6

When the confetti settles…

We are stuck at home, and there is no denying that. A bit of grocery and ramen here and there, helps us cut through the monotony and the constant supply of banana bread is doing more than it’s fair share of placation. In the hustle-bustle of our daily routine, all in PJs, all day and everyday, we have been married for almost 5 months.

There is a whole lot of love in the air, with a generous sprinkling of hugs and kisses. We laugh a lot, lounge about with intertwined fingers and just enjoy the bliss of warm hugs. The world is still rosy and we don’t want to kill each other yet.

Its not all pretty though, everyone knows that. We are seeing issues that are not even directly related to us, and that is quite unfortunate. People are sweet, they are nice, but not everyone necessarily induces the feeling of ‘family’, right? There are expectations that look like normal in a certain cultural setting, but feel like burden to me. These expectation have somehow turned into a ‘need’ that I am unable to wrap my head around. I end up feeling quite overwhelmed. Perhaps, because I am a single child, or perhaps because of certain incidents in the past, or more because I am quite strongly and selfishly individualistic.

I have been wondering how are people suddenly supposed to develop love and affection for another family and feel like they have belonged together for decades? How can you just start thinking of another set of parents, like your own? Why is it such a huge deal to call in-laws like your own parents, even if you feel nothing of that sort? Most of all, there is a need to actually show that the love does exist, by calling or texting with the right frequency and the correct gestures, and what is that right frequency? Why is there even a comparison between how you treat your parents and your partner’s parents? Why can’t you just be friendly and carry on with it?

Expectations breed problems. Would you rather have genuine emotions and friendliness that gets built up over years or the fake show of affection?

To all the married women here, and specially who have married into a different culture, how have you dealt with this? If you have had issues in the past, how have you moved on? What do you call them? Do you ever feel overwhelmed and burdened by the expectations? I would appreciate any insight and advice on this.

This is a whole new ball game for me, and hopefully I don’t end up retired hurt.

6

Through his eyes…

Tonight, two years ago, we met on our first date. Many words, and a lot of laughter later, we fell in love. In December 2019, Miss PB turned into a Mrs. Mr. PB wanted to mark his debut in this space, and we thought, why not today. I have spoken about how we met, and he wanted to tell you all about how he asked me to marry him. So, without further ado, raise your glasses to the man of my dreams, and the best company during this weird quarantine time...

It was probably early in the winter of 2018, just before my trip to India and about eight months since our first date, that I’d made up my mind – I was going to propose to Princess Butter, the cutest, quirkiest, most knowledgeable girl I’d ever met. In my quasi-planned ways, I came up with a three-step procedure. 

Step 1 was to get the daddy’s permission, as is fairly common on our side of the world. Supported by the best brother one could have ever asked for, SB, I decided to spend a day in Pune during my 2018 India trip and take the challenge head-on. “The” conversation went quite well, I thought, and it was definitely eased by the fact that her dad and I shared several interests, most notably watching cricket. After several hours (and countless cups of tea!) of discussing how Virat Kohli had changed the face of Indian cricket, I declared to him that PB and I were very serious about our relationship, and wanted to go all the way to marriage, but that we would do so at our pace. I explained to him that both of us had lived in the States for over a decade, and the idea of a surprise proposal was really attractive to me. He graciously agreed, and at the same time, breathed a sigh of relief that her daughter had finally found someone to spend the rest of her life with ☺ 

Step 2 was deciding when, how and where to do the deed. I took suggestions from several friends, both mine and hers, and woke up one morning with a clear thought that the proposal venue had to be where it all started – Kindred, San Diego. Both of us had had a great time (and one drink too many ☺) at that bar on our (extended) first date, and every time we’d been back there since, it was memorable. March 21th ended up being the date as soon as my brother finalized his travel dates (I wanted him and a good photographer around ☺), and all our friends confirmed their availability for the after-party. The ‘how’ was done based on a suggestion by two of her close friends, K5 and AG. I’d “trick” PB into date-night at Kindred to check out the release of their special Spring menu. 

Step 3 was easily the hardest and the most fun – buying the ring! Thanks again to the girls, who guided me throughout the process, I spent late nights at work for a couple of weeks and researched the hell out of the subject. Every time I’d learn something new, I’d try and test my learning at a jewelry store. I was cutting my research really close to D-Day, but with the backing of several friends and family members (thank you SB, RB and AB!), I had a very clear idea of what I wanted (and what I hoped PB would like) – a solitaire with a specific ‘rope’ design to depict how our lives would be intertwined going forward. I found the perfect team and the perfect store in David & Sons, ended up spending slightly more than I’d budgeted for (isn’t that every guy ;)), but was very happy with the final product. 

D-Day arrived before I knew, and I had little-to-no anxiety, to be honest. We’d allowed our relationship to grow slowly and organically to get to this point, and this felt like the obvious next step. SB and I had met with the staff at Kindred the week before, and the day before, and they were totally on board for the occasion. As the weather gods would have it, though, it started to rain that morning, and the forecast had rain until the late evening. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was told to “wrap things up” by 6 to avoid being crushed by the crowd who’d come to check out the new Spring menu. SB and I got to the venue around 4pm and requested PB to be there around 5. An hour of eating and drinking before I “pop the question”. Sounded like a good plan…

As it got closer to 5pm, the rain Gods showed no signs of relenting, so the patio was closed and the area inside was already close to capacity. I kept looking for corner spots inside where we’d find some privacy but didn’t find any good ones. I considered moving the proposal to another date, but it’d taken me a while to find an evening that worked for everyone, and SB was flying back the following Sunday. PB decided to stop by the house and was running late by 45 minutes, so we decided to stick around a little bit longer. Around 5.20pm, as if to bless the occasion, the rain suddenly stopped, the clouds cleared, and weather.com showed 10% chance of rain in the subsequent hours. I asked our server to help clean the picnic table outside for the two of us, and she gladly agreed. 

PB arrived just before 6pm, and I had been given until around sunset at 6.45pm to pop the Q. We ordered drinks and food as we normally did at Kindred, but since the place was packed that day, it took the server 20 minutes for the server to bring the food to us. Around 6.30pm then, we were eating, drinking and chatting our evening away, when SB texted to remind me that we had only 15ish minutes left. I texted him back – “I got this!” Except PB couldn’t stop eating…and she ate slower than usual that evening, or so it felt! Around 6.40pm, SB texted me again, “Light’s fading…You have to do it NOW”! PB was still going hard at the tofu skewers, and SB kept popping up from behind different cars to capture the moment! I couldn’t stop bursting into laughter, so I had to take matters (literally!) into my own hands. I grabbed the food away from her saying that I also wanted to eat some of it, later. She looked at me curiously, wondering why we couldn’t order more later. Within a five-minute window, I started to remind her of all the good times we had had that led us there, and then around 6.45pm, went in for the kill with my prepared speech of sorts. I remember little of the speech (check out my Facebook post for deets), but I ended up on my knees with…”this may come as a shock, Princess Butter…will you marry me?!” 

She rose, turned sideways to shed a tear, and then said yes, and picked me up. We kissed and hugged for what seemed like eternity, until I realized that I had to slide the ring through her little fingers. AG and I had guessed her finger size perfectly, and she could not stop saying “I love it” while looking at the ring. Our wonderful server got us a fine champagne to celebrate the moment, and we had a few minutes with each other before SB popped up to congratulate us followed by Kittu, who’d done a great job of capturing the final moments on video. More friends and family members followed, we cut a delicious tres-leches cake and we drank the night away. 

As I relive these moments by writing them down, I cannot believe that it’s been four months since I called Princess Butter my wife! We’ve had our ups and downs, as most relationships do, but we’ve taken a pledge to celebrate the future ups and learn from the downs. 

2

While I am at home…

….the world is imploding, Hollywood-style!

Whoa! I did not post anything in the month of March? Goddamn! Also, another confession, I barely even checked WordPress in the month of March. I was busy day dreaming, eating M&Ms, a bit of simulations at work, and just more random things. I had to offload the WordPress app from my phone because I still own and use an iPhone 6 that has only 16 gigs and my phone keeps begging me to free up storage. I finally reached a point where I had to offload almost everything. Anyways, such is life and phones are expensive.

So, what have I been upto? I am very busy changing out from night PJs into workout clothes and back into new PJs, day after day. I throw in a bit of work, cooking, baking, plant YouTube videos and then lying down on the couch contemplating about life. Mr. PB is working hard per usual, in another room, on a legit desk. He has meetings all day, errrryyyday. I cannot comprehend how can one have meetings all day?! I mean, he is a director in his company, but one needs some time to do actual work! No? Initially, I had nodded along when people were getting worried about working from home and staying in isolation, but secretly, I am quite liking it. I don’t have to dress up or brush my hair, and I dont have to worry about making excuses for not showing up to social events. I can skim through Netflix for hours without feeling guilty. But I have to admit, whiling away time and watching random YouTube is way more fun at work.

I understand that things have been hard for the community, and I see it everyday when we take a walk around the once-vibrant neighborhood that was the heart of the city. We see stressed out faces, tired eyes, homelessness, struggles to stay afloat and it really hits us. We have a cushy home and jobs that hopefully stick by as we tide through the coronavirus outbreak and many months beyond. We hope, and pray, and just try to help out the local businesses in any way possible for us. We never fathomed that a coffee to-go from a local cafe could be this important to the young girl taking the order. What else can we really do?

We hope that everyone is staying in and staying safe and will be able to survive the crazy months ahead with a smile on their faces. But please, dont smile the entire time, that’s a hint creepy. We are humans, and we can smile, laugh, frown and get mad at the situation. Trust me, I am quite pissed about my travel plans going into the trash.

Hope to see you all soon in this space! Stay safe!!

4

A Valentine crush

Things have changed. In fact, they changed last year, where I had to give up on my SAD – Single Awareness Day – celebrations and sink reluctantly into full V-Day shenanigans. By reluctant, I mean smiling like a Cheshire cat from inside-out, where Mr. PB did all cute things for me and I did all PB-ish things for him. My ‘V Day is such a commercial propaganda’ dissolved into nothingness when I came home to a decorated home and a Taylor Swift 1989 record. I am a sell out and I know it.

But there is a rather interesting story about last year’s Valentine’s evening. Through the years I have assumed that boys are useless creatures and girls have to take up most responsibilities when it comes to thoughtfulness. So, completely expecting him to forget about it, I made 3 reservations. One at Blanca, One at Alexander’s and one at Muzita. On the morning of the 14th, I handed Mr. PB the lil gift that was hidden by my pillow, and I told him that I have made 3 reservations and he can pick one. Turned out, I forgot how he truly is way more thoughtful, and he had made one as well. It actually turned out to be Muzita! He had remembered that I had wanted to try this Ethiopian place since quite some time. So, it was our obvious choice after that!

Evening dawned, or twilight-ed? We got back from work and got all dressed up for our dinner date. Not to humble brag, but my red skirt and thigh high boots were quite something! We reached the restaurant, and were waiting for our server to usher us in. She came by and I caught my breath! I kid you not, she looked like Ruby Rose with her stunning half-shaved and half-bob hair. She was tall, and lithe and walked like a gazelle. She came straight to me, checked me out and exclaimed that I was rocking my boots! I mumbled a thank you while staring at her wide-eyed, like a kid wandering in a bar.

I don’t know what conversations Mr. PB and I had, but I do remember how she gushed at my choices, kept touching my shoulder while talking to me(lovingly, I hope) and kept filling up my glass with honey wine. The V-Day cupid had waved his magic crush wand. I was in love with Mr. PB already, but here was this stunning woman, making me blush more crimson than my skirt. As for Mr. PB, he was more amused at my behavior and was half-delighted about some fantasies that only guys know about.

Her name was Begum and each time we go to Muzita, my eyes search for her. Valentine’s is a huge sham, but what’s stopping us from going all out?! Live and let love (or crush)…

#womancrushwednesday

Where do great stories come from?

Where do great stories come from?

They come from a Death Valley tent in freezing November.
They come from smeared Haldi and torn kurtas.
They come from families who know how to laugh freely.
They come from a naive auntie who loves you like one of her own.

Great stories are born, not created.

They creep down like a ray of sunshine, behind a cloud.
They announce themselves like a bolt of lightening.
Bringing a sudden shower of laughter,
They end with a fog of nostalgia.

Great stories are a happy coincidence, sublime accidents.

They are born from past hippie lives and current hipster-dom.
They are born from teenage escapades with a cricket bat.
They are born from sweet doggies and a mewing cat
They are born from high school math classes and sleepless nights.

Great stories spring about, when you don’t expect them to.

They start when two giggling girls are escorted out of children’s park.
They start when your best friends come together to set the dance floor on fire.
They start when you are getting soup in a Turkish small town.
They start when you introduce Holi and Bhang to a crazy bunch.

They deserve to be shared and not held back,

The release of emotions is what they desire,
The memories, the feelings, the rawness.
Share them, spread them, include them.

You never know who needs these great stories to ignite one of their own great ones.

18

Wedding Tales: A few words…

Hello from a very married Princess Butter! December 2019 was a blast with us getting married in India with our friends and family and then honeymooning. I will post snippets about it and our life here and there. As you all know, we were already engaged, but to keep up with Mr. PB’s parents’ wishes for a customary ring exchange, we had a faux engagement with wedding bands. I wrote a lil toast/speech that I surprised my parents and Mr. PB with. To preserve that memory, here it goes:

They say that special memories are etched deep in our minds. Some can explore them, and some remain untouched till something triggers them out. I have been blessed with a brain that has a good holding capacity for relatively pointless things. But that storage has many small things tucked away in safe corners. Those small things, peek out every once in a while when I am in a reminiscent mood and make me giggle. Some rushes of those memories involve pretty yellow frocks bought on mummy’s paydays. Some have papa cooking up a storm in the kitchen, specifically toop-mith-bhaat, which is plain but hearty rice with salt and ghee. Some involve both of them pretending to be Santa putting cash in my stocking, because I asked for something at the last moment. Some are memories with more embarrassing results, like the one where they searched for a ‘golden’ sword all over the city, for my Rani Lakshmibai fancy dress outfit, only to have me tell them the wrong date, and subsequently make a fool out of myself.
My childhood has been lush, happy and full of mischief. There were books everywhere because my parents inculcated the love of written words into me.

How can I forget the day, when our favorite member entered our lives! Right away, we turned into the sort of people who go “don’t call him a dog! His name is Moony!” He stole our bread toast, my baby blanket, papa’s socks, our bed pillows, and our hearts. His love and his happy vibe got us through the gloomiest of times. His big blueberry eyes gave us hope to be the people who he thought we were. He gave a life long lesson to us about compassion. Mummy and Papa have been and became semi-parents to many roadies around, case in point, Bhoobhdi, Chintu, Kaalu, Champi and I am a volunteer with a rescue foundation and hope to open our hearts and homes in the future to more furry paws. But, Moony is around us, and will live forever, hopping around happily by the rainbow bridge. Until we see him again….

There were bouts of loneliness, which didn’t matter because our tiny family unit remained strong. There was bad kind of mischief, a little travelling down the strayed paths, and some incidents that I am not proud of. Some were dealt with strictness as they deserved, but most were dealt with a caring ear and emotions that mattered, and that made me feel understood.

My parents grew up as parents with me, while I grew up into a moody teenager, and a stubborn woman. I stretched my wings, took off from the nest, and they let me be. We had our ups and downs as every parent and child does, but not once, they made me feel that I was alone. We were upset together, we were patient together, we were hopeful together, and we rejoiced together.

And then came that age, where they thought I should have a life partner. After a few hits and misses, Mr. PB came into my life. Like the ray of sunshine, that he is, he lit up my world. The most beautiful part was, that my parents could tell that something was up. When I finally broke the news to them, I still get the giggles when I remember how my dad went from room to room clapping his hands and screaming “I knew it!” They were elated, and pretty much fell in love with him, right, when I showed them his picture. I mean, have you seen this guy?! He met my folks, took their permission and decided that this crazy girl needed a ring on her finger. I got my fairy tale moment, with my prince charming.

I want to take this moment, to hopefully, give him his… I want to create an incredible memory for you, with this little poem, Goob.

That first date
When you dropped me home,
I somehow had a feeling,
I was done being alone.

Those many cocktails,
Spread out over time,
Didn’t hold a candle to your charm,
And you looking so fine.

Words spoken and touched,
Your eloquent feelings for me,
Opened up my soul,
To just feeling so free.

When the moods came over,
And I got the glooms,
Your rushing over to care,
Made my heart just bloom.

The deal was sealed,
The long wait bore it’s fruit,
We fell deep in love,
As our raw emotions took root.

Our love takes us back,
To the warm-fuzzy teenage days,
Yet there is a sense of forever,
Deep in it’s crazy ways.

The many happy surprises,
that you sprinkle about,
Your love warms my heart,
Without a single doubt.

I may frown,
I may cry,
Yet you bring that smile out,
You never cease to try.

As we look forward with hope,
Into our future so vast,
Let passion and friendship rule,
With all the love in our hearts.

I promise to love you,
Beyond our twilight years,
To cherish your support
Through insecurities and fears.

As I call you my husband,
And I’ll be your wife,
But best friends we hope to be,
For the entirety of our lives.

I love you, and I cant wait to put a ring on it!

15

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!

0

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!