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  • September 19, 2014 03:00:59 AM
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Impact of digital technology on culture. Books, travel and family tales.

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What I Love You Feels Like- Our Birth Story

When the baby grows older, he'll know our birth story and how Mama and Dad experienced his birth. The post What I Love You Feels Like- Our Birth Story appeared first on Someplace Else .

Contrary to what this blog and my social media presence may lead one to believe, I’ve had an intensely private year. I didn’t know I was going to be writing our birth story this soon, but it happened, and our hearts are mellow and mush. Being pregnant came with its due course of health concerns: from low platelets, to sugar spikes and a thyroid transgression and like everything else worth having, this rainbow had to wait out a storm.

Our birth story
Two people understood our fancy birth announcement 😀 Alfetta means baby Alfa in Italian!

Emotionally, baby creation is and has been hard and overwhelming, and each day it feels like it’s not even begun yet. The one thing that kept me going in the last nine months was a plethora of audiobook led walks, and I am yet to find such an anchor postpartum (I suspect this blog may become important again).

Baby cometh by love to create love

It’s kind of ironic that on my first day alone with the baby (just him & me) I began writing this post after forcing him into some milk led stupor. My first time in a car alone without the baby in my immediate vicinity happened this weekend, and I cried on my way to the destination (thankfully killing no one in the process). These emotions are tangibly physical and uncontrolled. I can’t talk myself out or into them. They show up on demand. It’s not a miracle because I’m superstitious. It’s a miracle because so many things that we have no control over, have to fall into place for things to work. The human body generates an entire organ (I did not eat the placenta) to feed the gestating baby. What else could explain the physicality of the connection that feels so feverishly potent.

Before becoming a mother, my reasons for it were mainly related to my age and partly driven by the culture around procreation. I need to have a child by so and so time frame, because my OB will make me feel like I belong to the geriatrics ward in a second (it happened anyway). While making a baby in the past months, my feelings on this topic changed as a response to a physical and emotional transformation.

I’ve questioned why I’ve wanted a child, and it has inherently led itself to a very emotional cause. It’s hard to truly understand what I love you feels like unless experienced in a state of no control. I also believe that for me, this truly is the most unhinged and selfless love I can express. Of course it’s nice if baby loves me, but even if he doesn’t, I will, by instinct. It’s the most amount of courage I’ve had to put together being responsible for a little human. I do not ascribe to the cultural pressure around motherhood and believe that it takes just as much courage to take a different stand, and choose if it doesn’t work for you.

Having said that, I am now counting how many more pee/ poop explosions and feeding sessions remain till Dad comes home. While Dad is telling me he’s in some cool downtown Detroit meeting, I am trying to curb the urge to text back my panicked new Mama state.

Our Birth Story

A while ago in Germany, our friend Brian had kids and ended up writing an email about ‘what was happening in the world when you were born.’ I don’t know if I could be just as detailed, but I did want to think that baby came the weekend when Charles Leclerc won the Spa F1 race. I promptly tagged Dad via Twitter on the day I found out in the hospital. It was also Ganesh Chaturthi on the day we finally got the babe home. When the baby grows older, he’ll know his birth story and how Mama and Dad experienced his birth.

I had never imagined a birth. So, I didn’t really have a birth plan (except that I did not mind help in pain relief). Considering, intuition lies somewhere between fear and hope, I had leaned a little too heavily on fear, leaving much of the excitement and hope for Dad to think about. I’d conveniently skip parts of multiple pregnancy books which focused on the actual birth (we did attend a birthing class though).

My first plan was that, I’d work from home a week before the September 9 due date. On the Thursday night, a week before, when I did my post dinner walk, I felt a bit tired. At 12 a.m. I was wondering if I had contractions. I didn’t want to be sent back home with a false alarm, so I kept at it thinking this wasn’t real yet. We still had a week to go. At 4 a.m., we had called triage because we felt it was time to get external advice. We were asked to monitor and call back between the ideal 3 to 5 minutes contractions range.

My mother or any parent/ immediate family was not going to be with us through this process. Again this wasn’t something I had imagined, but then I hadn’t imagined much at all. I did fully anticipate that I would go to the hospital in the Alfa to bring home the baby (called Alfetta, till the name was announced) . Despite his aggressiveness, there’s few people who I would trust to drive beyond my babe’s Dad. Since we were a week ahead on our plan, he had a court appointment (contesting a traffic ticket) at the same day/time. A no-show at a court can be a legal issue, so we called our friend to stay with me. At 7:47 a.m., friend in tow, we decided to head to the hospital. Dad was at court and unreachable. The only plan I had going in, had also changed now.

The triage nurse came to check on me at 8:30, Dad reached in the meantime, and we discovered that we were already in active labor and 6 cms dilated. I felt we were going to meet the baby in a few hours. I thought 16:00, same as Dad’s time of birth. Dad thought 15:00. Water was manually broken, peanut pillows were used to arrive at the go-time. Finally, the nurse and a kind resident gave their heads-up for final pushing at 17:15. We had felt so overconfident we’d be done sooner, clearly, babe had other plans. The kind resident from San Diego talked about Michigan winters and her VW but did not push Mama enough.

Two hours in, a couple badass midwives had arrived. Finally, after four hours, a doctor came in to offer help via vacuum suction. It was long and arduous enough that Mama had to change music from Hum Aapke Hain Kaun to Eminem through the go-time pushing. Baby decided to stay sunny side up, took an enormous amount of time with Mama to push out of the pelvic zone, and came out only at 21:43. Physically, once I could feel the head, it was a fifteen minute push. His mop of hair seemed to explain my Tums reliance in the first trimester. After that everything felt like a blip. I can remember people messing around with my body, but all I can really recall is the babe on me, skin to skin. It’s hard to describe what this golden hour felt like, except a huge moment of relief, and disbelief. We had created this living, breathing thing. And it was so miraculous. What’s not to love or cry?

All bets are off

All bets and plans were off. It was in fact the beginning of reminders which said, this is not in your hands. All you can do is love, fully and meaningfully. The rest belongs elsewhere. It passes through you, but creates its own new universe.

Mama and Baba love you, Adi, our very own Alfetta. You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to us. We are grateful that you chose to be a part of the world through us.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

Khalil Gibran, Brain Pickings

The post What I Love You Feels Like- Our Birth Story appeared first on Someplace Else .


The Opposite of Fear is Empathy

What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want? Asking this question is fear inducing, and the only out is empathy... The post The Opposite of Fear is Empathy appeared first on Someplace Else .

If you’re anything like me, you love Debbie Millman, not just for her voice- that feels like an audio hug, but the insights she’s able to draw out from her guests. More so, when the guest is open, and transparent, like Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s no stranger to fear, blocks, creativity or how to distill deep into the soul to find what is missing.

In her initial days, Gilbert’s mentor once asked her a pertinent question:

What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep pretending you want?

The answer or not to answer…

The question by itself is fear inducing. I’ve found it incredible hard in the last six months to rise about a couple things:

  • A constant fear or nagging worry of outcomes (in life or at work)
  • The need to spend too much energy consuming ideal states (a.k.a. on Instagram) rather than creating them (in life)
  • Procrastination or a consistent lack of prioritization on things that I enjoy creatively

In part, it is because it’s easy. But mostly because fear is hard to beat. Sometimes, it’s just easier to give in to a lull of perfection and not generate enough empathy for the self. Sometimes it’s not easy to move ahead, and ignore a blog or not return messages and calls for six months, because, you can.

All this comes back in a gusto when you spend hot 90 degree afternoons curled up in a foreign bed reminding one of lost summer vacations in sleepy towns. You’ve naturally grown up to realize the value of the mundane existence. It feels ungrateful to not appreciate the day to day normal, but you need twelve years of movement to get to that place.

happy place

Oh, and the life I am pretending to get this moment, is very inspired by this and modern Frey-ed sunny openness.

The post The Opposite of Fear is Empathy appeared first on Someplace Else .


End of the Year Musings: A-Z of Things I’ve Learned In 2018

This neglected blog has reached me several times over in 2018 begging for a line or two, mainly for my own therapy. I have had a year seeped in a cycle of consumption and  contemplation, more Read more… The post End of the Year Musings: A-Z of Things I’ve Learned In 2018 appeared first on Someplace Else...

This neglected blog has reached me several times over in 2018 begging for a line or two, mainly for my own therapy. I have had a year seeped in a cycle of consumption and  contemplation, more than creation. Like all things outside of my control, it was necessary (though I’ll probably know more in the future). Here are some things I’ve learned in 2018.

End of the Year Musings: A-Z of Things I've Learned In 2018

Image: West Virginia, 2018

A-Z of Things I’ve Learned In 2018

  • A: Adam Grant lays out an important case for appreciation.
  • B: Although I grew up very differently, Samin Nosrat‘s beauty discussion is amazingly relatable.
  • C: What else can one say about creativity?
  • D: Any bout of daily exercise is a good contribution towards health. Thyroid issues apart, initial results are promising (mentally at least). Of course I wish I could do these small minutes each day.
  • E: Is Eleanor Oliphant completely fine? Are we fine?
  • F: I deleted my Facebook account. It’s not a political stance, just a feeling that I needed some space. I use it for work, and may keep a work account.
  • G: Goats can aid writing.
  • H: A horse and a money walked into a bar.
  • I:  Why do I wake up?
  • J: Joy can appear in neatly stacked trash bags.
  • K: Kindness matters. People hate dealing with jerks.
  • L: Love is unchanged by technology.
  • M: If marriage and motherhood are the two big milestones in life, then the Rules Do not Apply.
  • N: New languages change the way our brain operates.
  • O: Argan oil is my bedside companion.
  • P: It’s impossible to drive without Podcasts (#1, #2, #3)
  • Q: Quid Pro Quo
  • R: The specifics of a road-trip.
  • S: Ethical and sustainable shopping fever.
  • T: Should America be run by Trader Joe’s?
  • U: Being uprooted can be magical and dark.
  • V: Vehicles are liberating. And yet, like people. It takes time to develop comfort and faith.
  • W: Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression in the way they handle anger.
  • X: X-Chromosomes call the shots.
  • Y: Youth is intended to end.
  • Z: Guided meditation is zen.

It does help to reflect on what has been, before I can think through what is to come in 2019. Goals, aspirations and dreams all seem surreal on the last day of the year. I do overtly romanticize it. Don’t you?

The post End of the Year Musings: A-Z of Things I’ve Learned In 2018 appeared first on Someplace Else .


Nap-time Versus Making Friends in Your 30s

This is my favorite topic these days. The good news about being a well traveled person is that you’ve traveled far and wide. The bad news is the unless your friends travel in the same Read more… The post Nap-time Versus Making Friends in Your 30s appeared first on Someplace Else...

This is my favorite topic these days. The good news about being a well traveled person is that you’ve traveled far and wide. The bad news is the unless your friends travel in the same time zones as you, it’s hard. Sometimes laziness (aka nap-times), and sometimes just the need for physical conversations can make it difficult. Long distance friendships are just as doomed as you would expect.

Nap-time Versus Making Friends in Your 30s

(Although it always feels nice, after a day you speak for hours dissing everything, especially affordability with Sabhyasachi. I missed these girls!)

Nap-time Versus Making Friends in Your 30s

Thirties are particularly difficult, because you have standards. Some ridiculous (e.g. Bibimbap) while some thought through (e.g. feminism). Like books, friends can make you question beliefs, and that’s exactly what is difficult to achieve with most acquaintances. Making friends in your 30s provides a plethora of options:

  1. A common hobby, activist idea or interest group
  2. An ethnic /religious group
  3. Old friends – because you spent middle school through college in one city
  4. Neighbors
  5. Play dates with other parents since you have kids
  6. Friends at work
  7. Institutional friends- meaning you studied together in the same place
  8. Blind dates at: Gym/bar/yoga class/vegan deli/farmer’s market/you pick
  9. Family relations
  10. Gaping hole of Internet

All of this in younger times was simpler:

  1. Studying in the same class
  2. Living in the neighborhood

In general, all those 1 to 10 options are cute, but I seem to have no time to do anything about things that I even like. And I don’t even have a baby (or dog) to take care of. I am submerged with the thoughts of grocery, yoghurt, lunch for the week, unanswered emails, books I’d like to read, random watercoloring fits, and nap-time. Sometimes I’m too exhausted, even if I’d like to be friendly. It’s easier to fall back to old friends who you don’t have to start explaining anything.

I’ve had a complete summer break from anything social (including the Internet, except random  voyeuristic pleasure of going through Instagrammed Indian textiles). I wish we had a Brooklyn-esque borough to randomly hang around city steps or creative picnic spots. In these times, I miss the pretentiousness of Hauz Khas lanes.

Has black mirror created a 99.8% friendship yet?

The post Nap-time Versus Making Friends in Your 30s appeared first on Someplace Else .


Sacred Games: And How Indian TV Has Finally Revolted

In my movie going years as a grown up, I remember Dev D as being the landmark change on a mass level. Before that there were several one off attempts in the mid 2000s that Read more… The post Sacred Games: And How Indian TV Has Finally Revolted appeared first on Someplace Else...

In my movie going years as a grown up, I remember Dev D as being the landmark change on a mass level. Before that there were several one off attempts in the mid 2000s that I saw in half empty theaters and loved them. But Dev D felt like a scaled change. For our Television which regressed with Ekta Kapoor’s formulaic junk, I feel Sacred Games (even if it’s on Netflix) has changed the game. This is an infinitely better follow up to the days Indian TV saw in the 80s than what we’ve been fed in the last 20 years. For that, I am grateful.

Varun Grover, Anurag Kashyap, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and the extremely strong ensemble cast of the series makes me so happy. Note:Thank you for not translating and letting people speak in Marathi and Punjabi, like normal people. Our discussions are the translations for Fattu, and women’s representation. And how an epic story across decades translates to the screen.

Changing the conversations with Sacred Games

We are talking about things that matter like creative liberties into describing a patriarchal, misogynistic world. Indian TV’s most beautiful transgender and so many emotive layers in personal narratives. There’s much to talk about and the way it’s gone out to the world is powerful. I want our Western (and many Indian) brethren to realize/see that our movies are not just musicals with little thought and expressionless actors. For a country of a billion, that’s a poor representation, and we need a dose of our own culture like this. Because if you don’t like what is being said about you, change the conversation.

As a viewer, I’m so happy with this change and Netflix- for this alone, I’m yours. Especially when it’s so Indian, set in India and needs to be translated into Indian languages from English. We have writers taking center stage, sharing their stories and research for authenticity and great production values.

This is not to say that it Sacred Games is flawless, and I am happy about the female representations. I’d like to believe that Grover/Nath/Singh have elevated the scope of what the book offered. But considering they’re working on a medium that has larger reach (compared to the book), also gives them a stronger responsibility.

Also, for people wanting to see it internationally, it’s not spoon-fed and needs people to look up cultural references. Like everyone else in the world does when they watch a movie based in the midwest.

The post Sacred Games: And How Indian TV Has Finally Revolted appeared first on Someplace Else .


2018 Spring Reading: Diversity in Reading Across Cultures

Although, the memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, we really are still in spring (even at 80 degrees). I’m still on track to do 50 books a year (tadaa!) and I am Read more… The post 2018 Spring Reading: Diversity in Reading Across Cultures appeared first on Someplace Else...

Although, the memorial day weekend is the unofficial start of summer, we really are still in spring (even at 80 degrees). I’m still on track to do 50 books a year (tadaa!) and I am so glad that I’ve finally gone back to reading fiction, after what feels like years. The difference this time is that, unlike my school years, I am finally reading a bunch of new authors and stories of diverse characters. Here’s my 2018 spring reading list!

Previously in 2018: Winter reading

Books in red are for children (varying ages), so if you’re an adult into only adult books skip to the darker black titles instead

2018 Spring Reading List: What Have You Been Reading?

1. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, Haruki Murakami

Japan is like a dream. Urban Japan, more specifically Tokyo is a lonely dream. Even in an English translation, Murakami’s God-like prose hits home with all the themes that may me sad, wistful and more. You go back and forth in dreams, reality, cities, friends and everything else in between. There are forces in your internal world that make you see yourself better. Murakami makes you see them more.

2. South and West, Joan Didion

Traveling through the South in the 70s has Didion pen down a simple diary. The South is in fact the future, and not California, which is forever in denial. It’s incredible to read it in 2018 and realize it still feels true.

3. Lucky You, Carl Hiassen

For a moment, I felt that this was a recent book. Turned out it was from the 90s. I do not know if the political and faith based conversation in the U.S. simply repeats like economic cycles, or does it mean that there’s no real change. Despite its crime-fiction themes, it opens up a can of worms on race, religion and the politics of news-making.

4. Flat Broke With Two Goats, Jennifer McGaha

I LOVED this book. The humor in its misery makes it so authentic and unbelievably open. I do not know if I’d ever have the courage or the depth to pen a memoir which opens up the soul so casually. It’s middle of nowhere America, a financially un-savvy farmer and author with goats. Things go wrong in the most American ways. Deep, astute cultural observations from McGaha are incredible. I could imagine a Frances McDormand led Coen brothers’ movie.

5. Home Fire, Kamila Shamsie

Kashmir follows me. I began not knowing it had anything to do with Roganjosh or bombs. It was a big scale, a magnum opus, and in parts unputdownable. I enjoyed it, but did not really want the ending it led to. I felt like it was rushed in and oversimplified towards the end.

6. The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo

In month two since I read it, I am still folding. I am still not collecting, and so I do believe I have not had a relapse. I feel it’s powerful, and although you may have reached this in many different ways, I enjoyed the book for what it delivers. It’s a life stage concept, and may not be the best written book out there, but for me it works.

7.  Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg

Again, not the most brilliantly written book, but conceptually there are things that I could not ignore. Sometimes it is necessary for someone else to point out things men and women may have internalized over years without really questioning. Any book that pushes boundaries so is valuable as a cultural discourse, if nothing else.

8. Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

The book takes covers ground in Ghana and America. From the British colonizers, to American slave owners to present day conversations over race, this is important now more than ever before. I felt Kayne West needs to be gifted this one in bulk. It’s a whole big canvas in the sheer scale it covers. Also reminded me how much I enjoy reading historical fiction.

9. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, Gail Honeyman

It feels like I lived in Scotland in another lifetime. Eleanor Oliphant is so phenomenally normal, yet different (and troubled) that it’s hard to stop reading. It reminded me of Catcher in the Rye many times. Who really is regular? I belong to the camp that loves this book (you may see a split camp on the internet).

10. Life of Pi, Yann Martel

The first time I attempted this book was in 2005 in Glasgow. I could not move forward and had to try again this year. I hadn’t seen the movie too, to not get the whole plot twist. And now I want to see the movie and know what story my mother believed in. I have to ask though, what’s Martel’s animal obsession coming from?

11. Stay With Me, Ayobami Adebayo

As a culture, why do we crave parenthood so deeply? Is it just the ability to pass on genes, or the innate need to claim our creation. Nigeria adds depth and a nuance to a story which is universal and yet inherently personal.

12. Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu

Ursu brings back the story of the Snow Queen in a modern day Minnesota through the eyes of an adopted Indian middle-schooler. It’s a story of friendship, fitting in and many adult themes through a fairy tale premise. I enjoyed it.

13. The Bed Head of Ned, Steve Platto

Steve Platto is my real life boss, and this is a wonderful book for children. It reminded me of ‘The Background’- a short story by Saki.

Currently Reading: Chemistry, Manhattan Beach, Standard Deviation

What are your favorites this year so far?

The post 2018 Spring Reading: Diversity in Reading Across Cultures appeared first on Someplace Else .


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