Montage – Circus Lane, Dean village and some Edinburgh sunshine

DSC_0012“A queer compromise between a fairytale and a battleground is the very quintessence of Edinburgh”
– Devon Morton

There are certain places in this world we fall in love with the moment we set our eyes on it. Sometimes we are so mesmerized that it takes time to form into words what makes us feel the way we do. And not everything that is beautiful can cast the kind of spell that Edinburgh could.

The first time I learnt about this medieval city was three years ago, while I sipped away a tall glass of cranberry juice stacked with ice cubes at a riverside pub in Kingston. “It’s pronounced edin-bruh, not edin-burg. Try getting there one of these weekends. It’s a beautiful place”, Marc said. Ignoring the embarrassment of having mispronounced it, I fell in love with the Scottish ring in the name, my affair started that autumn evening. I have had many fantasies of visiting Scotland since, none close to the magical first impressions when we we finally made it there in October last year. Sriram and I arrived just after Edinburgh’s festival fringe, the world’s biggest art festival, on a beautiful Tuesday afternoon.

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Edinburgh greeted us with an enchanting canvas of medieval architecture, castles and hills overlooking an uncountable bunch of hidden lanes and ruins. So when we whisked ourselves away to a breathtaking airbnb in Leith, we were thrilled in anticipation to experience it all. There is never enough time to consume all the rich history and magic in this city.  Nevertheless, we decided that the best way to do it is on foot.

Edinburgh-6DSC_0021It’s hard to not lose your way in certain parts of Edinburgh, there are way too many lanes meandering through the heart of the city that some of them could occasionally muddle up google maps. And whilst we were hilariously lost most of the time, we walked into some gorgeous cobblestone alleys, stone houses and lush rose gardens (the kind of life I love). Our favorites were the Circus Lane and Dean village, both quiet and far away from hustle and bustle of tourist spots. The Dean village adjoins the Damside, also a quaint little residential area dotted by arched bridges over veins of the water of Leigh. Sriram and I try not to be the typical tourists when we travel and are looking for offbeat places that give us as much an authentic experience as possible of being a local. We had fun and a lot of good memories to keep.

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Strangers on Valentine’s day

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To be or not to be, that is the question – Shakespeare

Winter post December, I feel, is often bittersweet, slow and quiet. The dreamy christmas windows, mulled wine, pop up eateries all fade away. We timidly wake up from the picture-perfect postcard life with a fresh serving of new resolutions and a blob of good old procrastination on the side. Busy weeks pass by like a fast-forwarded dream and then we stop a little; it’s February 14th – a day to celebrate love. 

I stand in a queue with a bottle of roasted peanuts in hand and a dismal five dollar bill. “Next customer please”. I walk up to the cash counter, to a tall brunette. “How are you today? Happy Valentine’s day, if you are celebrating.”

To you as well, I said. She had a thick layer of sparkles on her eyelids, glittering in silver and blue.

“I’m not celebrating.” I could tell. Beneath the dramatic makeup, it was an easy give away. She handed the receipt. “I love what you have done to your eyes.”, I said. She lit up a bit. “It’s NYC, if you would like to try”.

Waiting at the train station earlier that morning, I caught a whiff of romance and passion in the air. After-all, tonight is the night. Crisp red roses, fancy hairdo’s to go with crimson red gowns, last minute scurry for pretty gift wrappers, lots of scented candles – lavender, cinnamon or just anything labelled love with a cupid and a heart and surprise dinner reservations. Oh yes. The evenings are beautiful. The tables are decked with special candles tonight and a complimentary tall vase with roses, carefully placed in the centre.

“Well, it was nice, different from the usual bottle of wine and red roses, you know..” There was a trace of doubt in her voice. She walked past me, phone on one ear, her slender form enhanced in her pencil skirt and suede pumps. Here is a day reminding us about love (or the lack of one). I look at happy faces inside cars at a traffic point. With blow dried hair and red lipstick, she buries her nose into a velvety bundle of red roses. It’s a day of plentiful reflections; reflections of love, happiness, life.

It’s that time of the year again when most of us are in romantic harmony. We dress. We groom. Dine. Drink. Walk under moonlight. Exchange expensive gifts. Get surprised. Act surprised. Kiss each other goodnight and snuggle up in love. It’s a beautiful life. If only we could stop for a while and think – maybe love needn’t be just a one day celebration. It’s sunrise again. Until next year, it’s time to instagram #aboutlastnight and get back to work.

A little note to my readers

Thank youWhen I started writing Happily Muffined last year, I imagined this space on the internet to be a little cozy corner, an imaginary warm and quiet nook to cuddle up into in a room full of tall shelves of old books, a cup of lady grey with a spot of cold milk, a french window overlooking the hills through the seasons and indoor creepers growing wild and happy. I am overjoyed that today people want to connect to this space and read about it. I want to thank you all for helping HM grow and for being a part of it all. While the tea brews, welcome to this little abode. In the days to come, I am working towards bringing together collections of photographic stories from off beaten parts of the world, while continuing to learn and grow in the process.

I am now back from a little vacation with many adventures and stories to write about. New post coming soon :  Edinburgh series.

Celebrating love – A balmy spring weekend in Washington D.C

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The Fourth of April

Creating stories with my favorite people is a continuous desire for me. Be it surprises, love letters, food, pillow fights, travel or laughter – I capture candid moments as much as I can so that at best they visually continue to exist. It is important for me to have a multitude of such stories that will make up a good narrative when we age and  I believe this is what makes life so exciting. We have this time on earth to create something unique and quite certainly, no matter what choices we make this will be a story no one else has ever heard of. I wrote to Sriram one day, ” I realized the reason you fall in love with someone is not based on how much you like the same things, but how much positivity you can bring to the other person and influence him/her”. I believe that strongly now than ever before. So here we are, one year through our wedlock, celebrating the reasons we fell in love for.

Sarabeth’s and other jubilees

Beside the reasons of marriage and love, it was the month when we first moved in together and marked it with a contemporary american breakfast at Sarabeth’s. I have a candid shot of Sriram from last April, waiting for our order at our table. Funnily enough, on our first anniversary we impulsively decided that our visit to Sarabeth will become an anniversary tradition . Sriram coordinated our time (and his sweater) to be the same as last year so we could have an identical picture taken. All so surprising because it’s not often when the hubby says let’s take a photo. On the contrary, it’s not surprising how many ways we try to re-live what we cherish. This year we ordered home fries for starters, and french toast – apple-cinnamon french toast topped with bananas for him and almond-crusted french toast with a drizzle of cranberry-cherry syrup for me. The verdict : his choice was easily my favorite simply because it was tastier and the portion was just sufficient. A thin french crust of thinner almond shaves would have made mine a better breakfast.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we spent the rest of the morning leisurely walking across central park, then sat by the pond with a beautiful view of Spring colors and reflections of a pastel blue sky.

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The cherry blossom festival

The last time we travelled to D.C, it was with a larger group of lovely cousins and relatives on a long summer weekend. The capital is rich in archives. For someone vehement about history and politics, this place is a feast. This year however since it is the season of cherry blossoms, we couldn’t find a better way to celebrate ‘us’ than travel to the beautiful annual spring festival. The cherry blossoms are in full bloom during the first week of April, rightly timed for our anniversary. We did not have an itinerary planned for our travel. Considering this was only a weekend’s getaway we wanted to dedicate all of it to soak in the beauty of the blooms. We walked around the tidal basin, also exploring the monuments along the banks. D.C is brimming with beautiful architecture and elegance. To consume every compelling detail of american/world history it is important to not rush through the tour and we were quite keen on that. It is at least one week’s worth of commitment for inspiration. From this trip, a few favorites at the Tidal basin –

Martin Luther king’s monument –  Amongst the many monuments and memorials near the basin, for me this was the most stirring and overwhelming sight. The theme of the monument is based on a statement from his famous I have a dream speech “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” He stands 30 feet tall, emerging out of the ‘mountain of despair’ granite wall behind him.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial – Roosevelt’s memorial is admirably designed to narrate his story during the unusual 4 term presidency. There are waterfalls that represent it, one for every term, each getting bigger and complex in relevance to the term. With the prominence of stone, water and sculpture this outdoor narrative amidst the thick pink blossoms is an educative time lapse.  Roosevelt is seated on a chair here with Fala, his Scottish terrier by his side.

Paddle boating – The best time to do this is before lunchtime. We did a prior booking online a couple of hours beforehand as a precaution because we found a long queue for tickets the previous day. Sunday morning turned out to be more serene and magical than we had imagined it to be. Paddle boating was a first for me which added to the excitement. The timelines weren’t strict, when asked what time we had to return back, they said “whenever you please. Enjoy!” So we spent a good 150 minutes on the boat soaking in the beauty of the coral trees. What more could we ask for?

In a nutshell, it was a lovely start to one of my favorite months of the year. We wrapped up our anniversary watching an old classic – Rear Window

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