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.

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.

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.

#lessonsOfLife 2020: A blessing in disguise

I apologize for interrupting the travelogue to write this customary year-end #lessonsOfLife series. Of course, this year has been unprecedented. No clue if anyone saw it coming.
Date: 01/02/2021

12:00 AM: A teardrop rolled down my cheek. Tony was no more. I lost it. I looked at the boys and said, “I can’t believe this is happening! What do you mean by Iron man dies at the end of the End game?!”
The boys and I had been binge-watching the Marvel Cinematic Universe marathon over the past week or so. The year ended with Avengers: Endgame. The order of the movies is as below. Yes, we watched all 22-23 of them with full concentration. We ace all Marvel universe related quizzes now.

12:20 AM: We are another glass of wine down. I find it difficult to digest the fact that Iron Man will cease to exist in the universe going forward. I’d found him the coolest.
We open the sofa chaise to take out the bedding. The screws had fallen. I am sorry, but we just brought you home! How can something so new go bad so quickly?!

12:30 AM: N was inside the chaise with an electric drill and a bunch of screws. Ankit and I took turns to hold up the chaise and run for supplies.
It was 12:30 AM. It was a new year, a new beginning, and a new blah blah! This was not supposed to happen. Ordinarily, I would have been too busy dancing away the new year’s night with my loved ones for the sofa chaise to go wrong. Welcome to adulthood, I thought.
We installed a quick fix and moved on with our lives. If that is any indication of how the rest of the year is going to be.
Hoping the AFW guy comes soon enough to fix it. I am still sitting on the same sofa chaise to write this post btw.

1:00 AM: I reflected on the past year. In hindsight, 2020 has been a blessing in disguise for me.

  1. The arranged marriage train had finally stopped at the Baroda junction, and we’d tied the knot. 2020 marks the first complete year of us being married. Of course, long-distance was very difficult – the time difference, the yearning, the missing, the misunderstandings, the arguments, the love. Nevertheless, we survived. I am happy that I could move back and live a married life with a wonderful man.
  2. At Starbucks, several colleagues had some international exposure in business. For example, they had worked in either Asia, Europe, or both. I always wanted an opportunity to learn more about business in other markets. As luck would have it, I got the opportunity to learn business around South-east Asia at Visa. I felt lucky to have received international exposure at that level.
  3. I’d never met someone who’d gone to school at the IITs/IIMs. I always wanted to learn about their perspectives. Thanks to Visa, I had this incredible opportunity to work exclusively with folks who went to school at both IIT and IIM. I worked with and learned from the crème de la crème of the industry (quite literally). Such talented folks, all of them. I felt blessed. You learn a lot from a room where everyone else is a lot smarter than you are. I could not have asked for more.
  4. Infosys made me step out of the house at the age of 21. I hadn’t had a lot of time to spend with my parents ever since. The pandemic hit soon after I moved back to India. Both of my parents had to work from home as well. The lockdown gave us a lot of time together as a family. I will forever be grateful for that family time.
    A few minutes later, I drifted off to sleep.

I believe I learned the hardest lessons of my life in 2020 –
(1) Never take anything/anyone for granted.
(2) Enjoy every moment and be present. You never know which cosmopolitan at your favorite Social is your last one.
(3) Don’t be rude to anyone. You may not get a chance to apologize.
(4) Never take your paychecks for granted. Be glad that you have a job.
(5) Never take your health for granted. Who knew cold could be fatal?
(6) Never underestimate the importance of your hobby. Develop it.
(7) There’s no time like family time.
(8) Marriage needs work. Long-distance is tough.
(9) Life is tough. Nobody said it was easy.
(10) Recognize when people need you. Be there for them.
(11) A few words of kindness go far.
(12) If you have abundant, share. Support small businesses, non-profits, orphanages, assisted living, etc. They need us during tough times.
I believe surviving 2020 made me stronger. It gave me confidence that I can stand up the 8th time after falling seven times. It taught me that miracles happen. Most importantly, it taught me to have faith – a concept that was lost on me before.

2021 starts with fixing what is broken – sofa chaise, laptops, self, etc., and a more serious job hunt. 2020 brought quite a few surprises. I wonder what 2021 has in store. Onward and Upward.

Wishing you all a happy, safe, healthy, and prosperous new year. Happy 2021! Presenting our beautiful holiday cards for you. L-R: Ankit, Apurva and Ninad, Ankit, Apurva and Ninad.

Movie Review: Laxmii and more…

Runtime: 2 hours 21 minutes
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Sharad Kelkar, Rajesh Sharma, Ayesha Raza Mirza, Manu Rishi Chadha, Ashwini Kalsekar, and Tarun Arora
Rating: 2/5
Featured image credit: onenewspage.com

I don’t watch horror movies. They leave an impression. N loves horror movies. This one was for him.

Look at the cast again. They’re all good actors. I had great expectations when I started watching the movie. But something was amiss.

It started fine. A few scenes scared the s#!t out of me (PS: I scare easy). That tempo did not stay for long. With the introduction of more characters, the acting failed to feel organic. This is not to say ‘bad acting’, just that the characters did not fit well. Laxmii, in terms of acting, could have been stronger. The supporting actors’ acting skills could have been utilized more. The VFX effects could have been sharper. The storyline is probably the replica of the original movie ‘Kanchana’; a few twists and turns would have helped to pep up the rating. However, Sharad Kelkar’s strong performance eats them up all – combined. He is excellent as Laxmii in the flashback. Overall, they could have done a much better job. On another note, the movie reminds you of ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya’ in a few ways.

Nevertheless, the substance of the movie is good. They’re hitting the right spots. Our country needs to warm up to the third gender and be more accepting. This reminded me of a few instances from my past life –

  1. A decade ago – It was my last year of undergrad. I used to take the train to school and traveled first class. I took the train back home at approximately 5 PM. You see familiar faces when you take the trains around the same time every day. When the train stopped at Nerul, I saw a few ladies sitting on the floor of the first-class compartment (not uncommon). I had to jump over them to board the train. I didn’t get a chance to look at the faces – only their neatly pedicured toenails. As soon as I entered, I saw my mother’s friend from work and found a seat next to her. Lucky me. My seat did not allow me a good view of the ladies sitting on the floor though. The compartment was comparatively silent that day. My mother’s friend and I started chatting. She almost whispered and I wondered why. Out of curiosity, I tried to sneak a peek at the floor. She stopped me and whispered, “Avert your eyes. They’re transgenders.”
    TBH, I was amazed. Looking at their outfits, appearance, and voice I wouldn’t have been able to guess their gender. I don’t know where they were going, what they did to survive but I hope they tried to make an honest living.
  2. Less than a year ago, Women’s day celebration @ Visa – We had the pleasure to hear women leaders speak. One of them was Gauri Sawant. That woman is such a captivating speaker. I always knew transgenders in India survived in sub-optimal living conditions; she gave us a clearer picture. She told us about the journey of her life and her experience of being a transgender mother. She adopted her daughter, Gayatri, in 2008 after Gayatri’s biological mother (a sex worker) died of AIDS. Gauri saved Gayatri from being sold in the sex-trafficking industry. My heart sank.
    Then she moved on to tell us about how she started ‘Aajicha Ghar’. It started when a sex worker asked her if she wanted her 3-month-old son whom she could not take care of (doing what she did). Gauri took the baby as her own and started the organization. ‘Aajicha Ghar’ takes care of abandoned children of sex workers and transgender children. Noble. You can learn more about the organization here –> https://aajichaghar.com/
    I am awestruck by her dedication, zeal, and drive to make this world a better place. You need to be very special, brave, and courageous to be able to do this. Grand Salute to her!

The point is, the transgender community has been deprived of their fundamental rights. Have you ever wondered why you never saw a transgender kid at school or college? Why you haven’t met transgenders at work? Why it took us 100 years to put the 3rd checkbox for transgenders to identify themselves? They’ve been sidelined and discriminated against for years. We have been oblivious of their challenges. This needs to change. And we need to be the ones inspiring and implementing the change. Maybe start sponsoring education, make reservations at schools, colleges, and work. I, for one, have decided to be more cognizant of their challenges and extend monetary help to non-profits.

Hope this inspires you to make a difference. Looking forward to reading your experiences and ideas in the comment section. Love.

Change is the only constant

Venue: Chandler, Arizona
Date: 10/17/20, Saturday, 6:30 AM
PS: I may be jet lagged.

Status Update:
Last Friday at approximately 11:20 PM, I boarded a flight to the husband so that we could finally start our married life together.

N and I had been in a long distance marriage since the November of 2019. The distance had to end some day. The US Consulate had been kind enough to finally issue me a dependent visa (after going through our WhatsApp chat messages, call records and what not) and I had decided to take it. Without further delay, I quit a very high-visibility, high-paying, mentally fulfilling, very stressful yet amazing job at Visa to become a housewife until the Gods reveal the future. Something that took everyone at Visa by surprise (I was out of there within 15 days of receiving the passport). I disappointed quite a few colleagues when I told them that I had nothing lined up and was going to figure life out after I landed.

Life, ever since, has been amazing. N and I are learning so much about each other every day – things that Duo calls could not have done justice to. I have learnt that you don’t need to wait for 12 hours resolve an argument (courtesy no time zone difference), N is really funny, caring, a MasterChef and what not. Kind of ‘sarva-gun-sampanna‘. I’ve never had to cook a meal by myself. Both of us are easy-going – this can be proved by the fact that there are dishes in the sink since Thursday and clothes in the dryer since Wednesday. No sweat.

It is surprising to me that I haven’t had a moment of boredom yet. My timetable for the past week has been –
7:00 AM to 8:00 AM – Wake up
8:00 AM to 10:00 AM – Yoga, Breakfast Prep and such
10:00 AM Onward – Chill
12:00 PM to 3:00 PM – Lunch Prep etc.
3:00 PM to 6:00/7:00 PM – Nap courtesy jet lag
7:00 PM to 8:00 PM – Chill
8:00 PM – Dinner Prep and Chill
Where is the time to do anything else?
Please notice the number of times ‘Chill’ has been mentioned. I am yet to unpack BTW – still living out of my carry-on luggage while the checked-in luggage has been neatly stowed in our walk-in wardrobe. Currently, my (borrowed) diary says ‘Resume keywords‘ on the left and ‘Things to buy‘ on the right. Efforts are being made to strike off items from both the lists with a success rate of 50%.

LHS <> RHS
Good Food. Fin.

It’s been a sudden and a beautiful change for the both of us. As they say, Change is the only constant. I’ve surprised myself every day since the day I’ve received my passport with the stamped visa. Leaving the comfort of my parents was not easy. Leaving Visa was tough too – I have gone from working for 15 hours a day to not working at all; the first time in a decade. There’s always going to be a first time. As a partner and an ‘almost’ newly wed, I am psyched to be under the same roof as N. Can’t wait for the quarantine to get over with so that we can finally start our adventure outside of the 4 walls of our brand-new and extremely tech savvy apartment.

PS: This blog might turn into a travelogue, a cook-book and a sneak-peek into our relationship soon. More to come.

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 –

What will be the new normal?

We all know life may/may not be the same once all this is over. The world has come to a standstill (the only movement being people visiting grocery stores and hospitals. Dark.). You and I have been forced out of our gyms, swimming pools, workplaces, shopping sprees; forced to give up on our favorite party/hangout places, even our favorite coffee shops. All for the one thing invisible to naked eye. The one who must not be named.

Every time my mother and I chill at our new hangout place (read: the ever cluttered dining table) we talk about things we would need to be equipped when we start commuting to work again (almost 2 hours each way). I have suggested the following –

  1. We build a disinfectant tunnel in the staircase to disinfect every person and thing coming in and out of the house
  2. We wear a space suit to and from work to protect ourselves from the outside world

    From the way Aai was looking at me during this discussion I couldn’t say if she thought I was crazy or was considering my ideas.

On a different note, my father was courageous enough to visit D-mart one day. Never thought one would need ‘courage’ to visit a supermarket, did you?
Apparently, he had just missed the action. D-mart had opened the doors that day to a thousand eagerly waiting and angry shoppers. The D-mart authorities had to summon the police and ambulance to handle the stampede.

We have decided to shop online going forward – a big shift from roaming the aisles and judging every product you touch and see.

This made me think how my habits have changed/concerns one would have ever since the ‘one who must not be named’ started creating havoc.
1. I have never liked buying clothes online – despite having lived 10 ft away from Day One for quite some time. But buying clothes right now is important because –
(1) Most of my clothes are inappropriate to be worn at Visa. They’re very Seattle, Starbucks and NYC. Also, half of my wardrobe is in NYC.
(2) The material of the clothes is not suitable for Indian weather.
(3) The style is not acceptable/appropriate/suitable.
(4) Seattle summer clothes cannot be used in Indian summers and workplaces.
So, I ended up buying $300 worth stuff online. Of course, none of that got delivered because everything got locked down soon after I placed my order.

2. A visit to the bhajiwala was enough for me to not want to go again. There was no ‘social distancing’ anywhere. This made me think if we should buy frozen veggies instead. Hoarding would be the next option – buy enough to last at least for a couple weeks.

3. Visit to a (small sized) supermarket made me really furious. There was a long and socially-distanced queue to enter the supermarket (alright) but there was no social distancing inside! I bumped into 3 masked people.
What was the queue outside the supermarket for? Was it not to avoid the crowding inside? This made me wonder if kirana stores/online grocery deliveries would be better options.

4. Eating out is not an option (since everything is closed). I am skeptical about online food deliveries as well. Fomites have been a major contributor to the spread of pandemic. You never know who’s got it. You always hear about Delivery boys getting it – they’re so susceptible. You can never sanitize enough. Some of them claim ‘contactless deliveries’ but how contactless can it be?
Badly missing Pizzas and Pastas and everything else in between.

5. About commuting to work – most of us take multiple hours and several modes transport to reach work. I take an auto (3 to 5 passengers) – train (192928510 passengers) – auto (3 passengers) to work every day. The passenger count in bracket does not include people who I am in close contact with on train stations.
How am i supposed to do this going forward? HOW?!
I have a suggestion – maybe we can ‘fly’ to work like the Jetsons? Maybe we should seriously put our brainpower into developing a low-cost flying solution.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock (1660125a) The Jetsons (Ani Film and Television FULL COPY: http://www.rexfeatures.com/nanolink/le7r

6. Social distancing – This concept is going to be tougher in high-density areas/countries. I cannot imagine how one would maintain social-distance at train stations where there is usually a long queue to climb on and off the bridge. How to maintain distance in local trains where you can’t differentiate if the sweat on your body is yours or someone else’s?

A few more thoughts –
How safe would throwing parties be? Would you require every attendee to upload their test results when they RSVP?

How safe would pubs/clubs/bars be? Will they check your temperature to determine whether or not you are ‘safe’ to enter their bar? Will you now be carded for temperature and age both?
If yes, forget bar-hopping till we have a vaccine.

How safe would sharing food/drinks/smoke be?

How safe would traveling be in the future? Most of us want to travel the world! How will that look like now? Would you still be open to back-packing and living in hostels across Europe? How would group tours be like?

Will you feel safe to go to group classes – yoga/crossfit/dance/etc? Would people still go to morning walks and laughter clubs post lock down?

How will the GenX learn any more? Will online classes be the way to go? Will schools reduce the number of students in a classroom and run shifts to accommodate everyone for offline classes? How will the kids have fun at school? What about schools in the rural areas that may not be equipped to go online?

How will the workplaces handle it? Most of us travel at least a couple hours exposing ourselves to every kind of virus and bacteria to reach work. How safe will be for other people to be around us? What would team lunches and happy hours look like now?

How safe would dating be? It involves “meeting” unknown people.

How will festivals look like? How does one celebrate Diwali or Ganeshotsav without family/extended family/friends?

What about big fat weddings? I am willing to give up on the auxiliary parties but what about the actual wedding – haldi, mehendi, wedding, reception?

All this and more. We are living in unprecedented times and must take equally unprecedented measures to fight this. It will take some time for us to determine our new normal post the pandemic. The way we live, eat, drink, breathe, love, date, pray, travel, play, have fun is all about to change.

There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind.

C.S.Lewis

Life as we know it is about to change. Something fun to tell our grand-kids, huh? More to come…

#lessonsOfLife – Time zones

Date: 05/09/2019, Thursday

Venue: Seattle, WA, USA

8:22 AM – A Whatsapp message pops up on one of the groups. It is an article about the time zones of life. I am sure you all must have read it too. The first thing that came to my already messed up mind was ‘how situational!’

4:23 PM – In the middle of an almost ridiculous conversation the question “What do you think about time zones?” was slipped.
Had she read my Whatsapp messages? Or was this a universal concept?
You don’t think of concepts like these when everything is hunky-dory. You never reflect upon life when you’re happy – because you are too busy basking in it’s glory. It is when your yard work has not been done properly do you worry about the value proposition of your grass.

I did not know how to answer that question. Time zones – okay – yes – maybe – just a way of saying focus on improving your gardening skills and appreciate the blades of your grass rather than envying someone else’s. Makes sense. And that is probably a constructive sentiment and emotion to have. Two people from different walks of life had spoken about the same concept in a day. Time to think. My clouded mind (and I did not even have to consume an adult beverage for my mind to be in that state) started gathering the scattered thoughts on the bus ride back home.

I am a woman of science. Yes – vampires, witches, psychics, philosophy intrigue me. But… show me some proof if you want me on board. Yes, I like the concept of the green grass and time zones –

The grass is greener when you water it.

The grass is greener on the other side because well.. it is fake.

My favorite –
I am too busy smoking my grass to notice that yours is greener.

But the bottom line is –
I am too busy working on my own grass to notice yours is greener.

They say patience is the key (lol). They say things happen when they have to. They (loosely) use the term “meant to be” at equal intervals. But i still don’t get it. Perhaps these are multiple concepts intertwined into one and so it shall take some time for me to grasp. Meanwhile let’s decide to do the following –

  • seek help to improve gardening skills
  • water your grass every day
  • know that watering the grass every day may not translate into a greener grass instantly. It is not Maggie noodles.
  • talk to people in the same boat
  • appreciate the blades of your grass
  • respect the present by living in it
  • be grateful that you even have a yard and keep yourself too busy to notice anyone else’s

Let me know how it goes.

It hurts to pay retail…

Disclaimer: This post was created in my brain while waiting to get my nostril re-pierced.

Day of event: 04/12/2019, Friday

Weeks fly by. Earning calls come quick. Weekends arrive before I am ready. Cannot comprehend life at this pace. On a different note, my new nose jewelry was not the right size and kept on falling off. As a result all patience was lost and I removed the jewelry once and for all. Soon my piercing died off.

5:15 PM – I step out of the tarot card reader’s establishment feeling conned (no offence meant for tarot card science. The psychic can feel free to be offended though). I always thought that psychics were not meant to talk negative about their clients. This one did. She was brutal. I was too broken to even fight back (not that I would have anyway). It shall be a while before that gets funny.

5:30 PM – The wait at Deep Roots Piercing & Tattoo was real – 45 minutes. I was at UW and decided to enjoy whatever was left of the Cherry Blossoms and do my favorite thing for healing purposes – get coffee. The Psychic’s words rushed through my mind. Coffee needed desperately.

I figured Orin’s place at the Paccar would be a good place to get coffee. I took the road I traversed while I worked as a Student Assistant at Foster’s. Some things never change – the way to Paccar was still as beautiful.

I worked as a Research Assistant for PhD students at the Foster School of Business during my 1st year of the Master’s degree. It was hard work! Taking care of all of the research studies and the undergrad kids was very interesting. And it was great! One fine day, one of the PhD students took me out for coffee at Orin’s. That was probably my first interaction with Starbucks. I had no clue what to order and the prices looked a lot more than I could afford at that time. So, I went for cheapest – brewed coffee. She saw me struggle with creme and sugar and said, “Boy, you don’t do this often, do you?”

She was right. I’d never bought coffee before then. Never needed to. I lived 2 blocks away from the campus and ran home for everything.

Sadly, Orin’s was closed today so I decided to buy coffee from Suzzallo.

5:50 PM – The Quad.

Call me superstitious but the people I visit the quad to see cherry blossoms or the Skagit Tulip festival with walk out of my life sooner or later. So, I make a conscious choice of not blossoming in cherries and tulips with the people I love.

I walked to Suzzallo to grab coffee from the moderately new and shiny Starbucks they have. If you haven’t checked out the new store yet, you should. I ordered the usual – Caramel Macchiato and paid retail since it is a Licensed store (hence, no employee discounts). Man, it hurts to pay retail! Coffee @ Starbucks IS expensive!

5:52 PM – While I waited for my drink and chilled on the very comfortable and mostly supremely expensive leather couch I was reminded of Thursdays.

During the second year of my Master’s, Thursdays used to be straight 16 hour days. I used to pick a 8-9 hour shift at the UW Athletics during the day and attend the lecture in the evenings. On my way from UW Athletics to Mary Gates I used to pick up Starbucks Coffee from the HUB. It was a routine I loved. Also, my second interaction with Starbucks.

My entire family flew in to see me graduate. I felt blessed. Sending over gifts is a tradition I love. I sent back gifts from the 1st Starbucks in Seattle. In case you didn’t know, the 1st Starbucks store carries exclusive merchandise that is not sold elsewhere in the world.

The first Starbucks Store. Picture from :
http://blog.logomyway.com/history-of-starbucks-logo-design/

A week later, I received an offer from Starbucks.

An offer from Starbucks took me back to connecting the pieces of my life – piecing the puzzle if you will. My first interaction with Starbucks was an introduction to Starbucks in all sorts of ways. The second interaction taught me how priceless it was – Starbucks coffee on Thursdays was the most needed and valuable coffee of the week! My third interaction with Starbucks instilled a sense of pride in me. My most recent interaction with Starbucks made me realize that one can still have a borderline impostor syndrome after almost three years of working with the company.

The point is, I never thought that incidences in life are actually connected; that the experiences you have actually mean something. There IS a bigger picture and every experience, good or bad, helps build that bigger picture. You never know what the experiences you have shall lead to. I have experienced Starbucks in different capacities in the past few years – each one more rewarding than the previous one.

This passing thought gives me hope. Maybe the recent turn of events mean something; the creation of a bigger picture that I can’t see because I am not tall enough. Time to be grateful; time to be hopeful; time to have some faith. More to come.

Also, look how famous working at Starbucks can make one!