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Reflections

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"Being reflective” is not a mode that I go into often. I try not to reflect too much on the past, because somewhere in there exists a list. A list that shows me the tasks that I never completed despite numerous promises that I’ve made. And they mock me. For being a procrastinator and pushing these tasks away into the darkest domains of my universe, where they lie gathering dust. But it’s not always doom and gloom. For within the blackness of the cavern, some achievements, tiny as they may seem, push me on guiding me like a shining beacon of light. Over the past year, my life as I know it has changed. Quite drastically might I add. We moved back to India after a long stint in London. The point was to be closer to our roots, family and the rest of the usual logic that most of us “foreign-returns” claim the reason to be. The truth of course is a lot deeper and not one that I can unravel in a single post. So I shall not.

Deep down (no, not that deep down), I knew I needed a change in career. I was good at what I did and success wasn’t too far behind. But I’ve never known the feeling that people who “love” their jobs claim to have. That feeling where you can’t wait to wake up in the morning to start your routine. That feeling that makes “your job” feel like it’s the most natural thing in the world to you. I’ve searched high and low for something that gives me that feeling. But despite my academic journey taking me through the “shadowy realms of engineering” and the “roller coaster of a Master’s degree from a reputed foreign university”, I had still never been closer to discovering what I actually wanted. And that nagging feeling continued till September last year, when I finally hit the number that a lot of people in my age bracket seemed to dread.  No, I did not wake up on my 30th birthday, and say “Eureka! I know what I want!”. Rather, for the first time in my life, I did a bit of introspection. And as a result, I started iWroteThose - which is probably what I’m most known for now.

My blog has certainly evolved over time. I've dabbled in almost every category of posts - from reviews and stories to parenting and rants disguised as opinions. And finally, NINETY-NINE posts, TWENTY-ONE THOUSAND views and ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY SEVEN THOUSAND words later, I'm here - Post#100.  All this in a rather short span of SEVEN months. I suppose I can confidently say that “ writing “ is definitely my calling.

For those of you who have been reading me regularly, I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude. In a world filled with “back-scratching” politics and often senseless comments, you have been the sole source of inspiration for me to "keep calm and carry on writing", as they say in good ol’ England. So thank you!

Before I wind up, for those of you who may be reading this (seriously,  if you still are, you are nothing short of  a legend), I'd like to narrate something that happened a couple of days ago.

I am a work-from-home dad and proud of it. Over the past fourteen months, there is only one question that I’ve been repeatedly asked - So, what do you do? (Click to read that post). As I’ve mentioned in the post, I’ve come to realise that my honest answer is capable of evoking the famous Indian “judgemental eye-roll and disappointed nodding of head”. But I suppose over time, I’ve developed the hide of a beast and rather than feel overwhelmed, it merely flows off my toughened exterior, sort of like water of a duck’s back.

The other day, I got stuck in an elevator with an elderly gentleman who was dressed in a white “veshti" (or dhoti) and a crisp khadi shirt. Now, along with being a wee bit claustrophobic, I am not a big fan of getting stuck in an elevator with people who are fond of asking questions. So when BESCOM (our electricity provider) decided to pull the plug, this very anti-social me was stuck in the lift with this rather affable octogenarian. I’ve come to realise that most traditional and elderly “uncles” in our community love to ask that dreaded question. And this one was no different. No sooner than had we flashed each other a polite smile, he asked (might I add, in impeccable accent-free English) - So, what do you do? I suppose the question probably arose from the fact that I had a bag full of grocery shopping and it was about 11am in the morning on a weekday. I mean, he was probably trying to gauge why I wasn’t at work, as every normal Indian man of non retire-able age should be. According to society that is.

Usually when I’m faced with this question, I often retort with the answer, “I work from home as a content writer”. Which to be honest is true. I do a reasonable amount of writing work for a fee. However this time around, I confidently answered “I’m a writer.” I then stared at his face waiting for that polite smile to change into an uncomfortable one, which would then be quickly followed by the eye roll and nodding head. Strangely, the polite smile turned into a beaming one. I’m almost certain that I even saw his eyes twinkle slightly behind the thick-set spectacles that adorned his face. For a moment, I wondered if he’d heard something else. Surely, this wasn’t the reaction that I was supposed to get. The backup power came on and the lift slowly started to chug its way up to the eighth floor where I would disembark. The man was still smiling and it looked like my answer had invoked some nostalgia in him. I hoped that the memories were pleasant.  Suddenly he stopped smiling and asked, “What’s your name, young man?” “It’s Sid.” I answered, still wondering when the smile would disappear.

For the rest of the upward journey, the man remained silent. As the lift doors opened my portal to the eighth floor, I quickly flashed a cordial smile at him and started to exit. “Sid,” he called out. I stopped and turned around. “For over 40 years, I have interviewed several generations of youngsters for various roles. They were Engineers, IT professionals, IIM and IIT graduates, MBAs - you name the type, I've seen them." he said, the smile slowly reappearing. He continued, "But none of them have ever answered my question with so much conviction as you have today. I don’t know anything about you or your background, but the confidence and passion that you have in what you do shines through in those words that you spoke. I wish you all the luck.”

As the doors to the lift closed, I stood there shell-shocked by the conversation that had just transpired. It took me a few moments to regain my composure and as I walked into my house, for the first time in ages, I felt I had made the right choice in life. Ironically, the last time I’d felt so, was when I had incessantly pursued my wife, Janaki, to say yes to my proposal.  And we know how that turned out. :)

 

Kick It

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What’s life without a little pleasure, eh? I know. We’ve all thought about it. Sometimes dwelling on it, sometimes just as a passing thought. As cliched as it sounds, a bucket list is made meaningful only because of the end result it provides when we strike items off that list - the pure, unadulterated bliss of happiness. There’s hardly any one of us who’s not heard about the term “Bucket List”.  Simply put, it is a compilation of activities that you want to have completed or achieved before your earthly being goes to sleep one final time. I’ve often read that people think that bucket lists are only for millionaires. That’s not true. Bucket lists are for everyone. For you, for him, for her, for them, for me - for us all. Of course depending on things that you’d want to achieve before you depart, you might need to be a millionaire for some. But essentially anyone can create a bucket list. There is no set rule for the afore mentioned list. It can be a collection of something really simple or a plethora of extravagance. I mean, there’s nothing stopping you from writing down anything on a bucket list. But that’s probably where people lose track a little bit. A bucket list is very different to a wish list. A wish list is a list of things or activities that you “wish” you could complete/purchase. A bucket list is, or rather needs to have slightly more realistic list of things. Well, that’s just my opinion. I think of a bucket list as something that helps inspire me and clarify the more meaningful things in my life.

But a bucket list is also the ultimate paradox. To achieve most things in your bucket list (unless they are all philosophical or behavioural in nature), you will need money. And to make sure you earn money, you need to work (irrespective of whether you enjoy it or not). And because you’re often too busy working, you seldom find the time to cross off the items on your list. So it leaves you in one of those Catch-22 situations, ever so often. The way to create an effective bucket list is to imagine how you’d live your life if you only had a year left.

Okay, enough with the sadness and the abstract thoughts. Let’s talk about something a bit more fun. Well, at least for me. The prompt for this post was “What is the 11th item on your bucket list?”. Considering that I was yet to make a bucket list, I knew this was going to be quite an ask. But then, with it just having turned 2014 on the clock, I decided to try and create a list of things that I think are personally achievable, if I only had a year left in my earthly abode (Don’t worry, you’re not getting rid of me that easily! We’re talking figuratively).

But instead of jotting down eleven points, I’m going to do something a bit different. I’m going to share with you the eleven phases that my bucket list encompasses.

The Traveller

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This is the extreme optimist in me speaking. As I write this, I have no hope of ever being able to travel the length and breadth of this beautiful planet called Earth. For one, I don’t have the funds. For two, I’m no longer a single person without commitments  or loans. But yes, as someone who has always been fascinated by new places and people, this will always be my number one item on every list. At the very least, I’d love to visit all the seven wonders of the world, see the Northern Lights, travel onboard the Glacier Express in Switzerland and traverse a third of the globe covering the whole 9288 kms on the Trans-Siberian railway across Asia. Additionally, I’d love to have a go at being a space tourist. Unfortunately, heights still give me the jitters. So that can probably wait. Oh, before I forget. A true African Safari. You know what, this list can be truly endless.

The Aquatic Wanderer

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I have a dream. No, not that one. But something very similar. I have a dream that one day, water bodies will not discriminate against me. That I’ll be able to immerse myself in a rather large body of water without the danger of being suffocated or drowned. And no, the bathtub doesn’t count. So, as you’ve probably guessed by this point, as much as I’d love to be an aquatic adventurer, I have no idea how to swim. Ironically enough, I used to, when I was a little kid. A rather dire incident at a water-theme park seems to have sucked out all my knowledge of how to swim. But assuming that at some point, I’ll be able to re-discover this hidden skill, there are a few aquatic adventures that I’d love to pursue - Deep-sea diving at the Great Barrier Reef, read a newspaper while floating on the Dead Sea and experience the Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa in Iceland.

The Driver

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I love to drive. And as any fellow driver would probably agree, there are two stretches of roads which can make any automotive driver’s dream come true.

The first is a 151 mile stretch of road which makes for one of the most scenic drives anywhere in the world - The Great Ocean Road in Australia.This road stretches from Geelong to Portland, encompassing dramatic and diverse regional structures from surf beaches and whale lookouts to breathtaking mountain ranges and wild and wonderful natural wildlife. Not to mention the amazing Twelve Apostles along the spectacular coastline.

The second is to drive in true “Fast, Furious & Fearless” style along the German autobahns. Though these sleek autobahns form the federal motorway in Germany, they have no federally mandated speed limit. Of course, they do advise due caution and careful driving in urbanised and accident prone zones. And neither am I advising rash driving. But its the sense of freedom that comes from driving on a speed unregulated stretch of road that is sure to get the adrenaline pumping for every automobile junkie.

The Interior Designer

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Here’s a little less known fact about me. I love places like IKEA, Home Centre, B&Q, Home Depot and the likes. I can literally spend the whole day in there without getting bored. I am well aware that I say this at the risk of sounding like a total whack job, but I love to check out the way everything is designed, arranged and incorporated. A messy, clutter free house is a dream of mine, and as my wife can completely justify, I am truly far away from achieving it. As a guy I love gadgets, but I also would love to incorporate them into the house so well, that everything appears so flawless. Of course that first means that I need to own my own house. Apart from inherited houses, I am yet to purchase one. So this one will hopefully fall into place, I guess I’m still stuck in rented apartments having to take the landlords permission for everything. Having said that, we have an amazing landlord.

The Career Seeker

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Almost everyone that I’ve spoken to about it has dismissed it as my mid-life crisis. And I’m offended a tad by their comments. But truth be said, I can say at least half of us have been there. I’m talking about finding a job that you love. I’ve done a variety of jobs over the past decade (well, close to a decade) since I graduated, and whilst I’ve been good at it and enjoyed them to a certain degree, I’ve always had the nagging feeling that it wasn’t the ONE. And then I started blogging. And somehow it felt write (ok, right. Excuse the pun). And now, with a lot of support from my lovely wife, I’m trying to start afresh on a new career path. It may work out. Or sometimes it might not. But it’s a risk I’m ready to take. And this blog and every other piece I write builds up my confidence as a writer. And of course all of your feedback helps as well. I suppose, from that point of view, I should probably strike this off my list. But not yet. Hopefully soon, I’ll be writing to you to tell you that I’ve found my true calling.

The Resident

tumblr_ktgsymYp6N1qzyw8io1_500Some of you may argue that this point goes hand in hand with the travel piece. Though you wouldn’t be completely wrong to say that, I would politely disagree. Ever since I’ve read about these two places, I’ve been wanting to spend at least a night in these two places.

The first is to spend a night at the original ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, a small village 200 km above the Arctic Circle. Preferably in either the Snow Room, which is a simple, yet spacious room set at a very comfortable -5 degrees. But the guests are guaranteed a good night’s sleep. Or better yet, in the Deluxesvit, where everything, including the bedding, seating and decorations are all made of ice. And it includes an ensuite sauna and toilet. Chilly, I say :)

The second is to spend a night at the Winter Igloo village in Kakslauttanen, in the heart of Lapland, Finland. So what’s so special about this, that it’s made it your bucket list, I hear you ask. Well, imagine spending a night in either a snow or a glass igloo. You’re completely surrounded by snow and absolute silence. If you’re in the glass igloo, you may be fortunate enough to view the northern lights from the comfort of your very own warm bed. The weather inside is a brisk -5 degrees, whilst the lovely weather outside can get up to -32 degrees. This special “resort” is usually only open between December to March. As you huddle together with your partner, sip a cup of warm drink and watch the playful lights of the sky, you’ll probably struggle to think of anything more romantic.

The Helper

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I appreciate that this might be a rather strange one to put on a bucket list. But hey, strangeness is my middle name. Though mostly all of us are wired to be hedonistic, sometimes helping others can give you a lot of happiness too. It could be just helping that weary traveller whose car has broken down on the highway or offering to pay someone else’s bill that they can’t quite cover completely. It could even be helping someone to fulfil their goal. Something completely selfless without expecting any glory or mention in return. This one ought to be stricken off my list, but I’m going to leave it up there, because I think I can do more.

The Fear-Facer

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This one’s pretty self explanatory. I’m a play-it-safe kind of guy. I’m extra cautious and rarely a thrill-seeker. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s boded well for me so far. But I’d love to face at least one of my fears and do something that absolutely terrifies me. Maybe Sky diving over the Everest at 29000 feet. Or hang over the edge of 1800 feet tall Toronto’s CN Tower. Or maybe bungee jump from the Royal Gorge bridge which is only 321m tall, i.e. just over a 1000 feet in height. Oops. Just the thought of those tall structures are giving me the heebee-jeebees. Let’s move on shall we.

The MasterChef-er

687474703a2f2f677265656e746561616e6462697363756974732e66696c65732e776f726470726573732e636f6d2f323031302f30382f636865662e6a7067I love cooking. I must also quickly add that I don’t cook all that often. But I do love experimenting with food. So it should come as no surprise that I’ve got something to do with cooking on my “bucket list”. Though this list is in no way comprehensive, I’d love to have a shot a cooking side-by-side with one (or more) of these amazing, talented chefs: Heston Blumenthal, Gordon Ramsey, Jamie Oliver, George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan. And to top it off, I’d love to have my food tasted by Matt Preston and Joe Bastianich. You’d have probably guessed that I’m a MasterChef aficionado. But there’s a reason behind me choosing each of those chefs. I love Heston’s “molecular” cooking, Gordon’s “get it perfect every time” style, Jamie’s healthy fast food, George’s amazing Greek food and Gary’s unique Australian-English recipes. And no, I’ve not tasted all of their food. But the proof of the pudding is in the recipe I say.

The published Author/Writer

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For those of us, who love to blog or write, this has to be one of the ultimate dreams. To be a published author/writer. The only thing that can top that is if you’re the published author or writer of an international best-seller. But then, let’s take baby steps for now. No matter what anyone says, writing meaningful stuff, be it an article, a book, a short story, a journalistic piece, an advert or even a blog is as tough as trying to cold call someone to get sales. You have to be quick to adapt your styles to make sure your readers maintain their interest and purchase your content. So yes, I truly say it deserves a piece on my bucket list. And if things go according to plan, I’ll be able to strike this one off soon :)

The Pre-Technologist

Okay, the prompt for the post was “What is the eleventh item on your bucket list?”. However I’m hoping that by now, my readers have understood me well. I am unable to summarise anything succinctly. So I wanted to share the top ten things on my bucket list too. But hey, here we are. Eventually.

NO-TECHNOLOGY

Now, though I’ve noted it down as the 11th thing on my bucket list, I am not ever sure I’ll be able to achieve this. But I’d sure like to give it a go. I love gadgets. And for me to renounce all of them completely for even a day, is quite an unthinkable ask. But at some point before I depart, I’d like to try and take at least a week long break from all technology. Technology invades every single phase of our every day existence. For once, I’d like to experience how it feels to be independent of technology. No phones, no internet, no laptops, no ebooks, no watches, absolutely nothing that is remotely related to technology. Of course, I’m not keen to go back to the Neanderthal age. But it’s more to do with having no connection with the outside world in any way, shape or form. Knowing me, I’ll probably commit suicide before the week’s up. But then again, I’m not a quitter. So I just might see it through. But something tells me, that if I go ahead with this, I might just start to appreciate the finesse of the simpler things in life.

There we have it. The eleven phases of my bucket list.

So tell me, what’s the eleventh item on your bucket list?

[This post is written for the Wordpress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts program aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Kick It - What’s the 11th item on your bucket list?"]