Twisted Trunk (ThursdayTreeLove)

Tree trunk, IUCCA, SPPU
Twisted trunk

What could have been the reason for this twisted tree trunk? Considering its pretty huge and old, and growing in the open, I am sure the curves must be natural.

One of my first posts on the ThursdayTreeLove was Sleeping Trees that I saw in Moscow. Just as I could not figure out the reason for those ‘sleeping’ trunks, I simply cant find an explanation for this.

Here is another image.

Bonsai artists often ‘wire’ trees for which they face a lot of criticism. Surely no such intervention was done here. Yet the trunk has acquired wonderful curves that simply will stop you in your tracks.

What do you think?

I am joining Parul in her #ThursdayTreeLove39 bloghop. Do head over to see some amazing trees from around the world. 

2018 AtoZ Reflections

#AtoZChallenge reflections logo 2018

There is huge void at the end of 30 April , a massive lull as it were, after the frenzy of writing, reading and commenting on posts in the April AtoZ blogging challenge. I was travelling part of the month and associated connectivity issues meant I could not comment on as many posts as I wanted. Somehow I never did get around to doing it later.

This was my fifth attempt at the challenge.
2013 was my first attempt and I did not have a theme.
In 2014, I wrote about Exercising for fitness.
In the year 2015, I wrote about public parks around Pune.
In 2016 I posted about herbs from AtoZ.

For some reason, I was unable to comment on some posts from my cell phone. Also, some blogs only accepted comments via Facebook or Google Plus. I did not want to comment via these platforms so despite wanting to say something, I just could not reach out to the author.

The AtoZ Twitter handle was not as responsive as it used to be earlier. It would have helped if they had retweeted posts in which they were tagged.

I found a huge number of Indian bloggers, many from India and some living overseas. There was a fair number of older people participating which means blogging is not an exclusive purview of the younger generation. Older folks are also learning the tools of the tech trade and using them pretty well to get their thoughts heard across the world!

Travel, Health, Wellbeing, Poetry, Fiction, Self-Help seemed to be popular theme ideas and many bloggers explored them in a unique manner. I did not find many nature related blogs but I am still going through the list so I may still be surprised. 

This year, my theme was a contemporary AtoZ. Do the alphabets still stand for the same objects as we were taught in school? Overall, for me, 13 alphabets could still be related to the same word namely A, B, D, E, G, H, I , J , K, L, Q, R and X. Yet each had a subtle 21st century twist.  The others had other more tech-related associations. 

Among my posts, the O post, O for Oxygen had the highest views, followed by I for Ink, T for Trek and M for Magnet. Comments I for Ink elicited maximum response from my readers followed by B for Ball. The comments are much less than number of views so I am not sure if people couldnt be bothered to reply or were short of time or simply did not find the posts worth commenting 🙁
I am happy to have completed the challenge and am grateful to those who have commented and shared my posts! 

I came across some really interesting blogs which I will update here soon. So do come back in a week or so! Hopefully I will be ready with a list then.

What could have been better? Hmmm… maybe I could have been more active on social media and visited more blogs. I plan to remedy the latter over in upcoming days. 

All in all, April has been a very hot and hectic month. 
I hope to be more regular in my posts other that Wordless Wednesday so wish me luck!

Thanks for your support dear readers!
Stay well, Stay Happy!

Z for Zumba

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty six and the alphabet is Z. 

This will be last post for the series though I guess I may put up my Reflections later..

The list of things that I yen for should also include Zumba. Its an exercise form that is quite the rage in my city. From what I have read its a kind of dancercise but somehow I have not got down to signing up for a class. 

Alberto Perez created Zumba in the 1990s and it incorporates aerobic movements with dance accompanied by some fast paced high intensity music. This Wikipedia article states that there are 9 types of Zumba, of which the Gold program is meant for older people and beginners. I guess I fall in both categories so this should be the one for me…

As I understand this falls into the aerobic workout category. This article in Time, quotes a study which found that Zumba boosted balance and core strength in overweight women who are older in age. Since it is non-judgemental there is no fear of not being a good dancer. A study by the American Council on Exercise found that Zumba is indeed a very effective type of exercise. 

All in all there is enough scientific data in favour of Zumba. I know of a couple of classes in my neighbourhood too. So why am I sitting here in front of my PC and typing its benefits instead of joining? 

That’s just what I will do after I read some fantastic Z posts, catch up with Twitter, schedule my Wordless Wednesday photos, cook, sleep, catch up with my book.. by which time it the health club will have closed…

Getting back to my basic premise, Z for Zebra still holds as a visit to the great grasslands of Africa is on my travel wish list. Till that happens, Z belongs to Zumba!

My heartfelt thanks to you folks for your visits and comments. Your support has meant a lot.I have tried to read and comment on as many blogs as I possible.  There is all of May to catch up! 
See you around!

Y for Yen

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty five and the alphabet is Y. 

In school we were taught Y is for Yak. This is one animal that is found only in the higher regions of the world, I remember seeing them in Ladakh. So basically its not commonly seen hence I would prefer to go with Y for Yen.

I am sure your first thought would be Yen as in JPY – the Japanese currency. That’s correct ofcourse but I am referring to yen which means to have a craving or yearning for something. One of my first posts was related to my blog address (yenforblue) and you can read it here

At this stage in my life what is it that I ‘yen’ for? 
Ability to travel 
Staying healthy
Seeing my family happy
Learning something new every year preferably technology related

Of all these, the last has sort of stagnated as I have only managed to gain more knowledge about field botany and bonsai. Learning music has been one thing I want to do but my tentative efforts at the singing class were disastrous to say the least. I am trying to figure out if my teacher or I was happier when I quit! I have consoled myself saying that artists need people to appreciate as well, and I might as well be a good connoisseur. 

With advancing age, its important to have a goal, a craving to do or learn something. An active mind will keep ageing at bay. Hence the importance to have a yen for something!

What do you yen for?

X for Xmas

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty four and the alphabet is X. 

Among the several festivals that we celebrate, Christmas is among my favourites. Technically I do not ‘celebrate’ Christmas but possibly because I studied in a convent school, this festival has always been special to me. We always had a party in schoolwith each class having its own celebration. Sometimes they took us to the chapel and we sang carols. 

Now years later, I still make it a point to listen to Christmas carols. 

Besides carols, the Christmas cake is yet another favourite. I learnt to bake one from an expert baker and it is really awesome even if I say so myself.The recipe calls for advance preparation but the results are worth it.
Most shopping areas in Pune are all decked up right from start of December and its a joy to walk down the streets or in the Mall. Christmas trees are look wonderful with fairy lights and ornaments. Here are some wonderfully decorated trees from homes…

Image credit Rajendra Sonarikar
Image credit Rajendra Sonarikar
Image credit Dr Meenakshi Pande
I am sure there are many more facets to this great celebration – family reunions being an important one. 

What do you like best about Xmas? 
Only two more days to go.. See you tomorrow folks…

W for WiFi

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty three and the alphabet is W. 

WiFi is the first word that comes to my mind for this alphabet. Ofcourse water still is an important letter-word association but my choice for today’s post is WiFi.

A receptionist at a hotel in Norway told me, “We get tourists from all parts of the world. Many dont speak or understand English. Yet everyone knows one word…. WiFi!!”

That in itself shows the reach of this technology. Its the gateway to the Internet, the place where one gets information, entertainment, education and almost everything else. We extensively use WiFi. At home. In office. At airports. In hotels. Going beyond the usual ones (phone, tablets, computer, laptop) the range of WiFi connected devices at home is rising rapidly.. Fitbit, Air purifiers, refrigerators, weighing scales and who can forget the latest addition – Alexa! 


Whenever we have house guests, among the first things to be offered to them is the WiFi password!! 

Here is an image received on WhatsApp that shows the scene when the family gets together with the family matriarch… 

Image received via WhatsApp
I am all for connectivity but I do feel its taking over our lives. We are turning into zombies as we move from screen to screen. People are immersed in their own world and I find many are unable to converse in person. Chatting via a website or App is what gets them vocal.

As someone said, the best way to get a family together is to turn off the WiFi.

Lets get together, talk, laugh, explore the great outdoors and reconnect!
Image received via WhatsApp
We are at the fag end of the challenge. Only three alphabets to go. 

V for Vegetarian

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty two and the alphabet is V. 

One advantage of travelling full fare airlines is that they offer inflight meals. Their quantity and taste factor are open to debate but yes, they do offer food. One of the biggest difficulties is choosing the correct meal option when booking tickets. 

I prefer to be vegetarian. To me, it simply means a meal that does not have meat. That’s it. The websites ask me to choose between Asian Veg, Vegetarian Vegan, Vegetarian Meal, Vegetarian Oriental Meal, Fruit Platter, Vegetarian Jain Meal, Vegetarian Lacto – Ovo Meal.

Phew! That’s just the veg options.. (The non-vegetarian options are equally varied.) 

Choose the wrong one and you are stuck with something that is vegetarian all right but its  something you dont like. I once chose Asian Veg and found myself facing a bowl full of noodles. Try eating those with flimsy plastic folks … Plus, I hate noodles unless its Maggi! I know that Jain Meals do not contain onion/garlic/root veggies so that should be a safe option. Fruit Platter is self explanatory I suppose but will it satisfy the hunger pangs at lunch time??  I am not averse to eggs so the Veg Lacto-Ovo meal may be interesting! 

In India, we have to buy food on the low cost carriers – the menu usually lists many options but all may not be available. Besides the sandwich varieties, the other items are usually made by adding hot water to the dehydrated food. I have seen folks carrying their own tiffins which says more about the food than anything anyone says or writes! 

I can go on with this theme but I know you have many more blogs to visit… 

While it was V for violin in school, I will go with V for vegetarian and take my chances with whatever food is served 😉

What is your experience with inflight vegetarian meals? Do share!

U for Uber

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty one and the alphabet is U. 

Taxis were not a part of Pune’s vehicle scene until maybe a couple of years ago. I have never understood the reason for this gap but Pune’s narrow streets and relatively shorter distances may have been a factor. Plus cycling and walking have been an integral part of this city which has been considerably reduced now. 

Recently app based hail taxis have become omnipresent. Uber is commonest name one sees emblazoned on the vehicles. Almost everyone including women (young and old), office goers, travellers and senior citizens has ‘Ubered’ to their destination – so much so that the noun has turned into a verb! 

Travelling in a four wheeler especially when going to work or in summers is definitely a better option especially if it eliminates parking woes! Ola is a strong competitor to Uber in Pune and most people have installed both apps. Despite this rickshas continue to hold their own. According to a recent article Pune has more vehicles than its population…

I guess we do like our wheels! 

Jokes apart its an environmental nightmare… 

Still, if I dont want to drive all the way across the city, a taxi remains the best choice! And its just a few clicks away on your smartphone!! 
So its U for Uber!

What is your experience folks?
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post!

T for Trek

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day twenty and the alphabet is T. 

T is for Train is passe. Trains take you to the foothills of the Himalayas which are popular sites for Trekking… For me, trekking is a recent activity, one that I have enjoyed tremendously. Initially I ventured for day long excursions but thereafter I gathered courage to take up longer treks. 

Since the alphabet is T let me take you on an e-trek to Tungnath. 

Located in India’s Uttarakhand state, Tungnath is the seat of the highest Shiva temple at a height of about 12000 ft AMSL (3680m). It is one of the Panch Kedar. The beautiful temple is about 1000 years old and can be reached by properly laid out path that begins from Chopta. The route is about 3kms long and meanders climbing steadily towards the peak. 

Chopta, Uttarakhand, Shiva temple
Arch way to the path 

Initially, the path is through the a forest of Rhododendrons. According to our guide, the colour of the flowers changes with elevation. Trees at a lower height bear bright red flowers, those of trees at a higher level are pink and trees that grow even higher bear white flowers. (I shall talk about flowers at another time!)

The pathway is fully cemented and broad enough for people to walk in both directions. However, if you do meet mules (which is quite often) it is a wise move to step aside and let them pass. Enroute there are a couple of shacks selling tea, some snacks and bottled water if one does happen to finish the one they carry.  

In the beginning, the surrounding mountains peep at you from behind or in between the trees but come into full view as we leave the tree line behind. We got a brief glimpse of the majestic snow clad peaks which took my breath away literally! The tall Rhododendrons make way way for shrubby trees which for some strange reason grow almost horizontally! As we moved higher, the tree line ends to make way for grassy slopes. 

Uttarakhand, Chopta, Trek
We had a faint view of the mountains at the start of our walk 
Tungnath,Chopta, Shiva temple
Sleeping trees!

This mountain too remains snow bound in winters when the route remains officially closed. The temple is shut in winters as well. The Primulas had just about started flowering and their purple heads nodded with the breeze! The Rhododendrons were always just out of reach whenever I tried to pluck one. I got lucky when a I spied an undamaged inflorescence waiting to be picked up!


The changing flora helps take away the monotony of the climb and frequent photo stops also ensure I could catch my breath! Some of my co-trekkers were lucky enough to spot a Monal ! 

Leaving the tree line…

A sure sign to indicate end of the trail is the increasing number of tea shacks! Difficult as it was after the two hour non-stop climb, we ignored the inviting fragrance of masala chai and Maggi and forged ahead.. I find that the final few meters are always the most difficult but we did reach the temple in good time. 

Trekking, Trek, Chopta
The temple at Tungnath

Weather is unpredictable in the Himalayas and sure enough it began the deteriorate. Clouds had moved in. Visibility reduced and Chandrashila was calling. 

The temple was shut (our trek was at March end and the deity had been shifted to its winter seat) so we said a short thank you prayer from outside itself. We were carrying packed lunch so decided to proceed ahead. This is a tricky climb and we faced many slippery patches due to melting snow. Soon the path was engulfed by clouds and we could barely see up to 100m. The group was large and determined and the guides were motivating… 

Uttarakhand, Trekking, Himalayas
The clouds moved in and visibility dropped rapidly

We had zero hopes of the grand views that are the hall mark of Chandrashila but reaching there was our sole aim. One foot at a time, one behind the other, we made it to the top! 


Chandrashila is at an elevation of around 13000ft – a  hotly debated figure I believe. The peak has a small temple which would have had the most beautiful backdrop on clear day. By now, a gentle drizzle had begun and the droplets turned to snow flakes … We all donned rain gear and turned back without much ado. The thick fog ensured I could not see the deep valley and hence there was no fear while climbing down. 

Uttarakhand, Chopta
Temple at Chandrashila peak

No views

We made a short halt near the temple at Tungnath for tea and lunch. The descent would have to be fast as the clouds looked menacing. We made good time but had to take refuge in a wayside shack when it began raining in earnest. Steaming hot tea restored our spirits and we returned to base wet, cold and very happy!

Tea preparation

The climb, the experience was amazing in itself and we all returned safely, so the lack of views was just a tiny blemish if any. After all, I need a reason to revisit the region

Its a good idea to begin early so as to avoid the heat. Its better if each one finds their own pace. Walking zig zag can also make the climb seem less tiring. Be prepared for rain and wind and carry sufficient water. Frequent sips is more helpful to prevent cramps. 

As they say, the mountains let you in , you do not climb the mountains! A trek every year is a fantastic way to stay healthy as we end up exercising regularly so as to be able to undertake this venture. 

Have you trekked the Himalayas? Do share your travel stories!


S for Smartphone

We are with the 2018 April AtoZ Blogging challenge and its my fifth attempt. For those who missed it, here is the link to my Theme Reveal post. Do the alphabets still stand for the same things we learnt about in Nursery school? 

Its day nineteen and the alphabet is S.

S for Sun? Yes, I guess that will be relevant today considering global warming…

But I would opt for something closer and which has now become an inseparable part of our lives … S for smartphone. 

Years ago, in India, having a telephone was a matter of pride, a symbol of having arrived. Sometimes, there was one phone in a building and it ended up being used by all families who lived there. The owner did not mind taking messages either … I remember we had to wait a couple of years to get a land line connection and what a day of celebration it was!

With time and tech progress, the device underwent several changes and slowly the cell phone entered our lives. As before, it was a very expensive toy initially. Both incoming and outgoing calls were chargeable which created the ‘missed call’ phenomenon. After 2004, things changed rapidly, the device has now become as good as a computer and cell phone charges have become quite cheap. 

Smartphone, cell phone, device
A Motorola device from 2002 and one from 20010

All kinds of Apps offer entertainment, news, communication and what have you. Its wonderful for seniors to stay in touch – with family, friends and get info about what’s happening in the world. My Mom was quite reluctant to learn how to use a PC but has taken to the smartphone like a fish to water! And she is not alone. There are so many seniors who can easily book a taxi on their smartphone, Skype (or similar video chat feature) with their children and grandkids, play Candy Crush, read news on Apps of their favourite daily… 

The devices have grown from being compact to large ones that barely fit in the palm. The price range is vast as well and there is something for every one… Buy a device and it becomes outdated before a year is over. The lucky ones are able to ‘exchange’ their old phone for a new one but others simply end up collecting the old ones year after year… there is now the option of disposing them as e-waste.

A walk down any street shows that almost everyone has a smartphone and most will be talking away.. So much so that I think it has become a safety issue as most are lost in their conversations… 

S is definitely for smartphone! This time I know you will agree!