Summer of Jeeves, Football & Human Sacrifice

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John Hancock Center rising into a summer sky

I fell prey to the media hype surrounding The Game of Thrones last year, folded and bought the books (because it would have been immoral of me to watch a TV series before I read the written word!), finished the first four books in six or seven weeks during my commute, and kept the fifth unfinished for a year. Until I found out that the 4th season was coming to an end! It took me less than a week to finish reading A Dance with Dragons. Of course, in keeping with true George R. R. Martin style, I did gasp in wonder at the end of it. Piecing together the history of A Song of Ice and Fire is a chore in itself and I look forward to reading World of Ice and Fire, just to gather my bearings before book 6 arrives, hopefully in 2015!

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Eddie Izzard’s Force Majeure

I have, in the mean time, been immersing myself in the world of Jeeves & Wooster, the TV series and the works of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse. He is my father’s favorite author, the style of writing and situational comedy of it possibly being the lure. One can never tire of Bertie Wooster’s exploits and the fact that it is Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry that brought them to life makes it even more enjoyable. The Anglophilia in my life continued as I (FINALLY) watched Mr. Eddie Izzard live at the Chicago Theatre! Just two weeks ago! His opening line was “Let’s talk about human sacrifice” and for the next two hours regaled the lot of us with fantastically intelligent and sensibly silly situations that make up the essence of his Force Majeure tour.

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Biking to work

The Midwest lived through one of the coldest winters in a long time which saw the Great Lakes freeze over about 90% of the way, and the Chicago River also glaciate with the unrelenting onslaught of bitter cold. This, for the first time in very many years, had me yearning to see and feel the sun. I, who has claimed to despise solar heat, now find myself  wishing for warmer temperatures! The thought of wearing dresses and skirts and tops without the necessity for a jacket of any sort is appealing. I’ve been biking around the city when I can, overloading my shoe closet with wedges and open boots, pulling out cotton clothes and begging for an ounce of warmth so that I might immerse myself in Chicago’s summer while it lasts!

The summer of 2014 is obviously an exciting one for any football fan. The World Cup at Brasil! For someone who has watched and played football from a very young age, determining which teams to support at the club and national levels, it is very very bothersome to have people jump onto the fan bandwagon when during (i) the World Cup (ii) the Euro Cup (iii) when a team begins to win. It’s good sport and everything, to see thousands of people joining in the fun and celebrations. A common cause, if you will, to see one’s team through to the end. It’s an emotional 90 minutes; I remember crying when Chelsea lifted the Champions League trophy two years ago. But, if you are going to join the ‘true’ supporters, do not presume to know the sport better than them! I love gaining followers for my team, but if that’s going to happen only every 4 years, you’re not the one I want to watch a game with.

Anyway, I’ve been a steadfast follower of Der Mannschaft. There’s a certain charm in their way of playing football that enamored me from the early 90’s. Obviously, Jurgen Klinsmann’s influence on them also played a huge role in my rooting for the team. I do not claim allegiance to any one player, just the team. So, go Deutschland!

It hasn’t yet begun, summer in the Midwest, in Chicago, the city that transforms into a fantastic vibrant purveyor of a few warm months. I look forward to it!

Spring Hopes

As the change of seasons tease us here in the American Midwest, what with the seemingly never ending cold, Chicago has suddenly burst out from under the grey blanket to reveal its wondrous beauty.

I ventured out for the first time today with the aim of reveling in the colors that the city has to offer. A promise of spring.

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10,000 Days and More

There aren’t very many people with whom I am acquainted that would be excited over something as trivial as their 10000th day of existence. When I reached it, I was. I celebrated with a performance of La Traviata at the Lyric Opera. That may sound pretentious but it is true. It still remains that I love the opera and classical music, even if it makes my friends call me posh.

IMG_091210000 days and counting, really. Let’s get back to that. Yes, everyone who is past 27 and a half years of age would have hit this milestone. I would not have remembered had I not had the sense to mark it on my calendar some years ago when I originally did the calculation. It also gave me a reason to write about some of the things that have happened to me in the past six months since I no longer have the urge to complete half-written and forgotten blog posts.

Since my last post, I’ve become even more involved in swimming. More than I ever envisioned myself being. I hit a lovely record of completing 50 laps or 100 lengths, in 50 minutes. Yes sir! It is feat enough for me. Almost two years since I re-discovered my love for the pool, chlorine allergies and all, and I’m still going strong. It’s just the feel and sound of the water against me. My mind revels in those moments of zen. I fell I am at absolute harmony with the water because it really is only the sound of my own breathing I am aware of. That and the splashes as I splice through the calm waters. Without my full conscious knowledge of the fact, I have shed nearly 40 pounds since I began! I shocked my mum, when she saw me last month, and my dad, just yesterday.

Apart from my several gadgetry acquisitions in the latter half of the year, which included two tablets – I’ve always wanted more than one OS!! – to satisfy the geek in me, several books and immersions into the German language – which I still find fascinating and largely interesting despite the very many rules and exceptions and formations – I received some rather ego-boosting news on the professional front.

My manager, now former, left me with an exceptional mid-year review. The highest rating that one can merit, actually. It was humbling as much as it was an attestation to my aspirations. While I’ve always known that I’d prefer to be on the managerial side of things in the long run, I never really thought it would show just two years into my career as a software engineer. I’m good at programming, I love code and the nuances that come with sitting in from of everything tedious about it. I still revel in it. But apparently I’m also very good at the other side of it, the processes and people part of any job. I was put into the position of making all those decisions only because no one else on my team seemed to want to take on that responsibility. Now, I’ve grown so much into it, that I hold ‘true 20131208_150255qualities to become a feature team lead‘. Yeah, it’s enough of an ego rub there. The humbling side of it for me is that fact that I did it all unknowingly. I was taken by surprise when I received the news. It just made me resolve to work harder towards it. It did nothing to change my attitude to the work I now do because I know that I still have time to make a lead. I need to stock up on experience and be more comfortable and accepting of people. I have that much more to learn because it’s a much tougher position to be in.

The end of another year approaches, marking my fifth winter in the mid-west and the cold chills of Chicago, a city that I have grown to love and call home. I have grown in my independence and strengthened my resolve and hold upon life. I have learned and lived through another year’s worth of trials and achievements, and while there are many things I would not want to face again, I know that I have become a better person because of all of them. Here’s to another 10000 and more!

Behold a few sights that did capture me so.

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“There are book…

“There are books full of great writing that don’t have very good stories. Read sometimes for the story… don’t be like the book-snobs who won’t do that. Read sometimes for the words–the language. Don’t be like the play-it-safers who won’t do that. But when you find a book that has both a good story and […]

The 27th Year of My Existence

As has been a repetitive practice, developed most inadvertently in my teenage years, on the date of my birth, every year, I take a few minutes (sometimes hours, rarely days) to think through what I have done, where I am in that present moment and how many pathways there are left to tread. I can acknowledge that I realize and see the change. The difference.

Outdoor music festival - Grant Park
Outdoor music festival – Grant Park

Every year I grow up a little bit more because there are 365 days worth of events to account for, however an insignificant dot of a breathing life form I am in the vast unknown of the universe. As I do every year, there is always one thing new or different. Naturally things happen in the course of time, but I make a conscious decision on my birthday. Last year, I cut my hair to the shortest length it has ever been. As my mum put it, “That’s almost as much hair you had when you were born!”; I had a head of jet black curls falling up to my jawline, there are pictures to prove it. Anyway, apart from that, it also signified my dedication finally pay attention to exercising and eating. This year, I decided to get my driver’s license!

I have driven a lot. My first license, I obtained at the age of eighteen and immediately took to riding my scooter everywhere and

Driving!
Driving!

practiced driving my Dad’s, uncle’s and Granddad’s cars. Driving through every possible situation, with music playing in the background, my dad providing the foreground track of a constant stream of, what he called, instructions and mindful suggestions, my mum gently cautioning me to not respond and my voice adding to the cacophony of horns, curses, yelling, music and so forth. This time around, I did it myself. In a matter of two weeks, I was finally armed with an Illinois Driver’s License. There was an immediate sense of accomplishment that coursed through me the moment I was handed the red coded card. So much so that a week later, I was already zipping through the city in a very nice Audi A3. Yeah, I go for the luxury vehicles and have an extreme soft spot for Audis.

That was just part of my celebrations though. Most people that know me are aware that I usually spend the whole of July bouncing about and doing things using my birthday as an excuse. Instead of going through the whole month in words, I though I’d use pictures, since I seem to have taken to some form of photography (a fancier term for photographs taken on my Galaxy S3 and sometimes enhanced with Snapseed or PicsArt).

 

The running theme of the month was food, tea and the outdoors (as much as I despise summer).

A vacation after six months definitely adds to the festive mood. Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota in four days. The wondrous outdoors with the family, whom I hadn’t seen since our winter trip to Miami. Four days in the Rockies, near 14000 ft above sea level for most part, delighting in the wildlife and simply enjoying being together.

Edging towards Pike's Peak, CO
Edging towards Pike’s Peak, CO
Estes Park
Estes Park
Mt. Rushmore, Keystone, SD

The day of my birthday dawned bright and clear. The weather was perfect. And the mood was one of fulfilling happiness. A dozen fresh croissants from a hidden gem of a Belgian bakery kicked off the gastric indulgence. A Mediterranean dinner and two tea parties, one Russian and another prim and English at the Drake.

New age Mediterranean foodie indulgence
New age Mediterranean foodie indulgence
Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, The Drake and Russian Tea Time
Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, The Drake and Russian Tea Time

Afternoon tea is quite my thing. The proper way, I mean. Biscuits and scones with lemon curd and clotted cream, finger sandwiches and quiches, with a dainty tea cup of full bodied black tea, some milk and sugar. My friends were of the agreement that it really was ‘me’ – music, conversation, ambience and the general idea of being posh, apparently.

As summer draws to an end, much to my complete relief, I find that I spend more time reading and hanging about my balcony drinking tea and listening to my neatly selected Pandora stations (stuck on a Chopin, London Symphony Orchestra, Carl Orff, Heavy Metal and Globus as of now). I, once again, vow to write often as I continue to explore the city and other places and rediscover several forgotten things. My mind screams for an outlet, which I understand since I seem to feed it a lot of information and being the sort of person that likes to have a written record of anything, putting those thoughts into words is the ultimate goal. Though, of late, pictures have made their way into my vocabulary. Simple, everyday moments of beauty transfix me.

And so I shall continue. 9861 days on Earth, every tide and turn of a clock that still ticks on, as I hurtle through space with billions of other living organisms into the vast unknown, cutely encased in a nutshell that we term ‘life’. I will make the best of it. It is my one aim. The driving factor of it all, other than integrity, independence and poise is that little voice that whispers, “Knowledge for knowledge’s sake.”

2012 – A Retrospect Pt. 2

What should have been a hundred line post has now become two posts of more than a hundred lines each. It’s a whole year that I am attempting to surmise. I know it can be easily accomplished but I am not that skilled, nor am I in the mood to mince words. Hence, here I go again.

July

Summer fun went on in full swing with several picnics in the park during the Grant Park Music Festival, a 4th of July trekking trip and the thrill of another birthday. A Greek dinner with the larger group of friends, a riverside sea food restaurant and a steakhouse marked the week of my birth. That and my hair make over! Short hair, a bob cut that went with my suddenly thinner face and leaner self 🙂

There’s possibly just one other thing that must not go unmentioned – that token of acknowledgement and appreciation my manager initiated. He had already earned my respect for being a manager, a team leader and yet one of the team. He knows each person in his team, allows them enough lee way, but is trustful and has faith in each person’s abilities. Naturally each of us has to live up to those expectations and prove our worth as well, but my point is that when you’re working with someone who acknowledges you for who you are, professionally and in that informally formal manner, it’s easy to give your best.

August

A trip to New England was in order to drop my little sister off at college. At Yale, to be precise. It was a long drive up from Atlanta to New Haven but the weather was companionable all through. I believe it was at this time that I went on my American authors spree as I tried to keep up with my reading challenge.

The only major change, significant for me at least, was that I finally upgraded my phone, a Galaxy S III nonetheless, and moved out of my family plan to take on the responsibility of paying my own cellular phone bills, something I have not done in the ten years that I have had a cellular phone number to my name.

September

There was all of the going out and enjoying the light, dinners and the German classes. I had enough on my plate with just that and becoming a gym rat. Literally, no socializing apart from the people I already knew and even them I began to ignore at one point.

The highest point of this month, apart from the constant headache and annoyance emanating from certain people, was my promotion. It was a surprise to me because it resulted from my mid-year review, which apparently was excellent in every form. It was my first ever promotion at what I consider to be the first job of my professional career. Cheers to that!

October

I’ve begun to pay more attention to the city this year, exploring its many culinary and cultural offerings in addition to the quite conspicuous architectural glory. The city never ceases to fascinate me, this I have said in wonderment a million times over. Open House Chicago was fascinating in this venture of mine. I also took to visiting a new restaurant, by myself or with a friend, every weekend and treating my palates to various cuisines.

November

Fall set in a little late, or so I thought. I had been so caught up with work that I had failed to notice the change of colors till the very last week of the falling leaves!

Either way, a team outing of Whirlyball paved the way to wonderful business trip to Guatemala. The country had such an earthy feel to it I loved it! Of course, we stayed at a fancy hotel and were chaperoned through Guatemala City and Antigua, so I didn’t see the ‘real’ country, but you get a pretty good idea of it. The visit to Antigua was a short, quick one, and I so wish that we had more time! I would love to go back and visit Tikal and other centers of the Mayan civilization. Even the churches, the ones that have stood their ground through the ravages of time and nature, took me over – and I’m not religious. The whole trip made up for what is currently my worst flight experience – a cancellation, a rebooking, a change, a technical difficulty a second before take-off, another change, actually taking off, rushing through tourist traffic and making a connection in 10 minutes with my name off the passenger’s list… yeah, for me, that’s bad.

Thanksgiving became an affair with friends with three dinners over a period of five days, not including the left overs. I have never indulged in the madness of Black Friday sales and I can honestly say that I still haven’t done that. I settled for doing my shopping online and as is always the case with me, nothing I bought was on sale. When I received the eight or nine packages a week later I was reminded quite starkly of the amount of money I have spent online in the past year. Most of it on clothes that I required to replace all of those that no longer fit me, winter jackets and fall coats included.

The month included a very late night at work for me, an occurrence I do not wish to repeat, a surge of attention – some of it putting me in an awkward position of reluctance and non-responsive/placating mode – and a more secure footing of faith and trust.

December

The last month of the year. I had decided in November that I wouldn’t be able to complete 100 books in the year so I set my sights at the more achievable 80.

A longer trip home this time encompassed a five day sojourn to Miami and Key West. The sun and heat did not agree very well with me though I very much enjoyed the open, unrestrained lifestyle of the city. The vast flowing waters of the Atlantic and the Bay are enough to convince yourself that this is better than having a white Christmas and missing the first snow fall of the season (something I have missed in Chicago for the past four winters).

There are several things I wish I could have done this year, but I must admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed myself all through. I want so much more out of life, things that I know only I can accomplish or do anything about and I will be giving it my all as I take a deep breath and welcome another year of the 21st century. Here’s to more traveling, discovery, achievements, laughter, relationships and growth.

2012 – A Retrospect Pt. 1

I have not written as much as I would have liked to this past year and the only proof of this exists in the form of incomplete draft posts. All my ideas and thoughts, though, have remained rather fresh in my mind and so I decided, as I did once before, that I shall simply put together one (or a few) liners for every month of the year.

January

I returned, rather relieved and feeling more determined, from a visit home, my first in two and a half years. While I was glad that I made the trip and met friends that I hadn’t seen in more than thirty months, it only aided in cementing my fear that I can never conform to what is actually expected of me.

Anyway, it was also in this month that I attended my first social gathering from work – the annual holiday party. It was interesting and nice and I was so glad that my best friend agreed to be my date ’cause it meant that I got to dress up and dance the night away 🙂

I should also mention that I began swimming again, after a ten year hiatus. My muscles moaned, groaned, protested and ached as I subjected my body to a paltry beginning of 200 meters a day. Sucks, I know, but I was gladdened by the fact that I hadn’t lost control of  my technique, though I knew I had to work extremely hard to get back into the proper flow. I was a moderately fast competitive swimmer in my school days but I decided to go for endurance swimming, i.e. distance swimming, concentrating on my stroke and strength rather than the speed.

I resolved, also, to aim at completing one hundred books this year. I got close enough last year, so why not give it a try again! (While I can never give up printed bound books, I have invested in a Kindle Fire which I hope will aid me in my reading ventures).

February

After the fantastic winter storm last year, my hopes were pretty high for a good pile of snow this year but it wasn’t to be so. It was a weak-ish winter though I was treated to some gorgeous views and walks of a frozen Lake Michigan, including the Chinese New Year celebrations.

My first ‘review’ at work came back at a rather low level which made me wonder what I had been doing in the past few months and what was expected of me. Of course, I thought it was a little unfair considering that I did as much as I could, being as involved as I could without being intrusive. I didn’t think that what I did was being properly recognized though I appreciated the chances I had had in the past few weeks to prove my worth. I didn’t need to do anything better or more, I just needed to make sure that the proper people saw/knew of what I did. Which is why I think I was one of the few people in my team who welcomed the change.

March

Michael Flatley’s Riverdance is a fantastic piece of work, dancing and music alike and in concurrence with St. Patrick’s Day, I got to watch a rendition of his Riverdance sequence at the Oriental Theater. A quick trip home, rooftop dinners and roaming the city as it celebrated its 175th birthday rounded odd this month.

April

I had long decided to spend my bonus on a vacation. It wasn’t much but a weekend away was just what I wanted and needed as I took on more responsibilities at work, what with one of my team mates going off on a long vacation.

I chose to go to Seattle. Why? Because I’m not a party person, I’m not a big fan of beaches, and my type of vacation is one that has a cultural or nature streak to it along with good food and art. I was treated to a beautiful mix of both and I know I will do it again.

Speaking of culture, I went back to school to learn German 🙂 I had forgotten almost all that I had learnt of Deutsch and decided to sign up for classes at the Goethe Institut. Once a week for the next three months to begin with.

May

Work got intense – twelve hour days, spending lunch break swimming because I needed to do something to relax. I think my social life went down to zero in this period but I made the best of my evenings and weekends. I once again played host to my visiting family for a week, showing off my city as Chicago has now become, and assuring them as subtly as I could that uprooting me from here and my job would not be as easy a task as some of them thought it might be.

There were several things that I got into surprisingly this month. I was taken in by theater; I found that a little theater in the north part of the city was putting on an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice! After the disconcerting experience of attending Persuasion adapted as a musical last year, I kept my expectations low. I was happy to be proved wrong. The Lifeline Theater did a fantastic job of it and rekindled my interest in attending plays. There was also that one day I spent at the Art Institute of Chicago and surprised myself by being taken over by the modern art wing! I actually understood it. I felt it.

A visit from a school friend was another cherry on the cake for the month. She and I had kept in touch via emails, lengthy, verbose ones which covered everything from our every day lives to books, the English and politics. A lot of reminiscing and bonding happened over a fine meal at the Signature Room and I realized then that I hadn’t really expected to meet her after all this time and the fact that we could talk to each other about anything just goes to prove that good friends always pop up in the most unexpected yet satiating situations.

I do not intend to overload this month but I must mention that Chelsea finally won the Champions League beating Bayern Munich in their own home ground. Champions against all odds. I cried and exulted as I watched the game. It was meant to be in that moment.

June

It turned out to be a very very fun one at work. A bunch of team lunches and talking brought my team closer than we had been before. It felt like a proper working group of people that enjoyed the company of each other and produced great results. This along with my one year anniversary at Orbitz made me feel like I was actually getting somewhere with my career. The fact that I had grown in a mere four months to someone that could be depended upon to get the work done without supervision or a mentor crowned the little glass globe I received.

A surprise trip home startled the joy out of my family; it was a much needed break.

I took to enjoying summer in the city this time – as much as I still despise the heat and humidity. My wardrobe went through a complete makeover for this reason, and the fact that I couldn’t wear most of the clothes I fit into six months ago. I lost about fifteen pounds, had toned a lot of the extra fat in my body and felt fit, active, healthier and stronger all by just swimming for thirty minutes every day. I was forced to cap it at 30 mins, which in June was about 45 laps in a 20 meter pool. It isn’t much but it worked.

Anyway, I took to riding the boat to and from work. It gave me the time to watch the city from the river, a view and feeling that is unmatched. It brought out the hidden photographer in me. No fancy camera, just my phone and a digital Nikon and I went all out with it.

My Irish Weekend

The Irish are fascinating, aren’t they? My earliest interaction with the Irish began with leprechauns, as is with most children outside of Ireland, I think. Little old men with pots of gold… 🙂

My festivities began rather early. From the end of January, if memory serves right, when I found out (it is for this reason alone that I’m glad I have a newspaper subscription) that the Riverdance company would be performing Chicago. I’d watched Michael Flatley‘s Riverdance and Lord of the Dance shows as a child, most than a decade ago, and while I was a bit put off that it wasn’t his company, I still delighted in the prospect of watching a live performance of Irish tap dancing!

The Oriental Theater, Chicago

I fretted over the tickets for a good while before I paid up and got, what I deemed, the best seat possible. I’m pleased to report that it was all worth it. The Oriental Theater/Ford Theater itself was a bit of a surprise for me, what with all the awesome carvings all over, and a rather sophisticated and old feel to it. Anyway. One and a half hours of awe-inspiring tap dancing, in both hard and soft shoes, a fiery flamenco performance, foot tapping (get it? :P) pieces by two tappers who also gave the show a comic feel, wonderful and moving instrumental pieces (drums, violin and pipes), singers and the grand finale with the entire company joining in in song and dance. Here’s the breakdown of the two acts, scene by scene. I loved the perfection of the dance; they made it seem so simple and easy to stand on ones toes and prance about with seemingly no effort! Next step, go watch Michael Flatley! 🙂

Riverdance

Now, when I moved to Chicago two year back, I had been told of the tradition of dyeing the Chicago River green on St. Patrick’s Day. Most (un)fortunately, St. Patrick’s Day has always fallen on a weekend of Spring break, which meant I was never in the city to witness the splendor of watching the brownish waters of the river turn neon green for a few hours. This year, I made my trip home early in the month so I was around to watch this happen!

Given the freakishly warm season and the rather unexpected early onset of Spring (Chicagoans would know exactly what I mean by this), I knew it would be crowded. But nothing, absolutely nothing, prepared me for the thousands of people lined up along the Riverwalk, river, and bridges. If I thought the dyeing of the river was crowded, I was in for a bit of a shock when I walked through the throng of people, all dressed in green, towards Grant Park onto Congress Parkway where the parade was underway. Thousands and thousands of people! The final count, I believe was more than 350,000! I mean, seriously!! I wonder where all these people have been in the past few months, because I’ve never ever seen so many people on the streets of the Windy City in my time here! I guess the weather brought them out 🙂 But apparently this happens every year for St. Paddy’s.

East view of the Chicago River from the river walk
Looking west
Canoes on the river!
Some thousand people at the parade

The Hiatus Explained

Ah! The number of posts that have begun with “I’ve been meaning to write, but…” I just ran out of excuses, so I’ve caved in and begun to type away.

How long has it been? A couple of months, at least. It’s already been nine weeks since I got back from my three week visit with the family back home (the one where I really come from. Bangalore), yet it seems like ages ago! Not too many things have happened since, but I’ve been a busybody, so there’s naturally a lot to talk/write about.

Let’s start with December ’11.

I was way too excited about going home after two and a half years that most of what happened during my preparations escape me. My family from Atlanta had driven over for Thanksgiving, and despite the typical Chicago chill, we had a great time. Seven of us packed in quite cozily into my little apartment, walking around the city, me boasting every step of the way, them smiling and nodding indulgently… I even took them to my office, where my brother had a ball of a time, once he was fed and watered. We had our Thanksgiving feast, and they left. I had no time for brooding because now I had to pack! And I did! I had a ton of shopping to do. Packed, unpacked and repacked everything before I was satisfied I was set.

I made sure I was armed with some GBP, because my layover of 4 hours was at Heathrow (have I mentioned I love Terminal 5??) and I intended to make the best of it. I was already rather taken over having flown over southern Ireland and a lot of England – seeing the rolling meadows, craggy cliffs, crashing waves, quaint little towns, and the gorgeous country side of the United Kingdom I knew why poets and authors were so inspired. I knew why I loved them.

My homecoming was as expected. Joyous, exciting, emotionally taxing. There was the expected talk of ‘marriage’ and I thank the sanity bestowed upon my Mum and Dad in this case, while I doubt that of everyone else. I’ve been left to my devices, to focus on my career and general self, which is such a relief at this point because I don’t think I’m ready for it!! Anyway…. a gazillion visits to the dentist, a sojourn with the parents, some quality family time, catching up with long lost friends, some expected some unexpected… it was all fun and joy, but I was rather glad to leave. Really!

As a Christmas gift to myself, I bought a Kindle Fire! No, I’m not cheating on my beloved bound books, I’m just keeping with the times. This does not mean or imply that I’m giving up physical books. I’m just going to be using both. Physical, bound books will forever remain my first true love, the one that lasts forever, while the eReader is just a mistress that may (or may not) lose it’s charm.

January ’12

I travelled half the globe ringing the New Year in on three different continents and over a dozen countries, the longest prolonged first day of the New Year for me. Felt good, somehow.

The month wasn’t uneventful, I must say. Chilling temperatures, raging winds, grateful for and then lamenting the lack of snow, wading through new restaurants, and Chicago’s winter offerings, actually succeeding in preparing some dishes that I thought only my mother could do, reading and more reading.

I think I did a bit of soul searching at this point. Nothing very serious, but I did find it necessary to rethink my priorities and realize why I am the way I am and why only few people understand that. Seriously, especially after the harsh slap of reality a few months ago that prompted my writing a poem, I fully believe in karma, more so now than ever before.

Owing to my renewed intentions of getting fit, inspired by the results of my previous self-imposed fitness regime last year (and the fact that I now pay a monthly fee for my gym :P), I took to swimming. It felt sooo good to be back in the water! I didn’t realize how much I missed it till I stepped into the pool and did 40 laps in my first session! Naturally my muscles protested and scolded but I stuck with it. It’s been almost a decade since I partook in such intense swimming. It will take me a couple months to regain my previous form, but for now, I’m happy to be back in the water!

February ’12

A leap month, which bears no more significance to me than any other person who cares about the number of days in a year. I discovered Downton Abbey sometime in January, thanks to my having a Netflix account, and stuck with that obsession as I waded through a whooping 17 books in the first two months of the year! I didn’t expect to have such a good start, and now that I do, I hope I don’t lose it! I’ve been alternating between the serious books, which to me are the classics, and the quick reads, which include present day thrillers/mysteries and historical romances.

Significant changes in the lines of friendship… in the year of the dragon, no less. I can’t say I’m surprised by the outcome, but it does hurt when someone you’ve given your whole support to accuses you of being too ‘uppity’ to hang out with! Silliness, I say, because I know that the relationships worth keeping have sustained a lot worse and are still strong and rolling. I appreciate them more now.

I discovered some older authors that I’ve never read before, I’m rethinking my career path, planning out my list of ‘things I want to do before I die’ – I refuse to call it a ‘bucket list’ because I think it sounds lame – and falling in love with this wondrous city again.

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I know I’ve left out a lot of things, but this post was meant to just get me back into the writing mode. I admit that I’ve been paying more attention to my review blog (Words – Others & Mine) and it has worked wonders in my keeping abreast with my reading challenge(s) for the year. I expect to keep this blog up to date in the coming weeks, given that I do have a lot lined up this month, Riverdance for one. Yes! Riverdance! Not Michael Flatley‘s company, however, but another, and they’re coming to Chicago in two weeks. Can’t wait to finally see a live performance after all these years (beginning when I was maybe 10) of dreaming of it. And I’ll finally be in the city for St. Patrick’s Day! Also, now that I have a decent digital camera, I think I might take to re-exploring the city whenever I have the time.

Here’s to March being a fun and productive month!!