Sunday, August 20, 2017

Blueberries, Lobsters and Wilderness

A little while ago I traveled to Maine. It was still cold and chilly and I had decided to beat the tourist crowd. It was the right amount of wilderness for me. It was a perfect time work wise for a quick time off..

A couple of years ago I would have wanted to explore every tiny bit of history but this version of me is different. Maybe it's the US thing. The wilderness and natural beauty is just too good to pass. All I want to do is soak it all in. Breath. See. Smell. Eat. Feel my surroundings.
I am not able to pin point the reason that compels me to take to the wilderness. I love being reminded every now and then about my insignificance in this grand crazy universe. I like to think about endless lakes and quiet mountains and their nonchalance.
Life stood still that week. I didn't need much to be happy. I didn't think about my emails, upcoming deadlines, work. I was in the moment and totally at peace.

This must be heaven?

With all this talk of wilderness I think I should tell you that I am still not a camp person. I need a hard bed with a mattress at the end of the day and a coffee first thing in the morning. Yes, I am a little spoilt. I am scared of crawling insects and complete darkness. But I love being out in the open. I love those beautiful lazy mornings and dramatic sunsets. I like to look at my reflection in the clear still lake. I like touching trees.  I like the ruggedness of trails. I love being out there figuring out trails. It is just so much fun. 

My favorite trail so far - 

I think Bar Harbor in Maine has been my favorite adventure so far. There are just soo many things to do there.
It is famous for its wild blueberries and needless to say that I had Blueberry pancakes wherever possible. 

I am not much of a seafood person because of my allergies and didn't really try any lobster concoctions. Walking around downtown was just so much fun - kitschy shops, old school ice cream places and lots of eateries. It is a very quirky place. The old mansions have been renovated and converted to "Luxury Inn's" with usual breakfast spreads and afternoon teas.

I went on a 90 minute cruise as well. The cruise was to die for. Being out there in the atlantic ocean for a sunset cruise was a very good idea. It was freezing in the month of May and as usual my my lack of packing skills were in full display.  A nice couple even offered me a spare jacket but I was too embarrassed proud to admit that I was cold. There was live music and people were just very chatty. 

After spending a few days in Bar Harbor it was Portland next and what joy! The variety of restaurants just blew away my mind. 
Fun Fact- Portland has highest number of restaurants per capita next to San Fransisco. Portland was nerdy, geeky and hipster at the same time. There was a very strong sense of community which I love. Different breweries, coffee shops, graffitis, communal dining areas. It was all very vibrant. Walking around the downtown amongst those historical buildings and ruins was really exciting. I loved the waterfront as well. The weather was really bad - It was windy, gloomy, grey and rainy and I was not dressed well. I would like to go back there to explore more. That chapter is not over as yet. 

Hopefully I will be back there soon. I need to learn packing skills. I need to take my time to pack stuff ( I take 15 minutes to pack everything). Yes, I am learning.. 

I am in love with North-East USA. All my explorations have been around in this area so far. I love the vastness of lakes and the combination of mountains, ocean and lakes together. 


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Everyday People

A sense of belonging is paramount when you're living away from your home country. Feeling comfortable in your own skin and in your surroundings does not always come easy. Having lived abroad for a few years,  the feeling of being at home and having that sense of belonging is something that I have come to feel, no matter where I live. It doesn’t take me long to make myself at home, no matter where I am. It is a brilliant feeling, a gift of sorts. Belonging somewhere is more of a state of mind. Of course I can't take credit for all that.  I am just lucky to be surrounded by people in a place who have a sense of tolerance and open-mindedness. It is a two way street and both parties play their part.

Now I have that sense of feeling at home in a world that was once completely foreign, I probably care more about my surroundings, this little white lily and its people. I have a good circle of friends and I am thankful. I would have never been able to call this place "my own" without my friends. It amazes me every time how people from different nationalities bond over food, cracking jokes and day to day bickering. I am happy that I have found some inspiring and motivating people around me.

Last weekend a colleague friend invited us over for dinner to his lovely beach house. He and his wife opened their home and hearts to us. We had a lovely time - chatting, eating, laughing, drinking. That day there were not Indians or Americans on the table. Those things were trivial - just as a matter of fact and nothing more. Somewhere in between my friend said - "This was about telling you and showing you who we are" and that very moment I had that floating thought of belongingness. 
Yes, my sense of belonging to a large extent is attached to people around me.  They don't have to write testimonials, Facebook posts, Instagram tags. I am fine with little details - buying hot pepper jam from some unheard place. Getting me a box of Indian Mangoes. Trying out crazy running routes in crazy weather. Buying two boxes of pies just because. Signing up for races to give me company. 

It is such a beautiful world filled with all sorts of crazy and I am just trying to have my fill.
To belong or to not belong is a choice that we make. We decide if we want to live a cosseted life or go out, explore, adopt, integrate and assimilate.

Art by - Yours Truly..
P.S: Hello Blog - Been a while and I have missed you!
P.S1: I know a beautiful song about this feeling but the sad part is that I am not able to recall anything P.S2: This is a beautiful song. Totally relevant to present times..

Sometimes I'm right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I'm in

Sunday, February 5, 2017

The Old And The Young

Another year in the books. Another year. Apparently I have reached a stage where I am not supposed to tell people about my age. To be honest, I really don't. I still tell people that I am 23 :).
I had this grand big post on my mind. The words were crystal clear in my head but just when I sat down to write I lost my rhythm. They say that- It happens.

Life has been great. I can't complain. There have been a few setbacks but what's life without them?
Professionally I am having the time of my life. The workaholic in me has resurfaced. I thought I didn't have it in me to work longer hours anymore but who knew. I am on a different high.

My cuban friend has his own coffee set up at his desk(Which is strictly prohibited at work because- Fire hazard!). The days when sky comes crashing down, the days it gets only crazier, the days even everything falls apart I go to his desk to steal a few moments of calm. He makes a nice cuppa joe using his nespresso coffee pods. I sit at his desk and we chit chat. Last week he said " Sometimes I really wish that I try all coffees before I die" This one sentence was enough to get me all philosophical. I am on a trip since then. Yes, I am scared of not meeting my milestones but really who isn't? We all have aspirations and plans and then there is a fear of not meeting those goals. I am going through that at the moment. I know its a phase and will be over before I know it.

My birthday this year was different. No festivities. No midnight calls. No people wishing at work. No surprises. Very few phone calls. I was really okay with everything. Is this what growing up feels like?
For whats worth I did have my conversations and a few special gifts. MG got me some pretty white roses and my friend Kay got me home baked power bars :). And I guess those few phone calls were enough for me. I was surprisingly zen about everything and my cheerful positivity irritated me.

I have been pretty restless lately. Like my B'day Twin says - "Never the one to sit still".
Been struggling to maintain my fitness levels at the moment. I have had enough. I am at my best when I feel fit and so I have decided to kick it up a notch. I am all in. The feeling is familiar and it is a lot of hard work. I feel ready though. I just need to find a way to maintain my work-life and balance.

And just like that I decided to gift myself a race this weekend. It was in Packanack Lake with a mug of hot chocolate at the end. It was lovely and beautiful and couldn't have been any better.
Running made feel alright. It gave me the much needed time to connect with my thoughts.

And just like that I baked two birthday cakes today. I needed those birthday vibes. I guess I wasn't really satisfied the way my day had turned out. I am not much about birthday jazz but I still like my little show. Who doesn't?

I am still standing my ground, looking at a world with question marks, figuring out where I stand. Isn't that something?

The show must go on. Happy Birthday to me.
P.S: I did write a birthday post like every year. I tried really hard to refine it, shorten it, brighten it and I just couldn't. I need some more time to work on it and it get my rhythm back. Hopefully sometime this month

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Life's Been Good

I tried to maintain my streak but life happened..
I couldn't write continuously. I can really blame work for that but to be honest I didn't miss this blog much. I have been crazy busy and I like that. The financial year has ended and now is when my role comes in to picture. I enjoy this madness to the fullest. I love chaos. There is a different energy in this chaos. There is rhythm in numbers, calculations, formulas. Everybody around me is hyperactive and it drives me even more. I have worked (and have been working) with all guns blazing.
Data. Reports. Analysis. Spreadsheets. Reconciliation. I get to play my teeny tiny part on the big screen. How cool is that?

Most days I come back home exhausted but more determined than ever to do something useful and creative. I am very happy the way January has shaped up so far. Getting up early in the morning is still a challenge most days. I don't remember the last time I cooked on a weekday or turned on my oven. Sunday meal planning sessions have served me well so far. Really. I have been doodling. The two paper mache bowls made of junk mail paper, sitting and drying themselves out are a proof of my creative evenings. I finally managed to paint 3-4 canvasses using oil paints. I am doing well, most days.

I finally managed to break in to a nearby town's craft scene. I have my first Craft show coming up in February and I couldn't be happier. I am doing this with a friend and both of us are very excited.
There is one more show in the pipeline and I don't want to jinx it by writing about it here.

And I finally registered for NYC Marathon. Yes all 26.2 miles. I have been very vocal about my inability to run 26 miles. I talked to my running buddy AC on my way back home last night and he planted this idea in my head. Again. After a pumped up 10k, new compression socks, chocolate shake later I decided to leave it to my kismet. I finally registered for it. The entry drawing for the New York City Marathon will take place on March 2, 2017. Accepted runners will be entered into the race. Yes, just like that I am going to let destiny decide this one for me. Let's see how it goes. I guess I will never be ready to run 26 miles. It is too intimidating but then you have to run it to see if it is for you or not.  Fingers crossed!

In Joe Walsh words -"Life's Been Good"

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Day6 & Day7 - With a Little Help From My Friends

I never thought that I would watch Friends ever again. I loved the show but then I was over it when it ended. Last week instead of reading books & articles I started watching Friends from the beginning and simply enjoyed it. I can't explain the trigger but I guess it was a very good decision. 

I used to keep telling people how I was over that phase of "Friends" and it was more for early twenties crowd. As soon as the Season -1 Episode -1 ended I immediately clicked on the 2nd episode. It had me the moment Monica Gellar said to Rachel Green: "Welcome to the real world! It sucks – you're going to love it."  I have to admit that I could relate to this show more this time around.
Yes, I am too embarrassed to admit it but that's the truth. I love how all characters have strong personalities. It is something that I never observed in my 20's. I focussed a little too much on the jokes back then. It is interesting to see how all these different characters bond and become each others support system. I am not here to review friends but something just resonated with me.

When I moved to the country my biggest concern was having a friend circle. I am a very easy person to get along with but lifelong friendships don't come easy to me. It takes me forever to accept all sides/ parts/ crazy personalities/ flaws and all that comes with having 
a friend. This is something that I am learning and working on. Also, I make friends but I can't have heart to heart conversations with all. It was easy when I was young and the world was full of possibilities. I had lovely, perfect, crazy, stupid, beautiful and brilliant friends who loved me and I loved them, and I spent my days and nights drifting amongst them, in my own world. As time passed, equations changed, life happened and eventually my coterie shrank. 
"Putting myself out there" became more and more difficult. I was having this conversation with my running buddy KT and she pointed out something interesting - "When we are young we indulge in communal living and that makes the whole process of making friends easier. As we grow older, circumstances change, obligations kick in and thats not really ideal for fostering new friendships". 

I was really nervous and wasn't sure what to expect when I moved here but some friends for eg:
Det-Res, Eby etc were there to sort me out when needed. I didn't get enough face time but that's all trivial. New friendships weren't that difficult too. It was easy. Saving spots for each other in tough classes. Having quiet coffees. Walking 2 kms to Farmers market together. Sharing recipes, life, views, thoughts. Saving few blueberry muffins from a large family batch. Cooking food and eating together (I have tried some weird combinations - Polish and Indian Food. Dominican and Indian food..) Leaving work early to check out sales. Faking a meeting in the conference room to actually shop online(shhhh!). Planning long runs together. Adjusting to each others pace during tough runs. Taking time out from a packed holiday for a few drinks with me.  Watching broadway shows together.
Yes, I have had some amazing experiences. It was like being in school all over again and I knew some were going to last longer when I got these:

And just like that it was also about meeting friends again and again after a lot of failed planning.

I met Hemant after 7 years last November. He has moved to the same friggin state. How awesome is that? We were always in touch but couldn't really meet each other. I posted that day on Instagram and this is exactly what I wrote: 

"And 7 years later we meet again!
The most amazing thing is how clouded those dates, timelines and events are in our heads. It doesn't matter. None of it. It feels good. Every time. There is beauty in saying hello again.."
1. I started writing this post last night but couldn't finish hence Day6 and Day 7 together
2. I really wanted the title to be "I'll be there for you" but couldn't let go of this one..