30 November 2012

Other than the Saree

The national costume is one of the things that will show the rest of the world how beautiful, colorful and vibrant the culture of a certain country is. And in this place where I am currently located, they certainly have one of the most colorful and most lively national costumes in the entire planet and even up to now, men and women still wear those costumes not only during special events but even in their daily lives.

However, in this post, I will not be tackling about the most famous national costume for women in this country, the saree, and instead, I will be showing you some of the many other traditional attires that the female population in this part of the world still enjoys wearing up to this date.
My other than saree traditional suits.

The moment I set foot in this country, one of the things that I am looking forward to experiencing is wearing the traditional clothes of the locals and I am happy to tell you that I was able to!

First up on the list is the lovely Anarkali suit. The origin of this traditional costume is from a famous historical story long time ago where a dancer named Anarkali in Lahore long time ago allegedly had an illicit affair with the prince in their kingdom and that she was put to trial for having such illegal affair with a royalty but in the end, since there was not enough evidence to prove that she's done something wrong, she was freed by the king. Anarkali wears a dress called mujara whenever she performs and once her story started spreading all over the place, people started calling the mujara dress as Anarkali in honor of the dancer who fell in love with the prince.
Yours truly in an Anarkali suit during a friend's wedding ceremony.

A typical anarkali suit has embellishments both on the top and bottom parts of the dress. It also comes with a dupatta (scarf) and an inner pants called churidar. When you buy an anarkali suit, it usually comes with a pair of long sleeves that is not yet sewn on the dress which means that it is actually optional. As you can see below, I had mine sewn just to really be on the traditional side but modern women these days prefer a sleeveless anarkali.

An up close shot of the Anarkali's bottom embellishment.

The second traditional costume is called a kurta (long and loose top) and churidar (pyjama). Usually, women wear a salwar, another type of pyjama that is tight at the bottom and loose in the middle. Kind of like Princess Jasmine's pyjama in the Disney cartoon Aladdin. However, I prefer a pair of churidar, think leggings, because I think it looks better that way. A kurta can have a full blown pair of sleeves or 3/4 sleeves or without sleeves at all. I both have the sleeveless and the 3/4sleeves kurta only the latter looks almost like a full blown one because I am on the smaller side if you know what I mean. Hahaha! Anyway, when wearing a kurta and churidar, a dupatta or a multi-purpose scarf usually comes with it. And that the dupatta is of the same color of the suit. 

Yours truly in what is supposed to be a 3/4 kurta, churidar and dupatta ensemble.
Yours truly wearing a sleeveless kurta.

The last type of traditional costume that I will show you is called a Lehenga. A lehenga aka ghagra is a long skirt that is pleated and has embellishments on the bottom part. It is usually worn with a choli, a tight top that bares the wearer's navel. Think of the top that women wear inside their saree, that's a choli. Anyway, the kind of lehenga that I bought is not really intended for special occassions such as weddings hence it is not as dramatic as the ones that you can google up. Aside from that, I opted to wear a usual blouse with just the right amount of tradition in it and that's about it. If given the chance, someday, I also want to wear the full lehenga choli suit. 

I'm in love with my hand painted Lehenga!

Now, as for the saree, the most well known traditional costume in this place, I will make an entire post just for it in the near future so don't worry about it!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

22 November 2012

What To Do When Stuck In A Day Long Train Journey

Since I have written a couple of posts about my unforgettable 25-hour train ride a few days ago, I have decided to share with you the things that kept me sane during the entire trip just in case you'll have to face the same situation in the future.

Ms. Piggy says Hi!


Presenting! Ankamil Yepuda's What To Do When Stuck in a Day Long Train Journey!

1. Bring a couple of books or three that can help you get your mind off of the fact that you are gonna be stuck in your train berth for more than a day. Reading is a great boredom buster and time killer especially once you get engrossed in what you are reading that you would lose track of time and before you know it, half of the day or even longer have already passed.

I'm so engrossed in the book right? Teehee!
 2. Load up your mp3 player with your favorite songs and take it with you so that it can cheer you up when boredom is slowly seeping in to your system and reading a book is not what you feel like doing. If you are going to bring a laptop, a tablet or any other gadget with you where you can watch videos, in our case, we opted not to, you can also download a movie or the latest episodes of your favorite series so you can watch them on board. The train had designated areas where people can charge their gadgets and we're lucky to have one in our berth. That's where we charged our mobile phones.

My one year old trusty mp3 player.
3. Strike a conversation with your co-passengers. Every man has an interesting story to tell. Who knows? The person beside you might have the most amazing story to tell you that you will never forget ever. In our case, we had a Polish couple who were like our grandparents telling us bedtime stories and even sharing with us their packed food. So sweet of them!

Lolo Jerzy, Lola Kristin and your truly.
4. Appreciate and enjoy the view outside your window. Well, during our train ride, the view outside our window was not always a sight to behold but those not so nice scenarios actually opened my eyes to how really lucky I am to be in my shoes.

Forgive Riju's mobile phone charger that's hanging like a tapeworm in the middle.
5. Another great way to kill time during a long journey is to eat and even share your food with your co-passengers. Our train is full of all kinds of food not to mention the food stuff that we brought with us so eating has also helped me get thru that long journey.

A food vendor from a train station is preparing the stuff that he is going to sell to his customers.
6. Get out and quickly take some nice pictures whenever the train halts at a station to unload passengers and load up new ones.

Peek-a-boo photo taken by Riju while the train is at a halt.
7. Taking short naps every now and then is also a great time killer. it also helps you recharge your energy tank.

Since we are in an AC compartment, it can get really cold inside and putting on a fleece blanket helps keep you warm.
8. And when boredom and vanity strike at the same time, you can always get your picture taken or take your own photo in different poses so that you can use the best ones later on your favorite social networking site!

Thank God! I have a photographer uhm, I mean, Riju with me to take my vanity solo shots! LOL
9. Play a game. Since I traveled with Riju, I was able to play with him a simple yet really fun guessing game that helped me get thru the first few hours of our train journey. Our game was such a hit that the kids sharing our compartment started blurting out their guesses on the side that I ended up playing with them when Riju got tired of it.

10. Call someone on the phone and give them a blow by blow details of what has happened and what is currently happening while your on board.

Yours truly talking to one of our friends who actually called us up and not the other way around. Hehehe!
11. Lastly, if you are traveling with someone, a long trip is a great way to bond with your travel buddy. Riju and I talked, laughed and played during the journey and I know that we both had fun. And if you are traveling alone, take it as an opportunity to get to know someone new, a co-passenger perhaps and who knows, you might even end up having that long journey as your most unforgettable train ride.

So yeah, these are basically the activities that kept me in tact during that truly memorable train journey with Riju last June. What about you, what do you usually do to keep yourself entertained whenever you are in a long journey? Share it over here and maybe one day, when I find myself in another long haul, I might just do what you have done during your trip.

Another vanity shot of yours truly. Can you see the train on the opposite side?

Hope you enjoyed this post!

20 November 2012

Why I Never Went Hungry During That Very Long Train Ride

One of the most important things that a person has to prepare if he is about to take a more than a day train journey is his food. I was a bit worried about that part of our journey because I really do not want to end up having an upset stomach just because I ate bad train food. Anyway, once our trip has started and Riju and I have settled nicely in our berths, food vendors selling all kinds of food and drinks started passing by our compartment offering us all sorts of chips, candies, lassi, and whatnot. And being the monster that he is, Riju bought some dirt cheap samosas for snacks. I must tell you, the samosas were served hot like it's freshly made. I was never really a samosa fan and well, my fear of getting a stomachache got the best of me so I resorted to the snacks that we bought earlier from a nearby grocery shop.

Riju's samosa. It's just 5 rupees a piece!
Before dinner, a train employee asked us if we want to order our meals for the night and since we only brought with us snack food, Riju ordered a non-vegetarian thali/platter for us. I was really hesitant about the idea of eating train food at first but what the heck! I'm hungry and I need food if I want to keep my tummy happy.
Our train food consisted of a very spicy chicken curry, dal and rice. It was actually tasty.
The next day, for breakfast, Riju ordered omelette sandwiches for us. I was not able to take pictures of the sandwiches since I was too famished to even take out the camera from the bag.

Whenever the train stops at a bustling station for a good ten to fifteen minutes, train passengers can get down and buy food from the food vendors at the station. The variety is a lot and for the wary passengers, they can opt for fruits like bananas that are very cheap, chips (they have Lay's), cookies and other kinds of biscuits to stuff their hungry bellies.

One of the many food vendors at a train station.
A place for people who want to eat dishes with meat, poultry or fish.
This is the place to be for vegetarians travelers.
We travelled by train back and forth and we ordered the same food on board and you know what, I enjoyed the dishes and I came back home with a happy and healthy belly!

What about you, do you have any on-board dining experience that you would like to share with us?

Hope you enjoyed this post!

Have You Ever Tried a 25-hour Train Journey?

So, have you ever been on a train ride that lasted for more than a day? Well, I have! Not just once but twice! You see, it was a round trip journey so I had no choice but to take the train again so that Riju and I can come back home. And boy oh boy! It was definitely an experience that I will never forget!

Hello Everybody!
It was last June when we were invited by one of Riju's childhood friends to his wedding. Since they live in a different state that is very far from where we live, we have decided to take the train so that I can fully experience what my new home has to offer and besides, what better way to blend in with the locals but to get on the train and mingle with them.

A sneak peak of our compartment. That's our Polish co-passenger busy reading on his tablet.
I have to admit that once we have finally settled in our designated berths, I felt a bit worried about how I will keep myself entertained and sane until we finally reach our destination. But once the train started chugging forward, we found ourselves joined by a couple of Polish foreigners and a local family. Everyone was quiet in the beginning but after some time, everyone has started to loosen up a bit and conversations were happening here and there. Chatting is always a great way to pass time and we were lucky to have shared our compartment with the rest of the group.

Lolo Jerzy and Lola Kristin from Poland!

Every now and then, the train will halt at a station to unload some passengers and then load new ones. Inside the train, I felt like I was in a different world altogether. Vendors selling tea, coffee, meals, sandwiches, chips, chocolates, etc. kept on passing by our compartment and offering everyone their stuff. Lively conversations are happening everywhere. The train's just so alive!

Photo opportunity while the train is at a halt.
at one of the many train entrances

I'm not sure if all train stations have this but I think it's a wise idea to have it since it can get really scorching hot during summer here.
After dinner time, the mood inside the train started to shift from lively to relax mode. People have also started taking out the middle bunk bed that is usually folded up during the day because it is almost time to sleep. I was supposed to sleep on the lowest bunk but Lolo Jerzy, a co-passenger, asked me if Lola Kristin and I can exchange bunk beds for obvious reasons so in the end, I became the hotdog in a hotdog sandwich. You know, I'm in the middle bunk bed and the hotdog is in between the sliced bun... Yeah, yeah, corny I know.

Sleepy Yepuda trying to strike a pose! Goodnight!
The next morning, I no longer worried about what have to do for the rest of the journey to keep boredom at bay. After having breakfast, I cleaned up a bit. Changed my attire, brushed my teeth, you know, the whole works. Well, not really the whole works since I did not take a bath during the journey because the washroom is not really apt for such thing if you ask me. And speaking of washroom, I tried to limit my trips there as minimum as possible because the washrooms were not really regularly maintained so you know, the sight and the smell can be quite uhm, yeah, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Moving forward, so once I'm done tidying up, I decided to just sit near the window and enjoy the beautiful scenery outside. Whenever the train stopped by at a station, I read a book or I played charades with the kids in our berths. I took some power naps too until finally, it was already four in the afternoon and we finally reached our destination.

Look at that mountain! The peak looked like a Thumbs Up sign. Cool right?
Our view while passing by a bridge.
This picture may not bring justice to the beauty of this view but it really is a gorgeous sight to look at!
These days, people are always in a hurry to reach their destinations that is why they always take the fastest option, air travel. However, it would not hurt if every once in a while, you will stop hurrying up and take the longest route possible to wherever it is that you need to reach and enjoy the journey. Who knows, you may have the most unforgettable experience or memory in that longest journey of your life!

Are we there yet?
Hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed my first ever long train ride!

19 November 2012

My First Authentic Non-Local Meal

Even before I arrived in this foreign land, I already resigned to the fact that I will not be enjoying my usual dose of comfort food that I usually have back home. Gone are the days of stuffing my mouth with sizzling sisig, chicharon, siomai and chickenjoy. Now, I say hello to tandoori, masala, tikka and kebab. Don't get me wrong though. I enjoy the Chicken Tandoori that Riju orders from our nearby tandoori shop every now and then but of course, nothing beats one's mom's home cooked dishes. But enough of the drama! Let me share with you my first authentic local food from this new place that I consider my home away from home.

Riju's hearty thali (plate) consisted of butter chicken, dal, roti, rice, veggie curry and gulab jamun.
My order consisted of roti, mutton kebab and chicken tandoori.
Not happy with what we already have, we also ordered some Chicken Tikka. LOL
 Our entire order. Bow.

Just to let you know, we ate at the food court from a nearby mall and I must say that I actually enjoyed the food. All the dishes that we ordered tasted quite good for a very picky eater like me and they are affordable too. Too bad I forgot the name of the food stall where we ordered our food but I will update this post once I got the answer on my hands.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Til next time!

18 November 2012

First Stop: The Bahá'í Temple aka The Lotus Temple


The moment I reached my destination (I'll let you guys figure that out thru my posts), the first place where Riju brought me is the Bahá'í Temple. It is a huge place of worship that is shaped like a blooming lotus flower hence it as also called as The Lotus Temple. People from all walks of life can come and visit this magnificent creation free of charge.

The Bahá'í Faith is a religion founded by Bahá'u'lláh in Persia during the 19th century. It promotes unity and harmony among everyone no matter what race, status and religion you are from. Anybody can come over in a Bahá'í worship temple, worship and pray in the way he knows and nobody will question him. It is based on the three major principles of the Bahá'í Faith which are unity of God, unity of religion and unity of mankind.

From the entrance, you will have to walk for some time to reach the temple. I think it will take you about 10 to 15 minutes average to reach the temple. That is without the picture taking and pauses to enjoy the scenario.  A little long walk won't hurt. Just think about it as a mini workout. Riju and I went there during the summer season and it can get really uncomfortable so it is advisable that you just come and visit during the winter season or if it has to be during the summers, go there when the sun is close to setting so that you can avoid the strongest sun rays.

Before you can climb the stairs to the temple, temple officials will ask you to remove your footwear and dump them in a designated area in order to avoid dirtying the holy temple. It makes sense if you ask me because there are so many people visiting this place both local and foreigners and it is so huge that cleaning it everyday will definitely be a big pain in the butt. Since I really do not want to walk barefoot, after removing my footwear, I put on my socks. Yes, socks are allowed. Both Riju and I brought our own pair of socks for this trip and it was worth it. The socks did not only protect our feet from the dust and dirt outside the temple but it also functioned as some sort of heat protection since the stairs and the floors are quite hot. That is why if you will look at the picture above, there are carpets installed on the floor so that people can walk on them and not feel the heat from the ground. We did not take pictures inside the temple out of respect. But if I am to describe how it looked like, it is simply beautiful. It does not have any kind of altar inside it to make sure that it does not show preference to a certain form of God. There are plenty of seats inside that it can house up to 25,000 people in one prayer session. There are four prayer sessions a day for those who want to get a glimpse of the full Bahá'í Faith. Faithful to its principles, the prayers are recited in all kinds of religion.

It does not really show in the picture how my socks became so dirty after all the walking that we've done with just my socks on my feet but boy was I so thankful I had them on me.

Look! Someone came to welcome me! It was my first time to see such animal that's why I got so excited when I saw it!

What an entertainer! While we were taking some rest after all that walking that we've done, this squirrel and his buddy were playing around. If only I can take them home!

Well, that's about it.

Hope you enjoyed my post!

17 November 2012

Six Months and Two Days

It has been six months and two days since I last stepped my feet on my homeland and if you ask me, I feel like I've been away from home longer than those figures that I have given you earlier. You see, this is my first time to be away not only from my beloved country but more importantly, away from my family. I have a very good reason why I had to leave but there are moments when the inevitable "homesickness" happens and I could not help but wish that I am back home and just spend time with my loved ones and eat my mama's home cooked dishes that are the best in the whole wide world. Where I am right now is where I should be and that this is what I should consider home at least for the time being. Where am I from? Where am I right now? You will know the answers in the coming days so I hope that you will stick around.

It does not matter if it's tomorrow or after ten years but someday, I will finally be back in my beloved homeland.

16 November 2012

Hello Blogspot World!

It's 3:24am now in this place that I call home as of the moment and it's so cold, 16 degrees Celsius to be exact, but here I am! I finally did what I have been intending to do for a pretty long time now and it feels good. This is my fourth blog home and hopefully the one that will last me a lifetime. I have so many things I want to blog about so I will do my best to post at least once every single day, except when there is no electricity or our internet connection is not working. Hahaha! So yeah, Hello Blogspot World! Hello fellow Bloggers!