My Year in Review {Photos}

I’ve been trying to write a year in review post for sometime now and couldn’t bring myself to getting past a few lines. I then began working on a photo review post and that too, took a lot of energy from me.

But I did it. Here’s my year in review of photos and feelings of 2011.

January
Sunset with Gandhiji – Juhu Beach, Mumbai
Sunset with Gandhi

February
Weeee, we married for real now!
Spinning

March
The last photo of lovely Bunny
my last week on Earth

April
Spring and sunshine – eternal hope and peace
spring time in sweden

May
Only in California

June
Spin, spin, midsommar, spin!
spinning

July
A birthday celebration for the Swede, a hot air balloon ride!
balloons on the ground

Times have changed – a chat with Odin’s followers
odin's followers

August
On the 13th day, we say goodbye
on the 13th day
i miss you mom.

September
Bollywood Actress Juhi Chawla at the Aamby Valley Bridal Show in Mumbai. It was a much needed outing for Dad and I to do something fun.
juhi chawla

The World’s Largest Bunny in Örebro
World's Largest Rabbit
Too bad he’s gone now…

October
A one year anniversary passes! A fleeting moment of happiness
a romantic bouquet

The first Diwali without Mom…
Ganpathi
A painting of Lord Ganesha by Mom.

My parents’ 31st anniversary would have happened along with her birthday.
mom's birthday

November
On 11-11-11
stockholm

Bubbles, our new joy in life
Bubbles the bunny acrobat

December
A birthday – I enter the next decade…
peacock fan birthday party

Lost and Found {Hittegods} in Stockholm

Left my purse on the bus, I think, after being so excited and hopped off. Called SL already and left a note with them. *Maybe* there’s a good Samaritan.

Will have to wait until Monday to call Stockholm’s Polis Hittegods. Why work on the weekends?!

I feel really really stupid and angry with myself. It didn’t have much in there but still I hate myself for losing it.

And I feel like a moron. Did I already mention that?

By the way, if you also had back luck and lost/left stuff around the city, here’s important lost and found (hittagods) information for Stockholm:
Polisen
http://polisen.se/Stockholms_lan/sv/Kontakta-oss/Polisstationer/Stockholms-lan/City1/City-Hittegods/
Telephone: 010-56 33610 (I don’t know if the Police know their own numbers. I called it 27 times and it always is busy. Am unsure if it’s the right/real phone number)
Telephone Times
Måndag 13:00-16:00
Tisdag-onsdag 13:00-15:00
Torsdag stängt
Fredag 13:00-15:00
For a full listing – http://polisen.se/Stockholms_lan/Service/Hittegods/Hit-vander-du-dig/
Bergsgatan 54, Stockholm
Lost and Found Center Opening Hours
Måndag – Onsdag 10:00 – 15:00
Torsdag 10:00 – 19:00
Fredag 10:00 – 15:00*

SL (Tunnelbanan – Metro – Pendaltåg)
http://sl.se/sv/Verktyg/Kontakta-oss/Hittegods/
Telefon: 08-600 10 00
Fax: 08-686 26 59
Klara Östra kyrkogata 6 (near T-Centralen)
Öppettider
Måndagar: 8-19
Tis-fredagar: 8-17
Lördagar: 8-14
Söndagar och helgdagar: stängt

SJ (National Rail)

http://www.sj.se/sj/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=112&a=69527&l=sv
Telefon: Tel: 08-501 255 90
Måndag-fredag
09.00-19.00
Centralstation (main floor – Bagport Sweden AB – hittegodskontor)
Öppettider
Måndag-fredag
12.00-16.00

And if you did lost stuff, big hugs, there’s nothing worse when you lose part of your identity (or brain).

Robocoptering in Stockholm

We received a pretty fabulous wedding present: a helicopter and speed boat ride, a robocopter!

Or maybe they call it ribocopter. Whatever, it was awesome.

The boat ride was an hour and the helicopter ride was around 20 minutes. It definitely could have been longer!

Here are photos, be jealous.

It fits a house!
stockholm sweden

The dials on a chopper.

Foggy islands over Sweden

The helicopter blade is bent in time!

The smallest island ever, and we landed on it.

The small island with the white trees was destroyed by the skarvar (cormorants).
Nearby to the left of the island, the Swedish military built underwater walls to prevent invading ships, mainly Russian, from having a free for all access to the waters. By doing this, they forced the ships to take specific routes or crash into the wall, making it easier to attack and defend.

That’s our boat!

And that is me in a giant pouffy and very warm suit. The life jacket is not even on yet!

For it being a very crappy year we at least took a pretty awesome chopper ride, hot air balloon and still stayed married. Win!

A 31st Anniversary Remembered

It is a bittersweet week. Yesterday, we celebrated our first anniversary. And thirty-one years ago today, my parents got married.

I envisioned that one day, we would all celebrate our anniversaries together. Us our 5th/6th/10th and their 35th/36th/40th anniversaries. We even lined up the years and dates right!

But thirty-one years later, we will be celebrating remembering their anniversary without Mom.


My parents have a true love story. They first met when my Mom was 10-12 years old. She was friends with the upstairs neighbor to my dad since the neighbor was also Gujarati. Being six years older, dad never though anything of her then.

Fast forward to when mom was seventeen. Dad was twenty-three and the poor college student. He just finished college but was planning to moving to the US for grad school.

Somewhere during that summer they fell in love. And over the year they introduced their families (much to chagrin of both sides) of a potential love marriage.

No one was happy with their decision to get married. But they loved each other and that was all that matter.

They broke the barrier that was “arranged marriages” (still common today) and did what was best for them.

My mom wrote that her husband was “unlike anybody she had ever met… he was so full of life.” She continued and wished “her new sisters-in-laws would be sisters, and that her brother-in-law would be a best friend.”

Here’s a collection of photos we scanned over the past few months of mom. She was a babe. She always had fine clothes and perfect makeup.

Dad, I know this is the hardest day you will face in life; to not celebrate an anniversary with your true love. I miss Mom everyday, but she is always around with us. She and Bunny will celebrate in heaven with tiramisu and sangria.

when i miss my mom

i miss my mom when I have a headache and there’s no one to tell me to take rest and get a head massage
i miss my mom when I leave work to go on a long weekend or vacation and send her a text message “VACATION!”
i miss my mom when I want to get a pair of new crochet gloves made
i miss my mom when I cannot remember whether to use 1/2cup milk or water to make jam cookies
i miss my mom when I want to eat to paneer parathas
i miss my mom speaking Gujarati
i miss my mom giving me a foot rub and watching Pride and Prejudice (the Colin Firth version, thank you very much!)
i miss my mom having Bunny run after her
i miss my mom when dad would cry “tea, tea, tea for me please” and tea would magically appear
i miss my mom’s tea
i miss my mom’s annoying but loving way of prodding, “for whom should I make these baby booties?”
i miss my mom screaming at me even though she sometimes made me cry
i miss my mom’s love for my friends
i miss my mom speaking English, Hindi, Marathi, and Gujarati and not confuse the languages
i miss my mom hanging out with friends, drinking coffee and crocheting
i miss my mom when dad would tease her
i miss my mom’s khao suey dish, even though no one else liked it
i miss my mom when I would fall and hit my head into the wall and she would yell and smack at the wall for being mean
i miss my mom when she would paint

i hope she finds peace now

I’m back

I had the fortune of coming back from India and catching a weird 24hr flu that lingered as an icky cold and cough. To make matters worse, I’ve been spending my days at work freezing like it was the Ice Age or sweating like a palm tree.

But I’m back to life. I know a lot of you have been wondering how I am doing and hope I continue to blog to share my thoughts and feelings. Truth is, I was never going to leave. Mom would have called me a wuss if I quit. I had a story to write last week about a mouse on a SAS flight but was really ready to beat the laptop out of sheer head-cold. And besides who else are you going to read about bashing Sweden? Just kidding Swedies!

Seriously though, this blog won’t be the same in some ways from now on. Dealing with death will be more of a central issue. And learning to be happy again. You can’t be whole, but you can put your life back together.

And in time, it will happen. For now, I rather rant about Stockholm drivers.

Times are a Changing

Things have radically changed in my life in the past week. Without going into details now, I learned what utter grief and sorrow really are.

I ask one thing of you fellow readers and friends, please call your Mom/Dad/husband/wife/sister/brother and tell them you love them more than anything. For one day, forget the bickering or annoyances or discussions on wall paint colors and just say ‘I love you.’ “I love you for everything you have done. I love you for everything you are. I love you.”

You never know when that day will end.

The Life of Bunny

This is for Bunny; October 22nd, 2003 to March 17th, 2011.
my last week on Earth
On April 20th, 2004, I went a little crazy. I convinced my friend to drive around and look for a bunny.

After several failed attempts we end up at a dodgy pet store and I saw Bunny and his brother. I could only afford one of them so I took Bunny home.

When my friend and I arrived at my ex’s with bunny we had no idea what to do with him. We didn’t know his age (6 months), his gender (male), or what to feed him (carrots is not his diet). The following Monday I took him to the vet and without thinking about his name, told the nurse, he was Bunny. I learned he was a little boy, about to because a tantrum turning teenager and that he should probably lose his balls sooner than later in order to have a longer life.

The first year we spent together was tumultuous. I was finishing my last year at college, teaching, and working like crazy to pay for rent and tuition. There was days I was near broke and I would feed him the best free cut parsley and cilantro while I ate cereal and milk. He spent one afternoon going through my laundry hamper nibbling on suit cuffs, jeans and tops. He jumped onto my tall IKEA bed (the one with massive storage) and pulled posters off the wall and left them as Swiss cheese.
swiss cheese

He learned how to pull books off the bookshelf and then stand on the books to get to the next level. His favorite reads were Financial Economics (2004 McGraw Hill) and Econometrics (2001?) amongst some classic literature (Watership Down – the irony, Shakespeare).

On days Bunny really wanted to cause trouble, he would get on my desk and eat my homework. I actually used, successfully, that “my bunny ate my homework” to a GSI when turning in homework.

When I bought a baby gate to keep him from getting out of my room and harassing my roommate, he learned to ram it like a bull until it collapsed. He also learned how to jump over it. Bunny was an indestructible teenager that year. On the days he had to stay in his cage, he would violently shake it so much that eventually the door broke open. Then I learned to tie the door shut, then he would eat the string and then shake the cage again until the door opened.

In 2005, I moved to a new one bedroom apartment by myself. It was the first time in four years I didn’t have a roommate and it was a place for Bunny to call home. It was a very average apartment built in the 70s but had cool vaulted wood ceilings and a refurnished bathroom. The bathroom was bunny’s heaven. He slept there. He hung out in the bathtub. For a few months he made it a policy that if you went to the bathroom he would follow along. My friend’s husband once went to the toilet during the night and we heard “Eeeeek!!! … Oh… bunny why are you here when I’m peeing?”
peace is where the toilet is
Bunny used my guests as pillows and trampolenes and would tossle back and forth until someone gave his bum a push to go away. He would return hours later, only this time to sniff everyone’s faces with his big whiskers and floppy ears.

When my mom first met him, she was ambiguous towards him. One fine morning as she was eating a banana Bunny climbed on mom and attempted to stick his head in her mouth to get some gushy banana. I woke up to my mom part-lecturing part-squealing at him. I said it was okay to give him a tiny piece. He was estatic! The little mushing sound he made as he ate banana meant if heaven were a fruit, it would be a banana.

But from that moment on, my mom was in love with him and likewise he was to her. My mom, being a mother, always fed him on time (on a grass mat) and made sure he had fresh water and a clean cage. I learned how to be a better caretaker/mom to Bunny.
yay for hay

During that same summer, Bunny had a space in my closet with newspaper and hay to dig and destroy. He naturally being a learned rabbit realized newspapers were for losers and decided on eating my artwork. He found, zipped away in an art pouch, my best pencil drawing ever. Ever. To better educate himself in the arts, he ate it, leaving behind a few pieces.

I was angry. Bunny was placed in his cage and stayed there for three days. I put a towel on top so I didn’t have to see him. He would shake the cage. He would pout. He would shake the cage that the door opened, his learned trick, that while was stark raging mad I laughed so hard when his face poked out from the open door. “Shit! I opened the door, do I stay or do I go? Mommy’s laughing but she’s still so angry.”

After those three days, I squeezed Bunny and he slept on the bed with me. He apologized, sorta, and I, sorta, forgave him. A few years later, I was able to finally laugh at that experience.

There was the time I would make fruit smoothies. Frozen berries with yogurt and a dash of sugar and fresh mint. The empty glass would lay on the desk next to me. By morning the glass was rolling around the bed, and Bunny was rolling around behind it. I once woke up to his little face smushed in the glass desperately licking the remaining goodies stuck to the wall of the glass. I giggled, “oh silly bunny you are crazy for berries.”

When my dad visited new adventures arose. A big dude was scared of rabbits and all things furry. How fun to be Bunny then! He could torture a man twenty times his size. And during Bunny’s most active time (the night) I awoke to my dad screaming. To understand this screaming, think of a child having nightmares and wailing at night. Put that in my dad and give it a deeper wail. I ran into the room, turned the lights on and saw Bunny on top of my dad eating the newspaper and dad eyes poking out from under the covers. He was terrified, Bunny was delighted to eat paper and tease dad.

I couldn’t stop laughing at this site of grand silliness.

In my next apartment, a spacious two bedroom with a large living room and dining area, bunny went crazy. It was all carpeted, thereby he could hop like the wind. He would dive bomb from one room to the next. Run up and down the hall and turn the corner until he ran himself into a door. “Thunkk” He hated closed doors and banged on a door until it was open.

When my mom visited me again, I slept in the small bedroom and mom in the master bedroom. Bunny was confused so it took it upon himself to play trampoline with my mom’s sleeping body until she awoke to say I was in the next room.

Around 6.30AM mom would give him breakfast and 15 minutes later he made his mad dash around the house. That included running into my room, on top of me, on top of my head, and out the door again. Since that wasn’t so cool, mom shut the door so I could get a little extra shuteye. Bunny didn’t approve. After breakfast he would do his binkies and running, then stop at my door and scratch on it. He would even bang the door with his paws, head butt it, and run into it. Mom gave up and opened the door so he could scamper in and run on top of me until he tired and left the room. I heard he gave mom a look of look of approval when she opened door each day.

On Bunny’s nightly walks, he would look for trouble. One night he found a plastic bag of Jelly Belly Jellybeans and ran up and down the hall shaking the bag. Then he smashed the bag against the wall to break it open. Jellybeans everywhere! And here, I awoke to mom’s melancholic lecturing and crying while Bunny continued sniffing the beans, “mmmm, tangerine, ewww…butter popcorn,” and gave her a defiant look of triumph.

A few nights later, he found a paper bag of wine corks and ran up and down excitedly in the hallway. Paper bags makes more “crunch, crunch” than plastic bags. Obviously this was a gold mine for the beanie. Mom awoke and took the bag from him emptied out the contents on the floor. He sniffed the wine soaked corks, took a bite, and was disappointed. He let mom put the bag away.
boo!
Besides Bunny’s antics, he knew when people were sad or happy. That pets have a sixth sense was remarkedly true with him. Once when I returned from the hospital he cuddled on me. He figured if he cuddled and got a nice rub from you, it means you forgot your troubles, if only for a few minutes. His way of showing love was his own way but we all understood when he was showing love. He would lie on the floor next to the couch and watch you. If you left the room, he would follow along. He would never sleep alone at night; under the bed or a chair in our room.

My mom told me that when I leave for several days he became depressed. He didn’t want to run around and throw things, he wanted to mope. She had to cajole him to play and do bad things to keep his mind occupied. He even got lectures for being mopey.

She also told me Bunny would run by the door a few times in the evening, just before I showed up. When I came home, he would be “Yay, mom’s home! back to eating a mat now.”

One fine night, a drunk Swede met him. Bunny was sleeping next to his food tray in front of the fireplace in the living room when a beer-smelly, funny accented boy lay down next to him. “Hey!” he called to me, “you have a bunny, and he’s freeeeee!” “Hey bunny, you like green stuff huh? Can I have some too?” And he ate some cilantro on the floor with bunny. “He’s a biggggggg rabbit. Wow, big fat dude. Cool, rabbit though.”
I AM going to India
That Swede became a bun-dad and my husband. He and Bunny shared an estranged relationship at first; Bunny saw him as the man who took away his mommy. He didn’t want to share with the Swede. But Þorbjörn loved Bunny. He would hold him, he would tease him, he would rub him and talk to him. He would help feed and clean his cage. And when he moved in, he still let mommy spend lots of time with him.

When Þorbjörn and I moved in together, the antics and the naughty behavior didn’t stop. Bunny may have been an adult now, but he still loved trouble. There was an evening where I was at an afterwork and Þorbjörn was to join us. He went home first and found Bunny in the kitchen with the bag of kitty litter all over the floor. He sighed at Bunny and left him to do his destruction. When we returned a couple hours later we found our kitchen was entirely covered in kitty litter. Spare no floor. And the man behind the madness was resting on his mat in the corner of the kitchen admiring his work.

With the kitty litter safely put away after the incident. Bunny needed a new job. So he became a Personal Mail & Paper Shredder. He would sleep on the rug at the door and wait for the newspapers and mail to come in through the door slot. And then he would destroy. All newspaper was shredded and mail torn in half. It went on for weeks. To leave or enter the house meant going over Bunny and his new workspace. He quit that job and became a professional painter making landing stripes with his cecotrops.

And cleaning cecotrops he didn’t want to eat was gross. It was the most disgusting job ever. Rabbits create an edible excrement called a cecetroph, it is a nutritious, smushy, smelly blob to eat. The times he didn’t want to eat these smelly blobs, he rubbed on the floor with his butt to make a long landing strip behind the couch. To say the least, the husband cleaned up the nuisance.
where's my gift?!

When we moved to the largest apartment we had, Bunny would spend hours being lost or sleeping under the couch. Then at night he would run around like it was the Indy 500. Daytime, quiet as a church mouse. One morning my husband woke up and went to the bathroom to take a shower. Mundane start to a working day. He turned the shower on and heard scampering and scratching! And then I woke up to laughing. When I ran in the bathroom, husband was laughing and Bunny stood on the floor in shock, all wet . We managed to get him to the bathroom mat where he stood put. No one was going to make him take a shower again.

Three days later at 5AM I heard scratching on glass. After inspecting the house for Bunny, I went to the bathroom. Sure enough, he was in the shower and got locked by the glass doors. Evidently he had to investigate the source of heavenly water.

He was a character. He would sleep at our door at nighttime and in the evenings would run back and forth from the living room to bedroom to let us know, “hey, it’s bedtime, let’s go people!”
It's rather warm here
If he didn’t use my friends as trampolines when they slept on the air mattress after a long party of drinking, he ran around the house looking for trouble. Open cupboards and closets, newspapers and cables, nothing was going to stop his furry butt.

I do not have any siblings so when Bunny arrived he was the first creature I had to take care of. He was my sole responsibility. My companion through the best and worst times, my little brother (selfish and annoying), my baby fuzzy, and my friend. His presence signified home. He was smart, well read (hello The Economist, I like eating you), loving, funny, and even self centered and a show-off.

Our house is empty without him. A family of three is rendered to a couple. Our hearts feel a terrible weight of grief that will never completely go away.

We will always hear his pitter-patters and see the remains of destroyed books, clothes, boxes, and shoes in our home.

Bunny, you are in heaven with other little pets. We believe you are there to take of the animals who were less fortunate than you. Be good to them as we were to you.

We love you Bunny.
-Sapphire & Þorbjörn


what is daddy doing?!!!
Eeeee!

Mmmm…rubs…
Mmm, rub...

thanks for huggie
thanks for huggie

A 10-10-10 Wedding in Sweden

We did it! Got married at the Gothenburg City Hall on 10.10.10 day. Pretty awesome, eh! Along with thousands of couples, including an IKEA wedding. We still have a wedding in India but we needed to be legally married somewhere.

drinking champagne

Since getting legally married in India would be a nightmare and a half, we figured Sweden was easier. If you already have a personummer, you just need to fill out a vigsel anmälblanketten and send it to Skatteverket. Then you need to make the application to the rådhuset in the city of your choice. Stockholm rådhuset for wedding has a four month waiting period. Holy crackers.

Be aware, wedding days are only on Saturdays in Sweden. As it turned out, Göteborgs Rådhuset was closed on October 9th and allowed for weddings on October 10th instead. When Þorbjörn and I got engaged, we thought it would be awesome to be married on 10.10.10. We could never forget the date.

So we filled out our forms, I attached a “please let us marry on October 10th 2010!!” note and voilà, we got our date!

As usual in Gothenburg, Saturday was a lovely and sunny day and Sunday was overcast and blah. Blah blah swedish weather strikes back. But no one was going to stop the bride from champagne and a Swedish-American wedding.

We had brunch at Skansen Kronan, a cool old fortress tower in the middle of the city with an awesome view. Wait staff was friendly and food was delicious. Skansen Kronan was romantic and dark inside and appropriately, I ate Swedish waffles. Because that’s what a bride can do. Eat delicious waffles and lots of whipped cream (sadly no Nutella!!!).

And then 30 minutes later, the waffle irons blew the circuit and the kitchen had no power. The staff had to end service a little earlier. Don’t blame me; my friend had five waffles. He broke the waffle iron.

kiss

Afterwards, we packed up the car with tons of crap and returned home at midnight. Since parking on Sunday night is impossible in Stockholm, he returned the rental car. And dropped the keys into the drop box.

When Þorbjörn came home, he asked: “So where is the vigselbevis?”
Me: “Uhhhhhh…. I think it is in car”
Him: “Oh Shits…”

At 9am I ran off to Hertz to check the car. Car was fine, he was loaded on a tractor rig with 12 other cars waiting for their adventure to the airport.

Whoops…

The guys who worked at Hertz were really nice. They found the car on the rig and found the marriage license.

Phewww. Leaving our marriage license in a rental car was my first accomplishment as a wife.

And by the way, happy 42 day! (101010 in decimal is 42) The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

BTW, since I’m posting this on 10-11-10 (or 11-10-10 for you Europeans), I should say a big congrats to my parents who are celebrating their 30th anniversary together. And they’re still together driving each other crazy. Just kidding. :D

Here is a photo from their wedding day, 30 years ago: