Saturday, 31 August 2013

Have a Hobby, Mon Ami!

Past few weeks have been simply very crazy for me, too may time consuming activities. Holy month of Ramadan ending and routines changing, school summer holidays ending, office workload increasing….. along with expenses!

My younger daughter's starting school was an event in itself. Arranging for books, stationary, uniform and most importantly the pick and drop schedule. Now, this is in addition to what workload I already have with my elder twin children. This time around it just got multiplied by 3. And as the year prepares to enter into 4th quarter, annual targets at work picks up speed for faster delivery resulting in stress.

So, how one should refresh him/herself? Traveling to a quite/scenic place always helps……. But it requires money mostly (and always definitely!!). I find that if you have a hobby and you do find time for it, it refreshes you. Takes your mind off the stressful things. So, my hobbies come to my rescue in this stressful phase from which I am passing through right now.

I like to make jigsaw puzzles specially if I can find a puzzle of an oriental painting. This is not a old hobby of mine, I tried it a year or so before and failed at it miserably, why? Because I was rushing through it and I actually didn’t like what I was making. So, during a trip to Istanbul in 2011, I found 2 jigsaw puzzles of oriental paintings. 1000 and 1500 pieces respectively. This time around I planned my approach and very carefully completed the 1000 piece puzzle. It gave me immense confidence and pleasure. I am planning to get it framed.

(Tortoise Trainer (Turkish: Kaplumbağa Terbiyecisi)  by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1906.) 

Currently I am working on 1500 piece puzzle and it is half done as of today.

 (The Carpet Merchant - Jean-Leon Gerome 1887)

It is difficult to get good quality puzzles here in Karachi, maybe we as a nation do not have a hobby culture and it gets evident when you visit toy shops or large departmental stores where you don’t have a hobby section or hobby shops.

I am also curious about what will I do when I finish this puzzle, which will be very soon. And I don’t see myself traveling to a place from where I can buy a good puzzle. Maybe, I’ll ask some friends or office colleagues to look it up for me during their visit to some place outside PK.

I also like to collect refrigerator magnets. I love them. And I buy them from wherever I can. In fact, my refrigerator is falling short of space and I have many magnets kept in the closet. I need a larger refrigerator if I want all of my magnets to be displayed.

So far, I have magnets from:

Turkey, Russia, Norway, England, Sri Lanka, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Dubai, Oman, USA, China and Thailand.

I also like to mend broken things or dismantle old things and use their parts in making new things. Recently I re-engineered two scooties and an old bicycle for my daughter. :)
I recall, both of my elder brothers had hobbies, stamp collecting, aero modeling and fishing. My mom also loved to do needlework embroidery, but her arthritis troubled her a lot, so she gave it up later in her life.

What I learned from my hobbies is:

- Give time to yourself
- Think positively
- Have patience
- And most importantly…….. enjoy it.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Rain Drops

It rained a couple of days back...... first rain of monsoon season for Karachi this year. I grabbed my camera to capture some good pictures in my garden, backyard and from the balcony.

Everything in nature has it's own beauty. Snow, rain, fire, lightening, all offer rare beauties hidden within them. 

Today, I am interested in rain drops. 

Sometimes, I wonder, how far a drop of water travels. It rises from the oceans and rivers, fly in the air as clouds and then..... it comes down. Each time at a different location and just for a while and then begin the same journey again.

Even a friendly neighbor came out to enjoy the weather!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Hellas Calling - Last Day.

25 - 4 - 1993

Today is the last day of the trip. My flight is at 1:30 am. Plenty of time available to explore more. So, I consulted the city map and found National War Museum which was located within 10 minutes of walking distance from the hotel. I got ready and today for the first time my uncle (with whom I came to Athens) will also join me. He was not with me during the trip as he had to fly onwards to Paris for 2 days. It was good to have him with me today. We chatted all the way to the museum and I told him briefly about my daily activities. 

The Athens War Museum, established on July 18, 1975, is the museum of the Greek Armed Forces. Its purpose is the exhibition of weapon artifacts and the relevant research in the history of war. It covers the history of war in all ages. The museums' collections include the collection of the Greek Army, with artifacts from other civilizations such as Ancient China and Ancient Japan

The museum's centerpieces are weaponry from wars in which Greece was involved.

The building has 3 floors. As you enter the museum building you will see aircrafts, cannons, military vehicles and naval equipment on display in the open.  
The inner sections are divided into following periods:

The museum has a lot of military, naval and air warfare history in the form of paintings, photographs, maps and ammunition.


We were there for about 2 hours and then headed back. After lunch I started slowly to pack my stuff. In the evening, I did what I love doing most, going out and spend some time on a bench and watch the world around me move about. 

I will leave for the airport at 10:00 pm. 

It has been a wonderful trip. It gave me lot of moments to think about myself as a person. And like all my travels I tried to learn valuable lessons for myself to become a better person. It has strengthened my interest towards art, culture, history and nature. It has broadened my horizon of thought and understanding about people also. I will certainly put to use the learnings from this trip to settle my daily life challenges and continue striving to become a better person.

So, good bye  Hellas, hope to see you again ...... someday!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Hellas Calling - Day 6


Last evening, after my return from the cruise trip, I received a call from friends who were with me on the coach tour to have dinner with them. Since I had no further plans for the evening, I agreed to join them. We met at a Tavern in the Plaka area. It is the old historical neighborhood of Athens, located in the shadow of the Acropolis like a village wthin the city. This is a very lively place loaded with bars, discos and Taverns (traditional Greek Restaurant).

I had a really good time with my German and American friends as they all were leaving tomorrow, I was there for almost 3 hours and returned to my hotel well after 1:00 am.

Tomorrow is my last day of the trip, so today I did some shopping for friends, family and myself. I wanted to keep the day flexible, so to keep myself occupied during the evening, I booked a "Athens by Night" tour. It had a light and sound show and dinner at a Tavern in Plaka with dance and music show. So, looking forward to have a comfortable and cozy evening.

Pick up time from hotel was 7:30 pm. They took us to Pynx hill opposite to the Acropolis. The show began at 8:30 pm. Greek history was told through light and sound. It was fantastic and I can't explain it in detail. This was my second light and sound show, first one was in 1983 at the Red Fort of Delhi. It lasted for 1:30 hrs and then we were transported to the Plaka area. There at a Tavern was arranged traditional Greek music and regional dances. The food coupled with lovely music made the evening memorable.

Hellas Calling - Day 5


Upon my return from the day tour last evening, I booked a cruise tour for next day from the hotel reception. Again, I have to wake up early morning to be ready for pick up at 7:30 am. In the morning we reached the Piraeus to board the “Agean Glory”. This cruise ship will take a trip to the islands of Poros – Hydra – Aegnia. 

The Agean Glory was a luxurious cruise ship of medium size. It had disco, bar, restaurant, swimming pool and a big deck area.  I settled myself at a cozy location on the deck, it was sunny and windy. Slowly the cruise ship started to move out of the dock area. Blue sea and the surroundings were really beautiful.

First stop – island of Poros.

Poros is the island of peace, romance and jauntiness. It is overgrown with pine trees which reach the rugged shores or the sandy beaches. The residents of Poros are like all islands, spontaneous, decent and hospitable. It’s Historic Clock is imposing from the distance on the highest top of the hill, among prickly pears and pine trees. It was built in 1927, it is visible from every part and it is the jewel of the town.

At the center of town you can find the archaeological museum, the library, and on the beach there's an open air cinema. There are many little taverns spread among the backstreets of Poros.  Along the pier, the visitor can see plenty of cafeterias, restaurants, tourist shops, many bars  and discos with foreign and Greek music.

On the outskirts of the town in Northwest there are the Military and Navy facilities, that is where today the pre-training of the sailors takes place. Moreover the visitors can enjoy the wonderful view that the nature offers.

Moving on to the island of Hydra

No Cars, No Mopeds, Only Donkeys For Hire!

One of the stipulations of the National Preservation Order that encompasses the entire island is that there are no motorised vehicles or mopeds allowed on Hydra Island, with the exception of three municipal trucks. Everyone gets about on foot or by donkey or mule and by sea taxi.

The island of Hydra is situated approximately 44 nautical miles south-west of from the Athens port of Piraeus in the Gulf of Saronikos. The hills of the Peloponnese can be clearly seen across the Saronic Gulf to the north of the island. Hydra is about 23km long and at its widest point almost 5.5km. The main harbour and town is also known as Hydra.

There are three small museums on Hydra Island and all are well worth a visit to get a feel for how life was lived on Hydra in the 17th & 18th Centuries. Although not large or on the scale you would find in a large city, they have more than enough information and some beautiful exhibits to illustrate Hydra's illustrious history. These are Museum of Historical Archives, Lazaros Koundouriotis and Ecclesiastical Museum.

Island of Aegina

Aegina is a place of rich history. You will find signs of that everywhere: in the archeological sites, in the temple of Aphaia, in the archaeological, historical and folkore museum, when you wander through the medieval village of Paleochora, visit the historic monasteries or look at the imposing mansions and the building of the Kapodistrian (the first governor of Greece) period. Most of the sights on Aegina are easy accessible by motor bike or rental car.

One of the most visited sites on Aegina is the church of Agios Nektarios. Agios Nektarios of Aegina (1846-1920), is one of the most widely known Greek Orthodox Saints. He was officially recognized as a saint by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 1961. Each month, thousands of people visit the tomb of Agios Nektarios, to pray to him, or ask for his blessings, which always seem to be answered. His memory is celebrated by the Church on his nameday the 9th November.

 Aegina is the island of the pistachio nuts. They are called in Greece: Fistikia. The harvest of the pistachio is celebrated every year in September with "The Aegina Fistiki Festival". During these 4 days of celebration you can buy all kinds of products that are made of pistachio on a trade fair market at the Port of Aegina town. The Aegina Fistiki Fest is a A festival with lots of food, music, dance, theatre, art etc.

I decided to hire a mountain bike here to explore the island. I rode in different directions for about an hour and enjoyed the views all along.

It was now time to head back. Announcements were made for the Greek Traditional Dance and Music show to commence. This was part of the package and will keep you entertained till you reach back to Athens. It was very delightful, the dance and the music.

It was a long day. I was very tired when I reached back to the hotel. Both yesterday and today had been very eventful and busy for me, so tomorrow, I’ll keep it slow.

Something to remind me of this wonderful trip........ my embarkation ticket.