The year that will be ‘the year that was’ – #Throwback2017

“There we stand at the brink of the new year…

Aware of the past and oblivious to the future!”

Cometh December and there flashes a sudden plethora of memories that 2017 has taken us through. We either feel we have done enough or could have done better. I am still figuring out!
Well, the year kickstarted with too many things on my plate (I mean…when did I NOT say this?)

Rich moments experienced at work (work comes first, you see) to refreshing kiddo times to movie times to holiday planning (yeah that happened too) to actual holidays (and how!) to spot shopping to pub hopping to healthy bitching and mind blowing “me-times”…..phew….this year was an impeccable masala-mix of memories, to say the least. In short, 2018 has competition. And a very tough one.

Okay so here go the key highlights –

The Black Buck Lodge at Velavadaar, near Ahmedabad is a must visit if you the forester-types. Imagine what it is to stay in a snugly super lavish cottage with an “open bathroom” amidst the deep dark greens of a jungle! Leaving the rest to your imagination 😉

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Mom (my go-to person for anything under the sun even now) turned 75 this year. Made it a little eventful this year for her with a bash gathering close family and friends. Blessed to have her as my moral support and just about everything.

Hearts

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Aamby Valley is always a pleasure if you make it with your favourite gang of amigos. Dosti plus yaari plus lush vaadiyaan plus taash plus daaru plus khaana plus mind-blowing bitching …Baat khatm! Period. Myoor, Mylann – this ones for you guys…😊…Thank you for making it special!

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Amritsar stands next in the key highlights. Quite an experience and worth the venture even in the month of heaty April! If you are a foodie (not that I’m one, but you see what I’m saying?), try out the Amritsari thaali available at every dhaba / local food outlet. Surely a treat to your delectable desi palette… If you want to feel your heart skip a beat, please march on to the Attari Wagah Border, kick some ass and dance like there’s no tomorrow. It’s a whole new wow! Anila, Pawan…it was time well spent ….Monisha, Anjana …u guys were missed :)

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Then came the big hook,
When we added a new address in our book
Kingslanding it was termed
A Lannister residence as it GoT confirmed,
Black & white and hues of English colors said it all,
Family, friends and neighbourhood, welcoming one and all :)

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A family vacation was infused in the month of August like a breath of fresh air. A 12-day vacation containing 7 days of unimaginable bliss. Mumbai-San Francisco-Chicago-Amsterdam-Mumbai. Was jet lagged practically every day, trying to latch on to the US schedule but still clutching on to the Indian timeline!
California was a dream that got the impulsive shutterbug out of me…many memories that were digitally captured in the vast countryside included the Golden Gate, Crookedest Street, Ghirardelli, Google, Facebook, Apple, Stanford, Napa Valley and more. All in the company of my dear and near cousin sister (no…sister, actually) and her family :) Ranju, Jiju, Shrirang and Shriya…You guys have given me memories of a lifetime  💖

Had an amazing rendezvous with my bestie…22 years and still going strong….Kinnera, if you are reading this, this ones for you ❣️
Illinois was a different feel. A city-like experience similar to the South Bombay (SoBo) of Mumbai. That was nice too! Nikita – Thank you for hosting us – We love you 😍

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The last trip of the year is a place I cannot explicitly mention but mon amigos who will read it will relate to it and get me instantly. A short and yet another memorable trip which had a sheer balance of shrine and wine! Much love to you…guys 💖

The rest of the year was dominated by well-spent times with my real time college amigos, soulful memories, while the remaining-part-of-the-rest had my digital amigos aka Netflix, Hotstar, YouTube at a full on power play.
Festivities were flavoured and felt totally in full fervour and each gave very special moments to cherish.

Hobbies continued to be hobbies as passion is one thing and profession (read: #PaapiPetKaSawaal) is an entirely different thing. But I will make the tables turn one day. That’s a promise I have made to thyself.

Music (acoustics were the special add-on) and lyrics (writing will remain close as ever) played their part well. And the invincible truth of 2017 remained as ‘Art is life is Art’ – A modest beginning was done and whatever was done was food for my soul. Digital energies were at an all time high at work as well as on the personal sphere…discovered too many innovative sparks there 😉 …Will do better justice to all these musings in 2018. Vowed.

My fitness goals also took a healthy turn this year…and I hope to carry this throughout 2018. Komal – I love you for this  😂🤣

And not to mention the incessant tagging (read: trolling) of each other on FB memes! Did that get us closer? Well, may be! #FatToFit 😉

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And here’s the last laugh…The Beer and Wine fest took all the guzzlers of Powai to a different cloud with its wine and gourmet. Talk about fetish for feasty fun, food and frolic 😉

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Such was an illuminated 2017 and I truly believe that my story isn’t over yet. 2018 will beckon better moments, opportunities, reinvent unexplored horizons, unravel new travel diaries and a soulful aura that will halo around throughout the year and years to come.

My look forwards for 2018 include #BhaiKiShaadi  and some more #NewBeginnings, #NewMusings, #StrongerBonds and so on and so forth…

Here’s to each one of you who made my year meaningful and fun. And here’s to even better times with the same bunch of you in 2018!

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The Lannisters send their regards 😉 

 

A City That Sh(r)ines!

Welcome to a city that is bound by traditions. But then, you are equally welcome to a city that sets you free from the imaginary clutches of religion, fanatics and culture. A free-spirited yet committed, a highly-heritaged yet humble and a flashingly-coloured yet sober ‘Ambarsar‘ (or Amritsar as it is called now), is a cross pollination of assorted ideologies and also is a home to India’s greatest historical moments.

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Though passionately Punjabi in every aspect, I am sure every soul will find his / her niche in this very dichotomic yet diverse diaspora.
Sh(r)ining alongside the outskirts of the lake, Amrit Sarovar (yeah, that’s how the city got its name perhaps!), the city shines and swells with pride as it takes us back in time as you pass through the Jallianwalah Bagh to go to the Golden Temple. The wounds of the massacre seem to have healed over the years but the scars and stains of innocent blood still pour a thousand words, that’s bound to get your eyes welled up. A silent monument stands tall at the entry to the historic wall and captures this in a way that is unimaginable.

The temple attempts to calm the tempest in every soul with its beatific carvings and scriptures which are unique masterpieces themselves. Add to the glory, the Guru Granth Sahib rests in supreme sublimity and peace as mortals across the globe assemble through and are prepared to stand in serpentine queues to catch a glimpse and pay respect. And this happens right through 3 AM to 12 AM (that’s like 21 hours!). The subdued chanting of live vocals  in the temple adds a brilliant touch to the melancholic ambience.

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And we are not yet done as the best is yet to dawn! The city presents another side of pride at the Wagah Border (or the Sarhad). Even if you are not the patriotic kinds, this place will transform you into one as patriotism, pride and valour assume a different meaning here. Despite the scorching heat at play, you can’t help but dance to the highly nationalistic tunes of the daily military march parade! And you will witness a mixed bag of emotions (exhilaration, vanity, spite and honour in particular) as you watch the ceremonial lowering of the flags from either sides during the dance-like parade moves.

Adding more to its kitty, the city also depicts a rising mall culture with an exponential dose of shopping, entertainment and food – all of these obviously with the sprightly Punjabi Tadka!

By the way, did I mention the city’s fetish for art is as fiery (if not more!) as Mumbai? An artist (Bollywood or a home-grown actor, Sufi singer, a painter and the likes) is seen almost every third day at an inaugural or a new launch or even a marathon run opening. Randeep Hooda was spotted at Hyatt where we stayed (like I said, you don’t have to go far to sight an artist!). The actor had apparently come down to embark upon a marathon kick off.

So guys, if you are the spry and agile types, watch out for this multifaceted and sh(r)iny city! Worth a visit or two, if not more 😉

 

 

Mind matters than the matters of the heart!

Sometimes the most subliminal part of us can get seemingly uncomfortable and often gets us into trouble. They say that the body is gross and the mind / heart is sublime. Did I just answer your question?

Apparently the English language has a lot of idioms / adages which are indeed easier said or spoken than done. More so, they are loosely used, methinks. Out of sight is indeed out of mind alright, but isn’t it at that very juncture, troubles brew, anxieties arise and a deep sense of sorrow surfaces?

So this so-called ‘sublime’ grossly underrated bit manifests itself in two interesting areas within us namely the mind (residing in our head) and the heart! You heard me. Almost a double whammy then?
Mind it!
Statistics show that the chances of survival for a person who has had a cardiac arrest is 50% more than a person who has suffered a head injury.
Having said that, the equation now stands even more complicated as we have two (sublimes) pitching against one (gross).

Moral of the story: Get your mind to work at light’s speed. Put your senses to rest. Let your heart just beat. And yea, yap less. The louder you are, the more you will be heard but no one will listen! Mind it 😉

Kuch Din Gujare Gujarat Mein!

My weekends are usually quickies. Now don’t take this too literally as what you just thought was not what I really wanted to convey. What I meant was that my weekends come and go in a flash. And I live my ‘manifold’ moments in that flash. It happened once again on an eventful ‘Republic’ weekend in January. The nip in the air continued and we chose to explore the grasslands of Gujarat. What comes to your mind when I say ‘Gujarat’? A part of India adorned with colors and spices, munificent folks in their silken wardrobes, right? Blaring and bustling roads with shops stocked up with delicacies etcetera, etcetera. An exponentially loud and vibrant state with just too much fanfare. Fundamentally, Gujarat is more than what meets the eye. It does have a greener (read: mera wala green) pasture and literally so! This greener pasture is called Velavadar. What a surreal beauty!
We checked in to the Blackbuck Lodge and I was pretty dumbfounded by the euphoric locale and the indulgences the lodge offered. Imagine you book a mini on the OLA app and get picked up in a Limousine! This wildlife resort sits comfortably in the Savannah regions has just about 15-20 cottages. Every cottage is a home of its own with all amenities and luxuries in place. Ours overlooked the deep dark greens where we could see the black bucks knocking amidst tall grasses. On the check-out day we were told that the cottage we stayed in was also graced by His Highness, Amitabh Bachchan during one of his many visits to the place.
I truly believe that sheer classiness comes with exclusivity and minimalism and the Blackbuck Lodge exemplifies this impeccably.

The safaris did form a part of our exciting adventure but I found my calling in my little niche I carved out for myself in our lodge. Couldn’t help humming the last lines from my one of my chosen number from Hotel California – ‘You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.’ This definitely held true for this venture as we had checked out physically, but memories continued to linger and never left us.
I do hope the picture-collage does some justice and is able to articulate what my words could not!

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The Year That Will Be ‘The Year That Was’

It is that time of the year again…One more year will cross the notional line of completion in the wee hours of the night, tonight.

Whilst the look, feel, sound and taste of 2016 seemed like any other year, this year scored over the others with some unexpected highlights. Within every Indian, I presume the navrasaas would have been at their usual play, tossing and turning and taking emotions (and emoticons) to a different level, no?

So here are the key snippets of 2016, through my lens.

2016 started off with some healthy expectations from the newly formed BJP NaMo government especially for the lesser salaried mortals like me. But then I told myself – “If you want to be happy, stop being unhappy.” Wow. Words simplify life’s complications, don’t they? That pretty much sums up what my expectations were and what really came through. What a kill-joy that was!

Monsoon was a big hit this year. At least in Mumbai. The waters satiated many parched souls, besides the lakes, ponds and pools. So much so, that many predicted that winters will be mightier owing to an overdose of downpour. (In Mumbai??? Yea right!). If only predictions were true…*sigh*

My (free-time, yea you heard me right) interests in the year GoT me addicted to a highly popular melodramatic series called the Game Of Thrones (GoT, in common parlance, as you may have guessed) which most of you may have been privy to. Those who do not relate, will never relate so never mind! So this series held my breath and kept my brain in turbulence for almost two months at a stretch. Imagine being subject to 60 hours of upheaval amidst wit, blatant glamour and strategic game-plays 😉

Well, that was that. My tolerance levels sunk to an all time low when NaMo’s demonetisation was announced (sorry, imposed) on Nov 8. Applauding idea, appalling implementation. Much has already been said / posted about this on FB by me, so I refuse to dwell on this overrated topic.

Amidst the above there was family, there were friends, there was work and work and work and work. Rinse repeat.
A peacefully chaotic and a rationally fulfilling year in short, with all professional goals met beyond 100%. Head continues to rule over the heart. Personal goals are being carried forward to 2017 and that is nicht gut. Hope to score more and fare better in the personal sphere in the coming year. I will write more, paint more, sing more, other factors remaining constant.


 

Happy 2017 everyone. May you all get the pats you deserve and win laurels and emerge victorious in the coming year.

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The #SpiritOfPowai

 

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Of glittering lights and buzzing lines
Stands a place of fine-dines and fab-wines

The promenade of Powai-Hiranandani is a happening place,
With energy and sensory treats, it sets your pace.

You name it, it’s got it,
Flora et fauna too, if you spot it.

Beside the lake, beneath a million trees,
Blows the wintry wind’s coolest breeze.

Every day is a celebration here
Of dreams, hopes and aspirations in any sphere.

Land of tomorrow with a cultural biodiversity
All set to become the new heart of Mumbai city

The citizens here represent the unique spirit of Powai,
As it aptly stands for Persuit Of Who Am I!!

 

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The #GarbOfGod

The maximum city gets maximised exponentially at the onset of festivities like Ganesh Chathurthi, Navratri and so on.

Much as it soars our spirits and the adrenalin rush, it also (on the flip side, if I may say) casts a spell of raucousness and apathy on most of us. All under the #GarbOfGod.
Being a staunch Mumbaikar myself, I completely advocate the noise, fun and frolic that grips us for these days, but let’s not get carried away by the by-products that come as an unwarranted package deal with the fun. Crime rates hit the peak during these “holy days”.
Add to this, look at what happens to the idols post immersion. They are insensitively dumped into the water bed where they get mutilated further and get thrown off by the currents on the shore. Totally sanctimonious! Eco-Ganpatis are cool, but to what extent are they really being implemented? And all said and done, they do contribute to the water mass even in a dissolved state.

Picture courtesy: festivalsofindia.com
Picture courtesy: www.bloggerabhilash.info

At our homes, we may for sure want to conventionally continue with the idol worship – why not do it with an existing picture or idol? Take the festival to level next. Evolve as you unlearn. Take selfies with Him. Go insanely viral on social (which we are doing any ways). Will the worship levels change? Will anything change for that matter? #Justasking.

The ‘Sarvajanik’ ones can be brought alive by showcasing past videos, rather than static idols. Let the members invest on a projector and a screen! Do a web cast, chrome cast. Televise it on local cable channels for everyone to see. Avoid serpentine queues. Make it inclusive (Sarvajanik apparently means ‘for everyone’ right?) Go digital! Get smart and cooler! And stop the rowdiness and the visarjan concept, once and for all. I mean there’s so much one can do.
All of this with the same festive fervour minus the raucousness and apathy.

That’s my funda of e-Ganesha (Aka “Existing Ganesha” 😁) Please remember, Ganesha is the coolest God…He’s here to stay and is always in an “existing” state (even if you want to dump Him in deep waters) Let’s immortalise Him in the true sense of the term.

Ctrl-Alt-Del (Rinse…repeat!)

They say when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. Then they also say tough times don’t last, tough people do. (When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, remember?) Then the line – what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger, came through.
I say, when all of the above fails, press the magic button of CTRL-ALT-DEL in your head.
This button introduced by Microsoft actually has a classic connotation to it if one chooses to delve deep. You recall how easy it is to operate a defaulted system which posed a ‘syntax error’ once you press this magic button? Same extended logic, nothing else. And here’s how –
1) CONTROL your emotions (Let the head do the job. The heart can keep bickering).
2) Pick the right ALTERNATIVES (Trash is no alternative. You’d rather hang yourself or even jump into the Indian Ocean). Choice and discretion are conferred upon humans as differentiators from fellow animals, right?
3) And DELETE the unwanted crap (crap is unwanted, I know. Just mentioned it for the sake of assertiveness) in your life. (Take a garbage bag. Particularly the black one. Dump the crap, tie it up and watch the shit go in the CLEAN UP VAN)
Remember – To err is being human and to err repeatedly is being a moron.
Trust me it’s easier done than said! (Yeah, you heard me right).