Saturday, April 4, 2015

A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015

Given the fact that some Blogger blogs are set up so that they are directed to this blog only and not to the blogs I want, I am putting the two blogs where I am contributing to the A to Z Blogging Challenge in 2015

My personal blog Make a Life, Not a Living is about my thoughts at random.

The other one I started specifically for this challenge is about Towns in Texas, mostly within 100 miles radius of Houston, Texas A to Z Texas Towns

Hope this will help you visit my blogs and leave a comment or 26 :-)

Rasheed Hooda aka Mister Weirdo

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Here I go again

I am heading out to Austin in an hour or so.

My good friend Cathy Elaine is going on a Road Trip of her own. She found some people in Austin who are going to Sedona, Arizona who needed traveling buddies to lessen the cost of gasoline. So I am taking her to Austin so she can go on her trip of soul searching.

I asked her when she was planning on coming back, and she simply replied, "Whenever the trip is over." She is going to post her experiences on her blog and I will be providing you the links to it. But for now I am getting ready to go to Austin. My son Jaferaly is going with me to keep me company on my way back home and for us to spend some quality time together.

The plan is to drop Cathy and head back home, but who knows........

I'll check in with you on the flip side.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Wow! What a day trip

About an hour north of Houston lays the beautiful Huntsville State Park. It is my favorite place to go and relax whenever I have a few hours.

The park is located off I-45 just south of Huntsville, and is a nature lover’s paradise. To get there travel north on I-45 and take the exit for Hwy 40 about 20 minutes north of Conroe. Turn left and follow the road to the park entrance. There is an entry fee depending on your needs and plans. I just get a day trip entry for $4.00

Nestled among the tall trees is a lake surrounded by picnic cabins and camping sites. There is a 25 mile long and winding trail that weaves through the forest providing you with not only an opportunity to hike but a serene and beautiful way to connect with nature.

The lake provides a chance to get out there and do some fishing. There are canoes, kayaks and row boats that you can rent to just relax and enjoy the breeze amidst the water that is cool and serene. You can use the built in BBQ pits to enjoy a good picnic lunch.

I drove up there Friday to reconnect with nature and do some soul searching and grounding with the Source. Even though I didn’t have much time, it seems I never do, the trip was well worth the rejuvenation and recharging of the batteries, and there was an added surprise there in store for me which I never would have imagined.

When we got there, we found a group of people preparing for an event. I learned that they are having a foot race on Saturday. It is an annual event. There are runners in 50 miles and 100 miles categories. A 100 miles trek on foot? Yup. Wow! That is like running four marathons. Too bad I won’t be able to attend the event this year.

But that wasn’t the real surprise. As we were talking to the organizers trying to gather more information, someone said hey we ordered pizza and we need someone to go pick them up from town. Before I knew it, my partner volunteered our services for the job. The lady said, “Oh really? You don’t mind? Thank you so much.” And handed us a credit card and gave us directions on how to find the Pizza Hut in Huntsville.

I am always thrilled to be of service, and the opportunities always show up, but it was refreshing to see people trusting total strangers with their credit card. I know, in today’s cynical world, we are told never to do that and it is foolish to do that, but it reinforced my belief that people are generally good and there are more people who feel that way.

When I thanked the lady for trusting us with her credit card, she just shrugged and said, “I’d rather do that than living the other way around.” What a genuine way to live.

Take a day off and head on north. You will be glad when you come back, I promise you.

For more info:

Huntsville State Park : 936-295-5644 Website

Rocky Raccoon Trail Hike: Website

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Connecting with Nature

It had been two weeks since my last excursion, so I decided I will head out for a few hours and see what I find. My friend Cathy Elaine had told me about a park she had found in The Woodlands, just north of Houston.

So, yesterday I headed out to The Woodlands to explore the Shadow Bend Park. When I got there it was just past noon. I had my camera with me, and I intended to take some pictures, but the overhead sun does not make for good lighting, so I decided to wait a little while. I rolled the window down, tilted the seat back and stretched out in the front seat under a tall tree. The shade and the breeze were heavenly. I dozed off in a few minutes and dreamed about waves and waves of Bluebonnets everywhere. I was thinking, I must tell Cathy about these flowers. I was driving through them trying not to get into the flowers, but they were everywhere.

Eventually, I was awakened by the sounds of children and parents. It appears that there is an elementary school somewhere in the shadows of the park and the school was let out. Realizing that I had been napping for over two hours, and it will be a while before the kids are all gone, I decided to head back home and visit the park another day. As I drove out, I felt exhilarated. I didn't realize that simply being in the Nature can have such an effect on a person. Now I know why I always went to parks when I was stressed. :-)

So this morning I headed back to the Shadow Bend Park with my camera in the tow. As I started strolling through the park on the walking trail, I was amazed by a sight I never thought I would ever see, elementary school children in Texas playing Cricket. That's right Cricket. It turns out that they have a teacher who is from Britain, who decided to teach the children, in her words, "a real sport." That was a great way to start my trek into the park.

In the next hour and half, as I walked along the trail in that embodied the name Shadow Bend, I met and photographed a cardinal, a Blue Jay, and several squirrels. I have always loved squirrels. they are so curious, and friendly and active. I am hoping I will be able to upload some pictures soon. It all depends on how good they turn out. After all, it has been ages since I have used my trusty Minolta XG-1. :-)

As I watched the squirrels hop, run and jump around in the shadows, I remembered Wild Bill, about whom I wrote last time. Wild Bill had told me about the Squirrel dumplings he had served for game dinner sampler he had organized at his restaurant. I guess loved the squirrels in a different way. Now I know some of you may cringe at the thought of someone actually cooking squirrels, and I can understand how you feel, but I have come to accept that people have different tastes and in different parts of the world people eat different things. It is just part of the tapestry we call human race.

As I left the park, I was thinking about getting the film developed (yes, I still use film), and a voice from within suggested I go to the Wal-Mart there in The Woodlands, but I decided to go to the one closer to my daughter's school, since I would be picking her up soon. When I got Wal-Mart, I was told that their photo processing machine was broke and was being repaired, and that the repairman didn't have the part needed so he has gone to get it. One of these days I will learn to heed to that inner voice. :-)

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dream on till your dreams come true - Aerosmith

This trip was an eye opener in many ways. First and foremost, I realized that I live my dream in small bits and pieces till I get to the point where I can just live it everyday. Second I had the first hand experience of the joy that being in the moment brings. Third, it opened up a plethora of ideas of how I can "have my cake and eat it too." But most importantly, it confirmed for me that when you take the first step toward your dream, the Universe takes ten steps to make it more real.

As I got off the exit at FM 1696, I asked myself, do I go east or west? The inner voice suggested west, but looking eastward I found the road more inviting, so I turned east. I must have gone maybe a couple miles when the two lane paved road turned into a one lane gravel road. I traveled another five miles down the gravel road and in the fifteen minutes or so it took me to go that far, I met just one other vehicle coming from the other side. I finally turned around and headed west and into the setting sun.

The next twenty minutes or so are just as vivid in my memory now as they were when I was lost in the beauty of the moment. Then suddenly I noticed the gas gauge which was getting alarmingly low and I realized that I had not seen any civilization in the past twenty minutes and as far as I can see there was none. I took solace in the fact that I had seen a sign somewhere announcing the existence of a town somewhere up ahead.

When I reached the township of Bedias, TX, my solace was giving way to despair. It was apparent that I was on the Main St, which was not only the main street, but it seemed like the only street in town. There were no other streets branching off or intersecting it. In less than two minutes, I was at the edge of town with no gas stations in sight. Wild Bill's Steak House caught my attention. I thought let me go find out if where the nearest gas station is from these people. When I got to the door, there was a sign that announced that the restaurant was closed, but the front door was ajar, so I peeked in and hollered Hello? A man appeared from another room and came to the door. It turned out that the gas station was just around the corner. Thank God!

Wild Bill and I got to talking. Turns out, he is building another restaurant in Madisonville, just up the road and plans to move. He has the restaurant, an adjacent store front and two Apartments, one of two bedrooms and another of one bedroom, all located on the same property and decorated with nostalgic paintings on the wall and paraphernalia from years gone by, for sale as a package. I was excited, as have spent many years in restaurant industry. He gave me a grand tour of the property, and told me about his passion for cooking and his wife's passion for painting and photography, and how she used those two passions to turn the property into a nostalgic dream come true.

I got so involved in talking with Wild Bill about his passion, and dreaming about my own passion that I missed the sunset, which I was so looking forward to. But hey, the adrenalin boost I got from this "chance" meeting was so powerful that I'd gladly give up a few sunsets for it. After all, sunset happens everyday; but you don't meet someone who is living his dream and whose infectious passion is powerful that it makes your own passion blossom a little more.

I am so grateful that I took this trip and met up with Wild Bill. It has practically changed my life in a few short hours. Take the first step in the direction of your dreams and Universe will move your dreams ten steps toward you.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reminiscing into the future

I took a road trip yesterday, as the first step towards my life as a nomad, which I envisioned myself to be as I was growing up in India and Pakistan.

I love to travel, to see new places and meet new faces. I have often thought about doing a photography exhibit, or publish a book called, "The Places I've Been, The Faces I've Seen" but didn't have enough material. Now I am collecting them. :-)

I headed north from where I live with the intention of letting the intuition guide, and boy! did it ever guide me. I had a blast. there was not a dull moment in the four and a half hour of roaming the Earth, or at least a tiny portion of it.

As I drove into Huntsville I saw the gigantic statue of Sam Houston along I-45 and thought about checking it out up close, but then kept going. Little bit further down the road, or I should say up the road, I saw a sign informing me that there is a DQ up ahead. (for those of you who are not from the South, DQ stands for Dairy Queen, an ice cream and burgers restaurant chain) I love their Tropical Blizzard. It is a frozen concoction made of soft serve ice cream blended with bananas, coconut and walnuts. mmmmm. So I get to the DQ, after detouring through the construction going along the I-45. It seems I-45 is always under construction somewhere.

I ordered my Blizzard and as I was waiting for it, I noticed a copy of "Coffee News". It is a small publication to amuse the restaurant clientele and promotes local businesses in the area. I remember first coming across it when I had my own restaurant back in 2005, we used to keep it for our guests amusements. There was a little item on there about a useful tattoo. It talks about a guy getting an eight-inch ruler tattooed on the inside of his arm - from elbow to wrist. He wanted it so he can a ruler available all the time, as it was an essential item for his work. The small blurb said that the man hails from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico; and I thought, hmmm that would be an interesting place to visit. I suppose you'll be reading about that in some future roaming excursion of mine.

My Blizzard arrived, and I tell you, it was such a disappointment. I am NEVER going back to that DQ again. Now my friend Cathy Elaine might not agree with my stand on this, as a matter of fact I know she doesn't, because we had discussed this very issue of whether or not we should report poor service and/or products to the company head quarters. The issue had come up when she asked if I ever answered the surveys that are requested by restaurants on their receipts. She said that one should fill out the survey, specially since the company is asking for it. My stand is that I don't need to answer a questionnaire to participate in the survey. If I am satisfied, I am participating by going back and if I am not, I am participating by boycotting them. Their bottom line will let them know if they are doing a good job or not, and a good company will not wait until it is too late to react to the numbers, but I digress.

As I consumed my disappointing Blizzard, which was an almost a shake, rather than a Blizzard, with a hint of bananas and coconut and laden with peanuts - not walnuts, and which was not presented in the way it is supposed to be, and I can see why and as I will explain shortly, I reminisced about the FIRST ever Blizzard that I had almost twenty years ago, incidentally along the I-45, but 150 miles to the north in Buffalo, Texas. It was so thick and rich and fluffy, that the person who handed it to me with a spoon inserted in the Blizzard,turned the cup upside down and it didn't drip. I later found out from a friend of mine who owned a DQ that this was a standard presentation of blizzard, that turning the cup upside down was a part of the presentation and marketing technique. I sat there and reminisced and read the Coffee News and Tidbits 936, another publication of the same kind. Tidbits 936 had some interesting tidbits about dreams and dreaming and thought about how I would blog my travels and about my life as a nomad or a hobo.

Did you know that there is a BIG difference between a HOBO and a BUM? A hobo is a productive member of society with a code of ethics who has simply chose a lifestyle of living under the stars, or at the least not living too long under the same roof, but pull his own weight in the society and will even contribute towards it, whereas a bum is someone who is a free loader and/or a burden on the society, but might be living in a mansion, based on some news stories I had read several years ago.

Having run out of the excuse for a Blizzard and reading material, I headed up the road again, deciding that I will go as far as Centerville, before heading back home. Well, I didn't get anywhere close to Centerville, as my intuition prompted me to get off at the FM 1696 exit, as I mentioned in the earlier post. I love numbers, and 1696 caught my attention because 96 is a multiple of 16. :)

I intend to put links to the various places that I am mentioning in my blog so the reader may have a better understanding of where I am on my trips. I shall do that as I become more web and blog savvy, but until then it will be my secret, unless, of course, you ARE web savvy and can Google it for yourself. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I did it and I love it

I decided to bring my dream into reality, one small step at a time. Rather than waiting till ALL the pieces fell in place, I decided to start, with small excursions. I left home today at around 2:30 PM knowing well that I had to be back by 7 PM to attend the Toastmasters Meeting. I just took off with no destination in mind. I left my home in Spring, Texas and headed north, made a stop at a DQ in Huntsville, and then upon an intuitive prompting exited FM1696. I traveled west on FM1696. Met someone interesting and chatted with him for about 30 minutes. He gave me a tour of his home/business and even gave me a bottle of his Meat Seasoning to take with me.

I'll post more details and my reflections on the trip in morning, but I can say this much, I LOVE IT!!! It has been a fantastic adventure in FREEDOM EXPERIENCED. I love it and I want more of it, and I will have more of it, no ifs, and or buts about it.