Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 314: Two Big Smiles

29 September, 2010

Two things happened today that left me all smiles.

a) The awesome service at Park Sheraton in Chennai
b) Spending some unexpected time with the hubby online.

Let's go into the details..

I was already impressed with Park Sheraton Hotel in Chennai when I landed. I had an airport pick up and was offered coke, water and wet towels in the cab. When I reached the hotel, I was escorted by a lady who was waiting for me, directly to my room where the check-in took place. I didn't even have to hang around in the lobby to check in! After this promising start, things went to a whole new level today. The handle of my luggage had broken just before I took the flight to Chennai and needed to be fixed. I was told by the hotel staff that I can just leave the luggage in the concierge and they will get it fixed for me. Accordingly, yesterday when I went to Kanchipuram, I left my luggage with the concierge. When I got back, the luggage had been repaired and was in top form. They charged me about $4 for the services (transportation to the luggage store where it was fixed as well as the cost of the fixing). But the best part was that, this morning as I was waiting for my check out, FOUR differend hotel staff members came up to me and checked with me whether my luggage was now OK and whether they could help me with anything else. I am SO bloody impressed! This, my friends, is called world class service. Fantabulous!

After another day of consumer work (this time in Chennai), we took our flight to Mumbai. I am happily down with another bout of flu, so I couldn't wait to just get some rest. However, I still had a lot of work thanks to the upcoming presentations over the next 2 days, so I was up in my hotel room working on it. That's when I caught the hubby online and then for the first time ever, we kinda got videochat to work. It was really cool! After talking for about 10 minutes, we decided that we will just keep it on as we do our work. And that was awesome! He played songs on his computer, which I could listen too and it was almost as if we were in the same room doing our respective work. The word didn't feel all that bad then... in fact, it ended up making me feel quite chirpy I must say!

So there. I started the day with a huge smile thanks to the great service by the Park Sheraton guys and I ended the day with another huge smile thanks to the virtual working session with the hubby. Awesome!

686 more to go.

Day 313: Kanchipuram

28 September, 2010

Today we made our way to Kanchipuram, a town 75 kms away from Chennai for some consumer work and it was a very lovely experience! A few small things really made me smile throughout the day.

a) There were about 15 of us in the bus with 12 non-Indians. I presented some stuff Indian culture to them and also played the Bollywood video I had prepared for them, which they loved. So I was happy! I also thoroughly enjoyed being the "Indian" expert answering their never-ending questions about India.

b) We visited a village near Kanchipuram to meet the consumers there as well. It was a fascinating tiny settlement with about 25 houses, a couple of temples and lots of farms around. There were a group of boys playing cricket in one open space, a few ladies catching up for afternoon chat in one of the houses and that was about all the action the village had! It was quiet, peaceful and pure. Loved it!

c) The people in Kanchipuram as well as the village were super cute. Especially the ones in the village. They were very simple, warm and friendly. They fussed over us (especially over the foreigners, but they were very nice to me too) - offering us tea and coffee (I had a cup of fantastic home-made filter coffee), posing for pictures, waving to us as we walked past their houses and giving a 1000-watt smile all the time. Most importantly, when you talk to them, you realize that they are the most content people in the world with no complaints whatsoever, absolutely satisfied with what they have. Felt good!

d) It was quite a sight to see the foreigners get "blessings" from the elephants at the Kanchi Kamakshi temple in Kanchipuram. When given a coin, the elephant accepts it and touches the top of the donor with its trunk. Needless to say, foreigners were fascinated.

e) I loved the BIG smiles the construction workers had, with whome we shared all our untouched packed lunch boxes from Chennai. Am not sure how much they like all those sandwiches and Aloo parathas, but they definitely seemed pleased to be the chosen ones for the food.

So yes, it was a very nice day! Really enjoyed it!

687 more to go.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 312: What Could've Been

27 September, 2010

Today is supposed to be an incredibly beautiful day because several things happened that should be making me smile as broadly as I can.

a) I paid a routine visit to the very famous and also the very infamously crowded Guruvayur temple. While thousands of people queued up for hours to get a glimpse of the idol in the inner shrine, I was one of the privileged few who could simply skip the queue and directly walk in without any trouble thanks to some contacts my parents had. That is to be considered a true blessing.

b) I had another round of awesome food throughout the day to maximize my last day at home, before the next visit... whenever that is.

c) I had a great time at the Cochin domestic airport bookshop because they seemed to have ALL the titles that I could possibly want to read! At the end I really had to control myself to buy just 3 books.

d) I got a very impressive welcome at Park Sheraton in Chennai, where I didn't even have to go to the reception for my check-in but was escorted straight to my room in the Eva (ladies-only) floor! The check-in was completed in the room itself by the customer relations officer. They also offered to get my luggage (which had broken a handle enroute) repaired, which is really incredible service!

So yes, I have all the reasons to feel happy but I am not. I actually feel rather... disappointed. With myself.

My mom and I were waiting at a tailors' to get some alterations done, when an old beggar lady walked by and stood at the door. She must be around 70 years or more for sure. My mom gave me a 10 rupee note, which I passed on to the lady. She closed her palms in a prayer gesture, in gratitude for the money (which was peanuts, really) that I gave her. And she said... "not well", pointing to herself. She wasn't well. OK, I got that but I didn't react because I thought that she was simply going to ask for more money . But instead she touched her cheeks, in this gesture we usually show to God in gratitude. She looked up to the sky and muttered some prayers and then she looked at me, her face lit with happiness and hope. Clutching that 10-rupee note she said, "but now I can buy medicine!". She said with this absolute innocence and complete faith in God as if He had answered her prayers! It was like she thought that money, that 10-rupee note, is gonna buy her all the medicines she need to get better.

But the truth is that it will buy her nothing. Not any medicine, not even a meal I believe.

I just stood there staring at her, not knowing what to do... not even really thinking about what to do and then she left. It was like I couldn't comprehend what she said and I just stood there rooted to the spot. By the time I got my senses back and went outside to look for her, she was long gone.

Then I thought I could have done SO many things! I could have taken her to the doctor, I could have taken her to the medical shop and bought her the medicines, I could have in the very least given her a bit more money so that she could have gotten the medicines she needed instead of being disappointed when she finally figures out that it requires a lot more money to buy medicines than that. But I didn't any of these. I really would have loved to but I didn't. I didn't budge until it was too late.

Her face and her words kept coming back to me throughout my journey to Chennai and to the hotel. I just couldn't get it out of my head. I decided to sponsor medicines for the people at an old age home for the sick and aged that I know in Kerala to make up for what I did...or rather, what I didn't do. But that's really not gonna compensate, am very aware that it is an action only to free myself of some guilt. But I had to do something.

But this incident taught me an important lesson. That I need to ACT on things that I do feel about, instead of them getting back and make me feel misearable with "what could have been?" questions. I need to act and act a lot faster.

And as for now, am hoping and praying with all my heart that the old lady gets her medicines and feels better really soon.

688 more to go.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Day 311: Catch-Ups!

26 September, 2010

Every visit home is accompanied by a visit to my dad's place in Tripunithura. There I get to catch up with his side of the family - with my cousins, uncles, aunts who are quite a few in number. So today we went there and did just that - catching up. I was there for 4-5 hours but the hours just went by so fast! It was time to return back home, before I could blink! Ah. Until the next time then.

So yes, it was another fun day!

689 more to go.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Day 310: After 12 years!

25 September, 2010

This seems to be the year of catch-ups with good friends from 12 years ago! Today a friend from school, whom I had not met for 12 years but have been in touch with thanks to Facebook, visited me at home! She was also in town with her son, so we couldn't miss this rare chance to meet up!

It was really lovely catching up after all these years!! We gossipped and laughed over all kinda topics for a few hours. After that, my mom made us pose for pictures together for posterity... "You both are meeting after 12 years! You MUST put this on Facebook!!!" she said. So she spent 20 minutes directing us as we gave her standing poses, sitting poses, smiling poses, laughing poses until she was satisfied.

I also got to meet my cousins and aunts and uncles over a mega gathering at one of the uncle's places. So it was one good, fun day!

690 more to go.

Day 309: Home!

24 September, 2010

Another good day. I was in office just for the first half, tying up some loose ends before another out-of-office week. Then I got back home to add some finishing touches to the Bollywood video. Then I was all set to catch my flight to Kerala.

The hubby, who was away for the week in Philippines, also got back home in the afternoon and declared that he is gonna accompany me to the airport to see me off. I was just about to go "Awwww" when he also told me that the key reason for his visit was that a very good friend of his will also be at the airport that time. Ok then.

At the airport, as soon as he got together with his friend, both of them happily asked me when I would be going in for the immigration. To their utter disappointment, I told them that am more than happy to plonk myself at Starbucks and have a cup of Chai Latte with them. When they asked me the same question a bit later at Starbucks, I thought I really must leave those lovebirds alone and get away.

And thus I made my way to God's Own Country, dear old Kerala.

My parents picked me up from the airport and fussed over me as usual and it all felt really good! Looking forward to the weekend at home!

691 more to go.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 308: Packing & Cleaning

23 September, 2010

I feel like a HUGE phase of my life is over after those intensive working days! So relieved and also, excited because tomorrow am going home to Kerala for the weekend! Yay! The visit was not a planned one and happened to come by because I decided to extend a business trip to India this time.

So yes, a trip home usually means packing, packing and more packing. My mom loves calling and "reminding" me to bring one thing after the other, until now my luggage is full to the brim. And somehow this is the only packing that I enjoy - packing for home.

And then I went into a cleaning spree. I didn't realize what horrible hoarders the hubby and I had turned into. There was stuff stocked up in every room - very neatly piled up at times, but still there were way too many things than what we would ever use or even take a look at. So I spent about an hour clearing a good load of them. And that felt awesome!


Work - check.

Bollywood video - check.

Cleaning - check.

Packing - check.

Feeling good - check.

692 more to go.

Day 307: Bollywood

22 September, 2010

Two good things happened today.

a) That darn presentation that I have been working my ass off for, finally got approved. I can't express just how relieved and happy I am!

b) I got my next assignment - entertain the management who is visiting India next week by putting together a video on Bollywood. OK, now that's the kinda work I really love! And I sat up until 3 am going through Bollywood songs and videos over time and got the video about 50% done. Absolute loved the experience!

Things are finally getting back to normal! Feels good!

693 more to go.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day 306: The Blog, The Stairs & The View

21 September, 2010

I worked for a total of 16 hours today. And there really was no hope for anything good happening, until it was close to midnight and I decided that if I don't consciously make an effort at doing something worthwhile over the next few minutes, then there is really not gonna be a blog entry. And that would be the first day in more than 300 days that there really would be nothing to write about.

That got me on my feet. I thought the best way to get the excess work out of my system as well as do something productive would be to exercise. So close to midnight, post 16 hours of work, I climbed my 35-storey building up and down.

Now the best part was not just the climb and the satisfaction from being able to do something healthy, but when I was at the rooftop I took a few minutes to just stand and stare out at the view. That was really therapeutic. Whenever we see the world at a distance, all the problems seem rather miniscule. It's humbling. After that, my climb down was a lot more energized and I felt really good at the end of it.

Looks like the blog came to the rescue once again. It's a good way to remind myself that it is indeed possible to make every day beautiful in some way, provided you make an effort at it.

So yeah, it's all good!

696 more to go.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Day 305: And then God said...

20 September, 2010

I have an entry on this blog today, only thanks to a pure blessing from God. It would have been an utterly crappy day, without NOTHING beautiful about it, not even a Starbucks Chai latte because I didn't have time to even get one.

It was really looking like another horrible day. I can't remember the last time it was THIS frustrating and tiring at work. I feel absolutely and completely worn out and downright frustrated with the lack of progress of a project that I have been sweating out over for the last few weeks. I am getting quite sick of working beyond midnight every other day, especially since it is completely against my work-life-balance principles. I have a bad feeling that am beginning to burn out because the weirdest thing happened today.

I was told that there was a meeting on 19P28, 19 being the floor number and P28 being the room number. I happily went to the lift lobby to go to the 19th floor, when my poor subordinate came running after me and stopped me.

She: Where are you off to?
Me: Meeting
She: But you are to meet the agency together with me now.
Me: Yeah. That's where I am going.
She: Where?
Me: For the meeting.
She: But the meeting is here.
Me: Where?
She: HERE! (makes a sweeping movement towards the door through which I just came out into the lift lobby).
Me: Huh? I thought the meeting is on the 19th floor.
She: This IS the 19th floor.
Me: Oh.

19th floor has been my floor for the last 1 year and I happily forgot that today.

That's when I began to feel rather hopeless about life and that things were really going haywire. But of course, our dear God decides that things aren't that bad after all.

Mathew Jenif Joseph, the messenger from God, who also happens to be my film's editor based currently in Abu Dhabi, popped up on Google Talk and informed me that my film, Mausams, has been edited. The first draft of the full film has been completed. He says it's a nice 125 minute feature film. My feature film.

I could really cry from joy then. Fine, so the day is beautiful after all. And hence this entry. Am thankful for it.

695 more to go.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day 304: 2nd Year Show!

OK there's been a serious bout of Nostalgia!

When the friends came over yesterday, I happened to search through a lot of old cds, to find our all-time ridiculously "group-favourite" movie K3G. I couldn't find K3G but today I ploughed my way through the large number of other unlabelled CDs that I found to figure out what's in them. And I came across what we call the "2nd year show" videos.

Among the Indians (from India, not the locals) of National University of Singapore, there was a tradition that every Indian Independence day, the first-year students would put up a show and every Indian Republic day, the second-year students would put up a show. Those were the days when digital cameras were just about to emerge, there was no youtube revolution yet etc. and so when we did our second year show, what we ended up was with some really low quality videos and that were written on to CDs and then forgotten about for years.

But today, they re-emerged. Hubby and I spent as good as 3 hours watching all of them over and over again! There were dances and skits and even the behind the scenes rehearsals! Everything was hilarious and made us extremely nostalgic (plus I couldn't believe that I was half my current size all those years ago!)

I uploaded all those videos onto Facebook and that has led to conversations with a lot of old NUS contacts about all those fun times from almost a decade ago! Ah!

A friend then tweeted me "We have those NUS videos from 8 yrs back as memories to enjoy today; what do u think we will look back to in the next 8 yrs?". I didn't have the answer to that. Maybe there will be something new. Maybe it would be the same videos that would then be 16 years old, to look back to.

But for what it's worth, today was definitely a very beautifully nostalgic day.

696 more to go.

Day 303: Stairs, Friends and Songs

18 September, 2010

It was a really good day. One of those weekends, that were normal (in the sense that I didnt do anything exceptional) yet productive.

a) The hubby and I opted for a new form exercise. Go up and down the stairs of our 34-storey high apartment building. I admit that it was not easy at all but hopefully it's effective!
b) Went for my bro n sis in law's wedding registration and had a nice lunch together post that.
c) A long catch-up conversation with the hubby (with his trademark "wit" written all over of course), about work and life and other subjects of random choice.
c) A fun and (of course very delicious) dinner at Kailas Parbat with friends.
d) Spent a late night with friends at home over dumb charades, Dabangg songs (and dance by the hubby!), other songs mainly focused on my favourite ones by A.R.Rahman and TONS of pointless but fun conversation.

So yes. It was a really good day.

697 more to go.

Day 302: Dabangg!

17 September, 2010

I don't think I was ever this relieved to hit a Friday before! After all that work, I could almost cry when Friday finally arrived! And then to really get all the exhaustion out of my system, I watched Dabangg - a hindi full-on "masala" entertainer. And I thoroughly enjoyed myself! It was absolutely random, uapologetically "filmy", howlariously hilarious, with some cool performances and dance-inducing songs! Had a lovely time and was pretty perked up even at the end of that super hectic week!

698 more to go.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day 301: Glee!

16 September, 2010

I have been working & working & working & working & working. Like working & working & working & working & working & working & working. Well, you get the point.

After the hectic travel, the work during weekends and finally 14-to-16-hour workdays this week, yesterday night at 10pm I still found myself alone in the office. And I felt exhausted. Absolutely and completely.

Don't get me wrong, I still love my work and my projects are all exciting. But it's just extremely tiring. So when I made my way home, I was just planning to just drop myself on the bed and doze off.

Then Glee happened. Yeah, that super-fantastic musical series! I had been watching some episodes here and there and yesterday I got to watch one more. And in spite of all that exhaustion, I found myself laughing my heart out and basically having a really good time! So I sat back, enjoyed a banana & a glass of milk and watched Glee with complete satisfaction.

It felt really good that I still could relax and enjoy myself in spite of all that work!

699 more to go.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 300: Phew!

'Phew!' for two reasons:

a) I had mentioned here about a piece of work that I had done which didn't get approved . Well, I still don't know whether it will get approved, but I have been putting in a lot of effort into it over the past few days. Just today alone I invested about 12 hours on it, on top of everything else I had to do at work. Good news is that finally it is done and my utterly biased opinion is that it looks good! So that's a big 'Phew!" for me.

b) It's been 300 days! This Blog! Now that's a big PHEW for obvious reasons!

700 more to go.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Day 299: Bananas & Milk

14 September, 2010

Today was yet another ridiculous day filled with meetings and calls and submission of documents and presentations and video conferences and a run in the gym squeezed in between. I would probably have written about the run or the progress at work as the best thing that happened today, until a conversation with my darling mom a few minutes ago, took the top spot.

So I gave my mom the routine call. And she asked me the routine question.

She: Have you had dinner?
Me: Yeah. Having now.
She: What are you having?
Me: Bananas and Milk.
She: What?!
Me: Bananas and Milk.
She: Did you say "Bananas"?!
Me: Yes.
She:... and "Milk"?1
Me: Yes.
She: What?!
Me: Erm... what's your point?
She: But you NEVER have Bananas!
Me: Yep.
She: Nor Milk!
Me: Yep.
*Awkward pause*
Me (realizing that the information was too much for her to take for some reason, offered an explanation): You see, I had chicken biriyani just before my meeting at 7. So am not very hungry now. Hence... the bananas and milk.
She: Oh.
Me: Yep.
She: But you NEVER have Bananas or Milk!
Me. Erm. Shall we move on?
She: Hmmm..... (contemplates for a while).
Me: Well... so what else is happening in good old Thrissur?
She: Where did you get the Bananas from?! (definitely not in any mood to move on)
Me: (sighs) From the shop.
She: You bought them from the shop?!
Me: Yep. They weren't giving it away for free. (chuckles in appreciation of my own sense of humour)
She: The Milk too?! (continues without even acknowledging my sense of humour)
Me: Yep.
She: Oh My God! What am I hearing?! My daughter actually bought milk and bananas!

I think by that she means that she never expected her daughter to buy such healthy food because her daughter hates fruits and vegetables (and milk, apparently) of any kind. So overcome was she by emotion that I think I almost heard her sniff back a tear of joy.

Me: I always buy bananas and milk! (not a very true fact, but I had to defend my milk-and-banana-buying potential)
She: No. You don't.
Me: Well, sometimes I do.
She: No. You dont.
Me: OK then.
She: Oh My God! My daughter actually bought milk and bananas... and had them too! (there was no mistaking the sniff and the tear of joy this time).

Alright then, today shall be the day that I made my mom absolutely elated by investing in a bunch of bananas and a carton of milk. If this doesn't make the day beautiful, what does?

701 more to go.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Day 298: Siesta

Am not a fan of siestas. In fact, I can hardly take one. I find it incredibly difficult to fall asleep at any time but night when it is dark and silent.

However, today I actually got back from office at about 4pm and took a good 3-hour nap. It was unavoidable. Thanks to my overnight flight on Saturday and lack of sleep on Sunday due to various reasons, I was as drowsy as drowsy could be today. So much so that my friend from work asked me whether I was bored to death by our conversation over lunch, since I was almost falling over my Tom Yam Ramen soup.

So I got back home from office at about 4pm and took a good 3-hour nap. Ah. Now I feel rejuvenated enough to get some work done!

So I guess the small beauty for today is that I appreciate the healing effects of a siesta!

702 more to go.

Day 297: Back & Normal

12 September, 2010

After all that ridiculous travelling, finally I got back home and back to the hubby (who had also just got back from his business travels). He then promptly ditched me to go meet a friend. Oh well.

But then in the evening we had a "normal" weekend routine. Which means, I didn't do any work. He didn't do any work. We had an Indian meal from Komalas and a Thai meal from Thai Express. We talked (rather, I talked while he pretended to listen). We had Starbucks Chai. We caught up with both sets of parents over long phone calls.

In short, it was pretty relaxed.

It felt good to be back to the normalcy and wind down.

703 more to go.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Day 296: The Great Wall of China!

11 September, 2010

What an awesome, awesome, awesome day!

A colleague and I visited the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China and I really loved it! Especially the Wall! It was a spectacular beauty! We took a cable car up to the Wall, walked for almost an hour along it and then descended by foot. The walk was rather challenging since it had several stairs, slopes etc. and going up and down was strenuous. But I really, really, really enjoyed it and loved the magnificent views!

It reminded me all the times I used to hike in Kerala's thick rainforests with my parents. I miss that SO much! The long walks through unfamiliar terrain until you are soaking in sweat, have shaky knees that are almost about to give away but you still feel SO awesome! Ah!

I don't think I would describe more about the trip here. I kinda find it hard to explain how I felt about it. All I will say is that I loved it and I really want to get back to hiking trips soon! Let's see!

704 more to go.

Day 295: Beijing Continues To Rock!

10 September, 2010
It was a hectic day, no doubt. It started off in a frenzy since I woke up at 8:55 when the time for the pick up for consumer fieldwork from the hotel was at 9:00. I have not brushed my teeth and taken a shower faster ever in my life I think! At 9:08 I was downstairs, all ready to go! But after that the day began to look up.
The consumer work was very fascinating. Beijing looks all shiny and nice from the outside but the housing apartments are like dust galore and a real mess. They were all walk-up apartments that we visited today and what was really fascinating was that all the stairways had like about a 100 numbers printed on each wall for various services such as locksmith, sewage cleaners, other rental apartments etc. etc. etc. And these are not on little posters that you usually see, which you can rip off if you don't like them, but are actually painted on the walls for posterity! It was amazing! What was even more fascinating was that every apartment building had at least one antique bicycle completely covered in dust, resting in one corner of the stairway. So truly China!

On the way back from the consumer work, I witnessed my first ever Chinese Hairdresser Army Drill. Yeah, there is indeed such a thing. Since the Chinese love ordering and receiving orders in a military fashion, apparently they have this drill even among employees of hair salons and restaurants. They line up outside the shop, have the manager shout out some orders and they repeat (or respond) to them. I was Super amused!
I was also very much amused by the fact that the signage of the brand "Crocodile" in China says "Cliocoddle" according to how they pronounce it. How cute is that!
Post the consumer work and long debrief, we decided we deserve some good time now. So three of us did a bit of shopping, had an awesome dinner at a Spanish restaurant and went around in a cab to take a look at the Bird's Nest (Chinese Olympics Stadium) and the adjoining Water Cube structure. They were really nice. But what really caught my eye was the most curvaceous building I have ever seen in my life! It was a hotel that included a cluster of buildings and the tallest one had something that's supposed to look like a dragon I believe. Now the funniest part was that the majestic building had the cutest name ever - "Pangu 7 Star Hotel"!
Ah, I Love Beijing!
705 more to go.
P.S. After I wrote this post and was almost going to hit the bed, I remembered what my Australian female Gaelic-football-playing-fitness-freak colleague said today - "One week of no excercise takes off one month of fitness from you." So then I realized that I simply had to go hit the gym. And I did that. This would be my latest night work-out (well past midnight) ever! Now I feel truly awesome!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Day 294: The Food, The Edit, The Blog, The Run, The Work

I would call this a productive day. A bit of a downer in terms of some work stuff - some of the work that I had submitted, didn't get approved but I guess things can't always be excellent! But in spite of this downer, am quite happy because there has been a lot of progress in a lot of areas!
a) I have had more delicious Chinese food than I ever thought the Chinese were ever capable of making! It is a complete myth that the Chinese food is bland and without spices. Today I had a lunch that had about 12-14 dishes and at least 8 of them were downright SPICY. These included dishes of chicken, fish, pork, vegetables and tofu. And needless to say, I loved them ALL! So yes, Chinese food has really progressed a lot in my feel-good-things-about-life list!
b) I got some fantastic news from my editor that 90 minutes of Mausams has been edited and what remains is only about another 20 minutes! That is just the MOST-AWESOMEST news! I can't wait to watch the cut but I will have to wait for it until end month because the dude absolutely refuses to share it without me unless he is around when I am first watching the film, so he can personally clarify any questions that I might have. And that means I can watch it only when I meet him in Mumbai end of the month! Tough! But still, it's super-duper exciting!
c) Mausam's publicity manager has put up a post on the film's blog site ( about all the upcoming excitement that one can expect with respect to the movie in the coming months! And I have not been able to read it because I am happily sitting here in China which has in turn, happily cut off the access to half the websites in the world (the other half are Chinese sites, I believe). So I will have to wait until Sunday to get back and read it! Argh! BUT I feel like the publicity and everything else associated with the film have kickstarted and there has been a lot of progress! The excitement is really beginning to build up once again!
d) I actually went for a Run! The grand idea was really to do yoga... but then I was too exhausted for a 1.5 hour drill. I even tried to feel inspired by the yoga mat they have in every room in the hotel but it didn't quite work. So I just decided to hit the gym and did a good 30 min run (by "good", I mean that I ended up panting like a dog and sweating like a pig). Considering I haven't ran in the last several months, I felt quite good about the whole deal.
e) AND after all that excitement for the day, I got down to do some work (rather, some MORE work since I had been working whole day anyway at the consumer research) and I believe I made some reasonable progress there. It kinda repaired the blue-feelings from the above-mentioned work related downer in the morning.
So all in all, a pretty good day.
716 more to go.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Day 293: Beijing!

I LOVE Beijing! It is definitely the best city I have been to in China (above Shanghai and Guangzhou)! It's my first trip here and there are quite a few things that absolutely wowed me and quite a few things that gotta be uniquely China!
Here are a few that struck me for different reasons:
a) Their infrastructure ROCKS (especially after the visit to India last week, the contrast is shocking)! The roads are huge and well organized and the city is very clean. It's far better than what I was expecting! In fact, the whole of yesterday night I was repeatedly telling everyone that Beijing (at least the area near my hotel) looks very much like Japan. The way the paths are all grey and precise, how every thing is so clean and tidy, even the trees looked the same!
b) The Tianenmen Square! It's incredibly expansive and quite a sight! I loved the traditional structures all around! One can almost feel the Chinese pride going around the area.
c) I love the fact that the city has so many typically traditional buildings bringing the chinese heritage in the middle of all the tall, modern buildings!
d) Chinese food continues to make me shudder - today's menu offered Duck Heart Dumplings and Duck Blood Soup. No words! And no, I didn't order either of them.
e) Talking about food, I loved all the Chinese snacks and sweets that were catered at the consumer research centre today - I think I was eating non-stop for about 6 hours in total. It had everything from gumballs, dates, something called Tiramisu that tasted nothing like Tiramisu but was a baked thing with a huge quantity of delicious cream in it, chocolate cakes with marshmallows, and various other things that I don't know the names of. But there were all Yummy!
e) A few buildings on the way to the Tianenmen Square had every sign, including the name of the buildings even, in some foreign language (my guess it Greek or Russian). Wouldn't have expected either of them to be abundant in China for buildings to be catered exclusively to them!
f) My colleague who was suffering from a severe cough, very excitedly got some Chinese medicine, and discovered that one of the ingredients was called "Semen" in English! God save her.
g) I loved the Wanfujing area where we roamed about. It is a huge non-motorable street with shops on either sides and small stalls all around that sells drinks, ice creams, and apparently even a hamster. It was quite fun going around, peering into all the shops, enjoying the pleasant weather and generally chit-chatting about China with my Australian and Chinese colleagues.
So yes, Beijing is really, really nice! Very impressive!

Day 292: Universal Studios!

7 September, 2010
Today was the second day of the team gathering and in true P&G style, it meant having some fun activity. Usually we have one day of work and one day of fun. And the fun activity for this year's team connect was a visit to Singapore's Universal Studios!
It was my first time there (or to any universal studio for that matter) and I had a really great time! Two of the big rides were under maintenance but there were quite a few others that were quite fun! My favourite was the 'Mummy Ride' which is a small rollercoaster that goes around in pitch darkness. That was pretty awesome! I also liked all the decor and the lovely cafes and restaurants and souvenier shops all around! The place had quite a merry air about it!
And after Universal Studios it was time for my first trip to Beijing.
718 more to go.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 291: The Team & The Team Dinner

I love these FULL team meetings that we have at work! Given that I am working on a global role, most of my team mates are scattered in different parts of the world and once a year we come together for a 2-day "offsite". Today was the first of those two days for this fiscal year and it was lovely meeting all of them - bouncing ideas, catching up on gossips, sharing work woes and family tales and generally having a merry time! Quite enjoyed that!

Post the team meeting, we set off to my manager's place for a team dinner. Over some great Indian food, I caught up with my manager's mom-in-law. This aunty and I had met once before, a few months ago. That time I think I kinda got her feeling appalled (in a very cute way) by the fact that I cook only once a year on an average. It was unthinkable for an Indian married woman, you see. Absolutely outrageous really.

Interestingly enough, today she immediately remembered me from the last visit, and was very sweet - asking about work, travel plans, the film shoot etc. and finally the inevitable question on my progress on cooking! Upon realizing that I have made no progress whatsoever, she shared a few recipes and told me that some day soon she will make it a point to visit me at home just to have the food that I cook! How cute is that?! I was like "Awwww....!"

Then she shared stories of her childhood when she was still in her village - stories about how they used to make curd and buttermilk at home, how they used to apply curd on their heads instead of shampoos, how all girls had long, thick, beautiful hair, how later on curd was being churned not by hand but in washing machines, so on. Not that any of these have anything to do with me cooking but I absolutely love listening to such stories from bygone years and so it was a very nice chat with her! I find her incredibly sweet and cute!

Post the team dinner, I quickly made my way to another dinner appointment with the hubby's cousin from Bangkok who is in town (yes, my social life is really buzzing with multiple dinner appointments and all!). He works in a creative agency and is a real fun guy to chat with. Needless to say, I had continued to have a good time!

So the evening ended off quitely nicely and I had a lovely day all in all!

709 more to go.

Day 290: First Cut Teaser Edit!

5 September, 2010

I got back to Singapore after that whirlwind business (and very fun) trip to India only to be greeted by a nice surprise! My super efficient editor of the film has already cut a nice teaser for it! It really boosted my day!

It is a first cut and needs dubs and music still, but it's the first close-to-finish bit of the film that I've seen and it brought a BIG BIG smile on my face! It is super nice to see the bits and pieces falling into place. There is still a long way to go before the film would be completed, but this feels like a good beginning of the end for the whole journey!

710 more to go.

Day 289: Nani Dearest!

4 September , 2010

Today I got to meet Nani - the hubby's maternal grandmother who happened to be in Delhi! She usually stays with her daughter, my mom-in-law, in Kanpur but is in Delhi currently visiting her brother.

At 87, she is the oldest and cutest person close to me and I wanted to make sure that I meet her when in Delhi. Hence soon after my research in the morning, I went to visit her together with my in-laws. We spent about 3-4 hours and I had a nice time chatting with her! She has the sweetest smile ever, really!

i also gorged on all the food Nani's lovely niece, an aunty to me, had prepared! Just as this delicious food was just about to settle down, we had already made our stop at the next destination (my sis-in-law's house) and once again gorged on another round of yummilicious food my sis-in-law's mom had made! It was lovely meeting everyone and also spending time with my in-laws throughout the day.

And thus the first business trip to India ended rather well and now it's time to fly back to Singapore.

711 more to go.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Day 288: Biggest Surprise of my Life!

3 September, 2010

I had a long day of consumer research - it lasted about 12 hours or so but was a quite a fun excercise. My colleagues and I finally made our way back to the hotel at about 9:30 and decided to get dinner first before retiring for the day. We went to one of the colleague's rooms to dump the laptops and documents etc., and went up to a restaurant on the rooftop. As we were browsing the menu outside the restaurant trying to figure out what to get, I felt a movement at the restaurant entrance and I glanced up. And then I stopped right in my tracks.

My dad-in-law and mom-in-law were standing right there, with a wide smile and a mischievous glint in their eyes!!!

It was such a complete surprise that I had my jaw drop open and started squealing (wonder what my colleagues thought of that)!! My in-laws have travelled a good 5.5 hours by train to get here just to meet me and give me a surprise! And what a lovely one!

I had NO clue they had come over to Delhi, not even with the five missed calls my mom-in-law gave me in the evening... I thought it was just to catch me online or something! They had been waiting in the hotel lobby for three hours waiting for me because I had gotten late at the research!

It was really incredible!!! I think I kept squealing for about 5 minutes straight! After that I readily ditched my colleagues and took my in-laws for dinner at Bhukhara, apparently one of the restaurants my dad-in-law had been to about 28 years ago and had really liked!

We had a great time chatting over the good Bukhara food and finally they left for their guest house. I have a morning of consumer work tomorrow and afer that I would be spending the entire day with them, before heading back to Singapore on the midnight flight.

So there.... an awesome, awesome, awesome surprise... a REAL surprise... I don't think I ever had one those before, which swept me away so! It was Incredible!

712 more to go.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day 287: Fun Delhi!

My, my... yet again, an amazing day!

Am having SO much fun on this business trip, it's just so wonderful! Today I got to Delhi from Mumbai and all the excitement is still continuing! List-time!

a) Bought two books from the bookstore in Mumbai airport at half the price as they would have been in Singapore - I LOVE the fact that everything is so cheap!

b) ITC Maurya Sheraton, my hotel in Delhi ROCKS! They put me up on the "Eva" floor, exclusively for single female travellers! And that means you get an Awesome room with Awesome freebies and Awesome service! These include things like - extensive toileteries like cleanser, toner, body talc and moisturizer on top of the usual shampoo, conditioner and body lotion, pumpic stone for scrubbing and softening the heel, nail file, nail polish remover, body scrub, ear bugs, ear plugs, eye mask, comb for dry hair, brush for wet hair, washing powder, dream kerchief (apparentely it gives out a fragrance if placed next to the pillow that helps you sleep better), wet wipes etc. On top of this you also get, complimentary glass of alcohol or hot drinks in-room during happy hours, complimentary wash of 2 pieces of clothing, complimentary glass of hot drink just before bed so that the body can sleep better (I didn't even know such a belief existed!), female butler who comes by and checks on me once in a while, etc. etc. etc. etc. It is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

c) My cabbie Rocked! I wanted to buy Kurtis (Indian tops/blouses), and had asked for recommendations on a good place to go. Some of the colleagues here gave a few suggestions and I took a cab with my Chinese colleague to go to one among them. Upon knowing the purpose of our visit, the cabbie gave a different recommendation of a place called Delhi Haat and said that this place would be cheaper and better. And he was right! OK, I dunno whether it was cheap-er and better but it was definitely cheap and definitely a really good place. I had a wonderful time there! And the cabbie was so cute, he was giving us a running commentary on every building that we passed by and making sure we had Delhi completely figured out. Sweet!

d) Delhi Haat - Ahhhh. What an experience! We were treated like royalty from the minute we entered the shop! This could also have been due to the fact that I had a Chinese collaegue with me and they took us for tourists... but still! They were getting us drinks, bringing whatever we demanded to us from the far flung corners of the shop so that we didn't have to budge from our seats, helping us take pictures, taking measurements and providing free alterations within 15-20 minutes and doing a Perfect job of it, carrying our stuff all around the shop, making really good conversation, and in short, making sure that we are having a great time! Yeah sure, this might be a standard in many shops in india, but it's the first time I have been to such a shop pretty much on my own without other relatives who, by default, would have been the ones in the centre of attention as they would lead most of the shopping. So I had never immersed myself so completely in what was happening and I thoroughly enjoyed myself! The experience was all the more interesting because my Chinese colleague was nothing short of being astounded by the standard of service! She said it was no less than a luxury brand and I couldn't agree more!

So yes, I feel rather pampered today. This has been an incredible experience and super duper fun!

713 more to go.

Day 286: Travel Yoga

1 September, 2010

Today was a long day of consumer research, after which all that the team wanted to do was to get back to the hotel and rest. But I decided that it is high time I excercised. The first day I was in Mumbai, I had made an attempt at doing yoga in the hotel room with considerable success. I did about 1 hour of the 1.5 hour routine that I usually do in the yoga class.

But today I was determined that I will do it more extensively, in spite of my tiredness, sleepiness, laziness and overwhelming pain in my joints thanks to long hours of just sitting in a spot and listening to consumers. So I gave it a go and was very pleased with my efforts! I am so proud of my achievement! Complete lack of excercise had always bothered me when I travel and I usually hate hitting the gym. So this yoga plan was really great.

Looks like I could actually make this into a nice habit that would ensure that I am not totally unhealthy when I travel and I can eat all that great food with no guilt! That absolutely rocks!

714 more to go.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Day 285: S.S.S.

31 August, 2010

Amazing, amazing, amazing day! I can't stop smiling as am writing this post because I really had a grand time! But in the interest of time (it's past 1:15 am now), am gonna stick to three key points!

a) Loved the experience of visiting the P&G India office as well as the homes of our consumers. Getting the access into the office after an elaborate signing in process and lengthy chat with the guards in itself was rather interesting. Then the visits to the different consumers' homes for market research were also quite fascinating. It is always eye opening to see how other people live. Here's just one instance that touched me. One lady told us that her dream was to work in a office to put her education into use - "you know... I want to work in an office where they have laptops and all!". That made me smile, but a bit sadly. Because to be very honest, I hardly see that happening unless she really puts her all into it. She is already into the third year of her married life and being a housewife, with a baby, living with her in-laws in an extended family, panicking about how she needs to start cooking soon even within the one hour she had to spend with us - while her mom-in-law kept a close watch on her every move. That is a hard situation to get out of. Made me count my blessings - am after all living someone's dream.

b) Went around Mumbai at night, which was the only time we were free after the research and we wanted to avoid the traffic. The super sweet cabbie gave a running commentary of every prominent sight on the way, including the residences of the Bollywood stars Bachchans and Shahrukh Khan! Then went to the actual important places like the Gateway of India and saw the lovely hotel Taj and also the Sea Link. But the best of the lot was Nariman point! I had seen it in so many movies and had SO wanted to go and stand right there on the raised pathway overlooking the sea! So did just that! It was amazing. I really did feel like am in a Hind movie! The sea, the rain, the wind, the view. Beautiful!

c) And last but not at all the least, I met up with two of my childhood friends together in Mumbai after about 12 years! We used to be inseparable in school for about 5-6 years! In fact, we used to call ourselves "S.S.S" (or triple S or the three 'S's - whatever that suited our fancy at that point in time), because all three of our names started with 'S'. We were partners in almost every crime - be it ragging the seniors, putting up plays, drawing up Archie comics, never eating our own lunch but each others', writing investigative stories with teenage girls as heroines, etc. etc. etc. But once I left for Singapore, the two of them too went to different parts of India for their studies and later, jobs and we never had a chance to meet all at once. But today we did! And it was awesome! We had a super brilliant time!! Not sure when the next such meeting would be, but today was really really awesome!

So yes, it was a super beautiful day!

715 more to go.