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29 it is!

Another year older, another year gone by so quickly!

Yep, it was my birthday yesterday and I had a wonderful time with some of my favorite people.

Like all princesses, my birthday isn’t limited to a single day, but spans across the weekend. The celebrations started from Friday afternoon when my buddies at work took me out for a huge birthday lunch. They ordered a shot of Fireball and beer for me and the result was 10% of efficiency for the rest of the day. I kept myself awake at work by thinking of elaborate ideas to take a nap, but without real success. I should have taken a leaf out of George Costanza’s book of ideas like the hammock under his desk.

The celebrations extended in the evening when I went out for a Japanese dinner with Shawn, Alicia and a few others form the Softball team. I love Ramen and their Ramen was no exception and I really enjoyed the vegetable sushi as well after a very long time. I am not big on sushi because of a few wasabi related incidents in the past(fire in the brain and tears from eyes, nose and ears), but this sushi was quite good! Abhi, Nish, we have another new spot to go to! After the dinner, we headed to a real divey-dive bar, in Tustin where our group became bigger as more of our friends joined in. Now, it was a Karaoke bar with an open mic. We belted out quite a few songs like Bohemian Rhapsody, Sweet Caroline, etc. But the real highlight of the evening was the thorough butchering of Summer of 69 by Alicia and yours truly! I think we were hopping like bunnies more than singing! The DJ announced out that it was my birthday party and the entire bar was upon me to wish me.  We sang almost all the songs as a chorus to whoever was singing and by the end of the night, we had lost our voices. It was all worth it!

Saturday passed by in a whirl, where I did grown up things like laundry, vacuuming, renewing my apartment lease, crying at the depleting bank balance. I was expecting Abhi and Nish in the evening, but flight related incidents with their mom and sis postponed their visit to the next day. Shib called from Kerala after fighting with terrible phone network. I spoke to Hazra over video chat for quite a bit and the poor guy tried to order a cake for me which turned out to be a fail. I was so touched by his gesture and assured him that it truly was the thought that mattered to me! I headed out to the mall in the evening to use my discount coupons and birthday vouchers from stores that I may not shop full-price from.😛 I ended my Saturday at the grocery store where I had an unexpected ego boost when the cashier gave me student discount without even asking me if I was one! To celebrate, I treated myself with some Chinese takeout. Yep, I love Asian food!

I spent most of my Sunday being lazy and talking to friends on the phone. Thank you Moo and Ani for the infinite wishes, and so much love to Ani’s Jonah for the cutest message ever for his PB Maasi! The xBF also called and we spoke for a long time. It truly made me happy and very satisfied that we now trying to get to a stage that we can joke and laugh and look back and look ahead without ruining our moods and dissolving into tears. It was good. Abhi, Nish showed up late afternoon with some absolutely yummy desserts and I finally cut my birthday cake/dessert and got to make a wish by blowing out the candle. Well, I think I forgot to actually make a wish! The day ended with another FaceTime chat with the folks.

Monday came bright and early and really hot with 100 F or 40 deg C and 9% humidity. More friends from work took me out for lunch and we had Thai food. Did I already mention that I am a sucker for Asian cuisine? I skipped gym yesterday and chilled at home with my friend Adriane to watch the presidential debate. We had my birthday dinner at Maggiano’s Little Italy and celebrated with the group of friends that I call the OC squad! Of course, the prime members are Shawn and Alicia.😀

It was the culmination to a fabulous, celebratory weekend and I couldn’t be happier. I feel truly blessed to be surrounded by people who love me, care about me and keep me in their thoughts and prayers. No one can take the place of my parents, my family, but my friends come very close. I feel grateful.

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I have entered the last year of my 20s. I am determined to make it worthwhile. I want to do everything so that I can look back and say that I ended up my 20s with a bang. God willing!

9

These (battle)scars…

I was watching a Hindi TV show the other day and the heroine has very newly fallen in love with the hero of the show who isn’t aware of her feelings. Aah, new love. It’s a mature and modern show a compared to the other garbage on TV these days and shows relationships like they are in reality. She is a very hardcore, independent woman who is also a doctor and doesn’t take nonsense easily. But falling in love has made her, err, clumsy? The hero asks her “Ms. Bose aap aajkal itna girne kyun lagi hai? Pehle toh nahi girti thi.” It loosely translates to “ Why are you tripping so much these days, you used to be pretty steady earlier.” She is not as bad as other TV show heroines though. This is mostly a common scenario in Hindi Soaps where they try and show a girl to be very bubbly, cheerful, fragile, delicate and she is so careless in her excitement of chasing the invisible unicorn, that she keeps tripping into the waiting arms of the hero. Utterly ridiculous and far from cutesy if you ask me. First of all, who the hell is that bubbly, cheerful when I can see myself as dark and dreary as a storm cloud. Lenny, from the shopfloor who gets me pizza slices, disagrees vehemently when I say that, but nevertheless. Also, if I were a guy, I would get so irritated with such a clumsy person that I would drop them on the ground and move on.

There is a girl I know who is friends with my friends. I get a feeling that she is perennially sick and keeps fainting all the time. I feel harsh when I say this and I know it’s not her fault(entirely) for being so weak and passing out so much. But I can’t help feeling irritated with that. I feel like holding her shoulders and shaking her hard while yelling “Faint at your own time, girl!” Honestly, I don’t even know what that means and I know I am being mean.

But I don’t think I am any less. I have been known to sport gauze bandages when I and my close friends are aware that I have a millimeter size of cut on my finger. I had once stabbed my finger with a knife while opening a jar of jam in the hostel room. The stab was tiny but it was bleeding profusely. AM was quick to retort, “Uh oh, we need XXL bandaids for that!” All the pain was forgotten in the peals of laughter after that. My instagram also carries proof of the fact that I will advertise my injuries and create this air of hurt around it, rather than tending to it. I don’t know who is younger, a 2 year old, or me.

I cry easily when I get hurt. My threshold of pain is low and my first reaction is to cry or to shout at the person next to me. This happens often while I am cooking. A burn will make me irrationally angry, but of course, I will not clean it, dress it or apply ointment on it. I will only continue to be angry at the world. I had an oven burn when my parents were here and I got into an altercation with my dad because he was being a smartass and was trying to justify it by saying that if Chandler would have said the same, I would have laughed. But I did not take care of the burn and now I have a scar on my forearm. There is already one another burn scar forming an acute angle with it and I look like I am on my way to a branding of deathly hallows. Trust me, I am not.

One of my strangest desires has been to have a fracture on my left arm. I have always found arm casts to be very cool, specially when they are colored and have writings on them. I know I am a strange person to want a fracture. But a left arm will also be a lesser worry than a right arm, I think. Well, at least that would have been the case in school days when there was still a lot of writing involved. With typing and driving these days, I don’t know how bad it will be. But my biggest worry remains about washing my hair and salons here are not cheap. Again, I am not trying to give myself a fracture deliberately. Now I get old people injuries like a hurting knee, hurting shoulder after working out, lower back aches and feet that are falling apart.

One of my best/worst injuries have been on my right ankle that gave me a lot of glorious time off school, at the cost of being in pain for a long time. In Ahmedabad when I was in 4th grade, my school had been let off early for some reason and my dad sent the office helper to pick me up on his bicycle. He placed a mini me on the pillion seat and started to walk the bike. I don’t know what happened and my foot got into the spokes of the rear wheel and got twisted. I screamed and in the confusion, he ended up moving the bike backwards and the foot twisted in the opposite direction again. I had a massive wound with a lot of skin and flesh scraped off and a raptured ankle ligament that did not get detected for 3 days. I was given an L shaped cast that had to be removed everyday to dress my wound and was held in place by bandages. I still bear the scars on that ankle along with other scars from an accident in 2nd grade where a scooter hit me while crossing the road in front of my home in Delhi. My right foot has born 80% of the injuries I have had. I also have very battered looking knees that convince me that knees were created to get bashed up while riding bikes.

I have a very strange injury on my body that reminds me every once in a while of itself. While on a visit to India in 2013, I went with my dad to the bus service office to book seats for my parents for a trip to Mumbai. They were going for their Visa interview. Oh, that was also the epic trip where they met the xBF’s folks and tried to come to a middle ground but it became very clear to us that our ways are separate. Talk about actual scars, eh? I was going to stay home, taking care of Moony and Ani was supposed to come for a sleepover that day. It was the monsoons in India and it was raining that day. I was wearing my flip flops and as soon as I stepped out of the office, I slipped on the wet stone stairs on the door and landed firmly on the edge of the stair in a sitting position. My tail bone, yep, had made perfect contact with the sharp stone edge and I was delirious in pain. A 26 year old me broke down like a 6 year old from all the pain and the realization that so many people saw me fall. The walk from the shop to the car was beyond painful and I couldn’t even hold my b*tt and walk. I wonder if I aggravated it while walking my dog Moony and having to carry him for a bit because of his arthritic legs. There was no way my parents could cancel their Visa appointment, but at least their trip was successful. There are times when I can feel some hurt while doing deadlifts with barbells or while doing something as basic as sitting down on the restroom throne.

Well, at least some scars make a good talking point. I can sometimes pretend that I got into a bar fight in downtown Santa Ana, rather than admitting my idiocies. 

“You should see what I did to the ‘other person’.”

20

If I were God, or Oprah…

I was reading a list on Forbes magazine that was talking about the highest paid careers for 2016. Now I like to read that list hoping to find my chosen field in there and then crying because it is never listed. Amidst the orthodentists, anesthesiologist, a zillion other kind of doctors, software engineers, construction specialists, financial managers, I can see so much money, enough to make Uncle Scrooge blush scarlet. So, I started thinking (Yes, that does happen) about the rest of the careers. IF I was the supreme finance guru of the universe, and I had to pick 10 professions that really, really need a raise right now, these would be my pick.

  1. Teachers : These would be the first set of people to get a nice fat raise. Teachers have a huge responsibility on their shoulders to shape up the little humans into the kind of large humans they would turn into. I have had some amazing teachers and some absolutely pitiful ones. My dad had a Maths teacher in his middle school who he swears was Prof. Snape without the redeeming quality of ‘Always’ in him. He loathed my dad and probably turned on the Math-phobia in him. They deserve so much more so that there is motivation and inspiration to undertake this massive responsibility.
  2. Farmers : After the issues I have had with my puny tomato plant, I have so much more respect for farmers who deal with a crop that is a million times the size of my plant with exponentially more problems. Everybody is aware of the pitiful state of farmers in India. The only political party who actually gives a sh*t at any point of time for them, is the party in opposition at that given time. Nobody cares.
  3. Construction workers : These guys are living, real life Spidermen/Spidermans(?). Have you seen them dangling off the high risers in New York City? Have you seen them perched on top of a bamboo stick on the 21st floor of a building in Mumbai? Did you hear of the news where 9 workers got crushed under a falling slab where they were working without any gear? Some of the most used and abused bunch of workers are in construction. I will also throw in some sunscreen for those long hours in the sun. Cancer is a real b*tch.
  4. Nurses : These ladies and gents are the people who do the dirty work after la-di-dah doctors give their diagnosis and swish away to get into the list that Forbes compiles. The nurses are the ones who end up saving lives a LOT of times. They clean you, change you, help you with pee and poop too without being related to you in any way!
  5. Housemaids/cleaners/helpers : Do you even realize how hard it is to clean up such disgusting, filthy homes? From what I hear, I specially pity the lady who cleans the home of a friend in India. Also, the gossip session warrants a nice bonus. It is important to have them keep our secrets, right? I am sure that isn’t blackmail.
  6. Dog care givers : Actually this is just to warm the cockles of my heart which otherwise is a dark cold lump of coal. Any person who works even remotely with dogs deserves a raise, a bonus, and more goodies. Y’all are my favorite bunch of people! Like, ever!
  7. Hairstylists/mani-pedicurists : I did not particularly think of this until I read some horror stories that a few beauty stylists re-counted in some online forum. Millimeters of fungus under nails, cruds and cysts on scalp, LICE! I was THIS close to throwing up! You have my salute.
  8. Personal shoppers/fitters : This is specially for the br@ fitters working at lingerie stores. Most women who go to such specialty store are in general good hygiene coming from the upper section of the society, but there are many, many exceptions. You touch other women’s possibly non-showered b**bs and butts and help a lot of them zip up into dresses 2 sizes smaller(for after the Kellog’s diet) while complimenting them. That gets you the raise I am offering.
  9. Passport/License photographers : This is for purely selfish reasons that hopefully in my next batch of pictures, I won’t look like a round bagel with plops of cream cheese and blueberries for eyes, nose and mouth. Ugh.
  10. Car washers : Again, very selfish. But hopefully the raise will prevent them from taking away all the cash and change in my car. I am looking at you ‘All Hands’!

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10

Draw the blinds…

She was having a great time at the pool side. She had the barbeque ready and her friends were splashing about in the water. The spread of choice meats was looking good, the drinks were over flowing and the chips and guacamole were disappearing at a good speed. There were other residents in the pool as well and everyone was having a good time. The Labor Day BBQ event was turning out to be a success. Her Retriever mutt, Jack was snoozing in the apartment after his hearty breakfast. She was feeling good about her life. Specially about the fact that she was on her own, no roomies. She could cook whatever, live however and that she could walk around in the buff at home whenever she wanted!

The older gentleman that she saw almost every other weekend when her buddies would join her at the pool was there too. He was the resident Uncle McOldie. He had just struck up a conversation about Steelers, Rams, Orioles and which QuarterBack was going to rule this NFL season with her bud. She had realized by now that he knew pretty much everyone at the apartments. 

He started to talk to her. He asked her generally which wing she was in. And then he guessed it himself and told her that he knew she had a dog. She wasn’t quite prepared for what came next.

“Oh yes, I look into your apartment every night.”

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PS: True story. I was at the party, but it’s not me. But lessons have been learnt. *Rolling eyes*

6

Those olympic sized dreams…

Bravo, Sindhu, bravo!
You have made an entire country proud of your achievement. We were backing you up after the news flash that you have entered the finals of the Rio Olympics badminton championship. You aimed for the Gold of course, but you were very gracious and accepting about the Silver. You showed true sportsperson spirit after you won the Semis and you were even better when the Spanish star clinched the title. You had formidable opponents and you played your heart out. That’s what that matters.

Way to go, Dipika!
The vault jump was absolutely phenomenal. I was actively reading up articles about you because a few months back I was told by an American friend of mine that India is sending a female gymnast for the first time to Olympics this year. I had no idea about that and it was very interesting to read about you after that. People who genuinely follow sports all over the world, know about you girl! You can definitely win big the next time. You have got it in you.

What a performance, Sakshi!
The fact that you did not give up until the very last second of the game, makes you a huge inspiration. You have motivated me to apply that philosophy in my life. I don’t want to be negative anymore, assuming the worst for me. I want to give my very best till the second is up and then mull on the outcome. Not before that. You are truly a rockstar!

As for the country that you girls represented, I am sorry that we are letting you ladies down. We need to fight to make sure that the world knows which state you belong to. We want to make sure, you belong to dome definite caste so we can turn you into a posterchild. We want to one up each other in announcing cash awards to win accolades for ourselves, and not because we want to truly ensure that you continue with your training and the best you deserve for dedicating your lives, your bodies and your youth to your sports career for this country.

We want to turn you into memes to pull down movie stars acting in a movie about your sport and some page 3 socialite who has proven herself to be a pretentious non thinker time and again. But we will display extreme sexism, to counter such sexism. Also, you must repeat or better your performances, or we may just tear you down like the other Badminton star who, we have conveniently forgotten, did set a record too. We are hypocrites of the highest order, yes we are! We will call out and pull down everyone who admits honestly about not knowing anything about you all earlier. We forget that not everyone is interested in sports. We will refuse to believe that sometimes, we do need the media to report your achievements in the same vein as other popular sports.

We will make sure that the best of our kin get to travel to Rio, and now next year to Japan, to go to Foren trips as one of the Indian contingents and to supposedly help you. We need to send our beloved niece Rimmi so she can shop for Pammi aunty. Our sweet Kanna can write numbers, so he can go to lower down Mannu uncle’s blood pressure about his son’s abysmal career. We can make it work. Just like we can make Combiflam work to treat everything from tooth ache to aching joints and dehydrated muscles. Combiflam is the new Sanjeevni.

We need to prove it to the world that N. R. Narayan Murthy is right. We do have the highest ego per unit of achievement, even if it’s being a minister to ‘serve’ the country. We don’t care that the world is watching us. If we want to be in to get the plushest seats, we will damn sure get those plush seats. These Rio people should also know that we are nothing but politicians/leaders of the largest democracy in the world! How dare they not let us get in! How dare they ask for IDs or permits or whatever the heck they want? Don’t they know who we are?

But we will try to be better. We will try to combat the issues plaguing our country. We will work hard to make sure, that when you achieve something for yourself, we deserve to have you achieve something for us. We will work hard, to make sure that you aren’t embarrassed to represent us. We will take care that you will want to get us that glory and that you can get that glory.

We will work hard, to deserve you.

13

Mars vs Venus

Gender equality is the buzzword these days along with ‘startups’, ‘feminism’, ‘global-warming’ and ‘crossfit’. One word does not belong in that group and I am aware of that. Many women that I get to speak to in real life and the blogging world have suffered directly or indirectly because of the gender bias or inequality as a result of that bias. We cannot shy away from the fact that it is a real issue when it comes to society conditions, relationships, professional life, paychecks, etc. It has made life hard for a lot of women in history and even in this 21st century, it continues to be a challenge. If you are reading this after 100 years for whatever reasons, let me know if there has been any improvement, and also if space tourism did take off.

But I want to take a look at inequality in a different way, perhaps in more physical context here, that I am afraid is sort of in-built. I am looking at you God, and I do consider myself mad at you for creating us this way.

The worst difference in my eyes, is PMS-ing. I have spoken and written a lot about it. Why would God do this to us women-folk! Why?! If you are an atheist, please question evolution as to why do women have to writhe about in pain. The twisted me would love to see men doubling up in pain every month just when their partner’s time comes. Just trying for equality!

How many of you ladies have to carry a sweater/jacket/wrap to work even when it is literally a 100 degrees? How is it that men need the temperature so low that it is practically Siberia at work when it is Gobi Dessert outside? I wonder how the cooling system of men vs women is, that it turns men into sweaty pigs while women are shivering. I am sitting in office on this lovely Friday afternoon waiting to leave after a very busy week and very pissed off. I have a wrap around me and my right leg is hurting like it hurts in winters, when I can see glorious sun outside the window. I am thoroughly pissed off at the AC system and all the men in the office who are being whiny about it being too hot. Grrrrr.

Do you know the situation when you are enjoying a very satisfying pizza with beer and suddenly you are full, but not mentally full? You want to keep going because it is truly delicious but your stomach refuse anymore. Or it is a generous helping of some of the softest, tangiest Paneer Tikka Masala you have had, but your stomach is this close to bursting open. Or it is Abhi-Nish’s famous Kachchi Dabeli(Indian burger, sort of) and you just don’t want to stop but you don’t want the food flow to be reversed. And then you look at the men wolfing down all of it at a speed twice yours and at quantity thrice yours. This situation hurts me and makes me very jealous of their capacity to eat more. I wish greed could win over my stomach’s capacity, but I have had a lot of moments where gluttony has failed me. You’d think I would learn. Heh.

I have recently learnt a very cool tidbit about a biological difference between men and women. You know that lovely layer of fat deposit under our skin, that is a little too thick for our liking than that of Katrina Kaif or Blake Lively? Well, the structure of those fat cells is different in men and women. The collagen fibers form a vertical structure system in females and a criss-cross style system in males. It results in collagen giving us the bumpy effect on legs and tummy and elsewhere. It also gives men a very powerful advantage. That of opening jars more easily than women. It has something to do with less sliding of skin and better grip. Every time I have to open a jar, my first step of attack is to cry loudly for 5 minutes, then google videos and then finally smash the jar. I kid. Maybe not.

I am thankful for the squats at the gym, because when it comes to a public restroom after long hours of holding my pee in, that is the way to go. The classic ‘squat and hover’. I am very envious of men’s ability to go anywhere and everywhere without the hanging sword of infection or the danger of a bug-bite amidst wilderness. They don’t need privacy, or the need to cover up. bordering on shamelessness in my motherland where I have whistled many a times in a passing vehicle trying to embarrass them into sense. But apart from that kind of sh*tty behavior, it definitely is a boon. I specially feel the pinch at portable loos at camping grounds or race events.

Striving for equality? We shall see when that happens. But I look forward to the day when God re-considers what he created. It would be so nice to see my man PMS-ing, and I eat 3 whole Tiramisus on my own, pouring chocolate sauce on it directly from the jar that I opened. And then I can go pee on a tree like a dog.

23

Instagram nightmares

There are three horrors that a lady can face on social media.

1. Being stalked by an ex.

2. Getting hacked.

3. ‘Liking’ someone’s picture while on a stalking mode.

The third and possibly the worst horror is what I underwent last night and I am still recovering from it.

I had spoken to a guy for around a week in June-July before meeting him over the 4th of July long weekend. He was very cute and kind of fun, outdoorsy and smart and those were the reasons where we had sustained our daily chats and had decided to meet while he was enroute San Diego for his vacation. But the meeting hadn’t turned out to be too great, courtesy his weird hypothetical questions, for instance if Job > life partner and such other fun stuff. We never really spoke afterwards besides him thanking me for a restaurant suggestion in San Diego. But the meeting was alright and the location was pretty and I got a drink out of it. Meh.

Now, did I mention that the guy was kinda cute? So what does PB do? Look him up on social media. I had seen his Instagram account just before meeting up, and it was a public profile. I had sort of gotten an idea about his general personality from it and how many common friends we have(fair few) and if he is out of my league or not. In hindsight, he looked like he was!

I don’t know what got into me last night, but I decided to check his Insta account again yesterday. As I was sifting through his pictures, I came across a funny selfie video of him. It was one of his latest posts but was posted sometime back. I was trying to be very careful and tip-toed around his profile as to not leave any mark. I went to the video again and as I was watching it, I decided that I wanted the sound to come on too. Why? I don’t know. So I tapped on it. The music turned on. But, horror of horrors, there flashed a little red heart right in the middle of the video! While tip-toeing around, I had dropped 3 sets of pots and pans and 6 china plates! The room was hotter than 100 degrees and I started sweating furiously.

I instantly went into damage control, blocking him, hoping that he wont know. But for good measure, I repeated the same with my blog Insta account and I realized that my ‘like’ is permanently embedded there and I cant undo it. Ugggghhhhh. And I also couldn’t find the unblock list to go back and attempt to undo it further. I was stuck so bad. Even if I would have done all that and ‘unlike’ed it, he could have maybe seen the notification. Who knows? So I gulped the last bit of my pride down and ‘followed’ him. If he ever asks, I can say that we have few common friends and that the video showed up in my ‘videos you may like’ and it was funny. Very lame, I know.

Being that loser is better than being a stalker loser.

A pro tip: If you are stalking someone on Instagram and you accidentally double-tap, then smash your phone, set it on fire, and move to Malta.

PS : Sign of Best Friendship is when you drop the ball, and your BFF picks it up only to drop it promptly right after! We will sink together. 😀

12

Random stuff again…

1. I prefer to slouch rather than sit straight. It feels better on my stomach for some reason. It does hurt my neck though which has been chronic since high school. So I slouch and type on my work computer with T-Rex arms. Speaking of my stomach, I have been having trouble doing Sit-Ups properly. The gut’s too big.😦 I am running out of hard motivation to keep up with working out. Even ‘PB, you aren’t hot anymore!’ isn’t working. Noxious SA, please help! 

2. I have started to dislike Green Tea. I did not love it before, but I could drink it. Now I don’t want anything to do with it. I think I need different flavors or a brand. Also, I don’t like the simple Indian tea without Tea Masala(spice) or Ginger. But I don’t like cardamom.

3. I have happily planted a lot of veggies and herbs in my patio, completely forgetting that there will be bees. I am TERRIFIED of bees. When a bee/fly/whatever would fly into my classroom at school or college, I was the first one to scream like a banshee, shut my ears and duck under the bench. For some reason, shutting my ears is a natural instinct. I have to hand pollinate my cucumber flowers(the male and female flowers are separate), just to make sure that the bees aren’t just freaking me out but doing their jobs, and the giggles are unstoppable. *Insert dirty jokes*

4. It has been pointed out to me that babies like me a lot. Considering that I think of myself as hopeless with kids, it’s sort of an achievement when babies cry with everyone until they come to me(except their mama). I don’t do very much except talk to them and tell them about my day, and rock them continuously. Haha! The rocking is helpful with upper arms too!

5. When you climb at the back of a Target shopping cart and push with one leg, going wheee, it can topple over if empty. I learnt this recently.

    10

    Of hanging out, dollars and couples…

    My friend and I had a talk on whatsapp sometime back. He is the same guy who I visited in Baltimore and who’s getting married in January 2017. He was expressing his views about trying to move out of India for settling abroad with his wife. The topic moved to how I am looking forward for a friend to get a project in US/Europe, to have another vacay together and how fun that would be. He said he was jealous and how he would love to take more trips. He started talking about it boiling down to our paychecks and that being the reason we can do all that. The discussion even turned to him calling our other guy friend SK hopeless because he has become very non-committal about making plans with ‘I will let you know’ as the most often spoken sentence by him. Ironically, his wife keeps asking why don’t they all meet up more often. I took my certain stand on the topic which resulted in him again focusing on our paychecks and the seemingly comfortable lifestyle we have in US with our high frequency of taking holidays and trips.

    When he told me about SK, his wife and that he has to depend on them to plan a trip for him and his wife eventually which seems near impossible, I was not entirely convinced. My stand was that you should be asking people once or twice and if they don’t commit, you should go ahead with your plans. Unless their reason to want to wait seems solid, I don’t see why anyone should wait around. His point was about SK changing after being with someone. It did not particularly resonate with me (and I am thankful for that!) because my best friends, with who I just took another roadtrip to the Bay Area, have never let their married life making me feel cut off. Same goes with Mad and DD and exactly the same with other non-Indian couples that I hang out with. In my previous relationship, we always looked forward to times with friends and had no qualms about that. I have been the 3rd or the 5th wheel plenty of times without feeling awkward that I am imposing myself on them and hopefully they felt the same when I was with the xBF. I understand they need their privacy and their personal time together. But they are also setting such great examples for me to follow in the future when I will be committed. One need not say goodbye to a social life and friends and become hermit crabs after getting hitched. Practically, atleast until children come into the picture because that’s a whole another topic of discussion.
     
    I asked him to ask SK and the rest once or twice if they want to hang out or take a holiday together. Any more than that is a game of chasing and we don’t entertain that. All of our trips have involved quick agreements on where to go and who all want to come. If out of 6 people, only 3 are ready, he should go ahead and plan it with the 3. There is no reason to can the plan. If you keep waiting for all 6 people to come to a conclusion, the plan is going to take 20 years to take shape. Moo very well knows what I am talking about here.😉
     
    My other point of disagreement was him blaming income and other expenditures. I agree that holidays and trips are expensive, specially with the flight and hotel costs, but there are so many ways to budget travels and it can be even a quick day trip, if you REALLY want it. He was trying to say that the reason me and Abhi-Nish and the rest manage to hang out is because we have the spending capacity. I will not be in denial that we do have a slightly better spending capacity than a lot of my peers with the same level of experience in India, but he should know that if we earn in dollars, we spend in dollars as well and even we have plenty of responsibilities back home too. We hang out because we want to, and we don’t depend on how much we can spend. It could be as simple as driving down for a lunch or doing an activity that was a good deal on Groupon. All my friends who are married or in relationships, also have other set of friends who are couples or are single. Sometimes they do their own things, and sometimes we all hang out in groups, or sometimes it’s just me and the two of them. We all do actually want a social life and that’s the whole reason we have managed to stick together yet. That feeling is not governed by how much we make. In fact, we are free enough with each other to express if we are feeling the pinch of cash at any point. 

    There cannot be an end to this argument. Maybe it just depends on how some people prioritize their lives. I have very few friends and it would be a sad situation if I lose even those. And my love for traveling isn’t hidden at all. As far as I am concerned, I don’t think I will be very happy if the only face I see is my other half’s. Let’s see if I turn out to be a hypocrite or not!

    *————–*

    PS: This comes across as a super whiny, better-than-thou post. I am not trying to say that I am better than others in the way I am living my life. I feel I haven’t been able to put across the main point that if you want to be with friends and/or travel, you will do it come what may. Gaaah! I give up. It’s not my day. 

    10

    Travelogue : Weekend-ing at Baltimore-Washinton DC

    I had a tryst with a different part of America over the last weekend.

    I was over to visit my bestie AH over at Baltimore who is in US for 3 weeks on some training session through his work. It was a trip that I had to take because I am going to miss his wedding in January which is such a bummer. All in all, it turned out great because I even got to meet my very special friends! Murat, his wife and his brand new baby girl Damla! He isn’t big on Facebook but he was scrolling through the feed to read about what was going on in Ankara. He came across my picture and he noticed it was tagged in Maryland. He asked Becca if he was seeing it right. He texted me right away and we made plans within the next 15 min and AH and I drove off to Murat’s about an hour outside Baltimore. I was under the impression that he was far away! Haha! They are my buddies who got married in Turkey in September! Boy, Murat did a great job timingwise.😛 We were teasing him about his, ahem, strong swimmers. Baby Damla is beyond cute. She is a sweetheart and she wouldn’t stop staring at me with her big gray eyes and smiling with her tongue poking out! It was a great drive with lush greens on both sides of the road and it was a great evening with friends.

    In Baltimore, the location of AH’s hotel was at the harbor and it was so picture perfect with graffiti, cobbled streets, street-side cafes. I have heard a lot about the issues plaguing Baltimore currently and how it can be a rough neighborhood, and from what people told me, the downtown is a much nicer area. I did not go to the highly recommended Aquarium because I have been to Sea World 3 times and I am perhaps done with fishes for a loooooong time.

     

    We took a day trip to Washington DC and saw most of the iconic buildings and monuments. We spent a lot of time at the Smithsonian and I cannot recommend enough the Air and Space museum and Natural History museum. Please do not miss the Smithsonian! Here are some pictures.

    Travel tip:

    1. Perhaps the most important tip would be to factor in atleast $15 parking charges a day into your budget. We did a lot of car moving here and there and saved some dough. It’s a horrible situation with very expensive parking rates in both Baltimore and Washington DC. In hindsight, do check ZipCar availabilities around your place of stay.
    2. Wear your best walking shoes possible.

     


    This trip was a particularly special one. We had always wanted to take some sort of vacation together since college days. But with me here and the boys and girls in India, it was obviously very hard. The boys do go on way more trips than my girl friends though and I feel jealous that I miss all those. Moo and I managed to travel together to Turkey, meet up in US and all that, and that ways, we are quite satisfied. With AH, we had never thought that we’ll meet up in America like this! I would have loved to have him come home and see California but financially it wasn’t possible for him and so I flew out to meet him. It was worthwhile also because of meeting Murat and ticking off DC from my list.

    I cant help it, but this trip was also bittersweet. He was visibly upset when I left and he said this. ‘PB things are going to change now’. His words could not have been truer, however much in denial I am. Things are changing and they will continue to change. I am trying to hold on to those days but they are like sand between my fingers. The more I forcefully hold on, the more they escape.

    Maybe I just need to let go. Everything.