Introducing Two 12 Year Olds :)

Like I once said here before, there isn’t a lot to love about Kuwait. At least, not for me or my many, many expat colleagues at work. But unlike most of them, I wouldn’t say this is a horrible place altogether. It has its pluses.

And the biggest plus-feather on Kuwait’s cap is, well, that it’s in the Middle East, to start with. Which means, its connectivity to places around the world is not just good, but also pretty economical: you save both, time and money.

So, when Hobbes, Pumbaa and Khloe joined me here in May last year, we charted a plan to travel as much as we could in the time that we are here. You know how things are always bit of an ‘unexpected’ in the Middle East.

The first thing we’d to figure out was where Pumbaa and Khloe would go on vacation, while we went on ours. Chancing up on Pet Land, Kuwait, was a blessing: the two wag-a-lots are not just well fed and taken care of, they actually look and act very happy every time they’re off for a stay and when they’re back as well. So, that’s a check!

The next one was to decide which country we start our escapades with. Options were aplenty: start with the nearby Middle Eastern countries or head to the European ones? We went with the obvious and decided to choose from the ones in the middle eastern region, in this order:

Egypt – because I cannot die before I see the Pyramids, or I’ll be haunting the Earthlings forever.
Jordan – because Petra, duh!
Lebanon – because a colleague raved about it no end after he went there.
Qatar – because I have cousins there, so free stay and food 😀 (shameless, I know, but no other reason to go to Qatar, really).
Oman – well, it’s a country, it’s nearby and we’ve heard the landscape is amazing.
Bahrain – again, well, a country.

After much deliberation, we agreed that going to Egypt, just the two of us, may not be ideal (plus, a colleague was itching to come along whenever we go). The same colleague went all by himself to Jordan, so it was an easy decision to make.

And, so, like a whirlwind, a trip materialised and off we went on an 8-day tour of that faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous country called Jordan! We spent one day in Amman, one in Jerash and Dead Sea, two in Little Petra and Petra, one in Aqaba (Red Sea), one in Wadi Rum (where my heart’s gone and hidden itself, refusing to come away), one more in Dead Sea and one in Jesus’s Baptism Site before we wailed our way back to Kuwait.

Our Jordan hangover was barely over, when trip #2 materialised: not part of the list above and completely out of the blue, we were off to Turkey…with the dear friend and her family! We spent three days in Istanbul (Hagia Sophia checked on the bucket list!), one in Alacati and Ephesus, one in Pamukkale and Hierapolis and four in Cappadocia (where now a bit of my heart, that tore itself away from Wadi Rum, resides in one of the fairy chimneys).

Talks of the next trip is ongoing, but I won’t give it much thought until it materialises, since I have a talent for screwing up my own plans and dreams 😉

In all this, we decided that our trip memories needed an identity of their own, hence…

Presenting Two12YearOlds.WordPress.Com

Please follow, like, comment and share some ❤ ❤ ❤

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For the love of TEAvana

One of the good things that happened with my move to Kuwait was the introduction of several big brand names into my life: names I had only hitherto read in books or seen/heard on TV. And, we’re talking about brands such as Pottery Barn, Harvey Nichols, The Cheesecake Factory, Debenhams, Nyx, Footlocker, American Eagle Outfitters, The Body Shop, Charlotte Tillbury, Victoria’s Secret, P.F. Chang’s, &OtherStories, William Sonoma, Boots, Solaris, Kidzania, Starbucks, Bath&BodyWorks, Jack Wills, Texas Roadhouse, Milano and West Elm…to name just a few. While I knew that I was entitled to an employee discount at all of the brands we operate – over 90 of them – what I didn’t know was that, even with a 30% employee discount, I wouldn’t be able to afford half of the stuff from most of these brands 😛

Yet, I went about exploring what each one had to offer. Except for some of the Food brands, I found none that called out to me. Well, except PotteryBarn, but I’m not paid enough for that 😛 Still, it was fun to recall some of the names I’ve read in the Shopaholic series of books and marvel at how I didn’t have to be in Paris or New York to be able to pop into some of these stores, touch and feel them, look at the price tags, let out a deep sigh and walk away, thanking my stars that I did not have a credit card and wasn’t a shopaholic like Becky Bloomwood.

A couple of weeks after I joined and settled in, my kind manager took me on a tour of the The Avenues, the one-stop shop for all our brands…and more. And, the one that absolutely caught my fancy? TEAVANA. I’d never heard of it before (yes, I hadn’t!) and I was stunned at the rows and rows of different flavours of tea that filled up this most beautiful store! My my, how could there even be that many teas!? The sales girl won me over by allowing me to taste several of their teas, after each of which I excitedly exclaimed “How lovely! I like this one better than the last!” Trust me, I had no clue which was which and if she was giving me the same tea over and over again 😛

I don’t think my manager had ever seen me that excited before and told me we had more stores to cover. I gave no heed and was going about enjoying another ‘taster’ cup of yet another lovely tea, when he actually told the sales girl to stop taking me on a tea-high and wheeled me about. And, that’s when my eyes fell on the B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. Japanese tea sets: in cast iron and porcelain. I gave out a squeal and he nearly spilled his tea in fright. He laughed at me saying “My life! I should never have brought you here!”

It was love at first sight. And it was a relationship that would never work out. because they were ridiculously expensive. Yet, from then on, every time I went to The Avenues, I would pass by the Teavana store, longing for a cast iron tea set and wishing it up on me.

It took 22 months for the universe to conspire in my favour. Ok who am I kidding!? The universe had nothing to do with it (because it’s just some bullshit Paulo Coelho came up with to make money off his book!) and that’s not how the Universe functions. Bah!

Two things worked in my favour:

  1. My unabashed and repetitive proclamation of love for the Teavana tea set, letting all my colleagues know that if they were ever at a loss about what to gift me, they should always remember the Teavana Cast Iron tea set 😀
  2. The arrival of Hobbes into my life and his decision to stay forever ❤

So, there was to be a celebration and the colleagues were to get me a gift. The top boss killed all ideas of vouchers and gift cards and said “get her something that she’d love to keep forever”.

They planned it through a whole week. One person booked a meeting with me to discuss “Communications Next Steps” for one of the projects and suggested we meet in the cafeteria instead of at our desks. As we walked into the cafeteria, I saw a group of people who are all my friends but never really group together…and they were awkwardly silent, looking to the other side, standing around a table. And I casually remarked to my meeting partner “That’s a strange bunch over there. Are they having a silent prayer or something?” So, when I realised they were all waiting for me, it was a pleasant surprise!

My erstwhile manager then congratulated me and spoke about how happy I looked and how Hobbes and I are great together, and so on. And in the middle of his talk, one of them who was leaning on the table moved aside and I glimpsed a ribbon-wrapped box, with a name that made me squeal that same squeal from 22 months ago, much to his amusement.

Again, unabashed, I started hopping and jumping in such child-like excitement that he wrapped his speech and told me to open the box.

And that’s how this Limited Edition Teavana Gold Imperial Dragon Cast Iron Tea Set found its way unto me! 

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When I reached home, I unwrapped it again, took pics and wrapped it all back up! About time I get back to my senses and actually have some tea from my precious tea-pot!

Teavana, acquired by Starbucks, is in the process of being shutdown the world over and they no longer produce these. So, Teavana tea-ware have now become truly collector’s items! Added joy to self 😉

Know where you’re off to soon!?

The last time I saw that thing was on February 19, 2013. I still distinctly remember how, a girl I’d never seen before, knelt down to look at me and gingerly opened the door for me. I was so glad to be out in the open, I thanked her profusely, offering to be her faithful companion for life. I initially thought she didn’t understand, because she gently put me back in there and closed that door.

But, of course she’d understood. And I’d gone home with her that day. From the time I began living with her, I’ve only known happiness, comfort, love and joy. Well, she did always get super miffed when I soiled the house, but I knew she loved me to bits anyway. I was pampered, treated like a princess, fed the most amazing food, given complete freedom to do what I wanted, wherever I wanted to. I got a doting brother and friend, an entire family. I moved two houses with her, I met many people, I discovered new food, I travelled many places… Long story short, I no longer remembered the horrors of the six years I lived outside of her world. I was no longer “1420”. I had become “Khloe Nayar”. Life was absolute bliss and I knew there was no turning back.

Or so I thought. Until February 2017, when I saw that thing again, in the house, back in my life. I couldn’t believe she would do that. She pointed at it and asked me “Khloe, will you get inside the crate?

I was heart broken…and of course I refused. And strangely, she didn’t seem to mind. I suppose she wasn’t fully decided then, because the crate just sat there in the house, its door always open, left to my free will of going in and out of it. Not once was I tricked into getting in and locked up. So, as the days and then weeks went by, I let down my guard, I let go of my bad thoughts, I was almost there, convinced that there are other uses for crates in houses than to lock me up in. I say “almost there” because once a while I heard her ask “Do you know where you’re going off to soon!?

She’d already become a “visitor”, I would only see her every now and then…and at other times, only heard her squeaking undecipherables over the phone. So, I should have expected the time was not too far.

Before I knew it, the wretched day dawned on me. On May 26, 2017, I went back into the confines of a crate. I could not believe it. I did not think she’d do that to me. Ever.

I resigned myself to the thought that at least I had a lovely 4 years to look back on to. More than myself, I felt terrible for poor Pumbaa. He’d never even seen a crate his whole life! And there he was, too, locked up in one, right next to mine. I have to be honest. Even while I knew I was going away, I did not ever think he would be sent off too! I had all along been secretly jealous of how much she loved him, so that was a shocker. But, I am glad he was with me, for if it weren’t for his constant reassurance that “It’ll be OK. I don’t think it’s what we think it is. She can’t live without us…”, I would have collapsed in despair much earlier. Poor boy, though I knew he was wrong, I didn’t want to kill his optimism, so I played along.

It was a nightmare when the time came. It was a horribly loud place. Strange faces kept peering at us even as angry voices kept shouting around us, sometimes even drowning the loud metallic screeches of some machines at work. It was so terrible, I don’t want to even remember it anymore. I would not wish it on my biggest enemy (if I had one)! And yet, Pumbaa was still sure it’d be OK. Just when I thought I should break his bubble and tell him what was going on, we were moved into a large space, which looked much neater. In fact, I think it was air-conditioned. It was just us…and it felt like we were in a crate, within a larger crate. Only, it was silent and cool. And smelled kind of nice and clean.

We almost thought we were in a safe place, but our worlds turned upside down again. Nothing in the world would have prepared us for the deafening roar that erupted in our ears, and went on and on for hours together! I hated every second of it. That nice, silent, cool place had turned into an unbearably loud, wobbly, scary hell. It was so bad, even Pumbaa seemed to lose hope. In between, the roaring and the wobbling stopped, some people appeared out of nowhere and gave us some water and food, both barely enough.

That’s when we realized we were indeed “sent away”. We’d have to get used to tough times. It was a strange land, strange people, strange sounds, strange sights, strange voices and words. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, we were moved to another place that soon began to roar and wobble like earlier. I just didn’t know what machine we were in and for what purpose. I constantly kept praying I hadn’t been time-transported to my pre-2013 life!

It took me a lot of time and effort to convince Pumbaa not to cry. He would not stop whining. He kept saying he wanted it all to end so he can go back to her. I had to stop playing along…so I told him she wasn’t coming back. I told him we’re lucky we were still together. I shared my horror stories from the past and told him we’re in a far better place. At least, we weren’t being hurt. It broke my heart to see him in such misery. He’s such a cheery boy otherwise. We spent hours reminiscing the good times we had with her and struggling to come to terms with the unknown ahead of us…and all that while, Pumbaa whined.

Before long, we were back in a loud place, surrounded by strange people. Strange faces kept peering at us even as stranger voices kept shouting around us. The whole place smelled rather strange too. We’d even lost track of time. What it day or night? How many days had passed? How long have we been here? When was the roaring and wobbling going to begin again? And why the heck was it so frikking hot!? Jeeez…was this the place they call Hell?

And then we heard familiar footsteps, familiar words, familiar voices. Faint, but we were definite we heard them. And voila! There she was. We both went Ohhhh Myyyyy Goddddddd — because there she truly was! She hadn’t abandoned us after all. Pumbaa was right. He gleefully said “See…I told you! She cannot live without us!

She was her usual self and very excited to see us, but we wondered why she wouldn’t take us out of the crates. She fed us, gave us water, poked her finger in through the grill and rubbed our noses…but we stayed in the crate, she outside. Where were we? For some strange reason, she just sat there – us in our crates, she on a bench – for almost 5 hours and before we even could take one last look at her, we got whisked away into another strange place. That had been her final bye-bye. Because, we didn’t see her after that.

Two weeks passed and we were still there. With many other dogs who were there too. That was our new home. I was pretty sure it was THE SHELTER. It had to be…because the people were nice, and there was always a new dog coming in or an old one taken away. There was no crate and we had a cage instead. There was plenty of water and food. We even got bathed a few times. BUT. It wasn’t home. She wasn’t there. Nothing from our lives till two weeks ago was there anymore. We didn’t have our beds, our toys, our food bowls, our treats, our visitors, our couches, our lawn… I was sure the only thing left to do was to wait endlessly…or worse, become mere numbers again.

But on June 10, 2017, we saw her again. There she stood, with a bag full of treats and new bowls and toys (and even a poop scoop!) and a luxury car to take us along home! My my. I will never forget how Pumbaa went completely bonkers and rejoiced like the Lord himself had appeared before him! He told me he kind of understood at that point how I must have felt that day in February 2013, when I first had her arms around me!

She hadn’t abandoned us after all!. We later learnt that the crate was something she was forced to use, that she’d put us both on a plane with a Dubai stop-over (which explained all that roaring and wobbling and strange people) — and taken us across the seas, all the way to Kuwait (where she had to leave us at the fancy IVH boarding for 14 days)!

Simply because…Pumbaa was right: she just could not live without us! ❤

— A guest post based on a true story, by Khloe J Nayar (now a happy, settled-in NRI Beagle)

365 days in Kuwait

It was on 18 March, 2016, that I got on a Kuwait Airways flight, bidding goodbye to the few things I held dear to me in Bangalore. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t miss Bangalore much.

And I was right. All I missed of Bangalore (and how!) were my two tail-wagging angels, one whose angel I was, the dear brother and the lush-lush greens and lovely colours of my lovely (rented) house garden. Trust me, nothing more. I’ll get to that later.

Though I say these were all I missed, these were the very essence of my life, and leaving them behind was not easy. Uprooting yourselves from a place you’ve called ‘home’ for  over 8 years–and a country you’ve lived your entire life until then–to move to a new place for a new job and a new way of life can’t ever be easy.

It was not. Especially not in a place like Kuwait.

What can I say about Kuwait? Well, perhaps the same thing I keep telling people who ask me how I like it. That it’s not a bad place at all. That in fact, it is quite nice (contrary to the many stories I was ‘warned’ with, prior to my accepting the offer and moving over).

Just that it isn’t a place you want to be alone in. So, what’s there to like?

  1. Well to start with, there is a beach around almost every corner. How many times have I gone to one in the past 365 days? Once.
  2. This is a foodie’s paradise. Name any cuisine and you have authentic and spurious versions of both, across all price ranges. How many have I tried? Well, very few (those too, only as part of my job).
  3. This is a fashion lover’s heaven. Brands I’ve only read of in books/seen in movies, I see all over the place here. Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories… How many have I walked into? Very few, and for obvious reasons.
  4. There are quite a few “places to see”, which can keep you busy for at least a month, if you were to do one every day. How many have I done? Perhaps five.

These obvious stuff apart, if you have the will and the time, there is A LOT that Kuwait offers to keep you occupied and interested.

There’s theatre, there’s music, there’s art, there’s all kinds of community clubs and events, there’s a variety of sports, there are many museums, there are frequent concerts, there are shows and cultural/food festivals…there’s  just a lot one can do. And for the travel lover, great connectivity (and affordable travel) to a plethora of places, especially to several that are on top of my list!

Yet, so far, I’ve only done the music. Because while time is all I’ve had aplenty, I have not yet had the will. Don’t ask me why.

I spent a good part of the past year deliberating on whether or not I’m here to stay. Well, when I decided to move here, I’d come with a three-year plan. But within a few weeks of being here, I was very tempted to covert the 3-year to a 3-month plan 😀 But now, all that’s about to change. And for the good, I hope. The three-year plan is back…and is probably now a 5-year one.

And that will mark the end of my “life” in Bangalore, leaving me with absolutely nothing to miss about Bangalore anymore. Not the traffic; not the pollution; not the roads; not the fiery lakes; not (some of) the most horrible people I’ve come across in life. It was a place I first saw around the turn of the Y2K (anyone even remember that whole end-of-the-world is here phase? :P) It was a place I then went back to in 2005 and realised I was still in love with. It was a place I permanently moved to in 2007 and then hated for the next few years…and then when all else seemed lost, started liking again in 2012. It’s a place that I began looking at sadly as a classic example of “how to destroy an awesome city.”

It will always be a familiar place…a place where some of the best and worst things of my life happened. I hope, with Kuwait, that order reverses. I started off here in the wake of the worst year of my life 😛 About time it all became the best, and with no turning back.

About time I saw Kuwait with a whole new pair of eyes and a whole new heart! Oh, and two very happy tails!

Can’t wait! ❤

 

It’s snowing in here!!!

I love December. What’s not there to like? It’s the Friday of months! 🙂

I love the nip in the air. What’s not there to like? It’s that time when you’re not so cold that you need warm clothes, but you’re cold enough to want to hug yourself when you walk in the open.

I love the whole ‘end of year’ and ‘holiday’ season feel. What’s not there to like? Work pressure is less, people are always discussing upcoming holidays and there is generally talk of gifts, parties, presents and much friends-and-family love!

I love the colour, glitter and joy of the Christmas-y feel all around. What’s not there to like of all the reds-and-whites-and-greens around; the sparkly, beauteous gift boxes in every shop window; the sight of Santas and reindeers and lovely, snow-sprinkled Christmas trees decorated like a dream; the winter coats and woollen hats and happy scarves.

I love the Secret Santa games. What’s not there to like? It’s fun, it’s knowing someone just a little better, and all the guessing and wailing and cheering!

I love the carols that automatically start wafting out of every third house on the street. What’s not there to like? It’s the happiest kind of music, and it doesn’t matter if you’re not following that certain religion!

❤ Most of all, I LOVE THAT IT SNOWS on my blog! ❤
It brings me such joy, I cannot explain it. I went YAY the first December of this blog on WordPress – that was 8 years ago. Since then, every year in December, I’ve gone YAY when I logged in here. Till I went on a hiatus and completely forgot about it. Today, I logged in (purely force of habit formed in the past 30 days :P) and went “Whoaaaa snowwww! YAY it’s first of December on WordPress!” A colleague, totally bemused, pointed out that it was December 1 in most parts of the world, not just on my blog. Pfffft. What does she know! 🙂

In my current state of happiness, let me leave you with this…one I learnt of recently, thanks to my carols practice sessions 😉

It really is the most wonderful time of the year!

 

AND, TODAY IS A TOTALLY HAPPY DAY FOR ME! Yay, yay, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!
*Mental somersaults, mental high-fives, mental jigs, and full-on hop-skip-and-jump joy*

Day 30: You’ve not lived today until…

You’ve not lived today until you have done something
for someone who can never repay you!
John Bunyanjohn-bunyan

I found the words tremendously meaningful…
…because, we can never say for sure someone can never repay us (not even after either of our times is up, because the impact of some good things are felt long after it is done) and that means we continue trying to do something to that effect for as long as we live. How better can then your life be, if you persist to do something amazing everyday? 🙂

…and the image immensely touching
because, it speaks not just a thousand words, but a million emotions as well!

I am glad I came across this today,
to be able to make this my closing post for NaBloPoMo 2016!
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THANK YOU
Swaram.
And all the lovely ladies, for a month of amazing reads.
This was fabulous!