Superpowers alert!

Venue: Home
Date: 05/01/21, Saturday

1:30 AM: I donned my eye mask and hit the sack. I heard a car screech.
It was the husband and his phone. He had decided to search for a good night’s sleep in car-racing videos. I decided that 1:30 AM was too late to have a conversation about one’s sleeping habits. I wondered if I could instruct my brain to hear sounds selectively – ignore the car-racing and only hear either his voice or if my phone rang (in case of emergencies). That would be perfect! One thing led to another, and I ended up thinking how amazing it would be to have the following superpowers –

Selective hearing: How cool would it be if you could hear only selected sounds? Imagine you stay in Mumbai near a Metro construction site. You could completely turn off the construction noise using the technique, and live through the Metro construction process peacefully! You could tune into nature sounds when you want some peace. Wouldn’t that be great? Of course, there are cons, but we won’t go there.

Intuition: How many mistakes could have been avoided if we knew an attempt was going to fail? If we had strong intuition, all of us would have dabbled with cryptocurrencies and the stock market and made loads of money. Strong intuition would have helped us make the right decisions at all times and avoid numerous heartbreaks!

Telepathy: What if we did not require Google duo/WhatsApp/Zoom/Webex to interact? What if we could communicate with others with our minds? How cool and funny would it be to be able to read each other’s minds? It would be a boon in relationships!

Teleportation: Imagine if we could teleport ourselves to different places in a matter of seconds. We could go to Italy for some pasta and wine for dinner, followed by New York for some late-night partying! Of course, some places would be more crowded than the others. We would also be able to live in our home countries and teleport ourselves to work every day. Won’t that be a dream come true?

Trans-medium existence: Why only walk on land? What if we could breathe underwater as we breathe on land? We could set up cities underwater, hang out with mermaids, race with dolphins, and fly alongside the birds!

Healing powers: Wolverine and the other X-Men can heal themselves. What if we could heal not only ourselves but also nature? What if we could avoid forest fires and restore the glaciers? We could reinstate the balance of nature.

Understand all languages: What would it be like to understand and speak all languages? We could decipher the carvings from temples, pyramids, and old scriptures. Imagine the ocean of knowledge we could dive into!

Mind control: Bored of cooking, cleaning, and the endless laundry? What if all you needed to do was ‘think’ of a chore, and it would be done automatically? What if you thought of pasta sitting on your bed and it was already ‘cooked’ and ready to be served by the time you stepped into the kitchen? What if you could control all gadgets using your brain too?

Personal weather control: Do you like the rain and your partner does not? Do you like gloomy weather but live in a desert with no clouds? Personal weather control could help you set up the weather for yourself. You could enjoy a rainy afternoon in Arizona and feel the sunshine on yourself in Iceland! Imagine all the greenhouse gas emissions we would avoid!

One earth: This is not much of a superpower but food for thought. What if all of us were treated equally? What if there were no borders? What if we were NOT divided by countries/race/class/creed/medium? What if dolphins, sharks, humans, horses, and birds were treated the same? What if we could travel without visas? What if there was no concept of developing countries and third-world countries? What if Syria and Mumbai had equal opportunities? What if all areas of the earth were equally developed? What if we lived by the concept of ‘One earth’? What if we could push ourselves to think and work for a ‘higher cause’ and not fight on petty issues.

Somewhere between personal weather control and One earth, I fell asleep. I am still trying to decide which superpower I would want for myself. The concept of ‘one earth’ has stuck with me. I wish we lived in a world where every living being was considered equal.

What do you think? Which superpower would you want to have? Awaiting your thoughts in the comments.

Grim Day Diaries

My thoughts are in italics.

8:00 AM to 9:00 AM – Google search for latest updates.
I open a mobile web browser with a half-open eye. I type the following –

India News
Hospitals buckle under surge.
India’s leaders face rising public anger.
Hospitals plead for oxygen.
7-day new cases average at 280K!

Has life lost its value? How did India get into this mess? Were the political rallies necessary? Is a dip in the Ganges supposed to eradicate Covid? Why did we become complacent and stop wearing masks? Do big weddings equal a happy marriage? Is it necessary to take advantage of helpless kins by selling medicines on the black market for triple the price?

USA News
The USA has the opportunity to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic, but a major challenge lies ahead, expert says
The U.S. issued more than 115 ‘Do not travel’ advisories.
One dead, four wounded in downtown San Diego shooting, police say
Weekend shootings in Texas and Wisconsin add to the tally of Gun deaths.
What Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict means for the future of policing

Is it that easy to die? The pandemic has been hard enough. If you escape the pandemic, you could be fatally shot for traffic violations and grocery shopping. The following quote has stuck with me for a long time.

The fact that humanity has to clarify that any lives matter should be a concern enough.

– First read @Fuckology on Instagram

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM – Video calls, news, and more.
Some relatives/friends tested positive for Covid-19. Someone passed away before we sipped our morning tea. The age of people passing away is declining by the day. We talk about the vaccine, the side effects, people changing the rules of WhatsApp groups, and the increasing number of condolence messages. The bottom line is that everyone is too afraid to open WhatsApp and read something they don’t want.

News channels give you a grimmer perspective. Instagram posts are mostly pleas for medicines, oxygen, plasma for their loved ones. Everyone is trying to put together their own set of Covid-19 resources. 

Hope and faith seem to observe a downward trend these days. Everyone seems to give up a little more every day. Health is balanced by masks, kaadhas, miracle cures, yoga, pranayama, ayurvedic medicines, in-built immunity, and the hope that all of the above work. You feel helpless every time something goes wrong across the globe. Virtual support is essential.

12:00 PM to 5:00 PM: To each his own.
If you go out, you may find someone who believes they are above the virus and the vaccine. They think they won’t catch the virus because they eat healthy food and exercise. They plan to get vaccinated if the situation warrants it. 

Well, if you get the virus, you may not get the vaccine. I wonder what level of confidence one needs to not believe in masks and vaccines! If there is a diet that prevents Covid-19, let us try to benefit countries like Brazil and India at the moment. We will be happy to replace roti-sabzi with food that beats the virus. If any vaccine shot helped me build even 25% immunity against the virus, I would take it. The ones we have are far better!

If you don’t go out, there is a good possibility that you will end up arguing with someone over a virus-related forward or your opinion. If not, you will end up over-thinking about the various news/statistics you’ve read since sunrise.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is tough to gather and study all facts and figures. Stay away from myths and half-truths. The problem is that in time of need we tend to believe in every last straw and bit of information that we think may be able to help us. Avoid over-thinking. 

5:00 PM onward: Dinner and more calls.
A lot has changed between morning tea and evening coffee. Some more people got Covid-19 while some more passed away. Friends and family back home are sipping their morning tea while you update them about the recent travel bans, canceled flights, and bullets fired for no reason. They quietly listen to you while typing a ‘Get well soon!’ or ‘I am sorry for your loss’ message on WhatsApp. Some earnestly/regularly practice Yoga and Pranayama hoping that it would save them from Covid-19 when they commute to work/outside. Some believe their faith in the God(s) will act as a shield for them against Covid-19. In the end, everyone is trying to survive. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The day has already turned grimmer. You pray to the almighty for health, only health. The rest will follow. You cannot make big plans because you have no foresight into employment opportunities, jobs, immigration, love, and life. All you have is the present. You decide to cherish every moment. After dinner, you only watch light comedy to overcome the sadness that gripped you during the day. At midnight, you turn into a pumpkin. Before hitting the sack, you thank the almighty for the present, for being fortunate enough to experience it, and pray for a healthy future ahead. You hope for the world to be a healthier and safer place to live. Tathastu.

Transitioning into newer normal

Incidence 1: It was a regular afternoon with Grey’s anatomy on the television and me pretending to ‘study’. The husband walked into the living room and announced that he would have to go IN to work tomorrow for training purposes.
The panic that ensued from the announcement was very visible on my face. The husband assured me that he was only going into work and not war. I still tried to fight the decision with sentences like, “What do you mean by you have to go to the office?” and “Are you going to be away all day?” and so on.
I don’t know what made me more upset – The husband being exposed all day long or me having to live alone after a very long time. Separation anxiety seeped in. The idea of commuting to work felt alien to me.

Incidence 2: We do grocery shopping over the weekdays because weekends are lazier. We went to a grocery store over a weekend and panicked. The crowd made us uneasy. Somehow, we had dodged the crowd all these months with weekday shopping. Since we needed a few things, we decided to hurry up our purchase and checkout as soon as possible.

Incidence 3: The husband got his 1st dose of the vaccine last week. I accompanied him for the big moment. The clinic had a socially-distant seating arrangement. Through the measurement tape inbuilt in my eyes, I realized the distance between the chairs was less than 6 ft. Panic! As soon as the husband was called in for his shot, I chose to sit in the car with no AC in the scorching afternoon sun of Arizona. It is better to be tanned by the sun than by the virus.

Incidence 4: We decided to brunch at one of the best-rated brunch places in Chandler. The place was swarming with unmasked people. The waiting line was scattered yet too cozy for my taste. Of course, we left.

Incidence 5: We had quite a few things to shop and return last weekend. That required us to stay out of our safe space for longer. Despite being on a shopping spree, I found myself focused on checking time. The longer duration required for sprucing up our wardrobes made me uncomfortable. I might have let a few deals slip through for the first time in my life.

Do any of the incidences resonate with you? Are you considering a permanent WFH/hybrid structure for your job? Do you get anxious if you are away from your safe place/home for more than a defined time? Are you bothered by other folks wearing masks improperly or of bad quality? Do you feel anxious about being social and likable again? Don’t worry, you are not alone. Millions are struggling with the similar feelings now that the economies are opening up and people are expected to commute to workplaces.

WFH was not a thing when I worked for Sbux. At Visa, the first few weeks of WFH were tough – smaller screen, longer working hours, endless calls, and no separation between church and state. However, the pros outweighed the cons with no commute, lesser pollution, more time with family, lesser social anxiety, and freedom to label some pajamas as ‘work pajamas’. The video calls have made us more connected with family and friends. Never have I attended so many birthday parties/weddings/anniversary parties virtually! The pandemic made us realize how little we need to be happy! After moving back, the husband’s WFH has made life easier, beautiful, and more fun. Also, the time that he saves in the commute can be diverted to the kitchen!

I’ve been looking for ways and means to be more comfortable in social settings and here are a few tips I found on research –

  1. One thing at a time: If you have a date by which you need to start going into the workspace and start interacting socially, start one day/thing at a time.
    Start by socializing with a trusted group of friends over weekends or go in to work a day a week or more. Pace your interactions to your comfort level.
  2. Stay away from substance abuse: This could be a larger problem than you think. Some of us feel comfortable with a beer in hand or shots in our bodies. Do not rely on substances or alcohol to make yourself comfortable in social situations. Seek help if you face problems quitting.
  3. Maintain your schedule: Did you go out for walks/run while working from home? Did you help your kids with their homework during dinner time? Did you love the virtual workout classes? You can continue workout sessions, walks, and helping out your kids even after you start commuting to work. Try to keep your schedules as ‘new normal’ as possible to help you ease into newer normal.
  4. Try to maintain a healthy balance: This may require you to say ‘No’. Has the pandemic replaced Friday night Happy hour after work with long video calls with your family? Don’t want to change this year-long tradition? You don’t need to. You can always try and maintain a balance between your pandemic and post-pandemic lifestyle. Figure out what works for you and create a newer normal.
  5. Flex your working hours: Many employers are open to their employees working fully-remote/partial remote. Talk to your manager/team about new schedules.
  6. Seek help: Many of us have lost our loved ones to the pandemic. It has okay to feel sad and emotional. Seek professional help if you feel anxious and depressed more often than not. Mental health is as important as physical health.

Do you have ideas for transitioning into your newer normal? What activities from the new normal would you like to carry forward into the newer normal? I look forward to reading them in the comment section!

More to come.

New girl in the city – Chandler, AZ

Date: 02/28/21
Venue: Chandler, AZ

2:48 AM: I opened my eyes to search for the source of light/noise that woke me up. After having found no robber/alien, I decided to go back to sleep.
After a failed attempt, I opened WhatsApp. My school friends had just discovered celery juice, ayurvedic medicines, yoga, and the incessant need to reduce weight and be fit. I looked at my growing waistline and decided to do something about it as well. #noteToSelf: Change eating and drinking habits.

3:45 AM: Sleep had given me a slip. I decided to take life into my own hands and read a few chapters from Mrs.Funnybones instead of wasting time ‘trying’ to sleep.

4:45 AM: After reading a few chapters, I stopped to think. I realized that I had never stopped to think about how life has changed or the magnitude of that change. Chandler has made me a daughter-in-law and a wife. I made a quick list of changes in different aspects of life – 

Amazing Love/Married life
Marriage is what brought me here. We have come to realize the beauty of marriage. We have seen love, trust and our relationship grow every day. 

Questionable Social Life
It feels like 2nd grade all over again when I had moved to a new school and none would play with me! Jokes aside, I miss the social life, bar-hopping, feeling of belongingness, fun, and generally…knowing people. I miss my dance life! I miss throwing KJo style parties for 100 people – partly because of Covid and partly because the husband and I are at least 4 years away from knowing 100 people in the area. At present, the struggle to have a social life is real. 

Strenuous Job hunt
I don’t know where this is going. Only the Gods know the bigger picture.

5:15 AM: My eyes felt swollen. I decided to go back to bed, for real this time. As I laid down, I looked at the husband. He opened his eyes and the following conversation happened (that he has no recollection of) – 

Husband: Why aren’t you asleep?
Me: I don’t know. I am trying to go back to sleep now.
Husband: Why don’t you get up and do something fruitful?
I was amazed at my husband’s thoughtful suggestion at the unGodly hour. I knew that the apartment was a mess but I was hoping he wouldn’t ask me to do the unthinkable at this time.
Me: Do you have any ideas for me? I just read a couple of chapters.
Husband: Why don’t you apply and study?
Me: What? At 5 AM? But I want to sleep! Good night.
Both of us fell asleep. #noteToSelf: Never engage in a conversation when the husband is half-asleep. He does not remember and you get furious!

10:00 AM: I woke up swollen. My eyes felt like boiled potatoes. The husband was already on a family call. I joined in.

11:00 AM: I told the husband about last night’s half-asleep conversation. I also announced that we should be cognizant of our eating habits or may soon need karela juice and intermittent fasting to shed the extra pounds. He laughed the entire conversation off.
Brunch happened.

Noon: We decided to take an impromptu trip. We look for nearby places to visit.

12:10 PM: The much-needed cleaning spree began. I am sorry, were we not going on a trip?

2:00 PM: We left for the half-day trip.

3:00 PM: We reached Saguaro lake. Kayaks, picnic tables, barbecues, wind in the hair, and barbecues were an integral part of the scene. All we had was a packet of chips. We decided to eat barbecue-flavored chips to match up. We were not prepared to party here. #noteToSelf: Be better prepared next time.

3:55 PM: Having skipped lunch, we rushed to the only restaurant at the lake and got ourselves a table. The wind was chilly (hoodies on) and the food was yummy (french fries a must!).

5:30 PM: On our way back home, we took a detour to Fountain hills. The fountain did not go off since wind speed was higher than 10 miles per hour. The view and serenity compensated for that.

6:30 PM: We called it a day.

I realized the day is how Chandler has been. I did not know what to expect after Seattle. Life had thrown enough lemons my way. Chandler has been like a lake in the middle of a desert, a breath of fresh air and wind in my dry hair. It has been like a Cosmopolitan lined with lemon with a twist. It has been surreal, amazing, and unexpected. It has been fabulous and beautiful in very different ways. Life here has been something beyond my imagination. Here’s me hoping that life gets better in the Social life and job-hunt realm soon. 

More to come.

Of Autobots and Alien invasion – Part 1

Venue: Somewhere on earth
Time: Early morning

The following happens to you when you binge-watch Transformers and alien invasion movies before bed.

Scene 1:

It was dawn. The golden hour looked perfect. The room was pretty basic – a wooden bed, table lined with a white tablecloth, chair, and my husband, N, sleeping beside me. I look at my fancy watch for the time – 6:00 AM. This is weird because I have grown out of any kind of accessory, and wearing a watch overnight seems unlikely. I woke up and walked toward the bedroom door.

I was on the first floor. The house was made of black rocks – more like a wada. The pillars were beautifully carved like the ones in temples. All the rooms were connected by a corridor that overlooked the chowk/courtyard. Our courtyard had tulsi, a bunch of other herbs, and two Autobots (of course). Let’s call them Bee and Dragon for now. They looked comfortable. Surprisingly, my dream-self felt that herbs and alien-transformers in the courtyard were normal. Weird. As I descended the stairs, I saw my in-laws. Excellent life choice to have everyone under the (same) roof guarded by the transformers!

Scene 2:

All the family members gathered in the courtyard. N and I had been entrusted with the responsibility to go out and buy supplies (for the foreseeable future) that day. Okay, this means going out all the time was not routine. It was not related to the pandemic.

We walked on a surreal landscape. The road was more like a vast ground lined by dense forests on both sides. A fleet of jets continued to land at a distance. The sky was lined with huge spheres made from hexagonal glass-like structures. Fancy but scary. They were the extra-terrestrial beings about to attack earth. Apparently, our town/city was at the center of the attack. Fun. The month-long supplies, transformers in the courtyard, and the unending queue of fighter jets made sense then. A war was about to begin.

I panicked. I frantically started checking my phone and smartwatch for any ’emergency’ warnings from the government. I begged N to return home. He said he would go ahead and buy the supplies all by himself, and I could return home if I was scared. I was so proud of him at that moment! So brave! There were no emergency warnings yet – we still had enough time to get things done. We got all the supplies.

Scene 3:

The sun had set. The war was about to begin. The vulnerable population – population older than 60 and younger than 18, differently-abled, and a few war-volunteers had been transported to safe bunkers. I was amazed by the technological advancements we had – 

  1. Smartwatch – Everyone wore a watch that was almost imbibed in their body and connected to the pulse. The smartwatch was a fit-bit, phone, communication device, and teleportation device. If you were hurt and needed medical help, you could simply teleport yourself to the nearest designated medical bunker. You would then be transported to your assigned bunker, where you would reside till the end of the war – months, years, or decades.
  2. Bunkers – The bunkers were of different kinds – medical bunkers, temporary holding bunkers, permanent bunkers, etc. The permanent bunkers were in deep seas for safety reasons! Of course, there was a central bunker that would co-ordinate with all bunkers for better/worse. All bunkers were equipped with technology and supplies to last for a few years. Bunkers were used only in catastrophic events.
  3. Ammunition – Civilians fought alongside the Autobots and super soldiers of the earth! You could buy the arsenal at random auto-repair shops. Had the earth become so vulnerable to attacks from the outer world that auto-repair stores sold weapons of mass destruction? We went to an auto repair shop to buy more bullets! There is a sentence that I never thought I would ever write/say/think about in my life. The salesman tried to sell us deadlier weapons with a sales pitch. I was in a shady auto repair shop at midnight, in the middle of a forest, where my husband was testing his new gun. What had I gotten myself into, even if it were in my dreams! 

I heard loud thumping noises. The war had started. I opened my eyes. It was N. He was thumping his keyboard. The laptop had ceased working. 

This is it. The aliens are coming, and they have taken over a scientist’s laptop, to begin with. 

More to come.

Advice to my 25-year-old self…

Pausing the travelogue for a straight-from-the-heart post.
Date: 01/26/21, Tuesday
Venue: Chandler, AZ
Mood: Meh!
Song on my mind: I love my India from the movie ‘Pardes’ (unconventional for me, some would say!)
OOTD: Pajamas

7:30 AM: The husband and I woke up. We are digging the Arizona winter storm.

7:45 AM: *Looks at the mess* (read: in the sink. Not life). *Loads the dishwasher*

8:10 AM: *Makes tea*

8:30 AM: *Serves the tea, sits on the couch, and turns on CNN*

Somewhere between checking emails and sipping tea, I started talking to Fire. We spoke about life. We spoke about how misleading social media is – none can be that glamorous, beautiful, pretty, and thin! A trip to Seattle has been on the cards for a long time. I promised her that I’ll get on a flight the moment I receive an offer (finally). And she said the golden words. She said she was proud of my struggle and motivation regarding the job hunt. I thought it was great that she recognized it. Not many people do.

2:00 PM: Post lunch, the job hunt restarted. It’s been tough. My career has gone down different paths and domains for the past decade. I apply for roles that would allow me to apply 4/10 of my transferable skills. The way the world operated has changed during the pandemic. Your skillset will be obsolete if you don’t upskill yourself. I wonder if I could have shaped my career differently to remain more relevant in the industry at the moment. I wonder if I would have shaped my life differently had I trusted my instincts more. The past 6 years have been formative, to say the least. I wonder what I would advise my younger self for a smoother sail than I already experienced. Probably the following –

  1. Learn to let go – failures, people, situations, trash, unnecessary clothes, etc.
  2. Trust your intuition. You know what’s best for you.
  3. Steer clear of toxic people. Right now.
  4. Stay away from drama. You don’t have the brainpower for that.
  5. You will fail. Situations/entities/people will let you down. Move on. Forgive.
  6. Nobody/Nothing deserves those tears.
  7. Find the faith you lost. You will need it.
  8. Listen to the universe. Be strong enough to walk away.
  9. Do not quit.
  10. Believe that you have a beautiful life and extraordinary career ahead of you. You did not come this far to only come this far.
  11. Make the most of all opportunities.
  12. Relationships are hard. Nobody said it was easy.
  13. You are a warrior. Do not lay your sword. You picked it up for a reason.
  14. Don’t think about the past. It will be painful. Think about the future. It will be brighter than you can imagine.

4:15 PM: Ninad finally caught a break! We went and picked up the new desk from the holding room.

6:30 PM: *Starts writing this post from the new desk* While Ninad attends a meeting, I wonder if I would have done things differently had I known the tips before. Maybe I would have taken up the alternate job offer, taken some interview opportunities seriously, suffered lesser heartbreaks, not moved around the globe, and would have been more stable. Or not. I cannot decide if my life would have changed for the better/worse. The formative years have been splendid. UDub, Nike, Starbucks, and Visa with the cherry of international exposure on top? I have lived a life I could never imagine! It was meant to be. Who knows what the bigger picture is! I believe life has only begun. The beautiful bigger picture is not even half done yet. With this thought in mind, I will open LinkedIn tomorrow morning. For the rest of the evening, it’s Transformers time.

Having said that, I want to hear about your struggles and how you keep yourself motivated. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section. Gracias.

Of the new life so far…

Statutory Warning: This blog post enlists a few updates from the last few months.

I missed the blog post deadline last week, courtesy of my laptop. The laptop Gods have spoken! It does not work on WIFI anymore and needs to be supported by ethernet. Sure. This post has been written on a (physically) semi-broken laptop. I’ve decided to stay with my laptop till further damage does us apart. Loyalty.

Life at Chandler has been surreal. The husband and I have already taken more than a couple of trips around (see posts below for details); happy that the travel game is still strong. Though we have been married for more than a year we have lived under the same roof only for two months. The ‘getting to know each other’ phase has been fun. Pretty organic. Love. You sign up for this phase when you say a ‘Yes’ to having your marriage arranged.

Our apartment is almost set. We settled on this pretty (read: ticked all of our requirements) sectional couch (after having visited every furniture store in the Greater Phoenix area). We also settled on this amazing new TV. The TV stand is heavy, and it took both of us three hours to put it together. I am going to try and avoid moving apartments for life because the thought of moving the tv stand makes me cry. We visited Hobby Lobby for some quote boxes and paintings. The mixtiles have arrived as well. Our apartment looks moderately decorated. Being a minimalist is not our thing. Now I understand why every family makes Costco, Walmart, and Target runs every week. It’s the battle of the finest.

The husband is delighted that everything in the apartment (except for his wife) works either via Alexa/Google assistant or his phone. The list of devices includes tv, thermostat, lights, and the robot. Our new hobby is to follow the robot as she vacuums/mops the floor. I would like to take a moment and thank James Dizon (the Godsent person who created the first vacuum robot). Sir, thank you for making our lives easier. Big fan.

I am still trying to find a balance between being a housewife, job-seeker, and (wannabe) blogger. Writing feels like life. Being a job-seeker and housewife is life. A few days ago, I realized how comfortable I had become – something N had warned me of. It is easy to get comfortable when you’ve slogged hard for ten years, and you get a break all of a sudden. You can be in your pajamas all day, sip wine during the daytime, take long naps during the afternoons, and binge watch Netflix. The fun you have has the power to make all those years of hard work a distant memory. You need a constant supply of motivation to hustle. You need to remember your dreams again and work toward them. Don’t let the fire die. You owe it to yourself. The struggle is real. We all fail but don’t quit. As they say, “When you want to quit, remember why you started in the first place”. The only road to success is to stay motivated and keep going. Hustle. Fin.

I look forward to reading your updates in the comments section. More to come next time.

#lessonsOfLife Be kind. Work hard.

Date: 11/17/2020, Tuesday
Place: Chandler, AZ

I have moved places, people, mind, heart, and life quite a bit over the last couple of years. Life has been nothing less than a movie with all the drama. I could get a second Master’s in making lemonade from the lemons life has thrown at me.
After switching countries (again), I am back at the job market. This job hunt is like no other – we are in the middle of a recession, the pandemic is growing worse, none favors visa sponsorship, millions have lost their jobs, very few are hiring, and there is always a gap between what a role requires and what you got. My inbox is overflowing with reject emails. Motivation is hard to come by. But the following call changed things.

Monday evening: It was Padwa day. N and I decided to make Cosmos to celebrate Padwa and the new year. N is a quick learner and has mastered the art of making Cosmos.

Tuesday morning:

10 AM: I woke up with a bad headache/hangover. N was working.

That was my first hangover in a long time. To all the millennials out there – hangovers worsen with age.
10:05 AM: The phone rang. I picked it up.
A: Hello. *Husky voice* (That’s the best I could do)
Interviewer: Hello. Am I speaking with Apurva?
A: Yes, this is she.
Interviewer: Hello. You’d applied for the ABC role in XYZ company. I was wondering if this was a good time to talk. Sorry that I called without intimation.

I couldn’t place the company. At this point, I had realized that the connection between my ears and brain was partially impaired and I could not listen. I had no laptop in front of me so all of his questions would have to be answered impromptu. I said Yes.

Interviewer: Before I begin, we don’t have the set up to be able to sponsor folks. Will that be a problem? If yes, I wouldn’t want to waste your time.
A: Yes, I do need sponsorship to be able to work in the United States.

And then something beautiful happened. He said he believes that I will be successful in life. That woke me up. Here was a guy, who I had spoken to for 2 minutes. He said my resume was solid and he knew only hard-work could have gotten me here. He asked me to continue working hard if I knew only hard-work could help me achieve my goal. He thought successful people can be spotted early on and he had spotted me. He said I shouldn’t depend on a financial clutch; that I should be on my own. He went on to tell me a story about his childhood. That experience had instilled the importance of hard work, pride, and dignity in him. According to him, all I needed was a bridge and a chance. He said I’ve done amazing things in the past and would continue to do so in the future. He wished me well and hung up. I wondered if he did magic crystal or was a fortune-teller on the side!

At the back of my mind, I wondered if he knew how rough the last year or so had been for me. I wondered if he knew how tired I was of the job hunt (already); that motivation has been rare. Rejections were/are the new norm. I wondered if he knew of all that I’ve lost and given up to arrive at the new normal. I imagined the interviewer to be around 50 years old, could easily be passed off as a Grandfather. He was the VP of that particular organization. He would have had better things to do. But he chose to talk to me and motivate me when he could have been able to talk to a more suitable candidate instead. He went that extra mile that recruiters don’t need to/do not. That phone call made my day. I took those few sentences from the stranger to be a message from beyond. Life wants me to strive hard. I took that as an indication that I will reach the light at the end of the tunnel if I continued running.

He was kind. That’s all he needed to be. Some of us could take a page from his book and be kind during these tough times. We need to motivate ourselves and those around us. Sometimes all we need is a little push and a few kind words to soar high.

A few motivational quotes I found at https://motivationping.com/quotes/ and Pinterest. The last quote is my favorite and has been my wallpaper for the past 5 years.


Of Desiderata

Date: 07/27/20
Author: Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952


To beat the chaos, I was looking for a few inspirational words. I stumbled upon ‘Desiderata’ (Latin for ‘desired things’). Exactly what I was looking for! The poem is string of wise yet subtle words by the poet. Here’s the sense I made of it –

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Keep your calm when there’s chaos around you. You lose the game when you lose your calm. Being at peace is more important than winning the argument.
Despite the differences, be on good terms with everyone. If people want to be harsh, let them be. You control your behavior.
Be honest even if the truth hurts. Be mindful of how you speak (something I need to learn). Listen to everyone – age, status, stature, position don’t matter. Develop the ‘art of listening’.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

I’ve been wondering if the first sentence means ‘walking away’ from loud and aggressive people. Usually my mind shuts down when anyone starts yelling at me. I mentally walk away. That brings me peace. Wondering if that is the right thing to do. Probably not. Something that needs to be worked on.
No two people can be compared to each other. Everyone is unique in their own way. Everyone has been built in a certain way. Again, you never know what chapter of life they are on. I have never understood the term ‘rat race’. Life is not a race – it is a journey. I’ve never compared myself with others – maybe with the previous me. I am here to enjoy life – even the 12 AM work calls.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be actively involved in your career. If you don’t do what you love you’ll be forced to love what you do. Success is directly proportional to your passion and involvement in your career.
Beware of suggestions/tips from (not so)well-wishers. Not everyone will be happy at your success. Suggestions should be welcome but implementation of the those should be at your discretion.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

You can’t fake feelings. You can’t fake chemistry. Love will happen if and when it has to. When it’s right, you cannot walk away.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are your best teacher. There is a wealth of knowledge and enlightenment inside of you. Every time you have a question – look inside.
You are stronger than you think you are. Look back – you’ve surmounted unimaginable mountains. Let your spirit shield you from the negativity – even from within yourselves. You’ve not come so far, only to come this far.
Everyone makes mistakes – don’t be hard on yourself. Doesn’t mean let every mistake go. You’re fine as long as you make new ones.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

You are here because you are meant to be. You are here because it is written. You are here because you are destined to be.
None knows the bigger picture. When you feel restless, breathe. Keep calm. Trust that the universe is unfolding the bigger picture. Keep going. This too shall pass.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

I’ve always been at odds with the God. A few events in life had shaken my faith. I have only found faith 5 years later. I know this is not ideal. But now, i feel at peace. Whichever God you worship (if you do) – let the faith be. If you haven’t found faith yet – maybe some day faith will find you. If not, you never needed it at the first place.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Not every dream is fulfilled. It may be easy to break spirits. Bad things happen. Circumstances make you want to give up. Life looks like a bad idea. When this happens, make a list of all the positive things in your life. Be grateful for everything around you. Enjoy the joy of little things. Believe in the goodness of the universe. Most importantly, be happy.

The past few months have been rough for all of us. Being positive has been a tough job. Negative thoughts have been natural to even the most positive people we know. To beat the negativity, do things that make you happy. Try to change ‘not so ideal’ circumstances; if you cannot change them it is okay to walk away. Make peace. Be at peace. Remember, inner peace is more important. Fin.

Posting a happy picture of me –

So far so good…

2019 was a roller-coaster ride. 2020 has been a ‘Sky scream Roller-coaster’ ride so far. Here’s what has changed.

USA to India

$ to ₹

Retail North America to Asia Pacific

Retail to Payments

Starbucks to Visa

Matured market to a Raw/mold-able market

High visibility to C-suite visibility

Building stores to Building products

SODO to BKC

Link Rail to Local train

8:30 AM – 6:00 PM to 7:30 AM – 10:30 PM

Uber to Ola

Starbucks Coffee to random Machine coffee

Living alone to living with parents

Extremely Single to Extremely Committed (Meet N)

Amazon to Flipkart

Live2Dance to Living to work

Work-life balance to No work balance

Knowing people in Seattle to still knowing people only in Seattle

Strictly Diwali parties to celebrating every little festival

A whole walk-in closet to having 2 divided closets (Mumbai and NYC)

Partying every weekend to having partied once in 7 months

Everything being optional to being obliged to do an array of things

Antonio Spa to Manjiri beauty parlor

Traveling to a new place every month to traveling to work every day

Canon to Capital Social

Wine to Cosmopolitan

I am surprised at the number of things that have changed in the recent past; amazed at how well I have taken them. It’s been a hell of a ride. Hoping November 2020 brings a twist to this tale. More to come.

Image courtesy: http://www.giuseppemorcinelli.com/so-far-so-good