2021 – a recap

I/Me/Myself

  1. I put myself up for some tough professional challenges this year. I failed at one, and succeeded at two. My strike rate of 2/3 induced a lot of confidence in me to soar above my self made glass ceiling. There were times where I felt stupid subjecting myself to these challenges, but the journey made my gritty. And grit is my super power.
  2. I was mindful about my routines. I attempted a lot more routines and with reasonable short term success. Nothing stuck for the long term. But I have appreciation for those who follow routines. And I am striving to get better at them myself.
  3. There was a good stretch of 4 weeks in 2021 when I did not have a car insurance, a license, and a passport. I learnt patience, deliberate planning, and giving into the flow as part of this experience. It was not easy, but what made it easy was the old cliche – “one step at a time”.

Family

  1. Tara started reading, can tie a knot, and she made large lego sets (with help). She also started sleepovers this year. She is an engaging kid to converse with, who has a very sharp sense of humor and wit. She is a happy and wise child and I am a happier person around her. We spent many moments this year that made me realize that the labor of love is all so worth it. I took some days off to spend with Tara and we did a fun Stanford campus exploration and enjoyed the empty campus and the art exhibits. We made memories.
  2. Agam and I took a fair bunch of lunch/coffee walks together. We chatted about his work, my work, our lives, the world around us. We made time for these walks, and enjoyed moments together that were not quite possible pre-pandemic. We also watched Dune together, by ourselves, in the theater.
  3. My family back in India, survived COVID. Kudos to my sister who got us through the wave, and continues to do that as I type.
  4. We lost a few of the family’s old guard – Agam lost his Nana, and his Dad’s Mama. We were both very fond of both of them. And we will miss the 4G (4 generation) pictures that became a norm for us when we visit Delhi. I lost a maternal uncle, and my parents and in-laws lost several friends and distant family in the pandemic. But the silver lining was that my cousin brother who was given no hope to survive, fought for his life against all odds, and is still amongst us. I am thankful for his life, and so proud of my sister-in-law who held the family together for what will be the toughest phase of their lives.
  5. Mani, my baby sis-in-law, and Kuval, my bro-in-law, moved to the US, and Bay area respectively. I am always worried about Tara not having enough family in the US. So having these kids closer to us, makes me feel warm.
  6. My uncle in NY and I are becoming close buddies who discuss books, recipes, world affairs, travel destinations. We are alike, akin. It shouldn’t be a surprise since he was my father’s most favorite cousin. But this newfound kinship is warming. I don’t have family in the US. He is closest to me in terms of any blood relations. It warms my heart knowing that I share a past with someone who also lives in this country, and has the time to be my buddy.

Work

  1. I built a team, again. A very very powerful, accomplished, and diverse team. I am so happy with the end results of some deliberate hiring, curation of portfolios, and skills, and some coaxing. As a team, we did wonderful things. All of these things seemed daunting at the beginning of the year. But today, I have the confidence to take on the toughest of the challenges, knowing the team I have built, and their caliber to deliver impact and value to our organization.
  2. I slipped, almost. But I had a safety net that caught me – my manager, mentors, friends, and my family. Tara made the decision easy in the end. She said, Mommy stays, because this is where her friends are. So I renewed my vows to G, and charted a path for myself that will keep me challenged, and thereby fulfilled for the years to come. I am valued, and loved. I’ve earned my stripes with a lot hard work, and loyalty. And to me that is all I seek in my employment – friends, value, love, and growth.
  3. I took on some G-wide initiatives that are being shaped by my leadership, and initiative. This portfolio of programs I am steering, gives me sleepless nights, and yet puts me back in my feet every morning. I love it. But most importantly, I love that I can give my teams the opportunity to lead these programs.
  4. From a weak moment in February when I did not know what I was running for, and why I was in a race where if I win, I will actually loose, to this day today where I have a roadmap ahead of what I want to do and where I want to be, and why, clearly spelled out, I have come a long way in accepting my path, tweaking it to my liking, and recommitting to it, with the blessings and fond wishes of a select few who are on this path with me, at least for some time.
  5. I achieved the pinnacle of performance in my role this year. Yes it’s just a rating. Yet it matters to me to be recognized for my craft. I pour a lot of love and effort into it.
  6. I spent some time back on campus, working at my desk, taking meetings in conference rooms. It felt normal.

Hobbies

  1. I blogged less, wrote ~45 Haikus, but actively posted on LinkedIn.
  2. I took upon myself a backyard makeover project. It was a lot of fun and our backyard is just the little haven we always wanted. Project was completed between April – July; and within budget. Jesus my gardener/contractor gets a lot of the credit. But as he says, we are a good team. Between my vision, and his execution, we had the backyard project well covered. I like home projects, and I will take on another one in 2022. I now have roses in my garden, and dahlias, camelias, and lavender. And the icing on the cake is that Boogie (my bougainvillea) came back. We also have a “hammock”. Now all I want is for Agam to start drinking chai, with me in our “bageecha”.
  3. I cooked quite a lot, but we did a lot of take out as well. My recipe of the year was Besan Ladoos. I loved the experiments, and the final outcome. We also made a lot of sweets and savory dishes and shared them with our friends as Diwali presents. I made my first lemon pickle – from the lemons in our backyard.
  4. I completed 10 books; and diversified my reading content.
  5. We did some noteworthy hikes across California – Long Ridge Trail, Stanford Loop, and my most ambitious hike till date, the PG&E trail.
  6. I binge watched a LOT of shows, and watched a FEW good movies. Suitable Boy, Harry Potter, The Hobbit, Money Heist, This is Us, Manifest, Ann with an E , Encanto, Sing2, Dune, Don’t Look Up are worthy of mention.
  7. I started going back to the Farmer’s Market.
  8. I started to make ice creams at home. The family relishes it and we save on the cartons.
  9. We bought a foosball table, played a lot of board games, and card games, and have also picked up chess again, more recently.
  10. We hatched butterflies. Tara brought home a few cocoons and we hatched 2 butterflies. One of them was Grace, she was my underdog who survived (or got eaten by the cat, I will never know).

World

  1. We swore in a decent President for this country, and the first ever woman Vice President. History was made. But most importantly, a calamity of Trump’s second term, thwarted. But before that on Jan 6th, America witnessed a tragedy.
  2. Mental Health took centre stage – Naomi Osaka made it happen.
  3. The world got vaccinated, and some of us even got the boosters. Science wins.
  4. Crypto, Log4J, NFTS, and other random noise cluttered our lives.

Friends

  1. One of very good friends from past life, is undergoing a divorce. I was sad for him, but more so sad for the state of marriage, and the impact of it on kids. I find myself tugging at that string a lot this year.
  2. Lori my friend, and mentor lost her husband, Doug, to cancer.
  3. My first coach, mentor, a favorite teacher of many, Pallavi Rao, died young.
  4. Papa’s friend, and our neighbor in Gurgaon, Mehra uncle passed away, silently, in his sleep. A big loss for my in-laws.
  5. Tara and her friends graduated from Kindergarten. A lot of her batch mates moved outside of the bay area, including Noah.
  6. We discovered Vive Sol, and Kakaroto shared it with our close friends.
  7. We hosted a send off for one of my work friend, and hosted our friends over for meals and tea. Some sort of normalcy returned to the social scene.
  8. A friend I had not met for 17 years visited us from Seattle. Agam’s friend and his family also visited us from Seattle earlier in the year. Memories were made.
  9. We attended a few Diwali parties, and also celebrated Tara’s 7th birthday at Safari Run! IRL!

Travel

  1. We did eight trips this year – 7 in California and one trip to Maui. It was good to be back on the road again this year. We also enjoyed a very very cozy AirBnB in Mendocino in July.
  2. Hawaii was a very welcome respite from the COVID climate that has plagued our lives for two years. The island was warm, welcoming and relaxing. We spent most of our time in the pool or on the beaches.
  3. We traveled to quite a few state and county parks, and reserves –
    1. Van Damme State Park – Fern Canyon Trail
    2. Sanborn County park
    3. Pt Lobos National Park – twice!
    4. Mendocino Headlands reserve
    5. Bluff Trails in Gualala
    6. Gualala River Regional Park
    7. Russian Gulch State Park
    8. Novo Headlands
    9. Coastal trails along Half Moon Bay
  4. Best Beaches
    1. Rio Del Mar – Aptos
    2. Fish Rock – Gualala
    3. Walk On – Sea Ranch
    4. Glass Beach – Fort Bragg

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