Hibernation and back

Well, many things happened in the last two years and so I “parked” my writing yet again. But I’m back now and I’m here to stay hopefully. In my following blogs, it will be obvious as to why I went into hibernation and how I’m trying to surface back into writing and other things fun.

I can’t wait to pour all my thoughts out instead of just “thinking and writing them in my mind”. Stay tuned.

 

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A tale of 1000 origami cranes

Last week marked the half-way milestone for one of the craft projects that I’m currently working on. I thought I’d share my experience and the outcome here.

So it all started off with my google search on fun things to do for my birthday (like a wish-list or a bucket list). And I came across this bucket-list idea (from this blog) of making 1000 origami cranes and instantly, it made its way to my bucket-list. I decided to make it for someone special for their birthday in October. I learnt how to make an origami crane from this website: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-crane.html

The end result that I had in mind was to make 1000 origami cranes and hang them from our ceiling in the living room. I decided to make in yellow and blue as I thought they would look colourful and bright against our white ceiling. I did not work on my own on this project and instead took help, given that I had my normal full-time job to do everyday! I did not use the ready-made origami paper and instead cut the paper to size from scratch! In hindsight, that was not a very wise thing to do but I’ll talk about it a bit more in the ‘What I’ve learnt’ section below.

Here is a brief overview of the process and the end result of this fun project:

IMG_0467 IMG_0468 IMG_0471 IMG_0476 IMG_0482 IMG_0488 IMG_0496 IMG_0514 (1) IMG_0518 (1) IMG_0519 (1) IMG_0520 (1) IMG_0526 (1) IMG_0528 (1) IMG_0530 IMG_0531 IMG_0533 (1) IMG_0541

Needless to say, they looked beautiful. My favourite part is watching them cradle when the wind blows (which is my happy corner (#11) for this post). They are still hanging from our ceiling and remind me everyday that no matter what, its important to keep going and that success will automatically follow 🙂

Now some insight into what I’ve learnt from this project:

  • Do not underestimate the time-scales. I’m usually good at planning but I did not pay much attention to the time this project would take since I thought 3 months would be ample time to make 1000 cranes. That turned out to be quite destructive as I could not make 1000 in time and had to compromise with 500 by October. I should have been more careful in my estimation.
  • Think efficiency, efficiency and efficiency. Due to the repetitive and mundane nature of the task, I made sure that I improved with each repetition and constantly looked for ways to increase the speed and quality. One costly (and related) lesson that I learnt was: outsource where you can. I should have bought the ready-made origami paper and saved time. This is an important tip for anyone looking to take a similar project.
  • Perseverance and ‘enjoying the journey’ are the crux of such large scale projects. Worrying about the end result and deadlines is not going to make the project finish any sooner. Enjoy every bit of the process. I discovered how much determination I had inside of me – to make one crane after the other.

I’m still working on this project by the way and I am still determined to complete 1000 cranes. I’m excited to see the finish line and check the box against this bucket-list item.

Just to reiterate, for anyone interested to learn how to make an origami crane, this website has a step-by-step process: http://www.origami-instructions.com/origami-crane.html. Enjoy!

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A birthday holiday

It was my birthday in August! And we (a bunch of close friends) went on a holiday to Goa for five days surrounding my birthday. We had a wonderful time there, particularly given the fact that mobile phone connectivity was poor and we hardly had any access to internet. It was such a refresher not to think about work or have any urges to check fb/mails/instagram.

Some fun facts about Goa and a few favourite snapshots from our lovely time there:

Of potted plants and lavender toe nails

It was such a nice change to experience little or no traffic in Goa. Unlike most other places in India, we did not find ourselves stuck even in a single traffic jam.

People in Goa are sweet, kind and friendly. I don’t remember anyone behaving rudely with us. May be because they’re so much used to tourists and outsiders being part of their everyday life?

Tunnel after tunnel in the train to Goa

The 3 arches in Goa

It was quite a mission to find proper Indian chai in Goa. After 4 days of hunting, we stumbled across a coffee shop which served Mumbai-famous ‘masala cutting chai’. Monsoon and chai…Mmmmmmmm 🙂

Masala cutting chai in Goa

Cakes and hot cuppas at Mocha, Goa

On my birthday, I decided to ride a motor bike! I wasn’t sure how long I would take to learn riding one. But after a short lesson which lasted less than a minute, I took control and voila! I drove like I always knew how to drive. It was so much fun! This is a definite addition to my happy corner (#9).

Driving a motorbike in Goa

While we waited for the rain to stop

It rained all day on my birthday. So while we waited indoors for the rain to take a break, I blew some bubbles in the air. Blow a bubble, watch it float in the air, chase it and then finally watch it burst. Repeat ‘n’ number of times. I promise it never gets boring.

At sunset time, we rushed to Fort Aguada to see the sunset (one of the things on my birthday wish-list). But alas, dark clouds => no sun => no sunset. But I got to do something fun (also one of the things on my birthday wish-list) while we stood on Fort Aguada at the sea. I wrote a short message on a piece of paper, folded it, put it in an empty bottle, sealed the bottle and swung it into the open sea. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 (I know this makes it two additions to my happy corner (#10) in this post but hey! This HAS to go into that diary).

The message in the bottle carried one of the biggest epiphanies of my life. My most favourite part of this little act: not knowing what will happen to the message and the bottle.

Waiting to swing the 'message in a bottle' into the Arabian sea

Watching the bottle vanish

There were three other things I had on my birthday wish-list but unfortunately, the rain did not make it happen. The three unfulfilled things were: climb a tree, etch my name on that tree and watch the sunset at the sea. Adding them to my future birthday wish-list 🙂

Coming back home after the holiday made me remind myself of how much I love travelling. Sigh.

 

 

Taking stock – August 2014

As I’m guilty of vanishing and reappearing after a couple of weeks, I thought I should start August blogging with a ‘taking stock’ post. Read on, it’s fun!

I’m currently

Making : origami cranes
Cooking : penne pasta
Drinking : piping hot ginger tea, it’s a perfect cuppa for this rainy season. That also reminds me of my favourite Starbucks hot chocolate. One cup of that and I’ll be smiling instantly. Sadly, it has been ages since I had one 😦
Reading : ‘The power of your subconscious mind’ by Joseph Murphy and comic strips of Calvin & Hobbes
Wanting : a break from routine
Looking : for new ideas and inspiration for start-ups
Playing : Candy Crush (I know I should have deleted the app long ago) and Minion Rush on my mobile
Deciding : whether it is wise on my part to accept or act
Wishing : for the same thing I have been wishing for over an year now
Waiting : for the right time to throw an outdoor party on our terrace
Liking : the fact that it is August. Roughly 3 weeks to go for my birthday! 🙂
Wondering : what I should get glued to once my current daily telly programme finishes this month.
Needing : more than 24 hours in a day!
Pondering : over the dreams I’ve been seeing in my sleep lately. One of them involved a tiger wandering in our street!
Watching : my thoughts
Hoping : to go on a long weekend to Pondicherry
Smelling : the rain. Life’s gooooood 🙂 (I just love watching rains and they fill my Happy Corner #8). I remember writing about rains previously too, read this if interested.
Wearing : an uncomfortable pair of jeans, which looks grrrreat by the way 🙂
Following : or rather trying to follow my instincts
Noticing : that there is good in everybody
Feeling : confused
Admiring : people who know what they want to do with their life.
Getting : extremely bored of Facebook these days.
Bookmarking : this video which makes one think about social media, computers and mobiles. Decide for yourself if you agree.
Disliking : my frizzy hair, is there a version of rainy season where you are able to tame your hair?
Feeling : proud of myself for keeping up with my yoga routine; I’m notorious for starting this habit several times and failing to stick with it beyond a month or two. It has only been a month this time too so ask me in September again!
Loving : 2014 so far.

I came across this awesome idea of taking stock from this blog: http://meetmeatmikes.com/2014/01/taking-stock-004/ and thought it would be fun to do one myself.

 

Why blog after all?

This is one of the most obvious, no-brainer kind of a blog post in the blogging world. But, yesterday, when a close friend asked me why I blog, I stopped for a second before replying and then I said “It’s a long story”. And I felt a sense of compulsion to turn that long story into a blog post.

So, why do I blog? Before I answer that, I think it is important to know why I read/follow blogs.

Why I read blogs:

  • They inspire me. Blogs inspire in several ways – to take up a DIY project, to take a decision that will improve my life, to be bold and feel confident. e.g. I follow the A Beautiful Mess blog, their projects and their business are an inspiration. Some of their DIY posts are simple to do at home, particularly for someone with no prior experience. They are a lot of fun too!
  • I feel a sense of connectedness by reading some of the posts. For example, someone writing about a problem they have been facing and how they dealt with it makes me realise that I’m not the only one facing a similar problem and that a lot of other people are in the same boat too. Sometimes, a blogger might rant about something that frustrates them – which I might connect to instantly. I absolutely like the posts which have a funny twist to their rant, this alleviates the frustration and gives me a chance to lighten up and laugh about it.
  • I like the fact that I learn something new everyday from reading blogs. For example, I find that ZenHabits blog always has something to teach – how to form/get rid of a habit, being productive, learning to let go, practice mindfulness and in general, how to calm your nerves.
  • Some bloggers have a really beautiful way of describing simple everyday experiences like travelling up a fully-packed lift or watching a new season arrive or spending time on a long weekend.
  • Some blog posts make me laugh my head off – they make my day!
  • I love reading books and I find that reading blogs is a shorter version of that interest. When my life becomes too busy to pick up a book, I find that blogs quench my reading interest instead.

These are just a handful of the reasons why I love reading blogs. And these are also some of the reasons why I like to blog. To write about something that others can connect to, that will make someone smile or laugh, that will inspire someone to try one of my ideas or apply one of my theories/techniques and so on.

More importantly, I write because there is so much chatter going on in my head and I find blogging a fun and creative way of putting that mind-chatter into words, sentences and stories. Also importantly, I write because the thought of creating something from nothing – from a blank page to a full blog post is very exciting and also happens to be my way of de-stressing. Conversely, this is the reason why I blog despite my hectic life style, despite my crazy job and despite my other hobbies/interests.

 

Happy Corner #7: (Don’t know what Happy Corner is? Read this)

The other day, I found myself in the middle of a mess with regard to my bank card. Almost 99.99% of the calls that I have with the customer care guys of various services/products that I use, end up in me wanting to find out where this “customer care” office is and find the person who I have been speaking to for the last one hour, to check if it was a real person with a real brain! Imagine jaw clenching, hand on forehead, red face, hot face, clenched fists, you get the idea. That’s how my calls with customer care turn into. Be it any customer care – travel agent, hotel booking, bank, mobile operator, online shopping.

So, I was very reluctant to sort this issue out by calling the customer care but I had no choice. Guess what happened next. This guy sorted ALL the issues (I had 4 serious issues) with the card in less than half hour! I was shocked! It was a revelation! I was overwhelmed, so I asked the guy what his name was and told him what a star he has been. I asked him if there was anyway I could put my gratitude in writing and he gave me an email address (one for good feedback) to write to. And so I did. The end of the call left a smile on my face, not just because the daunting problem with my card got solved but mainly because, the feeling of getting off the phone with customer care and not having my blood pressure hitting the maximum was a brand new experience and I owe to that guy for giving me this hitherto unknown experience and my happy corner for this post.

 

Close a door and open another

As I take off in my flight back to home from Mumbai after wishing good-bye to all my work colleagues, I see the crowded roads, some impressively tall buildings and some patches of flat roof slum settlements. And further along during take-off, I can see a couple of lakes and too-green-to-believe patch (which is really hard to find in Mumbai) which turns out to be a golf course. And much further along, I can see a peaceful line-up of hills covered in dark green vegetation creating a border to finally throw a nice view of the Arabian Sea. And then, as the hills, trees and buildings become just a bunch of tiny dots, I see endless calm clouds some of which politely give way for some sunlight to stream through.

My journey through one of the companies that I recently worked for has been somewhat similar. When I joined the company, I joined with an open mind, just looking forward to whatever was in store for me. Surprisingly, I did not have much apprehension about how my first job back home would be. I guess the excitement and the ‘looking forward to’ over-shadowed any anxiety that I’d normally have in such circumstances.

The first few months have turned out to be really hard and sucked the life out of me – mentally, physically and in every other way possible. Those few months made me repent heavily about my decision to leave “everything” behind and take the plunge to move cities to join the company. Had it not been for my insanely supportive family and one hell-of-a-friend who I met on the day I joined the company, I wouldn’t have been able to look back on those times and smile now.

The first dozen of weeks in Mumbai were very strenuous crowding my mind with a lot of thoughts, questions and negative emotions. After that initial period, there was a teaser phase when I went through ‘ups’ and ‘downs’ – the ‘ups’ being the teasers where I found hope. And then time stretched into longer periods of ‘ups’ with short bursts of ‘downs’. This is time when I was convinced that I have finally found my place in my first job back home – let’s face it, there’s no “perfect” place with 100% ‘ups’ alone. To me, with its little imperfections, this was the “perfect” place to be. Further along, I entered the time when there were lengthy ‘ups’ going in parallel with unexpected endless long ‘downs’. The lengthy ‘downs’ had quite an impact on me. After months of debate on acting on them (the ‘downs’) Vs. accepting them, I decided to leave.

I decided to leave in a hope to make way for something better to come in. A quote from someone wise goes like this – “Good things fall apart so that better things can fall together”. I sure hope that the wise man is right. The timing of all this is a pleasant coincidence with the new year, new job, old best friends coming back to the city for good, new ideas and newly gained wisdom.

A toast to old times: for the lessons learnt, look-back-and-smile memories and finding good friends to walk away with.

And a toast to new times: for a chance to evolve further, for peace and for hope to be able to live in the moment.

“I’m back” and some lessons learnt

Someone wise once said, “Our life is what our thoughts make it”. I understood it the moment the I read it, but today, I can feel the truth behind it.

The last time I blogged was more than an year ago. Life became extremely busy and hectic between then and now. I struggled to find time to do the tiniest of things that made me happy. So after putting myself through misery for an year, I took stock of what is important to me in life and what is not. Some very big decisions involved in that process. Although, I haven’t completely come out of the hectic lifestyle, I enjoy a good work-life balance now. The stock-taking of what is more important definitely helped mend the situation. In the process, what I’ve learnt is that whatever the situation, our reaction towards it defines the rest of the experience of that situation. What we think about the situation – whether we think it is doing good or doing bad to us and how we react to it are the key things to the what follows next.

I also realised that life becomes so much easy and aligned if you go with it – in other words, it is in our best interest not to coin the situations as being “bad”. If it is possible to act on the situation and change it, then nothing like it. But if acting on it is not a option, then accept it – and accept it fully. I still find it difficult to put this into practice all the time but I’m glad I have managed to see sense in this theory and able to implement it to some extent.

The good news from all this is that – I am back to blogging and I will try to have a steady and regular stream of blogs. I haven’t thought about how often I’ll be able to blog etc,. but lets hope for the best!