2020 – A recap

Goa – January 1, 2020

In hindsight COVID was not the reason 2020 was harsh. It was a melange of a lot of personal, professional and global turmoil.

It was tragic to see the world perish under its threat. But I believe in human resilience. And I know we will rebound quickly! It won’t be in 2021, but by Spring 2022, COVID will be a thing of the past.

Here’s a summary of how I will remember 2020. 

Highlights –

  • Family
    • Our 3G (3 generation) Goa trip with both families was the best thing about 2020.
    • Post march, unlimited time with my little family.
    • Our friends and family were safe from the virus all through this time. A few extended family members that did get it, also recovered and are now doing better.
  • Tara
    • Tara started school – and despite all odds, the school opened in October for voluntary on campus classes. We took the risk, and decided she needed the school more than anything else.
    • Tara learnt how to ride a bike in just a spur of the moment. She also started riding the scooter with equal ease. She began to read, and write, and draw very creatively. She spent a lot of time with magnetic tiles, and legos and I was finally satisfied with the balance in her outdoor and indoor activities.
    • We actually enjoyed July-August immensely. My mind started to clear up, health resumed, and we enjoyed California beaches every other weekend. We discovered so many gems like Loch Lomond and in general the Boulder Creek area and spent a good chunk of summer – outdoors!
  • Cooking
    • I learnt so many new recipes – rasgullas, moong dal halwa, and dosa batter, being the biggest highlights. I recovered a few recipes from my childhood, like the cabbage slaw sandwich that became good comfort foods. I traded recipes with a lot of friends – sometimes teaching, and sometimes learning. We added a lot of one pot meals to our portfolio – like spinach and corn rice, and risottos.
    • We made all our Diwali mithai at home this year. I also picked six families, and delivered them homemade Diwali sweet. Tara loved it. She cannot wait for next Diwali!
    • We made a Thanksgiving feast and enjoyed it with friends. It was an ambitious task to make ~12 dishes, but it was something I had never done before. Gluten Free gravy, mashed potatoes, chicken, and cranberry sauce. Yummy!
    • We enjoyed ~40 bottles of wine and 2 bottles of Whiskey this year. Yep, that’s what Instacart tells me. I am not complaining.
  • Self
    • Learned to prioritize my health.
    • Enjoyed a dozen books, or something like that. I didn’t have long stretches to read, like one gets during vacations. But there was time in the evenings. I really loved And Then, Radical Candor, and the latest – Alchemy of Us.
    • I started writing Haikus. I have a good 50+ in the books already.
    • I started Unsaid Untold, and then soon decided to take it private. I don’t know why someone would want to read about my father’s life. But I need to write it. So I still do, just privately.
  • Work
    • I took a wonderful course from Tracy Wilk on High Performance Leadership. No one will invest in me, but myself. So I took a class outside of work, over Zoom, and learnt a ton. Including things like I am self reflective, but not always self aware.
    • I serendipitously found a team where I feel like I have room for impact, and execution, along with autonomy and camaraderie of like minded people. Also equally unexpectedly I found a manager who is as human as I am. Being around him makes me want to be thorough and sharp, but not perfect. I have a lot to learn from him, but the relationship is mutual, and hence stronger. I filled a gap for his leadership team and that is acknowledged, not just by him, but my peers. I see a path ahead of me, and I have at least verbal support to build on that path.
    • I learnt five things about myself
      • I need autonomy to thrive.
      • I am a pace setter.
      • I am quick to eliminate clutter
      • I lead with my strengths, but I am equally driven by my quest to overcome my weaknesses.
      • I have high expectations of what people are capable of being. I give them a lot of benefit of doubt with a hope that they will latch on to that leash, and become better. But sometimes that leash becomes toxic, and I am the one who has to cut my losses. I need to learn to tame my expectations if I don’t want to get hurt as often as I do.
  • Agam
    • Agam and I shared several lunches, walks and engaging talks together. The pandemic reminded us why we are good together. A machinery that works with very little friction. And companions who will listen, guide, probe and scold, but then set free to the beat of our own drums.
    • Agam switched jobs as well this year. We go through these cycles together. It’s more fun that way! [NO that was a joke]

Lowlights

  • After a decade, Christina and Carlos wrapped up their service and we were lucky to find Gloria. We miss our friends, but I am glad they are going further in their lives and have decided to stop cleaning multiple households.
  • Since Goa, we had just one trip outside of Mountain View to Capitola over a long weekend. That was travel for 2020!
  • I had a particularly stressful phase at work in the first half of the year. It was unwarranted. For the first time in my professional life of 15 years I experienced physical and mental stress. The symptoms stressed me out beyond my own expectations. I have witnessed my mother through an angina attack, and this felt similar, just a prolonged one. Whether it was a combined effect of COVID WFH along with a toxic environment, or just a pronounced case of either. I don’t know. But what I know is that I had to turn that ship around and I did by eliminating stress from my environment. It meant that I had to quit a role I enjoyed, and go find something where I could thrive on my own terms. I lived my darkest months of professional life from April to July this year. No one should experience the delusional few weeks that I experienced. They taught me a lot. But they drained me, and left me so brittle for many months.
  • Some of our friends moved to San Diego and Seattle , and some moved back home, to Germany. We could not even say a proper goodbye.
  • A close friend, in a short span of time lost his mother and his child. I saw him carry the weight of these losses along with a challenging environment at work. And although I could not materially help in any way. I was there to hear him. He needed to be heard. I know hugs would have helped more. But I had no means to give. A listening ear is all I could offer.
  • I missed white boards and people. There were so many moments at work where I just could not make myself heard, or get my points across, or I lost my patience since there are no words that can replace the gap of silence that indicates what was to be indicated. I struggled with the bobbing heads on GVC. When people say they got used to WFH, I stay silent. I did not. And I don’t want to either. I would rather switch professions than to get accustomed to this stale and vegetative state of “meetings” that we now experience.
  • I cannot do intermittent fasting. Ok let me be fair. I cannot do IF on weekends. It doesn’t work for me.
  • We did not go home for Christmas this year 😦 Santa came for Tara, but I was not there to play Santa for my nieces. There were no Bira’s on the terrace in the sun. Nor any picnics with the extended family.

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