31

29 it is!

Another year older, another year gone by so quickly!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6

Travelogue : Death Valley

Thanksgiving. Long weekend. Get out of town. That’s the mantra we seem to be following these days. Any long weekend or vacation spent at home is akin to a crime.

My holidays started pretty much when a very old friend from college Sayali came over to my part of the country to catch up on our friendship and enjoy her vacation. We had a blast, went to Las Vegas, clubbed, gambled, boozed and did the usual Vegassy stuff. After coming back to Orange County, we visited the local beaches which were too cold to be enjoyed thoroughly. Yet we had a great time sitting on top of the lifeguard’s post and talking.

Thanksgiving dinner was had at my buddy Shawn and Alicia’s where food was served to us in quantities that will put an elephant’s diet to shame. I am still eating leftovers and I am still set for two more meals.

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One of the very exciting things that I did was to go to the Death Valley National Park with Abhi and Nisha. It is one of the largest national parks in the country and is a huge expanse of flat lands and mountains, a lot of it actually below the sea level. The say that Death Valley is the land of extremes. The temperatures range from 120 F in summers to 20 F in winters, which is around 48 C and sub-zero. Also, you get to see extremely beautiful night skies with the milky band. It was a few nights after full moon, yet we could see a gazillion stars just at 7 pm. My skin tingles at the thought of a moonless night over there. And a date. Meh.

We stayed at the Panamint Springs Resort which is a family owned resort with a few rooms, pre-built tents, RV hookup sites and campgrounds. It is an old and basic arrangement but worked very well for us. The restaurant had vegetarian options in pizzas and burgers and a couple of appetizers. Nothing fancy considering that it was a friggin’ remote location with ZERO cell service. Yep. No internet. No phone. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

We stayed in the lodge on Friday night after a 4 hour drive from OC to Panamints springs area. The drive was rough with a lot of unpaved roads as would be commonplace in such an area. In the next couple of days, we enjoyed quite a few Death Valley massages as Abhi called ‘em gravel-ey roads. We ate and slept, prepared for a an early day. We had some sumptuous buffet breakfast on both the days with pancakes, scrambled eggs, cereal, croissants and such. On Saturday, we set out to cover most of the sightseeing in the area.

There are two things worth mentioning. First, I was awed by the sand dunes. They were so beautiful! Now, I have an itch to go back to Rajasthan in India to see the desertlands. For the nerds interested, scenes from Star Wars have been shot at those Sand Dunes in the Death Valley. We walked quite a bit in those dunes to get to a nice high point and then returned with scoops of sand in our shoes, socks, jeans, yep.

The second point of interest that I loved was Badwater. It is a highly salty marshy area with encrusted soil on top as of now because of the heat and is about 300 ft below sea level. The history says that a traveler thought it was a good spot for his mule to have a sip of water but the mule refused to drink it. So, he named it Badwater. The water is so saline that only a few special aquatic creatures like this bunch of weird snails can survive there. To maintain ecological balance, straying off the boardwalk is not permitted. By the way, there is also a Badwater marathon for idiots who like to run in extreme weather conditions and die. Count me out.

Leaving you guys with some pictures I took during the trip.

Pointers:

  1. September-November seems to be a great time and so is spring. Any other time will ensure that you will either boil or freeze to death.
  2. Come prepared for some walking and bring your hiking shoes. Each point is atleast half a mile away from the parking lot with some good hiking loops around.
  3. Bring plenty of water. Don’t be too fussy about food if you are a vegetarian and be prepared to eat same meals. It is not a place to expect buffets.
  4. If you are a social media or smartphone addict, you are screwed.
  5. Bring all your camera equipment. The place is indeed beautiful for photography and astronomy enthusiasts.
  6. Book lodging or camping grounds well in advance. It seems to get full real fast, especially for long weekends.
  7. Do an estimate of the amount of daylight you will have and the places you want to see. Pace yourself accordingly.
  8. Forget everything above and let Abhi and Nisha plan, so that you can sleep in the backseat. 😀
28

Why you shouldn’t be living alone and why you should be…

So you have lived with your parents or roommates all along and you decide to take a plunge into normal adult life where you want to live independently and on your own terms. Or you may want to get away from a totally neurotic 60 year old crazy woman who has partial OCD and doesn’t give you the key to her iron door and gives you a tiny, tiny stove in the name of a kitchen. Aaaarrrgghhh. You may want to taste that freedom before (if) you get hitched and bound for life. Meh. 

I just did it, and here is why I will give you some good reasons to not do it.

1. Your rent is going to increase multifold. I did a stupid accounting mistake thanks to bi-weekly paychecks and now I am scrambling around figuring out the major dip in my banking account.

2. Utilities. You will be responsible for those. All of those. You will suddenly realize that you are an electricity guzzler and internet freak. You will also be responsible to buy lame things like dishwashing soap, and toilet bowl cleaner. Yuk.

3. If you have lived with parents so far, you WILL have to cook. Don’t think about eating out all the time, because point number 1. If you had cooking turns with roommate, you will miss the days where you could just chill and your roommate slogged. If you were in a PG situation, then you may be used to it.

4. If you are a hoarder like me, you will have atleast 15 big boxes and 2-3 suitcases with 4-5 plastic bags of stuff. Your back will hurt like no tomorrow and you will feel overwhelemed looking at the stuff you have.

5. I label my boxes like ‘kitchen-immediate use’, ‘bags, headgear and steam iron’, ‘dinner set and towel’. But there are two boxes I had to call ‘random shit’. I hate items that don’t have categories because they are usually small and hard to organize. Where the hell do I keep my finger puppet?? At least my Viking helmet, bunny ears, Disney Minnie ears and witch hat belonged to ‘Headgears’. Do I sound a leeeetle bit crazy?

6. I usually end up losing some stuff. So will you. Agreed you will find money and stuff in hidden places, but overall, you will lose stuff. I am still looking for my car registration papers due in November. Mummmmyyy.

7. When you live alone, you will have to take care of the uninvited guests. The creepy crawlies. Yep. No one is going to show up with a slipper when you yell out Spiiiidddddeeerrr!!

8. You will have to throw out the trash on your own, every few days. And collect the mail, every few days.

9. You will have to clean the house regularly on your own so that it doesn’t look like a hobo’s shelter.

10. You are responsible for your safety and to check if all the windows and doors are locked shut every night. There won’t be another person to blame if God forbid, something happens. Just run very fast back to your room after turning the lights off in the living room.

ONE reason why you should live on your own:

NO MORE PANTS in the house!!!

  

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More unexpected compliments…

Who doesn’t love to hear nice things about themselves? Specially if they are totally out of the blue, they are even better. I was standing in RJ’s cubicle, speaking to him about something related to work. Dennis(my boss, the 75 yr old white guy, for the uninitiated) walked in and had this totally unrelated conversation with me.

Dennis : You know what, PB? If only you were 5 inches taller, you would have been a great fashion model.
*Stunned 15 seconds of silence everywhere*

Me : *Smiling ear to ear* Really? What makes you say that??

Dennis : You have the right shape. You have a beautiful smile. And you have a very nice face to look at.

Me : Errrr, thanks Dennis. Well I wanted to be an actress. Haha

Dennis : That would have been possible, but its harder. Anyways, since we cannot be those things, we will satisfy ourselves by being very good engineers. 

My head was floating, filled up like a balloon. It was brought back to earth by my temperamental skin that decided to flare up the next day.

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A new beginning 

Faith is all we have,
Faith is all we need,
A little speck of light,
Is good enough of a lead.
 
The night may seem dark,
Hopeless and bleak,
But it is not long enough,
And dawn we must seek.
 
The storm will pass,
The clouds will clear,
The wind of hope will come,
To move aside the fear.
 
Life has its moments,
But there is no ending,
However hard it seems,
It’s just a new beginning.

Must remember…

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Of unexpected compliments

I was at a house party with some friends from work over the weekend. The host had his Girlfriend over and her parents were there too before the others had reached. We chatted quite a bit with them and I had to teach them how to say my name correctly. 🙂 They left shortly after. 

Amanda, my friend’s GF came over the next day for brunch and told me something extremely sweet that her Dad said and my friends went ‘Oh yes, that’s so true!’ 

That made my day. 

He said that he adored me. He said that my smile was so beautiful and happy. And that I smiled the whole time even while talking and that is so rare.

I am in heaven! 🙂

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Happy birthday, Scube….

Many many happy returns of the day….. I hope you have an awesome time… May God give you better than the best, and fill your life with all the happiness in the world….

Love always……

Leaving you with the song you used to ALWAYS listen to, at home, in car, everywhere, before we started dating, and continued after, to annoy me….. Even when there was no sadness anywhere at all! You, silly, you…..