Dec 30, 2014

2014, the Year that was…

Its become almost a tradition, I noticed, me writing my year in review post towards the end of the year. And yes, I kinda like it, though I intend to change the documentary-ish tone I’ve used in the old posts. :-)

I’ve stopped saying if it was a good year or a bad one, because its all about perspective. I definitely had fun, loads of it in this year too. Some new friends and some old have made the year very eventful, and as usual, I am grateful for having met them - each one of them, even if I don’t talk to them as often as I want, or the ones that I see almost every weekend.

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I guess I’ve stuck to the mantra – Always have a non-work-related-side-project, pretty seriously. There hasn’t been a time in this year in which I didn’t have a side-project I wasn’t pursuing. There is a blackboard in the house that I log these in, to serve as reminders on what I should be doing if I ever tell myself that I am getting bored. And no, I haven’t been bored in a while, thank God, for that!

So there has been some crazy spray painting towards the end of the year, and some passionate quilt making plan that is yet to take off, to a beautiful bottle waiting to be painted with chalkboard paint, to all those yellow leaves in my pretty tall bamboos waiting to be cut, there are always things I could/should be doing.

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And then, there are always books, thank God for that too. I don’t ever remember a time I wasn’t reading, and there has never been a time I was able to fall asleep without reading, even if it is some article I’ve bookmarked to read on my phone. Books and reading have become so integral to my life that I don’t think they are hobbies anymore, they are just a part of me. Going by the sheer number of books I read this year, as compared the years before, you can say I’ve slacked off. But who will go on those crazy TV series marathons if I bury my nose in the book? And who will laugh like crazy when my friends are all having fun at someone’s dining table? So yeah, I’ve taken a conscious decision to not let any of my side-projects get in way of the good time I could be having with people I love. That’s a constant this year, and I can’t be more thankful for that!

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There has been decent travel, I must say, and that doesn’t include the fiasco that came up in December. New Zealand will have to wait for another time, I guess, when I will remember to check the tickets before packing the bags and making plans. God alone knows I cannot survive another oops-the-flight-was-yesterday moment, everyone I know will rip apart whatever little of me is left now. There were work related trips to Uncle Sam, and one trip to London that I took myself on. And then, there was the annual vacation that was Goa, where I redefined vegetating, to this extent that we might not be going back to Goa for a while now. That was our 6th time in 9 years there, so I guess even Goa wanted a break from us. This was also where the husband and I redefined meanness, nothing else will justify standing in front of the wedding banner and laughing at the English and the groom’s pose on it, no? Hampi is definitely a highlight, and a place we will visit again. A comfortable distance from Hyderabad, great locations to shoot and on my favorite NH7, what else can we ask for!

IMG_7794Ruins, ruins and more ruins.

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I think I’ve moved on from being a food photographer, because there wasn’t a lot of it this year, as much as am not proud of it. Yes, I haven’t been experimenting a whole lot in the kitchen, but going by the sheer number of good moments we’ve had around my dining table (thanks to the Bread Baking class I’ve taken, and the hand-made pizzas as a result of that), I have definitely entered the kitchen this year. And if you are one of those who has eaten the pizza I made, thank you, you’ve kinda fulfilled a dream I’ve had for a long time.

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The focus with the camera was on landscapes, especially towards the latter half of the year. Yes, I was also preparing to shoot good pics in the now-cancelled-trip-to-NZ, but I’ve enjoyed this time with the camera and I know there is more to come. Husband, as usual is excited about this, and now wants to arm me with better gear in that respect… so lets see how far I go.

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This is also the year I realized that I am human after all. Nothing else explains the warm feeling I felt when Mom started reading the newspaper after her cataract operation, or the fact that I miss her sometimes. To add to that, I also am kinda missing my in-laws who have been guests at Uncle Sam’s house for a while now. So yeah, I think I am human after all, with feelings for people who are not me and the husband.

I dare not mention the word fitness here, because the activities on that front are zilch. Yes, there was this 5K and a Duathlon that I did, but I alone know how I finished them. There are a few friends who inspire me with their regime, also willing to pull me into that, but I am a lazy ass. And I NEED to lose the weight I’ve put on in the last couple of years!

Work has been great, as it always has been. I like what I do, and it keeps me happy. Anything more I say about this will be beating the cliché so I will not. There are some activities I’ve been doing at work for some years now, which are not work-related. Another item to add to that list is the new mentoring thing am a part of, which is fulfilling and learning at the same time. Interacting with such smart college girls makes me think of the potential I probably carried back then, and also teaches me so much every time I meet them.

The side projects am pursuing now will continue to 2015 too. I don’t think I’ll have super aggressive reading goals, 50 books a year is a decent number. I’ll probably move to genres I haven’t explored before. There will definitely be more on the photography front. I will not mention travel here because am yet to regain the lost confidence at planning and taking flights on time. And the focus will again be on hanging out with the right people. People who are positive, and from whom I can learn. That’s all that makes the difference!

Dec 22, 2014

Things I don’t want to forget…

The past couple of weeks have been a mess. I screwed up a major holiday plan, because oh well, I was over-confident about my planning ability. I realized the f**k-up on the day we were supposed to have travelled, and so we cancelled the tickets. I thought I'd cry, because I had wasted a ton of money, and called the husband in the hope that he'd yell at me, and I can then cry. I wanted to cry. No, he didn’t yell. And I laughed about the screw-up with a bunch of good friends over some rum, and life was good. But I realized I hadn't cried at all. Not a single tear, at what was otherwise a very anticipated, and could've been a great holiday. I also didn’t cry over the money I lost, and at around midnight, in the middle of all the laughing I started crying. Or an attempt to cry. Again, no tears. That’s when a friend pointed out that the reason I wasn’t able to cry, probably was because the husband was being supportive, and hasn’t yelled at me even once! The minute I realized the screw-up, he got me home and worked on problem-solving. And hasn’t mentioned it all even once. :-)

This morning, the husband sent me a link to a video they shot of him at work. It was a minute long, and in it, he was talking about some good work his team has done. I had to listen to the video three times to actually get what he was saying, because the third time I realized I was grinning silly at his picture on my computer, and the grin he throws in the middle of some words. Oh, I loved to see him on screen, and he looked good too, yes. When I tell that to him, he says immediately that he isn’t going to shave off the beard now. Apparently this is the first time I said he looks good, when he had his beard on. :) [He knows my love for bearded men, but is miffed that I press him to shave it away. But alas, none of it is fruitful, the man does what he wants, with his hair and beard.]

Anyhoo… I've been married to him for almost a decade. And I felt silly grinning as he grins in the video, and silly coz I replayed the video three more times, and saved an offline copy for future viewing. :). I felt proud and it felt good. .

And then , there is this constant reminder of his colorblindness. The man can't differentiate between some shades of pink and blue, and its genetic. He inherited it from his mother's side of the family, and all his cousins have it. It's even a source of laughter when the family gets together and some discussion about color comes up. No one believes it, and I don’t let him forget it, with whatever snippets I can recollect at the moment, and recount them at gatherings :)

In spite of this now-famous-condition of his, the man insists on coming curtain shopping with me and having a say in the colors of the curtains. He wants the colors to look good to his eyes, it seems, which is why we only had bright orange colored curtains in our house for a long time. Yes, I find this adorable. I find it super cute that he insists on knowing colors like mauve, brown and teal.

The best of this is when he is packing my lunch boxes, or closing the lids of other boxes/bottles at home. Sample this -

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Yeah, he doesn’t accept that this is a mismatch, and every time, literally every single time I see this, I smile and gush. Like a silly little girl. :)

Couple of years ago, I wrote a post about how I miss the butterflies in my stomach , but love the fact that I'm in a stable relationship etc. But I feel now that the butterflies you feel in the stomach at the prospect of new love actually matures into something else… an adult version of those butterflies… akin to what I am feeling now, as I write this post.

We were two people who met only because marriage between us looked like a possibility. It was a modern kind of an arranged marriage, and we'd known each other only for just 2 weeks before we got engaged, and almost immediately got married. When we decided to get engaged, we weren't in love (he claims he was :-) ), we knew that we hadn't compromised on anything we wanted in a partner and so knew for sure that we'd be in love soon. We didn’t force love, luckily, we didn’t need to. It took its time, but when it did, I knew it was going to stay. There were never any grand gestures of love before, there aren't many now.

I can't recollect how and when I realized I was head over heels in love with him, and I know I can't every few days if I still love him. It's when I feel like how I felt today is when I know that the love I felt when I felt it first has only grown to what it is now…

[PS : The title of this post is inspired from this series. :-)]

Nov 15, 2014

Memories…

Let me just start with a disclaimer that I am not a sentimental person. For a very short while in my early twenties, I thought I was but I can now safely say that those days are behind me. I don’t know what label you can give to a person like me now, but I am now someone who enjoys the moment in the Now without wanting to do anything else with it. Every relationship I get into, I take it with a pinch of detachment, yet being attached to it. I work on it with a full heart, but I know that nothing is permanent, or I keep telling myself that, so I don’t fall in love with the moment. I have stopped falling in love with ‘things’. Am trying to not be in love with people also, but then, we all know that never happens. Self-preservation or cynicism, call it whatever you want!

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That said, the above two objects mean a lot to me. They both remind me of two once-very-important people, both of whom I don’t talk to anymore. I have not lost a lot of friends over these years, in fact very few. Most of them have just fallen out of touch, and I know I can pick up the thread from where we both dropped it. Some of them have fallen out of touch with willingness from both sides, we just weren’t meant to be. But there have been just a few whom I can never pick up the thread with, with whom I might never get back in touch. Such are the ways life has transpired between us. And no, I don’t pine for them, I don’t even think of them… Not consciously at least, as I just recently noticed.  I thought I’ve taken ‘letting go’ to be an almost-art-form.

Oct 16, 2014

That default setting…

I once read somewhere that if you want to sound intelligent , just quote David Foster Wallace. :-)
I haven’t read Infinite Jest, and so I do not know his real literary prowess. And I think its slightly pretentious to quote him, but then we all know that I have a bad judgmental side to me. More on that later in this post.

Its well known that the guy is a literary genius, and people have lamented at his sudden self-inflicted death. As a side note, what's it with very brilliant people being totally sanki, aka screwed up? Before I completely digress, let me get back to David Foster Wallace, one of those authors I’ve been quoting a lot lately.

So yeah, people have said that he is literary genius. And by people, I mean Maria Popova of BrainPickings.Org whom I totally admire. Not only is the lady awesome, her writing and her recommendations are awesome too!

Image Courtesy – Transparent Cities

Oct 12, 2014

On the road

Did you read the book by Jack Kerouac? Supposed to be a classic, so read it! :-)
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Though it is not supposed to remind me of happy things, this book, especially the title makes me fondly think of long drives, on dusty roads with no other human in sight. The book, in spite of all the grimness it has makes me think of intimacy, adventure and a lifetime of experience!
This picture sums it all up greatly for me.
Picture Courtesy – Pinterest

Oct 8, 2014

I love my brain!

Yes! :-D And no, modesty has never been my most strongest trait.

Yes, I know it could certainly be better.
Behave better. Learn more. Love a lot more. Hate a lot less. Feel things. Be transient to emotions. Be more self-aware.

Oh, there are tons of things I know my brain could’ve been, but then, this is all I got, right? And I gotta live with it, and work on what’s there to make it better.

And that’s where I bring in passion.

I can't remember how it all began, but a couple of years ago, I noticed myself using the word ‘passion’ a lot more, and not just in work meetings to pump up my team, but also at home. [I blame the Maslow's Hierarchy of needs , including the Wi-Fi for this ;-)]
The husband and I decided a couple of years ago that we would work for passion and only passion going forward. [Don’t ask me how that is going!] We decided that we’d follow/do all those things that our brain takes fancy in, and thankfully, have been able to follow through with it, largely. We don’t do the things we don’t want to do, most of the times. I know that makes us sound selfish, but that has never stopped anyone before, has it?

Don't even bother trying to process what Sharanya is doing!

There are a bunch of things I dabble in at any given point of time, and off late, I even managed to write them all down on a chalkboard so that I don’t lose track of these various passions of mine. I don’t set a timeframe for any of them, coz that only adds to the pressure, but I definitely get to each of them, in its own due time, as my fancy brain picks up a random item off the list. And I hop. Hop like a silly butterfly from one item to another, yet again, letting the brain’s fancy take lead.

Oct 6, 2014

Wanderlust?


A couple of days ago, a friend told me that she was flying to Bangkok for just the weekend. I knew that this was her first trip out of the country, so I was confused on why would she do that for just a weekend? There was so much to Bangkok, that even after having spent 3 days just in that place, I left with a feeling that I should go back there again, which am going to do for sure, in future.

Her reasons were justified, she couldn’t plan one by herself and wanted to follow her friends when they were going. This didn’t reduce the confusion I had - How ON EARTH can you experience a place in just a weekend, especially if you keep yourself busy throughout the time there?

Bangkok was my first non-Indian-city to visit too. I was excited at my first international trip. I was 26, and chided myself at having gone anywhere out before - everyone I knew had traveled to a different country before. I was nervous as I boarded the flight by myself at the Hyd airport, was glad to find someone I knew at the airport, with whom I hitched a ride to the hotel , which thankfully happened to be the same for us both.

Tower in the Grand Palace - Bangkok
The nervous feeling lasted till the minute I reached Sheraton, and saw the note the husband left for me at the reception.

Sep 30, 2014

The language enigma

For years I've walked past this building, always telling myself that I am going to come back here someday and take up one of their courses. I didn’t know then that this was some kind of a learning institute. The building only evoked a strong feeling of I-HAVE-go-inside-and-sit-here.



It is from this building, and from those years that a seed to learn Urdu was planted in my head, I guess. I even acted on it for a while, honestly. It helped that the husband had a similar thought, the linguistic couple that we are , and so we both set about learning it.

Sep 28, 2014

Americanah

<<This review is first posted on my Goodreads profile here>>
Nigeria has fascinated me for the past few years, thanks to Adichie, The other two books of hers have interested me greatly, and I was glad to discover a different side to Nigeria, the one that is intelligent, rich and prosperous, not the one we are otherwise used to knowing, full of princes wanting to give us money over the internet or the one that we generally put in the same category that we reserve to African countries … that place in our heads that’s reserved for some pity, some shudder and a sigh at a lost continent.

Sep 27, 2014

One of those Sundays

This is one of those happy, peaceful, contented Sundays. For all the impatience I have in wanting to get out of the kitchen and hence having to finish up early, there is something very nice about a bustling kitchen, even if the food being cooked is just for the two of us.

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Bread pudding is being tried, some of which will be treated to office friends, there is sabudana khichdi for breakfast and some karela fry stuffed with yummy nutty paste is being attempted to by the cook, and am sitting on the table in my place, reading some obscure stuff. I hid the the wine bottles that were on the table to not scandalise anyone. These was supposed to be made into sangria  by the husband, who being the busybody  that he is on some weekends is taking an interview in the study, and was supposed to be taken to a friend's place where we are brunching !

Sep 24, 2014

The story of nesting

I think nesting is in our genes. We, as women, are genetically inclined to nest. To create a nice, cozy home where we can fuss around with our family and friends. There is something incredibly relaxing about returning home and putting your feet up on your couch. It is extremely fulfilling to whip up meals for your near and dear amidst friendly banter. And it is contentment you feel as you relax in your favorite spot with a book in hand or sit in your balcony with a cup of tea or a drink in hand.
The mere fact that I feel all the above makes me feel that I am indeed a woman. I like all the above things. I like my space to be all the above. And that’s when it becomes home for me. And home is the most comfortable place for me.

It is one of the primal needs for a human, according to me. Food, Sex and Home are the most important things that drive many of our behaviors and it’s the way its evolution intended it to be. Good so far.

It’s the rest of the stuff that comes with nesting that I don’t get.

Sep 21, 2014

That first moment in love…

Can you remember it? The first moment you realized you were in love? Think about it for a moment. Just humor me.

Did you smile to yourself? Did you wish you could relive the moment? Did you just do that little trip down the memory lane? It is a beautiful trip, isn’t it?

That first instance when you realized you love the person you are with. And that its not just like, and you want to be with that person more, may be a lifetime. And you more than just like everything about that person.

There is something about this feeling that warms the heart, no?

That instant when he peered at you through the mesh of his long fingers sheepishly . Or the moment you saw the moon and him in the same frame and thought , this is it. Or when you lean on to him in a moving train and look at the moon together , and sing songs familiar to you?

Yeah, I cherish those moments. They make living fun. :-D

Sep 17, 2014

Writer’s block and what not…

Oh, what a joy it is to finish reading a book you've loved. And yet, what a pain it causes in your heart at having finished it. A deep, numbing pain, and a wish that the book has a sequel . Or may be there are some pages of it left unread somewhere. And the hope you have as you are nearing the end, hoping it doesn’t end, hoping all goes well with the characters you've so grown to love and hoping that there is some more, just a little more.

Yes, I am still in the hangover of this feeling. I just finished reading a book I thoroughly enjoyed and felt, and as I hit the 100% mark, I felt the longing and the wish that there was some more of the book. I wanted to share it somewhere. The husband understands perfectly how I feel , the passionate reader that he is, but I wanted it to be some place more permanent. And that’s when I realized I have a blog, a place I love yet something I've neglected a lot in the past few months. A place which I've stopped visiting myself because I felt bad at having neglected it. Writer's block, you see. :-)

But if I didn’t write now, after having gone through an emotional upheaval and not expressed it here, I figured I would never return to writing, a love more than a hobby of mine of sorts.

I've been good. Life's been good, and I've been jolly with it. The same old stuff that I'd say to a friend I haven't spoken to , in years. But here I can be honest, can't I? :-)

Aug 6, 2014

Gratitude Giving

So, I've been tagged to post 3 things am thankful for , for the next 5 days.
This is going to be generic, and not just for this day, coz I have a lot of things am grateful to the Universe for, and my moment of epiphanies cant happen in the middle of a busy day . :-)

Gratitude - Day 1

1. As sappy as it sounds, I am grateful for having found love. And it really makes me feel complete.
2. I am glad that I have t...he opportunity to talk about self-actualization, feminism, freedom and all other stuff like this. I think about what keeps me going often, and I try to work on that. I am grateful that I get a chance to follow my heart, very often. And I can do all of this because all my other basic needs are taken care of, which I cannot thank the Universe enough for.
3. I am very glad that I have a choice. I have a choice at everything I do, at work, in life and in general. And I exercise it. Even if I am lounging on my couch for an entire day watching a silly sitcom or if am toiling on my computer for 14 straight hours or I spend the entire night reading a book and crying over the characters, I do it only after I have asked myself if I want to do it. 80% of the times, at least.