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 πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ (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 πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚
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 πŸ™‚ (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 πŸ™‚
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.

 

A bad day for a vegetarian

Yes, I’m a vegetarian. I have been one all my life. Although I started off as vegetarian because that’s how my parents brought me up, when I grew up I chose to continue being a vegetarian. I have never tasted even a bit of non-vegetarian – no fish, no meat or poultry (except for two small mishaps when I ate outside), although I have to admit I eat egg. When I went to Scotland for University and a job, the first year there was a struggle to find decent vegetarian food which was also tasty. Slowly, I developed a taste for bland European food. Actually, calling it bland is wrong because I find it extremely tasty now. My weekday lunch was soup and salad for nearly 4-5 years which I thoroughly enjoyed. I tried all kinds of cuisines while I lived in Scotland and travelled across Europe. I’m a foodie, a vegetarian foodie and my love for European food is ever-green.

Anyway, that’s enough background about my vegetarianism. Moving on to the bad day I had last week. My friend and I decided to go to this cafe (also a restaurant) after work. I ordered a veggie pasta and an ice tea (thanks to the 40 C summer) . My friend ordered manchurian and green apple soda. We got our drinks and the pasta first and this is what happened next:

Me: This does not look vegetarian. Is this vegetarian?

Waiter: Yes ma’am. It is vegetarian. You ordered veggie pasta and that’s what I got for you.

So I ate a little bit of the penne alone eyeing the rest of what is in my plate doubtfully.

Me (to my friend, who has also been a vegetarian all her life): I’m still not sure. I don’t know what these brown pieces are. And I cannot see even a single vegetable in this pasta!

The waiter then served machurian to my friend.

Me: Again, are you really sure this is vegetarian?

Waiter: Yes, I am sure.

Me: I don’t know what these brown pieces are. They don’t look vegetarian.

Waiter: That is meal-maker/tofu cubes.

Me: I hope so. I’m a very strict vegetarian. I would be very upset if this turns out to be non-vegetarian.

Waiter: Please don’t worry. This is definitely vegetarian.

So I believed him this time. However, for some sub-conscious strange reason I went for the penne alone, still careful not to eat the rest of the stuff. After 5 mins…

Waiter: Ma’am I went to the kitchen and checked. Your pasta is not vegetarian. It is chicken. I’m very sorry.

Me (after going furiously red): How can you be so careless? I asked you twice in the last 10 mins and you were very sure. You did not even think that you should go and check in the kitchen before lying to me. I told you I would be upset if it turns out to be non-vegetarian and you asked me not to worry.

Waiter: I’m very sorry

Me: Sorry is not going to change anything. How did you even make this mistake?

Waiter: Your order got mixed with someone else’s. I have your vegetarian pasta now. I will clear the table and bring your vegetarian pasta.

The restaurant manager then came to the table. And he apologised again and again. He offered the veggie pasta as complimentary and went away. I tried to eat it but I couldn’t. I was upset for the next 5-10 mins and then forgot about it because my friend and I have the ability to forget the world when we start talking to each other. So, that’s what we did – talked non-stop for the next half hour. We finished our drinks and the manchurian.

When the time came to pay the bill, I calmly said to the manager: “I was pretty upset about the fact that the waiter gave me false assurance without being sure. I could have still forgiven you if you mixed up the orders and told me the truth immediately or even if he had gone and checked in the kitchen after the first time I asked. Instead he chose to be lazy (only two tables full, the rest of it was empty) and careless. I would like to try and make him learn to not repeat this ever again (to anyone he serves). So, I’m going to be really harsh on you and say that I’m not going to pay the bill for anything.”

So, that’s what we did. We just stood up calmly and walked out. I decided not to shout at the waiter or create any drama in front of the other tables. I decided not to give a bad review on Zomato or any other foodie rating website. It was a new restaurant, which is also one of the reasons why I decided not to name the restaurant in this blog post as well. I just decided to teach the guy to work more sincerely and respect customers’ food preferences.

So that takes the count of the mishaps I had with non-vegetarian food to three. Oh well…

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My Happy Corner #4Β (background to ‘My Happy Corner: click here)

I voted yesterday! This is the second time ever that I got a chance to cast my vote in the elections. We had to do a bit of running around in the scorching heat to figure out our polling station. Luckily, there were no long queues πŸ™‚

Here’s the proof of my voting:

Democracy 'by the people'

Democracy ‘by the people’

Surely, taking photos is a sure shot way to not think of food while waiting for our order to be served

Surely, taking photos is a sure shot way to not think of food while waiting for our order to be served

 

Birthday parties

Two of my very closest friends celebrate birthday in April and I’m having a hard time planning a surprise party which all our friends (who will be part of the party) will sign up to. One birthday down, one more to go. Sadly, the first birthday party was close to a disaster but the dinner, our crazy photo session followed by driving all the way to have a speciality ice-cream saved the day.

After what seems like ages (nearly 10 years), our little bunch of close friends found their way back to our city. After college, we all went in various directions (continents, really) to follow our careers and after 10 years, luckily and consciously, we ended up living in our city again. It’s absolute fun just hanging out together. This year’s birthdays were meant to be special for the same reason – all of us are together! So, in an attempt to make them special, we almost failed. Luckily, despite several glitches, we ended up having a good time – I believe the birthday girl would agree too πŸ˜‰

The next birthday is round the corner and I haven’t got any plan yet. I’m usually the “organised and fully-planned” kind of person but sometimes I prefer to let go of planning everything and just take things as they come. Whatever we end up doing, I hope it will make my friend’s day πŸ™‚

So, while having a hectic time planning and unplanning all these birthday parties, I wondered what I would to do for my birthday this year. And, just like that, out of nowhere, I had an idea in my head. A bucket list! Not exactly a bucket-list but a similar concept. I will make a list of fun/new/never-done-before/old-times’-sake things that I would like to do and depending on the time, place etc., I will pick a few things from the list to implement for this year’s birthday. If it turns out to be fun and do-able, I will carry forward the remaining list for the next birthday and so on. How exciting is this! I feel like I should have done this ages ago!

What do you guys do for birthdays and other special days? Are you the quiet type who spend the day peacefully by yourself or may be with a small bunch of close family/friends? Or are you a complete party animal? Do you do anything new and fun like sky-diving? Do you do anything meaningful? I’m not a kid anymore and birthdays are not crazy can’t-sleep-tonight exciting anymore however, I have not reached a stage where birthdays mean nothing and I don’t quite want to reach there. This idea of mine is probably going to bring some ‘eagerly looking forward to’ back into my birthdays. This is an attempt to bring some more happiness, sunshine and meaningful moments into my life. I would like to think that we should live everyday in a similar way – be happy, spread the joy and live the moment.

Ok, now happy corner time…

My Happy Corner #3

I have recently (a few months back) qualified as an actuary. I was delighted, relieved and what not when I found out that I really cleared my last exam. Anyone who is studying/has studied/knows people who study for these exams that lead up to being qualified as an actuary would know the time and effort out of one’s life that goes into these exams. I have gone through phases of loving the subjects, getting tired of the exams, failing sometimes, loathing my career choice, picking up will-power and pace again, passing some exams and continuing the journey. To me, these exams have been a test of endurance – they are like running a marathon. The difficult bit is not passing them, it is not giving up when you fail. I have a wondrously supportive family who dealt with my exam ups and downs and allowed me to willfully choose to continue running the marathon. In a way, they ran the marathon too! So, anyway, coming back to the day I passed my last exam, I celebrated on the day with family. I celebrated once more with my closest friends when all the paperwork was done and I got a confirmation that I am indeed an actuary. And just a couple of days ago, I got my certificate in post, which on my behalf, shouts out that I’m an actuary (talk about being humble and all that!). To see it with my own eyes that what has happened is indeed true – that moment was my happy corner. πŸ™‚

 

 

Earth hour

It’s that time of the year again. I love being part of earth hour! Tomorrow: Saturday 29th March 8.30 pm – 9.30 pm is earth hour time for 2014. For those of you who are new to earth hour: every year a big chunk of the people living in our beautiful planet celebrate earth hour – a pre-determined one hour during which people turn off lights in their homes, a gesture to remind ourselves to be planet-friendly. I have also read that some big corporations, cities etc,. take part in this fun event too and turn off lights e.g. big landmarks like Edinburgh castle, the Empire state building and so on turn off lights too! How cool is that!

I first heard of earth hour in 2011 and ever since then, we (my family and I) have been celebrating it every year. The first hour in 2011 was a well planned one; we cooked a lovely meal and made some cocktails at home beforehand. So when the lights went out at 8.30 pm sharp, we had a lovely candle-lit dinner at home πŸ™‚ The next two years, I came to realise about earth hour on the day and could not do much prior planning. I just turned off the lights and the telly too! Since the time coincided with dinner time, we ended up having a candle-lit dinner during the next two earth hours too. In 2012, I remember I climbed up to the terrace after dinner and watch the night sky. I find it exciting to be part of earth hour, I try taking some photos too. I also find that during this one hour, turning off lights has a close analogy to turning ourselves off from our usual routine and do something special. I love my conversations with family during this time, I also love watching the night sky and feel closer to nature. So tomorrow, wherever I am during the earth hour, I am going toΒ  celebrate it. I hope you will too and make this unique one hour of the entire year even more bigger.

Now for the happy corner (background: I took up a challenge to add a happy corner section to each of my next 100 posts starting from my last post; Hopefully from this challenge, I’ll learn to be more happy and appreciate the little things in my life).

My happy corner #2:

Tonight’s dinner date! We decided to go try a new restaurant near home. Given that we are food-lovers, I’m really looking forward to this new place which serves Mediterranean cuisine. They also have live music on Friday nights! Next exciting bit about tonight: I’m going to wear a new dress (for a fashion enthusiast like me, its a big deal). And most of all, I’m looking forward to the time we will spend together. It’s gonna be fun, yaay! πŸ˜‰

2 rants and introducing “my happy corner”

There are a couple of things that have frustrated me lately and I have an urge to write about them.

1) People relating to me solely on the basis of my origin i.e. where I was born, where my parents come from, where my partner comes from and so on. In a professional world, how does it matter where you are from. Both professional relationships and personal relationships should be based on what a person is, what their interests/hobbies/skills are and so on. It flips me out when I see a sense of immediate “connection” that people feel as soon as they realise that I can speak their language and that I am from the same state/city as they are. I can see why they feel connected in that they feel comfortable due the ‘common’ aspects. So far so good. But they go that extra mile to be nice to you because you have a common origin or conversely (which is the worse bit), they are less nice to you if you are from a different origin compared to someone who is from the same origin as they are. I just don’t understand the bias! I connect with a person on the basis of common interests/skills or complementary interests/skills or a good sense of humour or because they are generally nice and so on so forth.

2) Gossip: I’ll be honest and admit that I gossip too. However, I gossip to people about people who they have no connection with. And since the listener doesn’t know the person that I’m gossiping about, he/she will not spread the gossip any further except rarely, when they (for some disconnected reason) narrate the story to someone totally unrelated again. So due to this “disconnected” nature, I find my gossiping to be less guilty, because my gossip doesn’t really harm the person that I’m gossiping about. Now there is a second type of gossiping where one gossips to another about someone they both know. This is dangerous because this is where the gossip spreads like fire. A lot of people have this compulsiveness to spread the gossip faster if it is about someone they both know. And more often than not, it ends up in bad/harmful publicity for the person who is being gossiped about. And worse: the gossip is not 100% factual. It snowballs from one mouth to the other and ends up becoming a mess. Why do people have this compulsive disorder of being excited about spreading bad and wrong information? What is exactly exciting about the bad/wrong information about someone? Is it the sense of ‘feel-good-about-oneself’ and therefore a sense of superiority resulting from talking bad about someone else? All this doesn’t sound good at all. As I said earlier, I’m guilty of some level of gossip too and I’m working towards bringing that to nil gossip. I know it’s going to be difficult not to gossip but I’ll compensate this with other guilty pleasures πŸ˜‰

Now the things that made me smile/happy:

I have come across this awesome challenge called #100happydaysΒ where everyday you have to submit a picture of what made you happy. It can be as simple as your morning coffee or a flower in your garden or a dinner with someone close to you. It is a wonderful to remember and appreciate that small things that we do everyday make us happy. By posting out pictures everyday of such small ‘happy’ things, we tend to develop a sense of gratitude for the good things we have in life. I badly need to develop that habit of being happy and thankful for what I have, instead of being sulky because of the things that make me unhappy/frustrated.

So I decided to take up a similar challenge in my blog posts. It is going to be almost impossible for me to post a blog everyday. Therefore, with some modification to the challenge, I came up with this idea to write a “my happy corner” in each of my 100 posts that I’m going to write next. It may be unrelated to the post but there will be a happy corner to describe what made me happy lately. I’m hoping this will spread a little bit of ‘happy’ magic dust over me and the people who read it. πŸ™‚

Now, quickly moving onto the first “my happy corner”:

My Happy Corner #1

I finally managed to find time to start painting. For months, I have been dying to stir up my interest in art projects. Over the last few years, the demanding nature of my career meant that the artsy side of me went into pathetic hibernation. I have missed that side of me a lot because I totally love art projects like sketching, home decor – DIY, painting etc. I’m not a pro in any of these things however I am good enough to make me happy πŸ˜‰ So, anyway, I recently managed to de-prioritise a few things so I can spend some time painting. I have started testing out a few designs on paper so that once I finalise a design, I can paint on a T-shirt or a collared shirt. Sounds like fun? Yes me thinks. I shall try and post pics of the project once it starts taking some shape.