Air travel during pandemic

A month ago, I moved back to the US to reunite with N. Two weeks later, N and I traveled to Ohio to attend my sister-in-law’s wedding! So, I’ve had to travel quite a bit by air in the last 30 days. I flew United and Frontier

Picture Courtesy: N

A few things I noticed during the travel and tips around the same –

  • Check-in: Even if you web check-in you will have to stand in a queue to drop off your bags (if any). You’d see the 6 ft. distance marking on the ground while in the queue. Try to follow the rules and encourage your fellow passengers to do the same.
    Tip: Try to limit the luggage to carry-on if possible. That will spare you from standing in the queue and for luggage drop-off and baggage claim. A good way to avoid crowds.
  • Security check: This process has not changed much. It is really difficult to maintain distance during security checks. The length of the queue will differ by airports – busier airports will take longer. However, I was the only one doing security at the forever-busy Mumbai airport (IDK HOW!!). The security personnel will request you to lower your masks for identity verification purposes. You scan your boarding pass. All security personnel wear gloves that are changed now and then.
  • Before boarding: The airlines usually give you a heads up if the flight is full via email. You can move dates if possible.
    If you are at the airport, the number of passengers seated around the gate should give you a good idea as well.
    Tip: Grab a seat at an adjoining vacant terminal to avoid the crowds.
    Visit the restroom before boarding. Using the restrooms at the airport terminal should feel safer than the ones on the flight.
  • Layovers: We had a 5.5-hour layover in Denver and a 3-hour layover in Vegas. Here’s what we observed – the majority of the stores and restaurants were closed. Very few restaurants serve – some offer only take-out. Restaurants that have dine-in operate at 50% capacity or lesser. This means you may have to wait to be seated.
    We had brunch at Denver and lunch at the Vegas airport. There was sufficient distance between adjoining tables so it felt safe to dine-in. The servers wore masks at all times. The degree of cleanliness may differ by airports/restaurants.
    Since the layover at Denver was longer we had 3+ hours to spare after a leisurely brunch. Due to reduced flights, we found picturesque seats at a vacant terminal to chill and watch a movie. You can find a place away from the crowds at airports in case of layovers.
    Tip: Download movies/series on Netflix before you fly for entertainment purposes.
    Carry snacks whenever possible. It’s best not to rely on airport restaurants during the pandemic.
  • Restroom breaks: As mentioned above, use the ones at airports rather than the ones on the flight. The restrooms were mostly vacant – no queues at all. The stalls were clean and tidy as well. Some airports have blocked adjacent sinks to create the distance.
  • Boarding: Some airlines tend to check the temperature before you board. If your temperature is beyond the threshold you may be denied boarding. Passengers were boarded according to seat numbers and not zones. So, the latter half of the aircraft was boarded first and so on.
  • On the flight: Quite a few articles suggest that traveling via air is lesser risky because of the way the air is filtered and circulated. You should feel safe as long as you have your mask on. 3/6 of my flights were packed. The other 3 were roomy. Traveling in close proximity of unknown passengers feels unsafe though.
    The airline may/may not offer snacks and beverages. United did. Frontier did not.
    Tip: If your row is packed but the flight has enough room you may ask for a different seat.
    Sanitizing the seats, tray, and hand rest would be a good idea.
    Carry snacks if you have a longer flight/tend to get hungry.
  • De-boarding: This process has not changed much. Pandemic/no pandemic passengers are still in a hurry to de-board.
    Tip: Be patient and avoid crowding the aisles.
  • Baggage Claim: High chances of crowds gathering at this step. As mentioned earlier, please try to fit luggage in your backpack/carry-on to spare yourselves the trouble.


    Overall, it is hard to rate whether or not it felt safe to travel by air. Pretty subjective. Personally, I don’t mind traveling by air at this point. There are ways one can maintain distance and take precautions but in the end, it boils down to one’s immunity. I was very aware of anyone sneezing/coughing around me. But the only one sneezing was me (i tend to sneeze when temperature changes). A few parting tips –
  • Take direct flights wherever possible.
  • Did not see anyone wearing PPE kits; masks and face coverings were it.
  • It would have been nice to see more sanitizer lying around. Please carry a sanitizer and make sure to sanitize every time you touch a surface.
  • Make sure to carry sanitizing wipes to wipe the area before you seat yourself.
  • Please carry hand sanitizing wipes just in case.
  • You should carry a moisturizer in case the sanitizer tends to dry your hands out.
  • Carrying multiple masks with you should be a good idea. Change masks if need be.
  • Please carry napkins just in case.
  • Please cover your mouth if you sneeze or cough.

    On that note, I recognize that wearing masks throughout the journey is annoying but you gotta do what you gotta do. Every time the masks irritate you just remember ‘This too shall pass’. Please take a test if you experience symptoms shortly after your travel.

    Stay safe. Safe travels.

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…

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

#wontEatWillTravel Malaysia (Overview)

It’s been forever since I’ve had the mindset to put pen to paper. My recent solo trip to Malaysia changed things. This post is an overview of my trip to Kuala Lampur/Malaysia. Details to follow.

Airport – KLCC
Airline – Malindo Air (Not recommended. Please choose another airline. Poor customer service. On my way over all I was offered was water. The flight was delayed by 2.5 hours. You have to pay extra for food when you book your ticket (was unaware of this concept). The food wasn’t good either.
Visa – Easiest Online Visa ever (one of the reasons why I chose to visit Malaysia). Beware of fake Visa sites. Your visa expenses should not exceed $60-$70. Make sure you apply for your visa only via an official Malaysian website ending with .my.
Hotel – Furama @ Bukit Bintang. It is a good hotel except for the construction going on all around. That makes the commute very difficult. I would recommend staying at KL ‘downtown’ (area near the Petronas twin towers) instead.
Transportation – Mostly Grab. Not all the tourist destinations are connected by public transport (surprisingly). You will need to alternate between Grab and the train.
GRAB – Impressive application. The drivers are pro-actively responsive. Loved how easy to use it was. I could not sync my credit card for payments so had to rely on cash.
I struggled with time management on my last day in Malaysia. I asked a Grab driver if he would wait for me at one of the attractions and drop me at the hotel later. I’d pay him accordingly. He agreed!! That made my life so convenient!
Trains – Trains have a good frequency. The tickets cost around 1-3 RM. Tickets can be bought at the kiosks apart from the ticket counter. The kiosks do not accept folded currency.
Funny but true, the trains to and from the airport cost you 55 RM!! Grabs cost you 65 RM. Weird!
Regular Taxis – They charge you at least double of what Grab would. Also, they have no tracking system so definitely not a safe option for solo travelers. Feel free to test your bargaining skills.
Buses – Debatable frequency. The construction going all around must be one of the issues. Also, some of the bus stations are located at shady places where you may not feel safe as a solo female traveler.
Demographics – Malay + Chinese + Tamilians; most of them are 2nd or 3rd generation Malaysians. Inter-caste marriages have led to cross-cultures as well.
Culture – I’d go with conservative. Most women adorn a headscarf. You can see a good mix of Malay-Tamil-Chinese culture with all the sects protecting their own cultures well.
Don’t be surprised if you hear ads of ‘Folic acid’ and ‘Stay in your own lane’ on the radio channels.
Languages – Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English. Also, Manglish. Add ‘La’ at the end of every sentence to sound like a local. Can definitely help you bargain better.
Weather – September through January is monsoon. If you travel during this period (like I did) be ready to forgo a few attractions. The rains dampened Melaka city tour and all of my evenings.
Attire – Multiple forums advise you to go conservative. You can differentiate between locals and tourists based on the way they dress. I’d suggest go all cotton and conservative (I went from Denims to Uniqlo 3/4th in the middle of Perdana botanical gardens to Save My Soul). Temples require you to be dressed appropriately (read: no legs showing) in order to enter. Mosques provide you with the traditional Islamic attire at the entrances that you have to wear if you wish to enter. I recommend carrying a scarf in your bag and a bathtub of sunscreen.
Safety – As a solo female traveler, I tried to be aware of my surroundings at all times. Malaysia is notorious for bag snatching and robbery (ALL Grab drivers warned me against it). I don’t know the statistics for crime against women/sexual assaults though (red: prefer not to google either). All the tourists seemed to be guarding their purses more than their lives.
I chose group tours instead of private ones. Grabs felt pretty safe/Normal cabs did not. Trains are safe. I waited at a shady bus-stop, all decked up, for half an hour in complete darkness and received some unwelcome attention. I’d avoid doing that in the future. Along the same lines, Chinatown becomes shady after dark.
PS: You can keep your passport in the hotel locker. I was not asked for any ID ever. Please do not carry it if not required.
Currency/Money – Ringgits/Dollars/Rupees everything seemed to work there. I was the happiest since Chase Sapphire Reserve worked at most places (it doesn’t work everywhere in India).

Itinerary Overview

Day 1:

  • KLCC Aquarium
  • KLCC Park
  • Batu Caves
  • Sri Mahamariamman Temple
  • Reggae Bar
  • Chinatown
  • Petaling Street

Day 2:

  • Melaka – Day tour
  • Bukit Bintang
  • No Black Tie – Jazz concert
  • Pisco – Peruvian bar

Day 3:

  • Suria Mall
  • Bukit Bintang
  • Perdana Botanical Garden – Bird Park, Butterfly Park, Deer Park, Tun Abdul Razzak Memorial, Unique trees park (or something to that effect)
  • Petronas Towers
  • Heli Lounge

Day 4:

  • National Mosque of Malaysia
  • National Museum of Malaysia
  • Central Market + Kasturi Street
  • National Textile Museum
  • Thean Hou Temple

Attractions I could not cover/would want to cover the next time I am in Malaysia –

  • Hibiscus & Orchid garden – Closed for renovation
  • Jalan Alor AKA Khau galli of KL – I am sad to have missed this. The rain dampened my spirits every evening.
  • KLCC Eco Park – Rainforest in the middle of a hustling city. I chose not to visit.
  • KL Tower – Fell short of time. Also, having lived in the city of Space needle I did not feel the need to go to another needle kinda space.
  • Genting Highlands – I heard rave reviews about this place during my Melaka day-tour. Sadly, I did not have enough days to cover it. The pictures look amazing though.
  • Penang – The pictures were to die for. But Penang is farther away from KL and not a day-trip material. I’d suggest a road trip for this destination.
  • Little India – Fell short of time. Also, coming from India I opted out.
  • Glittering Fireflies & Kuala Selangor Night tour – Not enough time, guts and energy. Also, probably not a good life choice during monsoons.

Pro tips –

  • Wear cotton as much as possible.
  • Beware of purse snatchers.
  • Carry a portable charger. In hindsight, life would have been simpler with it.
  • Do not fold your Riggits. The kiosks won’t accept them.
  • Map your destinations beforehand so that you don’t lose time searching for them and don’t miss out on the fun.
  • Mind the timings for temples and mosques. They are not open throughout the day.
  • Grabs are difficult to find during prime time. I waited for an hour on Day 2 and ended up taking a cab.
  • In hindsight, taking trains would have been much more economical and would have caused lesser frustration. Trains are traffic-proof.
  • Hydrate.
  • I’d rather stay in a hotel near the Petronas towers and Changat Bukit Bintang than farther away. Though my hotel was in close proximity, the construction and rains made it impossible to commute to the more happening places.
  • Alcohol is expensive – or at least it was wherever I went.
  • It is okay to carry a backpack everywhere. Most tourist attractions have stalls to take care of your bags.
  • You are in good hands with T-mobile. God bless T-mobile.
  • If you decide to click a picture with parrots at the Bird park please mind their toe-nails!
  • Carry a camera instead of relying on your phones for pictures. You need your phone battery for Grab.
  • Carry an umbrella/rain jacket if you decide to visit during monsoons. Most resorts/ few tourist attractions are closed during monsoons.
  • Always carry enough cash (you probably know that).

Keep watching this space for details and pictures.

#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.