Today was the last day of the marathon meeting session here in Geneva and I will be returning back to Singapore early tomorrow. So when the meetings ended early at 3pm, I wanted to make the most of it and go to the lakeside, where I had not been to this visit.
A colleague joined me and together we set off to the lake. Here's a quick summary of whatever that made me smile...
a) Of course, the beautiful Lake Leman (yeah, apparently that's what it's called according to Wiki)
b) The large number of seagulls that were flying (gliding, rather) really low and who seemed utterly fearless of humans.
c) The bone chilling cold that made me shiver... I was certain that I would be returning back with no ears and nose which were all super numb.
d) The nice long chat I had with the colleague over a cup of awesome hot chocolate.
e) The bus ride I took back alone... that was definitely a new experience - a ride in a public bus anywhere in Europe!
All in all, a fantastic evening and a good ending to the Geneva trip! Now it's time to get back home!
Honestly, the first time I heard of this concept of a Swiss fondue, it made me shudder.
Here's the Wiki explanation of a fondue, in case you are not aware:Fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot over a small burner, and eaten by dipping long-stemmed forks with bread into the cheese.
And what made me shudder was the idea of eating only pieces of bread dipped in a pot full of melted cheese which, in my imagination, was like pumping fat into my stomach until it is ready to drip out from my mouth. I couldn't imagine why anyone in their right minds would eat something as bland (I never liked cheese and bread can only taste so good anyway) and unhealthy and absolutely gross as this. And hence, I had kept my distance from it.
Until today. Today as part of a team dinner, a fondue was placed in front of me.
And then I realized why people do eat this seemingly atrocious dish.
It is because Fondue is so extraordinarily YUMMY. SO YUMMY that you no longer give a darn about fats and pots and melting cheese. Instead all you can get yourself to do is close your eyes and focus on the taste and go "mmmmmm.....ohhhhh.... . mmmmmmmmhhh"! After that you wish you were a far tinier being so that you can jump into that pot full of melting cheese and float around in it for the rest of your life.
It's that good. Yeah.
Thank you, Switzerland. I love you for one more reason.
The best part of my job is when we take time off from all the firefighting and the constant flow of important-and-urgent work, and sit together in a team to be inspired from what's happening around the world and then generate game changing ideas for our own brands. We do this once in a year or so when we listen to inspiring presentations, see amazing products from all over the globe, have great brainstorming sessions and come up with really cool innovation ideas or concepts for the future. That's what I am in Geneva for now and that's what we were doing the whole day today.
It was super duper exhausting after marathon brain-twisting sessions, but I had SO MUCH fun! The people am working with an incredibly smart and more importantly, incredibly fun... and I had a ball of a time!
I can easily say that today was one of the best working days I have had on this job, and that definitely makes the day goddamn beautiful!
It was a fairly nice day. Any day that begins with a view of the beautiful range of the Alps, gotta be decent after all. I had a good time in the office as well, meeting my global team and having some pretty effective meetings too! Plus, I even managed to work out in the gym in the evening - it gives me a lot of pride-induced pleasure when I manage to exercise during a business trip! So yeah, for all the above-mentioned reasons, the day was really nice.
But the highlight, I must admit, was the discovery of the Swiss curry!
Since it was too dark and cold to go out anywhere for dinner, and also since I had a fair bit of work and had to squeeze in gym time as well, I spent the whole evening in the hotel. And I decided to order room service for dinner. What caught my eye on the menu, which was otherwise primarily filled with Italian dishes, was the presence of a "Thai Wok Panang Curry Chicken". Yeah, it says "Panang" not "Penang" as one would expect it to. Anyway, ignoring such trivialities, I went ahead and ordered it because it seemed like the only thing with any interesting flavour in that entire list (FYI, am not a fan of Italian food - it is quite bland to my fiery Indian taste buds).
And yes, the Panang Curry Chicken arrived. And I must say it tasted absolutely nothing like any of the chicken curries I've ever had before! But it was really really yummy! And the most interesting part was that it had a ton of grated cabbage and carrots and other vegetables in it, which was such an interesting addition to a chicken curry! So first I was taken aback but then I was totally bowled over by it!
The best food I've had in any Swiss restaurant. Hands down!
Here's to the marvel of the Swiss Panang Curry Chicken!
I had a stopover at Zurich on my way to Geneva. And very excitingly, for the first time ever, I saw a city covered in snow. I have seen snow before... during my trips to Europe previously and even during the recent trek in the Himalayas, I have seen them. But they were usually on the peaks and mountains and I had never seen a city or town in snow yet. And in Zurich I could see that! Made me super happy! I kept thinking... ah so this is what it looks like, in real!
Anyway, that was really good because Geneva was as cold at -3 but with ZERO snow. So at least I got a glimpse of it in Zurich!
I should also make a special mention of the passenger sitting next to me on the 13-hour flight from Singapore to Zurich. Due to budget constraints, I was flying economy one way and I wasn't looking forward to it at all! I had a window seat (which I really don't prefer especially for long flights but for the first time Singapore Airlines screwed up on my preferred aisle seating) and this pretty much made me immobile. But this kind gentleman was always helping me out, whether it was to hold my food as I fumbled with the seat tray to place it on; or whether it was calling me to check whether I wanted anything to drink as I was deeply engaged in watching "Social Network" and thus was ignoring the air hostess asking me; or making sure he passes me everything first, before taking one for himself, be it a glass of water or hot towels or snacks. AND the best part - he didn't attempt any lame conversations either. He left me to myself throughout for which I was really grateful! So thank you sir, whoever you are... thanks to you, that flight was a lot more pleasant than what I could have hoped for!
Today could easily have been one of those days that would have passed by without anything significant happening. This is because am travelling tonight to Geneva and usually I like to take it easy just before and after long travels. But considering the amount of work that's around I decided to buck up and make the most out of the day. AND I like to think that I got rewarded for it! But before we get to that here's why I think I have been immensely productive
a) I woke up early on a saturday which is quite a big deal
b) I did a considerable amount of office work, including some things that had been pending for weeks.
c) I did a considerable amount of work on the film as well.
d) I went for yoga
e) I met up with my cinematographer and briefed him on things to get done while I am away
f) I packed, including some packing for upcoming Australia-New Zealand trip
g) I cleaned up some of the mess in the house
As you can see, it has been productive. Which brings us to the question of what the reward was. OK here's the disclaimer - whatever I did today is not directly related to the reward but then again, I like to believe in karma and all that... so. Let's just assume it all added on, OK?
So here we go... .Today for the first time ever, I could lock that damn knee in a standing-head-to-knee pose at yoga!!! Buhahahahaha (sorry, but am delirious with happiness)!
The final stage is the one on extreme right but I could never even do the one on extreme left because locking that parallel-to-ground leg has always been a problem. But the fact that today I could do it means SO SO SO much!
I feel that this is more of a reward than achievement because I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be able to do this! I had achieved progress in a lot of other postures but this had evaded me badly from day one. Somehow there was zero progress over the last couple of years!
This might be a totally irrelevant thing to anyone who has not made a film and hence did not have to go through the painful process of sound design... but to me this is a BIG deal!
After quite a bit of work by my sound design team in India, a large number of painful hours trying to work the goddamn internet to send reference files to and fro for approval, me spending considerable amount of time reviewing the bits and pieces that came in etc., today I got to see the full movie with an actual decent sound. It had all the ambient sounds and dubs in place and it felt AWESOME!
Sure, there is still foley work and BGM and patch up dubs and balancing and mixing and all that kinda stuff remaining but I felt that finally the movie is beginning to look like a real movie...that definitely feels really good and I happily spent until 2 am reviewing it. No complaints!
Today shall be the day Bombay Jayashree sang for a Shilpa Krishnan film!
Well it doesn't matter that she wouldn't have a clue about who I am (because it was all handled by my super cool music director and I had nothing to do with it), but who cares! It makes my heart glow and that's what's important, ain't it?
So am just feeling really good about it!
573 more to go.
P.S. If you have no clue who Bombay Jayashree is... well, google her!
There are funny guys and then there are really funny guys. Three such guys, who also happened to be part of the Mausams team, were at my place today for some patch up dub work. And thanks to them I had an immensely hilarious evening which made me forget completely about an issue at work which otherwise would have bugged me to death. Jokes apart, we also discussed about my next project, which always gets me excited. In short, it was a day I would have expected to go terribly wrong but thanks to these dudes, it was pretty tolerable after all!
Lesson: make sure you are surrounded by funny people. The really funny ones if possible.
Two songs played on an infinite loop on my ipod in office today. Both are amazing pieces of music obviously, (otherwise why would I have them on loop?!) but they are also very, very, very, very special because one of them is the theme music for Mausams and the other is a piece of music for my next project post Mausams. Two different but equally brilliant geniuses have worked on these and both the pieces had reached me over the last couple of days. But thanks to my insane schedule at work and after, I had not been able to spend some time with them until today.
But today as I worked on those endless number of to-dos in office, I had these playing and they made all that work a lot less painful than otherwise. And they also made me incredibly happy because I too, even though in a very small way, had a part to play in their making!
As of today, the hubby and I have completed nine eventful years of being a "couple".
To both of us, this day is definitely more significant than our wedding anniversary. This may seem strange but Jan 17th was always The Day for us in university. And in any case, we are yet to agree on the date of our wedding anniversary. You see, we had a north Indian wedding and the festivities started on Feb 12th night and end on Feb 13th morning. Since the most important ritual of the saat pheras was done on 13th, I think that's our wedding date. But according to the hubby, the wedding date is always the date when the guests have their dinner, which was very clearly on Feb 12th evening. You get the obvious conflict here.
So back to the 9-year story. Even though the day is significant in our minds, usually we hardly do anything special on the day. A nice dinner is probably the max we would stretch it. But this time, it turned out to be rather happening.
Since I found myself on the Sentosa island for an office event in the evening, the hubby too came there and we took a really long cable car ride at night! It was really nice... I had not been on it for about 5 years now, so it was quite fun! The view from the "jewel"-studded cable cars was spectacular and add to that the unusually cool night and it was perfect!
The cable car ride was followed by a visit to our favourite Clarke Quay which was, to my surprise, brimming with people on a Monday night! We had some awesome dinner over Indian music playing from one end and Mediterranean on the other.
So yes, the 9th "being-a-couple" anniversary ended up being more happening than what we had foreseen. Of course, none's complaining. Here's to the 10 year.
Today my in-laws returned back to India. The hubby and I went to the airport to drop them off, at about 5:30 in the morning. The whole exercise of waking up that early and that too to say bye to them after having such an exciting 4 weeks together would have been rather sad... except that it was brightened up considerably by the presence of Ananda Bhavan at terminal 2 in Changi airport! Over a very early breakfast of Ghee Dosai (YUMMMM), pongal, sambhar vada and filter coffee, we had a nice farewell session. Yet another family time comes to an end, but a great one that!
I was back to dubbing work today after what seems like a really long time (even though it's been only a two week break from it). But the whole experience was very very pleasant thanks to:
a) The continuous flow of amazing chaats my in-laws prepared! I hardly stepped out of the study room where the dub progressed but had all the absolutely yummilicious items brought in at regular intervals of time! The hubby thought I was unnecessarily being fussed over, but who cares!
b) Cast catch ups - Even though I had been seeing them rather frequently except for the past 2 weeks, it seemed like ages since I met the members of the cast! So to have them at home once again for the dubs and catching up, felt good!
c) Chai & Chat - The last person to dub was super sweet and made me some really good chai (then I felt really fussed over)! Hubby and in-laws had gone out for some shopping, so she and I settled down on the couch for a long chat over the chai - about Mausams so far, everyone associated with the project, future ideas etc. Sweet.
Looks like am over that temporary depression completely! Today I was working on the film and its teaser until 4 am and I didn't feel frustrated or unhappy at all. In fact, I caught myself smiling half way through, just watching one of the scenes!
I think a large part of it is also owed to my brilliant music director who just let me listen to the first draft of Mausams theme music! Something fresh and awesome like that was just what I needed to bounce back fully!
After that epic I wrote yesterday, am gonna keep this one real short.
This morning I poured out all my depressive tales on a blogpost and in return, a LOT of encouragement and inspiration poured in from some wonderful people who cared! To all those who took the trouble - be it via chat or Twitter or Facebook or email or in person, I am very, very grateful to you! Much appreciated and will never be forgotten!
Here's the situation. I had been wondering whether to write about this or not, because it doesn't really reflect well upon me and the great happy image I had set up for myself so far, but then I decided to go ahead anyway since this blog is meant not only to remind myself of the pleasant moments in my life over 1000 days but also the lessons learnt. So here we go.
Over the last couple of days I wrote about the great evening I had with my mom here, followed by progressing a bit in yoga etc. So while there were things to rejoice about, the truth is that a storm had been brewing up in my head.
There were several contributors to it - the work in office that is coming in at a pace I am scrambling to catch up with, all the upcoming travels and my feeling of being completely unprepared for them, the large amount of work still remaining for Mausams and the pressure am under if I need to make it to the censorship ratings and screening on time etc. etc. Things peaked on Tuesday night and I felt completely unable to go on anymore.
It started with me writing out a multi-page note, listing down the schedule for every piece of Mausams work still pending. It looked crazy since I have to manage them in between my travel plans. That already put me off because I felt like I can't go on at this breakneck speed any more. To make matters worse, I received back a scene for which the sound design had been completed and which disappointed me to no end. Not because the sound design was bad... in fact that was pretty good... but because it was evident that quite a few parts in there need to be redubbed. Since I don't have the equipment for multi-track dubbing beyond a certain file size, I was getting each cast members to dub individually and what you hear individually could be very different when things are put together... the tone changes significantly. And when this file was sent back to me, I realized that there should be a significant re-dub at certain parts.
It's not like I had not been prepared for this... in fact, I had expected a bit of patch up work anyway and had even told my cast to be ready for it as well, but somehow facing the reality of this rework after months of that painful process, seemed way too daunting. I would need to once again get their schedules, do the dub, the sync, the conversions, the sending, and all of it withina specific timeline.
And to make matters even further worse, I felt very disappointed at the scene itself! Usually the scene makes me smile, but this time I felt, "What the hell have I made?! Seriously, is this what I had spent all that time and effort on? Really, this?!". I had this bad inexplicable feeling that what I have made just doesn't cut it.
In summary, the sight of a few more months ahead of gruelling work together with the feeling that it is all for a product that is not up to the mark I had set for it, really seemed to be the last bit I could handle.
So then I did the only thing I felt like doing at the time. I cried. After working on this film for the last 1.5 years while handling work, travel, family, health etc. I finally lost all my motivation, will power and faith in myself. And I crumbled. Since I couldn't do the crying in front of my mom and in-laws, it was done in the privacy of the bedroom with just the hubby as the witness. He very understandingly said, "I am gonna slap you for crying. But that will be later... right now, you just cry it out."
After shedding a reasonable amount of tears, I moved on to not wanting to do a screening at all of the film but maybe just put it up on youtube or something. That way there is no time pressure, there is not even any requirement for quality... it can be just the home video that it was meant to be at the beginning. The hubby tried to convince me that it is not the right decision and asked me to hold off doing anything drastic, until a bit later when am saner. So I resorted to just talking in riddles - in a moment of inspiration I wrote "The Teapot has Cracked" as the status message on chat after very cleverly christening myself as The Teapot.
Yesterday, I was at a peak of self pity and mopped around with interesting results. I think it went through even to the tone of my writing that one friend on chat asked me whether I was depressed without me even complaining to her about anything. Another friend to whom I did complain in copius amounts, tried her best to cheer me up but I surprised her with never-before-explored levels of sappiness. I successfuly dampened whatever optimistic spirits she had, so then my status message on chat changed - "From Teapot to Blanket. A very wet one." How clever.
Then came yesterday evening. The hubby and I dropped my mom who was leaving for India, at the airport. On the way back, in the long MRT ride, hubby gave me one of the best pep talks ever. He also made me go through the film in my head - scene by scene so that I can visualize it all over again together with him.
He: "See? This scene is good.... This part is so good" (he repeated every now and then) Me (by the end of the train ride): "Yeah, fine. Maybe the film is decent... or maybe it doesn't even matter now since it's not everyday you get to make a film...so yeah, we will screen it somehow." He: *smiled, being considerably pleased with his contribution to my mental sanity*. Me: "But the work... all this work... not just the film... all this work....?" (obviously I had not intended to give up on the cribbing) He: "You did it for the last 1.5 years, you can't give up in the last 2.5 months now. Can you? It will happen. Somehow." Me: "Yeah. Maybe. Somehow."
After getting back home, I immediately got back to working on the syncs and sound design. As I did that, I tried to consciously bring back some of that old starry-eyed optimism about life and that close-to-arrogant (or naive?) confidence that if I want to, I can.
I admit am not fully there yet, but at least today I didn't give up on everything in spite of being very close to doing so. I could pull myself back in where I would prefer to be. And yes, it has got to do a lot with somebody's faith (biased, am sure) in me and the work I do. But am most thankful for that.
There are certain yoga postures which require you to completley lock your knees, which is possible only with some decent amount of flexibility. The hand to foot pose or the paadahastasana is one of those. In my 2+ years of irregular visits to yoga class, I had not been able to lock my knees during this posture. It was always too hard. I was always probably a couple of inches short of achieving it.
But today, for the first time, I managed to Lock those Knees... as I bent down with palms under my heels and face on my knees (if you have no idea what I am talking about, you might wanna search for Paadahastasana on google images)! It got me so super excited! So excited that I felt encouraged enough to push for more flexibility as the class went on with reasonable success (and resulting in reasonably sore muscles the next day).
But it felt awesome! I can't say that this pose is a check yet because it's still not perfect, but for today am very, very, very happy with being able to lock those damn knees finally!
During some of her previous visits, my mom had contributed so many interesting experiences that had made their way to this blog. Due to their entertaining nature, people would comment on them and I would readily report them back to my mom, She in turn, would feel immensely pleased at being the centre of attention of everyone who reads the blog and would also have a special soft corner for those who say how cool or fun she is.
During this visit, however, I had not written much about her. Not because there were not enough entertaining stories but because I had chosen some other bright spot of the day to write about.
Today, I got to spend a considerable amount of time with her alone. The hubby and in-laws had other plans, so we were left to ourselves. And that was quite fun too.... we had usual mother-daughter bonding, which generally consists of her sharing with me the latest and greatest gossips from my hometown, me cribbing about work and life, she asking me when am gonna have a baby for the millionth time, me ignoring her when it comes to that, she trying to update me with the latest on some Malayalam TV show while I try to convince her that am the least interested in knowing what the protagonist did to her mom-in-law or vice versa, me telling her how I like eating a particular dish and she immediately rattling off the recipe to no future avail of course, she showcasing all her bargain buys from her daily shopping ritual to me and then when I agree that something is indeed a good buy she goes on to detail the shop, location, bus number etc. that would help me to get the same item for myself as well, etc. etc.
While the beauty of today was the few hours we spent chatting with each other, I think I will take this opportunity to highlight one entertaining incident that did take place - courtesy my mom. One of the highlights from her trip this time!
The background is that I had planned to send both my parents as well as the hubby's parents on a trip to Europe. The idea was that I would book them on a group escorted tour, and the four of them would have a holiday together in Europe. Accordingly, a couple of weeks ago, I made the booking for the trip.
I was very excited by the fact that all the parents would finally get to see Europe! Very eagerly, just as I made my booking, I started explaining the trip to my mom.
Me: Amma, I booked your Europe trip!! Mom: OK. Me: It is a 2 week trip!!!! Mom: OK. Me: You will get to visit EIGHT different countries!!! Mom: OK. Me: AND you get to go to both Paris and Switzerland, both great places!!!! Mom: OK. Me: So.... what do you think?!!!! (pretty much expecting my mom to gush and tell me what a terrific plan this is and how I am the best daughter ever!). Mom: OK. So when am I going to Australia?
First I pretended to be a Tai-Tai, even though a temporary one. Now am turning in to A True Blue Lady. A Quintessential Woman. A Feminine Chick.
a) I shopped. In fact, I stepped out of the house with the sole objective of wanting to shop. That's like freaky! And wait, that's not the end of it... it was not just today morning but it started from yesterday evening!! Within 24 hours, I had acquired a total of 8 tops (OK fine, a few of them were $6 t-shirts, but STILL!)! It is a record! Too cool!
b) Just when one would think the shopping was the height of it all, the feminine drive really kicked in and I found myself wearing make up and a nice dress and high heels (which hasn't happened since October 2009) for dinner! Usually these things happen only during special occasions such as an anniversary or birthday or if the venue requires a decent dress code. But today I wore those without any particular reason! Extraordinary!
Now the best part is all that dressing up readily got my mom and in-laws to squeal with delight (while the hubby simple rolled his eyes in acknowledgement, in case you were wondering). They started taking a million pictures and fussed royally over me. Here's a snippet:
Mom-in-law: Oooooh.... look at her dress!!! Me: Thank you (smug) Mom-in-law: Oooooh.... look at her shoes!!! Me: Thank you (smug) Mom-in-law: Oooooh.... look at her bag!!!! Me: Erm... bag did you say? Mom-in-law: Yeah it's SO NICE... is it new? Me: Erm.. no? This is what I have been carrying to office every day? (not too smug) Mom-in-law: Ohhh... hmmmm!
OK fine, so my shoddy everyday dressing has been taking away the beauty of my bag! Nevertheless, it was an awesome experience! Getting to know my much ignored feminine side and of course being fussed over!
Totally fun day! We had called over our usual group of friends for lunch - now that the parents were in town, it was only fair that we share the good home-cooked food with them as well!
So they came over and we had a nice time chatting and eating and laughing etc. Then the conversation moved on to girls. Since my group of friends primarily consist of boys most of whom are still single and very much available, the conversation usually ends up on the topic of girls. FYI, I used to be the only girl who hung out with them for the longest of time, until one of them decided to get married and dragged that poor girl into the motley bunch as well.
Anyway, this time they were all rating a group of women including Bollywood actresses and models, in terms of their looks. 8/10, 3.5/10, 6.75/10, 7.98/10... the numbers flew left and right. After the game progressed for a while, we observed that my hubby tends to like women who look exactly the opposite of me. So for example I am "wheatish" (a term highly popular in Indian matrimonial sites, used to describe darker women), while the hubby seem to rank only fair women high. I am not exactly the most stylish of women and the hubby seemed to rank less stylish women way down in his scale and natural beauty didn't seem like his thing. He seemed to like baby faces while I have anything but that. So on and so forth.
Since the hubby's opinion would be biased towards me and since the rest of the boys loved their respective lives dearly, I was not part of the list of women who were being rated. But after this phenomal observation was made regarding the disparity of what the hubby seemed to prefer in women and what I look like, a friend decided to probe the matter further.
Friend: So Shilpa, how much do you think you would fare in your hubby's list now that we clearly know his taste? Me: Hmmm... (giving it some serious thought)... 5/10.
The friend who asked the question as well as the others nodded in agreement. That sounded about right. Then everyone looked towards the hubby for his reaction.
We found him pursing his lips, squinting his eyes and screwing his eyebrows. His reaction very clearly said "That's too high". This was immediately followed by a laughter that tried to hide his fear - surely he is gonna be in hot soup now!
Me: Ah, indeed! So am not even a 5. He: Nah. (still giggling and I manage a polite smile in return) Me: I see. Then I must be one damn smart woman. He: Why? Me: Erm... you either fall for the beauty or the brains right? So I must be having a ton of brains to compensate for my obvious lack of beauty! He: *grunts* (He didn't expect this. Now he was caught in a dilemma. How can he possibly admit that I have a ton of brains?! That too in front of all these friends who are now watching him keenly for his reaction?!) Me: Well? He: Hmmmm Friends: Well? She does have a point! Me: Exactly. There must be something that you liked, if not beauty or brains, then what was it? He: Hmmmm.... I liked your....... (wait for it...)...... independence. *SILENCE* Me: Independence? He: Yeah. Me: I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.C.E? He: Yeah. Friend: Dude, What does that even mean? Other girls were dropped by their parents on their first day of university in Singapore while she came alone? (For the uninformed, the hubby and I met in university). He: Well, you get what I mean. (We definitely didn't). Me: You need to come up with something better than that. He: Oh. Really? Me: Yes. "Really". He: Oh. Me: Well? He: Hmmm...... OH I KNOW... I also liked that you are.....(oh, do wait for it......) .... Culturally Inclined. Me: Culturally Inclined? He: Yes!!!! Me: Culturally Inclined?! (I was in no mood to spell it out this time). He: Yes!!!! Culturally Inclined!! (He beams around like a baby who has just made his first lego house. Obviously, he was certain that he had a winner in his hands with this one. Who wouldn't love to be "culturally inclined" after all?). Me: Erm... do you mean "talented"? He: No. Just culturally inclined. Yeah. a) Independence. b) Cultural Inclination.
Wow. And I guess for me it must be his tangential sense of humour.
As an Indian, there is always the pain of having to get visas. There are only a handful of countries where you can either enter without a visa or get one on arrival. To all other countries, you gotta queue up at their embassies, fill in a thousand forms, give a thousand supporting documents and make a couple of visits to drop and collect your passports etc. In a nutshell, it is a hassle.
I have been to quite a few embassies for this, but I must say that I have never felt better than today at the Australian embassy! The queues were relatively short and fast-moving, the service was impeccable and here is the best part - they give you the visa immediately...yeah, like ON-THE-SPOT! There is no "come back after 10 working days because that's how long we take to figure whether you can be a tourist in our country or not" nonsense! And this to me, is a HUGE deal because usually I come back disgruntled from most embassies. But here I came out beaming!
So without a doubt, the Best Embassy Ever award goes to the Australian Embassy and I have already decided that Australia is one of the most rocking countries, if not The Most Rocking, in the world. Now am so looking forward to my first visit there!
A Tai-Tai is a Chinese term for the "supreme wife", which technically means your man is super wealthy and you are literally living like a queen. A tai-tai has no work to do since most of it would be done by maids and she won't be earning her own living since that part of life has been outsourced to the husband. Instead she would have tons of spare time and spare cash and can do whatever she wants with both of them.
I guess every working woman at some point in time or the other earns to be a tai-tai, even if for just a few days. I definitely do. I think it would be super cool to spend a few days not worrying about selling shampoos or worrying about keeping the house clean or worrying about anything beyond what I must be wearing for my shopping trip for the day. OK I don't like shopping, so maybe what i should be wearing to go to Starbucks to get Chai Latte.
And today, I got to feel like a Tai-tai. Very temporarily but of course.
It all started with the New Zealand embassy situated on Orchard road, a primary hang out place for Tai-Tais. The hubby and I went there to get our visas and realized that it would take a few hours before we would even be within a mile of the counter. It was like the whole world was planning a holiday in New Zealand. Super crowded.
So we hung around on Orchard road - at Kinukuniya bookshop, Starbucks etc. whiling away time and regularly going up to the embassy to check on the progress of the queue movement. And that's when I noticed all the Tai-Tais around me. Marching around with their shopping bags from Massimo Dutti, British India and such, sometimes with friends or maids tagging along, checking on their make up time and again, enjoying a coffee in Starbucks in a real cup vs. the takeout paper ones - and all this in the middle of a freaking Thursday.
And that's when I also realized that I am one of them, minus the shopping bags and make up. Here I was, also whiling away time in a Starbucks in Orchard Road, in the middle of a freaking working day!
It was AWESOME!
Small joy, I know... but it does feel really cool to not have to break your back in an office on a working day or for that matter scurrying some place overseas on a holiday, but instead just be in your own place and still be at peace and enjoy a cuppa without the weekend crowd milling around.
The weather in Singapore had been fabulous for the last few days. With frequent showers, chilly breezes and way lower humidity than usual, it's been super pleasant. And I took some time to enjoy that today.
After work I stood outside the office building, just enjoying the breeze and hugging myself to keep myself warm!
Such lovely weather is not common in Singapore and I for one was not going to let it pass by without giving it its due attention.
As mentioned several times before, am a huge Bikram yoga fan. I take classes at the Bikram Yoga studio at City Hall and I feel quite at home there, in spite of the fact that I might not be very regular.
While all the instructors and all the classes are great, once in a while a particular class makes you feel right on top of the world. You may not be able to put your finger on what made you feel that way - it could be a particular new and terrific instructor, or just the overall high energy in the room that day or you might just have been on a high yourself - whatever the reason maybe, you feel that things can't simply get any rosier and this is what you have always wanted.
Today was one of those days.
I had slept only a few hours yesterday night thanks to some sound design work and was dreading the yoga class which was sure to be horrible. But to my biggest surprise, the class was one of the best I ever had! Even the hubby couldn't agree more!
It was taken by a new guy called Mark (actually he has been around for a few months but this is the first class we took of his) and I do believe he had a lot to do with it. In fact the class was so good, as soon as the final dead body pose was done, the hubby and I turned our heads and flashed our biggest smiles at each other. We couldn't stop beaming for a long time!
Any day that ends on such a high is wonderfully beautiful.
I have a group of friends. All the way from university, we have managed to stay as just that - a group. We used to have a name too - desiNUSfriends, which has now been simplified to a mere nus2005 google group. Some had left this so-called group a while ago but about 10 of us stuck on. For 9 years now. Out of these 10, currently a couple of them are in the US, one is in India and the rest are here in Singapore. The ones in Singapore are my usual Friday night movie companions or weekend dinner partners.
Now the interesting thing about this group is that, collectively we have never managed a sane conversation. Never ever. At least not one that I can recall. Each conversation is usually pretty random with every character having a topic of his/her own choice, which flies off tangent at regular intervals and is dotted with more disagreements than agreements among the few listeners if any. But in spite of this randomness, everyone looks pretty smug by the end of it, having dished out whatever wisdom they could muster or even better, having possessed a few gems of verbal foolishness that someone might have uttered, which would now be chiseled in the sharp memories of those present for years to come and which would be whipped out at appropriate occasions to pull the leg of the one behind the verbal foolishness. In short, every gathering is eventful and I enjoy most of them.
Today there was one such significant gathering. One of the groupies from US was in town for a few hours and the rest of us decided to meet up with him over dinner.
And needless to say, the randomness began.
It all started with the hubby going deaf. Yeah, D.E.A.F. He was utterly incapable of hearing even a single sentence correctly.
Here is a sample.
Friend A: Blah blah blah.... and then he said "don't be a pussy" Hubby: But why would he say that? Friend B: I dunno man... I was so drunk... Hubby: Even then, why would you say that? I mean come on, "hope you miss me"?! Friend B: What? Hubby: Like who says "hope you miss me"?! Friend A: Who said "hope you miss me"? Hubby: He said "hope you miss me" Friend B: I didn't say "hope you miss me" Hubby: But he said you said "hope you miss me" Friend A: I never said he said "hope you miss me" Hubby: Then who said "hope you miss me"? Friend B: Nobody said "hope you miss me"!
You get the drift. Over the next 5 minutes, after considerable effort from fellow groupies, the hubby was enlightened that it was not "hope you miss me" but "don't be a pussy" that was mentioned earlier on. This put him considerably at ease because he felt "don't be a pussy" was more in line with what he would have expected Friend B to say when drunk.
Now if you were to dismiss the above incident as just a normal mishearing that could happen to anybody, let me assure you that this was just the beginning. From here on, several other statements were also misheard (and either repeated or responded to) by him with horrifying consequences. Unfortunately I don't remember most of them because they came one after the other at maddening speed. It was difficult to keep track. But let me just say that finally the group unanimously voted for the hubby to have topped all verbal atrocity incidents over the last 9 years.
That is, until the friend from the US told us his story. Which was of an altogether different level. I must narrate it here.
So let's refer to this dude from US as 'Friend X' for the time being.
Friend X: Yo... guys... I have a story. Me: Hush everyone.. he has a story. Friend X: It is a true story. Everyone: hmmm. Friend X: I can really prove it to you. Everyone: oh... ok Friend X: Yeah, I have pictures of it. So it's true. Everyone: oho. Friend X: In fact, I also have videos of it. So it is definitely true! Everyone: wow.
After that spectacular introduction, Friend X succeeded in getting the group's undivided attention.
Friend X: So here is the story. My dad (a sailor) was on the straits of Malacca just last month. Everyone: Ahan.... Friend X: So they were sailing and sailing and sailing... Everyone: Ahan.... Friend X: And then suddenly they got a Mayday call. Everyone: *silence* (obviously everyone is now imagining a mayday situation in the middle of the deep ocean) Friend X: So his ship attended to the distress call. Everyone: And? Friend X: It was a yacht. Everyone: Oh. Friend X: They had ran out of fuel. Everyone: Oh. Friend X: And were stuck in the ocean. Everyone: Oh. Friend X: Hence the mayday call. Everyone: Oh. Friend X: Then my dad's ship had to pass on gallons of fuel to their yacht. Everyone: Oh. Friend X: *silence* (pauses pregnantly for the ultimate dramatic effect) Everyone: (Stares at him with unabated breath. The climax of the story must be right around the corner for sure). Friend X: *silence* Everyone: (A bit of fidgeting begins. The wait was killing us. Obviously Friend X was taking this pregnant pause a bit too seriously). Friend X: (looks around) *still silence* Me: AND???? (to hell with dramatic pauses) Friend X: And what? Everyone: AAAANDDD?!! Friend X: And? What "and"? That's all. Everyone: Huh? Friend X: Yeah, that's the story. Everyone: What's the story? Friend X: Just now?! I just said it?! Everyone: Your dad's ship gave fuel to a yacht? Friend X: YEAH! Everyone: And? Friend X: And nothing. It was pretty amazing stuff.
And with that, just when you thought the randomness couldn't get any more random, it actually managed to surprise.
Cracked the eagle pose at yoga today. Definitely one of the best parts of the day!
Other highlights include:
a) Watching the videos of brother-in-law's engagement (which features dance by your truly as well as the hubby)! b) Walking around the Padang area as well as the river side near Arts House, which were so beautiful, calm and peaceful - much unlike other parts of Singapore these days what with the insane crowds everywhere. c) Dinner with in-laws and mom at Swensens - they seemed to really LOVE the food there, and were especially excited by the soup in the bread bowls which were a novelty. Their excitement made made me quite happy.
It's the first day of the new year and new decade and all that. So I wanted the day to be a bit special and managed to pack in three things.
a) Thanking Gods - Since I had been raving about how great the year and the decade that went by were, I thought it was only fair that I thank the Gods for their kindness so far. So mom and I went to the temple early in the morning. After the prayers, we had breakfast at Lakshmi Narasimhan (which was obviously a highlight as well... their Andhra dosa is super yum)!
b) Experiencing one new thing - In the evening, in-laws, hubby, mom and I visited the new Marina Bay Sands integrated resorts. It was my first time in that area, and it does look impressive, especially the bridge. The place has been operating for about 7 months or more now but this was my first time there. Even my mom and mom-in-law have been there before, but not me! So this was a new experience and I quite enjoyed myself!
c) Exercising - Now that I ended the last year on a high exercise note by swimming my longest of 20 laps, I wanted to start the new year as well with some form of good exercise. But it was almost looking like nothing's gonna materialize, what with the temple visit, Marina Bay visit etc. Just when all hope was about to be lost, Marina Bay provided the best form of exercise - walking! We walked non-stop for about 4 hours... up and down the mall, up and down the bridge, and finally all the way to the Esplanade where we had dinner. My sandals were about to tear apart and my feet were ready to pop out of them. It was exhausting but highly rewarding!
All the above, together with spending some quality time with the family has ensured good start to the new year. Now for the rest of it.