Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Day 43: Last Working Day of 2009

New Year's Day is a public holiday in Singapore and tomorrow is New Year's Eve. I am taking tomorrow off from work, after all no point pretending to work when none is really around. So today was officially the last working day of 2009 for me. Before I left the office today, I took a minute to reflect on all that has passed this year. It's been a very interesting year at work and I guess I am overall rather pleased with it. After all, this was the year I got my first promotion in a job. Today I made sure that I got some work done because I didn't wanna end the year with zero productivity.

After I got back home, I worked on refining the film script for 5 straight hours without a break.

So overall, I can say that I am ending this year productively enough.

957 more to go.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Day 42: Mallu Catch Up

I love catching up with my Mallu friends. My hubby and I don't have any mutual close Mallu friends, so these occassions are special for me. A few hours chit-chatting in Malayalam and discussing Kerala based stuff is always fun. Even better when we spend time discussing films and theatre and other such topics of passion for me.

And today I did just that. Caught up with a Mallu friend and his wife for the first time after their wedding. Over an awesome Thalassery Biriyani dinner at Swadhisht, we discussed Mallu land and Mallu people and Mallu films and Mallu gossips, all in Mallu of course.

After which, I joined hubby and mutual non-Mallu friends for another round of catching up. So basically it was a fun day with tons of catching up. Yup!

958 more to go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Day 41: An Experience Ends

Today is the last day of my mom's and aunt's holiday in Singapore. My mom would visit soon again, but not so sure about my aunt. Anyway, I had a fabulous two weeks with her. Just like I had predicted here, I was part of her wonderful excitement in travelling abroad for the first time in her life. And today is the last day of that experience.

So how was today special. Today was special because we reminisced about the past two weeks over and over again. I left work a couple of hours earlier than usual and spent time with her chit chatting and having general fun. We rewound the last two weeks via watching the photo slideshow over and over again. We had dinner and took a long walk together. And now after I finish this blog, am gonna spend some more time with her before she takes her flight tomorrow early morning.

I am really gonna miss having her around. But I know she is gonna go back with a million beautiful stories to tell and memories to keep. I haven't posted any pictures in this blog so far, but I think I will put up just this one as a simple reminder of the fun we had.
959 more to go.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 40: The Sea

Any day I go to the sea is a good day. I can have the most awful day otherwise, but if I am on a beach, things automatically get better. I don't even have to enter the water for that. I simply love watching the sea.

Today my hubby and I took my aunt and my mom to the beach at East Coast Park. Sure, the beach in Singapore is really hardly a beach compared to the ones in India or other parts of the world. But the sea is still the sea and on top of that I love watching all the activities there. People having BBQs, family gatherings, cycling, jogging, walking their dogs, rollerblading etc. Everyone has fun there and I had fun watching them. We sat at a beach pub and spent a few hours there over a drink and some snacks. Perfect.

960 more to go.

Day 39: Scripting on a Bus

December 26, 2009

With so many holidays in December, I had grand plans of working on the second draft of my script. However, I had made absolutely zero progress so far. With my mom and aunt around, I am never alone for a time long enough or quiet enough to be able to work on the script.

So today, I sent them both on a shopping trip without me and told them that I will join later for dinner. They welcomed my absence because, according to them, I am a total pain in the ass during shopping trips. I apparently have no patience and hinder their progress and not let them shop in peace. So this arrangment worked well for all of us.

I wanted to have some lone time to think about changes to the script. My study room, with its bright red walls usually is inspiring enough but today that also didn't seem to work. I realized I needed a change in my environment. So I boarded a bus with a book and pen and took a long ride on it. As the bus eased through the roads, I started thinking of all the missing links in the script and jotted them down. Somehow the fact that I was not staring at a computer screen or even at a wall, seemed to help a great deal in my thinking flow.

In short, it was a pretty productive process. By the end of the ride, I had a fair idea on what to bring to the second draft and I think I have found a new inspiring environment for scripting. Gonna try this again next weekend!

961 more to go.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Day 38: Christmas!

I am not a Christian but I still think Christmas is the most beautiful festival in the world. I somehow love the universal festive spirit that it brings and also everything that it stands for. So I am generally happy every Christmas.

This year too, as usual, I didn't have a Christams tree or a Christmas dinner at home, but I joined in the festival by waking up super late (11:30 am to be precise), watching many movies that run on TV (I caught around 3 today), chilling out with mom, aunt and hubby in and around Dhoby Gaut and binging on some great food both at home (prepared by my mom and aunt) and outside.

On top of that, what made it truly special is that I received a few unexpected Christmas greetings from friends I haven't spoken to for a while, which was really awesome. It felt great to be part of their thoughts this Christmas!

962 more to go.

Day 37: Friends

December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve. Yet another festive day. We watched the Aamir Khan flick "3 idiots". The movie talks about a pretty strong bond of friendship. Interestingly enough, I happened to witness a strong bond of friendship today as well. I heard a piece of bad news about a friend this morning. I will not go into the details here but while the issue in itself was very undesirable, the silver lining was that I saw a group of friends being affected by this one person's predicament and I saw them rallying together to help out and stand by in any way possible. That's heartening to see, in spite of all that goes by.

963 more to go.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 36: Countdown to Christmas

December 23, 2009

It's really not difficult to find something special any day during the last two weeks of December. Really, Singapore is SO abuzz with the festive spirit that I find every single thing fascinating. So I shall keep this really brief. Today was great because I saw an ice skating performance which ended with a Michael Jackson tribute. It was wonderful! I also walked along the Orchard road with my mom and aunt and enjoyed a LOT of other performances as well - hip hop, chinese instrumental, rock music, chinese dance, choirs, tableaus, costume parades etc. etc. It was all so happening and I loved it all!

964 more to go.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day 35: A Book and Some Wind

After days of festivity and walking around with my mom and aunt, today I unexpectedly got some lone time. I left work early and after a yoga session, had a meal by myself since the two of them had gone off to the Zoo. I realized that I had not done that in a while. Sitting in a restaurant alone, have a meal by myself with only a book as company. And I quite enjoyed that! Of course, it would have helped if the book was a lot more interesting (I was reading The New Life by Orhan Pamuk and I believe it is narrating the story of a guy slowly losing his mind which really was a bit of a drag) but even otherwise, just some time alone was wonderful.

And even more unexpectedly, I did something I had been planning for a long time but never ended up doing. I spent almost half an hour enjoying the wind in the corridor right outside my flat. My flat is on a high floor and this corridor is always windy. It's like some wind tunnel passing through it. When we bought this house I had grand plans of spending time on that corridor and enjoying the wind whenever I felt like it. That was almost a year ago, and so far I had not spent more than 30 seconds there.

Today, I reached back home earlier than planned only to find that I wasn't carrying my set of keys. So I had to wait for my mom and aunt to get back before I could enter my house. Which meant that I stand on that corridor. The wind today was stronger and colder than usual because of the onset of a rain and I spent a good 30 minutes enjoying it. Totally unexpected, but completely satisfying.

And of course, my mom and aunt shared their tales from the Zoo which were very entertaining as always and the rest of the evening was spent in photo taking in and around my neighbourhood. It's almost as if the two ladies are growing younger by the day, the way their excitment and girly chatter is growing! I feel like the oldest one around now but am Loving it all!

965 more to go.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Day 34: Aunt and the Festive Spirit

Let me repeat myself. I LOVE DECEMBER! It is just SO awesome! The festive spirit really gets to you.

For starters, I woke up super late, had a filling breakfast my mom prepared and reached office only by 9:30. Then I realized that the office was pretty empty - not that I don't love my colleagues, but it is indeed great when people are not bustling past you and hovering around you constantly. I had a 2 hour lunch with some friends and went for a great yoga session in the evening. Oh and I did get some work done as well, just in case you were wondering.

Post that, back at home, my mom and aunt filled in me with details of their Sentosa trip. The stories ran for more than a couple of hours but the highlights were those about , a) How an old Chinese lady made conversation with my aunt on the train, even though the latter could not understand even a single word, b) Photo taking marathons - of the escalator, tram, random cute babies and some prestige brand's provocative visual of a couple, on top of all the other attractions in Sentosa, c) How my aunt is obsessed with buying earrings and watches, d) How she cant stop talking about how slim the Chinese girls are and last but not the least, e) The story of a Chinese dude who told my aunt that her smile rocks.

In short, I've had so much fun today that I think am actually looking forward to tomorrow, a Tuesday, which usually doesn't happen. The festive spirit and empty office would continue and so will stories of my Aunt. Tomorrow she is going to the Zoo.

966 more to go.

Day 33: Avatar in 3D

December 20, 2009

Today, I finally got to watch Avatar. Well, it was interesting and grand and I can really see the hardwork that went behind it but Wall-E would remain my most favourite animated movie ever for its sheer simplicity.

Having said that, watching Avatar was an event of significance and will go down in my personal record book for being the first movie that I ever watched in 3D, at least as far as I can remember. My mom insists that I watched a movie called "My Dear Kuttichathan" in 3D when I was 2 or 3 years old, but I have no recollection of that.

967 more to go.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day 32: Swimming Pools and Yellow Birds

Another fabulous day!

Firstly I got my aunt to enter a swimming pool for the first time in her life! Sure, she clung on to the ladder for almost 60% of the time, in spite of me assuring and reassuring her that the pool is only 1.2M deep in most areas. But after that she did manage to move around a bit, and later relaxed in a jacuzzi. It was wonderful to follow her excitement again! She made me take a ton of photos and for the rest of the evening, was giggling over her imagined reactions of her hubby and daughters over the photos.

Then we went to Esplanade, the Fullertion walk, Clarke Quay. Once a staunch follower of sarees and salwars, my aunt has been completely converted to a modern-outfit lady. She wore layered tops and posed for pics wearing them in different permutations. Her biggest regret was not carrying more tops in her bag so she could have a better variety of pics!

She thoroughly enjoyed the belly dancing at Shiraz and told me that rides such as the G-Max reverse bungee is one of the stupidest things one can take. She wasn't pleased with her hot chocolate from Starbucks but thankfully, found the food at Ras more than satisfactory.

All in all, I had a ball of a day again taking her around! Oh, today was also great because for the first time ever, I saw two yellow birds out in the open (flying from one tree to another in front of the Starbucks at Fullerton Walk). I probably have seen them at the bird park but never ever out in the open. And they were beautiful!

968 more to go.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Day 31: Aunt and her holiday

Today was so much fun! It was the start of the official "holiday time", which pretty much means that today's the day when people set off for their holidays for 2 or even 3 weeks. So the office started emptying out earlier than a usual Friday and I, who am not going on any holiday, set off to accompany my mom and aunt on their exploration around Singapore.

If you have been following this blog, you would know why I am so super excited to take my aunt around and if not, you will get some idea here. Anyway, things were as wonderful as I had expecting them to me. I had a ball of a time seeing all the excitement my aunt was going through. Here are some instances:

a) Her excitement over wearing the western outfit of jeans and top. For someone who has been wearing only Indian outfits such as sarees and salwars all her life, that's like a BIG deal!
b) This was then immediately followed by her eagerness to hear what her husband and daughters have to say, looking at her pictures in the western outfits.
c) Her marvel at Mustafa Shopping Centre - the mecca for Indian tourists in Singapore.
d) Her relief when she finally found something edible other than dosas and idlis - the IndianChinese food from Fifth Season. Till then she had formed an opinion that food here pretty much was not upto her taste.
e) And last but definitely not the least, I was very amused by what she told her hubby over the phone - "Here all the men and women are so much in love... they are always holding hands and stuff... you never did that!" (I found that incredibly cute because in Kerala, even the minutest form of public display of affection is usually absent among the married couples of my aunt's generation.)

Oh, and then her hubby, my uncle, told me (like for the umpteenth time) that I must take good care of her.

969 more to go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 30 - One Month WooooHoooooo

Today I officially complete 30 whole days, in other words 1 whole month, of writing this blog. And this is really significant for two reasons.

1) I have never ever, by choice, done anything consistently for 30 consecutive days. I specify "by choice" here, because I don't count things like studying for my board exams which was done purely from lack of choice. Even actvities that I love, say rehearsing for a play, have not seen 30 consecutive days. So actually managing to write this blog for 30 days is like an achievement of unimaginable magnitude for me. My bloated ego is currently congratulating myself on my determination and perseverence. Muhahaha (sorry, couldn't help the self-appreciating laughter).

2) It has been an eye and mind opening experience. When I started out with the mission of finding at least one special thing a day that makes it worthwhile to live, I did not imagine that it would be SO hard. Seriously, I have had a couple of notoriously horrible days in the last one month. But thanks to writing this blog, I was forced to look for that silver lining each day. Which re-affirms my belief that it is indeed possible to view life as bad or as good as you want it to be.

The next milestone will be on Day 100.

970 more to go.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day 29: Singapore

As planned, I took out my mom and aunt to Orchard Road today, to see the Christmas deco. After an evening of walking around, taking pictures, window shopping, escalator riding lessons and general chit-chat, I asked my aunt who is in a foreign country for the first time, how she liked Singapore.

I expected her to go WOW over the deco and the malls and everything bright and shiny that she saw around her. Instead she said that all those things were of course, very nice. But what really wow-ed her were the extremely clean, convenient and fast buses and trains and on top of it all, the fact that every road and every residential building seemed to have every single bulb working!

Well, she had a point there. Coming from a small town in Kerala, where it is not the most pleasant experience to take public transport and where there is never a road with no damaged lamp post, that must have been quite an observation for her.

It used to be quite an observation for me too, now that I think back. Of course, I love my country India and all that it has to offer but I used to appreciate the convenience and standard of life Singapore could offer, even if you were strictly a "middle-class" person. But over the years, I guess I have started taking things for granted. And her comment made me stop in my tracks for a couple of moments.

971 more to go.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Day 28: They've arrived

After a dramatic visa problem at the airport and getting me to wake up at 4 am to figure it out, my mom and have finally managed to arrive in Singapore. The hot teas, great food, hilarious conversations have already begun. Enough said.

972 more to go.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Day 27: A Monday that felt like a Friday

I just realized today's a Monday! Reason? I had such a fun day! I mean it was so much fun that it almost felt like a Friday! OK here's what made it fun...

a) No meetings. Man, what a difference to life that makes. In fact an absolute absence of meetings at work today makes me even look forward a bit to my jam-packed-with-meetings day tomorrow.
b) Two lunches with two friends. Ya, I seemed to have the time for that today.
c) A friend told me that a script I wrote made her cry. Not out of misery but because it actually moved her. Didn't expect that for sure!
d) Had a great chat over the phone with my mom and aunt, who are arriving in Singapore tomorrow, about all their preparations and plans. My mom is notorious for packing all the things that she can find in Kerala (including brown rice and coconuts) and then having to give them up at the airport because her luggage, without fail, goes overweight. She called me up from the airport and proudly proclaimed that this has indeed happened once again BUT she had to forgo only the brown rice and not the coconuts this time around. Great improvement there.
e) Made plans with mom-in-law on dances to perform at bro-in-law's wedding.
f) Hubby and I skipped yoga and instead found ourselves fooling around with the keyboards at an electronics store. And surprisingly we composed some decent tunes.
g) Watched 2012. It was horrible. But my imaginative husband was inspired and turned into a "world-is-gonna-end" mode. Which means he would thrust the shopping bag into my arms and scream "HOLD IT... the world is going to end!" or he would make a dramatic dash across the road saying "CROSS IT... the world is going to end!". It lasted for about 10 minutes and it was fascinating.

So there. It was a great day overall! Enjoyed every bit of it!

973 more to go.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 26: A Talking Husband

I like having conversations. I mean heartfelt, deep conversations about the world and human beings in general. So I have a tendency to go upto my husband and ask him "Why don't we have a chat?". Usually in all such occasions he would be watching the TV. Not that I like to bug him when he is watching TV but he is always watching TV leaving me with little choice. So this is how usually those conversations go.

Me: Why don't we have a chat?

Hubby (watching TV): Sure.

Me: Won't you switch off the TV?

Hubby (still watching TV): Sure, I will. Why don't you start first?

Me: I always start first. Why don't you start instead?

Hubby (still watching TV): Sure. What do you wanna talk about?

Me: Anything.

Hubby (still watching TV): OK.

Me (after waiting for further elaboration for about 5 minutes): Never Mind.

Hubby (still watching TV) doesn't respond because he hasn't noticed anything significant in my tone.

So then I give up and console myself that this is what 'man'kind is all about. Men cannot have conversations. They are incapable of it and there is no point in pursuing it. So I try and find a female friend online to chat with and the incident passes.

However last Friday a friend casually mentioned how she absolutely loves spending time with her husband on the balcony with a cup of chai having a "conversation". I stopped in my tracks. I verified with her whether "conversation" meant a one way dialogue from her or whether it actually included her husband opening his mouth. And she assured me that her husband in fact leads the talking and he loves it. I was stunned. Obviously my general assumption about mankind was wrong.

So I tried giving it another shot today. I took the opportunity of asking him to talk when a TV was not easily available, and that was in a restaurant. And this is pretty much how it went.

Me: So what else? Say something na!

Hubby: Tennis was good (he was refering to the game of tennis he played with friends yesterday).

Me: OK.. what else?

Hubby: You have a pimple on your chin.

Me: Oh... OK... what else?

Hubby (referring to the restaurant's menu): Their lime juice is not fresh lime juice.

Me (deciding that I had to be more specific): Well, what else is happening in your life?

Hubby: Nothing. You say.

So I did. I talked for half an hour non-stop. Initially about how hard it was to get him to say anything remotely interesting and then moved on to other topics like the plans I have for our holiday next year, about my work, plans for all the long weekends in Decemeber, recent gossips I have heard, my opinion that Jean Yip is a total rip off for a haircut and he should seriously consider taking $10 haircuts since he doesnt have much of a hairdo anyway, my frustrations in life including having to be the one who always leads a conversation and finally coming back to the point that he is really no good at some serious chatting.

When I stopped to catch my breath, he was just staring at me intently. Then I realized why I have never been seriously upset about this guy's total inability to express his feelings and opinions. I mean we have been together for 8 years after all.

Yeah, he doesn't talk. But he sure does listen. Oh well.

974 more to go.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Day 25: Irom Sharmila

I had a few different ideas on what to blog about for today. Interesting conversations I had during the day, watching one half of a cricket match after years, having friends over to my house and so on. But as I sat down at the computer, I happened to notice a link on Twitter, shared by a friend.

I followed the link. It talked about a woman called Irom Sharmila. But it was not just about her. That one single article told many stories and taught many lessons. And it has moved me in a way that nothing in the recent past has.

This is the link

I have nothing more to say.

975 more to go.

Day 24: Cake

December 11, 2009

An eventless day ended with a pretty nice evening. A group of us went together to watch the movie Rocket Singh and then headed for dinner. Throughout the course of the evening we discussed totally random topics like the creation of the new Telangana state, a friend's ability to speak Bahasa Indonesia, Bengali and Marathi, weight issues, alcohol, Twitter, something called zoo-zoo, and the most intriguing of all how my husband figured out that a woman in a burka was actually wearing a pink spaghetti inside.

But the highlight of the day was when we headed to a friend's place just before midnight to celebrate his birthday. His wife had arranged for a birthday cake (which apparently the birthday boy had made a special request for), drinks and snacks. As he blew out the candles and cut the cake, all of us sang "Happy Birthday" in as many different pitches and scales as possible.

Then one of them commented, "It's been so long since we gathered like a group... and celebrated a birthday." And he was so right! Birthday celebrations complete with cake cutting and a pretty juvenile ritual of "sabo" (I think it is meant to be "sabotage", which for us entailed covering the birthday boy or girl in food items, eggs and milk) used to be an integral part of university life. But after we graduated, a decent birthday celebration was going for a film, having dinner together and maybe a visit to the Rupee Room at max.

And then I realized how much fun a simple cake cutting celebration is. In the process of growing up (or growing old, whichever way you wanna look at it), we had chosen to ignore this tradition. Maybe we might start it again in the future, once we have kids. But the truth is that, we the adults, do enjoy it as much as the kids do.

So as of today, all I want is to cut a cake for my birthday.

976 more to go.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 23: Unexpected help

A couple of days ago, a friend narrated a dream she had to me. After listening to it I realized that after making some changes, it can be a great script for a short film. So this morning I took some time to pen the script down. It probably had some 20 lines. That's about it. Then I realized that the script might be short but it presented huge challenges in terms of production requirements. For starters I need an old chinese rickshaw driver, a dilapidated tiny HDB flat and permission to shoot at the 80th floor of the Swissotel. None of which are easy to get, in my opinion.

Just when I was forming the conclusion that maybe we shouldn't make this film after all, a friend messaged me on GoogleTalk. We haven't really spoken for almost 6 months now but he decided to message me just then for no particular reason. After the initial 'hi's and stuff, I decided to run my requirements by him and see what he thinks. He has been in Singapore long enough to at least have an opinion about such things. After listening to me, he immediately said that he will be going down to City Hall (usual hangout place for rickshaws) soon and will approach some rickshaw drivers and try persuading them. And then he said if the driver is on board, he might be able to get the HDB flat himself. And last but not the least, he also said that his friend is the F&B manager at Swissotel and he might be able to help with the permission.

I was dumbstruck, to be honest. Totally wasn't expecting that. I was just about to give up hope without really even trying to work on any of the necessary things and here was someone who was telling me that everything can be fixed. Just like that.

Am not sure whether we will be able to pull the film off finally but it is a huge encouragement when help, or even offers of help, comes when we least expect them.

977 more to go.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Day 22: Library

When I first came to Singapore, I was miserable. I think I was one of the most homesick international students in the history of Singapore. I cried for several months and had great difficulty fitting in. Everything seemed wrong. Living in a room with 5 others when I never had to do that at home being an only child, having the bland dishes at the hostel which was such a gastronomic shock after the spices of India, having to survive on $200 per month which is literally what you call "peanuts", having to do physical training and sports which I hated, missing an active art club in JC which was probably my only chance of being good at something and the list can go on forever. In short, it was awful.

But there was one thing that I really liked those days and that was the library. Whether it was the then National Library at Stamford Road or the much smaller one of RJC, the libraries in Singapore were, and still are, great. They carry extensive collections and provide a good ambience. And they easily became my favourite spots in Singapore. Any free time I had at JC, I spent at the library. Most of my weekends were also spent at the libraries. I could just sit there for hours, irrespective of whether I was actually doing any quality reading or not. I used to feel that the library was one place I somehow fitted in. And it became my refuge.

Today I went to Bishan library with the aim of quickly chosing a book and going home. I chose an Orhan Pamuk in pretty much 2 minutes. Just before I left the building, I realised that there was not really much of a point reaching home early. My husband is not gonna be around anyway thanks to yet another of the infinite number of cricket matches that he prefers to watch with his friends.

So I decided to just remain in the library. I dunno why, but I did. I sat on a sofa for about 40 mins, not even pretending to read. I just sat staring into space, just like old times. And then I realized how much has changed over the past 11 years. I have not spend a minute more than I absolutely had to in a library, for several years now. Of course, getting over homesickness is one thing. But more importantly to me, I no longer felt the need to make it my refuge. And that felt good.

978 more to go.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Day 21: Being part of another person's dream

Almost every year I've had somebody I know from Kerala visiting Singapore for the first time and staying with me. My parents, friends, relatives, neighbours even. Some of them had travelled widely before but for some others this would be the first time they've ever been out of India and for that matter first time ever on a plane. While I enjoy having all of them over, it gives me a special happiness being part of the latter's journey. That of the "the first time foreign-goers".

The latest on the list is my aunt, who is visiting me next week along with my mom, for a 2 week holiday. I gave her a call today because while it would be fun to see her excitement when she is finally here, I knew that it would be equally fun to be part of the preparation process!

And I was right. There were all the excited questions and concerns - "I dunno English - how will I bargain?", "Am not gonna use the public loo because I heard there will be no water and only paper!", "Will there be escalators everywhere? Are they too fast? Can we use lifts instead? I practiced using it a few times at City Centre mall but still is very difficult", "Should we use fork and spoon even to eat rice?", "Shall I bring some pickle and pappadom?", "I will not bring any salwars and saris, am gonna wear jeans and t-shirts"!

And this is what I loved being part of. The wonderful excitement of someone making her preparations to cross the seas for the very first time. Listening to her stories of going to the only mall in the town to take her escalator riding lessons or wanting to wear western clothes for the very first time. Imagining her telling the entire neighbourhood that she is going abroad!

And now when she comes, I would love watching her wide-eyed amazement at all the cars (their headlights actually work!), the tall buildings, the clean trains, people of different races (and their outrageous clothes!), the public displays of affection, the Christmas decorations and the fantastic malls (which are a 100 times bigger than City Centre!). Just like all the other first timers.

Coming from small middle-class families, they would have waited for such an opportunity for years. Dreamt about it for years. And after the trip, they would tell the stories for years.

And I love being part of one of the biggest events in their lives. In my aunt's case, the event has just begun.

979 more to go.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Day 20: Whrrrrrrrr

My head is buzzing. It's like I can hear it go whrrrrr.... All I have been doing is thinking and thinking and thinking. Some say that the human brain has endless capacity. Either am not human or my brain is defected. Mine goes whrrrrr..... surely that happens when it has limited capacity?

So what have I been thinking of? I shall just summarize... a) Work work work - am working all day and at night I have calls to make, should I sleep in between? should i stay awake and continue working? am I really on track to my deadlines? do I really have any clue what I am doing? b) Casting woes for film - who shall I cast? I don't have enough respondents to my casting call, without critical mass how shall I hold auditions? what will I do if I dont get someone suitable for every role? what will happen to my script then? should I sell it? would anyone buy it? c) New thread for a script - friend shares a dream she saw, I see potential for a film but based in India!, wait a min - it can be based in singapore with some tweaks!, oh let's do it even before the feature film!, who will handle the camera?, when shall i make it? who will act? are we again back to casting woes? d) Blog - what will I write? what if am sleepy and dont wanna write? what if I sleep fitfully today as well? I dont wanna go to work at 10 am anymore! I used to be a 8:30 am person... and then blah and blah and blah...... it went on and on and on.

But soon it was 10pm and I had to see the positive side of this day in my quest for 1000 days of positivity. And believe it or not, I have. So here we go:
a) Work work work - I am done with all my night calls, and I have sent out every single document I was supposed to, and I am on track. I still dont have much clue what I am doing, but I guess that's what they call the learning process.
b) Casting woes - Not really a woe anymore, cos I have actually gotten some response. I also managed to put up the audition materials after a back breaking 2-hour long process of selecting suitable monologues. As for selling the script and not making it myself, a friend pointed out "It's your baby and don't send your baby to the least not at this stage." He had a point there.
c) New script - I have found the cinematographer. At least that part is done. We will figure out the rest later. But I love the idea and I think it will make a pretty decent film!
d) Blog - Weeeeeee...... am just a few words from completing it for today.
e) OK this was not part of my list above, but still I just realized that today was Monday and I didn't have any blues because I was so darn busy thinking.

So there. It was a productive day. My brain's still buzzing, so am gonna meditate for a while which, I believe, would effectively ask it to just shut up.

980 more to go.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Day 19: Stickers

I don't think I was ever a fan of going to school. Yes, I did enjoy time spent with friends and all the time I didn't have to study, but these were overshadowed by my chronic distaste for tutorials and exams and general requirement of well behaviour etc. I can safely say that, if given a choice, I would've rather sat at home. So, by the end of the 2-month long summer holidays in May every year, I used to be pretty close to tears.

However, not everything was bleak. What I did love about a new academic year were the new books, the brown paper and the name labels. Am not sure whether the practice is still around, but my school (and I believe pretty much every school in Kerala), required its students to wrap their new books in brown paper. A simple, logical solution to prevent (or rather, extend) the damage that kids can do to their book covers. Then, to identify which book belongs to whom, the practice was to paste name labels on each book. These would read something like "Name: Shilpa V Krishnan, Class: 3 B, Subject: Maths".

I used to love bending over all those books and papers and labels, together with my mom, getting them all sorted out under the light of a candle in our house, while the rain lashed and thunder blasted outside. Because by the time this excercise used to happen, the monsoons would have arrived and electricity would be cut off since some tree would have fell over some electircity pole. It happened year after year after year and I used to love it.

But what used to also happen is that when I go happily with my new books to school, I used to be surrounded by kids with books covered not only with new, crisp, more expensive shiny brown papers but also, pretty elaborate, gilttery, colourful name labels. My brown paper used to be the cheaper thin non-shiny material and my name labels were the complimentary ones I used to get along with the children's magazine, 'Baalarama', which were honestly not the most happening. But that didn't bother me much. Instead, what used to awe me were the stickers that some of them used to paste on their books. These could be Disney characters or fruits or flowers or random phrases like "Hello" or "Friend". They came in all shapes and sizes and colours and materials and were simply amazing!

I was always a responsible child and since I couldn't think of a really rationale reason for wanting such stickers, other than that I really loved them, I didn't ask my parents for any. So whenever a sheet of stickers did come my way, mostly as a gift from a friend or a relative, I used to treasure it! I used to treasure it so much that I didn't, ever, peel off a sticker to stick it anywhere. Instead I saved them all up in a box and would look at them once in a while and be enthralled by all those wonderful pictures. I believe that box and all those stickers are still intact in a chest under the bed of my parents.

Today I sent a sheet of stickers to a girl am sponsoring in Assam. A pencil or an eraser would have been more useful to her for sure, but for all you know, she might also have a small box where she keeps some pretty useless but precious possessions.

981 more to go.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Day 18: Thannal

In August this year, I happened to go back to Kerala for a short holiday. During my stay there, I visited an orphanage. There were a couple of reasons for that a) I was going through a bad phase and I told myself that sometimes it is eye opening to see how much others go through since relatively every problem is small and b) I had this vision that if I could identify a few key requirements that a very under-supported charitable organization faces, I could work to raise some money for them via creative ventures in Singapore.

And I did find out their requirements. They didnt ask for food or clothes or toys. Not because they were sufficient in those, but because they seem to have made peace with what they already have (for perspective, the children were having a dry dosa with black tea for their meal but were happy with it). They said what they needed was a washing machine and also a few cots. There was a reason too. Everyone used to sleep on the floor without any problem but recently all the kids got some skin infection and developed bad sores all over their bodies. So now they think it would be better to get cots as they believe the infection might have been caught from something on the floor. Also, three ladies wash the clothes of about 45 children every day, manually. Earlier the washing was done about once a week. But after the body sores breakout, they are washing the clothes every single day - on top of cooking, cleaning and all their other chores. And hence the need for a big washing machine.

That gave me a clear goal - I had to get them washing machine and cots. There was a team to support the cause in Singapore. We decided to put up a play to raise funds and went full swing in to preparations. I was the producer and director and I had a strong cast and crew working with me.

Unfortunately things took an unexpected turn when I got a new assignment at work and a lot of business related travelling came up as a result. The same thing happened with a couple of key actors in the team. In a nutshell, the project had to be postponed indefinitely.

When they heard the story of the children at this orphanage, one generous friend contributed the washing machine and another generous one offered a part of the required amount for the cots. But there was still a good amount pending and the thought bogged me down. I felt personally responsible for not seeing the production through and not being able to send them what they truly deserved. So I decided that whatever it takes, I will send them the entire amount by December 8th, the day the play was scheduled to go on stage and technically the day by when we should have raised the required amount.

This blog entry is for December 8th (it's just a bit past midnight). And am happy to share that with the help of those two friends and my husband, as well as with some calculated savings on my part over the last couple of months, we have raised and sent enough for the washing machine and the cots. Now I can move on.

982 more to go.

In case you are interested to know more about this charitable organization, it is 'Thannal' located in Mayannur, Kerala (

Day 17: Films

December 4, 2009

I am an absolute film buff. I can't remember how the interest began... sure, I was always entertained by films but to be so obsessed with them has been a relatively recent event in my life. I absolutely love watching films in any language, irrespective of whether they are good or bad. Of course, when I watch really horrendous films, I do talk about wanting to sue the film makers who have damaged my heart, mind and soul forever but I would be lying if I say that I do not enjoy the experience of watching even the least hopeless of films.

And recently I had taken to making films. OK, not really films but short films. OK fine, maybe they are miniature films, since the longest I have made is only 6 minutes long. They are films, nevertheless!

So making and watching films give me a great deal of satisfaction and today I had a positive run on both the items.

Firstly, I watched the Hindi film 'Paa' and enjoyed it throughly. I don't wish to turn this post into a film reivew, so all I'll say is that it is definitely one of the most unique films to have come out of India and the entire team deserve a pat on their backs.

Secondly, I got a bit of confirmation that I am on the right track trying to juggle my work (full time marketing manager at a MNC) and film making (purely part time) even though at times it is all too overwhelming.

Someone told me today that he was an aspiring director and he even got into the Pune Film Institute. But pressure from family got him to take up business instead. That was almost 30 years ago and now all he can think of doing is go to film school after retirement. To live his decades-old dream.

He told me that no matter how busy I am at work, I should try and keep up the films and writing on the side, because the deeper I get into work alone, the harder it will be for me to step back from it. It's a worthwhile no-regrets-later investment.

I had recently completed a film script but have been bogged down by doubts on whether it is something I could really pull off. I shudder to think of the amount of time, effort and resources required. But after talking to him, I know that I need to give it a shot no matter what.

983 more to go.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Day 16: It's all just a cycle

December 3, 2009

Today was one of those days that I couldn't decide whether was good or bad, at least until 10 pm. The day started off well enough at work, I had a good lunch time yoga class, I had a good takeout lunch and then something happened at work that took it all away, leaving me absolutely grumpy for a few hours. Just when you think everything is nice and rosy, something shitty happens. Always.

But after a few hours of being grumpy, I got bored of it. So I walked across the street in the light rain and treated myself to a good McCafe Himalayan Tea Latte (yes, it's one of my most favourite drinks as well, giving stiff competition to Starbucks Chai Tea Latte). It helped pick up my spirits a bit. Later I proudly announced on Facebook - "I am not a rat. And I shall not race." I thought that was extremely wise of me and I felt a bit more better.

But the real upliftment of spirit came later in the evening. I roamed around Orchard Road with hubby and his cousin who is staying with us for a few days. And I had such a wonderful time! I truly believe that the decorations this year are one of the best, really! December Rocks!

I walked a lot, ate a lot, talked a lot, gazed at the decorations a lot, posed for pictures a lot, took pictures of random strangers a lot, enjoyed the music at IndoChine a lot, enjoyed my glass of Bailey's Irish Cream a lot. In short, I had a gala time.

And I also listened. I love listening to stories and the cousin, who is in a senior position at a leading ad agency, had tons of them to tell. He has worked on some amazing creative campaigns, has travelled the world, and knows some of the biggest studs in Bollywood and all these make for some great stories.

Needless to say, by around 10 pm I was all smiles.

Just when you think everything is shitty, something nice and rosy happens. Always.

984 more to go.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Day 15: Polaroids

I have a confession to make. I had started this blog with a great deal of enthusiam but for the past couple of days, I had been finding it increasingly overwhelming. The thought of having to make this happen for 1000 days in a row was, in itself, overwhelming. And it didn't help when a few people I met told me that 1000 days is a loooooong time. To make matters worse, I found it pretty difficult to write after I get back home from a long, tiring day of work. It had been a struggle to complete quite a few entries late at night after work. That's when I started to feel that, maybe this wasn't that great an idea after all. But today I stand corrected. Great idea or not, I will see this through to completion.

A friend of mine messaged me on chat today. He sent me a link saying that he liked the idea of my blog and it reminded him of something he had read a while ago. I followed the link.

It told me the story of a man who took polaroid pictures every single day of his life for 18 years, until the day he died of cancer at the age of 41.

Every Single Day. For 18 Years. Until the day he died.

I felt so... small. Here was the story of a wonderfully passionate and determined man who continued his polariod life-capturing pursuit for 18 whole years, even during his cancerous days. And here I was, thinking of giving up something even before 18 days. What a slap on the face that is.

The most beautiful part of the whole experience was how I connected with this man. We seemed to have so much in common. He was a film maker and in a small way, so am I. He was a musician and in a very small way, so was I. He looked like an ordinary guy, the kind that you would not glance at twice in a crowd, and so am I. His photos tell us that he wanted to make the most of everything, and I believe so do I. And last but most importantly, he and I shared the need to chronicle each day of our lives, identifying something special that made it worth living.

His names was Jamie Livingston.

He kept it going for 18 years. I need to keep it going for 1000 days.

As a very humble gesture of respect, I dedicate this entry to him.

Jamie Livingston - Thank you for the inspiration.

985 more to go.

(This is the link my friend share with me:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Day 14: A snowy welcome to December!

It's December!

It's my most favourite month of year! I love absolutely everything about it! The pleasant weather, the shopping frenzy I see around me, Orchard road with all its wonderful decorations, the fact that half of my office folks would be out (which means I can chill during both weekdays and weekends), the greeting card exchanges and the mad rush to make yet another list of New Year resolutions. It's all so exciting!

Now I would have loved December even more if we had snow in Singapore. A white Christmas has always been my dream! But Singapore has no seasons and I had made my peace with the fact that a tropical country shall always remain a tropical country.

But today, I actually managed to welcome December with Snow in Singapore. In an unexpected turn of events, thanks to the creative thinking of my manager, we had a team building event at the Singapore Snow City.

Yes yes... I know that the Snow City is nothing like a city covered in Snow. In fact it is a mere room covered in snow. BUT, I had never been there before and it was such a pleasant surprise!

I loved wearing all those super thick winter clothing and posing for photographs at the different set-ups including a mock living room, igloo, polar bear, ski slope and ice-bar. I loved slipping over all that snow every now and then, having hot chocolate in true ski-resort style, constantly checking whether my nose was intact since it turned absolutely numb within 10 minutes being in that -10 degree room and last but not the least, I absolutely and completely loved sliding down the snow slope on a rubber tube over and over and over again!

And I think the best part was that just when I thought there is a serious danger of my frozen nose falling off, I could just walk out and appreciate the warmth of Singapore.

So much fun and so unexpected! Here's to a wonderful December!

986 more to go.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day 13: A childhood dream comes true

When I was a child, I was obsessed with the idea of travelling the world. Who wasn't, you may ask! Well, then you don't quite understand the intensity of my obsession. I was obsessed to the point of craziness. In hindsight, am surprised my parents didn't seek some sort of counseling for me during those days.

I used to dream about and imagine myself in all those far, far places. All those wonderful strangers with their strange languages and strange ways of lives. I used to display my horoscope to any random astrologer or my palm to any random palmist and ask the Golden Question, "Foreign povvo?". Literal translation: "Go foreign?". In better English, "Will I go abroad?". People have given me all kinda responses, " soon as tomorrow", "Never", "Maybe after 30 years" etc. etc. The inconsistency never stopped me from asking again. I even forced my dad to get me a passport when I was 9 for no particular reason and it lay unused for almost 7 years.

There is a festival called Thrissur Pooram in my town. Every year, I used to anxiously wait for it. I didn't care for the great fireworks or the elaborate decorations or the adorned elepahnts or the extensive rituals that Pooram was famous for. All I cared for was that with Thrissur Pooram, arrived the "Foreigners". Americans, Brits, Australians, French etc. etc. etc. It used to be best of times!

I used to drag my poor dad along to meet these random strangers. I used to go up and talk to them - on the streets, in the restaurants, in hotel lobbies - just so that I can listen to their amazing stories about their countries and people in all the different accents that they came with. (By the way, kudos to my dad for playing along with my madness for so many years. I might have asked my child to get a life instead). Sometimes I even got random tourists to come to my house for "an authentic Kerala meal", much to the annoyance of my mom who would be caught unawares.

Those days, my idol was this globe-trotting uncle who had several exciting stories to tell about the places he had visited. One day I came across his pile of passports. He had around 5-6 stuck together - evidence of his globe trotting. I looked through the pages in awe... all those visas stamped on them... the sight gave me more pleasure than all my Enid Blyton books stuck together. And then someone in the family commented, "Oh, he ran out of pages in his passport." I was flabbergasted. His passport didn't expire...but it actually ran out of pages! That day, I didn't want anything more than my passport to run out of pages.

And today, I realize that my jumbo Indian passport issued in November 2004, has run out of pages.

987 more to go.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day 12: The comic strip.

Today I had this very strong urge to draw. Draw something. Anything. And for that, I would need pencils and erasers and drawing papers etc. None of which seemed to be available. After spending almost an hour hunting for the required materials, I ended up with a sketch book, 1 mechanical pencil (I think that's what they are called) and a black felt pen. The resources were really inadequate even for a decent sketch but I was not one to be discouraged by such feeble barriers.

I sat down to draw and waited for an inspiring idea. None came. So I ended up doodling. Some of the doodles were actually looking like recognizable shapes. Then it struck me that today could be the day when I satisfy my age long desire to do some cartoon work or a comic strip, whatever you wanna call it! After all, I have a black felt pen.

The idea got me so excited! I drew a couple of frames and convinced that this is going to be the most special thing that would happen today, I wanted it to be part of the blog.

Then came the next set of difficulties. I didn't have a scanner. So I took a picture of the drawing and uploaded it on to my computer. It was a super ill-lit, blur picture. I played around with for a while, and kinda sharpened it a bit. As a result, it looks like some grainy sandpaper work. Anyway I added in the dialogues etc. and happily uploaded them online only to discover that the font is too small and can't be read. Oh well. So I have just added in the dialogues after each frame.

The characters are called "Da" and "Di" for no particular reason (but my Mallu background could have had an influence here). Also, I would say that this is not an exact replica of something that happens in my own household, even though my husband insists on being paid royalties for using him in the comic strip. I tried to convince that Da is not him or he is not Da, but he prefers to believe otherwise. What can I say.

So below is a strip on Da & Di. It is not a genius piece of comic art by any means, but it's my own dear little piece of comic strip.

988 more to go.

Di: Darling, can you please help clean the first guest room? I will clean the bedroom, second guest room, kitchen, living room and washrooms.
Da: Of course, Darling!

Di: Darling, am done with the bedroom and the kitchen. Are you done with the guestroom?
Da: Will do right after this show, Darling!

Di: Am almost done. How about you....Darling?
Da: In just 5 minutes, Darling!

Di: Am done. Would you like me to throw the TV out of the window so you can go and clean, Darling?
Da: No. No. Am going.

Da: Darling, I've cleaned the guest room.
Di: Oh... such a darling! Come watch TV then!

Di: Darling, which room did you clean, again?
Da: The second guest room, Darling!

Di: ...Which I had already cleaned this morning...?
Da: Oh.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 11: Five hours of voices in my head and finally, a Script in my hands.

Today started with breakfast at Murugan Idly. It's a $9 cab ride each way between the restaurant and my house but my hubby and I find it a worthwhile investment. So the morning started on a high but then there were a couple of hours of pure frustration when I had to unpack my luggage - the ones I took to US, Japan and Bangkok. After this tedious and highly boring task, I felt determined.

I felt determined to make the day special somehow - after all, am writing a blog about it man!

So I sat down to continue writing my feature film script, which I had not worked on for a while. Honestly, when I sat down to work on it, I had little hope of making any progress. After all, it's been more than a month since I gave it any serious thought.

In any case, I gave it a shot. I played the characters in my head. I watched the scenes and listened to their conversations. I acted out as if I were each character. I listened to different songs to vary my mood according to the characters.

And I wrote and I wrote and I wrote. Five straight hours.

And ladies and gentlemen, I have my feature film script.

OK, let's not get into whether it's good or bad or funny or sad. It is very much in a draft stage with lots of revisions on the way but it is a Complete Draft. Am not sure whether or when or how it will be made, but I have my Script!

The sense of achievement was so heady that I went for a long swim. And now to calm my nerves down further, am going for a great meal and a glass of wine at Clarke Quay.

989 more to go.

Day 10: Normal days and Little surprises

So after a couple of months of separate business travelling, my husband and I are finally back in Singapore. There is no further business travelling in view for at least a month now, which brings life suddenly back to normal. And man, how I had missed it!

I wanted to spend it exactly the way I do on the most uneventful of non-working days. Which includes:-

a) Watching TV
b) Lunch at Little India
c) Long conversation and Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks
d) Dinner and Movie with friends

So I did just that and it was great! All I wanted was a normal day and I got it.

Oh, but the normal day came with its own little surprise. During lunch at Little India, I bumped into a senior from college who told me that she reads this blog. I wasn't expecting that! I was writing away but I wasn't sure whether anyone (other than those I have kinda forced to) was reading it. So my heart did glow for a moment there.

So there. It was a special day, in all its normalcy and with its own little surprise.

990 more to go.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day 9: One bottle of water. Five smiles.

If I have already not made this clear before, am a huge fan of Starbucks. Am particularly fond of their Tazo Chai Tea Latte. Hence when I found out that Starbucks in Bangkok no longer sells this wonderful beverage, I was devastated. After a long, tiring day of consumer work, imagine running all the way to a Starbucks near the hotel in the hope of having that great cup of Chai only to be told that they don't sell it anymore. It's like one of the worst things that can happen to you.

Hence, the minute I landed in Singapore, I craved for Chai. So I went to the Starbucks at Terminal 2.

I was in the queue at the cashier with an Indian guy in front of me and an old Caucasian guy in front of him. The old Caucasian guy asked the barista for water. From his struggle to say "Water" you can kinda guess that English is not his forte. The barista gave him a bottle of water and asked for something like $2.50. The old man took out some 100 Thai Baht and gave it to the barista.

Barista: "Sorry sir, we don't accept Thai Baht. Do you have USD?

Old man simply blinks.

Barista (at half the speed, hoping it would help): "Siiiirr.... No Thai Baaaaht. USDdddd?"

Old Man (blinks): "Huh?" (sways the 100 Baht note in front of the Barista's face... he probably thought the barista had issues with his vision.)

Barista (pauses, considering the situation): "It's OK sir. You can have the water."

Old man sways the note even more vigourously.

Barista: "It's OK sir. No need money. This is on me."

Old Man: (suddenly understands it all): "Water.... take?"

Barista: "Yes. You can take."

Old man picks up the bottle, gives a faint nod of appreciation and leaves. Well, I definitely was wowed. I don't recall anyone giving away something on the menu for free like that at a coffee shop ever. I looked around expecting people to clap or something. None seemed to have noticed except for the Indian guy in front of me, who was smiling at the exchange. But he didn't say anything, and he definitely didn't clap.

Next was my turn and I couldn't help but talk to the Barista.
Me: "That was nice of you. About the water."

Barista (shrugs): "Well, it would have been hard to explain to him."

Me: "Still, it was a nice gesture."

The barista smiles. His colleague who overhears, smiles. The Indian guy smiles. I smile. And hopefully as he drank the water, the old man smiled.

991 more to go.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day 8: 'Shit' from Bangkok

Looks like Bangkok never cease to amuse me. Amaze me, even. I have been here pretty much like 5 ot 6 times in the last 4 years. And each time, I discover something new. Something that is so Bangkok.

So today, after the back to back consumer research work, a colleague and I decided to visit MBK, one of the few super cheap malls that is open until 9-10pm. After the usual walking around and buying a few things I don't really need (but they are cheap, so I feel like I would be cheating myself if I don't buy), I glanced at a shop that sells bags and accessories.

And on the counter top, right in front of my eyes, in clear view was... A Pile of Shit. Yup. People call it other stuff. "Excreta", "Potty", "Poop" etc. Whatever you call it, you know what I mean. So there it was. A lump. Just sitting there.

I was Stunned. Horrified. I stared at it in pure shock.

And then I saw something dangling out from it... it was a chain. Oh. I figured it out. It's a keychain. A keychain made from an unbelievable plastic imitation of a pile of shit. A quick glance also confirmed that there were more pieces of this extraodinary visual delight made available. In different shape and sizes. All sitting there. I was amazed. It was a work of pure genius really. How one could come up with such a precise form of imitation is beyond me.

However, all the appreciation that I could muster up for the work of art lasted only a few seconds. Some might have walked up to it for a better look. Some might have even picked it up. Some might even buy it. But I... I prefered to run before it ruined my appetite.

Bangkok - Khorb koon kaa. You make me smile.

992 more to go.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 7: Home of a Thai flower tea maker

Am here in Bangkok to do dome consumer research and that means going to the houses of some consumers and talking to them. In the process, I have visited around 6 homes over the last couple of days but one of the houses that we went to today was worth writing about.

As usual we were expecting it to be the house of a well-off working woman, the kind that we are targeting for this research. The house was expected to be spacious, neat, elegant.

And it was indeed the house of a well-off working woman. She works and she is rich. But her house was different.

It was located in an extremely cramped lane which was overflowing with food stalls on either sides. The house was a tiny, double-storey building.

The tiny house had a very, very tiny living room brimming with stuff. I mean, STUFF STUFF and STUFF all around. These include
- 1 wooden long chair, several stools, 2 wooden cupboards, 1 mirror.
- A grandfather clock
- A fridge, TV, music system
- A cycle, mini bike and 5 helmets
- Around 10 pictures of the Thai King and Queen in various sizes
- One picture of a guy elegantly dressed in some 1940s English suit (the only person who has a photo in the living room other than royalty, so presumably a very important guy)
- 6 huge aluminium vessels (the kind that you find at wedding feast preparation)
- 30kg sugar sack
- A similar sack with some dried stuff in it
- 2 huge wicker baskets
- Beauty products - creams, lotions, oils, combs, make up etc
- A prayer altar
- A drying line with clothes on them
- Statues, trophies, curios, paintings, dolls, handicrafts, books, magazines, papers
- Etc. etc. etc.

What was also interesting was the number of people present during the interview. There were:
- The lady who was to be interviewed
- The moderator who interviews, the translator and couple of us from P&G
(The above are expected under the circumstances of course, but there were more)
- A guy who sat and watched the entire interview from the doorsteps of the house
- A boy who was dressing up for school
- A girl who was getting her hair curled at the only available mirror
- A lady who came in a bit late, went into an inner room, came out again, went in again, came out again, went in again, came out again carrying a towel, went in again, came out again dressed in different, went in again.
- A cute little boy who came in and greeted every single person in the room (including me) with folded hands and then disappeared

It was all one interesting experience. Obviously curiosity got the better of one of us and she asked what the sacks of sugar and the dried stuff were doing there. So turns out that the interviewee and her two sisters are into a Flower Tea business. Some kinda herbal tea and the business is flourishing. Better still, the three of them and their families live together in that ancestral house.

They live together out of choice, in that tiny, cramped, no-room-to-breathe space. They simply don't see the need to get separate places and they don't give two hoots to the modern concept of 'privacy'.

Have not seen a family like that for a while now. God bless them.

993 more to go.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 6: 'Hello' from Big Brother

Am the only child. But I have several cousins with just one older brother among them. So he was and is my only Big Brother. We were pretty chummy in our childhood days. I was tomboyish enough to be counted as a suitable playmate by him, while probably the female cousins thought me less of a playmate for exactly the same reason. But as we grew up, we slowly moved apart. He stuck to Malayalam movies, I took to English and Hindi. He took to Carnatic music, I moved to Michael Jackson. He was convinced never to move out of India, I was convinced I wanted to travel the world. In short, we haven't really spoken much over the years and I think the last time I met him was at my wedding 3 years ago while I couldn't even make to his wedding.

Today I got an email from him. In fact he had written to me a couple of months ago but we are so out of touch that he had actually emailed to my ancienct hotmail address (which is pretty much a dead account). So today, I managed to come across that email.

He said he was writing in to say "Hello". He had realised that he's been caught up with life so much and been out of touch with a lot of family and friends, including myself and even my dad with whom he used to be in touch regularly. Hence he has made a resolution to contact as many from his old family and friends circle as possible, one person per week. And it was my turn, the week he wrote to me.

He said as he was writing the email he was reminiscing to his wife about all that we used to do together so many years ago.
- How he used to visit us in Thrissur during the summer vacations.
- How we used to go for the Thrissur Pooram festivities together.
- How we used to watch the movie "Chitram" and keep a bet on who cried first or most or last or least (differed every time we watched it).
- How some random uncle had turned up at the door one day and we made fun of him coz we thought he was drunk.

And then he asked me whether I remember any of these.

I couldn't help but smile. Of course, I remember! I also remember...
- How we used to play badminton together, indoors, with my plastic kiddy rackets
- How I learnt the first few card games from him.
- How we used to follow the trails made by the Kuzhiyaana (some kind of insect that looks like ants but found only in special kinds of soil)
- How we used to have a strong love for WWF and the numerous Trump card games that followed.
- How we used to be the "brave" ones, being absolutely fearless on the Giant Wheel at the Thrissur Pooram, while the rest of the female cousins and their moms screamed for dear life.

I remember all of it. And am glad he wanted to say "Hello".

994 more to go.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 5: Missed the Annoying Hubby

This is the first time ever that both my husband and I are neck deep in work travel at the same time and have not seen each other for a while. When am back from a trip overseas, he is usually around and he usually says "Great to have you back!".

Now, now before you go "Oh that's so sweet" and stuff, let me make it very clear that the niceties end just there. In fact, when I got back from U.S a few weeks ago, I called him up and asked him to come down and help me with the luggage. He said, "Why?! Am like.. sitting in the house. Just get it yourself na!". So.

Also, usually whenever am back, I glow when he says "Great to have you back" but this glowing feeling is very quickly displaced by complete annoyance. This is a result of a) Open packs of chips on the couch and leftover mcDonalds on the floor, b) Piles of clipped nails waiting to be cleared on the computer desk, c) Lights and air-con remaining switched on in every single room, d) Pile of his mail that I would have left for him to look at, but are still unopened e) Fact that he has not checked the post ever since I left town, f) A kitchen flooding with egg shells because apparently those ward off lizards (and the knowledge that he didnt exactly consume these eggs but threw them drown the drain to collect the shells)...etc. etc. etc.

But when I got back from Japan yesterday night, he was not around and my house was in exactly the same condition as I left it. And then I realised that I missed him and also the chance to tell him how annoying he really is.

And now that I have declared this on a public forum, I have a strong sense of foreboding. Damn.

995 more to go.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 4: Japan, Japan and more Japan!

Today was so great! I roamed around Tokyo as I had planned to. There were so many things that made the day so special that am just gonna list them all down! :)

a) Breakfast at a cafe inside a Japanese garden.
b) Cafe Latte that came in a cup without a handle, with a wooden-rectangular-flat saucer, with a wooden-long-rectangular stirrer, with multi-coloured sugar-hemispheres (yup, they were not cubes and they were coloured).
c) Walking through a Japanese garden complete with pretty trees, stone sculptures, a stream and a Japanese tea room right in the middle of it all.
d) Exploring some crazy, filty-rich Parisian Japanese guy's collection of antiques in a museum.
e) Being the only non-Japanese and for that matter, only person below the age of 50, in the museum.
f) Figuring out the complex train system in Tokyo and actually managing to get to different destinations without getting lost.
g) Walking through the crowded streets of Shibuya - equivalent to the Orchard Road of Singapore and Times Square of New York.
h) Ogling at the amazing 109 mall's fashion collections (which were reasonably priced as well, by the way). It was all winter fashion and it was way better than what I saw in US! Loved it!
i) Lunch at a tiny Japanese restaurant where the chef cooks at the centre and the customers eat around him, seated on wooden stools at a circular wooden table.
j) Being the only non-Japanese at the restaurant as well.
k) Discovering even more incredible functions of the Japanese toilet bowl such as a remote control, a dryer option and a massage option!
l) Last but not the least, being the only female in Tokyo to be wearing jeans. The rest were all wearing leggings.

Now I am on my way back to Singapore. So Japan, it was wonderful! :) Arigatogozaimas and Sayonara for now!

996 more to go.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day 3: I fell in love with the Japanese people

I have always liked the Japanese. They are polite, soft spoken and pretty nice to me (I think mostly because I usually look lost and I can work pretty impressive doggy eyes in times of need). But today I realized they are seriously, I mean Seriously Sweet people!

This morning I left Kobe and took a flight to Tokyo. I had to take a bus from the Tokyo airport to the meeting venue. Usually there is a ticket vending machine at the bus stop. Having found none, I waited for the bus, assuming that I can pay the driver directly which is sometimes the practice. When the bus arrived, the driver asked me for the ticket. I was like... er... I dont have one because there is no machine around but I would be more than happy to pay him the money and get my ticket. Obviously language was a barrier but after gesticulating for approximately 4 minutes, I got him to understand what I was trying to say. He replied, "3000 Yen". I took out the cash and gave it to him. He called an airport official standing around there and talked to him. That guy took the cash from the driver and ran off!

I must say I was concerned for a few minutes but then the chap came running back waving my ticket, complete with a receipt. They actually helped me buy my ticket (which I should have done myself) from somewhere inside the airport terminal. I mean, who would do that? Definitely not the Indians, or the Singaporeans, or the Europeans or the Americans. The best case in other places would be asking me to get the ticket myself and if am late, requesting me to take the next bus! But no... the Japanese are different.

And the niceties didn't end there. During lunch at the meeting, I casually mentioned that I have a bit of time tomorrow morning to roam around Tokyo...and asked for suggestions on some interesting places to visit. Before I knew it, I was sitting with a folder collated by a colleague, on 5 different options I can explore within the time I have tomorrow morning. Each with travel options and maps. Each with contact details and fares. Each with a list of things to do. The lady gave me an entire folder! All because she wanted me to "have a good time in Tokyo." She even apologized because one of the museums in a garden is not currently operating but the garden itself is nice. Well!

Moving on to other special things that happened today, I discovered that the toilet bowls in Tokyo have an additional "flush sound" button with the picture of a musical note on it. With this you can control the volume of the sound of the flush. Not sure what the practicality of the function is, but I still think they are damn cute and I love the Japanese for their fancy ideas!

Met three very, very nice people - Kenneth, Mariko-san, Shuichi-san who gave me a 8-course Japanese dinner complete with sake.

997 more to go.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 2: Pampered my taste buds in a Japanese ghost town

After an overnight flight from Singapore to Osaka and an hours' bus ride post that, today I got to Rokko Island in Kobe, Japan. This is my second visit to this place (on work both times) and I remember the exact words my manager told me, before my first visit, when I asked him what Rokko Island is like. His exact words were "It is sinfully the most boring island on earth." And am happy to let you know that, it is still the same.

What you need to know about Rokko Island is that it is jam packed with buildings but with hardly any humans around. I went to the biggest mall in town and it had like 5 people in it including myself. In other words, to me, Rokko Island is a ghost town.

But ghost town or not, Japan is still Japan. One is still fascinated by the ultra sophisticated toilet bowls (I can live without the 10 different options for water sprays and bidets but if only we had the warm seat option in other cold countries), the cute nap time kimonos (even though not very fashion savvy since it has "Sheraton Kobe Bay" written all over) and the absolute surprise of hearing a Hindi song in a mall where I was the only Indian!

And something else, on top of all the above fascinations, made the day pretty special. Rokko Island might be boring but what it does offer, is the Indian Restaurant that sells the Best Naan Ever. Called "Nanak from New Delhi", it was a discovery I made during my previous visit. You might think that it is pretty silly for me to travel to Japan to eat Indian food. But you need to eat this Naan to believe it. I have not had a better piece of Naan ever - not in Singapore, not in India, no where in the world. So today after work, I set out in the cold in search of Nanak, armed with Ken Follett's 'World Without End'. My keen sense of memory and direction took me there without much trouble. And I, once again, had the Best Naan Ever, accompanied by a dish of brinjal and eggs. The cold, the silence, the book, the Naan. It was perfect.

998 more days to go.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 1: How it all started.

So a friend of mine turned 30 over the weekend. A few others are about to turn 30 in a couple of weeks' or months' time. And all of them are, well... kinda sad. Turning 30 is like being told that it's half time. Statistically you could possibly prove this wrong, but that's what the feeling pretty much is.

Now, I take pride in not being bothered about it. Or so I tell myself. But then I was bothered enough to figure out that I have exactly 1000 days to go before I turn 30. Now that I am aware of this critical piece of information about my life, question is what do I do with it.

No worries, I have the answer. I will blog about at least 1 thing that made the day special for the next 1000 days. If I know that I have lived 1000 beautiful days, that would pretty much make turning 30 quite tolerable now, wouldn't it?

So today is Day 1. What has made this day special is that....well, I have embarked on this chronicling journey and that gives me a pretty clear goal for the next 2.5 years. Something to look forward to.

999 more to go.