Day 142: 2017 Highlights – Amour Suisse

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

Amour Suisse

The 20-days long, cross-continent trip, 10,000 kms from home, has to definitely feature in the highs for the year that went by. I missed all of H’s trip to India, and I left the country with a clarified mind, freshly loaded with theories of detachment from the therapist. And boy, did the trip clear my head out further!

  • Indian services suck. I’ve ranted about it a lot and I accept it. The side-effect of poor services is the delay one typically experiences because of these services. Combine that to traffic, and no Indian is ever on time. Well technically, when the Swiss were in India, every single Indian student was on time, waiting along with them through the delays.

So, having the issue of time delays rubbed in our faces every minute of every day was very irritating. On the second day, half the Indians were 30 minutes early to class and were sitting out on the ground because the Swiss professor wasn’t around to let us in. A week down, there were mostly only Indians in class and the Swiss slowly ambled in, 30 minutes past the hour. I hope they’ve gotten the message loud and clear that the Indian Stretchable Time is just another cliche that we’d like to erase in this generation.

  • The country is beautiful beyond comparison. As I stood by Lac Leman, staring up at the snow capped Swiss Alps behind, rising above Evians-des-bains in France, I felt humbled. Any sense of supremacy or ego would automatically disappear in a country like this. It is also a huge contrast from what I was used to see as grandeur in the United States of America. If you saw the Pacific Ocean in Cali, that’s all you got – miles and miles of water. If you went to stare at the Grand Canyon in awe, you got rocks and layers and layers of rock. It seems to be just here where you see the gigantic artic mountains, the lush green expanse of fields and the power of the lakes and the rivers, all mashed up in the same scene.

Chateau de Chillon

  • It seemed like there was more to plan for our trips around town, than for the actual project work itself. My work partner was missing for a major part of week 1 and that meant very little work could be done. And most of the work was done within the first 2 days of week 2. If you ask me to objectively evaluate the project, I would say that it was a huge drain on resources, especially if the University management was looking to get something productive from the trip.

Goofing around with Einstein on the bench, Bern

  • We spent an evening at Sarah’s country home, smack in the middle of the mountains, in the town of Bex. Between the town lights on the Alps, and the stars up in the sky, the whole night was surreal. I couldn’t pick between staring at the jeweled mountain sides, the speeding cars on the highway, the pitch black on the moutains, and the stars in the sky. My mind calmed to a state of numbness, where the breeze didn’t matter any more, the cold didn’t bite any more and the company was miles away.
  • Old Town Bern, with its cobbled stone pathways, stained glass painted church windows and red tile roofed buildings is exactly the quaint European city that my mind had conjured up. Walking down the city roads, music from a street side band drifting in the air and the sweet smell of roasted nuts, I was overjoyed at the places this life has taken me. The walk up the spire of the tallest church in the town was amazing and the view of the entire city from up there was memorable indeed.

  • Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. Tête de choco, Choco chaud, Chocolate croissant, Choco noir, Choco au lait. Chocolate shaped in every form from football to Easter bunnies and the Eiffel tower. And amazing ones them all.

It’s raining chocolates, at the Cailler Chocolate Factory

  • The people, Indians and Swiss, were definitely a highlight of the trip. From PGS and his antiques, to flimsy-gal Ignatius, to dopey gal, and goey fan-girl, all those in the Indian team eventually came together as a fun group. Daily debrief sessions in V’s room, with prompt data collection, and rants about PGS over booze were all gentle reminders of the fun hostel times in RECT. Cliques formed and dissolved, issued crept up and subsided, but two weeks down, we all walked back with newfound respect for each other and great memories behind us.

The goofballs every night

For all their cultural unawareness and a sense of superiority, the Swiss team members were a bunch of genuinely ignorant folk. From being surprised at my listening to Classic Rock or speaking fluent English, to being a teeny bit impressed at my learning French, to being completely awestruck at the energy in the Indians to dance all night, they were definitely experiencing these for the first time and I respect them for that. Overall, they were quite the crazy lot.

Most of the gang, at Les Diablerets

A few unforgettables:

Pasta night at Bjerns

Made it to Bern

Nachde ne saare, nooooo :))

The view to die for. Peak walk at Les Diablerets

On Lac Leman, off to set foot in France

Even random Swiss mutts need a bum rub ❤

Loving photography.. All over again…

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Day 141: 2017 Highs – PsychGoddess

It’s 2018. 2017 has gone by, and the cyberspace is overflowing with messages of positivism in the upcoming year, reviews of the year that went by and promises for the new year. Here’s my year in review but focused on the major highs and the lows.

PsychGoddess

This lady has definitely been the best find of 2017. We spent a week together in the summer, at Bhor, and it’s been a jolly ride ever since. As someone with a Doctorate in Psychology, with a post-doctoral work on autism and I was already floored. Some people have an innate tendency to not look their age, to make you feel at ease at get-go and to have abundant clarity in life. They also bring in the fun and the humor into any group, bonding with all evenly. The PsychGoddes had them all.

  • I understand and respect her clarity on the societal arrangement called marriage. Two people that like one another, can stand each other and respect each other, do not need a marital contract to spend their lives together. Marriage is not the beginning of the glorified happily-ever-after and the sooner we accept it, the less people will be stuck in this rut.
  • The way she’s raising her son is inspirational and is something I’m going to refer back to for a long time. Open communication, even with a ten year old, is an absolute must. It should start at that age for them to realize that their mother is in their corner for life. I still remember stories of their little arguments, writing reasons for being mad at each other I’m crumpled chit and throwing into the other’s room. Communication,  at its best!
  • Psych Goddess, the adopted mommy. My love for the dame grew millions when I heard her story of how she adopted her son. And then it grew a little more when I heard the story about how she told the little one about it. I’ve always felt strongly about adoption; there are too many abandoned souls looking for love and a life, too many to make any further procreation seem unjustified. But I’ve always wondered about the acceptance from the child’s end, would they ever think that we made a mistake by adopting them. The PsychGoddess made me realize a step to the answer: Open communication.
  • For someone like me that’s easily impressed, she’s taught me to wear the Black Hat every once in a while. Any awe or pleasure that one typically feels immediately after an event, a training or a lecture or a show, is purely because of the feel-good factor arising from the novelty of the experience. While it is a good thing to be happy about any new experience, and to enjoy it with an open mind, the stable mind will be grounded in reality. It will see through the tricks and the showmanship and will be able to spot the plot holes in the event. That’s a great power to have, something I’m going to consciously try this year.
  • The learning never ends and she’s taught me that from the first day we met. The quality of her reading, her academic proficiency and her quest for learning have all been impressive. Something to look up to and emulate.

The maanga-curry cookscapade, the rum and breezer  circles, her theatre games, the cuddle sessions with Scotch and the ramblings about everything under the sun will hold a special place in my heart. She’s introduced me to some brilliant people and some exciting new areas of learning and I’m looking forward to some more. She’s been an ardent reader of my rambles and the best PR in the world. What more can a girl want! Much love, PsychGoddess! 

Day 137: V and V

V1

He definitely won brownie points for being on time and for picking a decent place, well suited for the occasion. But, as soon as I saw him and exchanged that formal handshake, I knew that this was not going to be. This arranged setting of meeting prospective matches has been going on for a while now. So, if there were a resume for life, I could add ‘Filtering Prospects’ as an added skill. I saw this one and I knew it was not going to be; two hours of talking down, I was more than convinced.

Over the years, my filters, the items in “the checklist”, have all been refined and made to suit the practical needs of the scene. I no longer want a guy who’s more or less my age, has an interest in the languages and photography, and loves dogs, cultures, food and traveling as much as I do. I no longer want him to be a writer, and world-savvy, and a biker-rider. I no longer expect a man to be spontaneous enough to move to a new city, or better yet a country, and start life afresh. But there are a few things that are still required. Please…

  • Have an interest that keeps you going. There is a world outside of just work and home; it matters.
  • Live to eat, or Eat to live. Enjoy it nonetheless.
  • Throw yourself outside your comfort zone every once in a while. The more you rest in one safe spot, the closer you are to becoming a tree.
  • Ooze out with passion. Whether you’re laughing, crying or fighting like lunatics, let it all overflow with passion. Do it like you mean it.
  • Be a gentleman. Respect. In today’s day and age, a man that holds the door open not because the woman is incapable of doing it herself, but because she deserves that amount of respect, is the true gentleman.
  • Leave the shores of your country at least once. It is a great test of one’s personality, to be in a country that is not yours, amidst a culture that is not yours. It takes some nerves to keep an open heart and let yourself be drowned in the new. And you learn to take care of yourself.

I have met some wonderful men in the past and it has not worked out for whatever the reason may be. But, I’d like to think that there were all the right men for someone else, and not me. That gives me the hope that there is a right one for me out there somewhere.

ViToo

The universe plays funny jokes on you and I was purview to its latest recently. I met two people, poles apart, and with the same name. ViToo, of course, has the benefit of time since I’ve known him for a few years now. I got introduced to him at TCS, when we were working on the same project, but from different locations. Different reasons bring people together, in this case it was our shared roots in CBE. Now that I was back in home base, we decided to meet up and take the mere online conversations off.

It did not, for once, feel like I was meeting someone for the first time in hard flesh. The conversations kicked off as if they were merely in limbo for a few years. There was a certain comfort factor with the person and the conversations that was welcome. Very soon we were talking about family and long-term plans, successes and failures, like it was but the next logical information trivia to share. It was clear that I would be in touch with this gentleman for a while to come.

V1 vs. ViToo

The difference between the two new people that I met within the span of a week was all too blaring. Certain people have that presence and climate around them that automatically brings out your best. Certain people have the opposite effect as well, where your guards are automatically up. This doesn’t mean that I was guards up during my meet with V1. But, the social setting or the expectation from the meeting invariably brought out a different me from what I truly was.

It makes me wonder if the arranged marriage set ups are flawed by definition, because they bring out the fake, made-up version of people. In this case, it’s highly likely that the real-me would have scared V1 all the way out (the mellow me was apparently ‘aggressive’ for the gentleman). But I wonder if I would have been a different, more-charming me, had I not gone to these meetings with the pressure of evaluation and selection. If I knew that the other person wasn’t checking off items on his mental check-list, would I have been forgiving of his follies?

This doesn’t discount the fact that us human beings are designed to judge and evaluate. So, I am confident that the meeting with ViToo also had its fair share of judgement and checking off of mental checklists. What was different was how these assessments did not matter majorly. When you have a wavelength match with another, I guess it doesn’t matter how you evaluate the other or vice versa, because you’re probably checking off similar items.

People’s behaviors and interactions are clearly becoming a topic of interest. A few more years of meeting prospects and I should probably pick a Doctoral topic from all this learning. Time will tell!

Scotch: Kids these days put too much time into this marriage thing. Life is a journey and if you find someone that makes the trip more fun, hold on to them.

Day 136: Mango mandi

Only 50 kilos a? That’s a little too less, no? How much do you have? Some 80 at least? Yeah! Then 50 is too less. I mean, nothing wrong there. 50 for 5.5 is good. Only from our side, we’re not all that perfect. What to do! At least a 70 would have been manageable.

But how can you decide just by looking at a picture and reading the specs? Don’t you have to see with your eyes and decide based on things that matter?

It’s the same thing as online shopping, no? You buy a product on Amazon. Do you touch and feel? So, you look at the product and that’s how you decide; based on their pictures and yours. And compatibility.

But… Are we buying mangoes here?

Scotch: Relationships are after all like buying mangoes, S. You pick one based on what you think is the best. And then you’re committed to it all the way until it ends up in your stomach. A juicy one, a ripe one, a wormy one – you pay for everything that you picked. No?

Day 135: Wrapping up the year

Teaching Sharing

The last working day of the year ended in style: I got to teach a two-hour lecture and wrap up the session. There was a slight pressure when I found out that ChaCha, SrA and the SoulSurfer would be sitting in too. But most of those become trivial when you start teaching. It was more fun because I got to teach some technology, stuff from the life of 10 years. It reminded me again about how important it is to be content-strong. A few quick learnings from the session:

  • It’s always important to relate to the class and set up a tone of comfort before you get into teaching
  • There will always be those that are disinterested; forcing them to participate won’t help anybody
  • The front-benchers are your best friends – keep them happy
  • It’s always nice to know the names of the class
  • Some teachers make every topic/lesson boring, purely by bringing in exercises, evaluation and assessments into the picture – don’t be that person.

Overall, it was a good way to end the session before we broke for the semester. 

Mado turns a year older

Mado’s big day started my kinda way – with some authentic breakfast at MTR. It was fun to know that I had introduced all three to the beauty of some quality adult time. The food was amazing as always, the ride up was fun too, and the conversation was passable.

I had a strange old-woman moment, when I had the birthday cake sitting at home, in the fridge, and completely forgot to bring it along. In the end, things work out for the best, since MTR would have been a weird location to cut a cake. I was all the more confident of that decision when we eventually cut the cake at home in the evening – very sloppy, tasteless cake. Strange!

Sorries

ChaCha and I were chatting up after Mados little birthday party and we noticed how these boys were all too quick to pull out the white flags and say their sorry. Did it mean that they really understood the point and realized their folly, or did they just want to end the discussion, results nonetheless?

I understand the reasoning might just be to pick your battles, and lose a few fights to win the larger battle. But is that what all relationships end up being – a series of compromises? And if you were the one bringing out the white flag every single instance, would it become more difficult with each passing instance? And what if I fought every fight like it were the battle? Wouldn’t that be tasking, a huge strain on the relationship itself?

Pics4mswiss: looking over the red thatched roofs of Old City Bern

IMG-20171126-WA0024.jpg

Day 134: To act or not to act

A certain commotion caught my attention when walking into my block at lunch hour today. The security guard and the block maintenance in charge were in argument with a girl student. She made multiple protests and even tried eluding the security and running to class, while he way laid her and brought her back to the entrance.

I knew I had to do something. I had heard a lot about the rude behavior of the security. And this maintenance in-charge has been on my radar for a while now for speaking very rudely to a number of the support staffs. So, i intervened and asked the girl what the problem was. ‘I got late and bought a packet of food for lunch. Now my class is about to begin and I need to go in. He’s not letting me in with this covered food container’, she pleaded, looking desperately for some support. My mind had expected some serious argument – dress code maybe, or missing ID card. The minute I heard her protest, I immediately shrugged my shoulders and walked away. I almost did something to help but my sub-conscious walked away.

I thought about what I did, or didn’t do, for the rest of the day. There were many reasons why the girl needed support and I could have helped. The security had no control over students that bring lunch from home and eat in the classrooms. So why detain students that do not have the luxury of a home cooked meal and depend on the cafeteria? There was no crime committed here for which he had to chase her down the corridor like she were a thief. If anything, he could have warned her for the subsequent time and let her in. I could have reminded him of all of this. I didn’t.

Wasn’t this the reason I joined the student council? Wasn’t I interested in standing up for student problems? Then why was I taking a high-grade, especially by picking battles that mattered to me versus those that didn’t. Shouldn’t I be concerned about them all nonetheless. The elevator issue in the central block affected me even though I was directly not effected by it. This incident happened in my block; it was a security guard that I see on a daily basis. Shouldn’t this work me up more?

Sometimes I surprise myself with my actions, or inaction.

Pics4mswiss: Every winter, the earth covers itself in white, to cleanse itself of all that is. 

Day 132: Oppressors unlimited 

The weekend started on a great note, the 4OfUs met to watch a forum theater by the TO community working with Srishti school of design. SoulSurfer stuck to the plan of  my first metro ride in the city, and I was glad that he persisted. The anonymity that comes with public transport and the novelty that came with the ride in the city was very energizing. A little stroll in and around Cubbon Park and we were seated in for the play.

For all that I read about the uniqueness of forum theater, I was impressed by seeing it in action. It’s quite likely that most of them in the audience were there, like me, because of some basic introduction into TO. But it was also likely that they were just random passers-bys, ones that were really moved by the scene that was playing out in front of them.

It was very encouraging to watch some men come up, and take on the role of the oppresed lady. It was very disturbing to hear some men talk about how they had experienced such violations of their personal space too. It was most disappointing to hear more and more stories of women facing these violations on a daily basis. Ten minutes back, half an hour back, 1 day back, 2 months ago, since 15 years; and the tyranny continues.

Being in the role of a spectactor was unnerving, especially to realize that the obstruction or the oppression that my role was facing could be faced in real life too. There could be a creepy Vijay slowly falling on you in the bus, there could be a driver who’d refuse to listen to all your protests, there could be a situation where you’d have no other option to try; and at that point, you might not get a retake.

It makes me angry to think about how inhuman mankind truly is, to be able to ignore another’s will and interest entirely, and to thrust one’s own want and needs. What bothers me more is to see men of the privileged backgrounds act like there was no problem at all. I’d like to see more men, like the SoulSurfer and MadO, step up and realize that women all around them – girl friends, mothers and sisters – were stepping on thin egg shells every time they were walking out the door. I’d like them to join the dialogues and become a voice of sanity in this deafening discussion.

I believe that without enough voices from the other side of the fence, we’d just be prisoners rattling our cages in a sound-proof room.

Pics4mswiss: When darkness prevails, the heavens open up and a new sunrise is seen.