6

What’s shakin’?

I opened my wordpress site to notice that my last post was more than a month ago. What is happening to meeee? “The flow of life….” in the words of the yoga teacher at the gym. Yep. Not my laziness and total lack of creativity. The only creative thing I have done in the past many months is setting up three clues for Mr. PB’s birthday treasure hunt. The first clue had a wrong spelling, go figure. Also the mix of his expression saying “What?! What’s happening? At midnight?!” with my wide-eyed, big smile, anxious face was hilarious!

I went on a whirlwind, the-last-moment sort of a week long trip to Pune and Delhi, to shop for my wedding outfits. Oh, I am getting married in December, if noone knows yet! What a fabulous way of announcing it. Honestly, I don’t remember if I have already mentioned it on the blog yet and I am not about to go and search. Please bear with scrambled brain. Coming back to the trip, I decided to go because of jealousy when Mr. PB went for a week to his home in Delhi and went to look at wedding lehengas for me. I burnt and died when I saw pictures of his sister trying on all the pretty outfits. My mature head went “Why? She is already married! It’s MY moment under the spotlight!!” And hence I decided to splurge on PTO from work and 1000 bucks on tickets. These days maturity just seeps out from all my pores.

The trip was good, but insanely hectic. It was much needed though. Also, I timed it perfectly with Labor day holiday and Ganesh Chaturthi. Spending the first few days at home during the festivities, was priceless! I havent been home for Ganpati in 10 years and that used to pinch quite a bit. I was a bit bummed that I got to spent only 4 days in Pune, since I had to fly out to Delhi as well for shopping and my return flight. I may call it a successful trip because 3 out of 4 outfits are done! Getting married in an inter-cultural, 2 states kind of way is hectic, and I am glad I took this trip to sort through some things. December would have been insane otherwise, trying to plan everything in 10 days.

Speaking of inter-cultural, are there any tips from inter-state couples? I would really appreciate some help and insight, on how to walk the tightrope spanning across families and culture differences, while expectations and burdens pop up here and there. We would have liked it to be a homogeneous mix like water-sugar, but so far, it’s an emulsion of oil-water. We try and shake it vigorously for a few moments in the hope of mixing it, but it still settles down into separate layers. Should we force it, or just leave it and appreciate the fact that at least the layers sit side-by-side without combustion?

I suppose this is all for now. I will try and squeeze out more creative juices, unless the wedding planning takes a toll on me. Hope that everyone is having a good time!

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The great, grand city: Ciudad de Mexico!

I have traveled to Mexico a fair few times now, mostly for good food, and dog shelter work with the rescue organization. A few months ago, our HR/company owner at work traveled to CDMX and came back talking amazing things about the city! I was intrigued, and got an email somehow the same day about freshly dropped prices. Was it a sign of the heavens above? I do not know. Did I act on it? Heck, yes!

Also, this marked the first international(well, we arent counting 5-6 hours spent in Rosarito and Ensenada) together. We were a ball of mush and quite cutesy together, and how gross! It’s cute to travel together on flights and be my grumpy self during early morning flights. I am pretty adorable like that.

We bought some insanely cheap round trip tickets from Tijuana, MX to CDMX and purchased bridge crossing tickets as well. If you dont know about it, CBX is a service that connects San Diego with Tijuana airport and you get to clear border security, immigration and all that jazz right away! It’s a pretty nifty deal and extremely convenient! Make sure you give it enough time in case there are lines. We did not find any crowds! Easy-peasy!

We landed in CDMX on Friday late at night due to flight delays, and so obviously, we did not explore the city at all. Our AirBnB was a private room in a guy’s house who works as a digital artist. The house was old, charming and beautifully done with a rustic appeal. The best part? It was in one of the best locations of the city for a walkable, fun, food and mezcal scene, with all places of touristical importance a short uber ride away!

We woke up nice and late on Saturday morning with a lot of coaxing from the boy about it being late at 10.15 am, without him actually getting up though. We got dressed, and headed out to check out Chapultepec Castle and the park. We had, had a nice brunch at Panderia Rosetta and the climb up the hill to get to the castle, took care of the calories, or so I wish to think. The castle is known to be the only one in this side of the world where aristocracy actually lived. I really wish I could tell you more about the place, but alas, all the information was in Spanish. Our spattering language skills were not enough to overcome the impatience. We looked at the architecture, paintings, displays, admired them and moved on. The castle is a beautiful sight though, and worth spending time at. While meandering through the park, we spotted Parque de Gandhi on the map and decided to check that out. We felt like we were on our own personal Dandi March because of the amount that we walked just to locate that statue and the park. We did find it, it was nice, albeit it was missing the glasses. But before the evasive statue was found, we bumped into such a fun circuit training area of the park called, you can guess it, Gandhi Circuit.

We walked a bit more around the Polanco area, exploring the posh area and finally discovered the expensive joys of e-scooters. We had some yummy gelato at what looked like an upscale place, and headed back to Condensa to enjoy the rest of our evening. We missed out on the Frida Kahlo museum during this trip because of crazy traffic in that area. We made up for it by tasting some smoothest mezcal at the 11th best bar in the world. Licoreria Limantour was phenomenal and the unexpected rains late in the evening added some noir charm to the evening. The server we had, went an extra mile to get us drunk on some complimentary taster shot and some particularly delicious drinks. We ended the night with a sugar rush at El Moro with churros and chocolate sauce. It is one of the must-do things in CDMX, but I can pass on it in the future as churros are not in my top 5.

The second day also arrived bright and late and we were totally in a relaxation mode. We explored the park next to our AirBnB that had a Sunday flea market. A big chunk of it was for dogs! They had a walk-in trailer clinic, some exercise areas, adoption posts and a lot of stalls for dogs and humans. There was a ball pit for dogs where an exuberant huskie was scaring all the terriers away! We bought some fresh fruit, yummy mango-tajin flavored popcorn and fresh coconut water. We visited the museo de anthropologico after a sumptious brunch at Bisquette Obregon with a staff that went out of the way to please us. The museum is quite stunning with a lot of information and this time in English as well. The displays are spectacular and arranged zone and age wise. The museum talks about the history of north-central-south America and the culture since thousands of years ago. The Spanish invasion was a turning point in history and we all are aware of what it did to the indigenous population. It also talks about the origin of man and that was my favorite part indeed. We explored Insurgentes that evening and had dinner at the most outstanding pizza place ever! We had a pizza with huitlacoche which is a sort of corn smut or fungi that infects corn. As disgusting as it sounds, it is delicious and is a delicacy, bringing more revenue to the farmers than healthy corn itself! Go figure! We scootered around a bit more and had some more mezcal at a dive bar, but a splitting headache made us head back home and call it a night.

The final day in CDMX was reserved for Teotihuacan pyramids. I dropped the ball here and did not book a tour on time. We ubered to the pyramids which is an hour or so on the freeway and paid around USD$40 plus some toll. When we got there, the guides seemed rather expensive and I started feeling the pinch of disappointment on my failed planning. But we started to talk to people about their tour and guides and while I was buying a hat to protect myself from the heat, the boy ended up talking to a guide and his group and he asked us to simply join him! He told us not to worry about any payments because what he did was for the love of his city! Oh my heart! We had a great time around the ruins and learning about the history of the pyramids. We learned about the Gods and how nature was such an important part of the culture. We also learnt more about the brutality of European invasion. But nothing was more intriguing than learning about the ‘ballgame’! Seriously, look that up! The winner of the game used to be sacrificed to the Gods! Real motivational! The highlight of the trip was climbing the gazillion steps to the top of the Temple of the Moon and then the Temple of the Sun. That was my workout of the month. After the tour we shopped around at the local tiendas and spent more than we normally would have. But thank you, exchange rate! We didn’t quite bargain a lot because it just felt wrong to us, to see the shacks and the people actually working hard in that heat. Were we gullible? Yes. Were we upset about it? Nope. We found out about buses at the last moment that were insanely cost-effective, and rode back to the city for chump change practically.

The last evening of the trip was spent at an upscale, classy restaurant called Azul Historico and the dinner was divine! We had some of the most creative meals and the boy even tried ant eggs! The service was phenomenal and the place was stunning! I had a soup made out of 18 flowers, and enchilada with hibiscus flowers. Wut?! Mango was the flavor of the month and my Mango Manguita was exceptional! That was pretty much it for us and the only space we had for dessert, barely accommodated the chocolate we got with the check.

Mexico City, you were stunning! We had a fabulous time and we hope in our hearts to see you again. But for now, onto the next trip!

Tips:

  1. We have been learning Spanish, and we had a bunch of trouble with things getting lost in translation, but it was fun! Not everyone can speak in English here. An app called ‘Spanishdict’ is a real life-saver! Some restaurants do have English menus though.
  2. Try all the local foods, but keep common sense in mind by asking for freshly cut fruits and keeping an eye out on hygiene. But don’t be that person who goes ‘ewwww’.
  3. CDMX deserves 3-4 days to soak in all the culture! Stay in the central part of town as per budget since that makes traveling easier. Condesa, Roma, are some of the best spots with a lot of walkable places around. The cafes and restaurants are exceptional here!
  4. Take Ubers and avoid cabs! E-scooters and bikes are in abundance here, but the costs somehow add up more than shared ubers.
  5. Chapultepec Park should be divided in to multiple days because each attraction takes up a few hours atleast.
  6. The city is mostly closed on Mondays, including the attractions, except the Teotihuacan Pyramids.
  7. You can book tours or AirBnB experience to go to the pyramids. There are buses running every 20 minutes to and from the pyramids that take about an hour to complete a one-way journey. The buses are fast and comfortable enough, and insanely cheap. You will find guides at the door, but bargaining is a must. You can even chat up a group or couple and share a guide.
  8. Hats and sunscreen are a MUST at Teotihuacan. There are zero trees and no shade. You will want to climb everything and the sun beats down on you. Stay hydrated!
  9. Tips are not manadatory in restaurants, but they do ask if you would like to tip/propina. I find it awkward to say no, and hence I succumbed each time.
  10. If you are vegan/vegetarian, CDMX is very cosmopolitan, and you will get a lot of good food choices. Go nuts!

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Eye stories: My ICL experience… Part II

I explained a part of the process in Part I and I will explain the rest and my personal experience here. This is a loooong post, so grab a cuppa!

So, I was told that the surgery will have two processes involved. Process one was done on May 10th and is called LPI- Laser Peripheral Iridotomy and my actual ICL surgery was scheduled on 12th June to give me enough time to heal.

Iridotomy: I won’t get into every nitty-gritty detail, as they can be googled. But essentially, they want to create a ‘channel’ in the iris to allow the fluid to flow more freely and circulate around the lens after the surgery. This is to prevent a major side effect of the ICLs, Glaucoma. Apparently, the ICL used in India doesnt need it because it has a tiny hole in the center for fluid circulation. Imagine a contact lens with a teeny hole. Yep. But it has it’s drawback with increased chances of glares and halos. They use laser beams to create the holes at usually 11 or 1 o’ clock position.

10 May 2019: We reported at the clinic unknowingly like two lumberjacks in similar flannel red shirts and got a lot of funny comments about that! We started the process with numbing eye drops, continuing with pupil constricting drops. After some time when my eyes were all wonky looking, I was taken in. Before that, Mr. PB had some questions and the Doc was happy to answer everything! I was taken in and this weird metal lens was stuck to my eyeball with a gel to direct the laser beams. There were many shots of beams and by the end of it, I had tears+gel dripping all over my face! Apparently, asian irises, and brown ones, are thicker and so he needed more shots to create the hole.

After the procedure, I was sent home and was supposed to get started on Prednisolone. I could barely see anything and my eyes were quite light sensitive. I still was feeling quite good and we had lunch outside. Once we got home, I tried to go off to sleep. But within a few minutes, my eyes started to get really heavy and really painful. We thought that was because of the numbing drops wearing off, but the doctor had told us to call if there was any pain. So we did, and he told us to come right back! We rushed to the clinic again, and they measured my eye pressure, the first thing. But it was normal, and he noticed that melanin had spread around causing the light sensitivity and pain. It was a normal effect owing to my thick irises and I was advised to take Prednisolone every 2 hours for the next two days. That was it. everything was easy peasy after that.

I got a followup done after two weeks and my eye channels were looking good and Doc was satisfied. Thus began, my wait for the next surgery.

In the meantime, there was a moment of freakout 4-5 days before the surgery when I started seeing a whitish glare line when I moved my eyelids up and down if looking at a window or a source of light in a dark contrasting room or something. I googled furiously, against my better sense, and got quite scared about the rest of the side effects. We called the Doc on the phone and he asked us to come in the next morning to talk it out. He explained that the line is because of some light escaping into the open channel and eventually my brain will block it out. If it doesnt, there is an option called Corneal Tattooing where they will inject an ink right there, to act as a curtain at a door. That was it! Also, it is interesting to note that the ink is called India Ink, sourced from India, if that was not clear. About the rest of the ICL side effects, he went over each one and was very patient with us, and we really felt good about it. I also confirmed with him about his proposal of leaving a -1 in my right eye to push away the need for reading glasses by a few more years. If I was not happy about that, it would be fixable with a quick lasik within the year. That visit gave us more confidence and we were ready!

12 June 2019: I had to stop eating and drinking water by midnight because I was going to be under sedation. The previous evening was spent getting Tacos and reminiscing about my time in glasses. It was a very weird bittersweet feeling for some reason. We were nervous, but excited!

We got to the Outpatient Surgery Center and my pre-op process began with all the vitals being noted and many, many drops in the eyes. I was sitting in the chair that was going to be wheeled in and on which I was going to have my surgery. I was given Valium, the happy pill too! It kept me quite calm actually even during the IV process. Then came the moment where I was finally wheeled into the surgery room. I dont quite have any memory of what happened after I was wheeled in and remember only the point where Mr. PB kissed me and wished me all the luck in the world. There are hazy memories of people moving about me, and the doctor asking me if I see two lights and I said that I see two lights and it reminded me of the two moons from Murakami’s 1Q84. And then suddenly, I was awake and I had shields on my eyes and I was being wheeled outside. I was waiting for Mr. PB and they let him in after 5-10 minutes. The guy walked in with a beautiful bunch of flowers, impressing all the ladies around. In my doozy state, I felt a super high when I saw him clearly through the holes in the bandaged shields! It was quite unbelievable! I had some headache and I was given Percocet for the same. The doctor and the nurse gave us post-op instructions, and we went on our way for lunch and to head back to the clinic after two hours.

We walked right across the parking lot to go to an Einstien bagel, and I proceeded to throw it up within 5 minutes of having it. I had to rush giddily to the restroom while Mr. PB was inside and made him open the door pretty urgently. We were told about some nausea post surgery, so it was expected.

We got to the clinic after for a post-op followup and the doctor was happy with our progress. My right eye pressure was slightly more so he told us to watch out for any pain and to call him whenever.

We went home, and I was still quite doozy so I lied down to sleep after putting my drops. And throwing up some more. Sometime after half an hour, I woke up with a splitting headache and told the guy. The pain was unbearable and felt even worse than a migraine! My right side from the top to the jawline felt like it was being pounded on. I felt like my teeth are going to pop out and my eyeball is ripping open! I was keen on attributing this to not having eaten anything and dehydration, but a call to the doctor was made, and we were again on the way to the clinic. It was 6 pm at this point and Doc came from his home to open the doors for us. As soon as we reached though, I hurriedly jumped out of the car and threw up massively, again. We were scared shitless at this point!

A quick pressure check and my right eye showed 50, while the max allowable is 22 and 13-15 is normal. He took me in for a quick iridotomy again to widen the channel in my right eye. As soon as he did that, I could feel like my head was deflating. And then drops on drops on drops began in my right eye. the pressure was fluctuating and steadied at about 35 by 9.30 pm and we could go home. Meanwhile, my eye was so saturated with drops that it was refusing to open and was completely dried out! I was again in pain, and the same kind that I had around New Years. It was a necessary side effect though. I took some pills and he gave us some more drops to take home from his sample stash. The doc finished 3-4 whole bottles on me while we were at the clinic. Those few hours were sheer agony and all the options, even replacing or taking the ICL out were discussed and I was just in hell, until the stabilization happened.

My next appointment was the next day at 8 am and he told us it would be okay to be late if we wanted to relax a bit. But we were nervous and go there sharp on time. He kept in touch over text until midnight and even early in the morning. This time, my eye pressure came down to 19 and finally, we were out of the woods. The assistant who took us in had no idea of what had happened and when she opened my file, it took her 10-15 minutes to read everything. But finally, all was well!

What about my vision, though? Oh, it was beautiful! I could see the world and it looked brand new! The first morning after, I woke up and out of habit, I started looking for my glasses, causing peals of laughter! It was so surreal! My vision had already stabilized to around 20/15 which is pretty good. There is a two week adjustment period with some people taking upto a couple of months. But I was good to go! I spent a wonderful Thursday, Friday and the weekend, recovering from the surgery and taking care of my new peepers. Watching TV was hard and I resorted to podcasts to entertain myself.

Our followup on Monday yielded even more good news and I was finally at 13 in my right eye! I could stop the pressure drops and will get checked again soon, hoping for the best.

4 July 2019: All pressure checks are done and I am in the clear for now! In a week, I will be getting my stitches removed and I will be good to go. Honestly, more than anything, even the surgery itself, removal of stitches is freaking me out!

15 July 2019: Stitches have been removed, all’s well! I was appropriately freaked out by the weird forceps and the gentle tugging, but nothing bad. Eyes feel less tired post the removal of stitches and more comfortable. All my eye drops have been tapered out as well.

My experience and takeaway: Nothing is risk-free and guaranteed. I have learned that. The doctors kept talking about side effects, and they are so friggin’ real! What I experienced was the lowest level, and I pray that that’s it for me and I enjoy my new eyes for a loooong time to come. I have been asked to get annual checkups done to monitor glaucoma or cataract for precautions, and that is a standard procedure for ICL. I am seeing some glare in the shape of a white line through both eyes now when I look at some light source, but honestly, it’s not bad. The glares and halos while driving at night are substantially lower than what I used to experience with my contact lens or glasses. My ‘macro’ vision has reduced and I have had to adjust my reading distance, but that was because of my ridiculously high prescription earlier. I have some dry eye because I am prone to those, and because of all the drops that I was on, but it’s getting better by the day. I have slightly swollen eyelids because of the prednisolone and I hope it goes away once the effect subsides.

Would I do this again? YES! My vision is wonderful *knock on wood* and my life has changed! I can wake up any time and simply walk out without looking for my glasses. I can work out without glasses slipping off my nose. I am stress free about contact lens schedules! I can wake up, shower, get ready in 15 minutes and step out. There have been times when I have been out, and have had a couple extra cocktails and I told myself to not to forget removing contacts, and then caught myself! I don’t have to anymore! I can swim, play in the ocean, and probably cliff-jump(wishlist item!) I feel like a new person and I hope that this continues for a long time!

If you have a high prescription, and some savings, I would highly suggest getting a consultation from a good doctor. ICL surgery is a game changer and I would encourage more research to see if this would work out. Of course, nothing is 100% risk-free and due diligence is important. Find out and consult a few doctors, check their history and reviews, and then go ahead. We got a wonderful doctor who replies to our texts even at 10 pm and sends us dancing gifs. He really turned out to be the best option for us. I will be forever grateful.

I wanted to share my experience just to add another voice on the internet regarding this procedure. Like I mentioned, there were not as many personal accounts of this, as Lasik. If I could help anyone out who needs more, then why not. If there are any questions, I would be happy to help! Until then, take care!

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Eye stories: My ICL experience… Part I

After 31 years and a few months of looking at the world with anything but rose-tinted glasses, and feeling almost blind all the time, I am off any vision correction! I had been considering eye surgery for the longest time, but procrastinating over it. But, my eye troubles in the last few months finally pushed me over the edge and I decided that now was the time! I took one last look at my bank accounts, sighed dramatically, and kicked off the endeavor!

My regular ophthalmologist that I was consulting during the inflammation phase, had told me that they charge $400 for consultation and that the fee can be adjusted towards the surgery if I go ahead with it. I did not feel upto it to put in any money until I was sure that I was a candidate. So I called up an eye surgery center near my home, that was suggested by, ahem, one of the boys that I dated. I set up my free consultation, and off I went! (Thank you, you password-protected boy!)

Unfortunately, that appointment turned out to be a damp squib, except for the part where they gave me another referral for my high prescription case. They basically told me that I would not qualify for the lasik that they did, since my prescription was way higher. The doctor sounded so upset that I ended up consoling her that I was very well aware and I also had researched enough on what my options were. So, that led me to my next appointment at the referred clinic.

I looked at the background of the clinic and the doctor that I was going to for my next consultation and they sounded really, really good! That gave me some confidence and I booked another complimentary consultation. I was told to stay off my contacts for 4 days before that Friday appointment and I obliged. The boy ended up proposing on that Thursday and hence, all my pictures are in glasses! I used that as my strong reasoning at the clinic to make my case for ‘I dont want glasses anymore!’

The visit went really well, actually, even though they re-iterated the fact that I would not qualify for lasik. But they suggested another treatment plan, the one that I already knew was going to be my only option. IOL! Intraocular Contact Lens! Also called ICL, and a plethora of names. Basically they are a combination of collagen and polymer and they go right over the natural eye lens. I was going to be a bionic wonder woman! Well, almost. The doctors did every possible test on my eyes with a gazillion different drops and instruments and did a thorough exam of my corneas. I was quite happy with the way they conducted the examination and in no way, they sounded like they were out to make a quick buck! They left the decision to me completely! Well, I also got the taste of what it’s like to be newly engaged when they suggested to also consult my ‘fiance’. Eesh!

My procedure was to be done in two steps. Phase 1 involved making tiny piercings in my irises for glaucoma prevention, and after a gap of a month, phase 2 involved the actual implants. Eye implants, you dirty minded but normal fellow! Without wasting much time, but after asking enough relevant questions, I went ahead and booked my appointments!

There is not enough chatter about this otherwise very well-documented, researched procedure on the internet. I found a few blogs listing their personal experiences, and so I decided that I wanted to log my experience as well. This is not an easy procedure like Lasik, and I am hopeful that my experience can help someone make some decisions. These couple of months of preparations, precautions and care may totally be worth it for years of freedom!

In the next part, I will cover what went on with my Phase 1 and Phase 2 and what my experience has been overall. I also will want to document my future eye exams, just so that I know where I stood, and what changes have taken place.

This has been a life-altering decision for me, and I am really hoping that everything sails smoothly! I hope the same for you! If you are in San Diego, and would like to talk about it, send me an email. I will give you my honest opinion about the doctors that I have seen. If you decide to go ahead with it, I wish the absolute best for you!

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The finale: When this Coffee met her Bagel.

This has been in-the-works for a while now(close to a year), but I took my own sweet time to put it down in words and this has been an exceptionally hard post to write. Meeting this boy was surreal and serendipitous and would not have happened without some strong intervention from fate, or intuition, if you will. Maybe the universe really does work in mysterious ways, and you catch feelings when you least expect it. Like stomach flu, but in a good way. No?

So, ladies and gentlemen, here’s Mr. PB!

It started from a state of being absolutely and totally over any kind of dating, including online matrimonial portals. I had met another boy(#7) that I haven’t written about who was eerily similar to Boy 6 and deserves minimal mentions. Yet, I gave him a few chances and the last dinner date at his place and a walk on the beach confirmed that I never wanted to see him again. Well, the cringe that I felt inside when he touched me, should have sealed the deal, but I was still giving him a chance of redemption. Anyways, I was done and I let him know that.

But me being me, I opened the Coffee Meets Bagel app for ‘one final time’ and came across this one profile. I cant say much about his pictures because to be honest, I wasn’t sure for a few dates which one was I dating! The dude had most of his pictures in sunglasses, OR with his similar looking brother! Sheesh. But something about his profile caught my eye and I decided to try and connect with him. Alas, that lasted for a day because once we exchanged hey’s, he asked me about my non-profit work, and I was blown off with a ‘That’s a nice story but I worked way too hard and I gotta crash’ text after my reply which was more or less like a 250 words essay. I was convinced that it was a lie, because, err, I may or may not have used that in the past. A few days later, after no communication between the two of us, CMB reminded him that it was the last day before the line was closed off. I had assumed this interaction to be the end of it, just like many other missed chances. But the notification seemed to have prompted him to leave his number to get in touch later. I saved his number, with no intention of texting back. Because, hey! Ego! Y’all know me well enough already.

A week or two later, my grad school buddies were in SD for the weekend, and I had S+A’s wedding to attend that Sunday in OC. Hilarious drinking ensued on all 3 nights with some heart to heart talks with my favorite girlfriends(and the boys too) across the table as well as continents, who somehow convinced me to give dating another shot. Some incidents on Saturday night, and the wedding itself, pushed me further towards his profile’s direction. The boy’s profile was looked at and judged by the girls ‘during’ tequila shots and I was hit in the head for not texting back. So I did. 🙂

As soon as we started texting, he asked me out for a drink and I suggested one of my favorite places for a Brewery event that I already had planned on attending that Saturday. Because God forbid, I have to change my plans for anything or anyone. Now that I think of it, I set the date up to be a failure, unknowingly. There was all that beer(he is a whiskey kind of a guy), the brewery is stuffed at that time(he prefers places we can talk in peace, or dance at!), my friends could have been there(dumbest idea ever, duh) and the event had only vegan food(only PB was a happy bunny here). I had already reached and was waiting for him to show up, and then he did…

I don’t really know how to express it all in words, but the fact that we spent almost 6 hours together, should tell you enough how the date really went. We left the brewery within the hour and walked over to a cocktail bar next door, and that place stands as witness to the most beautiful turn our lives were taking together. We spent the next many hours sitting on barstools there, where we had assumed we would be spending just the next hour perhaps. We drank cool charcoal cocktails, ate some yummy food, talked about all things sundry, while my heart did backflips everytime he laughed and clapped his hands together! His eyes caught his smile and it was making me flutter. He drove me back home and dropped me just outside my apartment. We said bye, I went in and I panicked. I had caught feelings…

We met, and we couldn’t stop meeting. I missed him when I couldn’t see him, and when I saw him, I couldn’t have enough of him. And, he really was busy at work and not bluffing, as I initially thought. Dude’s a workaholic! I haven’t told him this yet, but I was falling so hard for him, that I was losing sleep! We attributed it to stress at that time, but I knew what was up with me. I was losing my appetite(that’s the most obnoxious sign), I was failing to understand jokes and I could not stop thinking about him. I really hoped that he was feeling the same way about me, like my soul depended on it. Post some amazing cocktails, an adoption event by my dog rescue, a movie where I tried hard not to cry, a beautiful evening at Mt. Soledad, a Cinco de Mayo with homemade tacos, some Ramen and Pho, a dash of dancing, some weekend trips to snow clad mountains, a first international trip together, here we are.

We have had an amazing year together, and I still have the giddy school girl feeling inside me when I think about him, see him and snuggle into him. He loves reading, traveling and sports, and plays cricket for the local league. He has a curious and intelligent mind, with a will to leave more positive impacts on the world. He has never lived with dogs before, but his compassion towards them, and towards people, makes me happy. One of the best things about him is his emotional availability that makes him very expressive with words and they have so much sincerity in them. He is an absolutely wonderful friend and family boy. He loves to laugh freely, sing loudly and is not afraid of showing emotions. He is very expressive about showering me with love, irrespective of us being alone, or with another hundred people. When he squeezes my hand, or me, I feel that all is right in the world. And, oh so handsome! This gorgeous and wonderful boy is mine, and I am his.

I feel like he gets me. He gets my silences, and my laughter. I have opened up like never before, and although this vulnerability freaks the bejesus out of me, I don’t mind it. I do have my moments though, of course. My famously thin skin, the ability to take each and every word to heart and then stewing over it and my bucket loads of insecurities are making this all pretty fun too. Ask him! He calls himself an overcommunicator, and I tend to shut down, so he is making me come out of my shell. I am learning to express myself in ways that I never have. The calm that he brings over me, remains unmatched. He is the stillness to my turbulence, the words to my silences, and a perfectly suitable ear to my rants. We couldn’t be more opposite to each other, yet we somehow ‘meet in the middle’, and will hopefully continue to. So, this was what the heavens had planned for me, and I truly am grateful for this wait. We are in love with each other, completely and hopelessly.

Finishing up this story that I have held to my heart for almost a year now, I feel a beautiful energy surrounding me. Being newly engaged, and so deeply in love, I somehow cannot think of having it any other way. He is the most spectacularly amazing thing that is happening to me, and I cannot wait to see how we shape up together. Our story has just begun and hopefully we live a beautiful life together. Me and mi amor…

13

If I could be…

I am having an extremely productive day at work. I am running a simulation and have so much on my plate that I cant think straight. So I have let my mind wander. My brain is capable of shutting off when there is a huge list to be tackled and I cannot do anything about it. Either I need to take a restroom break or actually catch a few zzz’s if I need to get back in order. Anyways, I digress.

I went down a beautiful whirlpool of what other living creature could I be if not a human. Dog is an obvious option, but I must be a dog of Moony’s stature or better or I am screwed. I thought of a number of options. I have actually been told that I remind someone of ferrets. Wiggly-woogly, mischievous ferrets but not like the one Draco Malfoy turned into.

And then I started thinking about seagulls. Yep, the rodents of the ocean. Imagine an unlimited capacity to swoop and steal a kid’s icecream and no one can really do anything about it, unless they have a gun! The way seagulls just stand by the beach looking around with suspicion for an unsuspecting fool with food, reminds me of myself in the break room looking for free snacks. Also, the ability to just scream randomly, is awe-inspiring! I would love to run around and just go Keeeekkkkk at anyone while staring in a different direction altogether. They just chill in the sand, till they have to fly a bit and swoop and catch a fish. Or they could just poke into the sand to catch bugs and crabs. But with all the french fries littered around, I think a seagull’s life is quite set. I could be wrong, but they don’t even really have a definite predator. All they have to do is fly to a pole or something high. The eggs and chicks get eaten up, but nothing out of the ordinary.

Being a seagull, would be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? I am hopeless.

4

Of “Not being enough”

 
This boulder of insecurities,
Questions and doubts,
The load of unwanted answers,
And sullen silent bouts.

Rearing up an ugly head,
Feeding with a passion,
Like parasitic vines,  
And turning into obsession.

"Not being enough",
This unnecessary belief,
Pushing down the path,
To inexplicable grief.

Turmoil and darkness,
When we wanted light,
There is a monster within,
Ready to incite a fight.

What really is the cause,
And what is the cure?
Focusing on the present,
And relishing moments so pure.

A reminder to overcome
The insecurities galore,
"I may be not enough,
Yet I am some more."

Just some more darkness spewing from me, no big deal. Inspired by words that I tell myself pretty often and that unfortunately seem to have tattooed themselves on my psyche. “Not being enough”.

I have been trying to fight this triple headed monster inside me since a long, long time. Some days it is me who wins the fight, and some days, the monster flexes harder. But I have been working out, and lifting weights and I am all but ready to knock this POS dead.

8

Never too old to miss mummy…

When I am bored at work, I start looking at recipe videos to take a break from my mundane simulations. There is something about watching cooking videos that gives me a lot of comfort. I feel like I am almost eating that and it also inspires me to cook up a meal as and when time permits. I really enjoy planning on what to cook that evening and the weekends and that is why pre-prepping for meals does not work for me.

When we were 20-21 year old, fresh of the boat, grad students, most of us had never stepped into the kitchen before. I had a couple of roommates who were already adept at cooking, but for some of us, it was an absolutely new ball game. The only things that I knew how to make were some fancy things that I would look up and make at home. I had zero idea about the basic curries and rotis. In the couple of months that I had between my final exams and leaving home for good(cue: fresh set of tears), my mum tried to teach me some recipes. I picked up the basic steps then, but even then, cooking largely remained a challenge for me. She tried hard, hiding her own emotional state about my imminent departure, and put her soul into prepping me for my journey ahead. She even made a little diary with recipe notes for me.

One of my biggest support during my endeavor to overcome that challenge was and is, a Marathi(my mother tongue) cookbook gifted by my mum’s best friend. ‘Ruchira’ remains a cult favorite and every so often, I bring it down from the shelf, specially during Diwali and other festivals. The other big supporter was obviously, Youtube. I can’t describe my obsession to look up all the recipes and jump from channel to channel, taking mental notes. Some of the channels that were my favorite were Veg Recipes of India, Madhura’s recipes for Mahrashtrian food, Sanjeev Kapoor for popular recipes, and one quaint channel called Nisha Madhulika. I used to follow her videos for traditional recipes because she actually used very classic, typical cooking methods and they worked for me. These channels took me over the mountain, and slowly, I really started enjoying cooking. I am not a Master Chef, but people appreciate what I make. I have also started enjoying potlucks and spending time thinking, prepping, and cooking for 10-12 people. I have hosted dinners for my non-Indian friends and cooked fun things for my Indian friend’ parties. Turns out, that my mom has also discovered youtube now and follows Nisha Madhulika and Madhura’s channels.

On a whim today, I looked up a video to make something that mum makes. The first video that I saw was Nisha Madhulika’s. Nisha auntie, I feel like fondly calling her now, went over the recipe step by step. If anyone has seen her videos, she has a peculiar, slow mannerism where she explains each step and teaches with a certain softness in her. By the time that video was done, I was a ball of tears and snot. I am not totally sure why, but I felt this gush of emotions towards her. And my mummy.

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The way Nisha auntie was explaining the recipe, was like a mother taking pains to teach her child how to cook. She explained what ingredients to use, any substitutions, the right way of adding them, and so on. I have seen countless videos by now, and no one has the mannerisms of this lady. It feels like she has put her emotions and passion into it. I started thinking of my mum, who taught me in the same way, and even now will answer my doubts when I FaceTime her while cooking. My mom isn’t actually that detail oriented so she will forget about some or the other thing and then I have to question her again! But nevertheless, I can tell that my mum loves the fact that I take pleasure in cooking now. In her new videos, I felt this jolt of realization that she even looks like my mummy! Her hair pulled back into a ponytail, her kurtas with long sleeves, and the way her face lights up when a recipe is done, is so much like my mama! Obviously this did not help my emotional state. My mum taught me a lot, and is still teaching me. But most importantly, she is teaching me to enjoy the process, and put love and care into it. I know she wants me to do more and so do I. I feel there should be someone to keep taking the small traditions ahead. The small rituals that make up Diwali, Holi, etc, also make our lives sweeter.

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It’s surreal how memories of home can rush back all at once, when you are least expecting it. I never thought that watching a cooking video will take me back into my home kitchen and refresh my senses with all the wondrous aromas. I was not prepared to have goosebumps watching someone like my mom talk, and then remembering my mom standing in her petite self, by the kitchen counter. The images of her making fresh rotis, stirring the curry, insisting on all of us sitting down and serving piping hot food, are all dancing in front of my eyes now. The lady takes immense pride in whipping up delicacies for people she cares about and making sure that no one leaves with a dot of space in their tummies. She thinks her job isn’t well done, until you lick your fingers and are deep into food coma. Oh, how I miss her!

This is my unintended mommy appreciation post. Here’s to my mom, and all of ours, who moved mountains to turn us little monsters into what we are today. They taught us with love, patience, and a little whack here and there, to give us this life. These are important life skills, and they taught us to mix them up with TLC and pass it on. Mamas are really the best! Give them a squeezy hug today when you see them, even if virtually! ❤

My sweet mummy, even if I achieve a 10% of what you are capable of putting on our plate, and in our lives, I will consider it my biggest achievement.

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N-N-1 February 2019

(Hosted by Norm)

This picture speaks of missed plans, but with no regrets at all! Snow didnt happen, but dumplings and punchbowls did!

Classical Gasbag

It’s time for you to enjoy another N-N-1. Once again we have people in different locales sharing their different contemporary lives with a picture and words. One thing they have in common is an interest in sharing (giving and receiving) with others. 

Natalie Garvois sent this picture and description (surprisingly not in verse). You can find her blog at Wild Rivers Run South.

A Day for Poetry

I visited Nana Julia this afternoon. She invited me to look through her treasure trove of books and pick out a few for myself. I found this textbook of poetry she had saved from college. I shall never be a Whitman; but I can read and appreciate the greatness of others. My Nana never wrote in her books. She didn’t want to ruin their pristine condition. I only wish that she had saved her notes, so that I could also have those…

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