyrical language. I used to have an attention span that allowed me to focus, write, read, rewrite. Rewrite rewrite rewrite with my editing knife until the wee hours of the morning when the even the dogs would snore asleep in my parents’ bungalow.

What happened to me?

So here’s the deal. I have allowed myself to buy one last book from FlipkartHTML, XHTML & CSS For Dummies. Because, yes, I have convinced myself that if I want to pursue blogging, then I need to at the very least know HTML. But HTML for Dummies is the last book I will purchase for now!

I will tear my eyes away from the New York Times 10 Best Books of 2011, even if yes, my reading is way way way outdated. I will ignore Flipkarts‘ bestsellers. Even if Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography is luring me. Calling me. I need this book to be successful!

Instead, I will remember the dusty The World is Flat on my bedside table and persevere through the chapter on Ten Flatteners. I will close my eyes and ride along on Paul Theroux’s Great Railway Bazaar. And I will climb the allegedly fictitious crags of Mortenson’s mountains.

But why do this? Why carve time to embark on literary mindscapes when I have better things to do?

Because I want to think again. Imagine again beyond the dry documents of international education! I want to get sucked into the bloody rivers of Latin America with characters who don pig tails. I want to remember, experience, live, breathe! good literature once more.