International Yoga Day 2020

108 Surya Namaskars sounded enticing, but I wondered if I should go for it. I do practice Yoga regularly – three days a week, to be precise but the last time I participated in such marathon Surya Namaskars was more than two years ago. At that time, I used to practice Yoga under the guidance of trained and professional Yoga teachers. And, it is to them I owe my love and devotion for Yoga. The passion and dedication of my Yoga teachers easily rubbed off on me. That I confidently continue my practice to this day, on my own, is because of them.

Yoga is a holistic life philosophy that unites the body, mind, and spirit through Asanas (physical postures), Pranayamas (breathing exercises), and meditation. Yoga is as much about the mind and the spirit, as it is of the body. It is a powerful way to deal with everyday stress and anxiety. Consequently, Yoga does become a significant tool for the year 2020, where a healthy mind and body is of paramount importance.

Yoga Asanas involve specific breathing techniques and ideally should be practiced under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher, especially at the beginning. Yoga Asanas, if done incorrectly can cause more harm than good. Though Internet provides hordes of articles, guides, and videos that one can learn from, nothing can replace the guidance of a real teacher. There are many subtle specifications that sometimes vary from individual to individual and often depends on one’s flexibility and body type. Such minute observations and corrections come through experience, which is only possible through individualized attention from a trained and qualified teacher.

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Pic Credit: http://www.modernagespirituality.com

When I had started Yoga five years back, I was extremely inflexible. Not that I am great today, but my teachers made sure I understood my body and correctly did the stretching, bending, twisting, and so on. Had it not been for them, I would have long given up. Yoga doesn’t bear fruit overnight. It’s not just a set of exercise. One needs to be patient. Today Yoga is part of my life, I cannot stay without it.

“Yoga is like music: the rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul create the symphony of life.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar

Today, the 21st of June, is International Yoga Day. The theme for this year is “Yoga for Health – Yoga at Home”. My Yoga Teacher conducted a virtual session of 108 Surya Namaskars along with chanting and meditation. I was delighted to know about it but the number 108 made me hesitate. Will I be able to pull it off? A little deliberation and I just signed up.

The marathon Surya Namaskars turned out to be pretty smooth, and I did all of it with super ease. A confidence booster for sure, if not anything else!

Surya Namaskar also known as Surya Pranam or Sun Salutation is a set of 12 Yoga Asanas that are gracefully sequenced together. Six distinct Asanas are repeated twice during the sequence. The first set of six is dedicated to the right side of the body and the next set to the left side of the body. Surya Namaskar is done to express gratitude to the Sun for sustaining life on earth and has an immensely positive impact on the mind and body. It is a great cardiovascular workout too.

I have another post on 108 Surya Namaskars. You'll find it here.

An AC Hospital Experience

The New Normal…

At the entry, a security guard approached me probing the purpose of my visit. Besides gloves and masks, he sported a special kind of head gear that covered his entire face and neck with a transparent shield. The kind I had seen mechanics sporting in welding workshops. It’s called a face shield, I learn later. White squares were drawn on the ground at appropriate distances, where people waited for their turns.

Just before the entry door were a series of tables, again situated at appropriate gaps, that had forms and pens. There you need to fill in responses to specific questions pertaining to your personal information, like, name, gender, phone number, and generic health related questions. At the entry door, there were people wearing the same kind of welding headgear with a thermometer in their gloved hands. You hand over the slip, your body temperature is recorded, and depending on the reading you can proceed towards your destination.

A little bewildered, I stared at everything in amusement. I had seen such images in the Internet and in television news snippets. So, it wasn’t like I was seeing all of it for the first time. But, like everything else, experiencing something first-hand gives you a whole new perspective.

I was at Fortis Hospital yesterday where I had an appointment with my doctor for a certain health issue. The hospital is just 2 Km. from my home and it’s been my go-to-place for anything and everything for a very long time. This was the first time I was visiting the hospital in AC (After Covid-19) and every single thing was different and weird. Needless to say, it felt like I was in a Sci-Fi movie setting.

As I walked past the doorway, I cast a glance at my right where the reception is located. A transparent plastic sheath acted as a curtain between the ones providing the service and those seeking the service. I went to the basement section where the Out-Patient-Department (OPD) is located. Similar scenes there as well. You wait for your turn at the reception and billing on marked white squares. A transparent plastic sheath forms a barrier between you and the OPD reception. A small opening allows you to make the payment.

Outside the doctor’s chamber, the line of chairs for the patients to sit was no longer there. The alignment of the chairs had changed. There were very few chairs waiting in isolation placed at a distance from one another.

When my turn came, I went in to find my doctor sitting inside a transparent plastic sheath that formed an enclosure around her desk and chair. A small opening allowed my arm through for her to check my blood pressure. She asked me to lay in the examination bed for further investigation. The same transparent plastic sheath enclosed the bed. I accessed it through one end, which remained open. Again, a small opening allowed the doctor’s hands to examine me physically while the plastic sheath formed a barrier between us.

It was a very strange experience. Felt weird, like a dream. But no dream this was!

And Three Years It is…

 

WordPress says I complete three years of blogging. So, I’ve been writing for three long years. Not bad at all. Feels pretty good, I must say! A quick scan and I have written 109 posts so far, boiling down to an average of three posts per month.

My consistency does not surprise me though, being more or less consistent in pretty much everything I do. Routinely, disciplined, persistence are words that resonate with me, earning me nicknames of “Timetable” and “Clock” in the family. Personality aspects that don’t always go well with the family. Things that become even more pronounced when I incorporate an additional something into my daily life, especially related to exercise or meditation. And, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? My family doesn’t always agree. They feel I drive them up the wall.

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Back to blogiversary – if I rewind three years, then I’m at a place where I never ever thought I would write. In fact, I didn’t even know I could write. It all started with my first trek to the Himalayas. Writing and blogging in turn changed how I travel. It made me observant. I am more mindful and present when I travel now. I take notes so that I remember the minute details of the things I experience. Traveling is not something new for me. I have traveled right from my childhood days and have always enjoyed doing so but how I experience travel now has undergone a sea change.

This blog would not have happened had it not been for that friend who recommended I write down all the stories I kept narrating to her. “With time, you will forget much of it”, she had said. I have mentioned this in several posts, but I just feel like saying this again and again. Keeping my consistent nature aside, this blog has managed to survive only because of all the motivation I keep receiving from family and friends, not to forget all my connects here in WordPress.

My sincerest gratitude to all of you.

Some of you have gone a step ahead and pointed out that I should change my Theme and make the blog more reader-friendly. I truly appreciate your candidness and feel embarrassed about not acting upon it. My mind-block with anything technical is the reason behind my procrastination. Well, I will get to it – very soon.

In conclusion, blogging has given me a window to the world of writing, something I didn’t know I had a passion for. More importantly, it has connected me to some of the most wonderful people across the world – All of you out there!

Hand-Stitched Masks

Make Your Own Masks

Needle work and embroidery, stitching and knitting, tatting and crochet, fabric painting and spray painting are some things that grip me in nostalgia. There was a time when I was crazy about patterns and colours and fabrics. I could spend hours with needles and threads. The atrocious amount of patience I had in such things makes me wonder in disbelieve today.

We used to have a needle work class while at school and at that time I wasn’t very good at it, though every year I secretly wished to be selected for the best needle-work award.

During my college days, I developed a sudden fascination with everything that could be hand-crafted. Not only did I embroider and knit, I would also make things like floor mats, table mats, coasters, woolen shoes, tote bags, and what not. Anything hand-crafted that caught my fancy, I just had to learn. Back then there was no Internet, no YouTube. I would get my way by pleading people who knew the art to teach me.

I even went to Usha Sewing School and got a diploma in tailoring, which turned out to be a useless certificate as I never bothered to cultivate my skill. At that time, I didn’t even realise that my hobby was a skill that I could use to my advantage.

All those hobbies and skills got left behind when I left my hometown, Shillong. Life in a big city was too glamourous to knit and sew!

As a result, today I have forgotten most of it. I forgot the process of knitting a sweater, I forgot how to maneuver a tatting shuttle, I forgot how to hold a crochet hook, I forgot how to blend two colours while painting a fabric, the list is endless. Only in very recent times, I have started missing those days of knitting and stitching.

In the initial days of Covid-19 in India, people had gone berserk buying and hoarding sanitizers and masks. My parents were with me in Bangalore then and were leaving in the second week of March. With great difficulty I managed two N-95 masks for them at a marked-up price. Thereafter lockdown happened and the rest is history. I never had a mask and would wrap a scarf around my nose and mouth when stepping out. Wrapping a scarf each time felt cumbersome and I decided to stitch my own mask. I do not have a sewing machine and so I hand-stitched one. Thereafter I have hand-stitched more than a dozen masks and given them to my friends in Bangalore.

Many people have reached out wanting to know how I made them. So, here is a step-by-step process for hand-stitching your own masks.

Hand Stitched Masks

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Moments of Small Little things

There’s immense satisfaction and happiness in small little things of life, and that’s no secret! The small little things that I could have always done but never did.

Evening Cuppa at the Balcony

It’s nearly evening, or should I say late afternoon. At this time the mellowed sun appears perfectly rounded and has moved to the far west. On the way, it has splattered subtle shades of yellows, oranges, and crimsons all over the western sky. Seated in my living room, I can see the familiar warm comfortable glow fill up my kitchen cabinets as some of the light trickles in through the window.

I put my laptop to sleep and walk up to the kitchen. Soon, I have two cups of hot tea. I call out to my sister, who’s working in the guest room. She just happened to be with me during the lockdown. We leave our laptops and phones behind and for the next one hour settle down in the balcony with tea and biscuits.

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My sister’s pencil sketch of us in the balcony.

The softening yellow ball of fire can be seen from one side. And, it’s time for the birds to go home. There’s the bunch of eagles soaring high up in the sky, the flock of tiny birds that glide a few feet below as if competing with the eagles, the squawking parrots that fly in small gangs one after the other, the unseen cuckoo that sings into the evening whose nest must be somewhere nearby, the cute little tiny sunbirds that perch here and there, the odd bulbul and the kingfisher that comes by sometimes, those few noisy mynas, a couple of ravens, and the irritating pigeons.

Amid admiring the birds and enjoying the changing hues of sunset, we talk about a hundred things – family, friends, books, movies, social media, our anxieties and worries, our travels, our jobs, Covid 19, lockdown, and anything and everything under the sun.

Now, we eagerly look forward to the evenings every single day. My home happens to be in a quiet corner of the apartment. The balcony was always there, so were the birds, so was the sunset but never did we spend time in the balcony. We were too busy, you see!

Mornings of Squirrel Cuteness

It’s about 9.00 AM. Breakfast time. Not just for us but for the squirrel family too.

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Peanuts – my favourite breakfast

A squirrel family has been visiting my home for the past 2-3 years. There are 3-4 of them and all of them look alike except for some minor differences mostly in their sizes. For the sake of convenience, all of them have been christened with the same name – TUNTUNI. They live in the tree that spreads across one side of my house through the balcony, the kitchen, and the guest bedroom.

It’s the common Indian Palm Squirrel, grey-brown in colour with a bushy tail, and characterized by three conspicuous white stripes that run from head to tail. Hyperactive and superfast, they had thwarted all my attempts of clicking them. I had since given up and just enjoyed their company. Not just me, they would entertain my guests too.

My sister had never paid attention to them before. Now she can be found chasing the squirrels and filming every act of squirrel cuteness. The renewed focus resulted in new-found adulation. I got a bag of peanuts for them even in the lockdown. Every morning we feed them in return for some unparalleled adorable and magical squirrel moments.

The Myna Nest

Talking about the squirrels, it’ll be gross injustice if I leave out the Myna couple. For the past few weeks, in fact even before the lockdown had started, we had spotted a Myna couple in and around my home.

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The Myna’s untidy nest. Don’t miss the two roses at the top!

It’s the common house Myna, which is sometimes identified as a pest in certain parts of the world. Little did we know that the couple had built a nest in my kitchen chimney exhaust pipe.

We had been noticing some noise in the pipe for a while now but did not pay much heed as this happens sometimes. We always thought the tiny sunbirds made their way into the chimney pipe. Recently, the activities in the chimney was nothing less than a ruckus. The Myna couple were seen busy with various activities through the day. Once they even angrily chased the squirrel and we could never figure out what what had happened. Two days back the babies flew off and the Myna couple have since disappeared – probably enjoying the graduation of their kids.

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My sister sketches Tuntuni, the squirrel and the Myna

And, I can’t help but wonder that these are certain things that I could have always done but I never did. It had to take a Covid-19 lockdown or else I would have missed it all.

Locked Down

As Covid-19 tightened its grip around us, the initial few days felt surreal, as though we were living a sci-fi Hollywood movie. Anxiety and gloom took over as we were forced into a lockdown situation. Days passed and we started getting used to this new normal. A month into the lockdown in India now, the number of positive cases have risen but we have started talking about flattening the curve. We may see a gradual easing out of the lockdown soon.

While I desperately want the lockdown to end, a part of me sadistically wants this to continue – my love for Mother Nature makes me blind.

As I had written before, the lockdown hasn’t changed my life drastically. Certain changes did happen, which is but natural. However, some people have been drastically affected by the lockdown. I will not go into the stories of the migrant workers, the daily wage earners, and others like them. Their sufferings are beyond my comprehension. I have never experienced their fears and apprehensions. I can only imagine. The images and stories that I have seen and read have given me sleepless nights. I feel ill-equipped to write about them. Hence, let me stick to the impact of lockdown on people like me – the privileged lot, for whom the lockdown has been a rather luxurious one.

Many are struggling with issues like insomnia, binge eating, binge Netflix, etc. Many are struggling with being unable to maintain a routine. Many are struggling with serious issues of isolation, loneliness, depression, panic attacks and anxiety disorders. Again, contrary to this, many are jostling for some personal space in the confinement of the four walls of their small flats. I had read somewhere about the importance of having a balcony during the pandemic and I had thought to myself – well, how true that is!

Psychological disorders are a serious issue in metro cities, like Bangalore. Many of us live alone and are far away from family and home. Added to that is the stress of living in unplanned and chaotic cities. There are many people affected in some way or the other, the number is much more than we think. Some are open, most are not. If you have ever tried to get an appointment with a psychologist, you would know what I am talking about. The pandemic is only making it worse for this vulnerable group of people. I personally know people who would deliberately go for regular workouts to the gym or would regularly run/jog. Their only intention would be to keep stress and anxiety at bay. While some of them are finding alternatives in their homes by resorting to things like weightlifting, skipping, etc. others are struggling to find an outlet.

Several others are silently suffering – people stuck up with their abusive partners, abusive in-laws; caregivers of the sick and the elderly who aren’t able to take a break; people caught up in sexual abuse within the four walls of their homes; people facing mental and emotional tortures from their family members; and innumerable other situations.

Well, this is not what I was planning to write today. I had intended to write about some things that I have personally enjoyed during this month-long lockdown, but this post just took off in another direction.

Shall continue in the next post….

Staying @Home

Busy as busy can be, I still have no time – like it always has been!

We are on the 14th day of a nation-wide lockdown in India in our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The lockdown was announced suddenly, there was hardly any time to plan and think. It was a desperate situation. We didn’t have a choice. The virus wouldn’t wait, and we had to slow down its spread. It’s been the world’s largest lockdown, where the 1.3 billion of us have been asked to stay home for 21 days, that took off from March 24. While this was the need of the hour, it has led to several complicated situations. Not surprising though, in the world’s second most populous country and it’s complex and varied demography.

It’s a Tuesday. A weekday like this would usually revolve around office for people like me. Whether we like it or not, office takes up a large chunk of our day and thereby what we do for a living defines a large part of our lives. Most of the people in my circle have suddenly found themselves in a work-from-home situation, especially those from the corporate sector. While some are used to that culture, many aren’t. Then, there are some others, especially those working in the government sector, who are grounded at home with no work at all. Both these groups are grappling with their newfound and unusual situations. Initially, there was a sense of excitement of being at home, even with the Covid-19 gloom hanging in the air. That is now slowly giving way to boredom and restlessness.

Many are struggling hard as they juggle their office work, house work, children, and family. This isn’t easy, being used to the assistance of maids and cooks. Drawing the boundary between work and home while being at home is a difficult task. Then, there are others who are making good use of their free time by investing on things that nourish their souls. Some are sketching and painting; some singing and playing musical instruments; some designing creative videos and so on. A couple of them even displayed hidden talents that I that we never knew existed.

Amid all of this I am pretty much where I always was – lockdown or no lockdown. There aren’t any drastic changes in my life.

When I am in Bangalore, I am mostly holed up in my home. I have been working from home for nearly 4 years now. I am not required to go to office. Though, I did go once or twice a week but even that was at my discretion and sometimes I wouldn’t step out for an entire week. Neither my manager nor my team bothers about my whereabouts, as long as work gets done. So, my weekdays haven’t changed at all.

On weekends, the crowd and the traffic were deterrent enough to contain me in my little nest, except those occasional meeting with friends. However, I used to have people visiting me, which would happen quite often than less. I would also step out for grocery and other essential household items as I always preferred buying from the local market rather than online markets. Since I live alone, such outings were not in plenty. It wasn’t required.

There’s only thing that is significantly different now. There’s no travel, no outing, no planning for the same. Ironically, I am not missing them at all. Not just yet.

And, as always, I still struggle to keep pace with time. I just have no clue where all the time goes! Or maybe I do. The social butterfly that I am, even though I stay at home most of the time. No, not social media but connecting with friends and family over phone calls and WhatsApp messaging. And that does eat up a lot of my time.

Shit Happens to Others

Everything happens to somebody else, until it happens to you.

We can never truly apprehend the gravity of a situation till we are in it. This is true for every situation in life. And is more profound for the difficult situations or negative experiences of life. I am not too sure if this is applicable to life’s positive experiences. Happy situations do not have much room for analysis. It just leaves us high and we don’t think why this has happened to me or how do I deal with this – we’re just happy.

I can write about a ton of such life situations to exemplify this. In this post, however, I am focusing on illnesses of near and dear ones.

A Parent Diagnosed with Life-Threatening Disease

A close friend’s father has been recently diagnosed with cancer. He was a very healthy man, who was until now leading a perfectly healthy retired life with his wife (my friend’s mother). They would even go traveling every now and then. The latest one being just a few months ago when they traveled to Nepal. I even met them just after my Nepal trip to exchange travel stories when they were here in Bangalore, visiting my friend’s home.

The cancer news was just too sudden like a bolt from the blue. And the tumor is at a stage when operation is not an option. Surprising as he never had any symptoms. For the first time, I am experiencing the struggles faced by cancer patients and their families. Being closely associated with my friend, I am privy to all the happenings so much so that I can feel her struggles as my own – fighting emotions, running between hospitals and doctors, taking tough decisions, keeping faith despite all the adversities, handling her father’s sentiments and frustrations while managing a household, a job, and an overactive toddler. And, a lot more can be added to the list.

When I used to hear of the struggles of cancer patients and their families, I would just feel bad for the moment and then forget about it. This is the first time I am feeling the struggles. I can place myself in her shoes and feel the helplessness. I am unable to help her in any way and that bothers me a lot.

A Child Diagnosed with a Life-Long Medical Condition

A few months back, another friend’s adolescent son was diagnosed with Type-1 Juvenile Diabetes. Again, for the first time I witnessed the impact of an unannounced life-long medical condition of a child on a family. Their entire lifestyle went topsy-turvy. Adding to it was the emotional turmoil of seeing your child having to live a life of restrictions and inhibitions. There are so many aspects of such a situation that would have never occurred to me otherwise.

A Family Fighting Psychological Disorders

In my own family, I have struggled with close ones suffering from depression and anxiety. I know what it means to have a psychological condition and how normal life can get disrupted in no time. And how the social stigma associated with mental illness makes it even tougher. It’s only in very recent times that there is a lot of awareness in this regard and thankfully so.

For me the very word “depression” is uneasy. I find it utterly uncomfortable when people use the word loosely, such as, “The traffic in Bangalore depresses me.” To such comments, I find my mind saying, “Please find a better word than using the depression word so casually!” Then there are Facebook statuses saying things like – My door is open for you, please come talk to me if you feel down……blah, blah and blah – to which my mind says, “Do you even know what depression is? If talking would be so easy, they wouldn’t land up in this condition!”

Depression and psychosis affect not just the person concerned but an entire family. Relationships get disrupted and nothing ever gets back to normal again. All these become even more difficult when diagnosis is delayed – something which happens all too often. By the time you realise something is not okay, it already late.

Well, we really have no control on things that happen to us. This reminds me of something I read somewhere – In life we may control ship and sail, but never wind and wave.

Some Nostalgic Memories

Traditions, customs, and cultural practices are fast disappearing, happily sacrificed at the altar of metro living.

A thought that gets triggered off every now and then. Our technological and robotic lifestyle has no space for them! The trigger for this thought brought along some memories from the past that made me downhearted on a busy workday morning. The only consolation was that many of these practices maybe good riddance to bad rubbish. But certainly not all of them. Certain rituals and practices associated with specific occasions are not only enjoyable but serve to add fun and zest, breaking the monotony of life in general.

Today is Basant Panchami – a festival associated with welcoming the arrival of Spring. Not a major festival, but for me this day is associated with Saraswati Puja and that was the trigger for today’s thought. In the Eastern India, this day is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, who is an embodiment of knowledge, language, music and all kinds of art. Goddess Saraswati’s association with knowledge makes her special. Afterall, studies are foremost and that’s the only thing children and young adults are supposed to be focusing on in our country. Back home, every household ensures she is invoked on this day.

What We Used to Do

Back in the days, Saraswati Puja belonged to those most eagerly looked forward to days. It used to be a day to say no to books. The only day in the entire year when we wouldn’t have to hear the usual “destined to be doomed if we don’t study” from parents. Books were dedicated to the Goddess on this day and one was not supposed to touch them. With exams lurking around the corner, this time period used to be a hectic study period. As school students, what could be a more welcome break than to get away with a day without studies!

Yellow used to be the colour of this day – considered to be Goddess Saraswati’s favourite colour (associated with the yellow mustard flowers that bloom in Spring). Draping a saree on this day used to be a must and more often than not, the saree would be yellow or at least have a dash of the colour yellow. As we grew older, the saree to be worn on Saraswati Puja used to be decided days in advance. The puja would be completed in the morning and the rest of the day would be spent gallivanting with friends.

In the globalized world of today’s metro cities, I cannot visualize children indulging in such activities. Rather they are busy chasing the likes of Haloween and Thanksgiving. Though I believe children in Eastern India still celebrate this day in pretty much the same way.

Saraswati Puja is sometimes unofficially called “Bengali Valentine’s Day”. This is more so in West Bengal than in other parts of East India. With parental restrictions waned on this day, young hearts dressed in their ethnic best celebrate love in their own way. I guess I needn’t elaborate anymore on this.

The first thing we would do the following day of the Puja would be to write “Namo Saraswati Devi Namah” 108 times on a piece of paper. The norm was to write with the pen/pencil that was dedicated to the Goddess the previous day. Usually it would be written in Bengali. For small children, this would be a difficult task and hence writing the letter ‘A’ or ‘অ’ (first letter of Bengali alphabet) 108 times was considered enough. Thereafter, the paper was supposed to be immersed in a flowing river or stream. In the absence of easy access to a river or stream, we would simply immerse it in drums at home that were used to store water.

All of these nostalgic remembrances suddenly resurfaced today. The reason being my parents, who are on their annual visit to my home in Bangalore and Saraswati Puja becomes a must do at my Bangalore home too. As my parents make the necessary arrangements, my mind goes on this trip down memory lane with nostalgia dripping all way through.

Reminiscing 2019 – The Actual Year-End Post

The Year That Was

Emotions took the better of me when I had started writing my year-end post (read more about that here). Those emotions kept aside, 2019 has been one of the most beautiful years for me and in a very unusual way. The highlight of this year has been people and what better for the people person that I am!

Here are some of the top highlights of 2019 that I remain grateful for:

  1. Who says you don’t find real people in the Internet! I did. Through WordPress, I have met some of the best people and I am never tired of saying that. This year was different as I met so many of them in person. I want to say a BIG THANK YOU to each of you for the warm and heartfelt moments you have added into my life!
    • It started with Todd and Sage, when I met them in Bangalore during their trip to India in the beginning of this year. I even had the good fortune of attending a story-telling session by Sage.
    • Thereafter I met Debdutta, who decided to make me his family and call me his elder sister rather than a friend. Along with him and his friends, I spend a memorable weekend at Kōḻikōḍ.
    • Then I met Arvind – most of you would know him and I’d be surprised if you didn’t. We spent an entire morning sharing travel stories over innumerable cups of filter coffee accompanied by dosas, when he had visited  Bangalore earlier this year.
    • Last but not the least, Dilip and I became such great friends that I hosted him in my house when he stopped by Bangalore on his way back from his Leh cycling trip.
    • Note: I must mention two others though I am yet to meet them in person:
      • Hariom and I nearly planned a trip together but that didn’t happen. In him, I have found an extraordinarily special friend and it feels like I have always known him.
      • Narendra, with whom my connection went beyond WordPress and who has been a constant encouragement in so many ways.
  2. It was through Internet again that I met Ambrose Trueman – the cyclist, poet, writer, and adventurer. We connected through Instagram and met in person in Shillong this year. His gesture of taking all the trouble of getting me the traditional rice cake as I had never tasted it is something I cannot forget.
  3. A set of rather unusual circumstances led to my meeting the ultra marathoners, Banajit Burman and Asif Ahmed. Asif become a rather close friend and it feels like we’ve known each other for a very long time now.
  4. I have been busier than usual this year and all for the good reason of spending time with people. Almost every weekend I’ve had friends visiting me at home, some from other cities – no complaints! Just that it has affected the frequency of my WordPress posts.
  5. I got to spend more than a month in my home, Shillong, where I visited and explored several new places, including Mawlyngbna and Mawphanlur. Most importantly, my nephew, Abheeshek  and I spent some quality time together after a very long time. We even explored David Scott’s Trail together.
  6. During my visit to Sikkim, I made some special connections with people especially at Tingvong village of Dzongu Valley where we had spent 3 days. Living the Lepcha life, was an extraordinary experience almost making me believe I have some karmic connections with the people there.
  7. I had my maiden experience of trekking in Nepal with Annapurna Base Camp.
  8. I had started the year with a visit to Diu and travels have happened throughout the year with Sikkim and Nepal. I am in Varanasi right now and will be ending the year at Shalamun in Himachal Pradesh.
  9. I have discovered the goodness of meditation and have started practicing regularly. An addition to my regular yoga and jogging but it has become an activity that I eagerly look forward to every single day.
  10. I dabbled in poetry and dared to post some of them in my blog.
  11. I have finished off my home loan, a great burden off my shoulder.
  12. I have deliberately and consciously tried to live the life of what I can give rather than what I can get, tried to listen more and talk less, attempted to make people happy or at least not make them unhappy. Not that I have done so with a great deal of success but I know I wholeheartedly tried.