Decoding Sri Lanka

On Our Flight To Colombo

Sri Lanka was our first choice of destination for our honeymoon three years ago. I had visited the island country earlier on work and had fallen in love with the peace in the country. I was keen to come back on a holiday soon. However, circumstances got difficult back then and we couldn't plan an international travel for our honeymoon. But we were able to fulfill our dream for our third anniversary in March this year. We began the planning from January.

Our first step was to book the tickets so that we can get the main task off the list. No matter at what time we checked, all the International Airlines that flew from Bangalore to Colombo were really expensive. We then decided to change our starting point. The International Flights from Chennai to Colombo were much cheaper than the ones from Bangalore. We saved close to Rs. 15,000 just by booking our flights from Chennai instead of Bangalore. The return journey was directly from Colombo to Bangalore. Chennai is just a six hour journey via train from Bangalore. We booked the Chennai Express and now our travel was sorted.

Next, it was time to plan an itinerary. We sought help from some local agents who put us in touch with a travel company in Colombo. Many plans were drawn up and it took quite a number of revisions before we could settle on an itinerary that suited us very well. It did include a quite a bit of travel within the country, but we didn't mind. With the tickets and itinerary sorted, we relaxed. Soon, it was time to pack and get set to leave. The train from Bangalore to Chennai left at around 8 am and we were in Chennai by 2.30 pm. After exploring the local places and converting some cash into Lankan rupees, we got some good rest before starting our first international trip together.

It took us an hour and ten minutes to get to Colombo from Chennai. Mihin Lanka was the flight we chose for our onward journey and it was a pleasant experience. We were met by our tour guide at the arrival and the first thing we wanted to do was to get a local sim card. I have paid close to half a lakh of phone bill once thanks to an international travel and I didn't want to risk it again. A local sim was bought with enough currency in it to last us for a week. The only calls we would make was to the guide as well as our parents back home. Since we reached Colombo before noon, our vacation started on the same day. This is how we explored Sri Lanka on our third year wedding anniversary.

Day 1: Chennai->Colombo

Independence Square Arcade - The Shopping Mall

After getting a couple of hours of rest, we freshened up and began our holiday. Since we had only half a day in Colombo, we went in for a city tour. The first place we visited was the Independence Square Arcade and the shopping mall. The arcade was so neatly maintained that it surprised us. Not a speck of dust any place. The place was beautiful with strong pillars and neat marble flooring. The shopping mall was so unlike the malls we see in India. This looked like a palace or a beautiful church. There was so much of greenery around it and beautiful flowers and pristine clear fountains. We spent a good amount of time walking around here and basking in the beauty. The next stop was to ODEL, Colombo's number one shopping destination. We did not shop for anything here as everything was ridiculously expensive and most importantly everything was available back in India too! But we did have some ridiculously expensive gelato though. After a light dinner, we were back at the hotel for a good night's sleep.

Day 2: Colombo->Bentota

The Kosgoda Turtle Hatchery

Bentota is a three hour drive from Colombo, so we started early after breakfast. The roads are so clean and wide that the journey did not seem tiring at all. We enjoyed the cool breeze and even though the sun shone way too bright at times, it was not troublesome. We stopped by the Kosgoda turtle hatchery where a group of people were working on the conservation of the turtles. These people pay the fishermen to get them turtle eggs from the beach and bury them in sand for sixty to seventy days until they hatch. They are then released to small ponds where they learn to survive initially. After 21 days they are then released into the ocean. Out of a 1000 turtle babies released to the ocean, only one manages to survive, they say. After visiting the turtle hatchery, we had the rest of the day free where we decided to explore the hotel and it's beach. After a great dinner, we dozed off instantly.

Day 3: Bentota->Mirissa->Galle->Bentota

The Gorgeous Mirissa Bay - Look at the color of the sky reflecting on the water!

Anniversary Day! It had to be special. Mirissa Bay in Sri Lanka is famous for it's whales and dolphins. Although this was not included in our itinerary, we decided to explore it as it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We paid an exorbitant amount for this, but we knew it would be worth it. We left early at around 4 am to get to Mirissa by 6.30 am where a boat was waiting for us.

The Life Jackets

We were here for the whale watching, where they would take us hundreds of kilometers in to the ocean and we could spot dolphins, whales and other sea creatures. We were given life jackets and after taking medications for sea sickness, the boat of close to 120 people left. Soon we were in the middle of ocean surrounded by nothing else but water. We spotted quite a lot of dolphins but sadly we couldn't spot a whale. We did see wonderfully colored turtles though. We spent seven hours in the sea and it was such a magical experience!

The Colonial Buildings - Pretty As A Picture!

On our way back to Bentota, we visited Galle. Galle is filled with colonial buildings and it is quite a pretty sight to the eye. We visited the clock tower and the stadium after a quick lunch and explored the city a bit. The weather was slightly hot and we saw the most beautiful beach ever. The water was clear blue and the sky reflected so beautifully on it! Tired from waking up in the wee hours of the morning, we drove back to Bentota and hit the bed straight.

Day 4: Bentota->Pinnawala->Kandy

Pinnawala - How Peaceful They Look!

The elephant orphanage of Pinnawala always stood out in every itinerary we received. We left around 9 am and this place was not too far away from Bentota. The elephants are left free here and the young ones are a treat to watch. They play with each other and just enjoy themselves. The violent ones are tied to be tamed. Sadly, the whole thing is now commercialized and the mahouts charge you to touch the elephants, feed them or to just take a picture with them. Although free, the animals were never free. We visited a tea factory on our way to Kandy where we were shown how the tea leaves turn into tea powder. We even received a complimentary cup of hot tea that was surprisingly refreshing in the scorching heat.

The Tooth Relic Temple

We reached Kandy in a couple of hours and after a really good lunch of pure vegetarian South Indian food, we headed towards the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. When Buddha died and his body was being burnt, his tooth fell off the funeral pyre. A devotee picked it up and decided to set up a shrine for it. Over the years it passed many hands and finally ended up here. Once a week the tooth is put out to display for the devotees, but sadly the day we went was not that day. The temple was however really beautiful and very well maintained. The sun soon set and we were then taken to our hotel in Kandy.

Day 5: Kandy->Dambulla->Sigiriya

The Entrance To Dambulla Caves

Buddhism is a religion that has always fascinated me. If I did believe in religion, I would be more than happy to follow this one. Right from the beginning of our vacation, I was excited to visit the Golden Temple at Dambulla. We left from Kandy early and in a few hours were at Dambulla. A tall golden statue of Buddha greeted us and we were told to walk up the caves behind and explore the place. After a certain point you are not allowed to wear footwear and the scorching heat made it impossible for us to walk. With great difficulty we managed to get to the caves and it made me realize that the trouble was so worth it. There were thousands of Buddha statues all over the place. Most of them really alike and yet very different. There was something so peaceful about this place that I never wanted to leave it. The roof of the caves were hand painted in different patterns and the color was still intact from centuries ago. It was such a treat to the eye!

Lion's Rock - Sigiriya. We Had To Trek Up This!
Whatever Is Left Of The Lion

After lunch, we left for Sigiriya. Lion's Rock is the main attraction of Sigiriya. It is a really huge rock/mountain that needs to be climbed up, almost like a trek. On top there is a huge Lion carved out of stone whose face is now destroyed, but you do get to see the majestic arms. The climb was really hard and the heat was not helping either. It took us a couple of hours to get to the top, but the view from there was gorgeous! Green and blue and nothing else in between. It finally felt like the point where the sky and the earth meets. After basking in the view for a while, we headed back down. Coming down was easier and we came down in half and hour. We were drenched in sweat and our clothes and shoes were completely muddy. We got to the hotel and took a nice shower before hitting the bed.

Day 6: Sigiriya->Colombo->Bangalore

The Dambulla International Cricket Stadium

Our vacation had come to an end and it was now time to check out. After a hearty breakfast we left the hotel and were en route Colombo from where our flight was. We stopped by the Dambulla Cricket Stadium on the way and bribed the officials to go take a look inside. There was a local match going on and it was a delight to watch it. We reached Colombo a couple of hours before our flight and checked in. Srilankan Airlines was our choice for the return flight. The journey was pleasant and hassle free. While we were up in the air we thought about the wonderful trip we had had and what a great experience it had been.

We reached Bangalore by late evening. We were exhausted, but we did have a bright smile on our face.


Corporate Netiquette

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Next month I clock eight years of being in the corporate world. While I do consider myself lucky to be working with one of the biggest IT companies in the world, in a job that I have come to now love; there are quite a few things I'd like to do away with. Corporate is a wonderful space to be in, where you will meet different people from different walks of life. Some stay on your mind for good enough reasons and some well, just remain stuck there for reasons you don't even know. One of the things that I have noticed more often than not is the corporate etiquette, or rather the lack of it. Now if you are looking to understand the title of the post, it stands for corporate non-etiquette. Yeah, I just recreated a word for it and it is not the same as the normal netiquette.

Today as I walked towards the entrance of my office, a man was walking from the opposite side towards the entrance as well. While I was in no hurry to enter first, the man on seeing me started rushing towards the entrance. I was already at the door by then and he just brushed past me hurting my shoulder and walked in almost slamming the heavy entrance door in my face. He did not even turn to offer an apology. I was appalled and angry. It took me a few seconds to come to terms with what had happened. Once I was back in my senses I realized that this is not the first instance of corporate netiquette that I've seen. They are way too many to list down but I'm just going with a few here.

~ Opening doors - I am not talking about bias here as I'm not the sort of woman who would expect a man to open the door for her. Chivalry is definitely appreciated, but is something least expected in a work place. Here more often than not, people brush past you and walk in through the door first and just let the door ram after them. It is only basic decency (men and women alike) that you hold the door when you see someone walking in after you. But how is it your business, right?

~ Entering lifts - The rule is simple. First you give way to the ones exiting the lift and then you enter it. How hard is it to understand this? I work in the first floor and I seldom take the lift, but sometimes when I do, it is a nightmare. Once the first floor is reached and I need to get out, a huge group walks in like I'm almost invisible. I then have to push my way out of the crowd with people looking at me with "What the fuck is wrong with her" on their minds. Then again, rules are meant to be broken. Aren't they?

~ Printer rooms - Our whole floor shares the same printer and xerox machines. But when I go to collect my print outs I have always noticed that the printer room is perpetually crowded with people going through all the print outs before finding theirs. I understand that since a large number of people can give a print at the same time. But what I don't understand is that why do you have to read the entire document before figuring out that it is indeed not yours. I once caught a guy looking through the printout of my flight tickets. Unless he had wanted to print tickets at the same time and for the same airlines, there was something very wrong about it.

~ Lunch queues - I always take lunch from home, but at times when it doesn't happen, I'm in a nightmare. People who stand in queues for lunch always forget to leave space ahead of them for their plates. So when I'm spooning something into my plate, my elbow always touches the other person's plate causing it to go off balance and then I get really horrible looks. I also hate people who take forever to serve themselves an item when the entire line behind is waiting for him/her to finish.

~ Excuse me. Not - This has happened to me at least 8632579865 times in my eight year old career. People walking behind you will say anything but an "excuse me" if they want you to leave way for them. I once had a man push me aside and walk ahead, a lady who grumbled curses in a native language until I heard it and made way, another lady who chose to tap my shoulder and let me know she wanted way, yet another lady who tried to squeeze in to the 0.5 inch gap that was left and ended up hustling me anyway and this is still not the end of it. Seriously, how hard is it to blurt out an "Excuse Me"?

~ Pantry - You know those kind of people who come in for a glass of water and stand right in front of the water filter until they finish drinking the entire glass and sometimes even go in for a refill? Yeah, these are the kind of people who I want to kill. Take a glass of water and move aside and then come back for the second glass, but then again who has the time for all that? Once this guy was standing so close to the filter that when a lady bent to fill in her water bottle she hit him with her butt. I did not know if I had to laugh or cry.

~ Conference calls - "While not talking, please put the phone on mute", this is the first line you see in the mail whenever you get an invite for a conference call. This also happens to be a magical line that is visible only to a few. I have heard coughs, guitar strumming, traffic, cooker whistles, glasses clinking, babies crying, dogs barking, people yelling and sometimes movie dialogues too while being a part of a conference call.

~ Phone calls - There is a special place reserved in hell for people who talk on their phones during a meeting and they will have company from people who talk at their loudest in their cubicles and the ones who leave their phone in ringing mode while in office. I once heard a newly married lady coochie coo with her husband while the speaker was on. One of those times I wished I was deaf. Speaking of being deaf, I do think that people who leave their phones in the ringing mode while at work are deaf if they cannot hear their phone vibrate instead. As much as I like music, listening to "Suraj dooba hai", "Didi tera devar deewana", "Fevicol Se", "Abhi toh party shuru hui hai" and any other song/noise/tone while I'm busy trying to get something done before a deadline makes me want to throw their phone off the window. Again one of those times I wished I worked on a higher floor instead of the first.

These are just a few of the corporate netiquttes I could think of at the moment. I do know there are a lot more out there. If you have one, please do leave a comment.


Reflections: A To Z 2016 #AtoZChallenge

This was my third consecutive year of signing up for the A to Z challenge. It was really tough the previous two years as well, but somehow I managed to get past it and complete the challenge successfully. I thought it would be the same this year as well. I had my theme planned out by January, but I had no clue what post I would write for each alphabet. Towards the end of March, my work load tripled and I was left with zero time for anything else. By March 31st when others had most of their posts scheduled, I had no idea what I would write the next day for 'A'! I panicked so much that I barely slept that night.

I woke up in the morning with the same thought. While I was doing my daily browsing of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, I saw that a friend of mine had checked in to an airport. And that's when the idea came. None of my posts were scheduled. Every topic was thought of at the last minute (No, I'm not very proud of it) and almost every post was posted at the last minute too. The posts for Saturdays always spilt over to Mondays as weekends were the only time I got some rest. I did not want to touch the laptop then. By the end of the month I had some good quality posts that stuck true to the theme. I chose 'All about me' because I thought it would be simple. Turns out it is really difficult to talk much about yourself. Had I been the narcissist I was a few years ago, it would have been a breeze. But now, I struggled to talk so much about myself everyday. Having said that, I enjoyed writing every single post as much I enjoyed reading the posts of others.

Airports was a very personal topic to me. I have been wanting to talk about it for quite sometime but somehow it never materialized. But when it did, I could see so many people relate to it. Blunt had to be written, because that is what I'm known for. Chick Flicks was a light post about a serious topic and I'm still so shocked by the fact that there are a lot of people who think that chick flicks and rom coms are the same thing. Diaper Talks had to be spoken about as this was something I wanted to scream out from the roof tops. I did lose a few friends because of this but I'm not complaining. Engineering is such a waste in my life that it had to be a part of all about me. The only thing good about it was that I got a campus placement and I love my job till date. FRIENDS is a piece of me that will never die. There is no other show that has held this space in my heart till now and I'm sure never will.

Generation Gap was something that I wanted to talk about as I see so many people in my own generation act like they belong to the 14th century. Being Home Alone is very important to me and I wanted to share my feelings about it. Indian Mentality and Indians will always be a never ending topic, but Indian behavior on flights completely pisses me off, hence the post. Justification was a post justifying the fact as to why I hate justifying things. I put an end to it once and for all. Keeping In Touch had to be spoken about. People just come in and out of your life and blame you for not bothering about them. Live And Let Live was written for the same reason as well. Motherhood perhaps is the post most close to me as it was everything I had to say about not wanting to be a mother. No was an important post as I only learnt to say that recently and I knew will help others as well. OCD, I had a crazy OCD to write about it. And yes, in a particular order. Poetry, well, just had to be written.

Quirky had to be there if I was talking about myself. Hello! Relationships too was a post close to my heart as I have lost quite a few of them. Regrets? No. But learnings, yes. Simplicity had to be spoken about in an era where people use fancy words in day to day life just to appear cool. Trebuchet MS was an extension of my OCD, but it sure deserved a post of its own. Also I couldn't think of anything else for T. Unlearn is what kept me going all these years and Vanity helped me stay off a lot of people and trash the memories I had with them. Woman Vs Woman is something I firmly believe in and I just wanted to throw some light on how women are hell bent upon bringing other women down. Xerox Copy was a post that I wrote in ten minutes flat. Well, what else could I write about for X that was about me or what I thought?

You was the most important part of me and also my favorite from the whole A to Z so far. Zero was an advice to people to pick themselves up and do something. At least take one step instead of five. But did it help anyone? I'm not too sure.

So A to Z 2016 was one hell of a ride and I was more than glad when it ended. Having said that, will I sign up for it next year? Hell yeah!

Cheers to all of us who took part and completed this challenge. We are survivors! See you next year.


Book Review: Sharp Objects

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Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group
Genre: Thriller/ Drama
Price: Rs. 271 on Amazon.
Pages: 254

After 'Gone Girl', I had fallen in love with Gillian Flynn's style of writing and picked up this book which happens to be her first one on an impulse. The gist of the book was about a toxic family and this piqued my interest. So one fine day once I was back from work I sat down with a cup of tea and started reading this. The fast pace of the book was good because no body likes a prolonged mystery where the author takes ample amount of time to build a case and sneak in a clue. That was the only problem I had with 'The Girl On The Train'. This book moves fast with every page and the mystery gets deeper and deeper. So, what is the book all about?

Camille Preaker is a reporter working with a newspaper in Chicago. Her boss, Frank Curry asks her to visit Wind Gap, the place where Camille grew up, to report about a murder that now seems like a serial killing. As much as Camille is trying to be successful as a reporter, she is battling her own demons most of which are rooted in Wind Gap. Coming to Wind Gap to cover the case would mean that Camille now has to face her estranged family that consists of her mother, Adora, a step father, Alan, a dead step sister, Marian and another alive but precocious step sister, Amma. Camille comes face to face with her hostile mother and is uncomfortable in the very house that she grows up. She consoles herself that it is only until she cracks this case open, and after that she would be back in Chicago for good.

The case in question is the the killing of a ten year old girl named Natalie Keene. The MO of the killing is same as the killing of Ann Nash, aged nine, who was killed a year ago. No sexual assault, but all their teeth had been pulled out. Camille tries to visit both the Nashes and the Keenes, but is unable to gather much information. According to the police, Natalie's brother John who is eighteen is the primary suspect in the case. There also is James Capisi, who claimed to have seen the killer while Natalie was taken, but no one wants to believe him.

Camille along with Richard, the detective from Kansas work side by side although not together to solve this mystery. As the mystery unfolds, Camille finds out really disturbing facts about her own family. Her mother doesn't seem to be the perfect woman that she is on the outside. Her thirteen year old sister Amma, is all grown up once and is a kid the next instant who is obsessed with the perfection of her doll house that is the exact replica of the house they are living in. Camille has her own weirdness too, which sums up to the title of the book. But is the title justified? Well, not for me, unless the author is talking about the human brain.

Just like 'Gone Girl', this book too revolves around the intricacies of the human mind and it's obsessions. With a handful of characters, every character has enough importance and is etched out beautifully. The inner turmoil of Camille is shown so well that I could feel my skin burning as she traced her fingers on the words etched on herself. The human mind is a really dangerous thing and when people use it in more dangerous ways by manipulating themselves and others, a relationship and everything involved with it does become toxic. The killing of these little girls is disturbing to say the least and the scenes describing them made me look away once or twice. But the most disturbing fact of the book remains the dangerous levels to which humans can go to get what they think they deserve. Be it attention, love or anything else.

It took me two days to finish this book due to work and other commitments. But throughout the two days, I have been disturbed by the story. There was something constantly nagging me about the scenes that I had read about. I did predict the ending of the book much earlier than half-way through, but the way it unfolded was something else altogether. The descriptions, the dialogues are so believable that it is almost scary.

As characters, it is the three women who stand out and each one is better than the other. Camille, who knows the truth but is finding it hard to come to terms with it. Adora, the perfect and loving mother who is always obsessed with the wellness of her child who is not Camille. Amma, the twisted teen who wants to be a whore to attract boys and yet turns into the baby kitten in the hands of her caring mother. These relationships are nothing like they seem and everyone here is as toxic as they can get. The climax, though predictable, comes together very well and forms a nice closure to the case, the characters and the story.

Verdict: Dark, disturbing and more disturbing. And this is exactly what makes the book worth reading. If you are intrigued by human psychology, then do not give this a miss.

Rating: 4 out of 5.


Action Replay: March & April 2016

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I couldn't do an action replay post for March, thanks to the A to Z challenge in April. March has been a wonderful month for me in terms of everything. Work, personal life, travel etc. Cal and I finished three years of marriage this March and we went on a vacation to Sri Lanka for a whole week. We had planned to go to Sri Lanka for out honeymoon back then, but couldn't due to a lot of financial constraints. This time we planned well and took a week off from work just for some good relaxation time and a celebration. I've been to Sri Lanka before on work and I loved the country. The whole country was so clean and well planned. So unlike ours. I had decided back then itself that this would be a place I'd come back one day with Cal.

Our flight to Colombo was from Chennai and we took a train from Bangalore to Chennai. Our first train journey together and we enjoyed it completely. Chennai is a place that holds really bad memories for me and I had decided never to return to that place. But when Cal suggested that it was time I let go of my demons and made peace with it, I agreed with him. This time I looked at Chennai completely differently. Cal and I ended up having a wonderful time walking around the place and exploring different kinds of food. We stayed there for a night and I finally had made peace with this city. The next morning, we were on our way to Colombo.

Sri Lanka is a very beautiful place. We had planned a customized itinerary and everything was sorted from India only. We were welcomed by our driver at the airport and from then on, it was bliss. Sri Lanka is a beautiful country that is very well planned and very well maintained. We traveled a lot and covered quite a number of places. While the first day was reserved for the city tour of Colombo, we went to Bentota the next day. Bentota is beautiful with its pristine beaches that are so clean that the water is bright blue in color. Such a pleasure to the eye. We also went dolphin and whale watching in Mirissa. Seven hours in the sea was quite something and thankfully we did not feel sea sick. Although we couldn't catch a glimpse of a whale, we saw thousands of dolphins and beautiful turtles in the middle of the ocean. This was an experience that we would remember all our lives.

We also visited Kandy, Dambulla and Sigiriya. Buddhism is very prevalent in Sri Lanka and it is a religion I'm fascinated with. I like their practises. If I were a firm believer of religion and God, this is what I would choose. But sadly I'm not. We visited many Buddhist temples, monasteries and caves and saw Buddha in almost every form. It was such a beautiful experience. Cal and I spent a lot of time together and enjoyed every bit of it. We did not want to come back, but did we have a choice? Having made peace with the fact that we have to return, we came back to Bangalore feeling fresh and rejuvenated.

While March was mainly about anniversary and travel, April was primarily about the A to Z 2016 challenge. I did this challenge for the third consecutive year in a row, with a relevantly simple topic, but it was the hardest this year. There was a lot of work to be done at office and the Bangalore heat was not helping either. You get exhausted so soon that by the time you get back home after work, you're dazed. While I managed to write most of the weekday posts on time, the posts for Saturdays were always posted the next Monday. I hate using the laptop during weekends and I never write anything during my time off from work. This time is for Cal and me to do what ever we want to do. I crawled past the weekend posts and finally am done with the A to Z for 2016. But to be honest, I did enjoy it the same amount like the past two years. It makes you want to pull your hair out. But in the end it is always worth it. More on the individual posts and the topics I chose in the A to Z reflections post coming up on May 9th.

How did April treat you? If you were a part of the A to Z 2016 challenge, then congrats my friend, we did it!


Z: Zero #AtoZChallenge

We all start off as zero, and that's a very good thing. As time passes, we accumulate people, memories, materialistic pleasures and a lot more things in our lives. But at times, life does take you back to the starting point. Yes, back to zero. How you come up from there shows your growth as a person and a human being. I have been through enough ups and downs in my life. I have had a face to face with zero enough number of times now, but I did not give up. I've left the zero behind in so many cases and I've worked really hard for it. Having said that, there are many other cases where I still am a zero. Take swimming for example. I've been wanting to learn it since the past five years and still haven't got to it. But the very fact that I still want to do it, makes me go from zero to one. At least I have the ambition or the interest.

There are a lot of other people I know who are a zero in almost every aspect of life. I agree that zero is the start for everything, but when people do not even make the effort to get from zero to one, then they remain a zero all their lives. Have you met people who have no ambitions and no zest to live life? Well, I have. Such people piggy bank on the shoulders of others to live their life. Be it monetarily or to get any other work of theirs done. I have no respect for such people. You do not have to do these things, but atleast you need to have the desire to do a few things by yourself right? No Sir! Some people just prefer to sit at home and expect others to do everything for them. Such people are a zero in life. Were and always will be.

It's not a bad thing to be a zero. But you need to realize it and try to come up in life. Staying there or expecting people to pull you up will not do any good for you. Like they say even if you are in the right lane but do not move, you will get run over. Hibernating at zero seems safe for some people as they have no expectations from themselves even. But you will just remain there till you die.

It is very important to start any new thing from zero. There are no short cuts. Plus, starting from zero will enable you to start with a clean slate without any back log.

Understand zero better. Make friends with it and slowly push it behind until you meet it again for another scenario. Walk ahead without expecting a push. The zero is the push.


Y: You #AtoZChallenge

We've been through a long journey now
And every moment has been best after best
It is you who I need to survive
When I have you, I don't need the rest

Months and years have passed so quick
And yet I fall in love with you everyday
I might not keep telling you this
Just read what my eyes have to say

People expected the spark to die down
Together we turned it into blazing fire
No matter how much time passes in between
It is you who I will always desire

Life seems so simple with you
Together we have got past it all
I can walk with my eyes closed for you
I know you'll be around to break my fall

You are the most important part of me
You are the color and I'm your hue
Without you, A to Z could never happen
All about me is also about you


X: Xerox Copy #AtoZChallenge

I have never been someone who would copy something from another person. No, I do not mean stuff like cheating in exams. We all have done that! I mean trying to copy the personality or choices of another person. Since childhood I have made my own choices and more often than not they have been out of the ordinary. While others were trying to be photocopies of one another, I was more than happy to stand out in a corner alone with my own choice.

I have seen people trying desperately to look like someone or be like someone. Their object of affection or admiration can either be a celebrity or some random person in their circle. I have seen more than ten girls in Bangalore who have got "Daddy's lil girl' tattooed on their arm with the exact same font and style as that of Priyanka Chopra. I wanted to laugh out loud. Can't they be a little original at least? I have seen friends trying to ape each other and end up looking really funny. Choices are meant to be personal. But if you are doing it just because someone else is then you are nothing but a poor xerox copy of them.

Life is too small to live like someone else. It is always better to be a version 1.0 of yourself than a poor copied version of someone else. Try to stay original in all possible ways. Have an individual style of fashion, writing sense, accent etc. When people fake their accent to talk like someone else, I feel like shoving my shoe in their month. I know a few people who try to buy the same clothes that I do. They try to style it the way I do too. I once saw one girl I know whose Facebook profile picture looked exactly like mine. She was wearing the same top that I was with the same pattern of jeans and almost the same shoes. I almost threw up! Most people might consider this flattering but for someone like me, I find it disturbing. Every person should have a personality of their own. If they want to copy it from someone else, they they clearly are living someone else's life.

You can idolize people, no harm in that. But trying desperately to be like them is really stupid. Everyone of us was created unique. We were all given the same resources to utilize. Let us do it in different ways. Why follow the herd and be one among the same dozen. How will you stand out then? Or are you just happy being a xerox copy of some random person?

Be original, be you. Make others want to be your copy instead.


W: Woman Vs Woman #AtoZChallenge

In today's world of crying out for feminism, women are failing to notice one big thing. While there is a group of women holding slogans and screaming out for equal rights, there also is another group that does not want women to have equal rights as that of men. This second group is more often than not led by a woman. In the almost three decades of my existence as a woman, I have tried my best to succeed in every step of my life. But the ones who wanted to hold me back and point a finger at me were always women. When a woman climbs up the corporate ladder, a lot of them think that she's sleeping her way to the top. In the group that thinks so, there at least will be one or two women. Maybe women cannot handle each other's success. If that's the case then this whole act of feminism is a facade. It should be called selfishism instead.

A mother-in-law will not spare a moment to find faults in her son's wife. The daughter-in-law would be a working lady and would not be able to do all the chores at home. Instead of helping her get a work-life balance, these MILs taunt their DILs time and again. Some of them are asked to quit their job and take care of the house instead, while the MIL would hibernate in front of the TV. If these MILs helped their DILs in managing the house, the DIL would excel at her job with all the support from home. But does anyone do that? No. Maybe the MIL thinks that since the DIL is successful at work, she would not respect her. Or she could be plain jealous of the fact that her son's wife is making money while she couldn't.

I have also seen cases where a mother cannot believe that her son is taking such good care of his wife. She did not get it from her husband, so how could some one else? Soon, the son is called henpecked and everyone around is subject to drama and stress. Most of the times, the one who is trying to bring down a woman is another woman herself. In my opinion, all women are born feminists. Obviously everyone wants to be treated equally. If a woman says that she is not a feminist, then she is saying that she is an enemy of women. I still know a lot of women who think that a woman's place is in the kitchen and her husband's feet. There are are a lot of women who think that if a woman is given equal rights, she would not be able to handle it.

This is happening in 2016, can you believe it? We women are supposed to think from the heart, but it looks like a lot of us are becoming heartless of late. Women trouble each other in every way possible. I have seen women troubling their maids and ill treating them. Can't a woman understand the plight of another? After all she is only trying to make a living for her family here. Slut shaming is very prevalent these days and there are loads of women who point a finger at another woman regarding their sense of dressing. A woman who raises her voice is consider "rude" by another woman. A woman who wears a skirt to work is considered a "whore" by another woman. If a man has an extra marital affair, the wife is quick to blame the other woman instead of her husband. Sad, isn't it?

More than men considering menstruation to be impure, women are the ones who think they are dirty while on their period. Such women makes the lives of their daughters, sisters, daughters-in-law and any other woman around them very difficult. If there is an argument between a man and a woman, another woman wants the woman to give up and compromise. Since she's a woman, she has to adjust they say. I say, why? Why are we women hell bent upon ruining the lives of other women? If you can't help out another woman, then please just let them be instead.

Don't trouble her when she has already enough troubles in this world. Don't point a finger at her when there are enough of that too. Consider her to be you for a second. What would you do then? Would you think that women are not allowed to do these things and walk away or would you admire her strength and courage and go ahead with what you want to do?


V: Vanity #AtoZChallenge

I'm not perfect and yet I'm very happy the way I am. I do not have the perfect body or fair, flawless skin. I've accepted myself the way I am and that is the same way I accept others too. Being a realist, vanity is not something that I'm particular about. I look for a person's personality first and only then go for the other things. I have dated both good looking and average looking men as looks were never a priority for me. It was important yes, but not at the cost of intelligence and a good sense of humor. Having said that, I know and accept the way I look. So I know what is within my reach and what is not. I am a decent looking girl and I wanted a decent looking guy. That's about it. I did not want to be vain and wait for Mr. Universe to come sweep me off my feet. After all, I'm no Miss. Universe here.

It is no hidden fact that we Indians are obsessed with fair skin. Even though more than 60% of our population is brown, white is the color always preferred. Mothers want a fair bride for their sons even if their sons are dark. Maybe they want to have Zebra grand children. People and their quirks, I tell you! These days when teens sprout a pimple, they straight go to a plastic surgeon. Parents are willing to swipe their credit cards as many times as they want to, in order to give their children the looks they deserve. Do not like your nose? No problem! A few thousands and your nose would be as sharp as a toothpick. Got love handles? Spend an hour at a famous clinic and let them suck that fat away. Look at the business these skin clinics are getting these days. The saddest part is that they are only catering to the huge demand.

Being vain to a certain extent is fine. After all every one wants to look good on the outside and not only have a very good looking pancreas inside. But vanity to dangerous extents is out right silly. I once read about a woman who went in for a surgery to alter the shape of her feet so that she could fit into a very beautiful shoe that she bought on an impulse that didn't fit her. She actually had the bones of her feet broken to get the shape she desired. When I moved to a size 'M' from a size 'XS' in a span of six months, I did not feel like looking in to the mirror at all. It took me some time to actually make peace with it and today I couldn't be more happier. One needs to accept themselves as they are. Only then can they appreciate someone else.

When one searches for a good looking partner, the whole concept of partnership/companionship dies a slow death. There is so much to a person apart from the way one looks. Is that something secondary? I have seen so many people struggling to get fair/clear skin and lose the weight around their hips. If the idea is to be healthy, then it is valid. If it is for the sake of vanity, then you couldn't be harming yourself more. I have quite a few scars on my face and back thanks to chicken pox and adult acne. I know that if I spend a few thousands I can get all of them cleared in a jiffy. But I chose not too. These scars are an extension of me. I do wear makeup to hide them yes, not because I want to look flawless. I just do not want people to be asking me questions and suggesting remedies for my skin. I would get tired of lifting my finger then.

Love yourself the way you are. Looks die down with years, but the person you are will live with you till you die. Sometimes, later too.

Leaving you with this beautiful video.


U: Unlearn #AtoZChallenge

Growing up, we learn a lot of things and before we know it we become pros at a few things. Be it reading, writing, drawing or anything else. Life also teaches us a lot of lessons via people, memories and situations. Lessons from life are some of the best ways to understand ourselves and the choices we make. Although our first lessons come from parents, they only teach us what they know or what they have learnt. Most of these lessons would be a part of a different era and might not always work out for us. What do we do then?

Before we learn new things, it is important to unlearn a few things. Not all choices are bad, but eventually you can only narrow down on one. It would not be easy, but new situations teach you new things. And it is very important to approach these things with a clean slate. Walking around with an outdated idea in mind will not let you accept the new ideas. At times the old idea can be modified to accommodate the new idea, but some letting go off is needed. Some process of unlearning is absolutely vital.

I've had a fair share of ups and downs in my life. And every down has taught me a new lesson. The human mind can hold a lot but it does not deserve to hold some junk. As I learnt new lessons, I unlearnt a few old ones. One, to make room for the new. Two, these lessons were of no use to me. No point in holding on to something that you would never use, right?

Unlearning, like learning is a gradual process. It cannot happen overnight. First of all, you need to prepare yourself to unlearn a few things. Then put in the effort to unlearn it. It's all in the mind and once you learn to master this technique of learning and unlearning, you're sorted for life.

Do you believe in the act of unlearning?


T: Trebuchet MS #AtoZChallenge

I don't know about you all, but I do have a favorite font that is always my default font on all documents. Yeah, call me silly if you want to but 'Trebuchet MS' is a font that I've been in love with since I was a child. This is the default font on my emails, word and excel documents as well as my notepad. There is something very clean about this font. Every letter gets the correct width and it is very easy to read. It looks professional and playful at the same time.

Since I'm an IT slave, I'm involved in creating and updating a lot of documents. No matter what the font used earlier is, I always changed it to Trebuchet before I start working on it. You might consider this an a OCD quirk, but this is something that is very important to me. The only thing that I hate about my iPhone is that I cannot change the font used in it. A single document with different fonts troubles my eye. I don't know what people were thinking when they prepare professional documents that have different fonts and in different sizes. If I could, I would print them out and tear them apart and set them on fire. Yes, it troubles me that much!

All my default blogger themes have always had the Trebuchet font. It is very easy to read this font. Or so I think. I also hate the fact that this font is not available on my Kindle. I do love the Caecilia font on it though, that makes reading a breeze. But given a chance to choose between these two, Trebuchet would win hands down. I also like Comic Sans a lot. But that is too playful to be used in a work place. Since my work laptop doubles up as the laptop I used for writing, I retain the default fonts. It has been ages since I did anything on my personal laptop and I don't even recall the fonts used in it. That laptop is only for torrenting stuff.

Since my recent blog themes are all not blogger ones, it is difficult to customize the fonts used. So I just let it be. I can always change the font of the post via blogger itself before publishing, but it gets too tedious. Since I do not like multiple fonts on the same page, I'd have to change the fonts of the side bar too. And that is a nightmare, so I just let it be.

So tell me, do you have a favorite font? And why?


S: Simplicity #AtoZChallenge

There is something very endearing about simplicity. Too much of complications will always lead to well, complications. I try to keep everything around me as simple as possible. I am a no nonsense person. I do not complicate anything nor do I like getting into something complicated. Right from my style, to my writing, to my cooking; I try to keep everything as simple as possible.

Nothing hurts my eye more than over complicated fashion sense. I have seen girls try to wear a jacket, with multiple neck pieces and hand accessories and heels and what not! Why not wear a single piece of everything and just keep it simple? I'm not the one who likes accessories much. A nice branded watch is the only accessory I need. My sense of style is simple too, jeans and a top. I do not like wearing scarves, jackets or any additional thing. It's not that I cannot carry it off, I just do not want to carry it off.

When it comes to writing, I have seen simplicity go for a toss. Nothing ruins reading like too many descriptions. I do like to picturise the scene in my mind and then play the story, but I do not want to be reminded of the scene again and again and again. And then comes the use of big, powerful words. I know you aced your GRE test but you don't have to show that in every single post. I would not like to read a blog post where I have to google the meaning of every word. It puts me off. Use simple but correct language while writing. It helps you as well as the reader.

I have also noticed the GRE and CAT toppers talk using the words that they have studied as part of their curriculum. I know that they clearly want to show off, but when almost everyone in the group doesn't understand what they're talking, it's like a slap on their face. I know you know all the BIG words. But do you have to use them always? Why not make use of simple, easy words and do everyone a favor. Also, not all words you have studied are meant to be used as part of a conversation. It's a pity you did not study that.

Next comes the most important thing. Over complicating situations in the head. So my best friend cancelled dinner plans. Why did she do that? Has she found another friend? Has she heard something about me? Did I piss her off sometime? Why think of all this? For all you know she might have indeed fallen sick. Nothing leads to complications more than assumptions. Thanks to the advent of social media, every person thinks every status or tweet is about them. Why over analyze and play it in your mind a million times? If it is indeed about you, I'm sure it would have been a phone call instead of a tweet.

Even relationships need to be kept simple. Some people lay down ground rules, make a list and set a time table. Why not just live and let live instead? You are in a relationship for a reason. Love, respect or concern. That's all you need to do. Over complicating relationships with expectations is a common mistake that most of us do. Expectations then lead to assumptions and then before you know it all goes down the drain.

Simplicity is beautiful and very underrated. To reach higher in life, you better start simplifying your life now.


R: Relationships #AtoZChallenge

If I'm talking about me then there is no way that I would not talk about relationships. And by relationships I do not mean only the one that is between a boy and a girl. In our day to day lives we develop so many relationships. Some last forever while some just drown even before it begins. Relationships have influenced me a lot till date. Thanks to the ups and downs in my life I now know what relationships have survived the test of time. Throughout the course of life, you become a part of many relationships. Some by choice and some by blood.

No matter what the relationship is, it needs to be nurtured from both the ends. Only then will it survive. People play around a lot when it comes to relationships and take advantage of each other. There should be no place for ego in a relationship. Once ego comes in, every thing else automatically goes out. When my first relationship ended, I learnt a lot from it. It took me more than three years to get over a relationship of three years. It was only later that I realized that I was more in love with the idea of being in love rather than the person. I was terribly hurt, but once I understood that the relationship has passed its date, it became easier for me to come out of it. Just like this, some of the relationships that we are a part of would be empty or dead long ago, and yet we would be holding on to it. When you realize that you are not getting anything out of this, it is time to let go.

When I found love again, it was more beautiful than the first time. But when it ended, it hurt less. I had learnt when to let go from the first time. When I found love that I knew would last forever, I nurtured it from the bottom of my heart. He did it too. We both worked on our relationship together putting in a lot of effort and giving it a lot of time. And it still stands tall beautifully. Every relationships needs tender love and care. Else, cracks start showing. As much as love is needed, there is a need for space too. In friendships you see that people try to invade each other's space. Each friend wants to have a say in the others life. It need not be like that always, right? When suggestions are needed, they would ask. Why barge in and ruin the relationship instead?

Blood relationships are the most tricky ones. You never know who is by your side and why. While most people carry an agenda on their fragile shoulders, some of them just hold on to love. Keeping in touch or not is again a choice, but it is very important to be vary of some people.

My favorite kind of relationships are the random ones. I share a simple relationship with the house keeping staff in my office. I smile and ask the lady in the washroom how she's doing and if she had lunch everyday. In return she smiles and nods her head happily. She compliments me on what I'm wearing or gushes over my hair style or lipstick color. I feel happy and smile back at her. I know this makes her feel nice, but she doesn't know how happy she's making me inside. Same goes with the auto drivers who drop me to work everyday. The say "No" to other customers once they see me walking towards them and drop me till the entrance of my office. If I do not have change, they let me pay the next day. Where do we find such auto drivers these days? There is nothing permanent and important in these relationships and yet it is so wonderful.

Relationships take a lot of effort. Not all relationships are worth it, to be honest. At times you need to let go off a few relationships if it is only taking you down. No matter how close they are. It is a difficult choice to make but if it is not working out and only adding to the baggage I don't see why you should carry it on. There are also relationships which follow the master-slave flip flop rule. One likes to rule while the other is expected to serve. Sadly, such relationships go on very well as long as each one is aware of the role they've been assigned to. The master continues to rule and the slave continues to serve. But when it is time for role reversal, it all goes kaput! It is entirely up to us to decide what relationships to hold on to and when to let go of other relationships.

Once you understand the difference, life becomes easy.


Q: Quirky #AtoZChallenge

I like people who stand out from the ordinary. There is something so attractive about such people. I'm not talking only with regards to fashion here, but also in terms of personality and thoughts. Growing up I've seen people following the crowd desperately and yet expecting to get noticed. How is that ever going to happen? When your aim is to blend in the back ground how do you expect to stand out?

I recently read an article in a magazine about women who were termed "Quirky". One was Sapna Bhavnani, the hairstylist with colored hair, tattoos and piercings. Next there was Aditi Mittal, the stand up comedian who likes to wear large glasses and make people laugh. There also was Kalki Koechlin, the unconventional looking buck-toothed actress who talks her mind when it comes to social issues. All these women were called quirky just because they decided to do something out of the ordinary. Some people think that quirk means weird. They cannot be more wrong.

Quirk is a peculiar aspect of one's character or behavior. It is very personal and I think it is very natural as well. We all have the right to choose the way we want to be. And if some of our habits or decisions are called quirky then so be it. Two people who instantly come to my mind when I hear the word, are Ranveer Singh and Kangana Ranaut. These two have their own sense of style and personality that I have never seen before. I love their attitude and I find both of them very attractive. If you think that being quirky got them noticed, then what are you waiting for?

I've been called quirky time and again for the choices that I've made. I have four piercings on each ear, and it was only because at one point of time I thought it looked nice. I still do as I'm not the one to regret something that I did years ago. When people look at them they say that I have a quirky style. Same with my ripped jeans. If people are updated on fashion, they would know that ripped jeans is so in fashion these days and I think they look very good if styled well. My choice of not wanting to be a mother was called quirky as well. Really, huh?

I live in my own world with my choice of things and people and I have no problems with it. I love my life the way it is and I accept my quirks as an important part of me. If not wanting to follow norms makes me quirky, then so be it. If doing what I believe in makes me quirky then so be it. If living my own life makes me quirky then so be it.

So, let's do this. Let's unlike boring and trash convention and be quirky instead. We could infuse a lot of colors in this otherwise grey world then.


P: Poetry #AtoZChallenge

I haven't written her in so long
There seems to be a void in my heart
No matter what I choose to write about
She and I can never be long apart

Words do come to me everyday
They sing to me as I go to bed
I have no time to string them together
They just make a home on my head

Some of them are light as feathers
While most of them just weigh me down
I'm trying my best to give life to them
Yet they stay on like a permanent crown

Image Source

They need an outlet I understand
But then, so do I
With all the "about me" talks going on
How could I just let her die

She and I are bound together
Making a tune out of a random word
We choose our emotions carefully
Eliminating negatives from the herd

She gave me the strength to write
Showed me feelings in myriad hues
Now I have to celebrate her
It is time I paid her my dues

Without her I wouldn't exist
I miss her and her perfect rhyme
I tried to stay away from her for a while
But slowly it began to feel like a crime

About me is as much about her
I am her in every possible way
She makes my words sound like a symphony
She's my favorite any time of the day

She helps me get past life easily
Making every word seem more than fine
When I'm suffering from a writer's block
She does come in as a life line


O: OCD #AtoZChallenge

I did not realize that I had OCD until someone pointed it out to me years ago. I liked doing things in a particular way and I thought everyone was like that too. Turns out, I was wrong. Some people are okay with the way things around them are placed and they don't care two hoots about it. But I am different. I like things arranged in a particular fashion and when that changes it troubles me. Some times so much that I leave all the other work and sit down to set the arrangement right. Hey, it is important to me. As far as I know I keep my OCD to myself and do not try to impose it on others. I do all the OCDish tasks myself as I know only I can do it the way I want it to be done. My husband was aware of this streak in me while we were dating, but he found out the extent of it only after we were married!

I'm listing a few things here that I'm very particular about.

~ Monday's are very important to me. I wear only white to work on Mondays as I need a clean start to the week. Also, I change the wallpaper on my laptop and on my phone every Monday.

~ I spend the first five minutes of my work day cleaning my laptop with a fresh tissue. Only when I'm satisfied that it is neat enough I begin work. I have seen some of my colleagues laptops where the screen is hardly visible thanks to the layer of dust and grime on them. No matter what happens I'd never touch their systems.

~ The desktop of my laptop should be clean and have no more than three columns of icons. Yes, I have a folder called 'Desktop' on my desktop that holds a lot of hardly used icons and files.

~ The folders and files on my laptop have to be neatly arranged. I do not like too long file names or folder names. I do not like to use abbreviations on file/folder names as well. I name them in a particular format starting with a capital letter. If anybody tried to change this then they'd lose their fingers.

~ Since we subscribe to two newspapers at home, I have a particular order of reading them. A hot cup of green tea is my only company as I sit at my spot on the couch to read. This spot is very important to me as it is the perfect distance from the table at which my cup is placed and right in front of the balcony that gives me natural light to read. Plus, the rest of the couch is free to hold the other news papers that I would read later, in an order.

~ The clothes in my cupboard have to be arranged in a particular way. First based on formal and casual, then based on the color and then based on the frequency at which I would wear them. After that they are arranged based on sleeve length and pattern. I know it sounds very tedious, but I have a perfect algorithm in my head for this and I can get it done under twenty minutes.

~ The hangers have to be arranged according to color and they all need to be pointed in the same direction. Mis-matched hangers are an eye sore.

~ My shoes have to be arranged neatly according to color and all need to be pointed in the same direction. This helps me take one look and pick the one I want to wear. I always match my shoes with my top. Or my shoes with my bag. No over matching for me.

~ My watch box is over flowing but I'm not complaining as I need to have at least one watch to match my clothes or at least go with it without clashing. Since they are really expensive I repeat my watches often and buy clothes that I know will go with them.

~ I do not like giving my clothes to the istriwaala for ironing. Piled up ironed clothes give me a head ache. I need to wear freshly ironed clothes that are still warm. I iron my clothes everyday just before a shower and re-do the entire process in case I find a tiny wrinkle.

~ Doing my make up is a ritual to me. It is done in a particular order and I never mess with the steps. Especially with my eye make up. It is always brows first, followed by kajal, kohl, mascara and eye liner.

~ Clothes drying on the clothes line should have the clips according to their color. First the set of green and then the set of pink and so on. Just like hangers, mis-matched clips hurt my eye.

~ I'm very particular about nail paint. The nail paint has to be the same on the toes as well as my fingers. When I see people with different color nail paint on their toes and fingers, I'm so tempted to send them to the nearest parlor. I also redo my nails every time it gets chipped. Even if the chip is only on one finger, I redo all of them. Redoing just one leaves a totally different color on one nail when compared to the others.

~ I change my wallet at the start of every month. Money from the new salary always goes into a fresh wallet.

~ I always pack the luggage while we're travelling. I have a particular order and format of doing it. I have my own tips and tricks while it comes to packing and I know exactly which side of the bag to open when I need a particular thing.

~ Fridge magnets. They need to be arranged in a way that the same color is not concentrated in one area.

~ Books. I arrange them according to genre first, then according to author and then according to size. Mess this up and you're dead to me. Thankfully the kindle sorts the books on its own.

~ The charge on my phone should never go below 60%. I have incessant phone charging syndrome.

~ I absolutely loathe unread notifications. Every part of my body itches when I see unread mails or notifications. No matter how long it takes I sit down to mark them as read. I read them if I have the time else I just mark them as read and come back to read them later.

These are a few of my quirks when it comes to OCD. I know you all might have at least some of them, so please do share it with me.

Also, don't you think OCD should be called CDO to have all the letters in the right order?
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