Friday, June 13, 2014

Moving on.....

After many months of paralyzing indecisiveness, I have finally decided to move to WordPress. You can now find me at

I’ve made this move after a lot of thought and not without some sadness. If I had held on for another four months, this blog would have completed 10 years this October. 10 years! It sounds incredible. And this blog has witnessed my journey from adolescent to adult in these last many years. My older posts often make me wince and cringe, but equally often make me smile; and they remind me of the person I used to be.

But in the last one year, I have lost my blogging mojo. I hadn’t written a single post in 2013. I’ve always been an erratic blogger, but this was the first time since I started blogging in 2004 that I went a whole year without a single post. I needed a drastic change to get me going again – and moving to a new blog seemed like a good idea.

Of course, practical concerns played a big part in this decision. WordPress seems more user-friendly and customizable, whereas I struggle with even basic formatting on blogger. My blogger account settings are messed up – my Google/Blogger account is linked to an old Yahoo email – and this makes commenting on other blogs a massive pain. Moreover, my RSS settings are also weird, and don't allow other bloggers to follow me. Finally, almost all the bloggers I follow are on WordPress so this move would make commenting and following easier.

So, thank you for your patience, and for reading and commenting all these years. Like I keep saying, your comments really make my day. I hope you will continue to read and continue to encourage me to write at

See you on the other side!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy Fridays

Have you heard ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams? It’s one of the most infectious, fun, happy songs ever.

So infectious, in fact, that cities across the world have been shooting ‘happy videos’ for this song. So about six weeks ago, a friend shared the happy video for Bangalore on Facebook. And I was so taken by the idea that I spent the whole Saturday looking at happy videos from across the world. I shared some of the videos with a friend from Vizag, saying ‘we should do this for Vizag’.

Now, that would have been the end of that. Except that I tore an ankle ligament and ended up with a badass cast for about three weeks. This happened exactly at the beginning of my three week vacation - during which time I was supposed to go trekking in Nepal – so all travel plans were cancelled and I found myself sitting at home in Vizag with nothing to do all day. That’s when the idea of a happy video for Vizag began to really take shape.

Some seven of us got together one Friday evening to discuss it, spent the next day planning, and started shooting from Sunday morning. We managed to get over 35 people to take part in the video, which we shot in just four days. We spent another week editing the video before finally uploading it on YouTube.

It’s been just a little under two weeks since we uploaded the video, and we’re close to a 100,000 views already! We’ve been featured in three local newspapers and one magazine. We’ve been approached by commercial establishments offering to sponsor the video! And we’ve received overwhelmingly warm and positive responses for the video from people across the world. Nike, who directed the video, is so inspired by the response that he is now working on a short film that he wants to do next.

So all I really wanted to say in this post is: go watch our video, right now! And I promise it’s going to make you happy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Hello Again

Alright, I know I just disappeared for the last year and a half without so much as a by your leave. It’s the longest I’ve gone without blogging. And I don’t really have any valid excuses for the disappearance. Except that I just couldn’t bring myself to put pen to paper…..or finger to keypad.

And while I do have a draft explaining all that I’ve been upto in the last year and a half, you don’t want to read it. I mean, even *I* don’t want to read it. So this post, it’s just going to be about the here and now and it’s going to be all positive and sunny.

Two weeks ago, I joined my dream organization. My aunt tells me that I wanted to work here right from my undergraduate days. I don’t remember that, but this has been my dream organization for the last many years, so I am indeed very excited to be here. Every time I look at my ID card, I feel a thrill of excitement. Every morning when I come into office and see the organization logo, I can’t help but grin. I am also *this* close to sending emails to myself, just so I can see my own official email address in my inbox, but have thankfully resisted so far!

Now this is all well and good, but I am not really a full-time employee here, but only a consultant on a contract for a few months. But that’s enough for me for now – I atleast have a foot in the door –and hopefully this will eventually lead to even bigger and better things. So yes, after a string of disappointments over the last one year, I’m finally at a very happy place.

I’ve also moved to Delhi two weeks ago, to take up this new job. I was ambivalent about moving to Delhi – and the husband was downright unhappy about it – but it’s been lovely so far. We stay in a little house (little being the operative word here) in one of the loveliest areas in South Delhi. The windows look out on to the park behind the house. There’s nothing nicer than sitting down with a book in the living room couch, while looking out on to that view. Or waking up to see a lush and rain soaked park from the bedroom window.

When we step out of the main gate, we find ourselves in front of a 13th century pillar built during the time of Alauddin Khilji. And a few more steps lead us to the park behind our house, which houses a 17th century building from the Tuqhlaq dynasty. It’s incredible to be living in the midst of so much history! A little further is *yet* another park, this one equipped with a jogging/walking track, and sellers of fresh fruits and flowers lined along its walls. There are atleast four parks within a 50 metre radius of my house! I wanted to post pictures but I dropped my phone and cracked it, and now it needs to be repaired before I can use it *sob*

The weather is still rather nice. The city may have bid goodbye to spring, but summer is yet to arrive; so it’s actually very pleasant right now, and we’re trying to make the most of what’s probably the last of the good weather before summer bears down on us. I’m usually home by 6pm so there’s enough light to still go for a stroll in the park and enjoy the mild breeze.

We’re off to Rishikesh for the long weekend. We set out early on Friday morning, and will return by Sunday evening. We will be staying at resort owned by a friend – it looks lovely in the pictures and has been getting very good reviews, so I am quite looking forward to staying there. Nike plans to go white water rafting. I wish I could join him, but I injured my ankle a month ago and have been advised against physical activities for the next one month, so I’m going to resign myself to playing cheerleader. For my part, I’ll be carrying along a few books and doing the three things I’m best at – reading, eating and sleeping.

Have a good weekend. And while I make no promises, I hope to see you on the other side of the week! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Trip of a Lifetime

So all that day dreaming about exotic locations has finally paid off. I'm writing this post from Paris! The first stop in a ten week long adventure.

You can read all about it here. It's a travel blog I started many years ago, and completely forgot about. I am planning to use that space now as a journal for this trip.

I'm also going to cheat a bit, and reproduce the same post here (just in case you don't feel like clicking the link above!)

So Nike and I have just set out on what we think is going to be the trip of a life time – 10 weeks traveling across Europe and Asia. We started from home on 14th October 2012 and we will be back again on 3rd January 2013.
Nike quit his job in May and has been working virtually as an independent consultant since then. I quit my job in September to study further. However, my further study plans didn’t quite work out due to certain unexpected circumstances that came up in the last minute.  That was a massive disappointment, but suddenly we found ourselves with the time and the money to do a crazy trip like this before plunging back into the corporate world.
There were some initial reservations about doing a trip like this – the time, the effort, and the money involved in a ten week trip are rather intimidating. I think what really helped us was that we were both mentally prepared to be broke, maybe even in debt, by the time I finished my course by the end of next year. Now we weren’t going to be broke or in debt because of exorbitant tuition fees – so we thought “Okay, let’s spend this tuition fee fund on travel instead. We learn more by travelling than than by sitting in a classroom”. That’s cheesy, I know, but hey, we just needed an excuse!
We don’t really have a fixed itinerary. For now, we have spent a week in Paris. We are then flying into Romania, where we will spend about five days. Its an open itinerary after that – we are thinking of doing a loop around the Balkans – Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia –  and then one of the Eastern European capitals, before making our way to Italy, where we will spend another week or ten days.
I’ve been to most of Western Europe as well as to the major cities of Eastern Europe so I wanted to do something very different this time, and yet I wanted to go to Europe again. This tentative itinerary seems perfect for us. We want to keep it open: we will stay back longer if we like a place, and we will leave quicker if we don’t. We may even completely change our itinerary midway if we come across something more interesting.
Travelling independently around the Balkan region is also quite challenging for us. We don’t personally know anyone else who’s travelled around this region before, so we find this part of the trip intimidating. But I think that’s actually great because it will make us step out of our comfort zone, and rediscover the challenges of travel.
After seven weeks in Europe, we will fly from Rome to Kuala Lumpur. My cousin, who lives in Malaysia, is getting married in December so we are going there for the wedding. My family will also be joining us there. We will be spending a week in Klang, Malaysia for the wedding festivities. Everyone, including Amma, is leaving after that; but Dad, Samee, Nike and I are staying back and visiting the Borneo Islands for a week.
Once we are back in KL from Borneo, my father and sister will leave for India; Nike and I fly to Koh Samui, Thailand. We will be there for a week – we intend to snorkel, get massages and chill on the beach at the end of a long trip. We will be spending New Years Eve there, and will be joined by Nike’s brother and his wife. We will then spend about 2 days in Bangkok, and finally back home.
Phew! I know! It’s a long, long trip. For me, the biggest challenge has been packing – winter wear for Europe, wedding wear for Malaysia, beach wear for Thailand. I’m lugging around a 20kg suitcase that looks like it will explode any minute. I’m not proud. I’ve however convinced Nike to put all his stuff into a 7kg backpack. Of that, I’m proud.
I hope to blog about this trip as regularly as possible. I’d like to post here at least twice a week; but I’m not making any promises. Like with everything else, let’s see how it goes ;-)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Down, but not Out

So remember the exciting new phase that I was looking forward to? Well, it didn’t happen. I don’t want to get into details, but let’s just say that this Big Change that was supposed occur in September, which would put me in a very exciting place in terms of career and location, didn’t quite work out for reasons that were beyond my control. I’d been looking forward to it from January, and couldn’t wait for the year to go by and for September to come soon enough. But when September did finally come, it brought with it the news that the Big Change wasn’t meant to be.

Of course, I’m very upset and extremely disappointed. I’d been dreaming about this for the whole year. I quit my job end of last month in anticipation of this. I shopped, I went to Bangalore to bid farewell to my friends there, I bought flights tickets, I spoke to movers, I made a to-do-list. I went on holiday, and then went home to Vizag to spend time with the parents before I was off. And then I found out I wasn’t going after all, that it wasn’t happening. 

I could even now probably go and join back my old job, but I think it’s time for me to move on. This job has been quite an experience, but I think I’m ready to move on another role now. But I need a break before I can plunge back into work again - I had imagined the Big Change for a whole year, I can’t just go back to work now as if nothing has happened.

I’m in Vizag still, and keeping myself very, very busy. Nike and I are planning a long holiday somewhere. The end of the holiday will coincide with a two week family trip to Malaysia for Cousin K’s wedding. I also need this time to think through what I should do next that will best suit my long term career goals – I have a number of interesting options ahead of me, but I want to make a careful choice in terms of what fits in with my career plans.

Meanwhile, here is what has been keeping me busy in Vizag for the last couple of weeks:

  • I’m taking a course “History of the World since 1300” on Coursera. For a huge history buff like me, this course is absolutely fascinating. It’s the second week into the course, and I’ve learnt about Genghis Khan, the Black Death, the Ming Dynasty, Christendom and Islam, Discovery of America, the Columbian Exchange, Colonialism and the Baroque Era. The course is offered by a fantastic professor from Princeton University. I CANNOT wait for the next couple of classes. The best part? It’s completely free! Do check out – they have close to 200 courses across a wide range of subjects, offered by professors from some of the world’s best universities; and all this absolutely free. Do, do, do check it out – I cannot recommend it enough! 
  • I’m finally brushing up on my very rusty driving skills (I use the word very loosely here). I go driving for an hour every day. Of course, considering I am driving in Vizag, I’m rather sceptical about this practice being of any use if I have to drive in a bigger city with more traffic. Still; I had been developing a massive mental block against driving, and this driving practice has been very helpful in removing that mental block to some extent.
  • I have also taken up a home improvement project of sorts. If you know the condition of my house, you will realise how physically demanding this project is, and also, how impossible it is. The maid and I spent three days just to clear up the guest bedroom and convert it into a room for Nike and me. One day was spent cleaning up and re-arranging the dining room. Other little projects – removing an AC from one room and replacing it in another, clearing up and re-arranging the open shelves in the parents room, dusting and re-arranging the books on the library shelves, getting a new side table, getting the dining chairs repaired, getting new bath curtains etc. – take up a few hours in a day. I belong to a family of hoarders; Amma leads admirably on this front, storing every little thing that strays into the house, even if it’s just a pamphlet from a few years ago. Samee is not far behind, refusing to throw away toiletries even if they are beyond the expiry date. And Dad just keeps piling up his old papers; convinced that they will be of some use in the distant future (he is probably dreaming of a time when paper will replace money or something). I’ve mercifully been spared this vice, and in fact, am quite ruthless about disposing things that I feel are of no use, and have almost no attachment to material things. But clearing the home of a family of hoarders is still quite an uphill impossible task. Our maid is quite wonderful – very enthusiastic about all these projects and extremely efficient. But for all that, I’m sure she’s counting the days to when I would leave.  
  • I'm reading quite voraciously too. I’m right now in the middle of a five part series on Genghis Khan by Conn Iggulden. I keep breaking the series up with lighter reads like Wodehouse or Georgette Heyer, and it feels good to go back to my old reading habit after what seems like ages. 
  • I have signed up for an online volunteering project. I am yet to receive a final confirmation of whether or not I have been assigned to the project, so I don’t want to talk too much about it before that happens. But I hope it works out, and it works out soon, because I am excited to be working on it. 
  • I'm also spending quite a bit of time thinking about what I want to do next, researching possible options, talking to people in the sector. I have a tendency to just go along with the flow, but I have over six years of work experience now, and feel that my next move will be very critical in terms of the direction my career will take. I don’t want to do anything hasty at this stage, and want to think through this very carefully before deciding on what to do next. 
  • Some amount of my day goes into day dreaming about the long trip we intend to take next month. We are so far considering the US, New Zealand, Europe (which will mostly be the Balkans), and Asia (Bhutan, Thailand and Myanmar). Sometimes, all our talk of these distant and exotic lands convinces me that we aren’t actually doing this trip, but just discussing this to pass the time, and cheer ourselves up – the exchange rates aren’t helping either! 
  • I'm also FINALLY getting the time/energy to finish off a lot of little errands that I have been neglecting for many months now – getting new lens/glasses, submitting documents to the bank, redeeming credit card points, settling outstanding bill – little things like that which I tend to neglect in the daily business of living.

Phew! I think that’s about it. I had actually added a few more on my wish-list (specifically, swimming classes, and a community project) but I don’t have time to do this much. I’m trying to wake up early so I have enough time through the day to do all that I want to do. It helps to make to-do lists for the next day before I go to sleep, and I get a huge kick from ticking them off the next day. 

I can’t say I’m happy. I’m just not unhappy. I think I’m over the disappointment, but something happens to remind me of it, and I feel blue for a little while after that. But nothing can keep me down for too long. For now, I’m fairly content with my busy schedule, in fact, rather pleased with myself because I’m doing so much in my break, and I’m looking forward to my holiday and to whatever will happen next.

P.S: Does blogger have the world's worst formatting or what? It took me so much longer to format this post that to write it! (It shows, you say?) I've been thinking of moving to wordpress for a long time now, and this stupid formatting is really convincing me I should just do it.