Should You Expect Privacy in Public Spaces? #MondayMusings

Picture this…

After a tiring day at work with a splitting headache, you board the evening train to go back home, to find your elderly co-passenger listening to some bhajans on his phone at a decent volume. You look at the phone and will it to stop, but alas it keeps playing mata ke bhajans with the same gusto. You are tempted to ask the ‘Uncle ji’ to lower the volume or use ear-phones but his two smart and extra caring sons stop you from taking that ‘mean’ step. The thing is that the old man is not well and his sons are very attentive to his needs and that touches you. Also, one of the sons has helped you with your luggage, so you are kind of indebted. So, you refrain from doing  anything and just bear the annoying music while the pain in your head flashes hard and hot.

Thankfully, the music stops after an hour or so and everybody goes off to sleep. You toss and turn for a major part of the night because your date with the headache is still not over. You sleep for a while and are woken up rudely by the same bhajans of last night. You look at your phone clock and rub your eyes and look at it again. You begin to have trust issues with your phone so you look outside the window to confirm. It’s pitch dark outside and you kind of apologize to your phone and believe that it had shown the right time. It is the ungodly hour of 4.30 am!

You look around with disbelief. Not a single person in your vision area has even turned and everybody is sleeping peacefully. You try to stare in the old man’s direction, but he is busy staring at his phone screen.

Your brain is directing you to speak up and ask him to stop playing the bhajans but your voice refuses to cooperate. You resign yourself to this irritating situation and take out your Kindle to read. But the words do not register as a throbbing headache is developing beneath your temples.

When you reach home early morning, you fume and fret and pour out all your frustration and anger at the events of last night and early morning at your unsuspecting and sleepy husband. You make him listen to the piece of music that you had recorded on your phone.

Your husband, the good man that he is, makes appropriate noises and tries to smoothen your ruffled feathers but not before saying, ‘Your threshold of patience is pretty low.”

Now, I do not agree with his remark completely. But I’d like to ask you that when in a public space, is asking someone to turn their music down a bad idea? Is it ok for people to play virtual games on their devices with game noises kept on? Is it alright for people to play videos on their phones without using the earphones? Should you be listening to halfalogues of people making long personal calls when at a dinner table with friends or in a cinema? Or listening to people taking calls on speakerphone?

I know that these days mobile devices rule our lives but should that let us forget some basic aspects of decency and manners? I believe, playing music or talking loudly shows a certain selfishness and disregard for public spaces. It is being indifferent to the discomfort of people around you. I somehow feel that all this loud music /talks is encroaching your private space in public and it is pretty annoying, irritating and distracting.

Should you expect privacy in public spaces? What do you think?

Linking this to #MondayMusings

Mondaymusings

What Happens When You’re Married for 20 Years!

This day, 20 years ago, KG and I, tied the proverbial knot. OMG! We have been married for 20 years!! 20 YEARS!?!ShowImage

No, I am not going to say, “It was just yesterday or that I married by best friend” or “I’d choose him in a hundred lifetimes.” Nah! Not me. I think, these words are perfect for Facebook updates. Oh, don’t get me wrong, we have had a pretty interesting and eventful marriage, so far. Touchwood! I won’t say all those things because I just prefer to avoid flowery and sentimental language. Yeah, that’s the real me.

Today morning, just like every other day, after having our customary tea together, KG and I got busy in the kitchen, preparing breakfast. Aaryan, our 15 year old joined us too. While, KG was making those perfect crispy dosas and Aaryan was shelling peas, I was doing something equally mundane.

Yeah, I agree with you, both KG and AG are poster-boys for domesticated men. It’s been a lot of hard work, but am truly glad to see that all my nagging and cajoling has paid off.

While I am talking about my boys who are a great help with housework, let me share something which I realized a few days ago. You know, there are quite a few things that I have never done in these 20 years of our marriage and making dosas is one of them. My love for South Indian food is legendary and we make dosas pretty frequently at home. And can you believe that I have never made them on my own, not even once. KG makes them, ALWAYS!! And this realization is making my heart go all awww!!

Aah! How much I have digressed. So where were we? Yeah, in the kitchen! So, as KG was spreading the dosa batter on the pan, I told him, “I want a special gift from you today!”

Engrossed with his dosa, he asked nonchalantly, “What do you want?”

As a smile of an imminent victory was beginning to take some shape on my face and words were just about to gush out of my mouth, when he quickly said, “I am not giving you that.”

I should have had that expression of consternation or annoyance for he just dashed my hopes. But no, nothing of that sort happened for we both burst out laughing as Aaryan looked at us with confusion and dismay.

This is what 20 years of marriage does to you. You know each other so well that sometimes you can second guess what the other person is thinking and can finish each other’s sentences. I have lost the count of the number of times we both started to say the exact same thing at the exact same time. It’s like we can read each other’s minds. We know what the other person is going to say.Though, there are times when we just don’t understand each other. The earlier fuming and fretting over the differences has led way to understanding and respect for each other’s individuality.

Yes, that’s what 20 years of marriage does to you.

Oh, by the way, I was asking KG to quit smoking. I am pretty passionate about him chucking that stick and he is equally passionate about smoking that darn stick. *Sigh*

My Anti-Bucket List

Lists are my life-lines. I live my life in lists. To-Do Lists, Grocery Lists, Guests Lists, Wish Lists… and of course the Bucket Lists which has hundreds of things which I have not done and would love to do them before I die!vlsmY7tCuXHe (1) Recently, I came across the concept of Anti-Bucket List!

I liked the idea very much. I am all for exploring and experiencing the thrill and adventure of something different and new. But I am also clear about my likes, my preferences and I know my fears too. And I certainly have overgrown many things. Also I know that there are so many things that just can’t be done. 

So, here’s a list of things I hope to NEVER do before I die.

  • I will never color or dye my hair. I have earlier got my hair highlighted with red, copper and burgundy streaks a couple of times. But no more artificial colors for my hair. I am falling in love with my greys.
  • I will never deceive or hurt others or cheat on any one in any relationship.
  • I will never abandon family and friends during a difficult time in their life. Never ever. Have been there, so I know.
  • I’d never be a doormat in any relationship. I hope never to forget myself and my self-respect in any relationship.
  • I would never want to lose my passion for reading books.
  • I’d never eat any kind of bizarre food, even though I am getting a bit experimental in trying out new foods and flavors. But I’d like to stay clear of those animal brains, tongues, livers, worms etc. Ewwww
  • I’d never smoke or do drugs.
  • I’d prefer not to get addicted to anything. I should be able to stop doing something whenever I want.
  • I will never give up on my dreams. I may get flustered or uninspired at times, but never ever give up.
  • I’d never do extreme sports like sky diving, bungee jumping, para-sailing or ride on a roller coaster though scuba diving and a ride in a hot air balloon are in my bucket list.
  • I will never write a full-length novel.
  • I will never commit suicide. I have always wondered about those who do and it disturbs me to no end that they must be so sad and unhappy from life and its circumstances that ending their lives was the only solution or escape in front of them. No, surviving and then thriving despite the odds ie surthriving would it be for me, always.
  • I’d never learn to drive again. Have failed thrice and I have kind of made peace with this.
  • I’d not go for any body piercings other than my ears. I am indecisive about a tattoo though.

This list is neither comprehensive nor completely serious. I could have probably added more to this list, but a lot of them are things that go without saying, like I will never kill someone!

Now it’s your turn. What will you NEVER do? What would go in your Anti-Bucket List?

Wasting Time Online

6 pm : I opened my laptop with the aim of writing a blog post. I have done just 3 posts this month and that’s playing a lot on my mind. I told myself that I have 2-home-chore/work-free-hours and I must make use of this time by writing the much needed post.

I opened my windows live writer and thought of probable topics to write about. I nipped two ideas in the bud. An email alert distracted me. I quickly changed windows to check the ‘could-be-THE-mail’. It was a promo mail from Flipkart sharing ‘Just a few hours to go for the Flipkart Republic Day Sale’. A saner me would have ignored the mail, but the real me clicked on the link and checked out phones, which I had no intention of buying. I then moved on to home appliances, furnishings, crockery… After quite a while, I realized that I am wasting my time and I must get back to work. I remembered that during the Vipassana course, they taught us that the important thing is to realize how soon one becomes aware that the mind has wandered. I was glad that I had this realization.

As I turned my attention back to the post, I thought hard for inspiration. But like that blank post page, my mind was blank too.

My fingers clicked on the Google Chrome icon on the taskbar and without a thought they moved towards Facebook. I scrolled through my timeline. Liked a few pictures and posts and went on to reading articles on Jallikattu to understand the controversy and then to  know all about Shahid Kapoor’s brother Ishaan who is making his debut in a globally acclaimed filmmaker’s next and that Akshay Kumar’s ‘Jabra’ fan cycled all the way from Haridwar to meet his idol. I wondered if any earth-shattering updates had appeared on Facebook since I read the article, so I went back to check my timeline real quick.

A small voice told me to get back to work, but the allure of “The way you clench your fist reveals these interesting things about your personality’ was too powerful. After nodding my head in agreement with the analysis, I saw a video of a guilty dog and that made me go all aww! and I clicked on some more related videos and spent a few more minutes watching the cute cats and dogs videos.

Another email about books on Kindle Unlimited from Amazon compelled me to check the titles I could read. My eyes looked at the racing clock and I admonished myself. But how could I resist the mesmerizing cake frosting video and then cool product advertisements on Facebook of onlyimported.com and propshop24.com had to be explored.

After adding a few products in my mental wish list, I looked at the clock. It was 8 pm. Arrrrghhh! What happened? Where did the 2 hours go??

I had spent 2 hours on the internet and had absolutely wasted the time I could have used for doing some productive work.

I have this realization that I waste my time online. And of late this has been bothering me a lot. But what do I do about it? Well, nothing most of the time.

But then today, I HAD to write this post. So, I simply

  • Closed the distracting sites (Facebook, email, Twitter, shopping sites etc)
  • Silenced the notifications on the phone
  • Gave myself a goal of finishing the post in 30 minutes

And voila!  my post is done.

I am wondering why didn’t I do this earlier?

I am glad that I achieved my goal today, but will I be able to stay away from this mindless surfing?

Do you waste time on internet when you should be actually working? If not, what techniques/methods do you use to be more productive. Do share your tips and suggestions. I am all ears and eyes too!

Mondaymusings

My 2017 Book Reading Challenges

My 2017 Book Reading Challenges

I have always been a bookworm. Of late, I would describe myself as an obsessed bookworm. I thoroughly enjoyed my book reading challenges last year. And this year in 2017, I’d like to challenge myself with some more challenging reading goals.

Now, you may ask, why should I be taking up these book challenges when I love reading so much. Well, the thing about reading is that even though you may be obsessed about it, it is easy to let it fall by the wayside. In the hustle and bustle of every day work, chores and life in general, suddenly you realize that it’s been days since you picked up a book.

And for this you certainly need book reading challenges.

When you pick up reading challenges, you are consciously deciding to read and when you do that, you will certainly find time to read no matter what. Also reading challenges broaden your scope of reading as you get to explore a whole lot of books. From diverse genres and topics to variety of authors, from different characters in every book to distinct settings,  from short tales to really long ones, from classics to contemporary stories, from fiction to non-fiction, from memoirs and biographies to banned and challenged books, from books in various formats to books outside your comfort zone, reading challenges prompt to read all these and much more. Another interesting aspect of taking up reading challenges is that it makes your reading list so lively. And the fun of finding books for the various prompts and then the joy of ticking off the books in your planning sheets. Aah! It’s simply exhilarating.

This year, I am going to explore and soak in the amazing world of books by taking up the following reading challenges…

1. Goodreads : 

2017 Reading Challenge

Shilpa has
read 3 books toward
her goal of
125 books.
hide

2. HT Brunch Book Challenge : This is easy peasy. The challenge is to complete at least 36 books by December 31st, with at least six books by Indian authors, or those centred on India.

3. 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge : I loved doing this challenge last year and this year there are 40 book prompts to help diversify PLUS an “advanced” section with 12 books for hardcore readers.

pop sugar 2017

4. The 2017 Audiobook Challenge : Last year, I explored reading with my ears and I loved the experience. Last year, I attempted the Newbie level and this year, I’d try to be a Weekend Warrior.

Levels for The 2017 Audiobook Challenge are :2016-Audiobook-Challenge

  • Newbie (I’ll give it a try) 1-5
  • Weekend Warrior (I’m getting the hang of this) 5-10
  • Stenographer (can listen while multi-tasking) 10-15
  • Socially Awkward (Don’t talk to me) 15-20
  • Binge Listener (Why read when someone can do it for you) 20-30
  • My Precious (I had my earbuds surgically implanted) 30+
  • Marathoner (Look Ma No Hands) 50+

5. Banned/Challenged Books Reading Challenge 2017 Banned Books: There’s something intriguing about the banned / challenged books. I have never read such books. I’d like to explore some of the books that created controversy.This has the following Levels

  • Read 1 book. You are an Ember. You’re small but mighty just waiting to burn the structure down.
  • Read 2-6 books. You are Creeping. You’re burning with a low flame and spreading slowly.
  • Read 7-12 books. You are a Blow-up fire. Sudden increase in fire intensity strong enough to upset control plans
  • Read 13+ books. You are Uncontrolled. Any fire which threatens to destroy life, property, or natural resources.

6. 2017 Diverse Reading Challenge : I liked the guided reading this challenge provides through its diverse prompts.This has monthly mini challenges:

  • January– diverse folklore/mythology (e.g. South Asian mythology, Russian folklore, Japanese folklore, Greek mythology, Chinese folklore, etc.)
  • February– POC Main Character / Biracial / Multiracial
  • March– main characters with a disability
  • April– mental health
  • May– religious diversity
  • June & July– sexuality and gender identity
  • August– non-Western setting
  • September– #ownvoices
  • October– Intersectionality
  • November– diverse retellings
  • December– 2017 Releases

7. eBooks Reading Challenge 20172017RC ebookThis is going to be my absolute favourite, for now-a-days, I want to read only Kindle books, though in this challenge one can read any electronic format of the book viz PDF, nook, plain text, EPUB, iBook, Mobi etc.Levels in this challenge are…

  • bit – 1 book
  • Byte – 10 books
  • Megabyte – 25 books
  • Gigabyte – 50 books
  • Terabyte – 75 books
  • Petabyte – 100 books
  • Empty the Cloud – 101+ booksI’d like to go for Empty the Cloud but may be I’d actually do the Terabyte, because I have a lot of paper books that are begging my attention.

8. Humor Reading Challenge 2017 : Humor Reading Challenge 2017No genre of books brings me as much joy as the books in the humor genre. I simply love reading the fun, funny, witty, entertaining and satirical books. I am aiming to reach the ‘Stand Up Comedian’ level with this challenge.

Levels for this challenge are…

  • Cartoonist: 1-5 books
  • Humor Columnist: 6-10 books
  • Comedy Writer:  11-15 books
  • Stand Up Comedian: More than 15 books

9. LGBTQIA Reading Challenge 2017 : LGBTQIA Reading Challenge 2017This one is a pretty unique reading challenge. For this one,

  • You have to read one book of at least 100 pages. 
  • Book should have a main character or significant secondary character that fits one of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual requirement.

10. #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks 2017 : ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton

Aah! This is something I seriously need to do it. I have so many unread books in my library cupboard and Kindle. It’s high time, I finish reading them before picking up new ones.

The rules are simple…

  • You make the rules
  • Be as hardcore (or not) as you want

It’s going to be a busy reading year for me and I am really looking forward to read some good books. I can feel it in my bones that this is gonna be exciting. Wish me luck for my ambitious reading goals.

Are you taking up any reading challenges? Any tips/ suggestions you have for me as I chase my 2017 Book Reading Challenges. Do share in the comment box.

Taking Stock of My Book Reading Challenges 2016

Happy New Year, folks! I wish that 2017 is rich with the blessings of love, joy, warmth, and laughter for you and your loved ones.

I know, it’s been eleven days since the New Year has rolled in and I am late in waking up to this momentous occasion on my blog. But like they say, better late than never! Hope you are sticking to your new year resolutions and turning them into habits. I have set some goals and challenges for myself in the new year, but more about them a bit later. First, it’s time to take stock of the challenges that I took last year.

Last year, I set for myself some pretty ambitious reading challenges. Yes, I took 6 reading challenges. I took these various reading challenges because I am truly book obsessed and wanted to add variety in terms of authors and genres in my reading. So without much ado, let’s do a bit of review of my reading challenges of 2016.

1. Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge

I planned to read 150 books and I actually did it.

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge Shilpa has completed her goal of reading 150 books in 2016!

150 of 150 (100%)

view books

2. HT Brunch Book Challenge

It was a simple one. All one has to do is read at least 24 books before the end of the year and at least three of those 24 books must be Indian.

I read 30 books for the HT Brunch Book Challenge. The first book that I marked for #BrunchBookChallenge is eluding my memory and records too, though.

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3. Pop Sugar : This one was pretty interesting, creative and challenging. I simply loved finding a book for each of the prompt and then reading it.

Pop Sugar 2016 Reading Challenge

These are the books that I read for the various prompts…

1. A book based on a fairy tale Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) – Marissa Meyer
2. A National Book Award winner Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling
3. A YA bestseller Looking for Alaska – John Green
4. A book you haven’t read since high school Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
5. A book set in your home state Fighting for Tara – Sunanda J. Chatterjee
6. A book translated to English The Autobiography of a Sex Worker – Nalini Jameela
7. A romance set in the future Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) – Marissa Meyer
8. A book set in Europe The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins
9. A book that’s under 150 pages Tumor – John Grisham
10. A New York Times bestseller Seriously… I’m Kiddiing – Ellen Degeneres
11. A book that’s becoming a movie this year The Best of Me – Nicholas Sparks
12. A book recommended by someone you just met Karna’s Wife – Kavita Kane
13. A self-improvement book Don’t Lose Your Mind, Lose Your Weight – Rujuta Diwekar
14. A book you can finish in a day How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-Founded a Million Dollar Company – Varun Agarwal
15. A book written by a celebrity Yes, My Accent Is Real – Kunal Nayyar
16. A political memoir I Am Malala – The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban – Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai
17. A book at least 100 years older than you Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
18. A book that’s more than 600 pages She Walks, She Leads – Gunjan Jain
19. A book from Oprah’s Book Club Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel García Márquez
20. A science-fiction novel The Martians – Andy Weir
21. A book recommended by a family member One Indian Girl – Chetan Bhagat
22. A graphic novel Sick of Being Healthy – Monica Gumber
23. A book that is published in 2016 Tales Of Sunshine – Sundari Venkatraman
24. A book with a protagonist that has your occupation Frindle – Andrew Clements
25. A book that takes place during summer Seducing Summer – Serenity Woods
26. A book and its prequel No Place Like OZ and Dorothy Must Die – Danielle Paige
27. A murder mystery Love on The Rocks- Murder On The High Seas – Ismita Tandon Dhankher
28. A book written by a comedian Unladylike – Radhika Vaz
29. A dystopian novel Maze Runner- Parody – The Dazed Runner – The Parady Brothers
30. A book with a blue cover All Aboard – Kiran Manral
31. A book of poetry Kidnapping Time in 88 Seconds – Laura Patricia Kearney
32. The first book you see in a bookstore Sidney Sheldon’s Reckless (Tracy Whitney #3) – Tilly Bagshawe
33. A classic from the 20th century Right Ho, Jeeves – PG Wodehouse
34. A book from the library On Love and Sex – Khushwant Singh
35. An autobiography Cracking the Code- My Journey in Bollywood – Ayushmann Khurrana, Tahira Kashyap
36. A book about a road trip Hot Tea Across India – Rishad Saam Mehta
37. A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with Princess –  Jean Sasson
38. A satirical book Shopping at Tesco – Sarah Ryle
39. A book that takes place on an island A Midsummer’s Equation – Keigo Higashino
40. A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy Alice In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

While I am glad that I was able to read for all the prompts for this Pop Sugar Reading Challenge, there are a few gaps. For instance, I realized just now that I had marked Cinder under two prompts in my excel sheet. Wish I had looked at this lapse a bit earlier. Also, She Walks, She Leads by Gunjan Jain had 584 pages, so I missed the 600 mark by 16 pages. I had planned to read (re-read actually) Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for the prompt ‘a book that’s more than 600 pages’, but then I just didn’t had the time towards the end.

From this challenge, I realized that dystopian novels are not my cup of tea, for I started and abandoned 3 dystopian novels and finally settled for a short one ‘The Dazed Runner’ in this category. 

4. New Authors Challenge : As part of this challenge, I had to read 20 New authors. The guideline was that the authors must be new to you and, preferably from novels. Given below are the 20 New Authors I read for this challenge.

20 New AuthorsYou are the best wife - Ajay K PandeyThe Other End of the Corridor - Sujata rajpalThe Dance with the Corporate Ton - Lata SubramanianFalse Ceilings - Amit SharmaThe Not People - SonaraThe Story of a Sui

5.  2016 Outdo Yourself Reading Challenge : 2015-Outdo-Yourself-Reading-ChallengeThis was hosted by the lovely and inspiring Corinne.

This challenge had 4 levels :

  • Getting My Heart Rate Up: read 1–5 more books (or 250–1,499 more pages)
  • Out of Breath: read 6–10 more books (or 1,500–2,749 more pages)
  • Breaking a Sweat: read 11–15 more books (or 2,750–3,999 more pages)
  • I’m on Fire!: read 16+ more books (or 4,000+ more pages)

And no marks for guessing that I was on Fire for this one!

6. Audiobook Challenge 2016 : I wanted to explore audio books and challenged myself to check out 5 audio books last year and I heard 6.

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It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. I had super fun reading books for all these challenges. I loved the whole process of planning and looking for books, their reviews and then buying them too. I maintained my reading progress in an excel sheet and reviewing it from time to time inspired me and pushed me to go for the finish line. While I read with a leisurely pace all through the year, the months of November and December saw a peak in my reading life. I read nearly one book a day and sometimes even two. That I was in Kuwait during Nov-Dec and had a lot of free time after work (no household chores and cooking) made this reading spree possible. Achieving my reading goals of 2016 has made me happy like a kid in a candy store, I mean a book store!!

My last year reading journey has re-defined my reading habits. The scales have tipped in favor of Kindle books. Yes, now I don’t want to read anything that is not on my Kindle. Audio books have got my acceptance too and the physical books are last on my preference list. This is a shocking realization even to me for I took a long time to warm up to Kindle books. Aah! The winds of change!!

Well, that was my last year in books. How was yours?

If We Were Having Coffee… 17th December

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If we were having coffee, I’d wish you a cheery hello and ask you about your week. Hope you had a great week. Saturday is here and you must be having a relaxing weekend.

As for me, I am tucked in a cozy quilt with a hot cup of coffee, and I am all set to have a chat with you. You must pardon me if you see me soaking in the beauty and the tranquility of the deep blue Arabian Gulf. Yes, I can watch the small waves lashing the shore with an occasional speedboat zipping past my view, from the comfort of my bed.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you excitedly that I met a blogging friend in Kuwait earlier this week.

Now, there’s nothing new about meeting virtual friends from the blog world in the real world. After reading fellow bloggers’ blogs where we share our lives, passions, interests, fears, insecurities and much more, we get a peek into their lives. Their messages and comments of support and encouragement, affection and smiles, truly warms our hearts.

If we were having coffee, I’d ask you that have you observed that finding another person who has a set of thoughts and beliefs that gel well with your sensibilities, or reading their well thought-out comments are enough to develop feelings and a sense of relationship with someone you have never met. A few exchanges in the virtual world are enough to give you the feeling that you ‘know’ that person. Of course, there have been instances, where a single comment has made me edge away from that person.

So, it is seems natural to take these virtual friendships to the next level by meeting in real life! Isn’t it?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I have met quite a few bloggers in real life. And meeting them was like we had known each other forever.

So, when I met this blogging buddy in Kuwait, it was just the same. Moments after greeting each other we were comfortably talking as though we’d known each other for years. But here’s the catch. We had known each other not for years, not for months but….for just a month. Yes, you heard it right. We started visiting each other’s blogs during the November NaBloPoMo and a month later, we met in real life. Yes, I met the lovely and amazing Scorpria from Alphabet World!

In one of her blog posts she mentioned that she is in Kuwait and then I told her that I’d be in her city for some time. And that started it all first through comments on blogs and then emails which later moved to WhatsApp messages. And when we met, we talked non-stop about so many things and got to know so much more about each other. Yes, we also shared that this was the craziest meeting ever and how our family and friends were apprehensive of our meeting. And how we had to field their questions like “Would it be safe? What would it be like to meet someone you’ve only ever ‘spoken’ to online? Would you still like them? Would you get along?…”

For people who are not from the blog world, it is hard for them to understand that we bloggers are normal ordinary people with regular lives. But I totally understand their trepidation and concerns.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that the best part of meeting Scorpria was that she invited me as her guest to ‘An Evening of Christmas Carols’ which was hosted by the British Ambassador to Kuwait at The British Embassy. It was all the more exciting for this was probably my first and the last time to be at any British Embassy. LOL!

I cant tell how nostalgic it was to listen to the Christmas Carols which I had last heard and sung in school decades ago.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that it was kind of bummer that we couldn’t click a picture of ours. And that’s because phones were not allowed at the event and we both left our phones back in our rooms. We are hoping to meet again before I leave from Kuwait and I am sure we would not stop at clicking just one picture.

If we were having coffee, I’d take your leave, for tomorrow is a working day for me and I need to prepare a few things. Here’s wishing you a fabulous week and see you soon again! Take care!

Linking this to #weekendcoffeeshare

If We Were Having Coffee… 10th December

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If we were having coffee, I’d suggest that we walk to one of the cafes that are near our hotel here and select the one that has outdoor seating. We have been passing through these cafes every day and I quite like the stylish yet simple ambience of the cafes lining the busy road. I like the quiet on the roads despite traffic and people going in and out of the big brand stores, cafes and offices. The weather is perfect for sitting outside with that hot cup of coffee. Yes, the winters have officially arrived here in Kuwait. So, how have you been? Hope you had a wonderful week.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I am not missing home as far as the food is concerned. I have seen that meal time at a new place can be thrilling and it can be downright frightening as well. Though I have strong preferences about my food but I am willing to try almost any new food at least once. So, I am missing no opportunity to eat the Kuwaiti and Arabic dishes for I believe that the best way to learn about a place is to eat your way through! I quite like the shawarmas, fatayer lahme, kuboos and hummus, warak enab, katayef and a variety of meat kebabs and sweet dishes. But I do like coming back to our Indian food. The pastas, lasagne, sandwiches, shawarmas are great to eat but are not our comfort foods. Thanks to the Chefs in our hotel, there’s roti, dal and subzi on our plates.

Recently, we were at an Indian joint and we just went crazy eating chaat, gol guppe, idli, dosa, aloo paranthas, chhole bhature, dhokla and much more. Because we were a group of 7 people, so we could order everything in sight!! It was such fun gorging on all these things which we were seeing after a long time. It was like being at home in a foreign land. Can you believe that in all the hullabaloo of seeing the food we love, I almost forgot to click pictures. The realization to take pics for the blog dawned on me pretty late!

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I am on a reading spree and quite enjoying it. Oh, that’s also because I have to race against time to complete my Book Reading Challenge 2016 . Of the 6 book reading challenges, I am on track for 5. I am lagging behind on the Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge where I had planned to read 150 books this year. I still have to read 41 books by December 31st. And that’s nearly 2 books per day. Seems difficult, but I am giving it my best shot.

If we were having coffee, what would you share with me? Tell me, tell me, I am all ears!

Linking this to #weekendcoffeeshare

If We Were Having Coffee… 4th December

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If we were having coffee, I’d apologize for postponing our weekly tête-à-tête by a day. Yes, I was bushed yesterday! More about it later, first things first… How have you been?  How was this week for you? 

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I had a very interesting week. I saw Dear Zindagi in a cinema at Kuwait with colleagues. Yes, Bollywood movies are pretty popular here and they are shown with subtitles in Arabic and English. I must tell you that I loved Dear Zindagi. It was such a refreshing take on life and its issues. I loved the life lessons that it put across subtly. And some of the dialogues of this movie are going to stay with me for life.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you very excitedly that I participated in a 11 kilometer walkathon yesterday. It was a first for me. And I totally loved the experience. It was wonderful to see people of all age groups and nationalities come together for this event. Oh, by the way, men and women had separate starts and had to compete within their respective categories. There were women with kids in the strollers and women in abayas and hijab (headscarf) too.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I completed this 11 km walkathon in 2 hours and 4 minutes. And I am feeling pretty accomplished and proud of myself. The first 4 kms were a breeze and then the blogger in me came to life pretty strong as I started clicking pics en route and even chatted with a few co-walkers. That slowed my pace, but I regained my focus in the last 3 kms and covered up a bit. That’s the medal I got and the organizers sent the participation certificate with stats by email too.

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If we were having coffee, I’d tell you about this exchange that I had with this young girl during the walkathon. She was walking with her friend a bit ahead of me and I saw the two of them picking empty water bottles which the other people had carelessly thrown around. This act of theirs impressed me and I caught up with them and said that they were doing a great job. I asked if I could click their picture. They agreed immediately. As I took out my phone, one girl mentioned, “All these people (she meant most participants in the walkathon) are not Muslims. Real Muslims don’t litter around.” Her vehement statement made me look at her again. A lot of thoughts and incidents flashed in my head in a second. I wondered, why a simple civic act had to be associated with religion?

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that I’ll have to take your leave as I have to work on a part of my presentation scheduled in the morning. I wish you a great week ahead and I’ll be looking forward to our next coffee together. Cheers ♥

Linking this to #weekendcoffeeshare

I Know for Sure

Writing today’s post had been on my mind, since yesterday. A blank Windows Live Writer had been staring at me since yesterday. I stared at it for a few more minutes and then went on to check the Facebook notification alert. I spent a few minutes on my timeline and then clicked on a link that led me to Twinkle Khanna’s latest article. I read it and smiled and then moved on to another link of some another article and suddenly I realized that I had a task at hand.

I came back to the blank Windows Live Writer and stared at it for some more time. So, the thing is that I want to write but I just don’t know what to write.

A voice in my head said, write what you know. Writing about what I am sure of or am familiar with would be easy, I thought. Well, I wouldn’t know, until I made an attempt to do so.

So here I go with the list of things I know for sure…

  • I know how it feels to lose an unborn child.
  • I know that one small, thoughtful gesture can make a big difference in someone’s day/life.
  • I know what it’s like to struggle and wait for the success to come your way.
  • I know what it’s like to have to sell one’s most prized possession.
  • I know how it feels to buy it back too.
  • I know how it’s like to risk everything for an idea.
  • I know what it is like to hold on to the past.
  • I know for sure how freeing it is to let go.
  • I know what it’s like to live with fear of death of your loved ones.
  • I know what it feels like to lose hope and then finding it back again.
  • I know what it is to have pain so deep, that you spend countless nights crying yourself to sleep.
  • I know what it’s like to feel alone, like you have no one to turn to.
  • I know what it is to receive support from unknown quarters.
  • I know how it feels to sing at the top of your voice with the singer on the radio.
  • I know that failure is just what is needed to learn some important life lessons.
  • I know for sure that this post has a melancholic feel to it.
  • And I know for sure that a blank page is no longer staring at me.

What do you know for sure?

Linking this to #MondayMusings and NaBloPoMo

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