My Everest

I remember the night before my 6th standard maths test. The first time I felt a terror so deep, I felt paralysed. That same dread has revisited me at various points in my life. The night before my 10th Biology boards exams, the moment I learned that the ICSE 10th standard results were out, the night before my first exam in Germany and the first couple of seconds of my very first job interview. Dread for what was to come next, of the unknown.

This dread that has only visited me a half dozen times in my life, has come to rule my evenings for the last 1 year. All my years of schooling, at the Uni and all the years of my mother nagging me and there’s one thing that I still cannot do – keeping a house. I can model components, write code, make presentations, spreadsheets, all while speaking german but I can’t keep a house.

The mornings are great! I hop out of bed! Me! The morning zombie! Who has loathed waking up early for all 20 something years of my life! I hop out of bed and cannot wait to get to work. It’s the evenings that I dread. Those couple of seconds that it takes to turn the key in the lock fills me with a fear, that was hitherto unknown. Every fibre of my body screaming to me to just the turn back in the lock and run back. You would think, just what awaits me behind those closed doors. An abusive husband? a demanding one? an alcoholic one?

I happen to be one of those lucky few who has a husband who actually does all the cooking and most of the cleaning. But after a long day, neither he nor I, have the patience or the energy to cook up something. Let alone do the cleaning up after. Because of this, most of our dinners last year have been out-sourced to restaurants or deliveries. Unhealthy, expensive junk! Needless to say we both fill out our clothes much better than we used to. After some serious decisions we decided to cook more this year and so far, it’s been working. But I continue to question myself – how long is this to last?

The prospect of thinking up dinner, rounding up the ingredients and the cooking in itself drain more than whatever little energy I have left in me. With the weekend come more chores – vacuuming, dusting, grocery shopping, laundry…… and the list goes on and on! My life seems to have become an endless stream of folding clothes, doing the dishes, making shopping lists,… No matter how much I get done, there is always something left to do. It’s no wonder that its only last weekend, a year after moving in, that we finally finished furnishing our living room. Okay, so may be it’s not completely done. But we have a couch, couch table and a cupboard for books and knick-knacks. That counts right?

I want to come back to a nice and clean house everyday. I want to enjoy my time at home. I want to be able to write a little and find time for other pursuits when I’m at home. I want to eat healthy meals and I want to go for a run or exercise but I can’t bring myself to do all this when the house is not how I want it to be. And no matter how badly I want it, I am not the  domestic goddess I need to make my house nice and clean. This is my undoing!

So if you have any tips or tricks for this nerve-wracked 20 something who is at her wits end when it comes to keeping house, do write in.

The little things

I’m all about the little things in life. Whether it’s the small talk with the cashier/server at the canteen, the daily phone calls with my mum and sister, or some stupid joke I manage to crack in German over lunch with my colleagues, I derive enormous pleasure from tiny everyday things. They ensure my routine never bores me and that a smile is permanently plastered on my face.

While in my head these instances seem like the treasure trove of anecdotes to share with friends and family, my audiences are usually trying to figure out what exactly is so special about the fact that someone I greet at work every morning had a conversation with me about how moody our lift is. Then again, as I write this, I guess I can understand their apathy. It’s true. I talk just for the sake of talking.

While my life is graced daily with innumerable such simple daily pleasures, there are still some small ones that I’ve pursued all my life but have continued to elude me to date.

It all started last week. I was sat at a meeting wondering why time passes so slowly when you’re attending one. I glanced at my watch, my laptop screen, the projector screen, at the colleagues who were discussing some work that had to be done and back at my laptop. As my eye roved over the entire room, it happened to fall on the pen in my hand. A second glance confirmed what attracted the first one. It was happening! Finally! After months and months of using the same pen, the ink in the refill was finally getting over.

Now while this should count as a daily pleasure, I have never, in all my life, in 19 years as a student and the last 1.5 as an employee, seen the refill in my pen empty just as I have never used a pencil/eraser until it’s so tiny, it can’t be used anymore. Because somewhere along the way I lose them. ALWAYS!!

So as I sat there in the meeting, the biggest of balloons swelled up in my heart. The day I waited for my entire life, just a few days away. I’d done the impossible. I’d managed to use the same pen until the ink in the refill had come down to just a few pages of writing. So every day I came to work looked at the pen and tried to estimate exactly when the party would be.

And yesterday, with the day ahead of me filled with meetings, I was especially excited. So as the day wore on, I made meticulous notes at every meeting. Making sure I brought it back with me at the end of every meeting. It was going great. The ink was emptying itself out of the refill on to the pages before me. And then it was time for the last meeting of the day. We drove to the meeting centre and I sat down for what would be an hour of new information to me. The new subject matter required more concentration than usual but no note taking. So I sat at the back and followed the topic. Sorting out all the information in my head. At the end of the meeting we headed back to our office. Listening to my colleagues as they discussed what tasks they had ahead of them.

Back at my desk, I pulled out my diary to update my to-do list before I left for the day. I reached for the pen but my fingers grasped at thin air. Without too much thought, I dove under my desk, where I normally find a lot of my stationery disappears to. But I re-surfaced empty-handed. When my bag also yielded nothing, I sat back slowly and let the disappointment sink in. I’d left the pen at the other office. There was no way of getting it back. It was not to be.

Disappointment quickly made place for anger. At my carelessness, at my absent-mindedness. After months and months of using the same pen, I lost it when it mattered most. It’ll take months and months to get back to where I was. So I sit at meetings now, with inky hands holding a new full refill pen with leaks ink profusely, back to square one.

#IAmNotNice

Another day, another attack, another hashtag.

In my 27 short years and even shorter 25-20 that I’ve been aware of the world and been able to understand it, I can count on my fingers the number of times Kashmir has not been in the news for a terror attack. Bombs, guns, terrorists, people dying, newspaper article, Indian politicians making speeches against Pakistan and the next day silence. Rinse, repeat for the next time.

For the longest time, I thought of terror attacks as a norm. As something that happened everywhere in the world and something that you could do nothing about. It was a reality of life, I thought, just like diesease and death. And then 9/11 happened, there was outrage and uproar and the usual condemnation. But it wasn’t forgotten the next day. Suddenly there were plans to tackle terrorism, to bring justice to the victims and all these things that to my 10 year old self, were unheard of. I was puzzled but I moved on. Shelving it in the back of my mind, and concentrated on more important things like Harry Potter and Pokemon.

And then London happened and it was the same as 9/11. In the meantime, the attacks in Kashmir continued with all the motions of a daily routine. To my slightly older & more aware brain, there was something slightly off. Sure, the people killed in London on that one day is a lot more than those in Kashmir on a single day but if you took the sum total, surely the number of Kashmiris we’d lost to terrorism was much more than in London or New York?

With this gnawing at my brain, I moved on with my life. Then Mumbai happened. At this point I was more than a little aware of this thing we call international relations and diplomacy. The war on terror was on but that this war was on terror that killed white people was not lost on me. With this, the cynic in me was born.

Since then there has been Boston, Kenya, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, France, Turkey and a million other places. But the pattern was the same. Attack, death, outrage but international sympathy and action only if white people are involved. For someone born in the 20th century and grown up in the 21st, apartheid, race and class were a thing of the past. The colour of your skin was just that. Nothing more. How naive!!

Today everyone is Nice. But yesterday when Burhan Wani was killed, everyone spoke about extra judicial killings. Pakistan expressed shock and concern at how India was handling things in Kashmir. Pakistan! Pakistan that gives birth to terrorists with the sole intent of creating terror in India , Pakistan whose terror policies led to the massacre of a hundred of its own children. And the world just stood by and watched. No talk of fighting terror here. Kashmiris have been dying for ages, there’s nothing new about that.

So today, I’m not going to condemn the attacks because condemnation is not going to stop them from happening again. Today, I’m not going to pray for the victims because it is the same sadistic God who let those people die. Today, I am not Nice. What I am is outraged. I am disgusted. I am appalled. I am frustrated. I am helpless….. I am human. I am hurt.  I am sad. I am scared. I am terrified.

I am certain this will happen again. My feelings won’t change that. My prays won’t. Because as long as terror is identified with as good or bad, as long as dealt with based on the colour of the skin of the victims, innocent people will continue to die. Kashmir is perhaps the saddest example of that. But it won’t be long before the entire world is.

My Bangalore food bucket list

Inspiration has struck at last dear readers! I have found my elusive muse, she captures all my senses and always leaves me asking for a second helping. It’s time we meet another true love of mine – food! They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Well gentlemen, the way to my heart is also through my stomach. So if you’re looking to win my heart, all you need is some rad culinary skills or the dough to afford one with said skills.

Coming from a khaata peetha khandaan (translation: eating-drinking family i.e. a family which loves food and eating), I don’t just love eating, I live to eat. Spicy, savoury, salty, sweet, you name it and I like it. Food is the biggest reason why I can’t wait to rush back home every year. My mum is an excellent cook but since I can’t invite you all home for dinner, here’s my list of favourite places to stuff my face in my hometown.

I find the best food to be associated with memories. It always takes you back to a place, incident or person. It doesn’t just leave you with a warm and full tummy but also a very warm and full heart. These are the places closest to my heart. I’ve been a loyal customer in most of these places for the better part of my life and in some cases, even before. This is food I grew up with and which laid the base for my love of food.

Sri Sagar: Or what most people in Malleshwaram know it as CTR aka Central Tiffin Room, is always packed! I remember going here as a kid, back then it was much smaller than it is now and it used to be packed. Fast forward twenty years and the crowd remains the same. All that has changed is the size of the masala dosa and of course the price. Inflation Sir! It doesn’t matter when you turn up, you will never find a place free. Trust me, I have tried. I live about 800 metres away and I’ve tried different times of the day. You will have to wait. And the trick to getting a seat? Stand around the tables and gaze hungrily at their food. Don’t bother with families with small kids, you’ll just earn ugly looks instead, go for the mid-aged groups. They are most likely to be sympathetic to your stomachs cravings. Bonus points for tummy rumble! Order while you stand so that your hot benne masale (butter masala dosa) greets you as you finally get to park your backside. The Mangaluru bajjies are another speciality here.

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The Benne Masale at CTR

Sri Raghavendra stores: Or Railway station idli as my sister and I know it. Why? because it’s right in front of the Malleswaram Railway Station. Despite my mother’s aforementioned cooking skills, she makes the most awful idlis. I love the woman but not those idlis. They’re dry, crumbly and everything else that will make you hate idlis. To compensate for it, we get a treat some Sundays in the form of hot, melt in your mouth soft idlis. They are like little cloud pillows. Especially if you are eating at the store and get some butter on top. I usually get 2 idlis, 2 vadas and a kesari baath to go now-a-days. I call it my 1 euro breakfast because it all adds up to about a euro.

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My 1 Euro breakfast

Koshy’s: This is yet another of the old school places around Bangalore. I’ve just realised that I’ve only ever been to Koshy’s for lunch. Strange! Anyway, Koshy’s is known for it’s continental and malabar cuisine. Strange mix, I know. Their breakfast spread has rave reviews but unfortunately, 25 years and I’ve never tried it. Like I said before, only Lunch. What I can recommend is their fish and chips but my absolute favourite has to be their Biryani. Unlike most biryanis which are spicy and heavy this is the Malabar version. It is light, aromatic and flavourful while not being overwhelming. That is an achievement!

Sri Sai Ram Chats: Also known as Rams. Please note, I’m not talking about the one near MES college. This is the original and now relocated onto Temple Road. I’ve been going to Rams since I was in 9th standard and Rams was in a Garage. My friends and I used to order almost everything on the menu (back then it was not as long) and chocolate milk shake. We all used to eat at least 2 plates of chaats per person on a daily basis. Mahesh uncle, who runs the store, is someone I know since then and who still recognises me even though I now go only once a year. There are a lot of things to recommend in Rams – from the chips masala to the Sai Ram special, a lot of Rams chaats are store specialities which can’t be found anywhere else. I order based on my mood but my staple is a grape juice with less sugar and more salt and pepper. Yes! Loyalty gets you customised orders.

Sweet Chariot: Another Bangalore staple, Sweet Chariot is known for their pastries, birthday cakes and other snacks in general. You can find outlets all over Bangalore, if not there are always smaller bakeries which get their food. Unfortunately, the closest Sweet Chariot is on MG Road and going their often is not exactly an option. However, there was a small bakery close to where my mum worked which got stuff from Sweet Chariot. Now, my absolute favourite form Sweet Chariot is their Japanese cake. I have no idea why it’s called that, it has nothing to do with Japan, believe me I’ve done my research. But it’s so hard to resist that cream filling sandwiched between two crunchy layers. This small bakery received freshly baked japanese cakes every Thursday and without fail, I would call my mum to get me one just before she left work for home. These days, I always eat one and pick up another to go whenever I am in MG Road. Another favourite of mine here is the plum cake you get during Christmas. Rich, moist and just so so good!! I can’t wait for December and it’s only May now!

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The yummy japanese cake

Lakeview Milkbar: Most Bangaloreans will swear by Corner house ice cream. Now in all fairness I do like corner house, but when I’m miles away like I am right now, it’s the ice cream at Lakeview that I miss. Lake view Milkbar is one of the oldest eateries you can find in Bangalore. Today they occupy a blink and you’ll miss place on MG Road. But if you’re in MG Road after a night out you are sure to see the Lakeview waiters standing outside, by the road, menus in hand. Having been a loyal customer longer than my life, I recognise a couple of the staff. One uncle (I’ve known them forever so it feels weird to call them waiters) even remembers my order – Veg cutlet and chocolate ice cream with cream and nuts. Having tired almost everything on the menu, these are my favourites. The veg cutlet is one of the best I have ever eaten and the ice cream is just something else. You will be hard pressed to find something like it anywhere else.

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Chocolate ice cream with cream and nuts

Tandoor: Another place on MG Road that I absolutely love. This is a restaurant that my dad used to bring any guests we had on any special occasions. Everything from the decour to the cutlery in Tandoor is old school. The chandelier and the painting on the walls is from another era. The food is every bit as luxurious as the ambience. I sincerely recommend their seekh kabab. I’ve tried other restaurants that serve north indian/Mughal cuisine but I am yet to find one that stands up to Tandoor. The kebabs are exquisite! The meat is tender and every single mouthful is filled with rich flavour – try it with the chutney it is served with and I challenge you to get to the main course! Another Tandoor staple I miss is the garlic naan. You will never again eat a garlic naan in any other place once you’ve had it here! Even when you do, it’ll just feel so wrong!!

I have to stop here before I make gluttons out of you all and before I burst into tears thinking about all my favourite dishes that I have to wait for another seven months to eat. It is 2:30 in the night on a working night as I type this. So never question my dedication to food!!

Have you eaten at any of the places mentioned? Do you have any stories associated with them? Drop a line below!

Way too much nonsense!!

The last time I published a post was 3 months ago. Not good. Not good at all! The last time this happened 3 months become 6 and that became more than a year. I’d promised myself to write more. Please note, it was a promise to myself, not a new year’s resolution I make just to break it the next day.

Anyway, here we are. 3 months and no post. So what have I been up to? Have I been travelling a lot and having exciting adventures? No. Have I been super busy at my job with a bossy boss? No, my boss is actually really cool! Have I at least been without Internet? Nope! I’ve come to a point where I can’t imagine my life without the world wide web but that’s a story for another day. Or is it? Can you even trust me anymore? Actually, have you ever trusted me to stick to my word? I hope not. Then I’d have to add to the already long list of people I’m disappointing.

Now that all that beating around the bush is done, let’s get to the elephant in the room. What exactly have I been up to? The answer is nothing.  A big fat, lazy, good for nothing NOTHING. I thought I would have more time now to blog than ever. I thought I’d be super-productive and churning out blogs every week until you all got tired and begged me to stop or something equally dramatic happened. But that’s what I thought. Didn’t really translate into action.

I do actually have a lot more time on my hands now than ever. Except for maybe summer holidays during school. I don’t have to worry about exams, or reports or anything. So I don’t have any excuse, let alone a valid one. I’ve been lazy.

The truth is, I’ve always blogged when I’ve had other stuff to do. I’ve blogged when I should’ve been doing other things. I blogged about the other things. Now, without school and exams and due dates, my life is a lot less dramatic than it used to be. Less drama means less ranting, less ranting translates to no blog. So basically I’m now a big old bore and need new challenges.

I always thought I’d be set once I started working. That’s everyone’s dream isn’t it? To have a secure job with money entering your account every month. It’s what we work towards from the time we’re 6. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job! I’m doing the things what I’ve always dreamed of doing but it’s not something I can blog about.

So, to surmount this new challenge, I turn to you my dear readers. You know how I write, and also what you like to read. How about we try a collaboration. You suggest and I write. I can’t promise that it will  be very good but I do promise to try.

An ode to my one true love

As a woman in the automotive industry I’m often greeted with surprise and sometimes scepticism. Why cars? I’m asked. Why is a difficult question to answer. It’s like asking someone why they like their favourite colour. There’s just no answer to the question why. The heart wants what it wants. How did I come to realise I love cars, however, is an excellent question.

We never had a car at home while I was growing up. We didn’t get one until I was studying engineering. My only access to cars were three different instances over the year. My aunt visited us from the USA once every year and without fail we would go to pick her up and drop her back to the airport. Now as I said, we didn’t have a car, so it was always a taxi, in fact, it was always an ambassador. It was big, heavy and loud. But what a car! They just don’t make them like that anymore!! (pun intended)

Summer vacations spent at another aunt’s place meant one hour drives to pick up my aunt from her bank. This car was another Indian classic. A white ’95 Maruti 800. This was also to be the car I was to learn to drive in, clean, face a breakdown and come to love as dearly as my friends.

My uncle took us out to dinner at least once when he was in Bangalore. More often than not, we were picked up for these dinners. Now, these cars were no Ambassadors or Maruti 800s. They were Lancers, Cielos and sometimes even a Mercedes. For someone who had only been in Ambassadors and Marutis, I was endlessly fascinated by the powered windows, soft seats and air conditioning.

I lived through most of these experiences passively. Although I enjoyed the car rides, I never understood why I so looked forward to them. Until, I had an epiphany. On rainy evening in Bangalore, I was getting to dance class from school by auto (rickshaw) when the 2 minute ride was halted by a blocked road thanks to a fallen tree. And as the auto driver tried to manoeuvre the auto out of the cacophony of vehicles, there it was, a vision in metallic blue, as if the heavens themselves had opened up just to remind us of its majesty. That’s the day I discovered just how beautiful cars are. Beautiful, mobile pieces of art.

Few people appreciate the detail, furore and care that goes into making a car. The challenges they face and how they emerge victorious. To give us something new yet familiar, dynamic yet comfortable, all metal and technology and yet so gorgeous. And I don’t mean just the Ferraris, Lamborghinis or Maseratis. I mean all cars (except maybe the Zen Estilo. I don’t know what they were thinking!! ).

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Seriously?!

I learnt to drive in a ’95 Maruti 800 in 2007. It’s as simple as they come. 3 cylinder carburettor engine, no power steering, powered windows, brake booster or AC. The car broke down on me a couple of times but even in such situations it was considerate enough to break down in front of a garage or in a parking lot. I learnt to drive it, clean it and slowly but surely came to love it. I have many fond memories in this car. The first time I took it out into the city, I had my very first accident. I was terrified and upset but drove back because my mum was with me and she didn’t know how to drive then :D. I ferried my classmates to college in my final year, drove all the way to Bommasandra from Malleshwaram during my final semester, hit 100 km/h on the outer ring road, ….. And when I moved to Germany to pursue my Masters, it moved on too, to make memories with someone new. Shiro Chan he was called. He was no Ferrari or BMW and yet he would win hands down when it came to claiming that little place in my heart. I’m sure I’ll own and drive a lot of cars in my life but Shiro Chan shall remain my first love.

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The thing you need to understand about cars is that they too have a personality. Each and every one of them are unique. Even when they are the same model from the same year, they will be and feel different. You have to connect with them. Sometimes it’s instantaneous and at others it’s cultivated over time. The important thing is to respect them. They don’t just get you where you need to be but they do it safely. Like any person or relationship in your life, cars need to be maintained. I don’t mean the routine checks at the service stations. I mean filling them with a good quality fuel, making sure the air pressure in all your tyres are right, checking if the engine oil level is right, if you have enough coolant. It’s not hard, it takes maybe about 5 minutes to do everything I said and yet most people don’t take out that time to do it and complain about how their car is behaving. Treat your car well, and by this I don’t mean don’t push it, by all means see what your car can do. But remember to toe the line and not cross it.

So this Valentine’s day, take the time to get to know your car. Give it a good scrub, a little bit of pampering, take it out for a drive, just the two of you and try giving a listen to what it’s saying and I’m sure you’ll find yourself falling in love too.

Bangalore in a nutshell!

It’s been a week since I got back from home-sweet-home aka Bangalore. Now, as my stockpile of food from home starts to come down, the blues steadily rise. So of course, there’s a rant about Bangalore waiting to happen. Let there be no doubt that I do think Bangalore is the most awesome place in the world to live in, Bangalore traffic and pollution included. Now when you make statements like this people are always tempted to argue otherwise or expect you to prove the same. A friend of mine who happened to visit Bangalore for three days, especially had a bone to pick with me over this issue. And ever since then I’ve thought long and hard about how to explain to him the awesomeness that is Bangalore. It wasn’t until this time that it finally dawned on me what was going on.

You see, every big and famous city in the world is associated with something that makes it famous. New York has Times square, Agra the Taj Mahal, Vegas it’s casinos, Venice the canals. These places have come to symbolise these cities and are what you look forward to most when you travel there. Then there’s Bangalore. Now, we have Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Vidhan Soudha, the Bangalore palace and many other places but in the end none of these places individually or even collectively symbolise or stand for Bangalore. Bangalore doesn’t have the fast paced life of New York/Mumbai. At the same time it isn’t quiet and slow like a small village tucked away in the Himalayas/Alps. Bangalore is like a river, with ebbs and flows and you would do well to let the flow take you where it will.

Bangalore is not a traveller’s city. You will never be able to “see” Bangalore. Not because there’s nothing to see but because Bangalore is not just meant to be seen. Bangalore needs to be heard, savoured, felt, and above all, lived! You can’t put Bangalore in any mould. It will not fit. It’s not a rebellious teenager or an experimental twenty-something, a mid-life crisis waiting to happen or even a pensioner who’s seen and done it all. You can’t go looking for Bangalore in just one street, building or corner. It is all around you. It is as much UB city and Phoenix market city as it is Malleshwaram 8th cross and K R market. It is as much ITPL and Manyatha tech park as it is Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. It is as much 100 feet road Indiranagar as it is the food street in VV Puram. It is Chitra santhe, soul santhe, Kadalekai parishe and Bengaluru habba.

Bangalore is the silence and stillness in Lalbagh/Sankey tank within the chaos and traffic that surround it. It is the Benne dosa at CTR, the fish and chips at Koshys, the beer in Pecos and the Hamburger in The Only Place. It is the misty chill mornings in December and the hot sunny afternoons in May. It’s the random 5-10 minute long showers in July and the cool breeze in October.

You will be hard pressed to try to figure out Bangalore if you come as a traveller. I go back home every year for a month and I still find it hard to visit all my favourite hang outs, let alone try the new ones. Bangalore is always changing. Just as you are. And yet, it’s also the same. It finds a way to take the new and make it a part of itself without getting rid of the old. Bangalore is limitless. It cannot be confined. Believe me, they’ve tried. The first road around the city is now called the inner ring road while the city continues to expand beyond the newer outer ring road.

The truth is, you can’t put Bangalore in a nutshell. It is not the place you go to for 3 days and 2 nights and come away with a fridge magnet or a scaled model of a monument as a souvenir. You don’t come to Bangalore for a vacation, you come for life.

Milestones

We’re born and then we die. But what defines our lives is everything that happens in between the being born and the dying. For the first few years of our lives our parents take the pains of celebrating every little milestone we reach – our first smile, first rollover, first crawl, first night without crying, first potty training, fully potty trained,…… Yes, some we wish weren’t recorded for posterity but it is the duty of parents to embarrass their children and the earlier you start the better. After the first few years, the novelty of a new baby fades and life and routine begin to take control and the celebration of milestones decreases.

Sometimes we refuse to see what all the fuss is about and slowly most milestones stop being marked in our lives until we feel that it is truly big enough to be celebrated. We succumb to peer pressure and begin to measure our success with society’s yardstick. As the years pass, the number of milestones that mark our lives, at least to us, begin to decrease.

As we age, we begin to lose the awe and wonder we held as kids for anything. Birthdays that were eagerly awaited and looked forward to all year round are slowly becoming days to detest. Acing an exam or a test, though harder now, don’t get the spot on the refrigerator it used to. We grow more critical of ourselves and only recognise our achievements and feats when it is first recognised by others. Happiness becomes something that comes from outside rather than from within ourselves.

This year has been a very big year for me. I’ve crossed some of the biggest milestones in my life. At the beginning of the year I got done with all my exams, the end of march brought to an end my time as an intern, in June I celebrated 25 years on this planet, in September I got featured on Freshly Pressed, I finished my thesis at the end of October, I got my first job offer in November, I finally finished my Masters in December and hit a 1000 followers this week. These are some of the biggest things that have ever happened to me. Things which, apart from the being featured on Freshly Pressed, will never happen to me again. Hence, the biggest milestones.

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YAY!!!

Yet, there have also been so many other smaller milestones along the way which I cannot forget and have given me immense joy. Every single like and comment on the blog, every single time that I spoke in German without a single mistake, every job application that I finished and sent, giving my very first job interview, touching down in Bangalore,… These are things that will continue to happen in my life but we give me the same joy as the bigger milestones.

I guess the other milestones are bigger because they bring with them a certain relief. A feeling of “Oh! Thank God! Finally!!”. That slight panic that we all carry in our hearts, a social clock (more like a time bomb if you ask me) if you will, to reach a certain milestone at a certain time is what makes that milestone more important to achieve. Add to that a certain level of difficulty and you have a big milestone. But that doesn’t mean the smaller ones are any less worth celebrating.

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1000 followers!

The world we live in today is so fast and fickle that we hardly have the time to get a grasp of what is going on, let alone orient ourselves in the direction we want to. There are more upsets and accidents which bring with them so much anguish and turmoil, which is what necessitates a little more happiness. We have become so cynical and critical that we  don’t recognise the smallest of joys. Or maybe we do recognise them but just refuse to give ourselves the chance to enjoy them.

I’ve always believed in living life to the fullest and I know I’m definitely not the most experienced person when it comes to how to live your life or even about how life is. But I have realised, at least for myself, that just sitting with a bunch of friends and talking absolute nonsense gives me so much more joy than going on that huge roller coaster at the fair. We’re all so caught up in living the YOLO kind of life that we forget and look past some of the most amazing things that are happening to us.

I still can’t forget that even after having defended my thesis, I felt no different than I had been feeling the rest of the time. I remember saying “I thought this was supposed to feel different but it doesn’t”. And no, it wasn’t because it hadn’t sunk in yet. I realise that now because when I look back on the last year, it’s the small things that come to mind. Finding a way to mount a component on the test bench after what seemed like forever, having lunch with my colleagues, celebrating with friends, roaming around the christmas market with them, hugging my mom and sister after a whole year of not having seen them.

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50th Post!!

So, here’s to all the milestones, big and small. To what has been an amazing year and looking forward to a new one, which will hopefully bring with it the same awe and wonder as the previous ones.

Of the theory of relativity, beating hearts and PhD topics

The last month and a half have been the longest of my entire life. I’m not being dramatic. They really were. It feels like the first ten months of this year happened at warp speed and then everything just started going in super slow motion. I know what you’d say, “You were occupied with internship and thesis so you didn’t realise time passing by but now with everything done and nothing left to do you’re bored and hence time seems to pass by slowly”. But the fact of the matter is that I’ve had plenty to do since I finished my thesis. For one there was the report, which by the way, is a nightmare in itself. Then the job applications, online tests, telephonic and personal interviews. You name it! Last but not the least, there was also the master thesis defence presentation. I was by no means idle.

I’ve also tried everything in my power to make the day go faster. I’ve slept in. That usually does it for me. I sleep in, wake up late and realise half the day is gone. But not this time, the rest of the day just seemed to taunt me. Even the sun which used to set so early in the day towards the end of the master thesis seemed suspended just over the horizon as if mocking me. And don’t even get me started on today. Waking up late, taking a long shower, watching lots of anime, roaming around the city, hanging out with friends and still it was only 8 when I got back. As I sit here typing this post, it feels like time has stopped just to annoy me.

I never quite appreciate Einstein’s theory of relativity as much as I do now. When I say now, I mean every time I am flying back home. It always seems like the days before my departure are extremely long. Even the flight seems longer than its 6 and 3 hours and the waiting time during transit, Good lord!! It seems like an eternity as you wait for the boarding to your flight to be announced.

Sometimes I feel that the closer I get to going home the faster and louder my heart beats. Maybe that’s why I feel like the day goes slower. How’s that for a theory to research? Any takers for a PhD? I’ll willing offer myself up as a subject. When I say faster and louder I mean crazy fast and loud. Just like it does when you run a race or some equally exerting physical activity. Right now I can hear it despite the sounds from my keyboard. That’s pretty loud.

At times like these I really wish I were a more calm person compared to the excitable idiot I am being right now. It doesn’t really take a lot. A free shell sticker that you get at the petrol bunk, an orange candy, hearing a song I like playing on the radio. What amazes me is that despite my racing heart and the adrenalin coursing through my body, I still function as I do on a normal day. Just more high pitched and talkative than usual. It’s like my mind is above my body and looks down at it sneering, “Oh! You pathetic little thing!”. At times like this I really wonder how my heart will take some really shocking news. Aren’t heart attacks a result of too much excitement? Maybe I need to be doing more cardio. Or more like start doing cardio.

The internship chronicles – Part 2 – The end!

When I started the internship chronicles, many people (including myself) knew it was more like AN internship chronicle. But since I’m all about surprising people (including myself), I decided to mess with your minds (and my own) and write part 2 of the series. However, so as to not affect the equilibrium of the world too much, this will also be the end of the series.

So as you know I started an internship in January and on 31st October, it came to an end. Well, technically my internship ended in March and I’ve been working on my Master thesis but technicalities such as those don’t matter. You know, potäto potato whatever. Moving on, literally, this is the end of one of the biggest chapters in my life. The end of this internship is a sign of many things coming to an end. My masters, life as a student, and all this ending is making me very nostalgic.

Contrary to all my expectations and nightmares, my internship was the complete opposite of what I expected it to be. Most of my nightmares featured me staring quizzically at several people spoke at me in rapid German or me tripping over some wire and breaking some expensive equipment or deleting important files from the server or well, you get the picture. On the other hand, my expectation had me waking up early and going to work in formals everyday, talking in rapid German and cracking jokes along the way (I sound way funnier in my head but then again I think my German would make a few people laugh).

When I said more or less, I meant nothing like either my expectation or my nightmares. The only things that either got right was 1. I did in fact wake up early and 2. Sometimes I did stare quizzically when people spoke at me in rapid German but I snapped out of it pretty quickly. Now while I always thought of getting up early wearing formals and make up (yeah right!), that hardly ever happened. I’m way too lazy to iron my formal shirts so I took the easy way out and said I’m a student, plus I work in R&D. No one’s going to care if I’m in formals. I got that one right.  So out went formals, as far as make up is concerned, I’m yet to learn the art of properly applying eyeliner, let alone perfect it, and work wasn’t the place I wanted to start my experiments with make up so that went out the window too.

Conversing in German didn’t turn out to be the nightmare I expected it to be. Despite my rudimentary skills, I was able to interact, understand and communicate. What more do you need? I’ll admit, the first couple of months were pretty difficult. I had to really concentrate to understand what someone was saying and by evening I was reduced to starring and nodding politely. Speaking a different language really takes up brain space!! Not to forget the mini hear attacks I’d have when someone spoke in Swabian or with a thick accent (look who’s talking!). But I found a way around it all. As long as you have a smile on your face and are polite, people will be patient with you. Somewhere along the line I forgot to be scared and just spoke in German. It stopped being an exercise and just became something very normal. I actually miss it now. I just hope I don’t get rusty.

As far as colleagues were concerned, I had the best. For the most part I was the youngest person in the team so I always got a bit of leeway. Everyone was very patient and friendly with me.  S who was also doing his master thesis became a good friend. We had quite a few laughs sitting right at the back of the department speaking in broken German (me) and broken English (S). I can’t imagine how the others could work with a serious face during all this. It became very boring to have to sit and work alone the last couple of months since S was done. There was also Mr. L who always came at 12:30 to call us for lunch. Mr. L always had the most interesting of stories and observations to make. Being a foreigner, my country was the topic of quite a few conversations and lunch was never boring. Mr. M was always fascinated by India and by how I liked Formula 1 and could hold my own when Mr. W and Mr. K had a conversation about it. Some of the finest gentlemen I know.

On a day with good weather i.e. the Sun was out, Dr. T and Mr. L would suggest eating an ice cream or getting a cup of coffee after lunch. We’d sit and talk about uni, what they served for food at the canteen, the correct height and angle for the hedge around the house,. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had. Then there was always the walk around the building to delay getting back to work even if by just a couple of minutes. And when the topic was even more interesting we’d dawdle in the aisle between the cubicles getting in a last opinion or two before it was time for the inevitable.

One thing I’d never realised was that there’s so much more to work than just the actual work like running tests or simulations or figuring out the bug in your model. Those are things you figure out with experience or if nothing works then there’s always google. But the skill you really need is the one which helps you communicate. Not talk but actually communicate. A lot of times you say a lot of things but you can never really get across what you mean. At times like this language isn’t the barrier but your people skills are. This is probably my biggest take away from my internship. The number of times I ran around the workshop and the test bench to ask for a component to be mounted or dismounted is too many to count. I also can’t imagine how each and every one at the workshop always took the time to come and do that for me despite their tight schedules. It goes to show that anything is possible if only you’re polite to people and treat them as equals. It’s also amazing how much you can learn from them.

A smile and a hello or good morning can do wonders in forging bonds with people. Everyday that I went to work, there would be a couple of people standing outside the door smoking and I would say good morning and they would return the greeting. I don’t know these people by their names but they became a part of my day as I did theirs and whenever we met again during the course of the day they’d make it a point to say hello. Many a conversations in the lift while running from my work station to the test bench happened just because I was willing to say hello. It’s amazing how these little actions change the whole course of your day. Even at the canteen, saying “Mahlzeit” made the servers’ day and you could see how happy they felt to be acknowledged.

All in all, it’s been an eventful ten months. My brain’s a little fuller with all that I’ve learnt during my thesis, my resume has increased in length, I’ve added two letters of recommendations but most of all, I’ve made memories to last me a life time.