Tuesday, November 15, 2016

When I didn't Facebook my perfect weekend

I love social media as much as the next person does. I like browsing through articles and checking updates among friends. I comment and like appropriately. I even Facebook all major events with pics and words and also some fun events. It's fun. It's also a good way keeping record. It's nice to see "memories" through the new "on this day". So  a while ago when I had a great, picture-worthy weekend, I was about to upload pics. But I stopped.  I remembered how I would record the moments in my memory instead. I recorded how I felt that day and what made the day "fun" rather what we wore and how we looked.  And I remember it better than many other facebook weekends. 

It's fun to take pics and upload and share them but some memories precious without that process also. That sunset, the wonder and feel of the wind, the smell of sea will not be there in your photos or video but if you capture it in your mind, you will be taken back to that moment many more times.  The same is true for the taste of that lovely looking meal.  Some moments just need to be lived and that's enough to record them.

PG Express: It's worth the wait

Hi! The time has come. The time which I strived for so long. The time which every PhD student dreams of. The near end of this journey. When work is complete  from my side and it has actually been approved. All those years of work, passion, tears and frustration and a wait...a wait so long ...all have finally been validated. It's all worth it if it finally works out. The better it works the more it's worth it. It matters how satisfied the people associated with your work are.

The beginning of the end started last year. A hattric of acceptances and a great presentation. There was a research plan in the first year where I was told "You done a good job. Do us proud". From there we came to a full circle when the same person felt that I had done good and sufficient work. There are people of words and people of few words. The latter give out certain gems that one cherishes forever.

It's one thing to complete the work of your PhD and quite another to complete your dreams regarding your work. I was lucky enough to belong to the latter category. There came a time when I had crossed out all the  ideas which I had wanted to try at the beginning of my research. Of course some worked and some didn't but it gave a great satisfaction to be able to try all. There came another time when there were more goals: a certain category of publications, a certain number of "good" (or reasonably good)  publications, being able to present at a certain kind of conference. I was able to wind up my work with those goals achieved.

Next came another beautiful phase...the writing. Writing your thesis, completing the story which started years ago, it's a unique kind exhilaration. To create that first index and then subsequently add all the little analysis that you thought of. I remembering celebrating that first index. Then to create whole chapters. And finally to create your masterpiece...a dream that probably  starts the day you first look at any thesis: the Acknowledgement.  I spent a few days on my favourite masterpiece to make sure it was perfect and it included all the people who had been part of the journey in some way or the other. Dreaming up lines of acknowledgement had been one of my favourite procrastinations. Writing the thesis is a happy albeit stressful time. It's worth giving a little extra time because this is where you summarise all the work that you did throughout the years. For a while I loved writing my 1-2 pages a day and let myself absorb the feeling of writing my thesis . Later of course I paced up. Later it also became stressful, painful and tiring beyond exhaustion. The sleepless nights turned to sleepless months. Till there came a time when I was ready to let go.

After a period of lull, starts a agony of the wait and the questions and the second guessing. How will someone who has never seen you work find it?  When will  they respond? Will they ever respond? (this starts after a few months of wait). Then if you are lucky, comes a glorious day with the most beautiful words ever :approved! To see the confidence an external shares in your work, to see the pride amongst the people who have seen you work, made you work and sometimes even pushed you to work and know that finally all those years paid off, well there's no better feeling. It gives a validation to every thing you experienced throughout the years, through the jubilation and the tears, through the work and the wait, the ideas and the completion, the panic and the mini-celebrations.

It's all worth the wait.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Dear Zindagi

Time to try something new! In this post, I am writing a letter to life for the #DearZindagi activity at BlogAdda

Here's the Zindagi  video teaser

Dear Zindagi

Hi! It’s been a while hasn’t  it, since I last sat down and reflected with you? Well I have been busy with you as you well know…busy living the life. The older we grow, the more hectic you seem to get and ironically the less time we have for you. We rush to clear school, college, get married, have kids and then wish for them to hurry and grow up. It’s as if we are in a rush to get to some finishing line without realizing that it IS the finishing line. It reminds of Polyanna when she asks  “ where is the time to live?’
Oh, of course I’d be BREATHING all the time I was doing those things, Aunt Polly, but I wouldn’t be living. You breathe all the time you’re asleep, but you aren’t living. I mean living—doing the things you want to do….. Just breathing isn’t living!’

So what I want to thank you for is all the living I got to do while being alive. The small joys you offered: reading the Sunday times with my favourite cup of tea, playing with children, meaningful conversations, writing to my heart’s content and sometimes just a beautiful view.  It’s just that which I am going to focus on now instead of waiting for some ideal moment. Those are rare. Most are just small pearls of joy threaded together to form the necklace of life.

I wish I had known this as a teen when every small test, every small gathering appeared so scary.  The times when 80% marks seemed bad, when a slight ridicule seemed like the end of the world and when friends were limited to a particular circle and thus luck!  I wish I had known then that it was just one perspective which you were showing me. Later I would understand true friendship, value good companionship and gain the courage to rise above failures or just bid my time through a bad phase. Later I would understand how little other people’s opinion would actually matter if one is content from within. Every roadblock seemed mountainous until somewhere along the way I started enjoying your company, life. The basics pieces of life fell in place and I realised the rest are all just speedbreakers. 

Good company of close ones, peace at home, work that you enjoy and occasionally something new to look forward to…isn’t that all that we really need along this journey? Being lucky enough to have these basic ingredients for happiness, I say thank you zindagi. 

Friday, July 08, 2016

A new kind of love: work can be bliss

One reads many articles about "not having to work a day" if you love your work, if you find the "right" job. However, years of research can numb the senses. For a while I wondered how can one even know what the "right" job is if you spend some 25 years of your life being a student? The withdrawl symptoms may be too strong for you to actually like the idea of getting up for a 9-5 kind of job, much less actually sitting down that long for the actual task given to you.  Then I realised its like falling in love. It just happens and then there are signs that show it is "right". One sureshot sign: you know you love your job when working at your currently assigned task gives you a greater high than beating your highscore in your currently favourite mobile/pc game does!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Living in the moment

It's a good time this after-submission phase. It's "live in the moment" time for me. I get assigned tasks for one-two days. I like completing steps one at a time without going into the bigger picture and scary deadlines for a while. I enjoy the learning it involves.

I enjoy the entire process of cooking: right from picking ingredients, planning a dish and the actual process.  It may not always turn out great but its fun. And even more fun to cook in partnership :)

I enjoy the gym and yoga classes as per convenience and choice. I enjoy the freedom of time...free evenings, weekends....no burdens!

Time for family. Time for tv. Time for reading. Time for "me".

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Out in the open

The modern day office environment is taking us away from all that is natural. The ac is generally kept so high that all people keep some form of winter-wear. Why then the "so cold acs"? There should be fans. There should a "natural corner" where people can sit in the open and work with fresh air, sunlight and wind. Maybe even flowers.  If not a completely open space then at least there should be big windows which should be kept open some of the times. People should be encouraged to have a little fresh air every few hours. Every office offers snacks. Here green teas, fresh fruits and juices should be kept as snacks at least in addition to the regular ones for those in pursuit of a good health.

If we are more alive then only can we more productive.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Bucket lists

There's a trend these days to make lists and cross out items. Well writing gets you into that habit anyway so I have doing that much before it became the "IN" thing. It's good as a reminder to do stuff you may forget and sometimes just for the fun of it. Lists a good for planning the big stuff  but they can't define life.  Life is much more than that.

Life is mostly made up of those so called  "not so good for you moments". Lazing on a weekend. Binge watching your favourite serial episodes with family and then ordering Chinese. Then there are those so called trivial moments: tea with friends, taking your kid out to play, cooking a simple meal that tastes like home, fresh clothes on a monday morning or just having someone to hold hands. Sometimes it's random moments: a great novel, a beautiful view while walking, when your kid does something new. These moments vary for everyone. They can't be bucket-listed.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Live: Things to do after submitting thesis

NOW is the time to live. Now is the time to:

Play the casio again....try
Complete that book
Learn to bake
Watch lots of movies
Visit lots of places
Lots of beaches
Simple days of family time
Simple days of family TV
Play with child. Read together.
Do Yoga again
Start leading a more organised life
Learn the intricacies of running a home
Paint my nails!
Nurture self: self manicures, pedicures, head massages

Transition and the wait

I know PG Express requires another post and that will come eventually but for now there is this one about the transition into the next phase.

Ever since I have started the new phase, there is this waiting that never ends. Waiting for lunch time. Waiting for end of day. Waiting for weekends. PhD though long but it never had such waiting times. There was a constant life with control. You worked when you wanted to and additionally when you had to. Recreation happened during self-created "breaks". Now you work for fixed hours, fixed pay. And at least initially its just about getting through those hours. Surviving another day of partial boredom. Sometimes you study, sometimes you work, sometimes you socialise a little  and sometimes you just wait and survive the cold AC. Maybe they pay you for surviving that cold. I know that's a cynical approach but that is the initial work phase. The learning phase. Sometimes there are flashes of self-satisfaction of a work well done. Some flashes of finally getting that thing working. But there is a general aimlessness.  There is no higher purpose as yet except completing each day.

There is a smile on my face on leaving here that used to be there on arriving there ( during PhD). I think that explains the difference of the two lives in nutshell. But it's more complex. There is that satisfaction of completing a work-day. But also the joy of life at your own little home ...away from the world.  Doing as you please. Your own time with no guilt for watching TV when you could have worked. Work already got over for the day. Weekends are completely your own. Again no guilt about "not working". 

So that smile signifies freedom. Freedom which wasn't there earlier at any point of time. Yet it comes at a price of aimlessness at least so far. That comes due to transition. This is a period of rest for the mind. With time  new goals will be created and with a new vigor I will be driven in their direction. But for now I revel in each day. For now I pause and live in the moment...while I wait.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The diverse and fun places in Delhi

Recently we shifted from Delhi to Mumbai for a few years. Soon afterwards I made a pact with myself to "visit at least 50 prominent places in Mumbai" while here. That and the homesickness for Delhi made me interested in forming the list such places that I visited in Delhi at some or other point of my life. So in no particular order, here's the list:
1. Qutub Minar
2. Humanyun's tomb
3. Lodhi Garden
4. Nehru Stadium
5. Nehru Planetarium
6. Appu Ghar
7. Zoo
8. Old Fort
9. Mughal Gardens (also Rashtrapati Bhavan)
10. Lotus Temple
11. Hanuman Mandir
12. India Gate
13. Hauz Khas Village...recently discovered this world of its own
14. Lodhi Road Market
15. CP
16. Jantar Mantar
17. Sarojini Nagar
18. Lajpat Nagar
19. South Ex. Market
20. GK market Mblock
21. Green Park market
22. Rose Garden...a walk from opposite IIT to Green Park is the best way to explore this
23. Karol Bagh
24. Chandni Chowk market....from wedding shopping of all sorts to traditional Indian food...Paranthe wali gali
25. Chawri Bazar
26. Darya Ganz...a great book flea market
27. Select City walk mall saket
28. DLF Pomegranade Mall vasant kunj
29. PVR Priya
30. PVR Saket
31. D malk rohini
32. Rajori Malls
33. Moments Mall karol bagh...worth going for the experience, the food and 5D movie!
34. District Centre Janakpuri....have special memories of this place from B.Tech days but its a nice place for an entire outing also...movie, shopping...esp trinklets, food ....all sorts...
35. Metrowalk ...a nice evening can be spent here by waterside
36. Adventure Island
37. Fun n Food village
38. Japanese Park...great rides for kids also!
39. Kashmere Gate
40. Netaji Subhash Place (NSP)
41. Dwarka Raddisson blu mall
42. Maurya
43. Taj
44. Ashoka
45. Crowne Plaza
46. Leela Palace
47. Radisson Blu
48. Jor Bagh Market
49. Dilli Haat near INA...one of its kind. The other branches don't fo justice to it.
50. Malcha Marg
51. Chanakya Puri and the grand old Chanakya Cinema before the days of multiplexes...
52. Drive down Shantipath
53. IIT Delhi...the next few are for technical buffs but IIT is special. It offers a serenity like none other. Natural beauty in all seasons. Its a great place to have a cuppa and reflect.
54. Kamla Nagar Market near North Campus
55. Trade Fair
56. Book Fair
57. Shanti Niketan near South Campus
58. JNU
59. DIT
61. NSIT
62. DCE
63. IP University...just for technical completeness but the new dwarka campus is nicely made.
64. PM house...had gone for Narayana Muthy's book launch!
65. G3S market rohini....well some places are  just familiar
66. India Habitat Centre.....Art, great food, gaming, rides for children and lots of walking area. And many shows also. 

Here are some places still in the "to be visited" list:
1. Raj Ghat 
2. Akshardham
3. Bangla Saheb
4. Kingdom of dreams ( even if in NCR)
5. Hyatt Regency
6. Khan Market...been too long...before development
7.Model Town
8. Asola
9.Red fort
10. Safdarjungs Fort
11. Tughlaqabad Fort
12. Garden of five senses
13. Dolls Museum
14. Agrasen ki baoli
15. Rail Museum
16. Damadam Lake
17. Birla Mandir (again probably but been too long for a proper memory recollect)
18.Republic Day Parade live