Saturday, January 10, 2015

Cheers 2014!

So Rohini shared a blog with me the other day. And I loved it and hence dug up more blogs from this blogger and came across this blog. And this got me thinking and inspired me to scribble down my last year in words. Just like Elaine's comment on this blog I realised  - how every year life is little of new births, deaths, farewells, new friends, love, travel, learning new things, carrying on old habits, ups and downs. Indeed my year was nothing different from this!

January last year was primarily full of anxiety and tantrums as I was stuck with visa extension and waiting keenly for my visa papers to come as without which I would have been unable to travel to India to attend my only sister's wedding. It was year when USCIS had a huge backlog and it was taking months to get your H1/H4 visa to come. Traveling without a valid visa meant, I could not come back to US till my visa was approved and there was no fix date given as to when might this happen. So I had my troubled times, fighting with my sister and justifying how I may not be able to make it. But God's grace, my visa came by January end and I booked my tickets for India. It was a surprise visit, only my sister knowing about it.

February just before starting for India, we went to an island nearby known as the Sanibel Islands. We were a gang of 4 couples and a young gentleman. The island is a calm place, away from hustle bustle of the city and has some amazing water landscape. Waters are my weakness, and I just cannot help my self plunge in its calmness and sit and watch the sun set over its horizon. The trip was kind of a temporary farewell to me before I embarked on my 2 month vacation to India.

That insane moment when the firang photographer first asks, "Are all of you couples?"
In unison we replied, "Yessssss"
And then he said, "Please kiss your respective wives now"
And this is how we react!!!!!!!
February I landed in India and gave a surprise to my parents and in laws. The sheer joy on their face after seeing me was incredible. February was mainly spent in marriage preparations and dance practice for the Sangeet ceremony. I, who has never danced, danced in front of some 400 folks! The best was I relished and enjoyed each of the moment. Marriage is the time when I met with all of my relatives - all my kakis, kakas, mama, bunch of crazy cousins, kids of cousins! The one month spent at home with my sister before marriage will always be cherished by me, though my sister always kept on running to Vaishali to meet Karan (her would be) under the pretext of having coffee ;)
This was  the time when Shweta's friends became my friends too and all of us had some great time and bonding. Here is an exclusive narrate of the marriage!

Loved ones! :)
As I said February and March were all filled with catching up and meeting friends and family. My dearest buddy from MBA, Devayani had delivered a bundle of joy just a few months earlier and I as a proud aunt went to meet the mother and the baby. Motherhood changes a woman! The joy and the happiness on Devayani's face even after having sleepless nights in a row said it all! The little angel made noises as if she was singing and she had a huge fascination for the moving fan! The fan made her tickle big time :) Such small things make you giggle when you are that innocent! It was a great time catching up with my friend in person, as virtually we have been connected all the time! And we missed Rohini a lot that time. The three of us were inseparable during MBA and we still share a very close and special rapport.

Motherhood beckons Devayani! And look at that giggling angel :)
I attended the name keeping ceremony of Devayani's baby. And guess what? I met one of my estranged friends from Graduataion - Mandar. What a coincidence! He was there to cover the ceremony as a photographer along with his would be wife Sayali. We had not been talking for years over a small misunderstanding and this was the time when we cleared all the air and got my friend back! Sayali, is a very sweet girl and we connected instantly. So ya March brought old friend together! Cheers!
He is getting hitched soon, and though I may not be there for the marriage my blessings are always with him and Sayali :)

And I get my friend again and plus a bonus friend! :)
My closest buddy Marsha from Qualcomm (the job I had before moving to US) came to meet me specially from Bangalore and spent a weekend with us! We had loads to catch up which we did over shopping, vada pav, pani puri, dosas, idlis and mugs of coffee. We had a gala time raoming on FC  road, going through the sneaky lanes of Tulshibaug and gupshuping in various coffee places. We missed Deepa then, but she was expecting at that time and we could not force her to travel! 

Miss you! Come to meet me soon...
I met Sujoy' cousins - Debika and Tanushree. Debika dropped at our place to spend the night with us and we had good time listening to each other's stories. Tanushree who was recently married had come to spend Holi with us with her husband Partho. This was the first time when I met Partho and thought him to be a very easy going guy. The amount of food cooked for jamai raja by my MIL was phenomenal and I also pitched in with fish fry and prawns masala. 

The smiling divas!

The crazy gang!
I met my Aunt, my cousins and my niece in Mumbai when I had gone to the US Consulate for my visa stamping. 3 days filled with delicious food at 3 different homes and some catching up with my niece Shriya. Shriya is a jolly girl who can make you laugh over small things. She loves baking and we just saw a glimpse of it in a chocolate brownie! Yumm it was. Chatting with Mamata didi, Madhavi and Rajesh was nice! It is at such moments that you realise family gives you such positive vibes :)

The next master chef in the making! :)
March was the month when I coloured my hair and went for a different look with a new hairdo. I loved my hairdo for entire 2 full days before the setting went off, never the less it is one of my adored looks!

And I just became a teenager again!
After two months of joy, togetherness and laughter it was time to head back to US to be with my neglected husband ;) March was the month when I met all of my favourite people and it was overwhelming!

April I came back to my husband and our cozy little place in Florida! April was mostly spent in jet lag and telling unending India stories to Sujoy. April was spent missing folks back home and getting back to reading. I finished 3 books in April when I was not sleeping!

May was adventurous with our trip to Universal Studios. This trip had been pending since 4 months and we were awaiting for a good no crowd time to visit Universal studios in Orlando. I had sleepless nights before this trip as I am very non adventurous person and the rides over here just scare the hell out of me. We went to the two theme parks within Universal. 3D rides being my favourite. Folks with me had much more fun with unimaginable rides like the Hulk ride, Dragon challenge, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, The Minion Ride, The Simpsons Ride! 2 days we spent exploring this theme park and the parades!

May was the time when I  was all alone in US with Sujoy gone for an official trip to New York for 3 entire days. That was the time when my SPHR Certification results came and I missed the certification by mere 8 points. It was a time for me to introspect and choose what to do next. Deepti, my newest friend in US  was the one who was with me on phone to console me and was a huge support. This was my first ever academic failure! I had never experienced failure till now. I was sad, sulky, cribbing for 2 entire weeks. My eyes would tear up just like that thinking about it. And those 8 points made it even worse. Sujoy was the one who said, "You should have done engineering, failures would have been a part of your life then". He help me digest the failure and spring back again. This failure was important, as it brought me back to my senses and gave me a reality check.

June was the month when Deepa, my QC buddy delivered a healthy baby boy and Marsha and me were rejoiced at the new entry :)
Deepa and her happy lo. Eager to meet them!!
June was the month when I was overly sick and could not get out of the bed for 3 consecutive days. It was the time when Sujoy took care of me like a mother. Cooked food for me, gave me medicine in hand and sometimes even fed me. It was a time when I could have asked for anything and Sujoy would have given me that! Damn...I should have asked for that solitaire ;) Jokes apart, it was the time when I realised why they call a spouse the better half! I had some great neighbours and friends like Keerthana and Prachi, who kept a eye on my health and got food on some days :)

I recovered in a week and then we had our first over night guest at home! Sujoy's brother in law - Chiranjeeb was in town on official work and he spent a weekend with us. 3 days of crazy cooking for me! It was at that time that I realised that my kitchen doesn't have enough cookware if a third person comes home! 3 days of cooking involved prawns, fish, mutton, dal, bottle gourd, brinjal fry, sabudana khichdi, poha! Phew! Though our guest demanded just plain rice and dal, we could not have left him without letting him have a taste of konakni and bengali cuisine! The selfish motto behind it was he would go and praise my food to my in laws ;) Not really, I realised the satisfaction of feeding home cooked food to a guest is well beyond words! :)

The guest and the food spread :)
June I lost my grandmother and it was then I realised the pain of loss of a near one. Death is morbid. Death is an eye opener. She was old, she was bed ridden, she was not conscious and yet she had a life with her. And just like that she was gone! Death is the ultimate equalizer they say! And so what matters is how well we lived our life when we had a chance on it! I made a promise then to live each moment to the fullest as yes everyone has to die one day!

July we went exploring again and this time to Key West, another of the innumerable Florida islands. It was a one day trip and we came back the same night. The road to this trip is beautiful and has best of landscapes with endless waters and skies! Key West has an amazing treasure of coral life and beautiful waters. We did the glass bottom boat ride and saw the colourful life beneath those clear waters. Had some nice mahi mahi fish fry, went to the Southernmost Point of USA and headed back to our place. 

July we bid farewell to our neighbours and good friends - Keerthana and Balajee. Their stint in Florida was over and they were headed to Texas for their new venture. We had a potluck before they went and later had a nice dinner outside at Buca De Beppo! We miss Balajee's constant blabber and Keerthana's yummilicious dosas!

Till we meet again! :)

August was the time when we planned our New York trip for the next month. We were excited as this would be our first time when we would venture out of Florida and see a new state. Sujoy was the one who did all the research and and we were all set for the time of our lifetime!

September I think was by far the best month for me. I just loved our trip to New York and Niagara falls. I was awe struck with the hugeness of Niagara and just could not erase that image from my mind. I loved New York with the hustle bustle and it reminded me of Mumbai, a city that never sleeps. You can check out more about my adventures on this trip here - New York and Niagara Falls

October was the month when we bid adieu to another couple  - Savitha and Vishnu and their naughty boy Gagan. We went out to an Indian restaurant and had some nice spicy food! They are some 60 miles from here currently and we hope to meet them often!

October we also celebrated Durga Puja by decking up in traditional Indian wear and visiting a Hindu temple near us. Durga Puja is a big affair in bengalis all over and we missed the fun and fervor we used to have back home during these festival times!

October we also had Diwali and to get into the Diwali mode, I made small lanterns and stuck them on our door! Our neighbour commented that they felt festive after looking at those lanterns! So my lanterns brought a smile on some faces :)

November and December we spent amidst festivities as Thanksgiving and Christmas bring out the child in you! December is super special with our anniversary and Sujoy's birthday! The first half of November was spent learning how to drive with a lot of curses, fights and crying with Sujoy in the teacher's seat. November marks a big milestone for me as it gave me my first ever driving license, which is a BIG feat for a girl who has not driven anything (except has driven her husband crazy countless times) her entire life ;)

December was a month of fun! We celebrated our Anniversary with a cozy dinner at Olive Gardens! 

We celebrated Christmas the Indian way with our neighbours Prachi and Yatin - we had hot spicy vada made by Prachi and pav baked for the first time by me. The sheer joy of having Indian street food at your US home is incredible! 

The sumptuous vada pav
We made Sujoy watch a cartoon movie that night as it was his birthday the next day and we had plans for midnight cake cutting. We had to make him stay and what else can a wife do but innocently plead , "I want to watch a cartoon right now, so please sit with me and watch." And then the husband cannot say no in front of the friends ;) So at midnight we cut cake and came back to our place. The next day we celebrated his birthday with a quite walk on the beach, roaming on the streets full of festive lights and Christmas Trees and then having dinner outside!

December saw the entry of another little one - Rishaun, son of Partho and Tanushree! I am sure Tanushree is enjoying her motherhood :)

December was a milestone for my blog - It crossed 10,000 hits! And I was a happy child! My blog brought a lot of perspective to my thinking. It also brought pat on the back messages not just from the loved ones but also from strangers! Folks made special efforts to drop messages to me saying they love my blog and urged me to keep on writing. Constructive feedback from near ones made me grow as a writer and I still strive to give the best!

The entire year I have been reading, reading a lot! Cooking a lot - venturing and trying out new things altogether - some hits and some big flops. But my husband eats everything none the less ;) And most prominently I wrote. To sum up 2014 was difficult and while doing so, I relived all my precious moments yet again and realised "Phew, I did some kick ass stuff this year!" :)

And we said good bye to the year by watching the fireworks from favourite place - the water and the sands 'the beach' :)

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