A Friday Afternoon

2:00pm on a Friday : I stifle a yawn as I stare at my to-do list on the table, clearly indicating my interest in those items. I try to shield my eyes from that bright yellow post-it pad and look at the distant sight outside the window. The cloud cover and tiny droplets on the panes tempt me further to pull out the book I’m carrying in my bag, and dare into a mid-day slumber on my rather comfortable recliner!

I see two colleagues pass by, murmuring at the printed sheets in their hands, and about ‘GeniusIT’ not producing the right numbers. I recognise one of them and we exchange customary smiles. I chuckle inside my head at the ironic name we’ve chosen for a system that is unable to produce what we want! Perhaps calling it ‘GuessIt’ is better suited, at least if not the numbers, it will stand true to its name. I smirk at my own joke, before regaining composure, and decide to get back to my excel sheets.

A few minutes later, I look at the light drizzle outside the window again. Small droplets begin to slide against the panes. I smile to myself thinking, London won’t remain the same if it doesn’t drizzle as lightly as is naturally possible, at least once a day! And, it can prove to be some fun when you don’t have to rush somewhere. I lightly stretch and stare at the changing shapes of the clouds. Locking my computer screen, I rummage for my tiny umbrella in the bag and make my way to the door in quick steps. Crossing the turnstile downstairs, I smile at the familiar face of our security guard. ‘Have a good weekend!’, he politely wishes as I spring open my umbrella and turn left outside the big glass doors. The small raindrops begin to pitter-patter on my umbrella, and my mind begins to play names like from a reel, of cafes and coffee shops that I may stop by a little later. I ask myself to slow down, and to not think so far ahead already. I breathe in deeply and blink a few times trying to be present in this moment. Among the raindrops, on the wet cemented ground, in the wet shoes and with the cool breeze that is enveloping me.

I cross the square and take to the sidewalk. I begin to enjoy the drizzle, that’s become a tad heavier than before. I see a number of black cabs zoom past. I follow the curve of the road, into the narrow alleys between tall office buildings. There are colourful umbrellas everywhere. I step into the archway that lines a large number of small and lovely take-out joints – salad bars, Thai, Indian, and Mexican take-aways, soups and sandwich joints, you name it. Most of them seem to be wrapping up, and closing for the day already. I take the tiny corridor that opens the archway onto the road perpendicular, joining the main street. Traffic here is heavy, but orderly still for a Friday afternoon. I cross the street at the signal and take to the sidewalk at the other end.

Walking on the main streets in central London can sometimes feel like a quick time-travelling exercise. Each corner turns into a different landscape, a different era. The Victorian church-spires and cathedral domes stand tall among the new glass skyscrapers and high-rises. London’s architecture and skyline are perhaps a testimony to how we can adapt to changing times while retaining some of our old self intact, within. Deep in thought, I stand at a corner and capture the views into my phone-camera. I decide to take sepia prints of it later, when I get home.

The drizzle has finally taken a pause. I walk some more, and wonder if the sun will show up. The forecast says clear weather for the rest of the evening. Wanting some tea now, I google the nearest cafe and make my way there. It’s abuzz with people but not crowded, thankfully. I order a chai-latte and pick a corner seat. I finally pull out the book I carried in my bag all week in the hope of catching a read, lay it on the table; mix some sugar into my tea and settle in for a cozy time. The light music they are playing in the cafe adds to the mood and I begin to tap my fingers on the table.

Tip-tap, tip-tap-tap, tip-tip-tap, tip-tap-tip-tip-tap-tap… when I suddenly hear ‘Ramya, can you help me with something?’. I recognise the voice but I find it tough to place it here. And, I hear my name being called out again. I look to my right and it’s my intern, looking at me possibly as quizzically as I am looking at her right now. I sit up quickly and look around, look down at my hands on the table and it dawns upon me. Taking my face into my hands, I burst into a laughter and look up to say ‘Hi!’ to my intern again. She smiles but from the way she is looking at me, she probably thinks I am part-crazy. Or, fully maybe!

After I help her with the query, I glance at my watch. 2:25pm, on the same Friday afternoon. How easily the mind wanders, I think to myself. How our mind weaves reality with wishful thinking and paints the picture we want to be a part of, within minutes! And, that’s the brilliance of the power of imagination.

I drop a text to my husband soon afterwards, ‘Meet me at the stairs outside your office building. We are going for a walk in the city this evening!’.

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Escape Of Today, Autumn Of Tomorrow

If you follow me on Twitter, you’d know how much I love sitting by the large windows of my living room. It should be no surprise then if I say, I am sitting by one of those lovely windows right now as I type this. I am also cozily tucked into a throw and intermittently staring at the marvellous sight that is the balcony of a couple living in the opposite apartment block. Beautifully and just adequately lit by their lamp in the corner and some candles on the table, I can imagine what it must be like to sit in the cool breeze, crisp air and sip some red wine & nibble on chocolates. The gorgeous flowery plants all around the parapet hide the view but it’s a good guess they are having red wine. I’d if I was sitting there and chocolates would be a definite yes! Hubby nods in agreement, but also nudges me to not stare so hard.

Containing myself, I get back to my screen. It is almost 7:15pm, sun has set and the skies are slowly losing their beautiful hues of dusk to blackness. Getting used to the sunsets in London can be a challenge for someone who has lived all her life in a tropical land. We rise and fall (into bed!) with the sun over there, and it feels cumbersome to do it any other way! That is the reason I best like this time of the year here. The days haven’t yet become short and dark, and everything outside is pretty great too. I mean, what’s not to like about autumn. From the way it’s spelled to nostalgia attached with Enid Blyton story books; from scents and softness of the season to its distinct foliage.

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Need I say more?

This is also the time when I begin to click the big tree at my office square everyday, capturing the changing leaf colours and density, in the hope that I will make a stopgap video out of those frames! I know I will go replenish my stock of scented candles soon and buy fresh produce of the juicy berries and apples so my fruit basket can mirror the season colours! And that reminds me, autumn is also the time to cover up again, to bring out the boots, soft cardigans and coats that I had so happily stowed away. I will, of course, refrain myself from getting a new wardrobe but the shops are already lined with such sumptuous textures that it is going to be difficult to stop! I quickly glance at hubby who looks immersed in a book, so I don’t bother telling him of my temptations now. Around the house, all the rugs and cashmere blankets will be shown some sun before it becomes a scarce commodity, along with doling out some soups, leafy healthy preparations out of this new recipe book that hubby gifted me and find more & more excuses to stay indoors to catch up on movies we missed during the busy outdoors-y summer.

I suddenly look out the window again and I don’t see any shadows in that balcony. Just find a faintly flickering candle all by itself on the table. The road below has also quietened now. Well, Sunday has almost come to an end, and it so appears that my fond remembrance and wishful planning for the season have taken me away in thoughts too. But then, it is something to look forward to, isn’t it? Reality surrounds us, and Sundays have become mere reminders of Mondays more than anything else these days. But what is a Sunday devoid of wishfulness, of yearning, of tiny escapes of the mind? It is in these tiny escapes that I tighten my grip on reality and live it, shape it fully.

I now have a reason more to love the autumns!

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Photo of the tree at the office square from last year!

Follow Your Heart, Not The Herd

Oft these days, I come across blogs, articles and interviews about people who quit their ‘9-5’ job to follow their true calling. I read about how life in a cubicle was almost stifling and offered no contentment that they had hoped for, and how taking that leap of faith turned out be their best decision. It is inspiring to read such stories! Choosing to do what you love over something you are unenthusiastic for is definitely the best gift you can give to yourself. Especially, if you found yourself bound by the strings of society and you decided to break those shackles.

One of the more popular true-callings that I read about happens to be travelling the world. Some others are about starting-up on their own, building apps, games and services what not. Trust me when I say, I think all this is absolutely great! I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a few such gems, thanks to social media. And their enthusiasm is infectious; their belief in what they so passionately do commands respect.

However, I have also come to observe how this is benchmarking what makes you successful, more importantly, happy. Unless you have jerked off some (or at least one) of those societal shackles, you are probably not doing it right in life! That, if you are leading what is infamously known as the ‘corporate life’, you are seen as moving farther away or even completely foregoing the simple pleasures of life. That, you are monetising your life by striving to go up the corporate ladder! I feel confused when I hear people tell me about their jobs with such disdain, because well, they are just ‘9-5’ jobs. “What would you rather be doing then?” is (as politely as possible) my next question, and pat comes the reply, “Oh, no. I love my job, but well – it is just a corporate job. Nothing fancy you see!”.

Jumping to extreme viewpoints is a plague our world is diseased with. The ‘either-or’ philosophy is what we go by, anything grey is befuddling. Also is the habit of labelling everything. This is good, that is pathetic. That is cool, this is boring. What I am trying to say here is, just because one is trending does not mean the other is completely meaningless. A career with the corporates teaches you as much as travelling the world on your own – yes, they teach you some very different things and that’s the difference you want to choose for yourself.

As I sit staring out the window in our living room, feeling rather preachy, I remember the whatsapp texts from my brother the other day, telling me excitedly about this taxi driver who studied economics and yet chose to taxi simply because he loved meeting new people; and then I also remember my two friends who went travelling around the world for months and have now come back rejuvenated to reinvade the corporate world, this time in the sphere of their interest.

To them I raise a toast, for, no job is less fancy if you find the joy in your heart to do it day in, day out!

 

The #52BlogPostsProject

*INACTIVE*

When Divya’s text popped up on my phone screen, I almost had a flashback playing on a reel in my head. What she had suggested in her text was a superb idea and it made perfect sense for us to get together in this challenge. It was a thought I had once flirted with, for a brief moment but brushed it aside eventually. However, her sudden text coupled with her enthusiasm and support for me, I began to consider the possibility of embarking upon this journey she was asking of me, of both of us…

Divya’s idea was simple: Publish a post on our respective blogs once every week, for the next 52 weeks.

Isn’t that a wonderful thought to step into the New Year with? Of course, terribly daunting too!

We can find a million-and-a-one reasons for why we want to take up this challenge, but the primary reason is for us to reignite the passion for writing! And only writing can help you do that, really. Like how Liz Gilbert once said, “So if you want it to be better, then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal.” And that is exactly what the #52BlogPostsProject is going to be all about.

So hop along on this wonderful journey with us, as we try to show you a part of our world through these posts.

Also, allow me to introduce my amazing partner-in-writing: Divya Nawale. She has one too many feathers to her cap; multi-talented and a self-aware individual, she is an inspiration to me! Check out her blog here 🙂

How will the #52BlogPostsProject work? 

I plan to tag the title of my posts to indicate which week we are in, and hopefully that will separate my other posts with this, if I am miraculously able to write more than one post per week.

Please send in your suggestions, if any and all comments are welcome 🙂

Wish us luck, and hope you enjoy what we have to share!

 

 

Of Dreams

I have resisted moving places since childhood; and the more I resisted the more we moved around! And after all these years, I am so glad I have become used to Change. I spent my early childhood in complete wilderness, then became a teenager in the crowded city of Calcutta, post which I went to the land of study-o-holics and slowly turned into one as well! After that, life came a full circle again – carefully avoiding the details of which I will come straight to the point now. Experiencing newness in life is important; and it makes life even richer if we remember to embrace the newness with our whole heart. For, every new leaf has a story to tell of its own, and our life will be as vibrant as the number of new leaves we collect through our journey! As I look back now, I am glad I had the chance of living and growing up in different parts of my country. If I can handle the spice of Andhra, I can also handle as many Sandesh as any friend from Bengal can; and I enjoy Pilani’s extreme weather as much as Hyderabad’s pleasantness through the year!

And now, as my work brings me to the beautiful city of London, a second time in less than a year. A completely different set-up, new people, new lifestyle and surprisingly new manners as well. But, there is no resistance anymore. I am very excited about living the life of a Londoner here. For, I can already see the beautiful story that this new leaf is slowly unfolding…

These are some pictures clicked over the weekend gone by, of my new home here. I am in love with the beautiful crockery set at home, and candle holders lined up on our window sill. My new housemate loves to listen to the Radio – look at how vintage the Radio set looks! Living in a Victorian-style house is a dream come true – and an old favorite rings in my ears now, “Dream, when the day is through; Dream, and they might come true!” Dream!
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