Making way for the new year

I have been dying to do a 2016 round-up post, more so because everyone around me in the virtual world is, but I had two things stopping me – 1) Laziness (surprise!) and 2) A precondition I had set for myself, something I just had to do before I was “allowed” to post.

I know I am supposed to explain the precondition a bit more at this point, however, I would rather make it a part of my retrospection. 2016, as I already mentioned in one of my earlier posts (I think), began quite bright and enthusiastically, but through the year it slowly faded away because (and here I will ask you to excuse me for using such exaggerated cliches), life happened. 2016 was crazy busy, professionally, personally, generally. And quite honestly, I had myself set myself up for it.

There were a few things I had decided to ensure in 2016, quite simple things really. Things I claimed I loved doing. Like read more, and write more, spend more time with Zo, spend more time with The Dude, work out, see new places and also, study. Considering I had also started a new job in December, and a new job pretty much means flailing your limbs around trying to catch hold of something, anything that would keep you afloat, there were just way too many things to handle. In other words, 2016 punched me in the face with all that it had.

I did not give up, no. Thankfully. I did what I do best instead – I got completely stressed out. Nothing seemed to be working in my favor, and I seemed to be doing nothing right, or atleast right enough. So I whined and whined about it, to myself mainly, and then to The Dude. 2016, on the other hand, decided nothing of this was worth it’s time and refused to slow down. Time just flew. And I went along with it.

Things happened, ofcourse. For one, I wrote, a lot I might say. I did two blogathons, one in January, one in April – successfully. I started one more in November but heh, who was I kidding? But still, of the total 510 posts I have published in 12 years, I did 76 posts this year. And this is only second to maybe 2004/2005 when I was jobless, baby-less and a B-schooler, which pretty much explains it all.

I read a bit, not as much as I would have liked but I fell more in love with the two Japanese authors I feel rule the written world for me right now – Keigo Higashino and Haruki Murakami. I did not study at all, and I missed the deadline for my assignment submission by “let’s get real, you haven’t touched the books till now”.

We traveled ok – there was his gorgeous trip to Germany and Switzerland. We did just 2 road trips, much to the indignation of The Dude. And we closed with a short trip to Goa, our back up plan for holidays that don’t materialize. I definitely did not meet my own expectations when it came to spending time with Zo. Again, maybe it was the new job, maybe it’s because I think a lot about what people think, but I was unhappy. This added to my general melancholic attitude towards the year.

I definitely worked out a lot this year – not in terms of quantity maybe. But I joined classes for the first time, and I stayed put. With 3 months of bunking between March and now, I think I still rate myself “achieved” for this goal. Also, I grew to love this form of a workout, where you have company, variety and basically new levels to push yourself to each day.

There were things I did which I did not plan to as well. Well, there is this one thing I did. I started driving. This was a big tick off my mom’s “must-do” list. I still think it is a wee overrated as a concept, especially with all the options available now, but I do enjoy the bit of time I spend behind the wheel. Also, it beats getting drenched in the rain or waiting for the Uber to arrive or the surge to go down. And I am sure it will lovelier in summer.

So after all the moaning and complaining through the year, I am strangely at peace now. I have worked out a couple of things for myself, including charting out a timetable of sorts, that lets me give my all to work, and also to Zo. The last two months helped me in that. And just going by that, I do not dislike 2016 as much anymore. I am fine with it, there were goods, there were not-so-goods, there were bads too. But eventually, it’s all worked out ok. Except for maybe the study thing.

Which brings me to the precondition that was the bottleneck to this post. I have 4 subjects, and the new timeline for submitting the assignment is March 31st 2017. I finally started studying in December, and promised myself to finish one of the assignments before I wrote on the blog. But man, it’s not easy. I mean who knew that writing an essay on 20th century British Drama, or attempting a critique of Shakespeare’s Dramatic poesy, or discussing The Alchemist as a satire (only ONE of which I had to do, since everything else in this course assignment was done), was so bloody tough! I tried and tried, and finally found a loophole. I did a 20 mark question in another course to sort of make up for it last night.

Which is why here I am. And I have decided that I am making no wondrous statements and resolutions for this year. 2017 is the year where I will not pressurize it with my expectations of awesomeness. 2017 is the year of letting it be.

And then sitting back and seeing how it goes.

Day 1 – Oh, take me back to the start

Happy New year!

That’s a lie, because right now as I type this, the year is as old as it can get. Yes it is still the 31st of December. But WordPress doesn’t know it – actually it is a co-conspirator in doing this, you know, this whole cool publish at a particular time thing? The reason is – do you want to try and guess it? No? Ok – so the reason is that I have, once again, decided to give the month long Blogathon a shot.

We all know ‘Once bitten twice shy’ doesn’t apply to me. I am like ‘Once nipped at, second time bitten, but still raring to pet the same rabid dog a third time’. I also just realized that I compared my blog to a rabid dog which is not a nice analogy at all but when was I nice ever?

Yes, so January in my profession is perhaps the worst time of the year. And if you are in a brand new job, in it’s set up phase, and the big bosses of the foreign lands are visiting, it just gets nastier. And nastier here is a nice way of saying it’s the sort of month at work that would make you question your very existence, like is there a point to life at all? But there is, we all know it, which is why the blogathon. To remind of the other things you love which make life worth living.

I wish I were the kind who says cool stuff like ‘I thrive under pressure’, because I am not. I am more of the bloat under pressure until you explode and there’s bits of you lying around labelled ‘toxic substance – keep away’. Again, you would think that would ensure that I stay away from stress and pressure as much as possible and you would be right this time. Only, the fact that you choose to stay away from stress does not in any world mean stress will stay away from you. It will search and explore and find you and hold on to you like a monitor lizard to a fort wall. So eventually we get back to the explosion situation anyway.

But since it cannot be avoided, I’m planning to dive right into it. January will be dead busy, I’m pretty sure of that. There’s work, then there’s the course starting, there’s a project due for Zo (yes, it’s a thing, a conspiracy),  there are books to be read, and just like that we will add the Blogathon to the melee. Sounds like a plan yes? All that remains is to sit back and hope the plan works out fine. And that, we have the whole month to do.

You will be updated, I promise – the Blogathon will ensure that!

P.S. I’m going to try and make the titles of all posts lyrics from the limited English songs I have learnt of in the last 10 years with the Dude. Oh great, another item to add to the pressure. Also, seriously, Happy new year!

Twenty fifteen

2015 was meh. Meh here doesn’t mean non-happening. Meh, in this scenario means way too happening for such a short year – way too many changes and not enough time to sit back and relax. Hence, meh.

It started with the Blogathon and a serious resolve that I wouldn’t let myself down by taking a break in between like I did in the 2014 blogathon. End result – I stopped after 6 posts. So in a weird sort of way, 2015 started with me giving up on myself within the first week, because I wanted to be a little laid back. But apparently the year had other plans.

Somewhere in the first month itself, the Dude got an opportunity back in Hyderabad. Now we were pretty clear that Pune was a phase and we would move back to Hyderabad eventually – where eventually was unfortunately not defined. The other thing we were pretty clear of was that the Dude did not have as many opportunities back in Hyderabad, so we would have to wait to get one. When this one came up, we were in a bit of dilemma. Thing is, we had come to love Pune. The city was fun, the weekend getaways so many; we did as many as 15 trips in the short span of time we were there. And while we wanted to go back, this was way too early. But a decision had to be taken and we took the sensible one. We decided to go back.

February had me attending the much planned, much anticipated 10th year reunion back at K. And just as it is bound to happen when you look forward to something for way too long, I fell pretty ill the day before I went. But I did go, partied through, enjoyed and survived through the 2 days on the best campus in the world, amongst folks I was seeing after a decade. By the time I returned, the whole family went through the longest collective bout of illness, which had me convinced that one of us, and by that equation, all of us had contracted swine flu. We hadn’t, so yay for that, but it was tough.

March had me crazy busy at work, and it was wonderful. And April, we came back to Hyderabad in the midst of the worst summer ever. But it is good to start from the worst, considering things only get better from there, even if it took quite long to get any better at all (50 degrees dammit!). Zo’s school had to be finalized and somehow, we have ended up doing school/pre-school/daycare visits every damn year since she turned 18 months old because of all the moves, and they are NOT fun. Luckily, we had a decision soon, so that was done.

Work kept us busy, and I had gone back to the crazy hour long travel to work so that sucked. The Dude’s job was new, and there were school days to keep track of, which meant no travel. And it took until September for us to finally plan our first vacation of the year. September – the 9th month of the year, the end of 3rd quarter, almost the end of the year according to me. Hongkong was fun, but immediately after, I decided to change jobs, which meant notice period, followed by new job, hence no time off again. The short time I took off in December between jobs ensured we did a road-trip, albeit a quick one, because grown-up problems like exams for Zo happened.

And now the year is ending. It wasn’t all as bad like I make it sound, but it was hectic. There was good too. Like we were back in the home we missed so much. Like I was in the city as my mom and dad after 15 years of living away, also meaning Zo has her all her grandparents around. Like we bought what I think is our dream home. Like we went to Disneyland and it was as amazing for us as it was for Zo. That Zo had her first real birthday party and she loved it. That I actually planned and celebrated Dussehra, Diwali and Christmas at home the way I wanted to. And that we ate at so many new places, and did 3 Sunday brunches (God, I love Sunday brunches!) since move. In addition to that we had our ‘regular’ Saturday night parties, the Dude and I, and extended them to Fridays too at times. For myself, I bought and read more than 15 books, the highest in a long time, within a short span of 3 months. And ofcourse, there was a truckload of shopping for shoes and outfits that happened that still continues.

Turns out that as I wrote the last paragraph, I changed my mind about the year as a whole. It was not bad, it was definitely a lot of change, but it was also interesting A lot of stuff happened which was annoying, but it was eventually to set stage for the year to come. So instead of saying 2015 was meh, I think I will say that I think 2016 will be much more awesome.

I can feel it.

Now that we’re here – Day 1

Apparently, the brain does rust with respect to any aspect that remains undone, untouched, untried for a while, in my case today, blogging. 2014 was started with crazy optimism, and the promise to do a post a day, every day for the first 31 days of the month. And I actually managed 24 straight days, some, where there was a practical race against time to make it to the midnight deadline, content be damned. And then, I gave up.

And not just on the marathon, but also blogging frequently in general. Heart-breaking. Because if I could manage content for 24 days straight (no picture posts even, mind you), the only reason why my blogging dwindled to a post to a month, even zero, can only be attributed to laziness.But as you know, I am all about not quitting, positivity and all that jazz, as long someone else is not preaching about it. So when Seema mailed me, asking if I wanted to give it another shot, I said, well, why not.

And so here I am! Presenting to you all, those of you who still have me on your reader – Blogathon version 2.0 – 31 days of non-stop posting on this site, prioritizing it higher than all other life-changing distractions like Twitter, sleep, even staring at the walls. Which would also explain why I am sitting at 9:50 PM at my laptop, typing my debut post of 2015, on a holiday, instead of being busy with one of the those priorities I mentioned above (though I did stare at the walls a bit before I could even start typing because boy it’s tough to write a whole page when you have given up writing anything more than 140 characters, or 99 words).

So here’s to me blogging again. And reading more blogs. Reading more in general. Writing more in general. Enjoying every day doing all that is important, and more importantly doing all that is enjoyable. Looking forward to new beginnings, ‘cos we all know how much I love new beginnings.

Here’s to 2015.

Counting up to New Years

I got back on time today, by which I mean the day isn’t’ about to end in another 15-10-8 minutes, and by that I mean that you might not be treated to an atrocity like yesterday. I am really sorry about that by the way. That was an unbelievable disaster.

Anyway, today while I was passing through my very own streets of Hyderabad, I was as always, reminded of the good old days I spent here. And of the seven New Years that we brought in together here, me and The Dude. And ofcourse, how we brought in 2014, which by the way, if you noticed, I haven’t mentioned here as yet.

Starting 31st December 2006. Picture this. Girl’s family meets guy’s family. The guy’s place. The house is set up, there is Bismillah Khan (?) playing in the background. The families are sitting around and doing small talk with not-so-subtle, cliched statements like ‘It’s whatever the children decide. Their happiness is aaaall we want right’. The girl sits shyly, in her green Salwar Kameez. The guy smiles and looks on. The Evening progresses. Pleasantries are exchanged. Food is had, dates are talked about (not fixed, they were fixed a long time ago on phone). And it’s time to go. But what’s this? The parents and sister leave the girl behind? The time, 9:00 PM. The girl walks into one of the rooms carrying a hitherto unnoticed plastic packet. In 10 minutes, she steps out, wearing a glittery red top and a black skirt, her most daring outfit till date, grinning widely. They party until 1:00 AM at Dublin that night, and the song that’s played at midnight is ‘Aaj ki Raat’ from Don, their current favorite. It’s awesome, and just the beginning.

On 31st December 2007, we had been married for 6 months already, and had a lot of partying behind us. But New Year’s Eve partying was a given so we decided to go our usual haunt ‘Bottles and Chimey’. It was an unlimited food and drinks deal, which we thoroughly enjoyed, and returned well past midnight, drunk, happy and high. We were also celebrating the fact that we had won the trip to Japan a couple of days ago.

31st December 2008, we decided to spend at home. Not because we had outgrown partying, but because we had just returned from an amazing party week at Goa. It was like we were trying to detoxify ourselves for all the evil we had indulged in the week before. And an unlimited alcohol deal would only kill that. We did party at home, but relatively soberly.

31st December 2009 is the black mark in my history of partying, drinking, New Year’s Eves. I think I have mentioned it before, but my memory of the night includes the following- a lot of mixing drinks, feeling claustrophobic on the dance floor, as ‘Dhan Ta Naan’ played in the background, forcing The Dude to leave the place before it struck 12, sitting with my head in my hands as he ate through the huge spread, including a massive cake (which I couldn’t even get myself to look at, making The Dude stop the car 5 minutes after we started, stepping out, and throwing up. The Dude says it struck 12 right then, and there were fireworks in the sky as I puked my guts out. The next thing I remember is waking up with the mother of all hangovers at 10 the next morning. Not my idea of a good start to the year. The Dude’s favorite memory ever. Bah.

31st December 2010 was the year of sobriety. We got entry into a pretty nice party, where nothing was unlimited. So we decided to behave ourselves and stick to a couple of wines and beers. The only issue was I hardly got high, and was up until 4 in the morning. The highlight of the night was the 2 year old son of my Bro-in-law’s friend, mistaking me for his mom (who was at the house party), and not letting me go. He fell asleep holding to me. I think that’s when I decided I was all set to have a baby.

31st December 2011 was my first New Year’s Eve as a mom. I had been off drinks for the whole year, and this is when I broke the fast. We got back to one of the unlimited everything parties that night and had a great time. Highlights of the night – I did not fit into any of my pretty clothes, and complained about that, and two, I woke up an auto driver sleeping in his auto, as we walked up to our car, asking him why he was sleeping when business would be awesome. He didn’t respond then, but in a few minutes, he was right behind us. He sounded quite offended. That’s when he clarified that he wasn’t an auto driver and had just snuck in a few zzzzs after drinking. And then we went back, I am assuming to sleep again. Much fun.

31st December 2012, The Dude and I went to our favorite hangout in Hyderabad, the unfortunately named ‘Heartcup Café’. It’s a lovely place, and as always, we had a lovely time. I didn’t know at that moment, that we wouldn’t be in that city the next year. Not sure if we would have done anything different if we had.

Which brings us to this year. We had decided to go to a nice place we liked, with no intentions of doing the unlimited thing this year. So The Dude called TJ’s, this brewery close by we love. They told there were no reservations and that we could just drop by. I told The Dude, that the next year, I would want to stay home, cos Zo might start understanding the concept of New Year’s and might also want to be awake. He said ok. We went to TJ’s, and guess what, it was full. Just like every other place we tried. So we picked up food and drinks and headed home.

The Dude set up the lights and the music. All of  the music, my kind, but the stuff he had approved of at some point of time in the last 7 years. And that’s how we brought in 2014. We woke up Zo at 12 to wish her, to which she squirmed, and said ’Waaaaaa, Happy New Year nahi chahiye’ and went back to sleep. We were up till 2 I think. It was perhaps one of the best New Year’s Eve ever.

Why am I writing all this? Well, for one, it took me a long time to remember what we were doing a couple of the years. And when I did remember, I just had to note it down, before I forgot again. It wouldn’t be right.

And two, the beloved (not) Blogathon. I am hoping you guys are happy. You better be, this is a lot of effort. But I do have to say that I smiled quite a bit as I typed out the post. So that’s my plus.

It’s Goodnight for now. And there’s a whole hour to midnight. Yay me.

2014 – For lack of a better title

So the earth managed to complete yet another circle around the sun without toppling off it’s orbit, or getting in the way of giant meteors, or sucked into a black hole some where along the way, while speeding through the massive space that is the universe.

Cool. Reason enough to celebrate I assume, so we will start with the nicities. Happy 2014 people, may this year get not give you much reason to complain about how very unfair life is to you, and you alone.

Personally, I like New Years. It’s all fresh start, clean slate, resolutions. While I strictly stick to my retrospective resolutions theory, it makes me all warm and cheery to see others talk about healthy eating, positive thinking, more reading, writing, travelling etc. I must take a moment here to mention what an epic fail my retrospective resolutions for 2013 have been because all I did this year can be summarised under ‘ Do everything impulsively, in the shortest time possible and then wonder where time flew. Oh, and yes, while you’re at it, OD on chocolates.’

This does not change anything, and I am still sticking to my no resolutions for 2014 until we enter 2015 theory. I however, am doing something new starting today. I am entering this Blogathon.

Funny, you think? I do too.  Imagine, me, doing a post a day. For 31 days. Which means that if I pull this off, I will finish my quota of blogging for the whole year, in the first month <I swear if there was anyone breathed a sigh of relief, they will not be spared>. I was so overwhelmed when I decided to participate, that I started my first post already on the 31st of December. Cheating, I know. But Karma, my dear friends, is quite cunning. And I left the draft in my office laptop, which I have no patience to log into now.

Which is why you’re being treated to this fresh, amazing, honestly-typed-on-01-01-2014 post right now. There are prompts, to help you out, and I am going to refer to them, as soon as I run out of stuff to blab otherwise. Till then, I will stick to atleast referencing them here. And by the way, the first one was ‘Resolutions’, which is why we’re here.

Quite honestly, I need all the determination in the world to push myself through this. And frankly you do too, to survive through a whole month of  ‘me, me, and more me’.

Let’s see who fares better now, shall we?

And then we were nine

Before we start with anything, let me just say that when you have an 18 month old at home, everything else pretty much is put on the back-burner  Work, hobbies, leisure, everything. So much so, that in my case, I have completely neglected my other 9 year old.

Which 9 year old, you ask? Well, the one you all know very well. Actually, the one because of who you all know me very well. Yep, this 9 year old, my beloved blog..Who turns a grand 9 years old today, and there was no way I would let this day pass without an acknowledgment right?

You can go ahead and call me old, though personally I would prefer the term veteran. And no, you cannot deny me the title just because I am not regular here, hello, I’ve been here 9 years, and going by some of those who seem to be reading me these days, well, I guess they were pretty much in primary school when I started. Ok, I guess ‘old’ makes more sense.

Anyway. Some of you might already have blogs, so you know how proud I must be feeling right now, considering my little blog baby is already 9. And you also must be knowing how tough it is to keep it healthy, and alive. Every year, every post is an achievement. And there might be others  who don’t have any blog right now, but are considering to have one soon. And there will be still others who fall in neither category, but this post is not for them, unfortunately. Because today, I have decided to bestow upon you, 10 tips that you might help you start a blog, or if you have one, maintain it.

1. Join a B-school. Because there is free internet and a lot of time to while away. This might inspire you to utilise your time writing extremely useful(less?) blog posts. Some of you might choose to instead play mouse-click games on Yahoo and eat through a whole pack of Lays chips, the 20 Rs pack, but that might just have been me. Also, I know internet is like this free good being given away these days, so don’t rub it in.

2. Take up an IT/Finance/Consultant role. Look, Sales guys have real sales figures to meet, Marketing guys have these numerous vendors, service providers they need to deal with, doctors save lives and stuff, and real engineers build flyovers, or jazzy machines. But if you’re into IT/Finance/Consultancy, you will spend hours in front of the computer, sometimes with nothing to do, and sometimes with a lot to do but no will to do it. In both cases, blogs will come to your rescue.

3. Watch Bollywood movies. The lamer the better. Whenever I watch a movie like ‘Main Prem ki Diwani hoon’, my head fills up with amazing ideas of how I could do a whole post on something as small as Kareena and Hrithik’s annoying expressions. Or the animated parrot and dog. It’s a different matter that as soon as I turn on the computer to put my wonderful thoughts on the blog, reality calls. Ok, I mean Zo calls.

4. Which brings me to the next tip. Have a baby. I mean really nothing but a baby can provide you the variety of  things to think, talk, and the best of all, blog about. Especially if you’re a first time parent, everything your baby does seems to be THE thing the world needs to watch out for. And by world, I mean the poor, hapless, blog readers, who can only read and nod along. So do it. While it also means that too much to do leaves you with too little time to write about it, that’s something you need to manage, like I am doing so wonderfully now (Sarcasm alert).

5. Do something dumb. Like going on diet. Or joining a gym. Or making new year resolutions. Or deciding that you will stay positive henceforth. This might not give you interesting stuff to write about initially, but when it backfires, which it will, you will have enough to write a couple of posts at least.

6. Read widely acclaimed Self Help books. The more famous the better, because then you can also Google and find out about those who have benefited from them. You have a variety of options after that. You can then give your views on it. Or better still start giving your own self-help gyan, helping people around the world live better lives, or manage their time better, 7 steps to gain the success that 7 years of slogging your ass off didn’t , because that is definitely so realistic.

7. Read other blogs. No this is not to get ideas, or get inspired.It is just because I am assuming that when you see all that creativity and regularity, there will be small part of your conscience that will nudge you and say, ‘hello, remember you have a blog too?’, basically awaken some guilt. It’s happened with me, and works, so try it.

8. Go for a walk. This one’s for ideas. I mean if the nature, the roads, the sun and clouds don’t inspire you to pen down your thoughts who will? Oh wait, it could be that horrible clashing outfit of that girl on the 2nd floor. Or that annoying woman who does not know the concept of a queue. Or that bland food you cleverly compared to cardboard pieces or such. Wait, these things work better. So fine, go to a mall, or the cafeteria instead.

9. Look around. In less than 5 minutes, you will find at least 10 things that are not as per your demands, or do not meet your expectations. This gives you a 10 pointer post of rants and complaints, because we all know that’s the stuff most blogs are made of. And that’s the stuff that keeps us going.

10. Write. Just write. I might be underplaying it, but writing is something all of us can do, if we want to. How readable it is for a larger group might differ, but honestly, should you care? Your blog, your site, where you are forcing no one to go to, you technically get to do what you want there. Plus it costs nothing. So go ahead, and write. The ‘Blogverse’ is so huge that in all probability, there is at least person out there, who feels exactly the same way about that song you mentioned you love, which no one else seems to even recognise. And if that person does not exist, you can go back and read this years down the line, and have a good laugh. Else, your Zo will.

So what are you waiting for. Go, start a blog, and if you have one already, update it right now. And if you have any more brilliant ideas, those are welcome too. And of course, birthday wishes are a must.

Nine years is long, and no one knows that better than me.Thanks for sticking around people, because if it weren’t for you, I for sure wouldn’t have carried on.