Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 67: Interstellar


So, I watched Interstellar yesterday. And I think I need to watch it twice more to wrap my mind around it. I remember the awe I felt after watching 'Inception', and the awe I felt after watching Interstellar was thrice that. The visuals are magnificent. The premise is fantastic, specially fascinating for a science fiction nut like me who has a morbid interest in dystopian settings.

I came away with multiple calculations and theories after the movie.
I came away with questions.
A lot of questions.

The one thing that was gnawing at my mind after the movie, other than questions about blackholes and quantum mechanics and relativity of time and the Einstein-Rosen bridge was inexplicably farming.

People on Earth were dying, not because of aliens taking over.
People on Earth were dying, not because of the robots overthrowing us.
People on Earth were dying, not because someone was trying to build an intergalactic bridge and Earth happened to be in the way.
People were dying because of starvation.

Life on Earth as we know it was coming to an end and the only thing that people could do was farm. The one vocation that was being encouraged was agriculture. People were dying and the immediate response was to grow food. People were dying and the apparent cause was hunger and starvation.

After all that we've done, after all the places that we've been to, after all the advance in science and technology that we've made, after all the beautiful things we've designed, we would fail because we wouldn't be able to meet one of the three basic requirements for living.

Interstellar is going to make me think a lot. About a lot of things.
It is, justifiably, exactly how it has been written about.
It is a gargantuan, beautiful, confusing, amazing, awe-inspiring, thought-provoking intergalactic mess.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Day 66: Momentum

Momentum. The tendency of a moving object to keep moving.

I had forgotten this word and its implications for the longest time. I had lost momentum in life, being content with what I had, with what was happening and living on reruns on Netflix.

I think I have to regain my momentum, and shed my limitations. I need to regain my hunger and my ambition. I feel like it is lost somewhere in the humdrum of everyday life.

Nothing like a Women in Leadership conference to inspire you and give you that much needed momentum.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Day 65: 2048 - Overly familiar or overly grinding?

2048 ( is a wildly popular single-player puzzle game available on smartphones as well as the web, consisting of a 4*4 tile board, which is initially partially filled with low numbers such as 2. The objective is to slide numbered tiles on the grid to combine them and create a tile with the number 2048. The game is a variation of the sliding block puzzle where equal numbers merge to form a single tile with their sum. 

Figure 1: Initial setting of the tile grid, partially filled with low numbers.

The filling up of blank tiles on the board reflects building time pressure eliminating the need for a separate timer. There is no alternate end state since the game is over if the board fills up without achieving 2048. Thus, as the player progresses in the game, there is an increase in the dramatic tension of the gameplay.

Figure 2: As the board fills up, the player has to strategize and there is increase in dramatic tension.

The elusive 2048 tile ensures repetitive play of the game, helping interactors gain insights about which strategies can be employed to achieve the goal. 2048 includes a scoreboard and a leaderboard to ensure competition. However, the score mechanics are unclear making the score a distraction. 2048 tries to reach the sweet spot between being overly familiar and over grinding.

Figure 3: The end state achieved when 2048 is reached. The player can ‘keep playing’ after winning.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 64: Gadgets

Yo yo yo!
It is gadget season again. So many new devices just clouding the horizon and making us sing out about how it is raining gadgets. 
Fun times.
Our news feeds flooded with reviews about the latest tablets and smartphones, the features of the latest Operating Systems, their usability and then the ensuing price battles.

Time to stay awake, make a few decisions and prebook these gadgets away!

Day 63: Concerts

Why do we go to concerts?
We spend buckets of money to go listen to some songs that you have on your playlist anyway.

But the energy, the atmosphere, the feeling that nothing can go wrong, the crowd around you and you being a part of the crowd.
The sense of belonging.
The sense of adventure.
The hypnotic trance you fall in.
The elation when your favorite song starts playing.

It is magnificent.

Day 62: Notebook

I have a really tough time filling in notebooks.
Not because I don't like to write.
No because I lose them.
But mostly, because I lack regularity.

My best friend gave me a notebook at the end of the year 2011. 160 pages, 6 inches by 5 inches.

For the longest time , I didn't write in it. I didn't want to ruin the pristine beauty of the book with my less-then-perfect words.

Finally, in the August of 2013, I started writing in it. Nothing significant, just class notes and to-do lists. I carried it around with me everywhere for about a month, then moved on to digital note-taking methods and the book lay forgotten in my room.

10 months later, I picked up the book again and started writing in it. Really writing in it. Making quick observations and taking longer notes.

It has been two months since I started doing that, and I have finally filled more than three quarters of the notebook. There is still hope for me. Maybe this will be the book which will be written in till the last page. Maybe.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day 61: Gone Girl

I read a very disturbing book. And I loved it. It has been a long time since I have been hooked on to any narrative so much that I couldn't put the book down, sneakily reading bits and pieces everywhere I went because I couldn't keep away. 

With the release of 'Gone Girl' starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike and the uber talented Neil Patrick Harris, directed by none other than David Fincher of 'The Social Network' fame, it was small wonder that the book on which the movie is based would make a resurgence.

Unfortunately for me, I had heard about Gone Girl before and about how good it was and how I must read it, and I just didn't have time for it. My loss, entirely.

The book is disturbing, to say the least. It looks at the characters through a microscopic lens. It subtly observes the difference in lifestyle of American people and how much it depends on the place of residence. It dissects relationships and people and circumstances and how people deal with dire situations.

What makes the book disturbing is how uncomfortable closely is looks at these things. It strips away all facades and pretenses and masks. It makes us think about our actions: how much of these actions is 'us', and how much of these actions is what is 'expected'. 

I was amused by the constance references to various television series and movies that one of the characters keeps revisiting.  He is very frank and insightful when he says that he uses words borrowed from a million scripts, because that is what other people expected from him and he himself had no idea how to react in that situation. He wonders whether we are all trying to be 'characters' inspired by the million movies and books and television series that we watch, so much so that we're losing our true self, making the end of the book ironical.

The structure of the book is quite complex, moving back and forth in time. Written from three different perspectives from the point of view of two characters. It is rich in detail, painting vivid pictures of the feeling rather than the environment.

And it is disturbing.
And amazing. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Day 60: India is innovating

There is a video, about to go viral on this page.

Is this the new wave of young Indians finally believing in themselves and in their capabilities?
Is this the new era of rebels who take matters into their own hands and not wait for things to be handed to them?
Is this the time when we, as Indians, finally stop talking about India's contribution to mathematics and science by quoting multiple-century-old facts about the '0' and Aryabhatta and talk about the innovation taking place right now?
Is this the time we pledge ourselves and our dedication, talent, sheer hard work, creativity, will to the Indian cause and take pride in doing so?
Is this the time that we finally Make In India?

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Day 59: DIY

There's something wonderful about making things on your own!

Dip a sieve in a vat of paper mulch, drain it, vacuum it, iron it and you have your own paper.

Take a scoop of shea butter, add some peppermint essence and some beeswax, stir till you think the consistency is even and you have your own lip balm.

Get a wine glass and some acrylic paint, create your own designs on the wine glass, put the painted glass in the oven for twenty minutes and you have your own customized glassware.

Upend a trashcan and you have your very own taiko.

So, I attended the Maker Faire in Atlanta and did all this and more. There were so many different projects there and so many fascinating people! It was refreshing to see people making things on their own, people actively educating others on how to prevent yourself from being too reliant on others. The Do-It-Yourself culture is amazing and it genuinely encourages creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Day 58: Lazy

I usually abhor the idea of waking up at noon. I don't wake up at noon. I cannot wake up at noon.
I don't like the idea of waking up with the knowledge that half the day is over.

However, have you ever given yourself a chance to be lazy?
Have you ever had a lazy day?

A day when you wake up at noon without feeling like shit?

No guilt.
No frantic scrambling around to get ready and out.
No panic stricken phone calls and emails to answer to.
No reason to check your todo lists.
No place to get to.
No worries.

What a blessing such a day is!
It comes once in a while and takes you by surprise.
It allows you to do all the things you wanted to.
It allows you to not do all the things you wanted to.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Day 57: Connection

Connections are so random.

You may know a person for a long time. Rather, you know of them. You know they exist but you don't know what they're about. You may have met them multiple times, been to their apartment to meet their roommates, been on the same bus and sat next to them everyday without exchanging any words more than pleasantries.

And all it takes is one conversation about one single song from one single movie.
And you've made a connection.

One connection and you know what that person is about.
One connection and you can have multiple conversations with that person for hours on an end about the silliest of things.
One connection and you can talk about the things that trouble the deepest recesses of your heart.
One connection is all you need to become friends.

Day 56: A design note on the Information Visualization of the 2012 London Olympics results

The New York Times visualization for results of the 2012 London Olympics ( provides an overview of the medals won by each country through a bubble graph. The size of the bubbles indicate number of medals, their color and position indicate the geographic location of the country.  

Figure 1: The overview bubble graph showing of the number of medals won by each country in the year 2012 

This visualization allows interactors to filter the timeline to look at the results for each Olympics from 1896. However, considering Shneiderman’s OZFD model, it does not provide any affordance to zoom on details for countries.

Figure 2: The interactive timeline allowing the interactor to filter through every Olympic games

The relational database for the visualization consists of two tables: medals per country and medals for each event. The visualization allows the interactor to navigate to events of 2012 through hyperlinks and access details on demand, creating associative trails. However, these hyperlinks are unavailable for any other years, creating inconsistency.  

Figure 3: The database with two related tables

Each event is in the form of a structured document which includes photographs, articles, breakdown of matches. The interactor can access another level of granularity: specific individual or team events for both men and women, also in the form of structured documents. However, the lack of a navigation bar makes it difficult for the interactor to trace his path back to the overview.

Figure 4: The structured document for each event in the Olympics

Day 55: Gamble

How do you gamble with your heart?
How do you decide which person you want to spend your life with or what thing you want to spend your life doing or what path you want to follow?
How do you give that person or thing that much power over you?

Maybe I've just never felt that strongly for anyone or anything ever.
Maybe that is the reason why I am plagued with these questions.
Maybe I am too naive.
Maybe I just don't get it.
Maybe it is really a gamble.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Day 54: "I want it that way"

One of the most iconic bands that I remember from childhood is Backstreet Boys. 
Yeah, you read that right!
No shame!

I bet everyone from my generation knows at least one song by that boy band. Just play a song by them, and everyone will start singing along. They were the height of cool once upon a time, gaining such world wide fame. They were so 'larger than life'.

I remember being on a trip with my parents and their friends when I was ten years old. Since there weren't any kids my age on that trip, I was allowed to carry my walkman along. I have spent four entire days listening to 'Black and Blue' and till date, I know all the songs by heart.

They made memorable songs, however lame and corny they appear now. They made songs that you can play on a loop on a lazy boring day and all your roommates will start dancing. They made songs that you can play in a karaoke and people from six different countries will know the lyrics too. They made songs that make you revisit your childhood and contemplate just how far reaching popular culture is.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Day 53: Productive

The feeling you get after having a super productive day is just unparalleled.
It feels wonderful to have a productive day after a month of sheer procrastination, spent doing all the things you set out to do.
Your muscles are sore from running and stretching and your mind is sore from working and thinking.
You know you can sleep in peace and not fret about what you could have done.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Day 52: What have I become?

Do you sometimes feel like you are not devoting enough time to the things that really matter?

I am scared.
This maze of Facebook and Twitter and Huffington Post and Buzzfeed has taken over my life.
The need for constant information, the persistent compulsion to be available online feels claustrophobic.
I stared reading a new book today, a book I know I am going to love. Three minutes into the book, I switched the tab to check Facebook.
I am scared.
I feel like my mind cannot handle chunks of information longer than a Buzzfeed post, like my mind cannot spare more than three minuted to meaning.
I feel like my mind is being conditioned to reduce my attention span.

What have I become?
What has our generation become?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Day 51: Aamti

Isn't it always about the simplest things?

When you think about what food you crave, it is usually something your mother prepared. The first things about the food you miss are the elaborate dishes she prepared for some special occasion, or the crab curry which would prepared only on Sundays.

And then there are the simplest of preparations, like the aamti (daal), prepared in your house every single day as an accompaniment to the rice. The same recipe, every single day. Certainly not the tastiest dish, nothing fancy about it. Just the normal staple fare.

Next thing you know, you've bought all the necessary ingredients to make aamti. You're excited, second guessing every ingredient you add, whether the jaggery will be enough or whether you put too much red chili powder, all the while wondering how your mom did this every single day. Surely it didn't take her this much time!

When you finally taste what you've made, you know it isn't as amazing as the aamti you ate every day of your life. Perhaps it never will match up to those standards. However, underneath all the clumsiness of your inexperienced culinary skills, you can taste a hint of the food that was a constant companion during your formative years, the one thing that would be present in your plate no matter what, full of ghee and tasting of home, comfort and love.

Day 50: What? Who? When? Why? How?

While designing anything, these are the questions that I ask myself every single time.

Asking these questions right at the onset of the design process makes it easier to keep certain aspects of the problem in focus.

Currently I am working in a lab which explores the idea of using modern technology to follow television series in a more cohesive manner. We were discussing the target audience for a project and then someone succinctly asked the following questions.

Who am I looking at?
Why should I care?
What is going on?
Why is it happening?

I think I am going to ask these questions from now!

Day 49: Chicken for my soul?

I didn’t eat chicken for six entire weeks. That is the longest I’ve gone without touching chicken.

In Maharashtra (India) where I come from, we follow the lunar calendar. And in the month of Shraavan (around August), we do not eat meat. There are some religious reasons, some superstitious and some scientific reasons. Fish breed during this time so people don’t want to fish. The monsoon season takes place around this time, so people don’t want to fall prey to water-borne diseases.

A lot of the people around me asked me why I was doing this, why I was not eating chicken, why I was going on this apparent starvation mission. I was actually doing this, quite simply, because I felt like it. I wanted to test my limits and see how far I could go. I chose the month of Shraavan because I just wanted some external reason to follow this too.

The first two days of my chicken-refrainment were quite bad. The only thing I wanted to eat was chicken, mainly because I couldn’t eat it. After that, things got much better.

I am proud to say that I never felt the need to eat chicken during the entire time. I am living in the US and I was worried I wouldn’t find vegetarian fare in most places. I’m very happy to say that I survived, never starved and ate quite delicious food in a lot of places. 

After six weeks, I ate one of my favorite chicken dishes. Unsurprisingly, it was fast food: a deep fried spicy chicken burger. I expected fireworks in that first bite, feeling some amount of satisfaction. Weirdly, I felt nothing at all. Eating chicken did not make any difference to my life. I rather think I’m better off without it.

Day 48: Pain

It always happens when you are in the midst of something happy. That is when something terrible transpires.
Something which you had expected, something everybody had expected, but it hits you in the gut with a stupendous amount of blunt force and you’re left with a massive pain .
It hits you and you don't know what to do, you can't know what to do.
It hits you and you're left trying to breathe.
It hits you and you're gasping
It hits you and you're left crying
It hits you and all you can do is try to clutch at some shred of meaning

It hits you and you hope that time is what will help.

Day 47: DK

There are certain people who've been in your life forever. You don't even know when they entered your life but you know that they are a permanent part of your life. If you look back at your life, they have been a part of every important event. They are more family than most of your actual family. They've been with you during the highest highs and the lowest lows. Any occasion is incomplete without them.

How are you supposed to go on without them?
How is the void created by their absence ever going to be filled?

The only wish is that they're in a better place now.

The only solace is that they're free.

Day 46: Grief

Sometimes, no words come to mind.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Day 45: Effects of social media: My list of 10 books

So, there's another one of those challenges going around like a wildfire on social networks. However, this one was something that I was hoping I would get tagged in: to name ten books that have affected you and stayed with you somehow. When I did start making my list, I just chose the first ten books that popped in my head and tried not to overthink and overanalyze.

Here is the list:

  1. The wise man's fear -Patrick Rothfuss: Rich in detail, engaging, and tantalizing. The second book from the Kingkiller Chronicles. I was amazed by how much he covered in one book, and also by the enormity of subject matter he needs to address in the final book.
  2. The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials trilogy) -Philip Pullman: A brilliant series meant for young adults. A beautiful blend of science and fantasy and the multi-world theory. Also, I'm a sucker for romance.
  3. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince -J. K. Rowling: I love this and I hate this. Snape and Dumbledore. I liked how Harry got one last amazing year at Hogwarts and actually behave his age before he had to grow up.
  4. The murder of Roger Ackroyd -Agatha Christie: The ultimate narrator's quandary. Enough said.
  5. The Faraway Tree -Enid Blyton: My love for fantasy probably started here.
  6. Computer Networks -Andrew Tannenbaum: I never knew a textbook could be this friendly and readable and witty.
  7. The Zoya Factor -Anuja Chauhan: Wicked, witty and a contemporary commentary on India's youth. Some of the most unforgettable lines and references. Also, I'm a sucker for romance.
  8. The most human Human -Brian Christian: The latest book I've read. A very interesting subject about the human participants of the Turing Test. Makes you question the purpose of human beings in a very different context.
  9. The Princess -Jean Sasson: The horrific accounts in this book have given me too many sleepless nights to count. 
  10. Jaya -Devdutt Pattanaik: A quirky retelling of the Mahabharata. I loved the way it has been laid out, how the illustrations are tying the story in completely and how various versions and rational explanations have been provided. 

Day 44: Ganapati Bappa Moraya!

I miss India.
I miss the colors and the food and the pace and the people.
Most of all, I miss the festivals.

It was Ganesh Chaturthi yesterday.
I woke up to find my social network feeds full of pictures of everybody dressed to the nines, preparing for the festival, lighting up their homes, decorating their homes in anticipation of the Lord's arrival.
And then there were the pictures of Ganesha himself, in all his glory, amassing such love and such respect from everybody, being cherished and adored.

I'm not particularly religious for me to miss the festival so much.
What I miss is the color, is the air of festivity, the love, the celebration in the air, the insane roadblocks, the crazy excitement, the palpable energy, the sense of community.
What I miss is the food, the delectable modaks prepared by my aunt, the pooris made by everybody in the household sitting together, the banana leaves used instead of the plates, the ice-golas and pav bhaji on Juhu beach.
What I miss are the people, the entire family coming and having lunch together, the aartis being sung with gusto and the little kids chiming in, the cousins pulling each other's legs and the annual visits to everyone we know in Mumbai.

Lord Ganesha does indeed get people together!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Day 43: Frantic

And it is that time of the year again, the time for another Career Fair on campus.

You would expect us to be prepared now, since we're accustomed to this biannual exercise. But, no. It has to be the last minute frantic scrambling around to update your resume and recreate your portfolio and curate your projects and then undergo multiple iterations on the same.

However, there is a slight departure in our attitudes now, no doubt because we're a year older and wiser. There is no panic or fear. We all seem to have accepted this biannual ritual. There is a certain assurance about the way we speak about how much we still have to complete. There is a certain confidence in the knowledge that no matter what, we've got this. We'll make it through and we'll have fun along the way!

Day 42: Paper

I love text editors. I use multiple text editors on a daily basis, be it Pages to write papers, Evernote to take notes in class or Sublime Text 2 to write code.But when I have to think and write and brainstorm and plan and study, I can't help but use plain old paper and pen.

There is something so familiar about the form factor of a pen, something comfortable about taking a pen in your hand and filling the sheet before you, a certain freedom of thought and expression, a sense of doing whatever you want on that sheet of paper. There is no need to organize your thoughts immediately. You don't need to decided whether you want to write or sketch or doodle; you can do all of that.

There is sense of discovery when you find hidden treasures in your old doodles, a different perspective on the things you're reading. There is something comforting about the written word touched by someone's hand, traced carefully into letters that form words which may make sense.

There is a fluidity to your thought process when you use paper.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Day 41: Unexpected

You never know how your day will unexpectedly brighten up because of your friends.

It could be your best friends demanding you to call them immediately irregardless of the nine and a half hour time difference to tell you that they love you and they miss you every time they have to meet without you being present.

It could be a friend you recently made telling you to go check your mailbox, and then finding the loveliest, quirkiest, geekiest gift possible and being overwhelmed by the love.

It could be a simple message by a friend asking you if you're okay because you're not writing about happy things and that they'll be there to talk to you no matter what.

Day 40: Enthusiasm

I came home after a long hard day of work to find my apartment full of new people. People with brand new hopes and brand new dreams and looking at the world with wide-eyed enthusiasm and excitement.

I'm really trying hard not to be cynical.
I'm really trying to inject the same level of enthusiasm and the same wonder and the same lust for life and the same love for adventure in me.

I hope I survive.

Day 39: Swamped in stuff

Packing and moving your life is sometimes just not fun. Specially if you have exactly one day to gather all the belongings you've left all over town and move into a new apartment.

I have been swamped in stuff, not knowing how to deal with all this unpacking in a limited amount of town. It feels like I deal with a wave of stuff, arrange everything and as soon as this wave ebbs, another wave comes at me in the form of another unopened bag.

I'm not particularly happy about the amount of useless stuff I seem to have collected over the past year. I'm not sure how  have managed to accumulate so much in such a short span of time.

Well, it looks like the long long process of unpacking is finally over. The only way I got through this was to keep my bed clean and devoid of crap so I could crash whenever I wanted.

Day 38: What do people wear?

For one of my design classes, we were discussing wearable technology and how it is slowly becoming an all pervasive field. We were discussing there are so many things we wear without going as extreme as the Google Glass. To make us think about the extent of things which we consider that humans wear, our professor told us to think of all these things in three minutes.

The first few suggestions were expected. Shirts, trousers, underwear and all the things we consider as everyday clothing. Then people started thinking about things like the Fitbit, Google Glass and other such devices which we know are pedantically known as 'wearable devices'.

Once we'd gotten past these two categories, the class gravitated towards accessories such as hair ties, watches, glasses, sunglasses, socks and shoes. We then moved towards the realm of jewelry and spoke about earrings, nose rings, necklaces, lockets. Then somebody said eyeliner. And of course the next few entries were all related to make up such as mascara, lipstick, chapstick and even body spray.

After this, things got a little interesting. We ran out of the most obvious objects and started thinking more. We came up headbands and earphones and contact lenses and nail color. However, we were still meandering around accessories.

And finally, when we had almost run out things did we become more creative with our thinking. This is when we thought of the most interesting things such as tool belts, spacesuits, parachutes, crowns, strap on sex toys and capes. We got more creative and thought how scars and tattoos and henna are also things you're wearing.

This exercise resonated with me because something that I have been battling with: lack of ideas. I feel like I've been hitting a wall and reached an all time low. I thought I had exhausted everything I could write about and I wasn't sure if I could carry on any further without getting repetitive. I now realize how I have just not been thinking enough. And then think some more!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Day 37: Lights

The city looks beautiful at night. The lights and the dazzle make it look fascinating.
It feels quiet, much too quiet.
Like your mind is playing tricks on you.
I wouldn't mind spending the entire night looking out the window at the skyline and admiring the lights.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 36: Maximizing affordances in Lyft

Lyft is a mobile phone application which enables passengers to request rides from available drivers using a peer-to-peer format. It provides an alternative to booking cabs through lengthy telephone calls.

Lyft, which facilitates transportation, provides spatial affordability by providing the passenger’s location on the map. It improves the readability of the map by providing an estimate on the time required for the nearest driver to arrive at the passenger’s location. This helps the interactor (the passenger) make a decision about requesting the ride. 

Lyft provides a single button to request a ride, helping the interactor in this participatory action. This transparent interaction can be equated to the convention of hailing a cab by simply waving your hand.

Once a ride is requested, the interactor is given information about the assigned driver, car and location. The passenger can add the destination for the ride. The passenger may also access previous reviews about the driver. This encyclopedic information helps build and sustain trust in both the application and in the concept of community ride-sharing.

The interactor may choose to cancel the ride at any point of the interaction. Thus, the interactor has control during the entire procedure. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Day 35: Now

I'm in control now.
I choose where to go, what to do, when to act and when not to do anything at all now.
I place my priorities higher than those of others around me.
I go along with the flow whenever possible, and deviate whenever I feel like.
I am a free agent now.
I no longer let the availability of a mode of transport govern my life.
I have very few regrets.
I choose not to feel left out.
I appreciate my friends more.

I wasn't like this last year. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Day 34: Two way street

When is it time to let go of certain things, of certain people, of certain relationships?

I have a friend. Maybe I should be saying I had a friend. I was very very close to this friend. We shared every moment of our lives with each other, every secret, every insecurity, every bit of happiness. We fought, we had misunderstandings, we made up and we cleared the air. And all was well.

And then something happened.

This friend stopped talking to me, started pretending that I don't exist. All my phone calls went unanswered, my messages unread. If we were in the same room, this friend never even looked at me. 

I tried to find out what happened. I asked mutual friends if they knew what happened. I spent days and days trying to comprehend this sudden fallout. I looked back at the entire time we'd spent and tried to spot what I had done wrong. I started questioning myself about everything, every little thing I'd said or done to see if that was what was wrong. I kept blaming myself and assumed it was all my fault. Of course it had to be my fault, I must have done something so wrong that I actually stopped existing for somebody.

Then I realized that I can't be that bad a person. I had tried to find out what went wrong, I had tried to make amends. Friendship is a two way street and I couldn't continue carrying the burden of this apparent friendship alone. If my 'friend' had a problem with me, then I should have been made aware of this problem. Isn't that what friendship is? You learn from each other, you're honest with each other, you make things work out, and you forgive each other.

I have finally stopped worrying about this friend every moment of my life. I will no longer blame myself for whatever it is that transpired. If my friend chooses to ignore me, I don't care. However, I do know that if my friend needs somebody to talk to, needs any help any time of the day, I will try my best to help out.

Finally, I'm at peace with myself.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Day 33: Odd

I feel so relaxed today.

I have finally moved into my new apartment and I have finally unpacked. The past three months have been nothing but a roller coaster, moving across the country, being homeless, bumming around on people's couches and taking advantage of their hospitality and then living in a hotel suite. I have been living out of a suitcase in shared spaces for so long that it felt weird and unnatural to completely unpack.

I'm still feeling odd to have my own room, to decorate it and personalize and make it my own. I took up the challenge to make the room as quirky as possible with gusto. It has been an entire year since I've the luxury of having my own room and I have been looking forward to this luxury for far too long.

However, it also seems empty. I feel alone and miss having a chaotic household. I miss waking up and having somebody to talk to all day and all night. I miss cooking with everyone and having massive communal dinners. 

I think I just need time to adjust to this newfound freedom and newfound solitude.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Day 32: It depends

The more of school I attend, the more I start believing in the philosophy of 'it depends'.
I have no concrete answers for anything, because nothing is certain at all.
I could be doing something today and then not end up doing it at all tomorrow.
What courses I take, what projects I do, what goes on my resume, well, it is all contextual.
It's funny how three months ago I was sure about what I would be doing this semester and now I am second guessing every little decision I make.
I think I'll do what I'll be doing only on friday, since I will not have the power to change my decision after that at all.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Day 31: Thirteen Weeks

I am sitting here in this office, where I have spent the better part of the past three months.
Forty hours a week, for thirteen straight weeks.

I remember how I felt the first day I arrived, completely clueless. I didn't know what to expect, wondering what would we be doing with these huge desks, marveling at the brand new equipment we got and wondering what to do with so many whiteboards. I was awed by all these successful people and wondering what the hell I was doing here in this place so close to the heart of innovation. I was pretending to be at ease and was quite petrified inside, not knowing anybody in the building.

Three months have gone by and I'm so comfortable here. I can see the whiteboards, full of small debated details fighting for space. I can see how much effort it took to organize the contents of my laptop, to make it readable for everybody. I can see the junk accumulated on my desk and amount of paper I seem to have doodled through. I am going to miss the lunches and the random catch phrases that nobody else will understand. I am going to miss the studio and the lovely people here who have taught me so much.

It's hard to believe that it's just been thirteen weeks. 

Day 30: Saying goodbye

Here it is, the time to say goodbye again,
I'm saying goodbye to three months of my life in one of the most exciting places in the world.
I'm saying goodbye to a project I devoted my entire time to.
I'm saying goodbye to people whose guidance has helped shaped my work and the way I think.
I'm saying goodbye to the first office I have ever worked in.
I'm saying goodbye to the amazing inspiring atmosphere in the Silicon Valley.
I'm saying goodbye to beauty of this place.
I'm saying goodbye to sunny California.
I'm saying goodbye to some of the best times I've had in my life.
I'm saying goodbye to a trip every weekend.
I'm saying goodbye to the amazing memories we created.
I'm saying goodbye to the beautiful life changing conversations.
I'm saying goodbye to the summer of my life.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Day 29: Dread

I am kinda dreading going back to school.

I'm not dreading the course load, the crazy amount of work, the pressure, the travel, the new apartment, the new routine. No, none of these.

I'm dreading the weird feeling of returning to a place you knew intimately, where everything may have changed. These are small minute changes which add up and turn into a monumental change. The people who've continued staying there during your absence, may have acclimatized to the persistent change, but appear magnified to you due to the time spent away. The building half constructed when you left might have been completed. The loss of the old familiar faces and the old familiar patterns.

I guess I should be excited.
I know, in due course, I will be excited.
However, right now, it's just dread.

Day 28: Days like these

There are days when I don't know if I am sick.
There are days when I don't know why I feel like shit.

There are days when I don't know if I am angry or merely hungry.

There are days when I don't know why I don't want to talk to anybody. 

There are days when I don't know whether it was something somebody said or did.

There are days when I don't know how to articulate what is wrong with me, even to myself.

There are days when I don't know why I want to sit at the window and stare glumly at the rain.

There are days when I don't know why I would rather lose myself in the fictional life of a literary character rather than analyze my own life.

There are days when I don't know why I miss my friends so much that it aches but I cannot get myself to call any of them.

Is that so bad?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Day 27: I met a girl

I met a girl last year.
So many questions, so many doubts, so many aspirations.
She was worried about the future. She was stepping into the wide unknown. She wanted reassurance about every single step she was taking.
She was certain about the future. She knew what she wanted and she knew she was going to get it. She knew the path she was taking.
She was excited about the future. She wanted to be surprised along the way. She was hoping that the world was as vibrant as she had always imagined it to be.

I met a girl today.
So many answers, so much self assurance, so many aspirations.
She is still worried about the future, but she knows that after the lowest lows, you always find the highest highs.
She is still certain about the future, but the things she is certain of have changed over time.
She is still excited about the future, and that's something she will never stop doing.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 26: Random

I love how random life can be!

So random, that you can move into a new house, pack some bags, visit a friend on the other side of the country and then join some people who you've never met on a road trip to the one place you've always wanted to visit.

So random, that you work hard on an internship to be told that they don't have a job for you, cry and then take it in your stride, decide to move on and never look back, only to be offered a job on the very last day of work.

So random, that you meet a new person who is as unlike you as possible on the surface, with an upbringing as diametrically opposite to you as possible, a teetotaler to your wine enthusiasm, a strict vegan to your pescatarian, a chalk to your cheese, to discover that both of you have an uncanny love for the same music and marvel at the same exact points in every song that you listen to.

So random, that the one person who you thought would be perfect for your best friend, the person who you got along just okay, the one person who was too boring, too staid, too conventional for you suddenly starts becoming the one person you fall for.

Day 25: Small random rants

I have written three paragraphs and then erased them out within the past three minutes.

There's so much I want to say but then I don't want to say anything at all.

There are so many topics I have listed in my book. Little observations I wanted to elaborate on, think about and write about. But at this time, at this moment, there's nothing that I want to do.

All I want to do is sit still.
All I want to do is run.
All I want to do is walk along the beach.
All I want to do is hike through the forest.
All I want to do is meditate.
All I want to do is pack my bags and go back home.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Day 24: 4 months

With some friends, distances don't matter at all. You can meet after months, without having spoken even once during that period and nothing will have changed. You think it will be a momentous occasion, something special, something you'll remember later. However, when you do meet, it is special because it is the same, no fuss, no drama, everything is just the same! You know you can still talk about the same stuff, share your deepest secrets, rant about your job woes without any preamble. You know you can go anywhere in this world and nothing will have changed, something you can count on even when everything else has changed.

Day 23: Edge

I never understood the meaning of living on the edge. My fear of heights never let me appreciate the view. Ever. I have steered clear of any edges for as long as I can remember.

Then one day, I decided to jump out of a plane.
It was random.
It was sudden.
It took less than five minutes for me to decide to take the plunge.

I marked off the one thing on my bucket list which I never imagined I would.
I went skydiving.

The jump from the plane was the scariest thing I have ever done in my entire life.

I knew I was doing a tandem jump.
I knew that somebody experienced was in control.
I knew that it was completely safe.
I knew that I was shit scared.

So scared.

But jump I did, and am I glad about it!
The view from the edge is beautiful.
And, my fear is gone.

Day 22: Convenience

Are all friendships just for the sake of convenience?
Are they meant to last a day, a month, a semester, an internship, college or a lifetime?

You go to college together, work on a project together, sit late at nights discussing matters of meaning and life, visit monuments, discover music, live together, share meat and mead and life lessons.

And then what?

You move to different places. 
You don't take the same classes anymore.
You discover different hobbies.
You visit places without each other.
You get on with life.
You find new friends.

It's a bleak realization.
And I sincerely hope it isn't true.

Day 21: Flow

"When you can't really control what you're doing, then just go with the flow, and you might just like it"

Our lives are like water, governed by winds and the will of gods, creating eddies and currents, guiding us, making us step away, crashing against some shores multiple times, lovingly caressing the goal only to be taken away from it, flowing through the highest highs and lowest lows, storms rising and waves lapping.

Our lives are so malleable, shaped by multiple factors; some which we can control, some which are completely out of our hands. Every year, I look back at what I did and realize that I end up doing many things which I wouldn't have deemed possible, many I really wanted to do, many I never would have wished on anyone. 

All you can do, sometimes, is to just go with the flow and enjoy the ride as much as you can.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Day 20: Sometimes

Sometimes, all you need is some food, packed with preservatives, ready in two minutes, delicious like a hot pakora in the rains, eaten off paper plates and makeshift bowls.

Sometimes, all you need is a place to sit, unswept and messy, surrounded by bags and moving boxes, comforters and old blankets serving as the carpet.

Sometimes, all you need is music, old and melodious, the songs of your childhood, the songs you had memorized without ever knowing their meaning, haunting you and mesmerizing you by their deep meaning.

Sometimes, all you need are friends, sharing the food with you, pulling your leg, laughing with you and at you, loving you, giving you joy, and making sure that this new place you've come to welcomes you, and making it your home.

Day 19: Tunnel

It is like going through a tunnel. You never know what awaits you at the end or whether there  is an end at all. All you can do is keep going, hoping that the tunnel leads you to a better place, hoping that the darkness will lift someday, hoping that your suffering has paid off.

You keep going, though.

There are patches of sunlight it in the tunnel. You dance around them, hoping against hope that the sunlight you see is the end of the road. You cling on to these patches once you realize they're over. It may take time, but you realize that it was just a patch, promised field full of light is not there yet and you learn to move on.

You have to climb up, struggling to continue on the steep hills. You have to roll down, exhilarating in the adrenaline of running downhill. You break down, crushed by the journey, finding it very difficult to find any kind of solace in the darkness around you. You get excited, happy and jump with joy at the smallest glimmer of possibility.

You've heard of other people who've been through this tunnel. But their experiences have all been varied.

You've heard of those who were out of the tunnel in less than five minutes, a certain certainty enveloping them their entire life.

You've also heard of those who've been through the tunnel countless times. Each patch of sunlight making them think that they've reached the end, only to find themselves back inside the tunnel.

But they've all said one thing.
That it is worth it.
That there is nothing like it in this world.
That you're going to get there someday.
And when you do, it is going to be beautiful.

And that tunnel, my friend, is love.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Day 18: Plans

I loved plans.
I loved how everything was carefully laid out.
I loved how they fit like pieces of a puzzle.
I loved how they sense.
I loved how there was no uncertainty involved.
I loved how I would know exactly what I would be doing.

Then these plans failed.
And guess what?

It all worked out anyway!

And now, I don't plan any more.

I like not knowing things.
I like the sense of adventure.
I like the high it gives you.
I like how open minded it makes me.
I like how I can have fun, without worrying about having fun for months in preparation.
I like uncertainty. Heck, I embrace uncertainty!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Day 17: Red

The color of love.
The color of the tiny dog, the only toy given by my father.
The color of the bag, that travelled with me away from home.

The color of sanctity.
The color of my first dance costume.
The color of the box holding all the jewelry, which became a burden as I grew up.

The color of despair.
The color of kidney beans.
The color of the dress I hope to wear someday.

The color of excitement.
The color of the notebook, which captures my dreams.
The color of Bum's hat, who accompanies me wherever I go.

The color of joy.
The color of the raspberries that adorn my morning breakfast.
The color of the fresh juicy grapes which provide a welcome respite in a long day.

The color of hope.
The color of a new beginning.
The color of the bricks lining my new apartment.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 16: People

It isn't about the place, but about the people.

The new place you moved to, the new job you started, the new class you joined or the new route you're running, all these places are but a means to meet people. You never realize when life stops being about the place and it all becomes about the people.
What would life be without the roommate who helps you cook, listens to you whine and provides a steady company and makes the bare room home.
What would life be without the friend you make in office, who talks you through bugs, has tea with you everyday in the afternoon and gives you a chance to walk around in a sedentary job.
What would life be without the girl who gives you her notes, and chats with you during class and catches your eye every time something funny happens.
What would life be without the old couple walking every evening holding each other's hands, reassuring you that yes, love does exist.

The people you talk to, interact with, the people you ignore and the people who you never get a chance to understand. They make the world you live in.

The whole is bigger than the sum of the parts, but the whole would not exist without these tiny parts.

Saying goodbye is tough.

You're not just saying goodbye to the cozy comfort of routine but also to the conversations you'll never have, the places you'll never visit with the same people, the recurring private joke that will get lost in the folds of time.

I'm just not ready to say goodbye yet.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Day 15: Old white couch

He was sitting in the coffee shop, whiling away his time before a bus, on the old white couch in the middle of the room.

She walked in, confidently looking around, catching his fleeting gaze and introducing herself.

He sprang up from the couch, admiring her glasses, respecting her headscarf.

She led him to the counter, making him feel at ease, laughing about how coffee was the wrong beverage for her.

It was sweet and awkward.
Them talking carefully, asking deliberate considerate questions. Their voices clear. Their eyes flitting around. Their posture stiff, each one at opposite ends of the couch.

It was slow and engaging.
Them leaning forward. Talking about what they were doing. Getting comfortable on the couch. Their minds becoming unrestrained. Their voices getting lower.

It was unexpected and passionate.
Them accidentally brushing against each other. Losing themselves in the realm of hopes and dreams. Their gaze not leaving the other.

It was sudden and magical.
Them leaving the couch together, bus forgotten. Plans made for a future together.

It was meant to be.

Day 14: Glass box

There are times when I'm there with everyone, having the time of my life and then suddenly I find myself here.

I can see myself there, inside the box. I can see myself laugh and talk and play and interact with the people around me and hike down to the waterfall and perch myself on a rock to stare at the water and to feel the mist on my face

But I'm here, too, outside the box. Watching. Observing. Learning.

It is a strange feeling, but so enlightening. 
I know what I'm doing, but I can see me doing those things.
I can see people acting and me reacting.
I can see me acting and people reacting.

I can see me through my walls of perceptions and I can see the people around me see me without my walls of perception.

I think I live in a glass box of perceptions.

Day 13: "I'm kinda over being told to throw my hands up in the air"

It is amazing how a single line from a hugely popular pop song could be so deep.
This single line can resonate with an entire generation of kids who associate having a good time with being popular, with dressing up in the perfect clothes, with drinking in clubs and dancing to people telling them to throw their hands up in the air to show how much of a good time they're having.

I like to go dancing as much as the next person, but I am really tired of people making me conform to this supposed ideal life. 

Maybe I don't want to dance every saturday night.
Maybe I don't want to drink beer every time I go out with my buddies.
Maybe I want to have a good time in the club with them all the same, so I'll have a gelato instead of the beer.

Day 12: Shiny Happy People

I like shiny happy people.
The people who always have something to update the world everyday about their interesting lives.
The people who have perfected the art of being carelessly beautiful every single moment of their lives.
The people who go to the perfect destinations and know exactly how to frame their adventures in one single shot.

Many of us want to be counted amongst these elite. Many of us strive to be interesting, appear interesting, always analyzing each and every moment of our lives and then picking and choosing and highlighting our social presence. 

But behind each post, each picture, each fancy dinner and each trip that we showcase, there are so many moments where we've lived. Actually lived.
The long drives to get to the beautiful lake bickering with everyone in the car about what music to play.
The insane 40 hour work week that makes us want to hike on a hot saturday afternoon.
The bite of the cheese filled bagel made all the more satisfying after only eating cereal for breakfast for a month.
The long intense life changing conversations with unexpected friends made possible only because of the lateness of the hour.
The unexpected dinner to celebrate nothing at all.
The random magical visit to an old decrepit used bookstore.

These are the moments which never get highlighted, never shared with the whole, never broadcasted.
But, these are the moments which make me a shiny happy person.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Day 11: Relief

I don't know where I am.
I don't know what I am doing.
I don't know how to behave in this situation.
I don't know when things will start making sense.

Frankly, I don't even care.

All I care about is this moment, now; and the knowledge that I exist and the world is full of infinite possibilities and I know absolutely nothing but it doesn't matter because I'll experience the next moment no matter what.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day 10: Waste

I cannot form a coherent thought today, no matter how much I try. I've been sitting here, in this room for the past four hours and they have been four entirely unproductive hours. 

There are so many things I could have done otherwise. I could have visited the bookstore I've wanted to for the longest time but somehow never find the time for. I could have enjoyed a gelato while sitting outside in the sun, looking at the busy lives of the people bustling on the street. I could have ordered a frappuccino in the colorful café and written while sitting amongst my fellow macbook users.

Instead, I chose to come home and watch mindless hours television.

What a waste of a good sunny day.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day 9: Routine

Whenever you come to a new place or you start something new, the novelty is refreshing. Everything you do is surprising, you don't know how you're going to get from one place to another, whether you're going to make it. You learn things along the way, delighting in the discovery. You wonder when you'll know exactly how to get anywhere, wonder when you'll settle into a routine. You devise new ways to save time. You meet new people, and you're constantly aware of everything surrounding you.

And then suddenly, one day, you realize that it has become a routine. You know exactly where to go, when to leave, whom to talk to. You stop looking at the things around you. The things which would once have been surprising become boring. The shortcut you found starts taking too long. You carry a book to read so you don't waste any time. You constantly keep checking social networks, to keep up with the lives of people far away while ignoring the people around you in that instant.

And then, it is time to go, to a new place, to a new routine.

Day 8: Comfort

There are days when all you want to do is curl up with your favorite book inside the oldest, softest blanket in the house, listening to the pattering sound of the rain outside the window. Days when hot chai is the only thing on your mind. Days when the world outside the door doesn't matter. Days when you're at home, lost in the familiarity and joy of old comfort.

I'm dreading the fact that I'm going to have to make do without my own bed, seeking comfort in a newly bought blanket, drinking chai made by a barista, yearning for comfort.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day 7: Let it go

I've always had trouble letting go of things. I like collecting old clothes, old bags, old letters, old greeting cards and even old envelopes and inevitably creating a mountain of junk which I may never even look at.

A year ago, I was packing my bags to study further. I was essentially moving out of my room, and maybe even my home for good. I cleared out my entire room and after an arduous month, left it bare, bidding farewell to the only life I knew.

I came here and started a new life but what I didn't realize was how my habit of not letting go of things would never leave me. After nine months in a city, I had a tough time packing for my three month long internship because I felt like there were so many things I couldn't live without. And here I am, just nine weeks in California and already finding it too difficult to let go. I feel like I'm going to need all of the next four weeks to bid adieu.

It is becoming progressively easier to pack and maybe a little easier to distinguish what I can and cannot live without. But the pain of saying goodbye to those things will never lessen, and maybe I don't want it to lessen.

Day 6: List

A couple of months ago, my best friend and I were in New York. It was a wonderful day, the kind of day you wish came along more often. We'd just visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and then proceeded to have a delightful lunch at a cozy Italian restaurant hidden away in a corner of the kaleidoscope that is New York. We then made our way to Times Square to look at the lights.

And it started raining.

So there we were, escaping the rain by rushing to the Starbucks in what could possibly be the busiest place in the world. It was strangely calm, that moment. We were talking about our plans after New York for the coming year and we were just musing over how being a graduate student was a nice thing to be. We realized that graduate school was the perfect blend of responsibility and irresponsibility, a time where you know exactly what you're doing but keep questioning every step you take, a time where you're at that cusp of knowing everything and knowing nothing at all.

To commemorate this epiphany, we decided to make lists. One list of all the things which we wanted to own, everything that we wanted to buy using just our stipends in the upcoming year. The other list was of all the things we wanted to do, to experience, all our aspirations, our fears, where we wanted to travel and what we wanted to accomplish this year.

At the time, it proved to be very difficult to think of things. I had really thought our lists would have been longer. I think we were trying to be too realistic and quite analytical of what we wanted.

A month after that day, we met on the other side of the country, in sunny California. While looking across the bay at the Golden Gate Bridge, we were discussing our lists and we were amused to find that each of us was carrying our lists in our wallet and had crossed at least one item off. The satisfaction which came along with that realization felt great!

It's been another month since then and I'm proud that I've marked more things off. I don't think it is possible to mark all of them. In the past two months itself, I don't feel the need to buy some of the things which I wanted back then. However, I know that I'll be carrying that precious Starbucks tissue with me for at least a year, reminding me that I am getting there...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 5: Sleep

I feel like sleeping.

I don't want to sleep because of boredom, a boredom induced by doing nothing all day, no exciting thoughts to inspire you, no activity done to bring you happiness, such a boredom that sleep becomes the next thing you can do to stop feeling bored.

I don't want to sleep because of exhaustion, an exhaustion caused by working so much that all my mind can take is coming home, falling on the bed and embracing sleep.

I don't want to sleep because of pain, a pain caused by heartbreak such that every waking moment is agony and life is unbearable, and you cannot face the day and sleep becomes the only anesthetic.

I want to sleep, because I want to.

I want to sleep, because it feels wonderful to wake up feeling refreshed and facing a new day.

I want to sleep, because I can travel through realms of adventure and visit places I've never been to and achieve things I'd never deigned possible in my dreams.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day 4: Distance

I was woken up by a message from my best friend telling me to go check Facebook announcing the engagement of yet another classmate from school. Somehow, this conversation led us to talking about how we haven't really kept in touch with people from school. I can actually count the number of people whom I've spoken to since the end of school.

Don't get me wrong, I know exactly what they've been doing since school. I can tell you when they've graduated, gotten engaged or married, whether they like to run or work out or do yoga, what food they recently ate and where they went for a holiday, all these little snippets of information they have chosen to share over the interconnecting channels of social media.

However, I haven't had a conversation with them in years.

A few weeks ago, a classmate initiated a chat with me on a social network, someone whom I haven't met or spoken to in seven years. And it was weirdly wonderful! How formal we were, slowly gleaning information about our journeys since school days. And then we said goodbye, each feeling that the half hour we'd spent was enough to fill the gap of seven years, probably slinking back into another seven year period of silence.

There are so many people I miss, so many friends, people I celebrated birthdays with, people whom I had forbidden late night phone calls with, people I studied with, people I fought with, people I grew up with. These people have had an impact on me and have shaped the person I am today.

I feel like I should do what my classmate, no, my friend did. I should ping someone from school, see what they're doing, check up on them and have a conversation with them, connect with that long lost part of me.

Day 3: Kun Faaya Kun

Over the past few weeks, I have met too many people, in too many random places, in too many random groups. In situations like these, when you throw a bunch of strangers together for an extended period of time, it takes some time for them to form some sort of dynamic.

What is it about music that brings people together? Specifically this certain genius named A. R. Rahman? His music seems to transcend all borders and permeate into every gap, filling it with magic. Such magic, that five strangers refuse to leave a car they've been trapped in the whole day, to gaze upon the breathtaking beauty of Lake Tahoe because they do not want to break the spell cast upon them by music.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day 2: Ephemeral

The closer the end comes, the more you want to cling to it. I came to California for an internship for the summer with trepidation and not knowing what to expect.

It's funny how things change! I just have a month left before I go back to school and I'm suddenly dreading it. I am going to miss this summer. I feel like I was constantly moving, constantly exploring, constantly doing something new since I got here, but I also know that there is a lot left for me here. This has been the best summer of my life and it has set the bar for whatever I do further.

I still remember how I came here two months ago. Alone. Homeless. I was drifting about with no real meaning and not knowing what I would be doing the next hour. And now, this strange place and the hotel suite I'm staying in has become home, however ephemeral it may be.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Day 1: Dard-e-Disco

I am a week behind the original schedule already, as I knew I would be. However, I seem to have grown up. There was a time when I would have banged my head over a missed start, but not anymore. It is okay, I reassure myself now. I can start at my own pace, so I am finally starting today.

A few weeks ago, I read an article about an artiste who decided to devote half an hour of her life, each day, to create a poster. She took inspiration from things she saw around her and created posters. She planned to do this project over a period of 365 days and somewhere along the way, she stumbled upon her style.

I was immediately influenced by the article. I decided that I wanted to do something similar. There have been many a time when I find myself being blocked by a wall, an invisible force field in my mind which I cannot seem go past. I was convinced that if I forced myself to be creative, I will somehow be able to make a dent in this wall.

Now the question was concerning what I would be doing for half an hour each day. I could learn a new language, learn how to illustrate using a new software tool, I could learn how to sketch or pick up a new skill. I quickly realized that most of the activities I came up with revolved around learning something new. I happen to be a recently financially independent graduate student. I am learning something new every single day, whether it be academic or simply some life lessons I learn from living alone in a foreign country. Maybe I needed a break from all this learning. I decided to stick to something which I like and settled on writing.

Around this time, I was approaching my 23rd birthday. I thought that my birthday would be the perfect moment to launch this new endeavor. I also needed to develop a way to sustain my motivation. I decided to post whatever I write on a blog, even if what I wrote during that day was a single line. I concluded that this external pressure would be motivation enough for me.

So here I am, seven days later than I was supposed to start , in a café in Mountain View, listening to a Bollywood song which is bizarrely being played here and embarking on my 365 day journey.