About shivam04

Unexplained phenomenon

Sky is pink

For some reason I decided to watch Sky is Pink. Depressing, and too long. Waste of my time. It wasn’t the only thing I did for myself today that was a waste of time. I had a terrible sprain in my neck today. I could barely move my neck and was in utter useless state all morning. To my surprise I even found a massage appointment for 30min at lunch. How proud I was of actually taking the time to care for myself. But – that was also useless. Waste of 30min of time and massage points. The sprain did not get better and except for oodles of cream on my neck and hair, nothing good came out of that massage.

As I was typing this Bua sent me a message to share that she has started having mental conversations with me. And I kid you not. I have too. I was imaging what I want to do with my nieces when I am with them, while I was driving to work. I need to catch up on their almost teenage life. It brought tears to my eyes thinking of my time with them. And also seeing Bua’s cute message. Hahah I am tearing up just thinking of the memories to be made 🙂

There is just so much to wrap up before our flight next Wednesday. I really need this break. I need a reset. Agam is right , I fill my empty hours with work. I need to get better at it. I will.

Take the time, eat the cake

After work tonight, I went to Books Inc. to buy holiday gifts for my team. The gift wrapping was going to take some time so the gift wrapper told me to come back in 20min. At first I decided to sit in the bookshop and catch up on my email. But then I was reminded of an old mentor friend who used to tell me to take the time and eat the cake.

So I went next door to Paris Baguette and ordered myself a delicious strawberry cream cake. They make the best cream cake possible. Light on sugar, soft as sponge and delicious cream with fresh strawberries. At first I felt so stupid ordering myself a piece of cake and sitting by myself in a corner. But then I decided it’s been quite a year in so many respects. Why don’t I just take the time and eat the cake. And listen to holiday songs while I do that.

So I did just that and celebrated me. I am always disappointed with myself , but today I just reveled in the force that’s within me that keeps pushing despite my flaws. I don’t believe in perfection anyway. So here I was enjoying this broken and messy me 🙂

There is a reason for my despondence. I met Rosie after three years. She still works at FRC as a barista. She seemed happy. She made me realize how some people will be happy just where they are. And there are those like me who hop and jump and skip and run, chasing that very happiness.

To each their own. I am going to go back to my hop and skip and jump and run, year after year. But, at least I took the time to eat the cake today.

winter chai

Oh what a nice and mild hangover. Perfect for a cup of ginger elaichi chai. I even had company for my tea today. My helping lady, Durga. I should write about Durga some time. She is quite an accomplished woman from Nepal, who loves to travel and learn new things. She lives with her son in Mountain View and often does helping jobs for parents in the MTV area. She helps us every weekend with a few chores – folding laundry, chopping veggies, ironing clothes, and some times setting cupboards. She is a delightful helper. She and I giggle our way through the weekend chores, with Tara running around us. Durga used to supervise construction projects in Nepal, and her drive in life is very inspiring. I love hanging out with her on Saturday mornings.

Unlike my other helping lady, Durga has no interest in cooking. So we have no conflict of interest. Sad story – my other helping lady left us since she did not see any point in coming all the way from Santa Clara to chop veggies. She loved to cook and she did not find much joy in just chopping. Now me and my kitchen are in a bit of very cozy relationship that I don’t like to share. So we parted ways with the other helper. She took very good care of us when Agam had his accident, and if I ever get to a point where I am willing to share my kitchen with someone, I’d hire her back. And I know she will come.

So on to the chai. Or rather the hangover. There were a few rounds of old fashioned and a lot of crazy dancing and giggles and chit chat at the holiday party last night. It is so cute to see everyone dress up so well and look all gorgeous and handsome for that one evening. And then we are all back to our hoodies and sneakers, and polos and ponchos the very next day. 😀 The party was awesome. Agam and I had a blast on the dance floor. And I managed it with the saree. Oh yes, the saree was quite a highlight. I had strangers come to me and say they thought it was a great idea to wear a saree to the party, and that I was seemingly quite comfortable carrying it. Agam of course was shy and not happy to be the odd one out. But I loved the fact that one of my sarees saw the light of the day (rather night).

On our way back we reminisced all the Google Holiday parties we have attended over the years. And realized this was definitely one of the most memorable one. Agam always remembers the Salesforce Holiday Party in 2013 at the California Academy of Sciences, where we ate cheesecake with Penguins. That was a blast!

When we got back to Tech Corners, we got nostalgic looking at the rows of Google bikes parked close to the bus stop. I learnt how to ride a bike on one of those bikes, in one of the main campus parking lots. In the last decade, we have had few constants, Google has been one of them. We both owe our last decade’s success to Google – the people and it’s growth. It has nurtured us and helped us grow professionally, and personally, as individuals and as parents. It has given us the comfort of being so close to Tara’s day care and have a schedule that flexes to our needs as parents.

I hardly get attached to organizations. I have a consultant blood that runs in me. But yesterday I felt this silly nostalgia. Just like when I left NY, I was sure it was always going to be my favorite city for life, when I left Salesforce, and the circumstances I left in, made me believe that I won’t ever find a home like it ever again. Both those assumptions have bee proven wrong. I love my small town of Mountain View, and I also love Google. The only difference is that I loved what Salesforce was about, the domain, the drive, the aggression, the pace. And I love for Google for the people. As I introduced Agam to a lot of co-workers, leads, and friends, I shared with him what I am grateful for, in my relationships with these people. It was a moment of reflection and gratitude. Some I was comfortable sharing out loud, and some that will likely stay unspoken.

I absolutely love this time of the year. In anticipation of this, the entire year runs by so quickly. Just like 2019 did. 15 days to NYE!

Soup and nuts

Countdown has started.. 10 days to Christmas and kids going home. Can’t wait to spend time with the family. Even though it looks like just 10 days there is so much to do. It drives me insane just thinking about this checklist.

Today we plan to go for Google holiday party. I haven’t attended a holiday party as an employee yet. Yep it’s been almost 5 years. We were busy raising Tara or screwing up on getting the wrist band in time (like last year). Of course it is different for Agam to go as a guest. We used to attend all holiday parties for both Google and Salesforce before we had Tara. And I always found the Google Eng holiday parties rather boring. Salesforce surely knew how to throw a better party back then 😉 Let’s see how this one goes.

We’ve been busy sorting out Tara’s school options. And it’s a darn challenge. It’s as challenging as buying a house. Of course our bet on Mountain View hasn’t quite panned out as we expected, in terms of the school system. And hence we are back to public vs private debate. And in that too there are so many options to evaluate. I don’t like to over complicate choices. But this one is hard to untangle. I am sure every parent thinks their child is unique and needs a special environment for their child to thrive. We are no different. I was fortunate to go to a very different and refreshing school system back in my old little town of Saharanpur. And my memories from that time are precious and plenty. I’d like Tara to have that kind of foundation that I got. I was just lucky. But for Tara we need to make a deliberate attempt at finding a good fit for her. I am sure we will make the right decision in the end and if we don’t we can always switch school mid way. Sigh!

I went for a run that became a run – sprint – walk activity. Weather was brutal but I had fun. Wanted to stop by 1oz to get a nice Gibraltar and then I figured I should make one at home. So I trotted back home. Didn’t get to the Gibraltar since French toast was on the menu. And my Tara gets to make all sorts of wishes today because Mama and Dada are going to leave her with a babysitter. Phew! She has already added 1 episode of a TV show to the agenda. Her teacher from school will be with her tonight. Now these two weren’t the best of friends back when Tara was in her class. But Tara knows she needs to just eat her dinner and sleep 😉

This appeared today morning. I hadn’t checked out the garden in a while. A delightful surprise. An innocent one to that.

Of whims and fancies

I had a whimsical start to the day. Nothing gives me more joy than a 1:1 walk on a crisp and lovely winter morning. It was a perfect way to start the week and my day. My buddy D and I enjoyed a brisk walk that left us sweaty and exhausted. But it was fun, and it was brrrr cold. My cashmere poncho was definitely not enough, but the walking generated enough heat. Now I hope I don’t fall sick 😦

D and I are best-work-friends. We worked together for a short period of time but we know just enough about each other’s world that we can be good advisors to each other. D helped me a lot when I was struggling with my professional lows earlier this year. No one will believe what an empathetic fuzzy bear he can be. I do and I am spoilt.

I have him and my girl gang, my peers and my bosses, and my team. I am spoilt for choices when it comes to having a strong support system at work.

My girl gang is just the three of us who worked on my old team. We make up a rather small but mighty ra ra club. I discuss all my highs and lows with them. And they do too. We love this little nook of ours where we talk about everything – unfiltered. Whether it is a nasty meeting or one of those moments when you feel like the only woman in a sea of men, we come to each other’s rescue and offer solutions. We also sing praises for each other. Mostly V. I am not blessed with that skill. Singing praises does not come naturally to me.

Support systems are very critical to my work life. As a manager and lead you go through so many ups and downs and blows and battles, that you want someone to share your war stories with. Someone to heal those bruises and comfort your ego once in a while. My support system rocks. It is diverse across genders, roles, experience and opinions. I know that I can lean on them. 😊 I hope they all feel the same way too!

I am exceptionally chatty today.. but let the good times roll.

Today, I had a nice time coaching someone about how to prioritize his opportunities . I realized then how love to see people grow. From what they are to what they can be. Often times I cross the line. People don’t always wants that push. But I feel so disheartened seeing potential go waste. So I do my bit. I have a few successes so far. Too few to count, but I know I helped those people look beyond what they thought they were capable of.

The person I am coaching was on the verge of quitting. And I offered him three alternatives. He took the weekend to think and today we sat down to evaluate his options and reach a decision. He made a good decision. And I planted another sapling that will one day become a tree. I know that this tree will not give me any shade. But in my heart I will know that this tree was once a sapling that needed a little help and a little nudge and I had some tiny role to play in it. In fact I was telling someone last week that although I am not CEO material. I am definitely a CHO material – chief happiness officer. I also think it’s a more worthy goal to have. Just my 2 cents for myself.

While we are still rolling …Someday I’d like to work for the Aspen Institute. Yep. That some day is far away. But I know that in some way, I want to be associated with that organization. After working for Google, other tech firms don’t quite make much sense. So once I am finally bored with my job, (note that I usually don’t let that day come so easily. I’ve never quit a job because it was boring. I make it what I want to do and it stays intriguing), one day when I am done playing program manager or whatever it is that I do, I will go work voluntarily for the Aspen Institute. Of course I will be 55 then and not have any mortgage to pay and hopefully Tara will be a Fulbright Scholar …. alright let’s stop here 😉 whims and fancies is the theme for the day. But hey – you got to dream only then they will come true.

On that note I met someone yesterday who said that I should quit my full time job and become a full time blogger and write till it becomes so natural for me that I can keep writing for good. Nice idea. But not practical. May be I can be a full time blogger when I go work for the Aspen Institute.

I told ya’ll – my day was whimsical. It’s going to be that kind of a week. 🙂

joy.run.home

Winter sunshine plays hide and seek, the cold wind brushes cheek to cheek. I come out to play and run, and this world becomes so much fun!

Yes I am back to running – last week started well but a mid week burnout led to bad results. But I am back at it this morning. The gush of cold air in my ears and the warmth of my own body are two of my motivations. The wind is like a cleaner. Like a vacuum cleaner. It cleans the cobwebs of my mind.

As the knees and the shoulders become loose and the legs find their rhythm it’s like observing a fine piece of machinery in motion. The warmth it generates is very purifying. Running to me is like a dip in the Ganges.

Why I don’t do it often is a mystery to me. I wish running was like writing so I can fit it in whenever I want. But I need the right shoes and the right leggings —- you get the point.

On that note I was feeling very tired at work yesterday. I don’t know what it was but the drill of meeting to meeting was getting a bit tiring. So I wanted to go out and take a walk for 15min to go get some fresh air. As impossible as that looked based on my calendar, it turned out just fine. A meeting ended early, and I could step out and inhale some fresh air. (It was such a joyful walk. I hope no one noticed when I kicked my feet in air celebrating a little achievement)

On the personal front, Project Timtim is about to begin. Tim Tim is how the stars shine and that’s how I feel Tara’s presence in my life. So what better name for her sixth birthday project than – Project Timtim. I want to complete it before it’s time for JLIT next year.

In another 2 weeks I will be reflecting on the year that went by, right before we take the winter break and head home for ten days of family time. I started this tradition four years ago when one fine Christmas morning I felt an urge to go home just like everyone else was doing around me. And I asked myself – why not? I know it’s just 10 days. But it’s 10 days every year. I know flights are expensive, but if I cannot spend on this then what can I spend on? So those were simple questions to answer and we got into a habit. I want to keep this habit going for as long as we can. Our families look forward to it and so do we. And just like everyone else we also go home in December 🙂 I am not the fish that swims in the direction of the current. But in December this fish likes to go home, just like everyone does.

I wonder when US will be home for me. Or will it ever be?!

let's teach how to IP

I am thinking of teaching a few instant pot cooking classes for my friends. I have convinced them that it makes life a lot simpler, and hence they are onboard with the idea. But now the tough part – drive adoption. Let’s make it clear. I get nothing from Instant Pot for doing this. I like to simplify tasks – all sorts of them. And Instant Pot is my simplification mechanism for cooking. So is, my air fryer, vitamix and rotimatic. But IP gets to rule them all. It really is a better way to manage your cooking.

Anyways so as I was looking into how to go about this new project. I found out that AirBnB offers a good platform for this. I can out up my class as an ‘experience’, cook and then eat what you cooked… you get the point. Now I don’t have a lot of time on hand to go into this type of a project. But I thought it was a cool idea.

Anyways, I plan to kick off my first batch of ‘IP chefs in training’ next week with a few close friends. Let’s see how it goes. Best part, it does not have to go anywhere. If it simplifies their daily cooking tasks, I’d have met my purpose 🙂

Yesterday I made lemon rice in the IP. It turned out fine. I also really liked the Quinoa Upma that I tried the other day. I need to write that recipe so I don’t forget it. Of course my favorite party is the no touch pasta that take no supervision from me to cook. I love IP, and it has definitely made me an efficient cook. Let’s spread the love.