About shivam04

Unexplained phenomenon

10 years since…

Dadu sent me a nice article from The New Yorker. It was titled- “why write”. Got me thinking. A while ago I wrote a post on that – why I write. I looked back and found this from June 2011. Now there is a younger voice below, so be patient with her. I am glad I was that person – 10 years ago. 🙂

I write because I think too much. And I don’t want to discount my thinking by allowing my thoughts to drift away and go undocumented.

I write because that is how I clean up the corners of my mind. People do meditation, they work out, they cook, they take up dancing – I just write. I write for myself. I write so I can read these thoughts at a later point in life. I like to read my old posts and laugh at how immature or insecure I was. It helps me reflect on what I was and what I have become and gives me confidence that I can nurture myself to be someone better.

I have been blogging since 2005, and I have archived every detail since then in the cloud. But instead of making this about me, I want to write about people who come to my blog and leave a note of reflection. People, who don’t just come and browse, catch up on gossip in my life and leave. They come and reflect on their own lives through my posts. There are also a bunch who might not leave a note on the blog, but send me an email, a Facebook message or +1 my posts.

About people who tell me directly what these words mean to them and how they live each moment with me, as they read my posts. This is not a thank you note by any means. I think these simple acts reveal a lot about who you are. You have no fear in communicating your thoughts. You don’t hesitate in engaging in this virtual dialogue – about your life and mine. You don’t hesitate in appreciating someone or for that matter critiquing someone’s work or habits.

You are honest with yourself. You don’t act in stealth, but in open. You don’t read and move on; you ponder. You don’t simply take from people’s lives, you also give. Some folks are shy about voicing their thoughts on an open platform, and some think they might get sued for commenting on the world around them. Some people think they cannot find anything appropriate to comment, and some feel they might be invading someone’s privacy by commenting on their posts. Whatever be the reason, I feel that there is lots of learn from each other. And blogs are a great way to go about it.

It used to be uncommon to write in public about the fears and jubilations that we experience. But not anymore. We live in an open world where we share open networks and open relationships. It is time we accept that as a way of life. Often in my blogger’s regret phase, I think about taking the blog private. But I fight myself out of this notion, and bring it back up. Why should I hide something from anyone? Stealth breeds fear. Open dialogue builds confidence and also a certain commitment to yourself.

If you start thinking about who is going to read this and what they will interpret out of it – you will begin to write a story that the world wants to read. This is my story as I experience it. I have no audience but myself and I have no motif but my growth.

Moong Dal Halwa

I express my love through cooking. Made a bucket full of moong dal halwa for a few birthdays coming up.. it took me 25 min of solid arm workout to get this ready. Hope that counts as today’s workout 😉 This is my all time favorite dessert. Even more than gulab jamun. And it’s gluten free.

Today we are going to my myka (in other words, my parents place), in other words a family that we call our own. The love I receive from this family feels like just like home. We are glad our kids are the same age so they will hopefully continue to strengthen this bond that started way back in DPS RKP, when all of us were kids.

May the sweetness of this halwa, sweeten our lives and relationships for years to come. [And may I continue to be spoilt by my myka for years to come 😉 ]


This morning I was dealing with a particularly gnarly bundle of nerves. That didn’t seem to want to let much oxygen flow through them. So this was creating too much imbalance in the system and I needed to tend to this mess.

So I bundled up a few chores and found a way to get out and inhale some fresh air while my car got a smog check and I walked over to the ATM to get some cash and some macaroons. I stood in the sun for all ten minutes and watched my breathe, as I inhaled the crisp and clear air.

The smog check failed. Changed the batteries recently and haven’t driven around much. The car needs to run 120 miles before it can be tested again. Great! What better outcome.

Nerves were still bundled up. Some got more strained. So we ditched it all. Came over to the Amber Patio for brunch-lunch. Soaked a ton of sun. Laughed about Tara’s quirky and witty remarks. Watched the sun play hide and seek with the clouds. And forgot all about the smog check, nerves and bundles.

Filter coffee further filtered the noise away and nerves got untangled and mess was clearer. Momentarily!

Filter Coffee


Doug is dying. I’ve known Doug for 15 years. He is my friend and mentor, Lori’s husband. He is the nerd she talked about in between when we’d go for long walks after work in Amsterdam. I met Doug at the holiday parties and saw him in pictures when I was on FB.

He has brain cancer. And it is spreading too fast. Treatment is not working. Lori has taken off from work and is helping Doug through this terminal illness.

She updates me via messenger every time there is a dip in the trajectory. I take my time to respond. Sometimes people get so much time to say their goodbyes. I bet it hurts more.

I’m just numb. I can’t be there for her. I don’t know what to say to her. I don’t know how to help her. Helplessness is a very depressing feeling.

Despondent me!

48 Hours on the CA coast

Three bunnies and their walking shoes and giggles made their way to the coast this weekend. They had 48 hours to themselves. So they made no plans except for some hikes in the area and that’s all. And they came back with more than 30,000 steps walked and a lot of memories made.

We left home on Friday at 5:30pm sharp. Traffic wasn’t that bad. Knowing the COVID dining scene it was wise to make a reservation. Treehouse Cafe has been a family favorite for almost five years. But knowing them, I knew we won’t be able to move the reservation that I had made a few weeks ago. So half way we canceled that and looked for another favorite, Basil, a local Italian favorite. They make delicious and simple and even gluten free 🙂 pasta.

We reached the hotel at 7:00ish and unloaded our backpacks. A quick refresh and out we went, a short 10 min walk to Basil. A delightful dinner, a leisurely stroll, a few bed time stories and a sound sleep.

I woke up at 6:30am, and went to the beach. I didn’t look at the map. Just followed my sense of intuition. When it comes to oceans, we speak each other’s language. A quick walk and I was at the sand. It was cleansing, inspiring, and overwhelming.

Walked back into town and people were up and about, queuing up for their morning coffee. I walked past the queue and decided to find a hidden jewel somewhere further. And I did find an alley that smelled like coffee. So I went in and took my chances. Met some strangers, enjoyed a lovely chat, and sipped my cappuccino on my way back to the hotel.

We got ready, rather leisurely, and by the time we got to the Point Lobos parking lot, not only was it full, but the overflow lines were a mile long in each direction. So we gave up 😦 and drove to Big Sur River Inn. Sat in the middle of the river for a couple of hours, enjoyed the sun, and watched Tara make friends with strangers. Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree 😉

We then decided to try our luck to get a table for lunch at Nepenthe. And we were in luck! So we enjoyed a sunny lunch with the best view this area can offer. I likely soaked enough sun for next three weeks. More on that later.

Post lunch we decided to give Point Lobos another try. Phew! So we went to the Carmel River Beach. Tara and Agam built sand castles, I took a long walk along the shore and then I came back and bitched relentlessly about how cold it was. So after a few hours we headed back to the hotel for a change before sunset time.

We took a long time to get out the hotel so Tara and I ran our way down to the beach and we made it in time. It was exhilarating. As soon as we got there, the bagpiper came and we enjoyed the sunset with the music.

Dashed back into town and didn’t feel like a heavy lavish meal. So went back to the hotel, sat by the fire place and ordered food in. From Treehouse cafe! We all sat down on the floor, and enjoyed some spicy Thai curry and lamb kebabs with beer. It was bliss. Eating delicious food in your PJs listening to stories from school and sharing memories with Tara.

This morning the hour was lost on us. We enjoyed a fun morning with a dragon movie and then packed our bags to get our the door. We made our final attempt to Point Lobos. And succeeded!!! So we enjoyed three hours walking around the beautiful shores and hiking amidst the Cyprus trees. It was bliss once again!

To end it all, we drove to Sanderlings for lunch and enjoyed the food and the views. It was gorgeous. The hot Toddy was the highlight with some whiskey infused bread pudding. Sorry Lent – I took a break this weekend 🤣

Came back home and did several rounds of laundry and folded them all while watching Bombay Begums. Trash show.

A blissful sunny and ocean getaway to cleanse our souls, inspire ourselves and get overwhelmed by the expanse of the ocean.

Next we are off to Clear Lake in Spring break! Three weeks to go. Woohoo!

Mind and body

I like talking to people who expand my horizons. And I get really demotivated when I am in a conversation where people suck the life out of me.

My morning started on that demotivated note. Bang on at 8:45am I knew this was going to be one of those days and perhaps one of those weeks. But mid day I had a nice interaction with a group of fun people. It’s so ironic how much fun we have as a group although we represent two business units that can’t see each other eye to eye.

And then my last meeting of the day was so very refreshing. A topic that I had the business context on, met its match on how it will/should be solved. And it took me a few minutes to connect the dots. But those minutes were most rewarding. And I ended my day on a refreshed note.

To follow that spirit, I went for a run. Good lord my ankles are pathetic. I literally cried in pain. They are just not used to the concrete. And I cannot moderate my pace. And when I speed up and lose control, they give up. It’s like my mind and my body are not in synch. And I need to get them there. By practice and grit. And a lot of pain.

Came back to the park where Agam and Tara were playing and the ankles went for a toss again. We played soccer until I was dead as a lumber. Phew! There were leftovers to feed the fam for dinner. And here I am nursing my ankles. Ouch!

But that will not be enough to deter me from going for my run again. I am so happy that I am breathing this crisp air. And due to the dampness the allergies were not bad today either. Another struggle to tackle. Grr

Anyways – I’ve always derived my energy from people. And I need to learn to moderate my absorption of negative energy. There again, my mind and body are out of synch. The mind propels to solve. The body repels the energy.

You know sometimes I wonder if you could just observe your mind in third person. See how it reacts, operates, responds. It will be quite revealing. The body very clearly communicates with us. Pain is felt. Pleasure is also felt. Mind does not feel. Hmm…I wonder if that’s why mental health is so complicated. Sigh 😔

I have definitely tuned more into the signals my body emits in the last year. And now I need to watch my mind and train it to ignore and divest from energy sucking situations.

Food and friends

Joy is cooking a meal for people you love to hangout with. Cooked up a storm last night and some this morning. Enjoyed a wonderful afternoon chatting about literally everything under the sun. There are few people who can cover a broad range of topics and yet bring out perspectives that are deep and insightful. Our friend is one of such people. Both Agam and I feel refreshed in his company. If only he lived closer so we could hangout more often.

In the evening we found out that Tara’s best friend is moving to Virginia after the school year wraps up in June. We are all very sad. And especially Tara. Although she is good at hiding it. And I worry that she learnt that too quickly. I guess it’s part of growing up in Bay Area. A few of Tara’s friends and our friends have relocated in the last six years. And it hurts each time. Noah and Tara are very close. And they’ve supported each other through pre school and now in Kindergarten. I cannot believe their companionship was so short lived. For it has the strength to last a long long time. And perhaps it will. Virtually.

I don’t like it when friends move away. I find it hard when they switch teams at work. I hope Tara will grow a stronger muscle in this area. I’ve lost a few friends to distance over the years. But many have stayed on to be part of my life, irrespective of where they live and how many times a year we speak to each other. Just a lot for a six year old to digest. But such is life.

And that’s why you cherish your friends when they are closer to you. Because who knows where the winds take us some day. We enjoyed a sweet potato Chaat, and paneer tikka , amongst other things. Made with love and from scratch 🙂

Sleep per chance to dream

Four weary feet, and two warm hearts, entered a coffee shop in the middle of nowhere, and sat the last table in the row. Soaking sunshine and each other’s warmth, the afternoon melted into the evening. It was time to walk back home.

I slept in the afternoon for two hours. All that while the sun was right on my face, varying in angle every 15 minutes by a degree. It felt like I was in a sauna, and I fell asleep so deep to even dream. The dream narrated above, is still so clear in my mind.

My busy mind takes a long time to unwind. That’s why Agam has to put me to sleep every night. But on weekends, it’s a treat to sleep in sunshine. Being a morning worm, sleeping in on weekends is not my cup of tea (coffee).

The after effect of my sleep in the middle of the day – a fabulous run outdoors. 60 minutes of screen less outdoor time. And a fresh mind that can keep running for a few hours 🙂

A friend is coming over for lunch tomorrow 🙂 lots of cooking and chopping to do and may be we can start Dark tonight.


An outdoor run, without a mask, after a year. It felt so good. A day to remember. And a wonderful run to commemorate the moment we started to breathe again. My legs will be soar tonight. It’s so different to run outdoors vs the treadmill. The impact on your body is so much higher. The thrust needs to be so much steadier. I’ve had 2 straight months of practice to build the stamina. And now it’s time to hit the road… not just figuratively, but quite literally.

My guilty pleasure is Bollywood songs in my ears, spring breeze in my face, and speed. Ah so amazing! May there be more of such days! Many many many more 🙂

Tears of joy

Agam and I went out for lunch today. Nothing special , just the regular La Boulanger. But it was an epic moment. In room dining has opened up at 25% capacity. We didn’t know and didn’t feel like eating inside since the point was the good weather. But I saw people sitting in a restaurant after a year. And I started to cry seeing that.

I rushed outside, not wanting to show my emotions. And could not stop weeping. Strange. Who did I become in the last 12 months?

And then I picked up my coffee at 1oz and we sat in the sun and enjoyed our sandwiches. Just the two of us. Joy.

JLT Wednesday

Bright day; positive vibes.

Wrapped up work and cooked up a storm. Penne pasta with pesto, roasted asparagus and a caprese with spinach salad. So fun and joyful.

I’m so excited about this Friday. My team is coming home. Some of us are meeting after a year. A long and painful year. I’m excited like a toddler waiting for a play date. Hope the weather cooperates and we can do an outdoor fun hangout. Like a real one. Not a virtual one.

We all painted with water colors today. A homesite as it is called. It was so much fun and so good to step away from the inbox and just play. Now I have a problem following instructions. So I made my own thing. I made three little cards. One I gave to Tara, one to Agam, and one I gave to me. A little bit of self love doesn’t hurt. Does it?

I feel like opening a bottle of wine and enjoy with this sumptuous meal. But it’s lent. And I am off sweets and desserts until April 7. Discipline.

tea light candle

A ray of light manifesting itself into pockets of hope

When the power goes out I turn into Meena Kumari of Pakeezah, going around the house turning on candles. Can’t even begin to explain the joy I derive from the act of lighting candles. Go figure. And then by the time I am done, the light comes back. Total anti climax.

This lamp was hiding in the corner and got left behind. I was mesmerized by the multiplier effect it is bringing to the little tea light candle. Much like people in our lives. They can take an idea, an inspiration, an insight and apply their lens and add dimensions to it beyond what one can even imagine. And all it took was a tea light candle. May I always be the tea light candle no matter what I do 🙂

Simple and clear

Many years ago, a little shivi found a lot of joy and amusement in wearing her Daddy’s slippers and walking awkwardly in them, making a ruckus in the house, while everyone was yelling at her to take off those slippers and wear her own. She didn’t listen. She wore those oversized slippers and flipped flapped her way around the house. Looking around and making sure everyone was watching.

Now many years since, a little Tara wears her mommies slippers and walks around in the house, making a scene and catching attention. It’s all so normal for me. But Agam cannot understand what’s the fun in wearing oversized slippers. Eldest in the house, he didn’t have to grab attention. So he doesn’t quite relate to what Tara’s doing.

I have often said that Tara is so much of that second child that we don’t quite see the need for another. She has none of the first child sobriety. She is a don of the house. And runs it’s as per her will. And I don’t want her to change a tiny bit. I will do whatever I can in my power to keep this child just like this. I know it will hurt me someday. But it will make her a woman of will and grace. And that is a powerful combination to carry. Or so I hope.

I ground my last batch of Java Kai last weekend and shockingly enough, I’ve received a new pack. Along with the delicious smelling and tasting coffee ground with cinnamon. I blend the cinnamon coffee with whatever we are brewing for the week, and it adds a tinge of flavor to our morning coffee. The goodie pack I received today is courtesy a co-worker friend who shares my love for Hawaii, and Kauai in particular. I don’t even know how to thank him for his generosity. But the goodie pack made me so happy 😀

We enjoyed the afternoon sun and a delicious lunch at Amber after a year. It was so nice to be back in the patio where we have celebrated so many occasions. One day, the world will go back to normal and we will be able to enjoy the company of friends in patios again! Lunch was followed by a sunny walk and a coffee trip to Blue Bottle.

As I stood in the sun sipping my coffee, I realized that there is joy and peace in knowing exactly what you want. Like I knew I wanted to be in the sun and I wanted my blue bottle cappuccino. Simple, and clear. Wish everything in life was simple, and clear. Like this b/w that we clicked today in the Amber patio. Simply in love, clearly in love.

Fear, again!

It turned out to be one of those weeks that makes you want to tune into a nonsensical Bollywood chick flick just to forget all that happens around you. And dive into some fantasy world that has no connection to the real one. And I’d like to take my family with me to that world, please.

Usually I like to write to sort my thoughts. But these thoughts are so meaningless that it’s a waste to even sort them. Toss them in trash.

Also the ones that needed to be sorted were already discussed with Agam. I find myself hearing all those things I was telling him not so long ago. Well the good thing is I am getting some wise advice reflected back at me 🤣

TLDR of my crisis is – I need to withhold and withdraw my stake in the whole career game. I take it way too seriously, for someone who does not know what a win looks like. Because what’s winning for others is losing to me. And I don’t know what I want from it. But whatever it is should be worth all the investment I put in. But I don’t know what it is. It’s not money, and not progression. And since I am increasingly becoming aware about the lack of clarity of that goal, it bothers me endlessly.

It’s almost like what are you running for? Don’t know. Then stop running. But I don’t know how to walk. But have you tried? No, I am afraid of it.

Fear! Once again! The root cause of all problems is always one – fear! I need to overcome my fear of being an insignificant part of a big system.