Language

Reading Murakami feels like reading my thoughts. The ones that’s I don’t like to say aloud, and sometimes I am even afraid to put into words and write them here. Usually, I read his novels very fast, and his short stories very slowly. I savor every word, go back and read each sentence that resonates with me, a number of times. And then I finally finish the story, I never read two in one sitting. His characters stay with me for hours and days, and sometimes years.

I love his works so much that I often worry about how little there is to read from him, after he is gone. I want him to keep writing more and more so we have piles and piles of his books to go through. Imagine loving something so much. I’m sounding quite crazy already.

But such are the relationships we weave with words. Words that describe how we think and feel. That bring to life our fears and our joys. That connect us with memories, people, and dreams. Imagine what we would be, had we not discovered language.

Time to sleep.

And it’s a wrap!

And we are back home 🏠! After a drive along the coast that felt shorter than it seemed on google maps when we were getting started. A few pit stops along the way at Cafe Aquatica and Spud Point Crab Company in Bodega Bay, and lots of wild flowers in full bloom made the extra miles worthwhile.

And that was a wrap for our much needed, and super relaxing spring break. I can get used to these week long breaks 🙂 I plan to take them every year with Tara 🙂

Travel makes us think big and broad. It opens up our horizons. We expand our views and absorb more of the untold, and the unknown and that gives us the ability to comprehend the world better, connect more dots, and sometimes simply take a break. I’m glad we took the time to decompress, soak in the ocean air, and explore the small and delightful town of Mendocino! On to more adventures, post vaccine.

Came home to a surprise! I had pre ordered Murakami’s latest short stories back in October last year. And here it was – waiting for me at the door step 🙂 When it rains it pours – I have 4 books to read – and all the time in the world. I am beginning to practice the mindset of “in abundance” instead of “in scarcity”. 😝

Meanwhile – my favorite character from the Crown has died. Now, I don’t know Prince Philip and his character in reality. But if he was anywhere close to his portrayal in the series The Crown, then the monarchy lost a sane head of the family. He was 99! There is no reason one should live that long. Unless of course they are the royals. And that he was. Whatever that means in today’s context. Now the world will indulge in more drama and the royals will have their moment of attention, for no good reason. But kudos to a man who respects his wife’s sense of duty, and ushers her and his family from one storm to another. A man who realized he will always be in the backdrop, and yet is the advisor to the queen. He would have made a good chief of staff – and that he was for the royal family!

Small towns and big hearts

And after a lil occupied morning with puzzles, connect 4 and some work mingled with it, today we ventured out to Fort Bragg. A tiny little town just 10miles north of Mendocino. Nothing spectacular about it. Just a simple and small town with a Safeway, a Subway, and a Starbucks. But I was sure to do my research and we found the Noyo Headlands hike along the Glass beach, which was a short 1.5 mile walk, along the cliffs hugging the shore. (Solnit makes me poetic).

Since we had a light lunch we were in the mood for some fresh seafood and went down the Noyo River at the Noyo Fish company, for some chowder, fish tacos and fried fish and shrimp. Delicious and fresh fish, and some lip smacking sauces.

We drove back to Mendocino for some water and other sundry items and decided to grab coffee at Frankie’s and headed to the headlands park. Gorgeous sun and wild flowers, with Tara’s quirks and our jabs. A perfect evening stroll that raised just enough appetite for some dessert. A bread pudding and flan to go and we were done for the day.

Back at the room, we played a game of Labyrinth that I won (or that’s what I remember). There was brandy on the pudding and some wine to pair it with 😉

My highlight of the day was completing a puzzle with Tara. Oh and a close second was enjoying Anne of Green Gables with her on the patio, in the sun.

Let the good times roll

Strangers are back 💗

Today’s adventure was Russian Gulch State Park – Headlands Trail to the sink hole and back with gorgeous views of the Mendocino coastline and the bridge along the way. Followed by a sumptuous meal at Mendocino Cafe with all the wine in the world and a delicious Kahlua Flan.

The morning was less adventurous with Agam working and Tara and I entertaining each other and ourselves from time to time. We played Connect, read Anne of Green Gables, sat outside in the sun, and then enjoyed activity books.

In the afternoon we did the bookstores and toy shop tour. I loved “Out of this world”, and the Gallery bookshop. The Village Toystore was only doing window buying, which to me was quite annoying. We all loved the Gallery bookshop since there was something for each of us there. I am so ashamed of buying a third book in less than a week, but Rebecca Solnit’s latest collection of essays is so worth a splurge. Now Solnit is the Joan Didion of my generation and I particularly relate to her writing. She is quite the Feminist and although I don’t relate to that extreme, her feminism is more poetic and hence more palatable, for me. I’ve been scanning her essays on the New Yorker for a while now, so it was only natural that she should be brought home. [Sometimes I feel I can justify murder]

The most wonderful part of the day was our delightful conversations with strangers. I missed that so much during the lockdown. It filled my heart full with joy hearing from the ladies from Santa Cruz and San Francisco, and the couple from Petaluma that has just returned from their decade in Asia. Oh my strangers, I’ve missed you so much.

Tara won again and took us to the beach in 53 degrees weather. The pictures are so dramatic. And so was the scene. It’s quite amazing how at six she has an agenda of her own, and an opinion of her own in all matters of the family. I love to detest it. 💕

I don’t know what’s the plan for tomorrow. And it’s just better that way 😉

But I did buy a cap and it’s keeping me warm, or maybe it is the wine, that was keeping me warm. But whatever it was the two go well together

Mendocino log

We reached Mendocino around 6:00pm last night. Dropped off our bags, freshened up at the room after our drive through the wine country and a pit stop in Healdsburg for Pizzando (most delicious gluten free pizzas), and coffee. We then drove to Harvest Market in Mendocino for water, milk, and a “wine opener” (we take our liquids very seriously no matter where we go). And then enjoyed a sunset stroll in the area. Ended the evening at Mendocino Cafe where a cup of chowder and fresh mahi mahi were enough to satiate. Back at the room, Milky Way awaited with its full expanse and grandeur. Hit snooze after a glass of win, and a not so great book.

Today we started with a slow morning with coffee and games, followed by a slow paced 4mile hike in Van Damme State Park; the Fern Canyon Trail (well half of that 8.4mile loop). Followed by a sprint to Trilium for lunch, a walk around town looking for Tara’s leggings, and a splurge at the shop; a strong cappuccino at Garden Bakery, and back to Heritage House by 5:00pm. A quick break and then a hike down to the dark gulch beach and aimless stroll around the property. A slow paced evening watching the sunset from the deck, wine, light microwave dinners and some more wine. A game of cards, a few stories, and snooze.

I’m writing our itinerary since Agam reminded me that I need to get back to travel writing. I looked up my travelogue from our first trip to Mendocino 10 years ago, in preparation of this trip. And I realized how travel changes with kids. So perhaps if I remember what we did on this trip, it might someday help someone else considering a trip to Mendocino to plan their itinerary 🙂

Now tomorrow, Agam is working and Tara and I are vacationing. So we plan to drag him out for lunch at noon, hangout at the property and run up and down in the meadows. Read books, enjoy activities, listen to music, and spend a lot of sun time on the deck!

Haiku #22

Looking for answers /
amongst a few million stars /
under the MilkyWay

We saw the Milky Way from our balcony and reminisced the evening in Kauai in 2019 when we all last saw it together 🙂

This strange old town of Mendocino is the same even after a decade passed by.

Let’s wake up to this view for a few mornings, shall we?!

Spring break

Our backyard project kicked off yesterday. And today we are driving to Mendocino for the week. Spring break!! Funny enough I am standing in line to get into Trader Joe’s. A quick snack run before we hit the road. The line is long and the sun is a delight.

My backyard project was in the works since I got the itch of how much of the yard is covered by boxed greens and how little flowers we have. And also the space wasted as a result of the landscape style. Also it’s not our style. I’d rather have more hard paved areas for us to socialize and Tara to play. As much as I love the greens. I think we have better use for that space. It’s my annual project and I am beyond excited to have met Jesus who is helping us with the project. He is passionate about gardens and knows just enough to make it work.

Ah just passed by some Tulips. Too sad can’t pick them up today.

Yesterday was the worst day of allergies for me. No amount of spray was helpful. With the backyard work in full swing and some light wind, I was in for a bad time. So I stayed indoors and felt lost my sick all day. So strange how your body develops reactions to things that it had ignored all this while. I am very anxious about these allergies and they are definitely posing a challenge in my spirits and activities this spring. Sigh!

Alright time to enter Disney Land (aka TJs) and get lost in the charm of this store that I had almost forgotten with us ordering groceries online since 2017 now.

Things we get used to – like ordering groceries online and using a Zyrtec and a nasal spray every day. We are definitely one resilient race 🙂

I plan to do a bunch of things in next five days – play a lot with Tara, read a Anne of Green Gables with her, study a bit of system design, and think and write a lot. Of course watch sunsets, take long walks, sit and watch the waves, and find the best restaurants in the area. Off we go!

Milestones

This coming week I will complete six years at Google, and 15 years as a working professional. I admit time just flew by.

When I look back, I recall a young woman who took herself too seriously in her earlier years, but has become quite a clown lately. I have learnt to laugh at myself, and deal with my imperfections over the years. In these 15 years I spent six years trying to chase a dream, achieved it, and then crushed it myself. I have grown from an IC to a multiplier. I have become more entrenched in my principles, and have led with courage, and humility. I continue to do the right thing and prioritize my convictions over my conveniences.

It’s been a good run. And the highlight of these fifteen years have been the people I met, learnt from, and admired. I’ve run into one not so great manager but even they supported me upwards in my trajectory, and two difficult team mates. Three bad apples in 15 years. I should not jinx myself now. I was rewarded in time, and encouraged to expand my horizons. I never had to ask for a job, or a raise, or a promotion. I took what was given, and I was always grateful for it. I never took a sick day just because I didn’t feel like going to work. And I exhausted all my PTO each year and even went negative.

I have touched people’s lives, experienced moments of awe, humility, and vulnerability. I’ve seen people get married, have kids, send kids to college, and attended retirement parties and funerals. I was loved, and I loved back. I was cared for, and I cared back.

I’ve had everything in the last fifteen years that one can ask for from employment. Just that in last few years I always put myself and my wants on the back burner, and did what was right, for the role, the team, the employer. I benefited. But I am not fulfilled.

I dealt with this fulfillment gap my making short term goals. They create a sense of purpose, and drive and are very rewarding in terms of day to day motivation. But the steam sizzles out eventually. A small team becomes big, or the mission is achieved, or simply said I can do the work in my sleep.

I don’t regret the approach I’ve taken over the last six years to bridge the gap between what makes me happy, and what is my true potential. I challenge roles and redefine them. But this game is tiresome. It is effective, but not efficient.

I’ve learnt that in life not all your portfolios are balanced at all times. But I am getting close to the time when I will need to answer the question – what do I want to do in the next 20 years?

15 years ago I wanted to work for Google. I tried and failed many times. But I got here eventually. On the way I found another purpose, and 10 years ago I wanted to work with engineering teams to build products that solve problems. I achieved that too and aced the role. It was all good, until six years ago, I needed to find a job close to home. And ever since I pivoted from “wants” to “needs”, I lost my purpose.

I want to go back to wanting. But that road back is very long, and hard and will require a lot of conviction. It is so convenient to just keep meeting my needs. How will I summon that conviction? What price am I willing to pay for it? And how will I evaluate if I am making the right call? I have no answers. I know if I don’t try to answer these questions I will not be able to see myself eye to eye in the mirror. I want to challenge myself, and I know I will fail a lot early on, but just like I was comfortable failing while I was chasing my wants. I want to bring back that comfort in failing. Because I have 20 years ahead of me to succeed eventually.

I didn’t plan to write any of this. It all just flowed while I sat waiting for the milk to boil for my yogurt. I want to go back in my skin. The girl who took herself too seriously wants to pursue some serious goals once again. Let’s see where she goes. She has humor and grit and her convictions by her side. And we all know she is not afraid of making some questionable decisions – switching majors in college a week after coming to US, and rejecting an offer from Motorola because consulting sounded more like her game (especially at a 30% lower pay), and more recently quitting her dream job to raise a kid.

No rush. Just some resolves. And some wants revisited….

Dried Sage and People

Feeling pretty dry inside. Like the pen doesn’t have ink. No haikus come to mind either. It’s a lull before the storm feeling. I don’t want storms. I just want the lull 😂 But I know me. And my tenacity, and my inability to see the straight road. I like my unexplored pathways. I don’t know if it’s a choice anymore.

We are heading to Mendocino after ten years. Hmm…! It does seem much more recent than that. We stayed at the Inn at the SchoolHouse creek. It was a delightful bed and breakfast. Our cottage was named Sage. Wow our life was so different ten year ago.

Back to this evening….

As I made dinner – delectable chicken and vegetables with a ginger garlic gravy (indo chinese style), I was reflecting on my day. It was a mixed bag, but one thing was certain. I was listening and talking to some wonderful people. People I’d go out for coffee with after a day of work. This is my litmus test of a team, an org, a company. And I’ve been lucky.

Some days you only get that – people. And some days they are enough. And then there are days when you ask yourself if they are enough! And those days are the hard ones.

Don’t know why I am so dry. May be I miss wine. 🤔 April 7 – lent is over. Let’s see if that helps 😝

Self 💕

Once upon a spring morning 03/27/2021
Once upon a spring morning 03/27/2007

A fantabulous 45min run this morning, holi, brunch at Rooh with friends, blue bottle coffee, and a sunny day 🙂 #goodday

But why B&W – coz I have a b/w pic from 14 years ago, clicked on 03/27/2007 from when I was in NY that showed up in my memories. And when I compare the two, I can see the dark circles, the chubby cheeks, but the same smile 🙂

On this spring morning in 2007, I was on my way to Long Island for a solo adventure. A day trip to Baldwin beach. Good times …

A few of my favorite things

Google gave a day off. I guess they realized that we are all burning out. Which we are. I am. I don’t know how I will maintain this productivity when life goes back to normal. I for one definitely believe in the “in the office” vibes. I work for google because of the people. And behind those GvC screens the humanity is all lost. I want to meet people again. I want to go for walks with them, again. But we have sometime to figure that out.

Here’s what I did on my day off –

Woke up as normal. Dropped Tara to school and went for a drive, and then to Manresa for coffee. Drove to shoreline and sat by the lake for an hour, listening to birds. Took a short walk there. Came back home, cleaned the house a bit, spent an hour in the yard tending to my little succulents. Then I studied a bit and worked a bit, and sat in my sunshine corner and enjoyed a cat nap. Soon it was time to pick up Tara. We enjoyed popsicles and a snack in the sun and she played around while I took a late shower. Then we walked to downtown and enjoyed some time at the bookshop, bought a book, bought some dinner, and came back home. Enjoyed dinner and then Bingo night with the school community. We didn’t win a single game.

So it was a good day full of favorite things – coffee, walks, water/lake, nature, books, and Tara 🙂 The day went by rather quickly. But it was a much needed break from the 12 hour workday which has become a norm these days.

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 😉 ]