we headed up to Limpopo with our friends for the long weekend (monday was Heritage Day in here in South Africa), to a big house in the Waterberg. after a torturous drive up (friday after-work traffic before a long weekend is never an easy task), we had an idyllic weekend of lazing, swimming, cooking, eating, game playing and even celebrating my birthday a bit. of course there was also a little wine involved and lots of games. i got some sun on my face to get back in the swing of summer and it was nice to relax after almost a solid year of (very cherished) guests. i didn’t take my camera, but a few shots from my iphone were taken- my favorite is of our friend’s dog Ninja who lazily plopped down in the middle of our game of Viking Chess as if it was the most obvious spot in the world to take a rest. thanks to the homies for a great weekend!
We spent the weekend in the South African countryside with friends…these weekends usually consist of renting a giant house, eating lots of food, and drinking lots of wine. The scenery in South Africa is casually breathtaking wherever you go (except inside malls and all of Fourways in Johannesburg), and it’s a privilege to live here and enjoy it with friends. Our friends’ ‘puppy’ (a pony sized Rhodesian Ridgeback) has me jones-ing for a puppy of our own. I think P is right that life is too full of travel to be tied down with a dog at the moment. But if a cute one showed up on our doorstep I wouldn’t turn it away.
My Photoshop print series will be back tomorrow…
Two of my best girlfriends have been visiting us for the past two weeks. We went on safari in Kruger and flew down to Cape Town and explored Johannesburg thoroughly. It was a blissful time and I wish your best friends could always be across the hall, a few steps away like they were in college. It was sad to take them to the airport yesterday but if we all lived in the same place we probably wouldn’t have spent the last two weeks spotting lions together in Kruger, wine tasting in the Western Cape and eating meat and pap with our hands at a shisa nyama in Soweto. I feel so thankful that so many of our friends have come and visited us here in South Africa (and when we were in Berlin) and all the priceless memories we have running around the world with them.
Thanks for coming, Anna and Mo! xx
Mozambique is a small country filled with many miles of under-developed (and therefore extra-beautiful) beaches. We made it to our own slice of paradise, Macaneta Island, after a treacherous and impressive journey- we took a small car through crowded streets, to barely-marked roads, across an estuary on a rickety ferry boat, to an island with rain-destroyed dirt roads. P was a champion driver and after arriving at our destination we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset and beer. To relax after our stress-filled journey we went on a midnight swim, drank a few bottles of wine, and woke up to the sounds of the ocean and drank coffee on a nearly deserted beach. Mozambique is quite similar to India with less pollution, better weather, and a bit less dynamism (perhaps because there aren’t a billion people there).
The sunset picture was the view from the back of our thatched hut over the estuary, I astoundingly did not take a picture of our pristine beach, probably because the time spent on it was midday – the time of the worst photography light. Fisherman walked along the shore trying to sell us giant snappers, rock lobsters, crabs and the like. While we weren’t equipped to do our own cooking we enjoyed more than our fair share of fresh seafood, Rachel lived through a paralyzing jellyfish sting, I ate bowls and bowls of green chile chutney, we swam day and night, debated books and authors, came up with a sure-to-be hit show called Tiger Talk, and the trip was truly one of the most memorable thus far , which I think says a lot.
Another set of lovely friends visiting (Nick and Rachel), another safari in Kruger (my life is very hard, I know). This time in the category of Things I’ve Never Seen Before: a whole group of young male lions (I don’t think it’s proper to call them a pride when they’re just a wandering group of brothers who aren’t fully grown) and a group of hyenas ripping apart a left over animal corpse (look carefully, you can see them). As the lions paced around our vehicle, staring at the humans inside I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures when they were directly next to me. The female scared me far more than the males, I felt as though she knew exactly how easy it would be to jump inside and tear me to shreds (ok so maybe I was a bit nervous since I’ve never been directly available to so many wide awake apex predators). I was too nervous and excited to operate the camera properly and had to put it on automatic mode.
We stayed in a lovely cottage overlooking a river in and in the morning we watched a hippo splash around for her morning bath from our porch. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been on safari now, but every single time I feel like I’m a five year old discovering how planes fly or where rain comes from. Normally I pay almost exclusive attention to the big game, but thanks to Nick’s enthusiasm (during his high school years he taught ornithology at a local nature center) I became interested in the birds. Above you can see the technicolor European Bee Eater perched cheerfully on a tree. Following his lead I purchased an animal guide to Kruger and surrounding areas and we worked hard at checking off every animal, bird and reptile that we could, and before I leave this continent I am determined to check off every single one.
We went back to the States for a wedding of two dear friends and to see our friends and family. I know I said I’d be back on the 27th, but I lied- I took the entire too weeks to have a real vacation. But I’m back and ready to blog!
First things first, when my fam picked me up at the airport Neels (my mom) brought me my wedding and engagement rings, my earrings, and 2 bracelets, all stuff I got for my wedding that I leave behind so it doesn’t get stolen in Jozi. It was lovely to wear them again for 2 weeks. Priorities! =)
As you can see our lovely sisters flew back for the first weekend. A dinner party at P’s parents, then one at mine. My room at my parents’ house is one that I’ve never actually lived in, and it is FREEZING. My sister’s is spacious and warm so I always sleep with her when I’m home. I made P do it too. My mom (Neels) was going nuts with her iPhone camera as you can see.
P and I shuttled back and forth between our parents’ houses like we were kids of divorced parents. We mainly went out to dinner and hung out with our families for the first week.
Then it was time to head to NYC. I haven’t been since last July, and if enough time passes I forget how lovely it is and when we visit our resolve to move back strengthens.
True, on a normal weekend you don’t see EVERYONE that you know in 72 hours, which added tons of excitement/exhaustion to our visit. We stayed at our friends Jon and Katie’s apartment, it made me nostalgic for my tiny NYC apartment, there is something about living in a relatively small space that is a fun decorating challenge. We stopped by my cousin’s beautiful floor to ceiling windows Upper East Side place and I got to see one of my nephews (the other one was sleeping). He was adorable-y eating Cadbury eggs. He called us Nama Mausi and P Mausa (which is what you call your mom’s sister and husband) and it never fails to make my heart melt (in our culture, we do aunts and not second cousins).
Then, it was off to Brooklyn for drinks with our friends and the bride and groom. We did pickle-backs, which are all the rage right now- a shot of whiskey followed by a shot of pickle juice. Often the pickle juice is infused with different flavors. I loved it so much I shall I have a pickle-back party in Jozi! Stay tuned for that, friends and line up your Goodfellas.
Then Friday, glorious Friday. It was a lovely NY day, we walked all around lower Manhattan (a relief after sedentary-ish Jozi), shopping and eating. We stopped at The Spotted Pig and I had their glorious burger that had been all I could think about food-wise for the better part of a year. We got P fitted for his tux and we hopped over to Brooklyn for some of NYC’s best pizza and stop in THE BEST JEWELRY STORE OF ALL TIME, Catbird. I bought a few things that will be featured on this blog soon enough. The day ended with a rehearsal for John and CC’s wedding followed by a beautiful rehearsal dinner put on by John’s parents.
Saturday, the big day- John and Christine got married in a beautiful church (St. Vincent de Ferrer) on the UES. I successfully draped my sari (seedha pallu style) by myself and momsy lent me some jewelry so that I could be dripping in emeralds and diamonds. I was glad for my colorful sari amidst a sea of dark. In between the ceremony and the reception we had a silly time at a bar between the church and the hotel. We made a spectacle of ourselves, a rather large group in long gowns and tuxedos traipsing down Park Avenue. Walking even 10 blocks in 6 inch heels is NOT ADVISABLE, but I did it. The reception was at The Plaza and it was extravagant and wonderful. I probably had 8 oysters and then every bite of my filet mignon then danced my face off. Afterwards they bussed us to an old haunt, Jake’s Dilemma where we partied until dawn.
**Yes, that is Julie and me with the Pope and also this is the first time I’ve been referred to as Mr. and Mrs. P.
On Sunday, when I didn’t take any pictures, it was more friends and more activities trying to reunite with everyone we know in the city. My friend KJB who goes to law school at Yale even took a 2 hour train ride from there just to spend a couple hours with us and it was truly wonderful to see her. Our other friends came down from Boston for the weekend to see us whenever we were not busy with the wedding. BTW, these friends from Boston are teachers and had a class be invited to the White House to perform the “I have a dream” speech for President Obama. How lovely.
Then back to MN for me, for a week of hanging with out my parents and an endless stream of happy hours with old friends. Neels (my mom) would make golgapas (aka pani puri) and we would eat them and watch Dr. Phil and Judge Judy. We had to shovel the car out after a snow storm which took 2 hours one morning (and made me glad to live in Jozi) and I saw friends from high school (one of whom is pregnant, congrats Cai and Tom!) and two of my dearest friends from college, Anna and Mo. We had a great time getting silly drunk and talking about careers and men and the future(what else is there?).
I’m so thankful for all of our incredible friends and family all over the globe! Wherever we go, it feels like home.
Our good friends Jon and Katie came to visit us for a week and it was amazing as always. Every year for the past three years we’ve vacationed together at some place around the world and next year we are planning somewhere in Latin America where P and I have never been. These trips are always such a treat and it’s so fun to see how our lives have progressed in a year, discuss every subject under the sun, and make fun of each other a lot. We plan to continue this tradition until somebody gets knocked up, at which point I hope to resume when the kids are old enough- this way mommy can drinks lots of cab sauv in one room while the kids who at this point will probably be bratty and loud are in another. I digress… since we had visitors it was back to safari and back to Cape Town.
For the bush we went to Pilanesburg National Park which is a two hour drive away from Jozi and contains all of the big 5. Since I feel like I’ve been on safari a lot lately and have been posting lots of animal photos I’m just going to feature some elephants today. One thing I love about elephants is that because of their deep wrinkles and grey skin they look gorgeous with different black and white and split toning in Lightroom.
A couple tips on Pilanesburg: we got our guide using Game Trackers. I wouldn’t do it again. You feel as though you are in Disney World and not the bush, plus I felt our guide was very unknowledgeable and cheesy. Rather go with someone like Chris Green. I’ve never personally had the pleasure but I met him through my friend Heather who has gone and loved it and I hope to soon. Plus, he is charming and knows everything and if you’re lucky he might tell you about the time a Cape Buffalo nearly gored him to death with its horns.
Our friends invited us to a vacation house in Hartbeespoort Dam, which is located about an hour outside of Joburg in the North West Province. It was created for irrigation purposes and it was finished in 1925 on land that was once owned by the Boer General Schoeman. It was a great opportunity to show my sister some scenery and spend time with friends. We had a lovely time swimming, braai-ing, and playing Viking Chess on the edge of the dam while the sun went down (so I wandered off with my camera)…P even went golfing with the boys which he hasn’t done since we moved here. The beautiful vacation homes have thatched roofs so the spikes you see in the last picture are their lightning rods. Africa: our life can be so rough here.
2011 was a great year for us and I’m thanking my lucky stars. Here is a review of our incredible year.
We ended 2010 with P’s first trip to India to meet the extended fam. We rang in the new year in a penthouse in London with our good friends Jon and Katie (who are headed here soon….yippee!). Soon after that we left Berlin for a weekend to watch my best friend since I was 13, Clare, get married in Minnesota.
The cold Berlin winter in February proved to be too much and I ran off to Turkey on a last minute vacation with two friends, we ate tons of food and bought diamonds. In March we met up with a couple faves in Budapest for some fun and managed to send out our wedding Save the Date video we made.
In April I went to the US to finish up planning our wedding and we went on a romantic weekend trip to Nice with lots of filet mignon et Champagne.
In April, P took me on a trip to Paris as part of our Europe Farewell Tour 2011. We biked around the city using the Velibs, saw the Eiffle Tower which we had both seen before but never together, held hands, and talked about our future in South Africa.
Pat’s friends threw him a surprise bachelor party and I got to help. I made sure he took the days off work and they bought him a round trip ticket from Berlin to NYC to take him on a weekend of white water rafting and beer drinking. The night before they sent him a video to tell him about the surprise. What an amazing group of friends.
In June and July we found new renters for the fabulous, huge, old, high ceiling’d apartment in Berlin. We planned a farewell party to celebrate our marriage with our Berlin Tribe. Clare and Jake came to visit us. We staged a photo booth (the BEST most worth-it DIY project I’ve done till date) there and set the pictures to this annoying song that wormed its way into our hearts when it was played and replayed after Germany won EuroVision in 2010.
After that we embarked on the task of saying goodbye to our poor but sexy city and friends. We had one last eat at our favorite restaurants, and even did a few “Berlin-y” things we had not done as happens when you live in a city. We had an epic weekend with our friends Nick and Rachel that started in a secret pop-up restaurant with quail-egg sushi, made it past the bouncer and into Berghain, and ended at dinner Sunday at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Freidrichshain.
I boarded a plane for the States to get married, but first I got upgraded to first class (transatlantic-ly!) and met my sister, cousins and girlfriends in NYC for a bachelorette party. We ate at Shake Shack, brunched, shopped, stayed at the Gansevoort, had dinner at Stanton Social, and danced the night away. It made me miss living in NYC soo much but then I remembered that when I lived there I never stayed at fancy hotels.
Then, finally it was August and time to get married. My entire family came from India, friends came from all over the US and the world to come and celebrate with us. It was so special and truly one of the best months of our lives. And my sister threw me a bridal shower I’ll never forget.
We went on a honeymoon to Bali where I got a very bad case of food poisoning but it was amazing none the less.
Then, we moved to Johannesburg. I went on safari in Kruger National Park, we went to Cape Town and Durban.We learned and bought a manual transmission, and moved into a house with a pool and a tennis court. I started blogging seriously and got into photography. I made lots of new friends through blogging. I took a course and now I very proudly shoot on manual mode and can’t wait to continue learning and expanding (my lens collection hehe). We celebrated thanksgiving, AND I started doing Help Portrait, and then we celebrated Christmas in our new home.
It’s been an amazing year and I’m so thankful, I’m only disappointed that I didn’t photograph or blog our two years in Europe. My sister comes for three weeks on Friday and we’re going to have SO MUCH FUN. Here’s to a wonderful 2012 and a Happy New Year from our family to yours!