Monday, 2 November 2015

The 6-Yard Journey

As my birthday countdown came to an end, I was in a dilemma. To continue or not - that was the question! I had realised, the blog had rekindled my liking to write, and share; so I decided to keep this space alive, by continuing to blog.

The latter half of October, we were in East-India (I should probably blog about different experiences from the trip, sometime in the near future, before my memory gets hazy!) The holiday saw me draping the 6-yard saree, pretty much every day, much to my mothers' delightful surprise!
On one of our early morning train rides, by the countryside, it serendipitously occurred to me, that the different hues of the sarees I was wearing during the trip, could actually make a rainbow: VIBGYOR!


What's even more amazing was the discovery that each day, I was in fact draping different weaves from across the country! As the train chugged towards Howrah, Kolkata, I was reeling in sheer awe and wonder.

I had also read about the #100SareePact, to revive the elegant, sensuous garment: Saree; where women across India vowed to wear Sarees a 100 times, before the sun set on NYE 2015-2016. I have only just begun on my 6-yard journey, and my collection is probably just over a quarter of a century :D But, as I researched more about these, I realised I was actually sitting on a treasure! :P
So here's showcasing the sarees I wore during my recent trip to motherland. :)

1. Cotton-silk, inspired by Kancheepuram silk sarees, from down-south

This was the first saree I draped, on my recent sojourn at Berhampore, West Bengal. In simple cotton-silk, it was uber comfortable, especially with the scorching sun overhead. I put on some pearls with a golden locket, to go with the white-stone studded golden border of the saree. Didun (Prantik's grandma went all "Bah! Khoob Mishti" at me :)
I had first worn this one at the college annual campus dinner, about 7 years ago (when my mum had driven to the hostel to help me and my close friend dress up!) I had clearly shed some weight since then;) Yes, I wore this solo! And this was only the beginning...


2. Chiffon, with Gujarati (west-India) embroidery

The next day, I chose to wear the red chiffon saree, which was hand-embroidered by Didun herself. Inspired from a Gujarati embroidery design she had seen on a calendar, she had very patiently made a carbon copy of it and translated it onto this light, simple saree, for her daughter's (my mom-in-law's) wedding, 35 years ago. And all those years later, it was passed onto her grand-daughter-in-law i.e. me, on my wedding day, and I was brimming with all the excitement, for finally getting to pose with Didun herself (who was overjoyed and couldn't stop showing me and the saree off to her friends), by the holy Ganges. Blessed moment indeed!


3. Ghicha silk, hailing from Central India

Ghicha refers to the silk derived differently from the raptured cocoon. Without going into much procedural details, the highlight of this saree was just how light it felt! As we were exploring village and tribal (Aadivasi) Durga Puja scenes at Shantiniketan, the designs on the saree were befitting if I may say so. And it even blended well, when we were amidst palatial ruins at Raipur. Beauty in forgotten glory, to behold!


4. Mekhela chador, from Assam (North-East India)

A two-piece drape, classically worn by the Assamese women; this beautiful weave has been introduced into the national saree scene and am I glad! Each saree has a colourful story nestled within the entirely hand-woven fine embroidery. And it sits in silence, beseeching the audience to appreciate and admire. Anyways, I was just amused that I could even figure out how to wear one without using YouTube or WikiHow :P I paired it with a contrasting elbow length blouse in green, which I matched with some green ear-rings, that I had picked from a random street in Bangalore as a teenager :D
My aunts were impressed that I managed to figure out how it's supposed to hug the body ... though in hindsight, I realised the pleats are supposed to be facing the right, instead of the left (unlike the usual saree) in the traditional manner of draping a Mekhela. Ah! Next time.


5. Banarasi silk, from up-north

While most South Indian bridal trousseaus are filled with primarily Kanjivaram silk sarees, I was blessed in having a beautiful and bountiful variety, including the much coveted Banarasi silk sarees! One of the wedding day sarees was in fact an off-white and sindoor red Banarasi silk. One that I hadn't worn during the wedding celebrations was a light pink one - and I chose to wear it for the Ashtami Puja. Mughal inspired designs in intricate and elaborate gold, against the fine pink silk was gorgeous, and no words can do justice to it. Specially handpicked by my in-laws, it was a saree one could fall instantly in love with, even ignoring the fact that it's quite a heavy saree to carry off! But I did so, with panache, in Mughal style ;) Why not? 


6. Shantiniketan-Batik silk saree (East India)

From Tagore-Land, this supremely light saree was a pure delight to wear. I can't believe I actually wore a saree for a casual outing to the movie theatre, but Indian festivals can push you to utopia, one that is hard to get back to ground from :D In brick-red and black designs, I absolutely loved it; I actually see myself wearing this saree more often than the other grander ones! And of course, it had a strong element of Batik, hailing from Indonesia, where I spent my entire childhood - so additional brownie points. 


7. Dhakai/Jamdani saree, from the neighbouring country-Bangladesh 

Often made in contrasting hues,  the Dhakai is a cotton weave from a part of the globe, which less than a century ago, was still part of Bengal, India. Fresh and new, the cotton saree is relatively stiff and is quite a task when you're heading out early morning. But as we were hopping across the heritage pujas across the city, I was glad I picked this one. Not too flashy, with blue-grey pearls around the neck; and an elbow length cotton blouse, this attire spelt serenity and grace all over.


8. Laal-Paar Shada Saree, of Bengal (East India)

A Durga Puja cant-do-without! Married into a Bengali household, partaking in my first Durga Puja since the wedding, I was quite excited to be wearing the traditional, Bengali style saree, in red and white, for the Sindoor Khela (where married women apply sindoor on the Goddess' forehead and then on each other, in joyful spirit). What made it even more special was that it was picked by the dear husband, on a previous trip to Kolkata. My mom-in-law obviously had to help me drape this one as (i) we were running short of time and (ii) I had no frikking idea on how it's worn! I put on the silver-brass Hindolam ear-jackets to go with the border. And well, the husband silently complimented me by staring at me open-mouthed ;) So mission accomplished :D


9. Mysore silk, from down south again

This absolute beauty caresses the skin like none other. A gem from Mysore, these mulberry silk sarees are heavenly simple, without elaborate designs over the body. The pallu boasts of royal floral designs, and it's one of the easier sarees to drape and strut around; which is why I chose to wear it during the pre-wedding period and also, this trip during Maa's birthday celebration at home, when I was slightly under the weather; the saree was kind and comforting in its own smooth way.


10. Chiffon saree, designer-waale, or not, from Commercial Street, Bangalore :P

I had picked this non-conventional hue for my college farewell ceremony. I remember my best friend giving me a disapproving laugh when I told her I had picked yellow, of all colours! But in the end, the saree was in fact perfect for that night. Just like it was for a dear friend's pre-wedding, Sangeet night in Gurgaon, Delhi. Best kind of stuff to rock and roll and do some 'thumkas' in :D


11. Another chiffon saree, my first online buy - I've no idea where it's from :D

This was my first trial with online shopping for sarees and I was quite satisfied with the product. My dear mom helped me stitch a blouse for it, despite her mad packing schedule. I wore it in record 5 minutes! While Prantik was rushing to get his turban tied! Haha! Some sarees have stories woven over them, some have memories strung around them - this was clearly the latter. A warm moonlit night, reliving our own wedding, almost 11 months ago and enjoying some soulful music, while witnessing good friends tying the knot, in holy matrimony. 



And thus, with that saree, our Durga Puja trip came to an end. Every day was a new experience, a new memory. And with every new saree I wore, I created a new cherishable memory around it, enough to last me for this lifetime. I don't know when and where I'll wear sarees this often, in the future. All I know is the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step (or in the saree context, the chronicle of a #100sarees begins with a few!) And I've taken mine! It's been a pleasurable journey of discovery, thus far. Can't wait to keep adding to the collection, more hues, more weaves, more stories...

Monday, 5 October 2015

Life's Good!

A simple prayer I learnt when I was just 3:

"Thank you God for the food we eat

Thank you God for the world so sweet
Thank you God for the birds that sing
Thank you God for everything"

A simple yet such a powerful prayer. For there is no prayer, stronger than gratitude. 


And so is this infographic, which can put life into such perspective:




So, as I feel extremely blessed and grateful for what I have and have had over the last quarter of a century almost, I'd like to take a moment to thank some of the people who have contributed, directly or indirectly, to help me expand my horizons, get out of my comfort zone and shoot for the moon. This comprehensive list - "Wisdom from the fellow traveller", as I like to call it, includes stuff I've heard or read - from family, friends, teachers, colleagues, strangers, authors, actors, leaders etc; which picked me up when I was down, showed me light in the dark tunnel, pushed me to keep the fight in me alive and stand today, as I am today.

  • "You are Beautiful" - Mom
She'd call me "ugly goosling" (just so I'd drink enough water and nourish my skin!) yet she'd call me "beautiful" more often! Such a short simple sentence yet with the potential to boost a child's self-image and confidence. In my late teens infact, while I was battling weight-gain and acne thanks to a hormonal rage, these kind words helped me fight better, right until I won "Best Model" at college :P
  • "Courage isn't the absence of fear, it's the realization that something is more important than the fear" - School corridor
This quote came in handy when I returned to India and was thrown into the ocean of competition! So, when I walked in to give one exam after the other, I calmed my nerves with this one-liner and lo and behold! Before I knew it, I had interview calls to all the 3 schools in Bangalore I had applied to :)
  • "Fear not to make mistakes; be bold. Only keep learning from them!" - Dad
The board exams breed such pressure on a student, almost like a do-or-die situation, and amidst anxieties, when your parent tells you it's all OK, it lifts all that heaviness off your mind and truth be told, I performed way better thus! For when you focus on the effort rather than the result, you can outdo yourself. So I surprised myself by topping in my board exams in 10th and 12th, and also securing the highest marks in the state, subsequently being awarded the "Vidya Bhushan". I was not born a prodigy, dad just made me believe I could be one!
  • "Believe in miracles" - DisneyWorld
This one has been my driving force, gushing with hope. There is something so child-like in believing in fairytales, and happily ever-afters. And I ask, why not?
  • "You deserve better - have some self respect!" - Little Brother
He's younger than I am, but he can be expected to come out with some really mature things to say at the right time. Be it acquaintances or friends, even near and dear, no one can ill-treat you or disrespect you, without your permission and the little brother would indirectly protect me, by asking me to stay away from such pricks! Important advice to make one street-smart!
  • "You've got a friend in me"  - ToyStory
This is for all those people (they know who they are) who I could and can still call at 4am, and crib about stuff or just laugh together :D This is to that sacred bond of friendship that has your back, no matter what and lets you be your crazy self. To all those gazillion talks and silent conversations too- cheers!
  • "Your vulnerability is your strength" - School friend
I think Life is about the choices we make, and the values we choose to stick by - our individuality is defined by these. Life might expose our vulnerabilities but we can choose to make them a weakness or derive strength from them. 
  • "What you are shouts so loudly in my ears, I cannot hear what you say" - Ralph Waldo Emerson 
During my teenage years, during times of identity crises (child vs adult), I found 7 Habits... extremely useful; this particular quote within it's pages kept reminding me to focus on character-building rather than personality-polishing.
  • "You don't have to care about what others say about you...!" - College friend
Dogs bark, tongues wag, but the caravan goes on - you don't have to give a rat's ass to anything that people say. They could be brewing in envy and/or anger etc. you just gotta focus on what you ought to do, and let them be. You might feel sorry for them even, but don't bother. Haha!
  • "Hakuna Matata" - The Lion King
When the going gets tough, the tough get going! I can always fall back onto this one and strut like Timon/Pumbaa/Simba! 


  • "When I ask someone out, it's for life" - Best friend/Husband
What a beautiful commitment of love for life. When he first shared this philosophy with me, I was reeling in a dreamy state, wondering when my 'knight in shining armour' would make an appearance - little had I known that my Prince Charming was right in front of me! I eventually got married to him and I'm living my fantasy, right now with him :)
  • "And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it." - Paulo Coelho, in The Alchemist
The sort of thing one needs to believe in for dreams to come true. For nothing else explains how I am at my happy state today (touch wood)-part of a supremely loving family; working as a doctor - a childhood dream come true; married to the love of my life - gotta believe my grandparents are wishing me well and winking from the twinkling stars above.
  • "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" - Steve Jobs
Apple products continue to reign while one of his speeches still continues to motivate, long after he's no more. Through college life and the work-life that followed henceafter - this serves as a constant reminder to keep learning, unlearning, relearning. 
  • "Always keep the poor/needy people in mind, and do something for them" - Grandmother
My grandmum was an epitome of unconditional giving and I hope I can emulate her ideals and do my bit for the society...
This year, we linked #SocialShaadi with Milaap and raised funds for causes we believed in - education and vocational training; I'm volunteering for the Society of the Physically Disabled; giving away my personal savings for healthcare causes like eye surgeries for children (in the name of Eka Shukla, who's turning 3 this month-end - a noble gesture conceptualised by her parents), and as part of the Joy of Giving week and my annual birthday ritual - contributing money this year round to (i) the United Nations fund for (Syrian) refugees (ii) a rural Indian village upliftment (iii) an old age shelter home in West Bengal (iv) an orphanage in Pune, run by Maher.
  • "Not all of us can do great things, only small things with great love" - Mother Teresa
She remains a worldwide idol; an inspiration for community service. Emphasising on doing how much ever little we can, even if its picking up plastic covers from a park or helping an old person cross the road, little acts of kindness, go a long way...
  • "I have a dream that my four little children, will one day live in a nation, where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character." - Martin Luther King Jr
One of those elocution contests in high school found me learning these lines by heart, and they have stayed right within. They ignite the light of compassion, for all, irrespective of external traits and inspire to see the divinity in one and all.
  • "Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
As a crusader for non-violence and truth, Bapuji's ideals continue to urge me to be a better person, everyday. 
  • "Be kind - everyone you meet is fighting a battle" - Ian Maclaren
Be it my professional or personal dealings with people, I focus on kindness. For we may never know what the other person is going through... 
  • "If you're willing to take the chance, the view from the other side...is spectacular" - Meredith Grey, in Grey's Anatomy
Have some tequila shots, dance the night away and next day, turn up for work, go the extra mile, and be life-savingly awesome :D
  • "Stay Hollow and Empty! Be Happy - This is a blessing and an order" - Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
My tryst with spirituality commenced with attending the Art of Living Courses as I hit adulthood. The basic and advanced courses later, I find myself celebrating silence, being blissful in action and just letting go in complete surrender, at all times. There's unshakeable poise and peace and there isn't some place else I'd rather be.
  • "Don't take life seriously. Nobody gets out of it alive anyway!" - Sydney J. Harris
I think my favourite quote of them all! Haha! Take a chill pill, feel the morning sun, listen to music on your iPod, raise the volume, kick your legs out and some deep breaths later, plan your next holiday! Or if your my husband, you're probably planning my next surprise birthday gift :P

A week, filled with the joy of giving.
A week recapitulating my favourite quotes.
A week of giving thanks!

T-1wk

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Ayubowan!

This blog post is dedicated to the simply beautiful long weekend spent at Galle, Sri Lanka with our dear friends! Brimming with memories for a lifetime, the trip was indeed rejuvenating and a welcome break, after the crunch period in ED. I'm not going to go chronologically, though the OCD-kinda-person I am, that would have been just perfect; but instead I'm choosing to pick ten (ten=number of Ravana's heads :P) highlights from the trip, with some recommendations as well, for those of you who would like to visit Galle in the near future, inspired by the lovely photographs on the shared Facebook album: Ayubowan from Galle, SriLanka!

  • The People
A week past the trip, I still can't seem to get over the amazingly heart-warming Sri Lankan folks. Ever-smiling, always helping, clear-hearted kind people - and it seems to be a common thread of the culture of the beautiful country. For what makes a country vibrant is not just it's scenery/architectural marvels/city scapes but more importantly, it's people. Even their language and accent is so endearing - an expression of their simple, kind souls. From the land of Ravana (antagonist in the Hindu epic, Ramayana), this would seem contradictory, however what's fascinating to note is Ravana was infact a benevolent ruler of Lanka. Anyways, back to the people and their charisma - all the airline crew greeted us with "Ayubowan"; our cab driver was patient and kind way past midnight, steering against the strong rain; our villa staff including the watchman uncle were unbelievably accomodating and thoughtful even to include baby cots and baby chairs at the dining area!; our daily cab driver was very patient and selfless, so was our tea estate guide; the people across the city were unassumingly generous!



  • The Food
Oh my good Lord! Such ravishingly amazing food! Such a delightful treat to the taste buds. The Sri Lankan cuisine is definitely a must-try - with liberal use of spices and fresh herbs, their curries are heavenly. We were indeed blessed to have a very talented cook, at our villa. He very ably presented us with unforgettable dishes - Sri Lanka chicken curry, butterfish fry with delectable seasoning, arrack flavoured banana fritters with vanilla ice cream and palm syrup, even the stir-fried French beans were so amazing everyone needed a second helping! Among the restaurants we hopped across Galle/Unawatuna - Lucky Fort at Parawa street with its overwhelming curry set meal and quiant setting defintely was a winner; even the chance spotting of the Sri Lankan buffet lunch at Garden restaurant was awesome with their oh-so-spicy offerings including some mouth-watering pickles!; the cobbled street near Galle Fort was lined by many restaurants, surprisingly not many were licensed to sell liquor but oh well, we did enjoy our suppers at Pedlar's Inn Cafe and the likes around. 



  • The Beaches
Such pristine clean beaches, like heaven had opened up right in front of us! Our villa opened up right in front of the Buona Vista beach and thus, mornings kickstarted at the beach. It was quite shallow till some distance so we could venture further in and enjoy the tide, while one of us played with the toddlers and built sand castles. Another part of the shore was sea-shell laden and was to behold indeed.

But the beach that stole our hearts completely was the almost-private beach at Unawatuna! With the sloping palm trees and fresh sea breeze, it was like time stood still while the waves lashed around, and we had a piece of paradise to ourselves. The photography session was endless thanks to just how serene the place was. And so were the Ringa-Ringa-Roses with the toddlers, who absolutely loved the beach as well! We were thus, soaked in sea-love and sun-kissed, trippy and happy - it's well-deservedly featured in my list of blissful memories and without saying, is my current desktop screen as well :D


  • The Fort
The formidable Galle Fort (with the lighthouse) is one the must-visit lists on practically every online site you check while researching about Galle. Standing firm on its rich historical and archaelogical heritage, it's infact a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We headed there in the evening, braving the gale, with colourful umbrellas in tow. The view was absolutely amazing and the weather complemented it well! There were many local vendors selling local handicrafts and sculptures; and even the all-time favourite-roasted peanuts. Simple pleasures! The fort gave Pran and me enough opportunity to pose for photographs (clicked by our friend, Shilpa) and well, the outcome? One of our most liked (socially) snaps of all time :D 
The caption by the husband was fitting as well: "My favourite catch from the ocean;)" Haha! 


  • The Cricket Stadium
Though small by international cricket ground standards, the rain-washed cricket ground, with the Galle Fort in the background, as the sun set, was to behold. Prantik was in a state of ecstasy almost! I'd seem like I was just playing with words, but according to statistics, Gayle holds the record for the highest runs scored at Galle - 333 (a triple Nelson - nothing unlucky about that eh!) Selfies and welfies later, we realised we crossed the stadium quite a few times on our daily visits to the happening area near Galle Fort :D


  • The Villa
This should probably have been featured earlier, but my train of thought went on a completely different track altogether. I had chanced upon this villa online, and with its tastefully done interiors and umpteen number of good reviews, we had to jump in to book the Well House. With 3 differently sized bedrooms, with attached bathrooms; a lovely lounge area and a separate dinner area, overlooking the pool; complete with a green garden area - this private villa was welcoming indeed. The staff were very friendly and helpful. In reiteration, the food was marvellous and I remember discussions about not having enough Sri Lankan restaurants in Singapore - such a pity! The watchman uncle was kind and he'd top up our living area with mosquito coils (Yes, do carry mosquito repellant creams and patches! especially if you're traveling with kids!), even late at night while we were busy chilling over drinks and a competitive game of Taboo :D Special mention to the villa manager/whoever was responsible in arranging a baby cot and even 2 baby chairs at the dining table (blue and pink!). A tiny blotch on the whole villa experience would be the power cut one day, but the overall positive vibes more than made up for it. (Oh and yes, we headed to the spa instead of cribbing about the power cut :P)


  • The Virgin White Tea estate
Though not initially on our must-go-to list, on the recommendation of the villa staff, we paid this white tea estate a visit. The emperors were believed to have drunk tea brewed from leaves hand-picked only by virgins - hence the name! Nestled uphill, a not-too-large estate, it's almost like a mini rainforest which grows tea, cinnamon, rubber, pepper and coconut. The entry is fee, and the guests are treated at the owner's bungalow to some fine tea and pastries, followed by a guided your of the plantation in its natural glory (touched by rain, it shone even more). We were shown around the tea factory as well, with machines almost 150 years old and running; the last stop was the Hundungoda Tea Museum, where one could sip different varieties of tea - right from Earl Grey to Lemongrass, Tulsi Herbal to Yogi Tea! Refreshed and excited, we picked up several different packets for ourselves and then headed back downtown. 


  • The Turtle Hatchery
An environment conservation initiative where turtle eggs are incubated under the soil and when they hatch, the baby turtles swim around in little tanks, where they are fed and looked after. Unlike the natural course, where a vast majority do not survive in the rough ocean, this human interference helps to save endangered species of sea turtles, as they are only released into the ocean when they are big enough to fend for themselves and brave the challenge of the deep dark waters. Some days when the weather isn't stormy, visitors are even allowed to release turtles into their natural habitat. The hatchery even looks after turtles injured out in the nasty sea, some injured by human activities - such as motor boat propellors snapping brutally at one of their fins rendering them unable to swim across. After being rescued, vets nurse them to health at the hatchery and if found fit subsequently, are then released back into the sea. Such a beautiful venture to conserve precious fauna :) #SaveThe Babies


  • The Local Craftwork
The streets and tourist attractions were abuzz with vendors selling local crafts and sculptures. Right from wooden carvings and painted handicrafts, the colours ran across the spectrum and were a visual delight. Though the lion is their national animal, the elephant features in a lot of their work. Carved wooden ones, to gem-studden antiques, there were elephants in natural and colourful avatars everywhere. Souvenir t-shirts and other clothing featuring elephants were all over the place too. I did pick up a few for our home as well as a special one - Ganesha idol - for the prayer corner :)
Coinciding with the Ganesha festival in India, I was quite excited in finding these intricately done stone idols. (Tip: Local vendors sell them at a glaringly low price as compared to the branded souvenir shops!)
(Mental note: To visit the Pinnawala Elephant orphanage when I head to Sri Lanka next!)


  • The Airport
The first and last leg of the Sri Lankan expedition. The drive to and fro the Colombo airport, across well constructed expressways, along the countryside is definitely enjoyable. Sightings of bridges across rivers, large Buddha statues atop a hill, green paddy fields, backwaters and what not - some even reminding me of the Kerala countryside - beautiful indeed. The airport is not humongous yet it had a lot to offer. Right from multiple souvenir shops, spa products, and eateries including Burger King and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, where Prantik's loyalties lie :D 
We were undoubtedly blue that the holiday was nearing it's end but the airport, in it's own small ways, helped to end the trip on a happy note. 
And soon, we touched down at the all too familiar Changi airport, that witnessed the kids' "hugsie" yet again...


A week of exploring a new country.
A week of memorable times at the beach, fort and estates.
A week of delicious meals and fun conversations with friends.

T-2wks 


Sunday, 27 September 2015

A year on this island

It's fascinating to move to a whole new country, start a whole new life with whole new people!
This blog post is to mark a year since my move to this country, which soon enough became "home away from home"

As I'm counting down to my 25th birthday, here are 7 (because for some weird reason, it's my favourite number) learnings from my last year, which in ways more than one, moulded me into a better person (as I'd like to believe) and I trust will guide me well in the future as well:
(in no particular order)

1. A penny saved is a penny earned
This was my first stint with financially independent living. For calling dad over every little thing or just catching a bus home, was just not an option! Earning my livelihood as an Emergency doctor; paying my own house rent and utility bills, on time; signing up for critical illness, hospitalisation and life insurance...etc! Things I often wouldn't be involved in when I was back home, now were things I was sitting and discussing with close attention, with a financial consultant! And thus, I was managing my finances, as well as saving for a rainy day! I learnt from Prantik, to save first, spend without fear later - which gave me so much more financial freedom!

2. Live life with a little spice
I never did much cooking before moving to Singapore. But here, I had to cook to survive! And as my grand-aunt would say, "If you like eating, you should learn to cook it!" Easy it sounded, but what was most amazing however, was the realisation that I actually liked cooking! I'd listen to Saavn Radio and chop and stir - over the year I've surprised myself by recreating mum's recipes and of course, mom-in-law's too - right from Cholay Bhature, Paav Bhaji to Beetroot cutlets; Cream of mushroom soup to Tomato rasam; Reshmi Paneer to Thai Green Chicken curry; Pesto pasta with saute'd vegetables to Appam with Vegetable Stew and even Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani; Kerala Vermicelli Payasam to Gulab Jamun - my culinary adventure has been so much fun and exquisite, to say the least! And a home-cooked meal has the secret ingredient-love! And nothing beats that, ever!

3. Do what you love, Love what you do
I did have teething issues, working in a completely different environment; with more electronic documentation every hour than I did during my entire year of housemanship back in India; working with people from different ethnicities and work culture - but, it was a fun-filled upward learning curve and the people were very helpful and supportive. And soon enough, I was loving it and it only translated to happier working hours, increased productivity and obviously happier patients :D It always feels fulfilling to be on the receiving end of appreciation and time and again, it only reassures that this is the place I want to be and I couldn't be happier!

4. Work Hard, Party Harder
I had an erratic work schedule and I learnt to work around it, to spend time with my husband and of course, our gang of friends. There were fun birthday and anniversary celebrations; even a wedding in between! Additionally, movies over the weekend and Sunday brunches, exploring new cafes and cuisines which was like a blessing in disguise for a foodie like me - bonuses include the Kebab and Biryani Festival at Raffles Hotel and from down south, the OnamSadhya. We also threw in fun activities in between, like watching F1 Grand Prix from the infinity pool at Marina Bay Sands, walking nature trails (MacRitchie), visiting the zoo and bird park, Diwali lights and house parties, BBQ at Labrador Park, Secret Santa gift exchange during Christmas, watching plays and screaming at music concerts; and not to forget, the crazy fun singing and dancing that followed a few tequila/Kamikaze shots :P

5. Take Vacations - Make Memories!
For the truth is - we can always make money; we can't always make memories. And I'm so fortunate in having found a life partner who believes, just as much as I do, in the power of making memories; and thus we feed our wanderlust. I'm more of the meticulous planner while Pran, is the more spontaneous traveler. We thus, enjoy the best of both worlds! Our travelogue kickstarted with a lovely relaxing honeymoon at Lombok, Indonesia - snorkelling amidst the colourful schools of fish and even turtles, is still a memory I revisit often. We spent Valentines' Day at Melbourne, having grabbed last minute tickets to the starting game of the Cricket World Cup 2015 and a day later, at Adelaide, ticking off one of our bucket-list items - India vs Pakistan World Cup game! We had short yet sweet holidays with the family - with my folks, at Poovar, Kerala at a beautiful golden sand beach resort; and with his folks at Selangor, Malaysia, living in villas over stilts, enjoying the most gorgeous sunrises ever! We just got back from a splendid break with the friends at Galle, Sri Lanka (look out for my next blog post on that!) and I'll be honest, our vacations for the next quarter of the year have been planned too :P

6. Gift Love
Pran and I were blessed to have a lovely wedding #SocialShaadi, spread across 2 cities, over a week! What added to the beauty of it all, was the money we managed to raise along with Milaap, for causes we believed in - education and vocational training. We also raised money for 2 institutions in our respective home towns. And thus, our wedding had a whole new dimension and with this spin, it had so much more meaning. Our marriage thus kickstarted on the grounds of giving. And love only multiplies thus. It is said that "it is in giving, that we receive" but I completely believe that unconditional giving is a form of divine love; and Pran and I aspire to give each other and others, not just material gifts (Pran surprised me with gifts to mark 1 year as well!) but more importantly, quality time, always.So, when we just chill at home, watching Scandal on Netflix or just play Scrabble on the diwan, we know, we are basking under the warm glow of love.

7. Keep Calm and Love Yourself
The journey of the past year has only gotten me closer to myself and more in love with life. I'm grateful for the umpteen opportunities life has bestowed me with and I am enjoying learning new things each day, and adding more items onto the "must-do/must-try" list. Amidst my seemingly busy schedule, though not so religiously, I do make time for yoga and kriya, for blissful meditation sessions, for walks by the beach, for red moon spotting, for indulging in frozen yoghurt or milk tea with lychees, for lying on my couch and losing myself in the pages of a book. And of course, with this blog, I've reignited my itch to write and express myself as well :)

These are so simple lessons yet life-changing. And I'd swear by them, every single day!

We visited the Ganesh temple, on Ganesh Chaturthi to give thanks to the Almighty for all things bright and beautiful ...  for a fun-filled year gone by...

I have no idea what life has in store for me, but if the last one year was an indicator of any sort, I can say, the rest of my time here in Singapore is going to be rockin' for sure!

A week marking a year on this island!
A week of reliving memories.
A week of gifts, of love.

T-3wks

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Feeling Alive

So last weekend, Prantik and I decided to go on a low-to-no (added) sugar diet for a week. The idea was to reduce packaged and processed foods, say no to carbonated drinks, packaged juices, ice-creams etc. We had a heavy heart when we had to shove the Milo tetra-packs away; we were allowed one home-made coffee a day. And thus, the terms and conditions were set.

Day 1
I remember myself craving for the usual cream-cheese bun, that I end up having as "lunch" for the lack of time, on usual days. But that day, each of us got a break, enough time to grab proper lunch. I remember calling Prantik up and panicking for I wasn't sure what I should eat! He said I could have normal lunch ie. rice and vegetables, chicken for the protein. And so, I produced my Kopitiam card and had some rice, with green leafy vegetables, chicken curry and curd. Not too bad. A decent, balanced meal that. So, I am not trying to lose weight; on the contrary I'm just trying to have my meals (not skip them, thanks to work!) and whenever, I do, ensure I have healthy calories.

Day 2
I was working the evening shift. So I was back around 11pm. And I had had time to grab some light dinner at my workplace. So, then I called Pran up. And asked him to get into his running shoes. I got home and quickly changed into comfortable shorts and a tee; and then, off we were. I haven't run in years, 5 to be precise. So, my stamina as expected had hit rock-bottom. But, I must point out, the distance doesn't really matter. That first step does. Going out, forcing yourself to get those knees moving (yeah, I have knee issues which at a point in time, severely restricted my dancing and badminton playing, thanks to the excruciating pain!). It felt really good to be jogging under the night sky, with my life partner.

Day 3
Another evening shift; but I hadn't had time to grab dinner. So I got home and quickly ate some food that I had cooked prior to leaving for my shift. Food in the stomach ensures the blood supply rushes to the abdomen to assist in digestion; which makes one lazy and sleepy :P But, we pushed ourselves to head out that night again. For if the first step is important, the second is crucial. Post-dinner is usually not recommended but we were left with no other option. So, down the same round we ran again. Little traffic, sounds of nature, and soft breeze. Cannot get any better. I think I ran lesser than the previous night but that was expected. Walking back into the apartment complex, we were happy we pushed ourselves.

Day 4
I had a night shift which meant no night run. It also meant, 3 meals, at regular times :D For sometimes, while exercise is good, eating the right foods is equally stressed upon. Staying home, one can end up binging on junk food. What does one do then to manage temptations? Get rid of them! If there's no junk food at home, you can't really have them, can you? Stock the fridge with nutritious goodies - snack on fruits,raw vegetables or even dry fruits; stir up salads if you like. So, when I felt hungry, I'd pick up a custard apple or some Arabian dates, instead of Lindt Lindor :D

Day 5
I slept through the day after a South Indian breakfast with my night shift partner; and I binged on Grey's Anatomy episodes later through the hazy evening! I chatted with my mum and laughed out loud. For if what you feed your stomach is important, what one feeds their soul is paramount! I was all set to spend the rest of the evening at home; however, Pran spells spontaneity! So, he suggested we head out for dinner, to celebrate our 9th month anniversary (belated). So, I put on new clothes sent by my parents and new accessories, which were sent as Rakhi gift by the brother; and headed out for North Indian dinner with the husband. We loved the ambience at Kinara, Holland Village and the food was delicious as well. Butter Chicken rarely goes wrong! Some indulgence that! But we stayed off alcohol and desserts. Not bad eh?

Day 6
The next day, after my shift, on the SG General Election Day, we headed out to catch some movies. We were able to watch back-to-back movies, Kadambari and Welcome Back, the latter with the friends' gang. The movies were a stark contrast to each other; we enjoyed them both. More importantly, we stayed off the oh-so-tempting popcorn and coca-cola combo, that usually accompanies a movie spree. For sometimes, what one doesn't do works wonders, way more than what one may do! :D

Day 7
Finally an off day, over the weekend! But we overcame the lazy bug and though our alarm clocks deceived us, we managed to meet Shilpa-Shivanu for a morning walk at the beautiful MacRitchie Reservoir Park. We had done a different trail earlier in the year, so this time we went on a different one, including the boardwalk. The lush greenery and the calm waters is to behold. To be amidst such bountiful nature, along with good conversation with friends was indeed a beautiful experience. Fresh morning air always rejuvenates like none other. We followed that with simple brunch at a garden cafe, Canopy. We ordered super-fruit/detox juices and some eggs, mushrooms and toast. We liked what we ordered and would probably head back to the place, some time in the future.
Later that evening, as planned, Prantik and I headed to the Tanjong Beach, at Sentosa, to partake in the annual yoga event - #SoulScape. There were hundreds of people, of all races and religions, gathered with their colourful yoga mats. There were fun counters, where one could pin positivity or paint on the common large canvas (Namaste/Om/EatPrayLove etc). The Sunset Yoga session (led by yoga teacher Saumik Bera) was really good; which was later followed by moon meditation and another yoga session (by Cristi Christensen). The combination of yoga, music and dance and of course, meditation by the beach, under twilight was simply gorgeous and an experience of a lifetime! Thoroughly enjoyed all the vibes of enthusiasm and positivity. Peace!

And thus, we wrapped up the week, feeling rejuvenated, feeling positive and feeling alive...

A week of watching our physical activity and diet.
A week of focussing on our breath, and listening to our hearts beating.
A week of feeling alive and at peace...

T-4wks

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Inside Out ©

Last weekend after a sumptuous 26-dish "OnaSadya" - the gastronomic feast served on a banana/plantain leaf, we headed for a Pixar animation movie with friends - "Inside Out"

It was a simple movie, about the "little voices in our heads" (And, no these are not the twisted, hallucinatory voices.) These are just our varied emotions talking to us, on a daily basis and in ways, perhaps unknown to us, how they actually run our lives.

There have been many ideologies and philosophies about life's guiding forces and energies. Be it the Nav Rasas, the Seven Chakras, the Tri Gunas or just a single unified divine consciousness - God, the higher Force; but at a very simplistic, individualistic level, if one were to understand and identify what really governed our day-to-day lives, the simple answer would be thoughts and emotions. And this is what exactly the movie is about. 5 prime emotions. (Ya, I've never quite understood, how most of these are actually 'odd numbers'! Anyways!)

(in alphabetical order ;))
1. Anger
2. Disgust
3. Fear
4. Joy
5. Sadness

A week I spent by myself, primarily - in silence, predominantly - paying attention to the inner voices. :) I must say, it was an interesting exercise to actually be mindful of all the thoughts and emotions splashing through the ocean of my mind, and just let them be.

I used the time to do stuff that I haven't made time for in some time. So I read, I caught up with Grey's Anatomy, I went for solo walks accompanied by the pleasant evening breeze and when I felt lazy to cook, I just settled in watching random movies on Netflix, with some honey-glazed fried chicken and Bundaberg ginger beer. #Joy

Amma often makes stuff he likes like Appams, Puranpolis, Besan Laddoos, so I've even asked her whose mom she is?! Haha! There were even moments of pseudo-anger when they'd not share with me what they were planning (they call themselves the Conspiracy Team!). #Anger

But big picture, it's all 'Joy'. I'd often eavesdrop on the fun conversation that went about at Bangalore, as Prantik spent time after work, at home with my parents and brother. They teased me, laughed out loud - it was so endearing to see them bond thus. We are truly blessed to have parents and parents-in-law who are truly all-embracing and forever-giving. #Joy

A singular moment of low was when my hormones ran havoc in my body (yes, a monthly affair in every female's body); and some reason, augmented by isolation-of-sorts, it decided to overpower my physical self; additionally, an upset tummy added to the woes! (Mental note: No more outside food this week!) #Sadness

But again, I popped in a pill; focussed on my breathing; did what I had to do, and ignored that voice completely! And let 'Joy' reign over the uneasiness and thus, empower me :) It was also nice to be able to meditate together with my Mum in Bangalore, as Guruji guided a session in Orissa. All thanks to technology! Long live FaceTime :D  #Joy

There were times, when Pran would be unreachable. I knew he was on the road, traveling somewhere. Maybe his network was bad, maybe his iPhone battery had died (which is most often the case, thanks to his excessive phone usage :P) - all very logical explanations to why he wasn't picking my call. But, the stupid nagging voice in my head, makes me fear the worst! It's annoying, it can potentially leave me with palpitations and insomnia! Ugh #Fear

But then, I just pray and surrender. And hope earnestly, that I'm being unreasonable. And he's safe out there. His phone's silent/dead. And he'll call me as soon as he can. And sure enough, he does! Phew! Praise the Lord. To listen to his calm voice (reminds me of our long distance days!) and have him laugh at me when I tell him I was getting worried, simultaneously calming me down too with his kind words; I chide myself for being silly and laugh along. #Joy

Sigh! The heart-wrenching picture of the toddler in red, and dead, at the beach; a result of the Syrian war; went viral on social media. Hundreds of people fleeing the war-struck state, trying their luck to cross the deadly waters and find safer ground for themselves and their families - with no place to call their home - the life of these refugees is indeed filled with misery - all of it comes with a feeling of helplessness...Especially the account of the father, whose son (and other son, and wife) had thus died was agonising to say the least. The general state of worldly affairs... sigh!  #Disgust

As I battled with the sense of disillusionment that accompanied such news; work brought me back to the present. Working in the Emergency Medicine department is a blessing indeed. It teaches one to focus on the matter at hand, to multi-task, and amongst many other things, to be face-to-face with the reality that "Life is Short" and thus, always, "Choose Happiness". And that's what I did.
I caught the early morning train to the airport, to pick my husband up at the airport. While chasing dawn break, I read "O's Little Book of Happiness", a refreshing collection of anecdotes (which I'm thoroughly enjoying). I had my favourite South Indian breakfast, Onion Uttapam at Ananda Bhavan while Prantik sipped on Bru coffee. We spend good time together, watching a Rom-Com later at night, while savouring sparkling Moscato, way past midnight. Thus, also commemorating a year since we got this current rented apartment and of course, a belated 9th month celebration. #Joy

Simple days. Simple joys.

A week of being alone yet not.
A week of listening to the inner voices.
A week of choosing happiness.

T-5wks



Sunday, 30 August 2015

Celebrating Sibling Love

The following write up is almost 10 years old. And I found it amidst so many other documents in a forgotten folder on an old external hard drive… (I’ve added on at the end, to make up for the years gone by since then!)



It’s nice to be your sister. It’s taught me loads of things... apart from how to source cheat codes! :D



I’m told I loved you when you were still not born. That I would talk to you while you were still in mama. Maybe our bond was spun right then.


But I’m also told I was jealous as hell as soon as you were born. Obviously. With you being the centre of attention. Mama and papa showering all their love on you, I thought they forgot me. So I’d throw tantrums to ensure only mama fed me, bathed me etc. :D 



But as you grew into this adorable chubby little thing, I couldn’t help but wanna be next to you all the time. Hold your stubby little fingers and watch you grow. 



‘Twas fun playing with your guns and cars. And yea I know I forced you to play with my dolls and the kitchen set too. :D And I’m sorry. For all those times, I’d pretend to be dead and wake up a zombie to scare the living daylights outa you. 



As you elder sis, I always thought I was to look out for you. Protect you. So when the football came hurling at you, I went and slapped the guy. Even though it wasn’t intentional on his part, he should have been more careful when playing around a little boy!! 


Soon, you bid adieu to your tricycle and were on a bicycle. We were growing up so fast. We’d race each other so often. I was ahead. And you fell down and fractured your arm. I felt so guilty that night. It was my fault. Also, that time, we raced down the stairs and I had to see you tumbling down. Gee! I had my heart in my mouth! 


And soon we were too big for each other. We had our own friends. Our own books to attend to. And our own different priorities. So while you were hooked to your PlayStation, I was glued to the Harry Potter books. 


And then, we moved back to India. And we were older. And yes, the study pressure was glaring! So amidst innumerable tests, we’d help each other. I’d make notes for you the night prior to your geography test, and you’d try and keep our little cousins engaged while I crammed before my entrance exams. And we’d celebrate our little victories together with a pizza and some fizz. 
And with the blink of an eye, soon it was you giving the entrance exams. I’d bring you vanilla ice-cream with fresh strawberries, keep extra chocolates for you etc.  amidst all the lectures and fights.


You’re pursuing an engineering career now while I’m a doctor already (Holy smokes!). And we’ve seen each other through tough times. Be it family, friends or health crises. Yes, I still have the pics from your untimely E-med visit at 2am! But I must say, some of those scaringly wise and mature things you say at times, it’s hard to imagine that you’re no longer that chubby little boy. 


In fact, you're the first person I told about Prantik! And now, #SocialShaadi has happened, and at times it drives me insane that you find him cooler than me :P 



Today you’re much sought after not only because you have an attractive voice. But because you’re awesome, lil one. You’re well behaved, the teachers’ pet, a caring friend and all that. A genuine gentleman, an enterprising engineer who just recently landed his first job and a rockstar too! And I’m so so so proud of you. And you must know, that you’re mum-dad’s apple in the eye, well deservingly!




And yes now, I’m probably the little one. Haha. But all I really want to say is I’m going to be there, you like it or not, and I’ll stand up against everyone else, for you. I love you, Rohit Kamath! Shoot for the stars, baby brother; the sky is no limit! Stay happy, Stay blessed! We all love you....to infinity & beyond!☺



A week of lovely memories.
A week of keeping them alive...
A week of celebrating festivals! :)

T-6wks 


Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bubbles

He asked for water, we gave him a sip, enough to wet his lips...
When I close my eyes, his still eyes haunt me; his family wailing, their voices still echo in my ears. We did everything we could, but we couldn't save his life. Worse still, we couldn't figure out what resulted in his unexpected death. Just a few minutes ago, he was throwing his drunken limbs around, a few cuts across his lips, a few bruises over his chest and extremities sustained after self-skidding from his motorbike; he wasn't visibly bleeding from anywhere. The ultrasound didn't show any visible internal bleeding either. His parameters weren't too abnormal. And then all of sudden, his heart wasn't beating right. He wasn't breathing. There was no pulse. We started chest compressions. We shocked him. We gave him the requisite drugs to resuscitate him. We did all we could. And yet, in a moment, life had left from his body. And no matter how hard we fought, Lord Yama (considered as the Lord of Death, as per Hindu mythology) had wielded his power. And thus, a person in his prime of life, ceased to exist... Just as suddenly as a bubble burst.

While working in Emergency Medicine, we are faced with probably the highest number of sudden deaths. While many are expected deaths, the ones that are the toughest to deal with are the ones that strike out of the blue. It is obviously tough on the family and near&dear ones. I can't even imagine what the parent and elder siblings were going through. Having to break the news that their family member is at the brink of death, is definitely not an easy process either. They are hit by the strongest sense of denial that is so hard to refute. Keeping at par with the K├╝bler-Ross model, it is soon followed by anger - at that moment, it is directed at the healthcare personnel, more often than not; bordering on helplessness of course. They then bargain and ask us to "do something", despite us reiterating that we have and we are doing everything in our capacity.... Often, it helps to just be by their side, perhaps. Standing in silence. While the family tries to wake their lifeless family member, all attempts in vain. We let them have their privacy, as it gradually sinks in and an overwhelming sense of depression overcomes them all. It's contagious even. Doctors and other healthcare personnel are not thick skinned, as the world out there tends to believe. We grieve the loss of our patients as well; only less visibly perhaps. Finally, before the body (not a person/patient anymore) is transferred to the mortuary, a fleeting not-so-firm sense of acceptance has to set in sometime for how else would they inform other members of the family of the accident, unless they had accepted, at some level, that their loved one was no more. 

There's silence and screaming. There's denial and acceptance. There's hopelessness and faith. There's frustration and calm. There're tears and prayers. Death throws contrasting aspects of life, right at us. It confuses and yet, gives us perspective.

The week also saw, Guruji at HK. And as he guided a short mediation session, which Pran and I could fortunately live-stream; he answered quite a few questions but the common thread that he stressed was to realise that our lives are short and impermanent. It's troubling to live in fear but it's important to understand this very truth of our mortal lives and thus, learn to focus on the important things in life. We should fret less or better, sweat not over the small things; soon, we'll see most of the things we worry about are indeed "small things". 

The Asthavakra Gita talks about how 'we are not the doers'. Such a powerful teaching. If one were to visualise, each of us, as puppets, in the hands of a higher force. Not to say, we are completely out of control. Our deeds are our own - adding to our karma. So, 'not being the doer' not doing anything. But I guess, at times like these, it's always helpful to acknowledge an unknown, unseen Force at work. Doctors, are not Gods; they are merely instruments of His Love #terms and conditions apply#

The week that started at the ocean, with the waves lapping against my feet, as the sun set, ended thus at the shore of spiritual awakening. As a person, as a doctor, as a living creature on this planet, a speck of dust in the Universe, there's so much to learn, so much more to do... And each day, each week, life only teaches me more. And I blow some more bubbles, again... 

A week face to face with mortality.
A week of haunting screams and silence.
A week of sunsets, forever and new sunrises.

T-7wks

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Alphabet

The week's big tech headline was Google announcing "Alphabet" as it's parent company.

So, in jest, my very own "Alphabet" too for the week gone by...

A: Anniversary (3 yrs since we met)
B: BBQ party
C: Changi beach
D: Double bicycle
E: Eshaan's b'day celebration (with props including moustaches!)
F: Family photo wall
G: Garden brekkie at Spruce
H: Harmony, always
I: Indian Independence Day
J: Jana Gana Mana (goosebumps, always!)
K: Kindle time
L: Labrador Park
M: Marche meal
N: National Day 6's champion (Whoohoo!)
O: Other side of the city state
P: Patriotic song Antakshari
Q: Quality time with loved ones
R: Radio air time @PranMaz
S: Sunday off (Yaay!)
T: Taare Zameen Par
U: Us, chilling at the club lounge
V: Village hotel staycation
W: Wine, sparkling
X: eXtra learning sessions
Y: Yummilicious Chicken Biryani (product of our kitchen!)
Z: Zen

A week of the ABC...
A week, I out-did myself. :)
A week of sublime happiness... :)

T-8wks



Sunday, 16 August 2015

Seven Surprises!

Imagine my utter surprise when I'm heading back after work and I get a message from my mom-look-alike aunt telling me that they are in Singapore! August thus kickstarted with the first from the extended family visiting us :) Heart-warming to say the least. We hugged, kissed, smiled, laughed and had a jolly good time. The little one, Amreen, fondly called Ammu, after our beloved grandmother, infact has some facial features like Mamama. Being the youngest first cousin from the maternal side, she's the apple of our eyes; gifted with a melodious voice, a kind heart and a shy smile, she could steal anybody's heart in a moment, which is exactly what she did at our wedding #SocialShaadi :)

The next day marked 8 months since our wedding. And the dear husband earned brownie points by choosing to work from home so he could spend the day with me (I was working the night shift that day which meant I was home most of the day) - For not all gifts need to be touched; the gift of time is precious, invaluable...and touching indeed - Prantik had clearly read Gary Chapman's "The 5 Love Languages" cover to cover ;)

Post the night shift, getting back home and crashing is a routine that Prantik has gotten accustomed to. I have cereal with milk for breakfast, wave him good day, and then dive into the abyss of sweet slumber... I got up quite late, way past 4pm, unlike usual 'sleep days'. I dressed up and joined Pran for our movie spree date. Prior to meeting him, I picked up a card for Friendship Day to present to the best friend, even though 2 days late :P And then, I honestly surprised myself by staying up for back to back movies, despite a messed up wake-sleep cycle. We watched Tom Cruise's Mission Impossible and Salman Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan and liked both movies, much to our surprise!

The next day I had class, followed by shift. I reached home, only closer to midnight. But that didn't stop us from watching Shonda Rhimes' Scandal. Our daily dose of TV, couch time, us time. :) The last 2 months were quite busy with our parents in town and we didn't really get time for Netflix :D so, we were making up for that :D

Thursday was an off day. I had loads of stuff to do on my checklist - finish a book, do the laundry, watch FRIENDS maybe, work on my case review presentation draft, and cook perhaps. The only thing that happened was the last item! I surprised myself by conjuring up an entire healthy thali for dinner and infact enjoying it all, while listening to Shafqat Amanat Ali's Ajab Khail on loop (which was also a chance discovery - Ah! The joy of discovering soulful music). There was Palak-Carrot Pulao, Mushroom Shabnam Curry, Baingan Bharta, Cucumber Raita and Mango Chutney :) Prantik even took second helpings :P Don't they say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach :D:D:P Mission accomplished ;) We then headed for the night show of Drishyam, with friends; a thriller well-done, it was a good way to welcome the long weekend.

Long weekend for everyone, but service providers, like us, healthcare personnel. I worked on all days of the #SG50 Jubilee weekend. And so did so many others in the healthcare sector - right from doctors, nurses, clerks, auxilary staff - and there might have been long faces, once in a while, but while working, each one worked with an enviable fervour. It was good to be on the receiving end of appreciation, from patients and their families' for caring for them during this weekend - and I would respond simply with - "You don't have to thank me! It's my duty, my pleasure :)" and that is the simple truth. When surrounded by people who love what they do, and are as passionate about it as you are, then waking up everyday and going to work is not a chore - it's part of happy living. To be honest, having worked in ED for 1.5 years now, it has become such an integral part of my life, I can't imagine myself doing anything else. This realization came quite serendipitously, indeed!

The next evening, we headed to Shushanta-Nikita's housewarming party. We were catching up with the gang after quite sometime! We had home-cooked dinner and oh-so-sweet wine; and I topped it with some vodka/cranberry juice before heading out to the newly opened/re-opened Rupee at St.James. It was only Day 2 since they had opened and it was good fun grooving to Bollywood numbers, in a space larger than Magic Carpet. Phew! Finally :) Tune Maari Entry... played too and it brought back such fun memories from our Sangeet :)

A week of good fun time with extended family and friends :)
A week of catching up on movies :D
A week full of surprises and serendipity, indeed!

T-9wks