#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!

#Live2DanceSeattle

It all started more than 2 years ago when a friend of mine asked me to go and try this new Bollywood dance class in Seattle. I walked into a room full of people from all caste, creed and color and a fervent dance instructor. I have not been able to walk out the room ever since.

The first thing that I noticed about Deepali was her amazing energy and the immensely positive vibe. After having known her for more than 2 years I can say that her pool of energy is never-ending. She walks with this amazing ‘can do’ attitude and nothing dampens her spirits. You can never meet anyone who is more passionate about dance and the work that she does through dance than Deepali. For her, dance is not about the glittery costumes or stage performances. For her, it is more about fostering a sense of community. Deepali goes out of her way to create a family away from family. The feeling of belongingness to this family is unmissed.

Her love for novelty and appetite for dance is reflected in every routine she choreographs. She is personally invested in the growth of each of her students, not only as a dancer, but also as a person. Deepali’s enthusiasm, determination, zest of life, laughter, and positive vibe are very infectious. She is not only a wonderful dancer but also a fierce friend. She is a successful mother, wife, dance instructor, and project manager and probably one of the few Superwomen I know.

I feel truly honored to have been a part of Live2DanceSeattle over the last 2 years and would be my privilege to be in the future.

Everything that happened today: Happy Valentine’s Day?!

Date: 02/13/2019

2:30 PM – What can go wrong with Wine and Chocolate?

4:30 PM – All roads lead to the winery.

Time Unknown – Back home.

A little after Time Unknown – Bed time.


Date: 02/14/2019

12:48 AM – *Wakes up super thirsty* *Finishes an entire bottle of water* Sleeping with alcohol in the system – Bad Life Choice.

1:30 AM – Still wide awake. It has been a while since I have reflected upon my life and laid awake thinking in circles. I felt happy knowing that I do not do that anymore. Finally, adulthood brings wisdom.

Happy Realization:
Life = hourglass.
Time = sand.
Nothing can be done about it. There is no way you can stop anything. Love, relationships, work, betrayals, infidelity, successes, failures, uncertainty, disappointment… the past few years have been very formative. Time has flown by. A series of events rushed through my mind like the Virar fast local – too fast to be categorized in buckets.
I looked at my phone. Drunk texts.

2:20 AM – I decide to do something with my life.

2:22 AM – I start cooking. Cooking was obviously a better use of time than reminiscing my past. I immediately texted my dinner gang about hosting dinner the next day.

2:40 AM to 2:49 AM – “If it is not happy… it is not the end.” is what I believe.
But is this really it? Is this all there is to life? Shouldn’t all ends be happy? Do disappointments end ever?
Do fairy tales really come true?
Does Prince Charming exist in real life?
Is everyone entitled to a miracle or does it only happen to a selected few? And the average people have to struggle for everything?
I have officially run out of patience on all matters related to heart and brain.
Patience needs Patience.
Faith needs Faith.
Hope needs Hope.
But I’m no Quitter.

I am a fan of SATC, mostly because I wish to be like Carrie. I was reminded of the first SATC movie in which Big left Carrie at the altar after a courtship of a decade. She stayed with Charlotte for a while post the incidence because she had nowhere to go. There is this scene when Carrie reads a book to Charlotte’s daughter, Lily, at bed time. In the middle of the scene Lily asks her to read the bed time fairy tale once more to which Carrie responds “Sweetie, you know this is not true, right?”
I could totally see myself replacing Carrie in that scene.

After Big leaves Carrie at the altar

Carrie and Big do get married eventually.

3:03 AM – The train of thought halted at the ‘positive affirmation’ station. From SATC to philosophy! I know! Brain is weirdly wired. NVM.
Apparently, you can make things happen by the power of positive affirmation. The secret?! A few of my friends swear on it. I wonder if that works. Maybe it does.

3:13 AM – I googled how to positively affirm. Turns out it’s not that easy. Also, can sound really silly at times. I freaked out when I read the first few. But turns out they work!

Life is complicated. The balancing act of (moderately) succeeding at work, searching for love (while googling ‘am i really in love with him?’), trying to get into a relationship (need to google this one + does not mean commitment), managing finances (poorly) and doing all this while maintaining sanity is a tough one. Who knew we had signed up for so much when we entered adulthood. I can’t remember why I wanted to grow up really. It only makes sense on ‘Pay Day’.
In the midst of this slightly negative self-talk I still find myself fixated on one thing – If it’s not Happy, I refuse to treat it as the End.

More to come.

Everything that happened today…

Date: 01/24/2019

7:10 AM – Leaves home for work. Realizes that the downtown is busy even at 7 am. Unearthly hour really.

7:17 AM – *Walks to the farthest orca card reader* and *Taps orca card* The last 2 weeks at work have been good. I, somehow, believe it is because I accidentally started tapping my Orca card at the farthest orca card reader. Stupid as it may sound to you, I think it’s working. After a long haul of ‘I don’t know what’s going on!’ I deserve good days.

Yes, I have a master’s degree and I may be agnostic but I still believe in superstitions. Having written about it, I think it’s sad really but…Oh well!

7:20 AM – *Boards the train.* I walk up to my usual section. I realize I like routine. I am completely fine doing the same thing over and over again as long as it comforts me. I have a system – that is yet to fail me. *Finds a seat* *Opens Whatsapp* *Responds to messages* I distinctly feel my feelings shift as I sift through the messages.

I quickly realize that I have conveniently forgotten my eye drops today. Today of all days when I needed it the most. I aim to leave work at 4 PM.

7:45 AM – *reaches work* IMMA got this! Texts all friends to let them know I’ve reached way before they woke up. Earth calls me a ‘loser’. Well, she is not entirely wrong.

8:30 AM – The day hasn’t even started yet and I am half done. I AM GOOD!

9:00 AM – Is it too soon to lunch?

10:00 AM to 10:30 AM – Small wins. Half way there. Long way to go but I am on my way.

10:30 AM – *sends a text to C* “Want to move lunch to 11 instead? I am hungry AF.” No response.

10:35 AM – Walks up to C’s desk to convince her to lunch earlier. No luck there.


11:00 AM – *Goes to the kitchen* *Starts peeling a banana* I see someone heating their lunch – chicken thighs. I compliment her on the good looking thigh and she acknowledges. Meanwhile, I peeled my banana and dolled it up with honey.

Could this moment be any more suggestive?

11:30 AM – I meet C for lunch. It was a casual lunch. It’s been difficult to catch up with her lately. She has been one of my closest friends ever since I’ve started working here. She knows all of my best-kept secrets. She is one of the people I can never afford to fight with because of the best-kept secrets.

12:10 PM – I walk late into a ‘lunch and learn’. The attendance is painfully low but it is well attended by the powerhouse of the company. The who’s who nod and acknowledge the speaker. It takes me 5 minutes to ramp up and make sense of what is going on in the room. I make a mental note of things I had to do that day instead.

Eyes feel dry. Nothing can be done there.

12:22 PM – Suddenly, the speaker announces a game with prizes at the end. No prize for guessing what the prizes are. I realize my disinterest in competing and the coffee. Both. And it was premium coffee.

12:28 PM – Someone gets up from their seat. The entire row of powerhouses turned their heads to look at them. Maybe someone secretly judged them for leaving early? But they had to be someone to have made that kind of impact. I’ve never seen them. Bigwig spotted fo sho!

12:30 PM – I decide to get up and get going – secretly. I say hi to one of my acquaintances on the way out. It is tough to make sure that the door does not make a noise when you leave. I like to be discreet.

12:36 PM – Work time. Realizes how minute details are. Retail is in Detail, baby.

I start an excel sheet to list the people I need to send emails too today. The list is basically a list of people I would never had the chance to interact with if not for this project. Today is the day.

I realize that most of the work I do is so impactful; I do so much more than I could ever think about; to think of what my horizon is… is crazy.

You know how you have a “dream job”? Well… this isn’t my dream job. This is a job that I could have never dreamt about because I never knew something like this even existed; leave alone happen to me.

Shoot me if I take my job for granted.

1:14 PM – I am neck deep in work. I realize music has stopped working for me. Music distracts me these days. Distractions cannot be afforded. This has never happened before.

My mentor stops by to check in on me. I realize I have more work than I can accomplish. We take the divide and conquer approach and decide to circle back during the Earnings call at 2 PM.

1:20 PM – I get up to take a break and shoot an espresso shot.

The most important decision of the day is to be made as I stand here – 1 espresso shot or 2 espresso shots/long shot or as is/extra hot shot or as is. For future reference, It’s one shot, extra hot and always long. I really don’t know what a long shot is and how it affects the flavor profile and/or strength of the coffee. But, it works for me.

I add whipping milk and drink it in one go.

This drink has quickly become my favorite because of its ability to do away with sleep. This drink was suggested to me as a coping mechanism during my jet lag days. It quickly replaced all other drinks.

2:03 PM – I enter the conference room to listen in to the Earnings call. Surprisingly, I was one of the first ones. I take my seat and continue working.

The seats soon start filling in.

2:10 PM – I look at my mentor and signal her to check her email.

The email has been worked upon for several days and today is the day it should go out.

My eyes still feel dry. I am worried for my eyesight. I blink a little more frequently to see clearer. I decide not to look at the big screen that casts the Earnings Call presentation. I continue looking into my screen.

2:58 PM – Everyone comments that the presentation has been short this quarter on their way out of the conference room. I continue typing frantically. It’s not to show off but merely an attempt to finish work. I wish to be on track for leaving work at 4 PM. I know this will never happen but wishful thinking.

3:05 PM – I walk the corridors with my laptop, diary, phone, water bottle and a hanging wired mouse. Yes, I still use the wired mouse. It’s easier to pick it up in case it falls.

Shouldn’t I focus on not performing actions that can result in my mouse falling on the ground when I walk? Well, I could change my gait, leave a few minutes earlier for my meetings and not walk hastily… but all those things require me to change a lot from within… and I don’t think I have that in me.

3:07 PM – Desperate measures to send out the emails. I try to work with headphones again but today music does not help me focus. Work is too important to be messed up. I check the emails, leaders and attachments multiple times before sending them out.

I seem to have conquered the dry eyes syndrome. In my brain, I calculate the time between now and the time I can actually use my eye drops.

4:30 PM – I look out of the pit of my screens to see everyone gone for the day. I still have some work to finish. Wishful thinking! Hah!

4:45 PM – I send one final email. It’s done. I feel content to have sent out those emails. It’s an everyday job for many people I work with. But in my role, I would have never gotten this opportunity if not for this project.

Life is all about opportunities and grabbing them. This is one I may/may not regret. I feel lucky. I feel grateful. I quickly send one ‘thank you’ note to my mentor as a response to one of the emails we exchanged earlier in the day. I felt grateful for the opportunity.

4:55 PM – I pack my bags, wear my jacket and leave. I run into my mentor on my way out. I thank her in person for the opportunity and hug her. I am sure she judged me on that. But I am just so happy. I know my day might not mean much to anyone else except me… but I am genuinely happy.

5:45 PM – I am home. The day is over. Time to change into sweats, eat a lot and West Wing it.

Every day is different. Every moment of every day evokes different feelings. It’s difficult to keep a track. But it definitely helps to note what works for you and what doesn’t. I have tried to make mental notes of things that stress me out and tried to weed them out of my schedule.

Take care of yourself. It’s okay to have a routine and overdo it maybe – as long as you aren’t hurting anyone and yourself. Love yourself and be happy.

Of Moh and Maya

Flashback: From a long time ago… 

2:30 AM – It was a random morning. I had unexpectedly scored exceptionally well on a test that I thought I would have to take again. I had sneezed 20 times already and the day had not even started. Everything was weird about the situation – the place, my unexpected trip to Mumbai, the time, the weather (very cold; something that I never get to experience). I was abnormally laid back about my early morning flight. I hadn’t even packed yet. Today, I wanted life to take its course.

4:00 AM – We left for the airport. We were obviously running late. My family always takes the pain to drop me off at the airport and waits till I check in, be it any time of the day. Yes, I have been that lucky! Our ride to the airport was supposed to cover all the serious topics on the agenda for this trip. The family meeting began. Thoughts were aligned. Priorities were refined. We reached a consensus. Everything was resolved. Everyone was happy. It is unusual for your priorities to align with those of your parents. None of us compromise on anything. And it was never about ego. Ego does not really exist in my family (Touchwood).

The last month had been terrible for me personally. Life had forced me to take a series of desperate decisions. Desperate times desperate measures. I detested evenings. My parents were worried. My decisions were questioned. I stood alone. All I wanted was to realize my dreams. Every little disagreement killed me a little. I could not settle.

5:00 AM – I checked in and swiftly moved around the airport. Mumbai airport always feels like home. It is as if I belong there. My brain feels and thinks brilliantly every time I am at an airport. I should have taken all my exams at the airport. Who knows I would have aced every one of them!  Mumbai airport is also shopping paradise for me. I checked in at Foursquare, tweeted on twitter and hopped on to the bus that led us the plane. Early morning flights are lovely (read: complimentary breakfast).

6:00 AM: I found my seat, and made a small talk to the Saudi based south Indian seated beside me. I was so engrossed in the movie that I did not realize the plane taking off. I did not realize the turbulence maybe because a- I had grown used to flights or b- the movie was awesome.

And it struck me…how much I was used to the pleasures of my life. Frequent flying, chauffeur driven cars, eating at the best restaurants in the city, staying at the best places, buying the most expensive things impulsively – and not thinking about anything while doing any of these and more. I realized how material-driven life was/is. But how long can a Gucci bag make us happy? Desire is real. Everyone wears brands, every kid wants the best of the toys, every girl wants a diamond, every man wants a Roland…the list is endless. Personally, I am drowned. And I see no signs of recovering.

8:30 AM – While I tried to define ‘simple living’ in my mind the pilot spoke in his supremely sensuous voice. I had never paid attention to announcements but his voice too compelling. We landed. The sunny weather awaited me. I politely left thanking the flight attendant and hoping that my luggage had traveled back with me.

I wonder if material pleasure equals happiness! It certainly means a lot though. The pleasure is way over-rated. I am not really sure why the world has turned materialistic- peer pressure maybe. Everyone believes in ‘If you’ve got it…Flaunt it!’. It is a vicious cycle. ‘Simple living and high thinking’ said someone zillion years ago. I wonder if it holds true in this world and age. I wonder if we can denounce the pleasures and live a really simple life. Probably not.