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It has been more than a year since I started this blog. Although technically the blog was created with the customary “First Post” in december of 2008, this blog was mostly updated in 2009. So a big CONGRATS to myself for having the patience to keep writing for a year and an even bigger THANK YOU to all of you who stopped by and commented on my scattered thoughts.
The main reason I started this blog was to capture the most important moments of my life but as you all can see I have not done a good job at it. So here is an attempt to capture some of those lovely moments in a recap. Each should have been a complete post in itself, but better late than never. Hopefully I am not too late to write this yet another customary post.

January :
– We kickstarted our new year with an adventurous snow mobiling experience in Lake Tahoe, CA. It was just a one day trip with some close friends. We all had a wonderful time exploring the pristine trails in the frozen Lake Tahoe valley. I have done skiing before but this was so much better. It felt like gliding on the snow, minus the pain from the skiing shoes and the constant falling on your behind.
– In Jan, I also celebrated my 28th birthday. Though not a big achievement but it was made special by the most precious and thoughtful gift I got from Hubby. He gave me back my childhood memories that were locked up in an old cassette.
February:
– In Feb, we celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. Which only meant more inquiries from hopeful parents and in-laws about the progress in the baby-making process. If you are Indian and married with no kids yet, you would know what it means. In India it is anybody and everybody’s business to do such inquiries, and you are expected not to punch them in the face to let them know it is none of their bluhdee business.
March:
– In March, we took a short vacation on a lake house. This was also to celebrate our wedding anniversary.
April:
– I dont have any pictures from April in my laptop. So definitely didnt do any outdoor expeditions. But i am assuming we must have gone for short hikes nearby.
– A close look at my inbox reveals we were mostly out on appratment hunt that month, but ended up renewing our existing lease anyways.
May:
– In May, we went for a cherry picking experience. Something we hadn’t done inspite of staying in the bay area for past 3 years. There were other fruits to pick too, like nectrines and peaches, but i liked picking cherries the most. You could eat as much as you want but if you want to collect and take it home you have to buy them at a very nominal price, way lower that the super markets. I feel it is a really great way of doing business but when I see some people wasting a lot of fruits, thats when it becomes disgusting. The farmers actually have to post signs reading “Please do not waste, take only what you need”. Shouldnt this be implied anyways??
June:
– With summer already kicked in, we found ourselves planning more and more outdoor activities. Thats when we also realised we had never been to Niagara Falls together. So we planned our long pending trip to Niagara falls. Well Hubby did most of the planning offcouse, from booking the flights to selecting the hotel and getting the rental car etc. It felt so nice going there again after 4 years. I had been there before with friends when I was living in New York, and wowed by the beauty of it I had decided to come back again with Hubby. So this was kind of like a mini honeymoon for us 🙂
July:
– In July we had our very first camping experience, and sadly could not have any more last year after that. But I am planning another one this year, maybe end of next month to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. Hopefully bay area gets a little bit warmer by that time.
August:
– August set the ball rolling for meetings and reunions with family and friends. I met my brother after 2 years. He came to visit me while on a short official visit to US. We also celebrated raksha bandhan since his visit was timed roughly around that time. It was quiet an emotional experience as I did the traditional arti and tied Rakhi on his wrist after a very long time, almost 5 years. He tried give me some money in return in the arti plate as per the tradition, and I refused saying there is really no need for any gifts or money as he is the younger brother. But he insisted saying it was the first time he was giving something he earned himself. My little brother, who always asked money from me for small stuff like movies, shoes, clothes etc was now big enough to buy me gifts with his own money. 🙂 I remember as kids, when we celebrated the Raksha Bandhan or Bhau Beej festival, dad would give him presealed envelopes to give to me and my other cousin sisters when we did the Arti for him. Dad would have separate envelope for his own sister and we always fought with Dad about how he kept more money in his sister’s envelope and less for us. My brother had been waiting for the day he no longer needed to take the money from dad to gift his sisters. You cannot refuse him after that, can you?
– We also went on a one day short trip to Lake Tahoe again while he was here and did parasailing. It was a thrilling experience as we were lifted upto 1200 feet in the air by a rope. The initial fear and the cold wind were totally forgotten as we saw nothing but the vast expanse of blue-green water below.
– I also had my very first blogger meet.
September:
– One of my cousin moved to California for higher studies. She came to visit me 2 weeks before her school started. So that month was mostly going sightseeing with her and later we also drove all the way to southern Califonia to drop her at her university. It is surprising how being away from home brings people so closer. She was as happy to be with us in her initial days in US as we were to have some one from the family over. Needless to say it was hard saying good bye to her as we left her alone in her hostel. She hugged me as I was about to leave and we both started crying, right in the lobby of her hostel oblivious to other people watching us. There was silence in the car as me and Hubby started our return journey back to home except for when we called her every hour to check how she was doing.
October:
– We went on another trip, this time to channel Islands National park. They are a group of 5 separate islands in the Pacific Ocean near Santa Barbara. Due to time restriction we could not cover all 5, we only did 3. What an experience it was. These islands feel so good in October when everything is dried up, I cant imagine how wonderful they would be during spring. These islands are also totally isolated from the mainland and only few companies ( well actually only 2) have licenses to take tourists to these islands.
November:
– In early November, Hubby went to Paris, without me. Yes, you heard it right,he went to the most romantic city alone, for work purposes 😦 Offcouse he compensated by bringing back loads of gifts for me and a promise that he will take me there. But unless you see a post here in the future about it, it would be fair to assume he has not fulfilled his promise.
– In November I also met my best friend after 2 years. She lives in New York with her husband and a kid and when she said she was planning a visit to california I was ecstatic. I met her in NY when I first came to this country. Being away from family for the first time, we were both very homesick and eventually found best friends in each other. It was sad she only stayed with me for a day but I am glad we could make the most of the very little time we had together.
December:
-In Dec, I had a 10 day shutdown at work from Christmas to new year and fortunately Hubby Dear also managed to get a week off. So we set out on another road trip. We went to San Deigo and then Death Valley, and also picked up my cousin on our way who was more than happy to join us. In San Diego we went to the zoo, which was huge but boring since the animal looked grumpy and sad. We also went to the sea world but the best part of the trip was a visit to the Wild Animal park. Hubby had reserved this photo caravan tour where you get to feed giraffes and rhinos and take pictures with them. That was the most amazing experience on this trip. Later we drove to Death Valley and were mesmerized by the vast desert, huge natural salt pans and the best part, sand dunes. Death Valley experiences record high temperatures during summer, which makes it difficult for visitors to step out once the sun is out. I am happy we went there in winter.

Looking back at the events of the past year I feel I had a rocking 2009 and wish the coming years brings more joy and is equally rocking.
Moving ahead in 2010, I promise to be more patient and forgiving, two qualities I was born without. I also promise myself to keep up my fitness regime, the one that I have been following rarely for the past few years but managed to keep up with since the begining of this year. An lastly I also want to promise myself to update the blog more often and we will soon find out if I am able to keep up with it.

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Shift-Delete

Have you ever wished for your life to change drastically for good? Like say some day, God decides you have had enough struggles in your life and decides to grant you 3 wishes and suddenly your life becomes magically perfect? Well… who doesnt? No matter how unrealizable it is at the moment, still nobody stops wishing for things they have been dying to have all their life. Like that promotion at work, or some lottery with which you can buy the house of your dreams, or redo your house you have long been wanting to do, or even buy the beautiful diamond jewellery you have been eyeing in the mall but putting off everytime since that is not the priority at the moment. Or even say dropping 2 jean sizes overnight.

How would it feel if suddenly you have all those things you could ever wish for but dont exactly recollect getting it. Like your life changed overnight and all of a sudden you have everything you wished for but lost the memory of achieving it? Say you forgot all the struggles you had to go through to get to your goal. Well nobody would really want to remember the tougher days in ones life. We always try to put those things behind and look at the brighter side of life. But can you really do with forgeting a sizable portion of your memory?

Well… this is the case of Lexi Smart, the main character in one of the book I just finished reading. “Remember Me?” is the book written by Sophie Kinsella. The story is about a 28 year old woman named Lexi Smart who meets with an accident and has 3 years of her memory wiped off. She suddenly goes from a 25 year old struggling working girl to the director of the same company she was working for. To her biggest surprise she looks much prettier than she remembered herself to be and also has a gorgeous, drop dead, multimillionaire husband. Seems kind of like a dream come true for her untill she realizes she doesnt remember even a zilch of how she got to be what she is. Even precious moments like meeting her husband for the first time or her wedding day are only left to her imagination from other peoples descriptions. She doesnt even remember if she really loves him. What follows is her struggle to put together pieces of her life that are missing from her memory.

Not that I am severely unhappy with my life at present, but for a brief moment while reading the synopsis of the book I did wish, how wonderful if that happens to me. Not exactly the discover-I-have-a-new-handsome-husband part coz I already have one whom I love to death, but say for starters, I no longer have to put up with the annoying people at work and even better I am their boss now. And I dont have go through any struggle or remember going through any to become the boss and it just feels like life changed for better overnight. I kind of drifted in my very own fairy tale untill i reached to the part in the book where Lexi tries so hard to remember her husband and all the relationship that they share. And a sudden fear gripped me. Ignore the life-gets-magically-perfect part. What if I dont get any of that and still lose my memory. How horrible could that be if one fine day few years of my life are washed from my memory and I forget my marriage or even forget my husband. Still shuddering from the thought I immediately went to Hubby and made him promise he would never give up on me if that ever happened to me, no matter how long he had to wait for my memory to come back. He obliged feeling quiet surprised, completely oblivious to where i was coming from. And true, these incidents are not very common. But reading a book like this makes you stop and think what really must be going on in the life of the person to whom such things do happen? I mean we have seen a lot of similar plots in movies where suddenly in the climax the memory eventually comes back. But what about real life? Is it always the same in real life too?

Sometimes I forget to carry my lunch box or leave my cell phone at home. I feel so pathetic to forget stuff I do daily that I cannot begin to comprehend how sad it would be for people who actually forget who they are. I remember a friend’s mom had suffered from memeory loss. Not due to some accident but something else. My friend was then in the final year of engineering while his mom thought he was still in the the 10th standard. How difficult it must have been for her to accept that she knows nothing about 6 years of her only son’s life. A lot must have happened in those 6 years and everything erased.

Science might have devised ways to treat such losses and there might be family and friends to help. But can any amount of compassion make up for the loss? Can it bring back the memories the person has lost? Something we get busy building all our life. Can we really remember it the same way we used to, if it is narrated by someone else? Can it really be called a memory if you only remember it as told by someone and not remember making it? Can one really recover if God accidentally pressed a shift-delete on important logs from the brain’s hard disk?

Celebrations or Tortures

I dont understand what makes people want to celebrate birthdays at midnight. Whats with people who want to be the first one to wish someone on their birthday? Its not like the person was born at midnight and so the cake cutting ceremony has to happen exactly at that time. If anything check with the person what exact time the person was born and try to keep up with that.

Back in the younger days the only way to celebrate was to getup in the morning, put on your new clothes just bought for the occasion and then mom would do the traditional tilak and aarti for you. You would then go to school in your new dress. School allowed students to wear regular clothes instead of uniforms on their birthdays. Thats how the entire school would find out it was your birthday that day and would wish you. Sometime during the day your teacher would let the entire class celebrate your birthday by singing the birthday song and then you would distribute the chocolates and candies specially brought for this occasion to your entire class. Sometimes if it is your best friend or close friends birthday you would get 2 candies instead of one. I remember bringing it home to share with my little brother. In the evening you would invite the neighbourhood friends for a small party. Dad would get the cake and some potato chips and candies and some fruit drink (mostly Rasna) for the party. You would blow the candles and everyone will clap for you and you cut the cake. Mom would take the cake inside to cut into small pieces and bring dishes filled with cake and chips for everyone while everyone else gave you whatever small gift they brought for you. All the kids would get some return gift if any, although that was not a compulsion at that time as it is nowadays. Nothing fancy like they do nowadays, a single pencil or small bag of chocolates would suffice.

Everything was so sweet back then. There were no phone calls waking you up in the middle of the night or disturbing you throughout the day. Whoever wanted to wish you would personally come to see you. As you grew older and went to college, the celebrations took a different form. You stuck to just celebrating with your closest friends instead of the entire class. You would go to some restaurant for snacks where you would typically pick up the tab as a gesture of treating your friends on the occasion and the evening and dinner was reserved for family and close relatives who stopped by.

Crashing at someone’s home at midnight was unthinkable due to potentially disturbing the parents and in some cases even grand parents. I think it is mostly in US that I got acquainted with the weird method of torturing someone by depriving them of sleep right on the night of their birthday. To top it off an even weirder ritual began of applying the cake/icing on the face of the birthday boy/girl… At midnight??? Really??? When you are already in a sleepy mood, washed your face with a scrub and applied night cream and about to fall asleep after a hectic day maybe?? And it does not stop with just a slight application of cake on cheeks, in most cases that I have seen, it is more about painting the entire face with the cream from the cake and also coating ones hair with the cream. How can this be fun? I feel it is simply disgusting and feel terribly sorry for the person for 2 reasons. First he/she has to spend hours after the caking ceremony in the bathroom cleaning up the creamy stuff from face and hair. And next probably the entire night or next day cleaning the mess left in the kitchen or wherever the cake hitting took place. What happened to those simple-no-mess ways of celebrating?

Maybe I am still old fashioned in this aspect. I prefer quiet celebrations. I prefer spending the day with Hubby or maybe just the closest friends. I would love to go for some nice dinner and/or movie and only answer calls during the day time. I wish no one disturbs me at midnight by either showing up at my door or with endless calls. Even if I get labelled as the boring person who never indulges in the fun I can deal with it. Coz birthdays are meant to celebrate the person and not torture him/her by hitting with cake, right?

I was just thinking about writing up a new post when I saw that G had tagged me for this.
The rules are that you have to answer in one word but I think it will be very difficult to stick to the rule. And afterall rules are meant to be broken, so here it goes:

1.Where is your cell phone?

On my desk

2.Your hair?

Feel Silky today.

3.Your mother?

An Angel.

4.Your father?

I miss him 😦

5.Your favorite food?

Thai

6.Your dream last night?

Dont remember

7.Your favorite drink?

Water

8.Your dream/goal?

My dream House

9.What room are you in?

My Cubicle in Office

10.Your hobby?

Movies

11.Your fear?

Bhoot!!

12.Where do you want to be in 6 years?

Back home (India)

13.Where were you last night?

In Bed

14.Something that you aren’t?

Hypocrite

15.Muffins?

Calories 😦

16.Wish list item?

Jewelry

17.Where did you grow up?

Mumbai

18.Last thing you did?

Coffee-break

19.What are you wearing?

Clothes !! Duh!!

20.Your TV?

Is Old 😦

21.Your pets?

Never existed.

22.Friends?

Miss them too.

23.Your life?

Is Beautiful

24.Your mood?

Lively

25.Missing someone?

India 😦

26.Vehicle?

Toyota Camry

27.Something you’re not wearing?

Perfume (forgot today)

28.Your favorite store?

JCPenny

29.Your favorite color?

All

30.When was the last time you laughed?

Yesterday

31.Last time you cried?

Last week

32.Your best friend?

Far away 😦

33.One place that you go to over and over?

Internet

34.One person who emails me regularly?

Facebook

35.Favorite place to eat?

Home.

Okay, Done. Now I tag anybody who stumbles upon this and feels like taking it up.

Back On Track

I cannot get fancy with words, nor am I good at writing philosophical stuff that can get me classified as an A-list blogger. I am not very patient with exploring my writing skills, clearly explained by the long spells of absence from my very own blog. Nor I have the will to update my blog daily. But I so much enjoy the thrill of penning down sporadic epiphanies that occur to me from time to time. And just to know you have a place to turn to is really assuring.

Today I went to the gym after almost… hmm… I dont even remember how many days. Life had been too busy past couple of weeks and weekends were just as crazy. To start with my brother came to visit me for a weekend in Aug and then we went on a 3 day hiking trip over the labor day weekend and then the week after that one of my cousin from came from India. She is doing her masters in a university in South California and I insisted she come to my place first to stay with me before her school starts. So that weekend was spent sight seeing around the bay area and the week after that we drove to South California to drop her at her university. It didnt stop there. Our college friends who have been dating for like ever now decided to get married the next weekend, again in South California and so it was another 13 hr drive weekend. Oh! and BTW we had been to Channel Islands (again in South California) over the long weekend. So we had like 5 back to back weekends packed with minimum of 12-13 hrs of driving on each.

As much as a weekend full of interesting activities is desirable to de-stress you from your stressful workweek, it also adds a stress of its own and you end up trying to relieve yourself of the accumulated weekend fatigue and disrupt your otherwise normal workweek.

To begin with, your excercise routine goes for a toss since you are tired from all the driving etc and then in evenings you struggle with doing your laundry and other routine household activities like cleaning, arranging etc while simultaneously cooking dinner at home coz the extra junk you managed to push down your throat over the weekend starts showing on the scale by now. And then you realise that your recently reinstated home cooking regime needs to be supported with important items in your pantry and thats when the failure of planning a grocery list hits you and you find yourself making several trips to the grocery store to restore some of the basic items in your kitchen. Come another crazy weekend and before you realise you are in a vicious cycle and you start craving for that relaxing-do-nothing-but-chill-out-at-home type weekend. Thankfully I got mine and I am glad to find myself back on track finally.

Today while running on the treadmill I realised that as much as we crave stability in life, a montonous uninterrupted routine life can really make you dull. Imagine having to get up daily at the same time, go to gym, go to work, come back, cook dinner, cleanup and go to bed just to wake up the next day and start the same cycle again. Would you call this stable or boring? In reality no matter how much we hate our routine disturbed, life always finds ways to ensure we dont wear ourselves out in our propensity to stay on track. And as much as I feel these changes in your life are required, nothing feels better than being back on track after a long bout of craziness.

This $#!t Really Works

I have always believed in working with utmost sincerity and expected the same from others. If people seek some information from me i have no problem giving it away as long at it is okay to divulge the details. But apparently never works the same way when I am at the asking end. People are so hesitant to share any knowledge about their projects. As if that is all they know and i am some hungry job predator ready to pounce on theirs. I feel so sorry for such insecure people. I also don’t understand why people don’t give importance to proper documentation. Why don’t managers enforce it on their teams to ensure things are properly documented. I have seen people document stuff just for the sake of filling up some pages with some blabber. Either they don’t do it at all or put up some shoddy pieces of crap. You don’t need a phd in literature to document technical details, just put down what you have really done and implemented. That’s all it takes.

I started a on a new project which involves getting data from other systems. So I had to setup several meeting with this person who was the expert on that system. I initially found her very reluctant and had to ask the same questions in multiple ways and at different times in the hopes that she might have forgotten that she had answered “I am not sure of this one” the last time. But she was smart and tough to crack. I also tried formally initiating an email with the list of questions I had. Thought that would compel her to research if she doesn’t remember and reply with a definite answer. But that didn’t do it either. She was too smart to fall for these tricks. She insisted we meet to discuss that stuff and it was the same story again. Rolling eyes over, making faces as if to indicate she was applying so much pressure to her paltry brain, trying to remember but in vain and finally coming up with a “I dont think that information will be useful for you” response. When every straightforward attempt failed I decided to work more on my soft skills.

Surprisingly building relationships through small talks is the way to go. Indulging in irrelevant chitchat at work had never been my forte. I simply cannot indulge in unnecessary corridor discussions and a hee-hee-hoo-hoo with people i don’t find worthy talking to. Never been a fan of that, but decided to give it a shot.

There is a saying in marathi “adla hari gadhvache pay dhari”. Literally meaning when in need Lord Vishnu had to make even a donkey his master. No offense to the donkeys but basically it means when you are in need be prepared to kiss some a$$. Where every other legitimate effort fails flattery works. Several casual hi hellos and some inquiries about her and her kids later I noticed that information started flowing out like someone left a tap open. Offcourse each meeting also had to end with me appreciating how helpful she was and how sorry I was to trouble her with so many questions (implying how dumb of me to not be able to figure out these details myself) and all this said in the most dramatic way. Gosh how I hate doing this. Not that she was not helping me now and I am not thankful. I really am grateful that she is taking time out to discuss things with me. But I would have appreciated it genuinely had she not been so difficult initially. The over stressing and being extra polite and adding all the pleonastic details to every word of appreciation that come out of your mouth makes me feel so fake. When people do it to me it feels like torture. Even if I don’t intend to be rude to their face, my body/face sends uncontrolled signals that these tactics are not appreciated. No need to put up this farce in from of me.I will work irrespective if that. But thanks to these tormentors, I feel like i have now mastered an art have hated all this while and still do. Just that after realizing the definite results to be reaped i don’t mind using it when everything else has failed.

A Surreal Experience

I had my very first blogger meeting last week. And that too with a blogger whom i have been reading for years (much before I started blogging myself) and admiring for the variety of topics she covers and the amazing enthusiasm and efforts she puts in to concoct each wonderful post of hers. Her remarkable zeal is evident from the fact that she wrote about our meeting the very same day while on a vacation here in US and it took me week to come up with a decent enough post. In fact I contemplated not writing anything coz she has written so beautifully that it is difficult to match up to her level. But then blogging is not about matching up to someone, it is about documenting your own experiences to stay with you always. Plus this blog needed an update and a new header, hence the header. It is from my Niagara trip 2 month back not related to the meeting but just thought it is time to make some change on the blog, too lazy to play with the color schemes etc so content with changing the header for now.

Oops too much of diversion, back to the topic of the post.

So I had found through some comments exchanged with her that she has family in the area where I live and i expressed my wish to meet her someday if she travels this way. Little did i know my wish would come true so soon as she had to travel for a wedding in her family. I had read other bloggers write about their meetings and wondered how would it be to meet someone whom you only know through their thoughts. Never done anything like that before in life. But eight months into blogging and i had already planned a blogger meet.

As the day of the meeting came closer i grew more and more anxious of the meeting. I was glad to find her as spirited as I was and all the initial apprehension i had about how will she be, what things to discuss etc etc vanished instantaneously. She invited me to meet her folks and they were as welcoming as she is on her blog. She had brought some thoughtful gifts for me. A beautifully designed ethnic pouch for keeping cell phone and a delectable raw mango drink mostly made in Maharashtra. The surprising fact was the drink was made from apple sauce and i am still amazed how can apple taste like mango.

We had so much to discuss and so much of catching up on each others lives that time seemed like running out too soon. We started talking right from when she got into my car, through our dinner, on our way back to her house and even at the entrance of her house as I got out to say goodbye. Our topics flowed so spontaneously and soon we were talking away nineteen to the dozen and before i knew, it was already time for her to go. So much still to left know about this person I respect for all the courage and boldness she shows in everything she does, her thoughts with which I cannot agree more, and her willingness to share her experience with others.

It is good to be able to put a face to a name and I am glad and thankful for this wonderful surreal experience of meeting her in person.