My Best Friend

I remember very vividly spending my summer vacations at Chennai almost two decades ago with my grandparents. It was a time I longed for and looked forward to the whole year. All around me people hated going to Chennai during summers because of the unbearable heat but for me it hardly mattered. Spending time with my grandparents surpassed everything at that time for me. It's ironical how as children we really value the most important aspects of life and as we grow we start giving more importance to the petty things in life. My grand mom was an incredibly special person to me. I cannot forget the endless conversations I would have with her when I was a little child. When everybody else was treating me as a child and dismissing me she was perhaps the only one who spoke to me like I was an adult, tolerating all my idiosyncrasies. Now she is no more!!

She passed away on August 30th after being bed ridden for almost a month. When I flew down to India after hearing that she was in a critical condition, I could not recognize her anymore. It was like all the life had already been sucked out of her. She was half her size with absolutely no facial expressions and she was just staring into space. I always felt that she was the most funny person I had ever met, with age her sense of humor just increased. I could just have endless conversations with her without ever getting bored. She had infinite funny stories about me as a child and all the fun we would both have when we were around. Just to see her so lifeless in bed was just heart breaking for me. The minute my mom announced that I was here to see her, I noticed a drastic change in her expression, she started to smile and tried to talk but her body wouldn't allow it. What made it unbelievable for me to accept her imminent death was that she was so hale and hearty a year ago when I was visiting India. She was the kind of person who was very particular about eating in a timely manner. Since she had trouble walking around, she had all of her essential food items like bread, biscuits, water right next to her. It would look funny to people who came to visit her because it looked a mini store beside here with all of her food and medicines neatly arranged. This made it all the more heart breaking for me when I found out that she had stopped eating all together and was just surviving on 3-4 tsps of milk everyday. Her bodily functions had also stopped and we knew that we were counting days.

In those few days that I was in India, I couldn't help but reminisce about all the wonderful time I spent with her. All those evenings in Chennai sipping coffee with her and talking non stop about all the things under the sun. I cannot forget sitting on the kitchen counter top looking fascinated at what she was cooking. She was my horror movie watching buddy, everyone else in the family hated horror movies but the both of us  would just hole up in the bedroom and watch whatever horror movie was on. She was always incredibly proud of me right from when I was a little girl and was my biggest advocate when everyone else was against me. When the world had given up on me about me learning to cook, she was always super confident that one day I would be an awesome cook. When people complained that I was very cut off and unemotional, she would always advocate that I was the most emotional person that they could find but I just didn't know how to express my feelings. In short she was always there for me.

On August 30th, 2015, I did not just lose my grandmother but I lost my best friend and nothing in this whole wide world can replace the vacuum she has left behind in my life.

Change is the only thing constant in life

“Change is the only thing constant in life” is what I wrote in my last day email to my colleagues and how true it turned out to be. I must say I’m getting a fairly heavy doze of change. To summarize it for you in one line – I graduated from B-school, relocated to Washington DC, resigned from my job, currently looking out for jobs in Healthcare IT which is a niche industry but a space where I have a lot of experience in, moved to a new apartment in DC, cooking on a daily basis as opposed to the almost non existent cooking back in India. Phew!! Now that was a long sentence. People often ask me how I spend my days now and I’m sure they must be thinking that I am bored to death considering the fact that I have worked continuously for the past 7 years and not to mention the MBA that I was pursuing along with a full time job. Quite surprisingly I am not.

It’s like a breath of fresh air to finally have some time for myself and to not think about all the work pending at office or school. How many times haven’t I thought to myself about how great it would be to read a book or blog or watch a movie in peace without having to feel the guilt of utilizing that time for doing something more resourceful. I’m getting to do all of that and more.  It is quite surprising that I manage to keep myself busy all through the day doing things I love. This break from the routine is like a boon in disguise that is helping me recover from the super busy life I have lived in the past 3 years. It's like how it used to be in school when you would get summer breaks before you start a brand new year.

Sometimes I feel that the world around me is constant, everything seems to be the same but my life has decided to take a turn and hopefully for the better. For the past couple of years life had become like a predictable soap opera in whose predictability I found comfort. Finally it’s changing, it is becoming interesting. At first I did not like the unpredictability, I loathed it but now it is just thrilling to figure out what life has to offer and what is in store for me. It is enlightening to finally find the time to introspect and learn something from all my mistakes, my little victories and failures. As I embrace this change, I realize that we are the only ones who finally get to judge how we lived our lives and at the end of the day it is our perception that decides if we lived a happy fulfilling life or decided to whine it away.

Hoping that tomorrow will be a brand new day..

When things are not ok, I go to bed early..
Hoping that tomorrow will be a brand new day..
Hoping everything sorts out by itself..
Hoping that the pain inside vanishes..
Hoping that I suddenly have the strength to face it all..
Hoping that life has something better in store..
Hoping that life becomes as fun as a roller coaster ride all of a sudden..
Hoping that tomorrow is a repeat of my most memorable day till date..
Hoping that from tomorrow I will no longer have to wait for anything..
Hoping that people begin to see my point of view..
Hoping that tomorrow all my dreams come true..
Hoping that tomorrow is not today..

When things are not ok, I go to bed early..
Hoping that tomorrow will be a brand new day..

Birthday and its charms

Today has been a splendid day. I celebrated my 2* birthday. Hard luck to all those of you who thought I would reveal my age. It’s probably one of the most memorable birthdays I have celebrated recently. There was something about today that made it so special for me despite the fact that I didn’t go out of town on a vacation and the fact that it was a working day today and I had to go to work. Today was all about different flavoured yummy cakes, calls, messages and not to forget the innumerable birthday wishes I received on Facebook.  Birthdays always have a charm, they give you that warm fuzzy feeling from within and makes you feel like you are on top of the world. It’s all about mixed feelings. It’s painful to wipe cake off your face but it is great to see the delight on your friends face when they slather you with cake. It’s painful to realize you are ageing but it’s great to know that your friends are with you on this journey. In this fast paced world when no one seems to have enough time for anything, birthdays are ways of reminding you that your friends still care about you and they remember you.

One of the best gifts I received today was from my husband. He showed me what I am in a totally different light. I want to share this video he created for me on my birthday. This is something that I will cherish forever.

CABS - What's your pick??

Life has been annoyingly hectic and I’m big time complaining about it to almost everyone. I’m beginning to get scared if people will find it depressing to be around me because I’m mumbling curses every other minute. To add to my agony, I have had some really bad experiences with cabs in the last two to three months and I would want to bore you guys with it.

So I generally book a cab when hubby or I want to go to the airport or when I have to go to IIMB early in the morning. Meru Cabs was my first tryst with the Cab world. I had heard a lot of good and bad things about them and decided to try my luck with them. So I booked a cab to the airport and I was mighty pleased to find out that the service was really good and I and hubby reached the airport on time. They had earned my respect and from then on Meru it would be for any long distance intra city service.

A couple of months back when I was booking a cab over the phone, I was baffled by the recorded voice instructions telling me a lot of new things and the one that really caught my attention was the fact that they would charge me Rs 25 as convenience charge if I wanted to book a cab in the next 30 minutes and Rs 50 as convenience charge if I wanted to book a cab later than 30 minutes in addition to the fare charges. It also said that there would be no convenience charge if I booked online. So I immediately disconnected the call, logged into their website and booked a cab and while it was processing my request, I really had a bad feeling and Voila!! I got a wonderful message in Red text that there were no cabs available and they were sorry. Well this was the time when I was ignorant about other alternative cab services and I called up their customer care to book a cab, I really did not care shelling out Rs 50 as long as I got to my destination. What really surprised me was the fact that they confirmed my booking when I called them after informing me that they would charge me Rs 50 as convenience charge. Now where did that extra cab come from?

There was this time when I had an exam to write at IIMB and ended up booking a Meru cab for 7.00AM. We are supposed to get an SMS half an hour prior to the pickup time about the cab details and I realized that it was 6.45 AM and I had still not received any SMS and I started to panic and trust me 90% of the time when an SMS does not arrive on time, it means something is wrong. I called up the customer care, got the number of the driver from them and called him up and the damn idiot very calmly told me that his vehicle had broken down and he doesn’t know how much time it would take him to fix it. I blew my top, how irresponsible of him to not call me up and inform me. I called the customer care and shouted at them but my husband thinks I am too well mannered even while shouting at people so he took it upon himself to give them a sound beating. Thankfully I made it somehow to IIMB on time that day, I’m not going to give the details of that fiasco.

This was when I realized that I had enough of Meru cabs and it was time to change to a different cab service and that is when I started noticing Easy Cabs patrolling the roads. Whenever I would call them to book a cab, I would find it really weird when they would say that my booking would be confirmed 30 minutes prior to pickup time. I mean it was completely irrational of them to inform you 30 minutes before the designated time if your cab is confirmed or cancelled. I mean just imagine that there is no availability of cabs and they send a cancellation SMS 30 minutes prior to your pick up time. That would be nothing short of a disaster if you are going to the airport at 3.00 AM in the morning or you are on your way to write an important exam. So I presumed that they wouldn’t be so foolish to come up with such a stupid policy and whenever the person on the other side said, “Your booking will be confirmed 30 minutes prior to pick up time and we will send your booking ID in the next 2 minutes”, I always thought they meant that my booking is confirmed and they would send me the cab details 30 minutes prior to pick up time. Everything was going on well with Easy Cabs when on one fateful day I realized that I had not received any SMS about the cab details and I called up customer care and to my horror they informed me that they had cancelled my booking due to non availability of cabs and they sent me a cancellation SMS. What the hell?? And this was exactly what I told the customer care guy and where the hell was the cancellation SMS, I never received anything. When the guy told me that it was their policy to inform the customer about the booking status 30 min prior to pick up is when I realized that my assumptions were all wrong and these people’s policies totally suck!!

I immediately had a change of mind and decided to switch to Meru Cabs, at least they let you know immediately whether your booking is confirmed or not even if you have to shell out some extra bucks unlike Easy Cabs that keeps you hooked onto them till the last minute just to inform you that your booking is cancelled and you can go to hell for all they care.

Ripping The Decade

Well it is that time of the year to retrospect on all the important events that have happened so far this year. Coming to think of which, it is actually the end of a decade. Ten long years have just gone by and do I even remember what all has happened all these years?? That is when I thought I will push my retrospection to not just this year but the last decade. So here goes,

2000 – Fresh out of school and ready for college
Ten years ago, I was still a teenager; all excited about getting into college and saying good bye to my school uniforms, lunch boxes, polished shoes and regularly trimmed nails. Sweet 16!!! An awkward age for everyone. Overly conscious about pimples, trying to act pricey with guys and a receiver of prank calls. Thinking of which I don’t remember studying at all but I’m sure I must have studied a bit or else I would have definitely remembered flunking that year. So I basically just stayed pretty and gossiped my way through the whole of 2000.

2001 – The longest year ever
With the board exams coming up, I had no choice but to study and get bored to death. I pretty much made up for not studying the previous year. It was an extremely bland year and I felt like a complete geek sitting with books all the time either at college or at tuitions or at home. The only time I listened to music was probably when I was finishing my record work, how sad can it get?? I finally passed the boards with flying colors and put an end to the boredom that had consumed me the whole of the year.

2002 – My first step towards becoming an Engineer
Like every other person of my age, the next big career move was to get into Engineering and make everyone around me proud. The buzz word around that time was’ Biotechnology’ and luckily for me ‘Biotech Engineering’ was just introduced for the very first time in Karnataka and I thought these were signs for me to get into the field. Quite honestly I don’t think any other stream would have suited me better enough. So the mid of this year saw an enthusiastic and nervous me with an admit for Biotech Engineering at Sir MVIT, Bangalore.

2003 – Realized I had made friends that would last a lifetime
First and foremost, there are a lot of people who are not present in the picture below and that does not imply they are not my close friends. They may not be part of this picture but they are still in my thoughts. Engineering without you guys would have been like food without salt. Apart from the professional education I received in college, there were so many life lessons that I learnt from each of my friends. I can write a book on how I met each of them and how they became an integral part of my life.

2004 – Year of Confusion
People around me were already preparing for GRE and planning the next stage of their life and I was absolutely clueless about what I wanted. Was I interested in getting a good job after engineering or was my inclination more towards higher studies? Like the rest, even I started preparing for GRE, joined coaching classes but I knew I lacked the passion that one should have when they are sure about something. It was all about being in the rat race and not getting left behind.

2005 – Still in college but unemployed
Till now I was happy that I was doing well in Engineering and had even managed to get a distinction in all the semesters. However there was a worm in my head that was not letting me live the happiness. I was in my third year of engineering and this was the time when different companies would come to campuses to recruit the best of the lot. I saw people who got lower grades than me getting selected in more than one company and I was still “Unemployed”. My ego was hurt like never before, I remembered all the times I did well in the exams and sympathized with the ones who hadn’t done so well and destiny had totally turned the wheel upside down on me now.

2006 – Welcome to the Corporate Culture
A few months after I started cribbing about my unemployment status, I got hired and by a company that was offering a better pay than the rest. Finally I could roam around with my head up in the air and went around telling all my relatives that whatever happens, happens for the good. I was still in college and my company was kind enough to give me the final year project and also paid me for it. I was in awe of the corporate culture, the way everyone would call each other by their first names irrespective of the age or designation and the fearless attitude of the techies who always thought they would sell like hot cakes even if their current company threw them out. This year was all about learning the new culture, wearing formals, gaping at managers and trying hard to get out of the college mode and behave more professionally.

2007 – Is this what they call love?
Along with me and several others who joined the company, there was a special someone who caught my attention with his antics. I was amazed by the way he would openly flirt around with me but it was only during this year I realized that it was love. I have had crushes and infatuations before but was always confused and skeptical about how I would recognize that one person whom I truly love. After knowing him for more than a year now and being in a confused relationship with him, I decided that we both were just wasting time by not defining our relationship and only after I broke it off, did I realize that I was truly in love.

2008 – Marriage jitters!!
I guess marriages are really made in heaven. On April 18th I got hitched to the same guy I realized I was in love with. We anticipated some drama from our parents but surprisingly they were pleased with our choice and immediately gave their thumbs up. There was a brief period of marriage jitters where I and my future hubby successfully freaked each other out but it ultimately ended in a happy marriage. This was most definitely the most significant year of the decade as it gave me a partner who I am confident will hold my hand and walk beside me for the rest of my life.

2009 – The world outside India
The perks of being in the IT industry is that you get to frequently travel abroad and it was during this year I finally got my chance. This was my first trip abroad and I can’t explain the excitement and anticipation of visiting a new country and experiencing the culture. On the day of the flight, I got really nervous and emotional about going alone without family and was even wondering why the hell I agreed to it. Once I reached USA, it was a completely different experience, loved every bit of it. Strangely I loved the fact that I was independent and had to make my own decisions, I enjoyed the long flight watching movies at a stretch, I enjoyed shopping in a new country, I enjoyed talking to new people, I enjoyed the food. In short I enjoyed the whole experience.

2010 – Am I really brainy or am I just stressed out??
After working in the corporate field for a while, I realized that I wanted to do my MBA but was just way too lazy to prepare for the entrance exams. This year I decided that I should at least start preparing for the exams and with a lot of hope wrote the entrance for PGSEM at IIMB. What distinguishes PGSEM from the rest of the MBA programs is that it is specially designed for IT professionals who would want to work and pursue the degree. This seemed like the ideal course for me as I did not want to quit my company to study. After giving the entrance exam, my hopes were shattered as I knew I was not up to the mark but I guess fate had something else in store for me because not just did I clear the entrance but even got selected for the program. It was a great feeling to finally walk the corridors of IIMB as a student but little did I realize about the stress factor at that time. This year I realized that if I’m capable of managing work, studies and family, there is nothing in life I cannot face.

With this I end my retrospection of this decade. It has truly been a whirl pool of emotions and experiences and I eagerly await the new things in store for me as I welcome 2011.

The Race

After a long wait I’m finally having my end term holidays for a week. When I mention a week, it just means that I will not be attending classes for a week because as I have mentioned in my previous post, I’m still working so that doesn’t leave me with any “Holidays” as such. Well I don’t want to talk much about the exams, it was a traumatic experience and I hope I don’t get scarred for life with such experiences every quarter. Last Sunday when I was relaxing and enjoying the sweet pleasures of freedom, I happened to notice that the movie ‘3 Idiots’ was playing on TV and I wanted to watch it again. The last time I had seen the movie was just after its release in the theatre. I knew it was a great movie with a lot of emotional moments sandwiched between some really hilarious scenes which I’m sure the audiences were really able to connect to.

When the movie was playing on TV, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in me. I was not just laughing when there was a funny scene nor did I just have a lump in my throat when the scenes got really emotional. I was thinking about each and every thing that was said or shown in the movie and my thoughts were profound and deep. My heart specially went out to the two protagonists struggling to make it through in the college. One is bombarded with the stress of providing for his family and being the only savior of his poverty stricken family and the other is caught in a web of parental pressure to do something he doesn’t feel passionate about. How many times haven’t we been in similar situations? The race as they call it in the movie begins very early in life. I’m sure 90% of us are not what we aspired to be when we were young. As we grow old, the realities of life cave in on us; we start thinking about things practically. It’s all about money and not about passion anymore.

Thus begins the never ending race to join the best school, best college, and best university all in the quest of finding that perfect job that will flood our homes with so much money that there is no such word as “Want” in our dictionary. Just the very thought of having so much money makes me so happy right now. What scares me sometimes is everyone feels that they will become rich and famous some day. At least most of the people I know feel that way but if that were to be true, I’m sure the world would be populated with rich people. Well what happens to those countless people who feel that they will be rich someday? They just realize that they were immature to think that way at one point in their life and they just get practical in life and accept the harsh realities of life.

Nevertheless the race still continues and the number of engineer’s, doctor’s and MBA’s keep growing at an exponential rate harboring dreams of success and a better tomorrow.