10 lessons learnt

These are some lessons I learnt recently and thought it would be fun to share them here:

  1. It is extremely difficult to practise and cultivate a new habit, even if it is a ‘2 minutes per day’ kind of a habit. However, it is not impossible.
  2. Always think happy thoughts. You are what you think.
  3. It is a necessity to take rest when down with cold/general illness. Popping some pills and watching telly all day does not always help. Playing Candy Crush doesn’t help either. Getting stuck in one of the levels of Candy Crush for hours is enough of a sign to close the app and sleep. Clearing that level is tomorrow’s motto πŸ˜‰
  4. It is never too late to start something new and exciting. Similarly, you are never too old to have fun.
  5. Not many people realise that you know they are looking at you with their supposedly “sneaky” corner-of-the-eye trick. And it is very difficult to make them realise you do!
  6. Idle man’s brain is not always a devil’s workshop. It is sometimes necessary to be idle, not do anything and not think anything.
  7. Knowing how much salt to put in your dish without tasting it is a specialised skill. Mums are usually experts in this skill. When they say that’s enough, stop.
  8. Everyone around you has problems. May not be the same as your’s but equally challenging. Keeping this in mind helps with relationships with people around you.
  9. Online shopping is addictive. It is important to strictly close the browser after completing your purchase and not look at the ‘people who bought this also bought these’ suggestions. It is also important to realise that it is not necessary to avail e-v-e-r-y discount coupon that is emailed to you because this is just a gateway to more shopping and more discount coupons! Good time to get a thought bubble over your head which says “Now that’s just silly”.
  10. There is order in almost all chaos. There is just a varying degree of order from one chaos to the other. Also, there is chaos everywhere and its absolutely ok for it to be there.

 

My Happy Corner #5 (for background to β€˜My Happy Corner: click here):

My happy corner today is that moment where you do the right thing (although not necessarily an easy thing) and then get to see the direct wonderful result of that action. Sometimes, doing the right thing might raise questions of why you need to what you need to do. You just need to believe that it is the right to do and do it. Sooner or later you will look back and smile. But sometimes, you don’t need to wait too long to have that ‘look back and smile’ moment. It happens almost immediately after doing the right thing. I love those moments.

 

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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.

 

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!