Saturday, December 31, 2011

Day 772: The Most Terrific Year!

2011 hands down gotta be the most terrific year of my life, till date. It passed by in a flash but not without squeezing as many thoughts, experiences and smiles in it!

Just like how I did it last year, I am gonna first say why today was a beautiful day before doing a round up of what made this year the most terrific of all!

Today was pretty awesome because the hubby and I had a very nice and cosy dinner at the Punjabi Grill by Jiggs Kalra at the Marina Bay Sands, with two of our friends. Sure, the dinner was over priced and the ambience wasn't the best, but their New Year's Menu came with three glasses of different wines and the food was indeed very new, innovative and surprisingly yummy. We had a wonderful time chatting and having a lot of fun over the dinner, after which we went to one of the friend's place for the midnight countdown, further drinking (I had the maximum alcohol I've ever had in a single night at 2.5 glasses of wine!), fireworks viewing (his awesomely located high-rise flat made the fireworks at both Marina Bay and Sentosa very visible!) and a few more hours of fun, as we welcomed the new years together!

That was for today. Now for this year and what made it so super awesome! There's a whole load of stuff really, so let's do a list.

Here's all that made 2011 awesomely beautiful!

1) Blog - Completing two years of writing this blog! To be very honest, wouldn't have expected myself to get that one done!

2) Cooking - I must say that this year was quite a remarkable one for the amount of cooking I've done and of course, for their yumminess level! And needless to say this was a huge, huge jump from my cook-once-every-year routine that I had been following for the last 6 years or so. So that's pretty awesome!

3) Fitness - This one am pretty happy about because the number of days I exercised this year was a good +20% vs. last year (my target was +15%) and specifically for yoga, there was a jump of +44% vs. last year (my target was +25%)! This has in turn continued to maintain my fat percentage at levels am pretty happy about!

4) 15 Countries - Travelling to 15 countries across 4 continents, 7 of them for the first time ever! In my wishlist from 2007, I had wanted to travel to 15 countries by the time I turned 30 and the fact that I could do all of them within this 1 year was a blessing just too good to be true!

5) Europe with Parents - Taking my parents and in-laws on that fantastic European holiday, again one of the items on my wishlist from 2007. I had always wanted to take them to all those wonderful places that I've had the privilege of visiting and finally that dream came true!

6) A once in a lifetime experience - Not just taking the parents on the holiday, but giving them that surprise of a lifetime, when we unexpectedly popped up at the Bombay airport just as they were about to board their flights, and told them that we too were joining them on their trip - something which was a top secret till then! The expressions on their faces and their reactions were simply to die for, it was indeed a once in a life time experience! I hadn't shared the video of that very memorable experience here before but let me do that today.

7) The Entrepreneur Hubby - This has less to do with me and everything to do with the hubby but this year, I watched his transtition from a consultant and analyst to an entrepreneur which is a dream come true for him. Like I said, I have nothing to do with any of it (other than offering the name Teamie for his company!) but I am incredibly proud of him and I find this milestone has made this year even more wonderful for us!

8) Family - I had a whole load of wonderful time spent with my family this year! The year kicked off with my mom and in laws being in town, after which all four came down for the Mausams premiere, all of us travelled Europe together and they again came down for a visit mid-year. We also spent some time with not just the parents but also the extended families - uncles, aunts, cousins etc. etc. on both sides, thanks to the weddings of a cousin each on my end as well as my hubby's! And all of that was huge, huge fun and remains very close to my heart!

9) Dance - Thanks to the hubby's cousin's wedding in November this year and a dance performance that was required for it, I had a blast choreographing and dancing to a few songs. I always miss dancing, something which was such a big part of my life during my college days and this year, I put in a lot of time into it for a couple of months. That was an incredibly awesome feeling!

10) Work - This year was evidently very eventful because of travel and film making and all that but what I am very happy about was also how, during a very tough time at work, I could really put my whole self into it and pull things around. It gave me such a sense of fulfillment like I've never had before! Had this not happened, I would have ended up feeling like an underachiever at my job and that I had to compromise my work for some of the other things I did. But that was not the case! In what was very aptly titled "One of the best days ever" post, I had explained the whole thing but for now I would just say that it was one of the biggest and best learning experiences I've had. I learnt that it is absolutely possible not to give up on something and you just have to keep trying really really hard, no matter how things seem otherwise!

11) Mausams - My God, Mausams! This year saw its completion and what a journey it had been to get there! Some of the milestones had been captured in this blog as and when it had happened - the theme song release, the teaser release, the last minute highly nerve wrecking editing, background score and sound design work (which has several posts dedicated to it), the behind the scenes video, ticketing and publicity work including giving interviews for video and radio shows and several newspapers and magazines and last but to the least, the fantastic and unbelievably eventful premier night in Singapore which became the mother of all coincidences by falling on the 500th day of this blog! Mausams is and will stay one of the most beautiful journeys I've made in this life.... it was just out of this world!

12) Unexpected Blessings - All of the above Mausams stuff are probably the expected ones - you know, things that I was expecting to happen and working towards it - i.e. completing the movie and releasing it on time in Singapore. But what I absolutely didn't expect and hence was like the biggest blessings of all was what happened afterwards. The incredible response to the film, meeting a lot of wonderful people - other film makers, film maniacs, etc. who came into my life thanks to Mausams, having a wonderful screening in my home town, getting accepted in a few film festivals and last but not the least, winning an award at one!

13) Vegas & the Award - Sure I travelled to 15 countries in 2012, but nothing like the 1.5 day trip to Vegas to pick up the Silver Screen award for Mausams. That was just surreal.

14) Inganeyum Oru Katha - this is the short film I started on post Mausams. What makes this truly special is because it's my first film in my mother tongue Malayalam and I had a wonderful time working this with my lovely Mallu team! I think IOK was simply an excuse for us to hang out together, talk in our language, discuss Malayalam movies and actors and politics and food and what not! And all this contributed a lot to what made this year very awesome!

15) Ready to be 30 - Last but not the least, I am officially ready to be 30, having ticked off every single thing on my Before-30 list. In my yearly round up from last year, I had mentioned that I was well on track to completing this list by end of 2011, and sure enough, that turned out to be true! The things pending were sky diving, making a film (in this case, completing Mausams), taking parents on a non-Asian holiday and last but not the least, learning to cycle. All of which I managed to do this year! That's truly a very satisfying feeling!

So yes, it's been a wonderful, wonderful year! One which was so special for several reasons!

And since many of the above would not have been possible had it not been for some very wonderful people in my life - family, friends, colleagues, strangers even, here's a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who's stopped to care and reach out in whatever way, big or small! And of course, there is no denying that am incredibly blessed, so here's a HUGE THANK YOU to our dear God as well!

Now it's time for 2012.

228 more to go.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Day 771: Lovely Final 2011 Friday!

The final Friday of 2011 was wrapped up beautifully!

a) I had the last yoga class for the year and very happily, I finally managed to balance myself in the ekapadangusthasana! Usually am able to balance only with one hand off the floor, and this was the first time I managed to bring both my hands in a namaskar and balance on my toes. The feeling was AWESOME!
b) Post yoga I enjoyed some dim sum on my own at the newly discovered Din Tai Fung followed by chai at Starbucks, of course!
c) Post that, I finally managed to get myself to do some shopping for things I absolutely don't need. You see, once in a while I like to be in touch with my female side and buy myself things that are strictly nice-to-have but not really needed. I wanted to do a bit of it in December, given the sales and all but didn't manage to do anything until now. Today, I bought myself a few earrings (last time I bought earrings was around 5 years ago), a top and a few bangles (last time that happened was surely 7 years ago, other than the Indian bangles my parents and in-laws keep getting for me)!
d) It was the hubby's last day at his workplace of 6.5 years, as he starts now to focus full time on his own company. That obviously was a big deal for him and I was, of course, very proud of him! I went to his office to help him pick up all his stuff and after dropping them at home, we went off for a nice dinner followed by in-home wine drinking to celebrate this milestone in his life!

So a lovely Friday... just the best way to close off the last one in 2011!

229 more to go.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Day 770: Dogs!

Today, out of the blue, I felt like checking out dogs or pups that are up for adoption in Singapore. Truth is that I am not exactly planning to adopt one because...well.... the hubby is least interested (in fact, he is terrified of them) and I don't want to inflict something so big on him if he is not interested. But I did feel like going and meeting a few, just for the fun of it and also given that I seem to have more time on my hands than usual!

So I went to an animal infirmary and checked out their pups and dogs. Some of them were downright naughty, some were way too huge and one adorable one looked downright terrified of me! Nothing tangible came out of the whole experience I suppose, except well.... the experience of spending a little bit of time with those adorable beings of course.

230 more to go.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Day 769: Tai-Tai Bliss!

I had another wave of Ta-Tai-sm today. After a day of pretty much no work (I received a grand total of 3 emails only!), I decided to just relax the evening away. By that I mean that I went to Starbucks, I ordered my favourite chai tea latte and sat there, reading a book through the evening.

Without a worry in the world, it was perfect Tai-Tai Bliss!

231 more to go.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 768: Shukla Does It Again!

It's been a while since I shared some of the gems that the hubby comes up with every now and then. Given that there were a couple of these today, and also given the fact that I didn't do anything very fancy during the day other than listen to these, I have decided to dedicate today's post to the hubby and his gems.

The first one was around yoga. Here are a few facts about it, before we get into the gem itself. The hubby and I had signed up for yoga together but I turned out to be far more regular than him. In fact, the instructors at the yoga place always ask me where he has disappeared to. He does pop up at the studio once every 3-4 weeks, make a big deal about his presence there and then wouldn't turn up for another month or so.

Recently, during one of his rare visits to the yoga studio, its lead instructor and founder caught hold of him and asked his help to be part of an advertising video they were making. In fact the conversation went something like...

Instructor: It would be great if you can come and be part of it. All you need to do is demo a few postures.
Hubby: But why me? I can hardly do any posture perfectly.
Instructor: Oh that's alright. We just need people of different shapes or physique for the variety.
Hubby: Oh... and am I supposed to be of the "circular" shape?!

Even though he pushed back on it at first, he was nice enough to join the shoot and contribute his bit. FYI, I didn't join because I was out of town that day.

That was a while ago and we had forgotten all about it. Today when I went for yoga (the hubby was not present as usual), I met the same instructor and she told me that the video was finally ready. I, in turn, conveyed this message to the hubby. This is how the conversation went.

Me: Hey, that video you did for Bikram Yoga... it's ready.
Hubby: Which one?
Me: Erm.... How many videos have you done for Bikram Yoga?
Hubby: Oh.... that one.
Me: Yeah.
Hubby: And?
Me: And nothing. They have put it up in the studio and should be putting it up online soon.
Hubby: *snort*
Me: What?
Hubby: I've done it.... all. I've done it all!
Me: Huh?
Hubby: You know.....if someone asks, "Ever been on Bikram Yoga advertisement?".... I'll be like "Of course! Been there, done that" (Smug.... no wait... SUPER smug)
Me: Yeah, who would have thought? Given that you go there like once a month.
Hubby: Exactly! Even then I am the face of Bikram Yoga. (smugness rise several notches - the eyes begin to pop, the smile widens, the nose twitches, the eyebrows flicker, the ears wiggle....)
Me: Sure.
Hubby: I am Bikram Yoga! (more eye-popping, smile-widening, nose-twitching, eyebrow-flickering, ear-wiggling)
Me: Erm....
Hubby: Bikram is my middle name!
Me: Wha...
Hubby: Shivanu Bikram Shukla! (ta da ta dum doooom! drumroll!)
Me: *speechless*

That was the first incident. The second incident involved my mom-in-law as well. She had recently sported a new hairdo when she went for a party and posted a few pictures of it on Facebook. The hairdo was very evidently different from her usual styles and suited her perfectly. I quite liked it and told her so when I caught her online on chat later. She asked me to ensure that my hubby also sees the pictures when he is free.

Now here's a bit more background about the hubby. He is like the least expressive guy to have hit planet earth. For example, a typical conversation between his parents and him, about something that's exciting to regular people, like the trip to Vegas to pick up the Mausams award, would go like this....

Parents: How was the trip?!!!!!
Hubby: Good.
Parents: What did you guys do?!!!!!
Hubby: Nothing much. Picked up the award.
Parents: How was Vegas?!!!!!!!
Hubby: Nice.
Parents: How was Grand Canyon?!!!!!!
Hubby: Good.

You see what I mean? Usually around this point in the conversation, they would kindly ask him to pass the phone to me and I, in my very articulate self, would describe the entire trip without skipping a single detail.

So yes, the hubby isn't expressive. So when the mom-in-law asked me show the pictures of her new hairdo to her son, I told her that I can definitely show but I wouldn't bet on any great reaction. Mom-in-law agreed that wouldn't be any major reaction, but there still could be something, hopefully on the positive side. Both of us brainstormed on all possible reactions that the picture would elicit from the hubby and decided that "'s nice", is the best we would be able to squeeze out of him. That seemed like a reasonable hypothesis and I proceeded to test it.

When the hubby came home, I showed him one of the pictures from the party, that featured my mom-in-law and her friend's son.

Me: What do you think?
Hubby: About?
Me: The picture am showing you!
Hubby: Hmmmm....
Me: Anything you notice?
Hubby: Oh! He (the friend's son) looks like Devanand (an old Indian actor) from Guide (an old Indian movie) just before he dies in it.
Me: Uhm. OK. How does your mom look?
Hubby: (looking very closely at the picture) My mom looks like my mom.


I called up mom-in-law:

Me: I showed the picture to your son.
She: Oh!!! And.......?
Me: First he commented on your friend's son.... (and I proceeded to repeat the old Indian movie comparisons)
She: Oh!
Me: Yeah.
She: And?
Me: And then I asked... "How does your mom look?"
She: Did he just say "Nice".
Me: Nope.
She: "Good"?
Me: Nope.
She: Oh.... something more?! (obviously one can't blame her for thinking and being very surprised at the thought that there might have been more than a "nice" or "good" this time)
Me: Erm.... (clears throat).... he said "My looks like my mom".
She: What?
Me: "My looks like my mom".
She: Oh.
Me: Yeah.

And then we burst out laughing - at having been way too optimistic about the one and only Shukla, my husband, her son.

232 more to go.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 767: 55th!

It was a totally chilled out day. I did absolutely nothing other than a going for a jog, until the evening.

Then I declared that if I sit at home any longer, am gonna go out of my mind. So the hubby and I went for a stroll around Orchard, mainly around Ion.

After a bit of shopping, an overpriced chicken rice dinner at the foodcourt at Ion and Starbucks tea, we ran out of things to do. That's when the hubby mentioned that there is a nice restaurant and bar on the 55th floor of the Ion. You see, he being the more "happening" one amongst two of us, he knows about these things more than me.

So we went up there to check it out and maybe get something to drink and I realized it was indeed a very beautiful place...! Well, I guess anything at that height oughta be beautiful with all that terrific view, and this was no exception. But even then, I really loved sitting there at that height, watching the view through the fully glass paneled walls and enjoying the flickering lights of the night below! It somehow makes you feel... blessed!

233 more to go.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Day 766: Major Cooking Day!

And yes, it was!

I was up by 9am and by 12 noon I had made Sweet Corn Chicken Soup, Potato Cutlets, Spicy Fried Chicken and Dhaniya (Coriander) Paneer!

A friend came over for lunch and the three of us - the friend, the hubby and I, ate up all that food as well as the Chocolate Cake from yesterday, over wine and lots of conversation, all the way until 8pm!

Needless to say, am very proud of my feat!

234 more to go.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 765: The List is Done! All Set for 30!!!

It was the P.e.r.f.e.c.t day!

Firstly it was the first day of the first long weekend that's marking the end of the year. We have a three-week holiday weekend (and next weekened too, is another long one), so I was already in a very upbeat mood when I woke up!

To add to the upbeat-ness, the weather was chilly and breezy with short spurts of downpours, which I loved!

Just as the hubby and I were enjoying our breakfast and some tea, watching the beautiful weather outside from our windows, I decided that it was time to tick off my "Before-30" list. I made this list in 2006 - it had 10 items listed in there and I had completed pretty much all of it except the one last elusive thing-to-do - "learn cycling".

I had tried a couple of times to learn cycling over the last few years but wasn't too successful. I would kinda get the balance but then I would fall or ram into a tree and then lose all interest in pursuing it any further. But today, I decided that it was time to set it all right.

Instead of finding a bike rental spot, which is what I usually do, I decided to get myself a bicycle which I can practise riding on any time I want. The hubby dear did some research and figured out that there was a cycle shop right on our street!

So the hubby and I took a short walk, went to the cycle shop, I picked up a bike and the hubby insisted that it would be his gift to me (yes, he did score a few brownie points on that one)! Then we brought it back home but didn't pursue any cycling right then, thanks to yet another downpour that took place.

Instead, we did some reasonably extensive grocery shopping at the newly renovated, huge NTUC in Bishan (which somehow I really like). Once back from the shopping, I decided to bake a cake! Yeah, a chocolate cake!

After successfully baking some yummy chocolate cup cakes which were then topped up with whipped cream and thick chocolate syrup, making it as rich as it could possibly be, well... we ate it all up!

While we relaxed after sufficiently stuffing ourselves with chocolate cake, I noticed that the rain had stopped and decided that it was probably a good time to test out the new bike.

So the hubby and I went to the nearby HDB block and I started out to try cycling with some good guidance from the hubby. After about an hour, I seemed to have gotten the hang of it and after about 2 hours, there I was... cycling left, right and centre! Sure, I could be a lot more confident and less panicky especially during tough turns, uneven grounds etc., but I can now officially cycle!

And with that I am now, officially, all set to turn 30 (about 8 months in advance)! Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

I love that I could finally completely ticked off the list! The feeling is OH-SO-AWESOME!!!

Just as we were getting back home after the cycling expedition, there was another round of very strong chilly, breeze. The hubby and I spent some minutes outside doing nothing but enjoying that lovely, lovely, weather!

To celebrate the fabulous achievement of finally being able to cycle, we went out to Clarke Quay for dinner.

And that's when we unexpectedly got caught in the Christmas Eve crowds and cheer! The ridiculous traffic jam and the never-before-seen crowd at Clarke Quay (oh, also the never-before-seen-bizarrely-dressed crowd) were quite fascinating!

Close to midnight, we noticed that the crowds were automaticaly merging towards the central area near Clarke Quay, right next to where we were having dinner. And just at midnight, there was this uproar - cheers, screams, whistles, party poppers, foam sprays and a fantastic welcoming of the Christmas day! There was no count down or even a big clock giving the time, but the crowd just took it upon themselves to create a huge wave of vocal welcome! It was amazing and I couldn't stop smiling!

That was the perfect end to a perfect day!

It was perfect for the beautiful weather, my new bike, my first baking expedition and the successful chocolate cake, the fact that I can finally bike myself, a completely ticked-off Before-30 list, spending an entire day with the hubby - not just watching TV or working on our respective computers through the day but spending a whole day together - shopping, cycling, eating, chatting, walking and enjoying the breeze; and last but not the least, being part of the wonderful Christmas welcome cheer!

I felt terrific - absolutely on top of the world!

235 more to go.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 764: Jog, Rain, Shopping, Cabbie, Holmes, Music, Wine & Others!

What an unexpectedly eventful day!

After doing whatever work was there to be done, which was very little, to be honest, thanks to 95% of the folks being out of office, and following it up with a quick jog, I decided to go out and do some grocery shopping. The first long weeked of the year end is coming up and I plan to cook!

So I got Jumilah along, and together we went to good old Mustafa. Now, shopping in Mustafa is rather eventful in itself and given that I had a long list of things to buy, it turned out to be more eventful than I would liked it to be. We basically ended up walking up and down that humungous building and its newly done extensions, a thousand times!

After that long but successful shopping, came the next challenge - finding a cab to get back. It was pouring cats and dogs and considering Singapore's downright pathetic taxi availability situation these days, it turned to be a true horror. But interestingly enough, I wasn't impatient or fidgety. I kinda enjoyed the rain, the panic of the people around that it induced, the fact that the wind blew the rains to even where I was standing which was initially considered a pretty well covered area, watching Jumilah use all her energy to flag any passing car etc.

Finally it was Jumilah, the superstar, who managed to successfully get a cab. After loading all the bags into the taxi, we had an interesting journey back home in the lashing rain, catching a glimpse of the floods that seem to plague Singapore these days and having a great conversation with the cabbie who was really one of the nicest cabbies ever!

At home Jumilah and I made ourselves some hot tea and spicy pakoras!

Later at night, it was time for Sherlock Holmes with the hubby but not before a dinner at Nandos. The movie was fun and it was even more nice that after the movie, getting a cab was not an issue at all! After the cab hunting extravaganza this evening, that was more than a welcome change!

But the night was not to end there. The hubby and I decided to go through our music playlists and play all the wonderful songs that we enjoy, and that too over some good white wine! Thus we sat up listening to songs, one after the other, well into the night!

It was an evertful, perfect day!

236 more to go.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Day 763: Me-Time & SK-II folks!

Another fabulous day!

After work, I dropped my laptop home (OK... I didn't drop my laptop home but Jumilah came over to the MRT station to pick it up, making me feel like a princess... but hey, the damn thing was super heavy and I wanted to walk around Singapore without lugging it around!) and then went off to Orchard road.... to soak in the holiday cheer, watch all the happy people around, window shop and generally feel awesome.

I did all the above for about an hour and did feel super awesome! I looked at all the decorations lining up the road and in and outside all the malls; walked through a couple of malls, stopping at pretty much every other shop watching all the sales buzz, analysizing the products,; watching people chatting, shopping, taking pictures, holding hands, hugging and very obviously feeling on top of the world, just like me; so on and so forth! It was some very quality "me-time"!

After that I went my SK-II ex-colleague's house - actually she was my ex-boss and is a very good friend who is now expecting a little one into her life very soon. A few others from the old SK-II team who are still around in the company joined in and we had a blast, chatting for more than 5 hours straight, well into the night! It was wonderful to catch up with what's left of this wonderful team from all those years ago!

237 more to go.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Day 762: A Musical Idea!

Interesting day, coz I happened to do something that I don't often. Which is basically, brainstorming for a music video! It all happened by chance. I was chatting with a friend who is quite the musician and I had this idea for a song for him to compose (I wish I could do it myself but God, very obviously, had not given me the ability to make songs or anything that would remotely sound like a song!) Anyway, so we discussed the idea for a bit and then I got super excited about it and I started brainstorming for a video that we could make once the song would be done. Well, given that the ball is completely in my musician friend's court, am not quite sure if and when the song would be made, but for today I had a real ball thinking of a song and a music video, something that I had never done before!

238 more to go.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Day 761: Yoga Joy, Figure Skating & Some Yearly Reflection!

Warning: Contains some hardcore philosophical stuff at the end.

So the holiday joy continues.... which basically means, just like yesterday, I continue to feel upbeat and I continue to beam with no particular reason to do so!

But some highlights are:

a) Spreading yoga joy to a good friend. He is leaving the country pretty soon and given that he is a fitness freak, focused on running, biking and swimming, I decided that he must have a taste of hot yoga before he leaves! And so I got him down to the studio and successfully got him to try a class. And he loved it too! So that was my good deed for the day!

b) Watching the figure skating performers at Novena. Every year, if any of my family members are in town, I usually take them to watch this. It takes place at the Novena Square Velocity mall, for about 5 days until Christmas and the performers usually come from Australia. Every single year, the performances had been breathtaking and today was no different! I watched them, mesmerized! I also missed my family back at home - my mom, in-laws and even my aunt who had been here one year or the other, watching this with me. But missing someone is not necessarily bad I suppose. It just means you are remembering some good times... so that's nice as well!

c) Watching the Google Zeitgeist video that shows a review of 2011. I loved this one! Sure, you can say that it is just Google marketing itself ... blah blah.... but there is no denying that there are a few great moments in there and the music is to die for! Watch it if you haven't done so yet.

And that's the best part about this calendar year process. Imagine how it would be if there were no years or birthdays or any such time related flags that pop up on a regular basis?

We might just go on and on and on without stopping and looking back. Or for that matter, thinking about what next. In my head, that would be a pretty horrendous situation.

But good news is that we do have regular time related reminders. Every time a year ends, we can look back and reflect. So much to think about, smile about, many precious instances to store in our heads forever and several to be forgotten and letting go. It's a wonderful process, really. It heals and builds hope. And that's what makes it so beautiful!

OK, if I have completely oversold the "year" as a concept above, well... am not gonna apologize. I still love it! And hey, you were warned!

239 more to go.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 760: Holiday Week!

So the holidays are officially here! It is pretty evident from the relatively empty office, the long lunch I had with a colleague, the 50% reduced number of emails in my inbox, the longer periods of day dreaming etc.

So am super upbeat as such! I think I was just smiling through the day without any apparent reason than the fact that it's holiday time! Ah, this yearly joy!

To add on, the lunch with the colleague ....actually friend more than colleague... lunch with her was awesome! Being fellow Mallus, we went to Swaadhisht and had the most amazing meal over an ever more amazing conversation!

In the evening I hit yoga after a gap of a week with the stupid viral fever. But the class was awesome too and I thoroughly enjoyed myself!

So even through the mrt and the walk back home, I was just beaming.


240 more to go.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Day 759: Home Yoga, MI4, Mentalist, Maggi & Such!

Awesome day, really!

It started with me waking up and deciding that I badly needed yoga to fix all those muscles that were sore from too many hours of sleeping and doing nothing else. At pretty much the same time, I also decided that I am too weak to hit the hot yoga room.

So there was only one thing to do. Go through the yoga routine at home!

And I did just that!

Interestingly enough it was better than I had expected it to be! I had expected that without the heat in the hot room as well as the fact that I had not been to the class for a week, I would be pretty stiff. But I wasn't, yay! So I had a really good home yoga session!

Post that it was another round of the Mentalist marathon with the hubby. That too over multiple rounds of Maggi 2 minute noodles - yummmm! Sure, they are super unhealthy, but hey, I did home yoga this morning!

Post Mentalist marathon, it was time to watch the talk of the town - Mission Impossible 4! And man, that didn't disappoint at all! What a brilliantly executed movie!! Seriously jaw dropping stunts in there!

So overall it was a very pleasant Sunday and by the end of it, I also felt like the flu was finally going off. So then the pleasant Sunday turned into pretty much a perfect one!

241 more to go.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Day 758: Patch Up!

OK, I didn't patch up with an old friend or anything as dramatic as that. This patch up simply refers to a patch up shoot we had for IOK. Actually now that I think of it, it is less of a patch up and more of a reshoot.

The background is that we had one scene shot entirely at night and then my editor (the same guy who edited Mausams) had this really cool edit suggestion with the only requirement that this scene should be re-shot during day time!


But for the sake of a cool edit, one gotta do these things.

So three of us got together this morning and had a re-shoot! It was pretty awesome fun as usual! Oh, I must mention that I was in front of the camera for this scene, so that was fun in its own spite of the fact that I was all snotty and sniffly from the fever that had given to just a flu.

But we had an awesome shoot... which was of course followed by hours of random conversation - the one unmissable thing when Malayalis get together!

Post the shoot (and the conversation that followed) which lasted for about 6 hours, I felt dead tired. Like drop dead tired.

So I crashed on the bed for the rest of the day and night, only getting up once in between for a quick dinner.

Yeah... so the patch up shoot got me incredibly tired, yes. But I was also incredibly happy! Yes yes!

242 more to go.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day 757: The Mentalist!

Yes, that's the new American series on Warner Bros that I've fallen in love with!

I like that its a crime investigation series but one that doesn't take itself too seriously!

After a long day of work .... it was long because there were a million things to complete before bosses and my team went off for their holidays.... I got back home and watched several episodes of The Mentalist back to back!

It was my way of ending a very nice week - sure I fell sick and it was hectic and all that - but I really did enjoy each and every day!

After all, it was a December week and the last proper working week of the year!

243 more to go.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Day 756: Me vs. VF!

This is more of a "Must Go On" part 2!

In other words, today too I had to fight with Viral Fever and make sure that I emerge as the ultimate winner. Well....technically, the fever was down, thanks to the wonderful medications from my doctor, but I still had a flu... so yeah, it was me vs. Viral Flu.

Given that I were to have meetings from 1pm all the way to 9pm, I decided to the morning off and get to the office by noon only. And my idea was that the morning off will not only give me some more of the much needed rest, but it will also get me some exercise. I knew that no exercising will happen if I shift it to the evening, thanks to my ridiculous meeting I had to ensure that I finish it all off in the morning itself.

So after waking up late enough and getting sufficient rest in the process, I made my way to the gym and burnt around 300 calories. That already kick started the day on a great note!

When I reached my office at 12 noon, I was full of energy and was able to bulldoze my way through the entire day - all through until 9pm without even a single Starbucks Chai Late break!

And I felt awesome! Sure, I was still sick and that part of it was awful but mentally I felt really on top of the world. I felt Oh-So-Productive!

And then I concluded that in the war between Me vs. Viral Fever, I have emerged as the ultimate winner!


244 more to go.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Day 755: The Doc!

There is this doctor in Singapore whom I absolutely love and I decided that I must write about her on the blog!

She is the chief GP at the Healthway Medical Centre in Novena, which is my company's official health centre for its employees. So I end up going there every now and then.

Today too I ended up going there, given the newly caught flu and sudden descent of an ridiculous amount of fatigue and chillness in the afternoon.

This doc, as usual, was in her exuberant self and just talking to her made me feel a lot better! SThere's something very pleasant about her personality and she sounds genuinely concerned about you, which you obviously appreciate when you are ill! he must be meeting so many sick people every day, but she always smiles, cracks jokes and makes this clinic-going experience a lot more pleasant than it would have been otherwise!

Thanks to her gift for lifting my spirits up, I always leave the clinic feeling like a child who's been given a candy to compensate for the pain of going to the doctor. And this time was no different either! I left the clinic slightly better already!

And hey, the best part is not just her jovial outlook and interpersonal skills that make you feel so happy and less sick, but she is actually SO good at what she does!

My personal experience (as well as my mom's and my hubby's who have also been to her) is that she is excellent with her diagnosis and her prescriptions. She has always cured everything, pretty much quickly also! And she never prescribes more medicines than absolutely needed.

Even this time, my viral fever (that's what I was diagnosed with) dipped within a few hours, thanks to her medicines!

In short, she is one person who's had quite some impact in my life without probably realizing it herself and I decided that today's post would belong to her, for making me leave a medical clinic with a smile!

245 more to go.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Day 754: Must Go On!

I had a total "Must Go On" attitude today!

By that I mean that I refused to succumb to a stupid flu that's been cropping and decided that I will work as hard as possible and also get my fair share of exercise in spite of that sore throat or the running nose.

So that's exactly what I did.

Work was crazy to say the least. Everyone, including my bosses, will be off on holiday as of next week, so ever single thing had to be completed within this week. Which meant a ton of stuff to get through! With a flu that wasn't easy but I refused to let the flu spoil my cheer at work, which is a rather cheery cheer thanks to the December spirit! I managed to finish off quite a chunk of work and I felt pretty great about it!

Then I got back home and went on a 4km brisk walk. A run or hot yoga would have been a bit much given my health conditions, so I just stuck to brisk walking. That still counts as exercise in my books, so I felt super proud of myself once that was done!

So yes, I told myself that I must go on no matter what and I did! Happy!

246 more to go.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Day 753: A Singapore Walk!

Today was one of those days when I fell in love with Singapore, again. I have been living in this country for the last 13 years and every now and then I take a step back and enjoy everything that's around me!

It happened today because post yoga, I walked from Raffles City to the Singapore Cricket Club for a friend's birthday celebration.

The weather was very pleasant - very cool and breezy, just before the rains. And as I walked on the very deserted road, I had the magnificent view of the Singapore skyline ahead of me. No matter how many times I look at it, it still makes me all wonder-eyed!

The view, the roads, the walk that made me smile!

As I walked towards the cricket club, listening to my music, enjoying the cool breeze and taking in the view, I couldn't stop smiling.

It simply felt perfect.

Yes, even a 100% urban city state can make you feel that way even after a decade of being in it. I guess all you need to do is take the some time to appreciate it!

So yes, my highlight for the day was this lovely Singapore walk!

247 more to go.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 752: Social Butterfly, Masala Chai Maker & Script Writer

The productivity and fun from the Saturday continued to Sunday! Here are the highlights:

a) I attended two (yeah not one but TWO) birthday parties today, which made me feel like such a social buttery! Phew! First it was the birthday party of one of my closest friend’s daughter. It was a pretty grand event, it being her 1st birthday, with an elaborate buffet lunch at Shahi Maharani. Not only did I stuff myself with all the yummy chaats, tandoori dishes and desserts, I also managed to mingle around pretty well with the 70-80 people who had turned up. It was quite fun! Then at night, I had another round of birthday celebrations. This time, it was that of a close friend from college, and it was more of a small group, intimate but nice celebration. We had a great time chatting away into the night, enjoying home made mojitos, vegan cup cakes and watching cricket intermittently (India won, yay!)

b) Anyone who’s been reading this blog would know that I am a great lover of chai. Masala chai, to be precise. But I had never made chai, let alone masala chai. Yeah I know. It is quite a shocker that I have made chicken fry and upma and seyal and vermicelli and all those fancy stuff but not chai. But these things happen. However, today, things were to change. For once and for all! OK… so this is what happened… When we got back home after the first birthday party, the hubby readily declared that he wanted to have chai. I gave him a dirty look and then ignored him. You see, today’s Jumilah’s off-day which the hubby is very well aware of, so such declarations implying that I need to get working on what he needs, were not very acceptable. But then I realized that the mention of “chai” has gotten me to crave for chai as well. Argh. So I decided that it was time. It was time to make my own masala chai. After googling up some recipes, I got down to work. Within a few minutes I had a boiling cup of chai in front of me. To be honest, I was a bit hesitant to taste it at first. What if it’s really horrid? The inability to make masala chai would leave me scarred for life! But then I realized that the chai was smelling really good. Like really, really good! That encouraged me to take a sip. Slurp.. I sipped. Ahhhh…. I exhaled, in absolute elation and complete contentment! It was the perfect masala chai! Perfect. Just the way I like it! Slurp… Ahhh…. Slurp… Ahhhh…! I felt like Zakir Hussain in the Taj Mahal teabag ads. It was the next level of awesomeness! I am now officially a Masala Chai maker. And the realization that I can now make masala chai any time I crave for it.... pure AWESOMEness!

c) Last but not the least, I also progressed with the script of my next feature film and completed about 6 scenes (about 35%) of the script. I had a great time writing it, imagining the scenes in my head and enacting it as I went by. And the fact that I reached about 35% made me feel super good!

So yes a Social Butterfly, a Masala Chai Maker and a Script Writer. All in 1 day!

248 more to go.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Day 751: Seyal, Upma, Yoga, Nando's, Fun!

It was a pretty cool Saturday! One which was completely satisfying because of the range of things I ended up doing, most of which were rather productive.

It all started with me making a breakfast of Seyal Dabroti, a Sindhi dish (of bread in a thick gravy) that I had taken a fancy for at my favourite restaurant Kailas Parbat, and which I was determined to reproduce at home. And that came out pretty well! So the hubby and I had a yummy breakfast and chilled out for a while – watching TV, Facebook-ing, reading and such.

Then it was lunch time and I had this really strong craving for some Upma. Not just any Upma, but the carrot-tomato Upma that my mom makes. So I called my mom up, got the recipe, and made that. That too came out pretty yummy, much to my satisfaction… and a bit of surprise! To be honest … to try making TWO dishes in a day and both turning out well was something I had not quite expected. So that was indeed awesome!

After all that eating of Seyal Dabroti and Carrot-Tomato Upma since morning, it was time to burn it all off. So the hubby and I made our way to our Bikram yoga class. There we bumped into the founder of the studio who expressed her extreme surprise at seeing the hubby back in the studio after “ages”! She looked more surprised than she would have, had she bumped into a dinosaur. It was quite a sight, to say the least. After the hubby blabbered out enough unconvincing excuses for his absence from the hot room for all these months, we proceeded for our class.

And the class turned out to be pretty good for me and I felt on top of the world!

Post the burning of all those calories, it was time for putting all of it back again. For dinner, we met some friends, and went to my favourite place Nando’s for some of their fiery spiced grilled chicken (reasonably healthy) topped with their fiery spiced French fries (anything but healthy). That was super yummy and I felt even more on top of the world!

To wind off a pretty great day so far, all of us went and watched this movie called Ladies vs. Ricky Bahl. It was decently entertaining, and had some fantastic performances by the cast. So I enjoyed that too!

Nett, a pretty great day of cooking (not once, but TWICE), yoga, enjoying great food & company and generally feeling on top of universe!

249 more to go.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Day 750: A December-ish Friday!

The holiday season is here, it's even reached the office which has started to look emptier now! And that already puts me in pretty good spirits! Oh how I love December!

And everything through the day felt like a mini celebration almost...

The fact that the office was pretty empty and that I hardly had any meetings...
Ticking everything off my to-do list at work, now that there were no meetings to distract me...
Enjoying Jumilah's really good egg curry with chappathis for lunch...
Getting out of office earlier than usual....
Having an awesome yoga class! Initially I was dreading it because I hadn't been to class for more than a month, thanks to all the travelling, but I had the most amazing time! It really felt like all my body parts were fixed proper and that all the strain from countless hours in a flight were removed once and for all! I even got a "that's such a beautiful posture" for my Rabbit pose! Yay!
Having really yummy soups, noodles and dim sums from Din Tai Fung at Raffles City, with the hubby. This was the discovery of the day... I have no clue why I hadn't tried their food before because it's just mindblowing! Seriously yummmm!

In short, a perfectly December-ish happy and smiley Friday!

And with that, we only have 250 more to go!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Day 749: Idea!!!!

One of those days when the birth of a new idea gets you so thoroughly excited that the day just becomes one rocking beauty!

It happened over a chat with my editor from Mausams, and by the end of the chat both of us were totally inspired and kicked to get working on it!

Of course, at this point in time it is very hard to say for sure that this would see the light of the day, but as far as the day is concerned, thinking and discussing about this idea made it a totally awesome one!

251 more to go.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Day 748: Non Stop 3.4!

Now that I am back in Singapore with no more travelling or any other distraction for a long while, I decided that it's high time I got back to exercising. The last time I got any kind exercise was probably three weeks ago! Sigh!

So I decided to go for a run. Take my usual 3.4km route. And here's what happened...

I start to run.

And I run....

And I run....

And I run....

And then I realize that I have already passed by my usual first resting spot and I am not tired at all!

You see, after every kilometer or so, I usually pause for about a minute, catch my breath and then run again. However, this time around, that regular first resting spot of mine was well past but I was still going strong!

Pretty amused by this unexpected turn of events, I continue to run...

And I continue to run....

And I continue to run....

And then, the second resting spot also whizzes past and I still am not that tired. Tired, yes. But not that tired.

And then the mind games begin. One part of me wants to run the remaining distance, about 1.3-1.4kms without stopping at all. Another part immediately starts to feel tired, more mental than physical for sure, but it definitely starts to feel like I wont be able to make the remaining distance without stopping.

But one gotta give it a go.

So I continue to run....

And I continue to run....

And I continue to run...

And now things are very obviously getting hard. I feel my heart in my mouth. I hear my heartbeats in some seriously loud decibels. I begin to sweat like a pig.

But then there was only about 500 mts or so left...

So I run.........

And I run........

And I run........

And then suddenly it ends. Like an oasis in a desert, the swimming pool of my condominium, appears right in front of me. That's the official stopping point of all my runs.

I made it!!!

Non stop 3.4 kms!!!

Hasn't happened in more than a year or so!

Yeah baby!

Never gonna do that again because it felt so bloody hard, but for today, it was a rocking experience and I feel super awesome about it!

252 more to go.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 747: Kickass Welcome Back!

It was indeed a great day!

We got back from US late last night but still managed to go to office in the morning. Not just that, I managed to be productive through the day as well! So that made me feel pretty awesome about myself!

And on top of that, what was really cool was that there were sooooo many congratulatory and "welcome" back messages buzzing on my phone, email, chat and Facebook through the day! People were seriously SO sweet! Everyone wanted to know how the festival went and what exactly did we do there etc. etc. and I gave my looooong narrations over and over and over again, and not getting bored of it even once!

It was like living through the event all over again.... more so, after sharing all the pictures later in the evening which led to another burst of comments and messages. All of it felt pretty awesome and it was as if I were still back in Vegas!

Indeed a very kickass welcome back, it was! I must say I have such lovely people round me!

253 more to go.

Days 743 - 746: Nevada Film Festival, Las Vegas!

2 - 5 December, 2011

Wow... Where can I start?!

The last 4 days have been one of the most incredible phases in this entire 1000-day journey I must say! I really had the best time ever!

This is because over the last 4 days, the hubby and I went all the way to Las Vegas and back, where we picked up a Silver Screen award from the Nevada Film Festival for my little film, Mausams!!! The fact that we had won the award in itself was cloud 9 material but the fact that I could make it there and pick the award myself made it go way beyond cloud 9!

There is lots to write but before we start, let me say that given that all the time zones are very much screwed up, am gonna write the fantastic stories of the last 4 days in one single post.

Ok... So here we go... We started from Singapore on Friday, December 2nd morning. Well.. Ridiculously early flight actually... 6am! Which meant waking up and getting to the airport by 4am! But what was really cool was the flight we took, Delta airlines, turned out to be pretty good! They had a very good personal entertainment system with the video and audio quality beating even Singapore airlines, which was a real surprise!

So yes, the journey started on a very positive note and it made the almost 7 hour flight to Tokyo very pleasant! I ended up watching 2 films - Crazy, Stupid Love and X Men First Class, both of which I enjoyed! It was also pretty cool that the hubby and I were to make this journey together because it was like we had all the time in the world over the super long flight to catch up with each other, which was a very welcome change after some very hectic time we had to go through recently!

We had a 2.5 hours stopover at Tokyo, which we spent by walking around the airport, getting some good Japanese curry udon at a food court we ended up at and laughing at this silly event where the dear hubby tried to communicate to a Japanese sales girl in sign language and weird noises only to be responded back in perfect English!

Then it was time for a much longer flight to Los Angeles (almost 12 hours). This time the Delta flight was different - it wasn't as nice as the flight we took to Tokyo and the entertainment program list wasn't as extensive and good. However it was still pretty decent if we do not compare. I tried to sleep through the flight as much as possible and whenever I couldn't, I ended up watching a movie (Juno, which I thought was terrific) or reading my book (The Immortals of Meluha). Overall I continued to enjoy the journey!

And then we reached Los Angeles. After a pretty quick immigration process, the hubby and I ended up walking from one terminal to another in search of our next flight. Under normal circumstances this would have been annoying but given the very pleasant weather in LA and the fact that we had 5 hours to kill in transit time, we enjoyed the walk. We also had our first of many cups of Starbucks Chai Latte from the USA on this trip, followed by breakfast at the typically American Ruby's dinette.

And then, we got to the final leg of the journey, the flight to Las Vegas!

I had gotten a window seat for this flight and I could get a glimpse of the Vegas strip, the desert landscape around, the hilly terrain beyond that and the snow capped mountains at a further distance. All if it looked pretty nice from up in the air and I decided that I already love Vegas! Oh, I must also say that I was very amused to see so many slot machines even within the airport! Obviously Vegas makes sure people gamble until the very last lap of their visit!

Once we got out of the airport, we took a pretty long cab ride to JW Marriott in Summerlin, where the film festival was to take place. Summerlin is a few miles away from the strip, in a very affluent neighbourhood, with absolutely nothing touristy about it. I enjoyed the cab ride, taking in the lovely hills at the distance that seemed to have more colours on them than I had ever seen on any mountain range before, and I fell in love with the very lovely (or highly "manicured" as the hubby calls it) suburbs of Summerlin when we got there.

The JW Marriott resort was a pretty, sprawling establishment, set up in a very peaceful, quiet area with lovely views of the mountains! A special mention goes to the tastefully done up Chritsmas tree that greeted us at the entrance! To add to all the loveliness, we also got upgraded to a room with a balcony from where we enjoyed the gorgeous sunset (at 4:30pm!)!
The lovely sunset from our balcony!

We napped for a couple of hours to get over the fatigue and then made our way to the welcome dinner organized by the festival folks, at an Irish bar within the resort premises (by the way the resort is also home to the Rampart casino, since apparently no hotel in Vegas can possibly exist without a casino!)

The welcome dinner was interesting, to say the least. It was my first experience of being part of a large film group and I can totally get why people really take to this field so much. We, from Singapore, had travelled the longest to get to the festival but there were also others from Germany, Netherlands and Italy while the bulk was from within US and a few from Canada. Within minutes of getting to the dinner, we realized that the kinda characters and stories you come across at these events are just beyond this world!

There were full time film students and full blown professionals in the field, or others, like me, who took to films in a completely unplanned manner and had struck gold with an entry to a film festival. Even if not in films, most held a job in a creative field, be it being a writer, or animation artist, or singer etc. while we happened to be pretty much the only ones having a fully non creative working life. The youngest film maker was a teenage girl whose animation film had entered the festival (and interestingly enough, a film whose script her dad had written, has also entered the festival) while there were a few 60+ film makers as well. At one end, there were people, like me, who've made films with pretty much no budget, and right at the other end, there were others who had taken a million euros from their own pockets to make their films, very much unlike me! This million-euro person is an Italian multi millionaire singer-actress, one of the most fascinating people we met at the festival, thanks to her incredible sense of humour, her way of speech and her absolutely amusing balance of down-to-earth mannerisms together with her diva air! There were those who have been pursuing film making for years, there were complete freshers, there were stories of a single film being worked on for 5 years and stories of films that were cooked up overnight. There were also films where the same person had written, directed, produced, acted, edited etc. which was pretty incredible. There were comments like "My editor is an Academy award winner" and a response of "Oh, mine works at Burger King." So on and so forth. You get the deal.

In short, it was fascinating! I loved, like absolutely LOVED, the experience!

A special mention goes to the lovely old couple from Canada whom we had the opportunity to spend maximum time with. The husband had worked as a sales representative for about 30 years after which he took to writing children's books, novels, writing and directing stage plays, and recently, comedy films. The wife, a pharmacist, has been married to him for more than 30 years and is very supportive of the husband's newly found passion. I found them adorable! They have travelled very widely and had a plethora of stories to share and I found them incredibly fun to talk to! One thing that the husband said, stuck with me. He said that all this writing and film making etc came to his life pretty late and that he would give his very best to take his passion forward for the next few remaining years. So he was determined to write as much as possible, make as many films as possible, visit as many festivals as possible – in other words, give his best shot at living the remaining years to the fullest! His passion and determination and realistic sense of time – I found them admirable!

After that very interesting dinner, I hit the Jacuzzi (yeah, they actually have Jacuzzi baths in every room!) to get over the exhaustion of the long flight, before calling it a night.

3 December, 2011

We woke up at 5:30 in the morning, because we had to reach a place called Palace Station by 7am, from where we were to be picked up for our trip to the Grand Canyon. We had decided to squeeze in a visit to this wonder of the world, so that it feels like we have made good use of the arm and the leg that we spent in making such a short trip all the way to the US. We also booked ourselves on an airplane to get to the canyon because otherwise it would take about 5 hours to drive there one way and we simply didn't have the time for that. So yes, we were all set for our Grand Canyon trip!

It was freaking cold in Vegas that morning, unusually so, from what I understand. Even the cabbie was complaining about the cold, saying that it was the worst he has experienced in his several years in the city.

We layered ourselves sufficiently in warm clothes but even then, when I opened the door of the cab to get off at Palace station, I reeled from the shockingly chilly wind and cold. A quick chai at the Starbucks helped a bit to warm ourselves up and we waited to be picked up for the trip. Soon the mini van arrived and the driver, a very nice African American, gave us the humungously disappointing news that the trip to the canyon has been cancelled. We were to take an airplane to the canyon and that would no longer be possible because well, apparently the runway got snowed in the night before.

Snow at the Grand Canyon? I was quite surprised because I had no idea that this part of the world got that cold! Anyway, it was disappointing. The van driver told us that we could call up the tour operators and ask for a refund or shift the trip to another date. Well…!

Just as the van was about to take off after delivering this very unwelcome news, I got the driver to stop and asked for a lift to the Vegas strip, which is the most happening part of the town. The van was anyway going around all the hotels on the strip to tell the other tourists about this disappointing news and I didn't want to stick on at Palace Station, which was only a pick up point for us and was really in the middle of nowhere. Plus it was FRIKKING cold. I needed some place warm to sit down in and sort this mess of a tour out!

The nice guy agreed to drop us anywhere we liked on the strip, so we hopped on. On top of taking us around, he gave us a running commentary about the sights around. So we got a chauffeur and a tour guide, all in one! When he took a break from the commentary, I called up the tour operators and changed the tour to an airplane "non-landing" one, which basically meant that it will take us around the grand canyon by air, so we can see all the sights from the sky, but will not be dropping us anywhere on the canyon. And that trip would take off at 1:40pm. We thought something was better than nothing and decided to proceed with it.

After booking this back up trip, we thanked the van driver and got off at the Luxor on the Vegas strip. Every hotel/casino on the strip follows some theme or the other and the one for Luxor was anything and everything Egyptian. We spent some time there taking pictures and looking around. Then we decided to walk down the strip. Given that it was early in the morning and that too freakishly cold, there was hardly anyone on the roads. But we did manage to catch some typically Vegas sights of drunken couples, men so high on drinks/drugs that they cant stop screaming, brochures lying around that gave lavish information on ... hmmm... every single thing a tourist could possible want in Vegas etc. etc.

After strolling around for a bit we ended up at New York New York, another hotel/casino – this one based on well, New York.

We had a typical American breakfast buffet here and started to contemplate about our options. It was only 9am or so in the morning and the 1:30pm canyon trip seemed too far away. Both of us were being hit by severe jetlag and lack of sleep, and I was pretty sure I had no energy to go around the strip anymore, neither did I feel like I will be up and about until 1:30. Going back to our hotel and returning also didn't seem like a viable option because it was so far away.

So I decided that it might be worthwhile to check with some other tour company on whether they have a good tour option to the Canyon – something earlier and maybe on helicopter (which will not have landing issues at the canyon but our original tour operators were sold out on their helicopter tours for the day). Thankfully New York New York had a very efficient tour desk and they quickly booked us up on a helicopter trip that was to start at 10:30am. That was perfect!

So at 10:30 a van picked us up and dropped us at the airbase. There, together with three other couples, we boarded the helicopter to the canyon. And then, I had one of the most amazing times of my life! It was my first time on a helicopter – that itself was pretty cool but seriously, the landscape around Vegas is just stunning! I do believe that the whole "sin city" tag has completely overwhelmed everything else about Vegas because it was just S.T.U.N.N.I.N.G and people should seriously talk about that more!

The view beyond the city!

It was absolutely breathtaking to see the smaller canyons, the desert, the snowcapped mountains, the volcanos, the lakes, all of which makes this interesting collage of browns, reds, white, blues and greens across the ground. I think I had my mouth open in wonder pretty much through the trip!

The clouds hovering around made all kinds of interesting visuals on the ground and I couldn't stop clicking pictures. There was Lake Las Vegas and Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, all presenting fantastic sights of their own! Lake Mead especially came in a variety of blues ranging from tropical turquoise to startlingly deep shades!

And then after the lakes and the hoover dam etc., suddenly, the Grand Canyon appeared right in front of us! Not just the Grand Canyon, but the Grand Canyon covered in the first fresh snow of the year!

It was surreal.

But even before I could take in the entire sight, the helicopter descended into the canyon… we were actually within the canyon, losing height rapidly, closing in on to the river below! It was amazing!

Descending into the canyon!

The chopper landed about two-thirds down in the canyon… we had the tall walls of the canyon on one side and the river roaring away a few hundred feet below. The snow had not reached into the depths of the canyon and hence it was pretty dry and nice where we landed. Here, the pilot, a really nice chap, set up some snacks and opened a bottle of champagne. We spent close to 30 minutes there… in that very peaceful place where you can hear nothing but the roar of the wind above and the gush of the river below, sipping a glass of champagne and feeling on top of the world!

Then it was time to go back. We hopped back in to the chopper and it took off, slowly ascending through the canyon. This time, as we left the river and ridges of the canyon behind, suddenly out of the blue, once again the spectacularly snow covered canyon platforms above came into view. And I literally had goosebumps! Within a few seconds, right in front of us, there was just an endless expanse of snow covering the Grand Canyon! It was spectacular!

The spectacular Grand Canyon covered in snow!

The journey back to the airbase was as visually satisfying as it was when we went. Every mile seemed to have something to offer! We took a quick fuel break at one point in time in the middle of the desert, which was also a really beautiful place to stop! On the way back, we also got another very good look at the Vegas Strip. It was all so amazingly wonderful!

The city of Las Vegas slowly sneaks up from behind the mountains...

After the chopper ride, we were dropped back at the strip and we opted to get down at Bellagio. It was yet another hotel/casino but what was fascinating about this one was the wonderful musical fountain outside the building. I thoroughly enjoyed that – we watched two rounds of the musical demonstrations of the foundation – once to a opera song and another to a Celine Dion song. Both were wonderful and despite the cold, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

After some more walking around through the strip and lunch at the hubby's favourite Mexican food chain Chipotle, we decided that were both too tired for anything more for the day. So we took a cab and got back to the hotel at about 4pm. A special mention to the wonderful Filipino cabbie – a thorough gentleman and great conversationalist!

After a little bit of rest, it was time for the Nevada Film Festival Awards Night!

I got dressed up in a sari while the hubby suited himself up and we made our way to Marquis ballroom for the Awards night. Most of the other film makers and participants were already there and by the time we got to exchanging some pleasantries, the award ceremony began. Oh ,I must mention that my sari was a big hit! Pretty much everyone commented on it and some of the girls were almost squealing in excitement! Ah the wonders of the Indian heritage garb!

And then the awards ceremony began. There was a great deal of cheering for Mausams when the award was called out, thanks to a very high level of enthusiasm amongst the group – they were very encouraging and everyone was enjoying themselves thoroughly! I picked up the Silver Screen Award for Feature Film for Mausams, gave a short acceptance speech and smiled from ear to ear!

Receiving the award and successfully grinning like an idiot!

As I was leaving the stage after the accepting the award, the emcee also commented on how wonderful I looked, thanks once again to the one and only sari! It really seemed like one of those red carpet costume highlight moments!

Not just accepting the Mausams award but the overall ceremony was HUGE fun – I loved all the acceptance speeches and the general excitement in the ballroom! At several points in time, I genuinely wished for the entire Mausams team to be there because that would have been some super cool fun! Post the ceremony there was a photo taking spree especially against the Nevada Film Festival banner backdrop that had been set up. There was another round of catch up with everyone, exchanging contacts, taking pictures, and having a ball!

I must say that it all seemed to end pretty soon. Everything passed in a jiff… it seemed like one brilliant flashing wave of fun, happiness and smiles!

But in spite of how fast everything seemed to whizz past, I definitely remember one thing - I beamed through the night!

Soon after, we got back to the room, changed back into normal clothes, packed our bags and then met the Canadian couple and the Italian diva for dinner. After a long dinner over some amazing conversation, it was time to wind up.

But not before some gambling!

The hubby decided that it would be sinful if we come all the way to Vegas and do not gamble at all. So we made our way to casino, played a few rounds of roulette, won about 40 dollars, out of which I got the hubby to spend $2.50 on a hot chocolate for me, and felt pretty good about the whole deal!

Then we caught a couple of hours of sleep, and woke up at 4:30am to catch our flight to Singapore.

Thus our 40 hours stint in Las Vegas came to an end. But such beautiful 40 hours!

On the way back to Singapore, again, there was a stopover at Lost Angeles and another one at Tokyo. And once again, the flights and the stopovers were all very pleasant. Great food, multiple rounds of running through all that happened over the last two days with the hubby, watching films (Black Swan and Horrible Bosses), writing this blog entry – all of them were wonderful!

And thus ends the 4 day trip to the USA.

Seriously, I can't stop counting my blessings! To be able to make a film, to be able to win an award for the film, to be able to travel to US to receive that award, to have such a great time in the process – all such wonderful blessings!

A big THANK YOU to the Mausams team, family and friends who made this possible. And of course, the biggest THANK YOU to God!

The best 4 days ever!

254 more to go.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Day 742: Trainer!

Today I gave my first ever training in my company! I always like teaching/coaching etc. and this 2 hour session when I had a bunch of new hires patiently listening to my tips on how to quickly progress their career in the company, was really great fun! Needless to say I was super nervous before and through the training, given that it was my very first one, but I think it went off reasonably well.

So yes, now am officially a Trainer and it makes me super happy!

The training was the last big thing I had to get done before leaving for Las Vegas to pick up the award for Mausams (yeah, am taking a flight tonight!!) and so after it was done, I felt on top of the world!

Sure, a whole bunch of stuff at work awaits when I get back from Vegas next Monday, but for now I feel super duper awesome!

258 more to go.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Days 739 - 741: Missing Days?!

28 - 30 November, 2011

It's almost like 3 days have gone missing. That's what it feels like because that's how ridiculously busy I had been at work the past few days! I was clocking in about 14 hours on an average each day, with additional hours of emailing, working on presentations etc., that I don't think I even had the mind space to wonder whether my day was beautiful or not!

But I am OK. I am pretty happy, in fact. I am exhausted, sure, but I feel good. Which should mean that all the days were good. Busy but beautiful!

So yes the days are almost like they went missing. But they were beautiful missing days.

259 more to go.

P.S. Am adding this as an afterthought. I managed to think back and realized that there were a few things I did rather enjoy about the days. The late night scrambling for sandwiches in the office pantry on 28th, the video conferencing meeting (that always seem to give me this great feeling that am using such "high-tech" stuff) on 29th and last but not the least, the wonderful training session on 30th - it was one of those where they share a lot of inspirational brand building case studies, something that I always love. So well the days are not altogether missing from my memory... but well not changing the initially written content above because well... what's really the point?!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 738: Next Level Normalcy!

The Sunday was also pretty much spent on getting back to normal. Which basically meant the routine Murugan Idly visit in the morning, dropping the hubby at his work post that and then getting back home for a long afternoon and evening of watching TV, reading, writing, and other such things that normally belong to an eventless Sunday.

But this "getting back to normal" day had a special twist because I cooked Aloo-Gobi Paratha with some awesome egg curry for dinner. In the earlier days, this would have contributed to an entire blog entry on its own, but now that am turning into such a regular cook of awesome food, this is turning out to be part of my "normal" day as well! How cool is that?!

I already like this normal day but this last bit took it to another level of normalcy altogether which I LOVEEEEE!

262 more to go.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day 737: Perfectly Normal!

This morning the hubby got back from Delhi! This made me happier than usual!

You see... we had gone to the wedding in India together, but after that he had stayed back in Delhi while I came to Singapore. Given that I ended up sick in Singapore and he ended up sick in Delhi, neither of us were in the best of spirits the last few days.

So it was really great to have him finally back at home this morning!

And the rest of the day was spent exactly the way we would have spent a perfectly normal, jobless Saturday - watching T.V., eating tons, taking a siesta, going for an evening outing (it was to Orchard Road to see the Christmas decorations followed by dinner at Clarke Quay) and lotsa chatting.

A perfectly normal and absolutely lovable Saturday!

263 more to go.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Day 736: Back to Scripting!

It was another day of work, recovering from sickness, going over the wedding photos and videos all over again etc.

But I felt like it was time to get back to some productivity beyond the obvious, so I decided to get back to my feature film script.

After some effort, I completed scene 3, which had been stuck for weeks now!

The holiday is over and am back to work!

264 more to go.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day 733 - 735: Yet Another Bunch of Memories!

22 - 24 November, 2011

Thus the wedding comes to an end. On 22nd we made our way from Lucknow to Delhi and I carried on from Delhi to Singapore, while the hubby stayed back for some work. 23rd and 24th were spent in catching up on work, recovering from the unavoidable sickness, uploading pics and videos etc.

But what was commonly beautiful for all three days was that we were reliving all that fun once again -by looking through the pictures and the videos and discussing all that happened an umpteen number of times!

Yet another bunch of awesome, terrific memories!

265 more to go.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Day 732: Wedding Time!

Finally it was time for the wedding day!

In the morning, after a fair amount of photo-taking and dancing to the dhols, we made a very long but fun bus journey to Lucknow, where the wedding's to take place.

My dad also flew down from Kerala to take part, so we could spend a little bit of time together as well.

The wedding was fun as usual - lotsa dancing during the baaraat (procession), lotsa food, lotsa chatting, etc.!

It lasted until 5am by which all of us were dead tired! But a day well spent!

268 more to go.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day 731: Festivities, Photography & Triveni Sangamam!

The wedding festivities carried on through the day!

It started off with the Haldi ceremony where the groom gets his beautification done - in other words, he gets oil and turmeric (haldi) applied onto him, to get this skin to glow for the upcoming wedding. This ceremony usually ends with not just the groom covered in haldi but the rest of the attendees as well. Right after the groom was adequately smeared with oil and haldi, a haldi war raged ensuring each and every soul present gets drowned in haldi too! That included me too! Sigh!

After the Haldi war and follow up cleaning, it was time for the Janevu ceremony of the hubby's youngest cousin brother. Janevu is the official "Brahmin"-ization of a Brahmin, something all Brahmin guys are supposed to go through. So this young boy had his turn today and he seemed pretty pleased with the entire proceedings. After converting him to a true blue Brahmin, we realized that we have some free time.

So we made our way to Sangam (or Triveni Sangamam, as we call it in Malayalam), which is the meeting point of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. You can literally see the different waters of Ganga (brown) and Yamuna (green) merging, while Saraswati is supposed to be hidden somewhere below.

The Sangam visit was truly fascinating - for several reasons! The fun boat ride to the meeting point of the rivers, the hundreds of birds flying around, the puja performed in the middle of the river, watching people dip in the holy waters at their meeting point with the help of a platform set up with several boats tied together, the visit to the nearby Hanuman temple the specialty of which is that the Hanuman idol here is sprawling on the floor vs. standing upright, etc. etc. etc.

But what was most lovely was the beautiful foggy atmosphere and the resulting serene look of the waters, the calm bobbing boats and the quiet shores beyond.

Post the Sangam visit, it was back to wedding festivities. It was time for Nikaasi, the official farewell of the groom as he leaves his house to bring his bride home. Since the professional photographer didn't turn up for this one, I was picked to do the photography for the event. I must admit that I made quite a show of getting everyone to pose proper or hold their poses longer so that I can get their snaps right! How fun!

So yes, another super hectic day but a very lovely one at that!

269 more to go.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 730: Tilak, Sangeet & Dance!

In the morning, the hubby and I set off for the Allahabad airport to pick up brother and sister in law who were to arrive from Singapore. Given that we reached the airport pretty early, we decided to drive around the area for a while. That was pretty nice and it was a good opportunity to see a bit more of Allahabad.

The airport itself was quite interesting too. It was the civilian terminal of the indian air force and was situated in a beautiful, quiet area, very much away and different from the rest of the city.

After picking up bro n sis, we made our way back to the wedding venue for the Tilak ceremony which for me, basically meant getting dressed in a gorgeous sari and having a fab time!

After the ceremony, everyone went into major preparation for the upcoming Sangeet in the evening. There were songs to be prepared, dances to be rehearsed, program schedule to be made, props to be finalized etc. There were last minute additions to the program and we even had new dances being choreographed until an hour before the show! In short, it was chaotic and huge fun, really!

And then of course, it was time for the sangeet! We had a fantastic time going through the concert! I enjoyed watching all the performances as much as I enjoyed performing myself. It was the culmination of all those days of rehearsals and I had a great time performing! I must add that at the very end of one of my dances, I lost my footing thanks to a very slippery floor and let's just say that I ended the dance in a pose very different from what I had intended. But even that didn't mar my excitement and happiness!

Here are the videos of the dances we performed:
Couple dance with the hubby:

Post the sangeet, it was another round of great food, fireworks and some mindless dancing to the DJ's music!

Thus another awesome day came to an end!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Day 729: Allahabad!

Early in the morning today, we set off for Allahabad!

After a reasonbaly long wait at the Kanpur railway station (which was made less boring by the several fascinating sights we were subjected to - a family with 8 kids, a conversation between a Hindu saint and a Muslim haji, an effort to help a pigeon who was struck by the blade of a ceiling fan, etc. etc.) and an eventless train journey, we reached Allahabad and made our way to the hubby's uncle's place, where the wedding preps are underway.

Then of course, it was all about catching up with the family and the wedding preps!

Lotsa food, lotsa dressing up, lotsa photo taking, lotsa singing, lotsa dancing especially in preparation for tomorrow's sangeet function, lotsa talking, lotsa laughter, lotsa fun!

271 more to go.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Day 728: A Kanpurian Day

Today's the second and last day in Kanpur during this trip, as tomorrow we will be leaving for Allahabad for the wedding. So we made the most of it by ticking off every item in the to-do-in-Kanpur list!

This include:
A) Having a lot more yummy food including the very special postha and a lot of others that I don't even know the names of, which were yummy nevertheless!
B) Having the lovely Motijeel chai in the small clay containers. It's really like the most awesome chai!
C) Having the super good Indian Chinese food at Chinmi.
D) Having the really yummm meetha paan (sweet betel leaves and condiments) post dinner.
E) Yes, the list above is all about eating but we did do other things like, driving around in the foggy early winter days, which I loved!
F) Visiting a very close friend's new born, where the hubby made quite a drama of how to carry the baby.

And then a perfect Kanpur day came to an end. Until the next time!

272 more to go.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 727: Incredible India!

Early this morning, the hubby and I set out from Delhi for Kanpur.

Every time I am in India, so many amusing incidents happen that thoroughly entertain me! And this time was not too different either.

Here are a few instances.

Incident One:

We are at the airport, at the Go Air check in counter. While the Go Air official prepares our boarding passes, the hubby engages him in some meaningful conversation.

Hubby: Is the flight on time?
Officer: Yes.
Officer: But.... you know...
Officer: These things... one never know...
Hubby: Oh...
Officer: Yeah...
Hubby: Is the flight coming from somewhere else or is it already here?
Officer: Oh yes yes. It is right here...right outside.
Officer: But one never knows about these things... you know...
Hubby: Yes. Of course.

Incident Two

We pick our luggage up from the Lucknow airport luggage belt and walk towards the exit. Right then a rodent crosses our path and makes its way, also towards the exit. There are three security guards at the exit and they notice the rodent.

Guard 1 kicks the rodent to Guard 2.
Guard 2 kicks the rodent to Guard 3.
Guard 3 kicks the rodent to Guard 1.

Meanwhile, the hubby and I are waiting for the guards to finish off this game before we can actually exit the airport.

Guard 1 kicks the rodent to Guard 3.

The rodent gets tired of the game and finally manages to free himself and rushes out into the open. He immediately rushes back in, probably worried by the sight of hundreds of human feet outside, all ready to kick him around.

The three security guards get alert now. Who goes first? Guard 3 lifts his leg but he is a second too late.

The rodent rushes in, way beyond the reach of the guards' physical extremities, and rushes into the State Bank of India cubicle inside the airport. There it shall stay until found again and the hubby and I get to finally make our exit from the airport.

Incident Three

Our cabbie, who is taking us from the Lucknow airport to the Kanpur home, stops the car midway on the journey, to fill petrol.

We carry on and after a while, he stops again. This time he honks a couple of times, but the chap who is deeply asleep on top of a wooden bench, covered in layers of woolen blankets, at whom the honks were directed, doesn't budge. The cabbie gets out of the car and walks towards this air filling machine next to the sleeping chap, and uses it to fill air into the car's tyres. He then puts back all the gear in their rightful positions, gets back into the car and drives away. The sleeping chap continues to sleep. I ask my husband, "Isn't he supposed to pay for that air filling thing?". Hubby replies, "Yes. I would think so." OK then.

We carry on and after a while, the cabbie stops. Again. After appropriately parking the car in a highly congested and narrow road, the cabbie gets out without a word and walks across the road. The hubby and I watch him, wondering what the need is this time. The petrol tank is full of petrol and the tyres are full of air, what could it be now?

The cabbie walks to a paan shop and gets himself a doze of paan (betel leaves, a favourite snack/digestive of Indians especially in the northern states). The hubby, "It's 7:00 am. He is having paan now?". I shrug. What am I supposed to say? The cabbie returns and starts the car, as if it was perfectly normal to leave your passengers behind without a word of explanation, let alone apology, as you go and get yourself paan-ed. The hubby, who for some reason takes a tone of apology, asks in almost a whisper, "Brother, will you take us home now?" The brother responds, "But of course, brother." Cool.

So as you can see it was a very eventful journey all the way to Kanpur. Incredible India, Indeed!

In Kanpur we have a fab time, catching up with dad-in-law, mom-in-law and also grandmom-in-law, who is like the sweetest person I know, really! After the catch up, it was time for a LOT of yummy food. Then began the wedding preps. We are here to attend the hubby's cousin's wedding and the parents have done all the necessary preparations for it - like designing the clothes (my dad in law is an expert fashion designer), getting them sewed, getting all the accessories ready, etc. All that the hubby and I had to do was to make sure the clothes fitted alright, get the packing done etc.

Then it was time for some routine shopping, eating more yummy food from different eateries in Kanpur etc.

In the evening we attended the birthday bash of one of the hubby's best friends all the way from childhood days! It was lovely to meet the birthday boy, his wife, as well as all the other friends whom we hadn't met in ages! The party went well into the night and we had a lovely time!

So yes, fantastic, eventful day!

273 more to go.