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My Journey in the search for feeling ‘Belonged’

My Journey in the search for feeling ‘Belonged’

My Journey in the search for feeling ‘Belonged’

‘My Journey in the search for feeling ‘Belonged’

Life is a Journey

“Life is a Journey and we must keep traveling until we discover the destination where we feel ‘Belonged’.” ~ Mani Mukhija

I have been born and brought up in India. Travel has been a big part of my life since my early 20’s. My Husband and I have been living a nomad type lifestyle, exploring different countries on different continents. And this is not for our love for travel, however, this is more because we are trying to find a humble abode where we can have ample opportunities and we can feel ‘belonged’.

Over the past 15 years, I have been fortunate to have traveled over more than 12 countries, lived in 5 countries over 4 continents. My husband’s count is much higher than mine. We have experienced different countries as a tourist as well as an immigrant.

Being a tourist is completely different than actually living in different countries. Being a tourist, you end up highlighting the best things you have experienced in a particular place and enjoy every moment because you had been waiting and planning for this trip for long.

Living in a new country throws different challenges. With every passing year, few things can fall under the exciting things bucket while the rest still make it to the challenge bucket. Having lived in different countries teaches you way more than what one can imagine. You get to see the World’s Wonders, learn and experience different cultures, languages, cuisines and different perspectives of human psychology. You get to experience different foods that you had never imagined, never heard of and never smelled those unique flavors. Among those unique experiences, the common things between people in different countries at the end of the day is that they all have a heart full of emotions although their ways of expressing are completely different and that’s probably because we all have different cultures and roots.

So, it’s not easy for a nomad to experience the feeling of belongingness that soon. You maybe need to spend a lot more years at a place before you could actually feel ‘belonged’. Or maybe your whole life is less to get to a point where you feel ‘belonged’ in a foreign land. However, one great thing is that you at least learn to find a common ground with strangers. Be it a sports-related talk with your boss or a discussion with a newly made friend over a recipe from some different cuisine or discussing cultures from across the globe during a chat with your colleague over lunch break.

When I lived in Mexico, most of my friends associated that stay with warm weather, beaches and Tequila. However, the truth is completely different. My stay in Mexico was much more than this. As a newcomer to this place, I certainly enjoyed the fancy things that define a real Mexican Life. The Mexican culture certainly taught me a lot. Different people, different language, different cuisine, but there was always something that was missing. With each passing day, I figured out what that was. I started to feel like someone who is a guest to that place and my heart didn’t feel ‘belonged’ to that place and I started to think about exploring a somewhat different place which I had never even imagined in my dreams to have visited or lived.

The country that I moved next was Denmark. I moved to Denmark in the month of November along with my husband and daughter. When I was planning to move to a completely unknown country, God had also started crafting his plans for us. The year that we moved to Denmark had surprisingly brought the worst snow storms after almost two decades. So, we were welcomed with too much snow that I had never experienced in my life before. Mother nature was putting us to test by throwing those challenges. After two months of my stay, I decided to return back to India and decided not to come back. So, I moved back with my child while my husband stayed to complete his committed assignment and decided to return after the project was over. However, after moving back to India, I realized that I shouldn’t have given up that soon and I returned back to experience Denmark a little more.

This place opened up a lot of opportunities for us in terms of living in the “World’s Best Place to live on the planet”. The country had a lot to teach us in terms of economic and human development, the social security system, health, lifestyle, a work-life balance, importance of staying physically and mentally healthy, using the world’s best managed public transport system, living a life where cycling is a norm, importance of eating 5 different fruits everyday, learning one of the difficult languages ‘Danish’, enjoying the International Cycle Race, witnessing the very unique daycare experience where my 14-month-old baby was made to sleep in a baby pram outside in the roofless backyard while it was damn windy and snowing hard. The Danes’ theory behind outdoor napping for kids in the sub-zero temperatures is that kids are exposed to fresh air which in turn is healthier and very important for their overall physical, emotional and cognitive development. While I agreed to their research, I got goosebumps and my heart sunk at the sight of my child sleeping outdoor even when it was pouring or snowing.

Having experienced all the best and unique things that no other place could offer, I still missed feeling ‘belonged’ to this place and the journey and the search for the place where I could feel ‘belonged’ continued.

The next destination was the United States of America. The place which fascinates almost everyone around the world with the opportunities that this country offers. We were also enchanted with the charm of the USA and wanted to try our lucks on this land of opportunities. We started to weave a lot of dreams and began our journey with a heart filled with hopes.

We created a lot of new friendships that we would cherish throughout our lives. We experienced a lot of good and bad things. Years spent in the states were no less than a roller-coaster ride. Life went through thick and thin. We remained resilient to the odds and thankful to the evens. The country had so much to offer in terms of exposure, opportunities, lifestyle, affordability but those dreams remained barren without the Green Card. The Green pastures of this land stopped looking Green without a Green Card.

Even after spending 5 years in this country, we always felt unsettled and spent those years in uncertainty. While we were hopeful and kept fantasizing about the Big American Dream, at the same time, the feeling of uncertainty couldn’t leave our minds and there wasn’t a single day when we wouldn’t have thought about the fallback options. In a nutshell, we always felt like a family who is beyond a traveler but still lacks the emotion of feeling ‘belonged. We were almost certain that it’s almost time for us to move yet another time and we finally decided to continue our search for feeling ‘belonged’.

Our next destination was Canada. We embarked on a new journey with an open mind and the hearts were filled again with a lot of ‘Hope’. It’s been a year in Canada now. We have almost overcome those Visa-related negative emotions and struggles which we had become habitual to in the United States. In the beginning, our minds were resistant to this change, kids were not happy,the awesome memories that we had created with friends in the US started haunting our minds, it felt as if we have left behind something very precious and our hearts yearned for running back to the US.

However, we kept training our minds to be stronger and not think about the past as we were making a new beginning in this unknown place. Slowly, the things started falling in place. We started accepting the new life, got used to the long commute distances, high federal taxes,long winters and snow storms, beautiful freshwater beaches, a very diversified nation and lots more. So, now the question is again if we feel ‘belonged’ to this place or not. Well, it’s too early for us to mark a permanent stamp with that emotion, but our heart says we are almost closer. I have been counting the  reasons that make me think closer to feeling ‘belonged’ to Canada and the count is still on as our journey to explore this nation, even more, is still ‘ON’. I would definitely like to point out the reasons that make me think closer to  feeling ‘belonged’ and my list goes as:

I am living in a country which keeps me closer to Mother Earth,

I am living in a country which offers equality, respect & safety,

I am living in a country which is peaceful,

I am living in a country where my voice is heard in respect,

I am living in a country where raw natural landscapes are in abundance,

I am living in a country where peace is our right,

I am living in a country whose foundation is built on diversity,

I am living in a country where immigrants are allowed to build a community and a country together,

I am living in a country where healthcare is a right and not a privilege,

I am living in a country where no one has to go into bankruptcy to pay for treatments,

I am living in a country where I feel accepted, safe & free,

I am living in a country where you can be you, and I can be me,

I am living in a country that teaches mutual respect & trust,

I am living in a country where your talent counts,

I am living in a country which is the most multicultural country in the world,

I am living in a country where most of the people love Tim Hortons and poutine,

I am living in a country which is known to be the Land of Maple Leaf,

I am living in a country which is popular for its Maple Syrup,

I am living in a country which proudly owns the spectacular Horseshoe falls,

I am living in this beautiful & God’s own country ‘Canada’.

I hope that we start to feel ‘belonged’ to this place and make this our humble abode, however, as I mentioned in the beginning that sometimes your whole life is less to get to a point where you feel ‘belonged’ in a foreign land. So, my dear friends, the journey is not over yet and the search for feeling ‘belonged’ continues with each passing day….

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What Readers Are Saying

Superb Blog Keep it up Mani.

You are such a super woman and doing very good job to encourage all the ladies. Thanks for writing the blog and sharing the thought.


Great blog to collaborate with! is a great site full of helpful lifestyle tips, and it was a pleasure to collaborate with them! The communication was quick and easy, the guest post went live super fast, so congratulations on this great site and the amazing job you do! A must-read!

Joana Teixeira

Great work!

I love to read gingeritup articles because it’s everything which you can relate to. The recipes so presentable and delicious yet so easy and simple ingredients and the lil intros which Mani writes to describe the recipe makes you connect with it. The other articles on gingeritup I find very honest and sincere . Rendezvous series is an inspiring unique initiative which she has started which I haven’t seen anywhere else . Overall, I admire Mani for she is so talented and a multitasker.


Love Ginger-It-Up!

I absolutely love Ginger-It-Up! Great recipes, awesome tips, and gorgeous pictures! I love all of the flavors and the new products, and Mani’s writing style is interesting, clear, and easy to follow! Keep up the great work!

Brian Finkel
D'vash Organics

An inspiration

I love to read your Blog..aspecially Rendezvous series..very inspiring and and the way you write makes it more intresting and inspiring.I also like to read your healthy recipies…. looking forward to read more recepies and stories. Good luck.

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Food and Mani are two sides of same coin

Dear Mani, I am a regular reader of your blog just because you bring the most delicious, mouth-watering and creative recipes on the table.
My favorite recipe so far is “Gajar ka Halwa “ can’t beat this one!!!

THE RENDEZVOUS series brings real-life experiences which are never forgettable. It inspires our community and encourages ones to further their dreams.

Ginger-it-up website is very organized and easy to follow.

Can’t wait to read more life inspirational stories and mouth-watering/healthy recipes!!

Lata Agarwal

Love the Blog

Hello Mani!
I found your recipes interesting and most of all the Rendezvous series. They are informative and filled with a sense of positivity to see experience and struggle your guest go through. The conversation is always encouraging. You got a beautiful style of writing , attractive words and eloquence.

I look forward to read your Rendezvous series .
All the very best Mani!

Loads of love


I love the recipes and

I love the recipes and the write-ups especially the Rendezvous Series. It’s a great Initiative. Keep it going!


Awesome friend and cook

Love your blog! Very inspiring and the way you write makes it more interesting.You make the cooking feel so easy , delicious and presentable. Love to read your Blog.Great work and wishing you the best as always.



Love browsing the recipes and great information!

ZEGO Co-founder Colleen on Rendezvous with Ginger-it-Up

Mani writes very in-depth recipes, and I LOVE her photos. They make everything look so good! It is always enjoyable to browse her site and try the recipes, and I love that she has a focus on empowering women as well!

Rivka Hodgkinson
ZEGO Snacks

Amazing blog from an amazning girl!

I met Mani for the first time when she approached for interviewing me for her Rendezvous series! Right then, I was immensely impressed by her dedication, passion and commitment towards her blog! Ginger-it-up is not just a random blog, its a well thought and amazingly executed piece of art! Her love for food, and her passion of meeting people and executing their journey with such warmth and love makes Mani stand out from what others are doing. I have gotten to know Mani after our first meet and I am glad our paths crossed! Wishing you an amazing journey ahead! Keep writing!:)

Ritu Bhat
Ritu Selects - India inspired Couture

Great work!

Love your blog! Thankful for having had an opportunity to taste some of your delectable recipes. What I like the most is your focus on healthy ingredients and making it seem so simple yet delicious. Great work and wishing you the best as always!!


My favorite blogger!!

If you are looking for easy, healthy and creative recipes, then Ginger it up has covered up everything for you!!
Mani Mukhija’s brilliance and excellence, keeps me drooling every time I read her recipes.
And wait, her power packed, highly inspirational Rendezvous series is something that I always look forward to.

Keep up the good work Mani Mukhija! Keep growing and inspiring always!!

Deepti Menghani

Hi Mani,I love your each

Hi Mani,
I love your each and every recepie, all of them are very simple to make. Also I am inspired by the way you start the recipes with a little story which gives a personal touch to your creation. Keep up good work and good luck!!

Keerti Juneja

“Great Work”

I have known Mani for more than a year now. I have never seen a lovely, caring, multitasking, talented women like her.
I really like and an avid reader of her blogs. Her writing style is very impressive and easy to understand.
Her recipes are unique as well as healthy.
I am a big admirer of her Rendezvous series. Her series exemplify that the women are capable of so many things.
Thanks so much for doing a great job!

Shakun Malhotra

great job!!

Great Job!! A nice food blog to follow on web!


The best blogger ever!!

Excellent blog gingeritup !! Always giving 💯 to the receipes which are easy to follow because of her creative writing style and her series Rendezvous is always the best !! I wait to read about this series each month since she started writing about this.

Renu handa
Saffron Indian Cuisine in Charlotte

Great blogger

Gingeritup is the best blog and Mani the best blogger ever!! Her recipes are so easy to follow because of her creative writing style. Always looking forward to see and follow her recipes !! Keep up the good work!! Best wishes !!

Sunil handa
Saffron Indian cuisine in Charlotte

A superb initiative!

Ginger It up has been a superbly thought & well-executed blog. Seeing it among one of the most popular food blogs makes me feel proud. Mani Dee has come so far with this baby of hers. There are many blogs over the internet which provides recipes & numerous cuisines. What Ginger It up brings on the table is its niche which has been carved out by her. I loved the concept of bringing authentic Indian recipes & sharing an interesting experience along with. It was a very unique & good idea which gives the reader a sense of personalized touch & in a way the reader can form a connection with that.
Her passion for food & writing goes way back!! I wish this website a stupendous growth ahead in the upcoming year! Hope to see many new cuisines with that personalized experience! 🙂


Tarun Chawla

Thank you for Sharing Amazing Recipes

Hi Mani,
I just wanted to thank you for sharing amazing recipes. I have finally found a chef and recipe author whose creations are absolutely infallible. You have inspired me amazed me with every new recipe, and made cooking exciting..
Your recipes are well thought easy to cook and darn good..
Keep up the good work..

Amee Punjabi

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About Me

Welcome Readers, I am Mani Mukhija. Thanks much for stopping by 'Ginger-it-Up'. I am an IT professional by qualification and currently live in Toronto, Canada. I am a Globe Trotter. My blog was born in the "Queen City- Charlotte" in United States and is growing in the "Land of Maple Leaf", Canada !! And now that you’re here, please connect with me, stay longer and don’t be a stranger. Please leave a comment, a note or follow along.