365 days in Kuwait

It was on 18 March, 2016, that I got on a Kuwait Airways flight, bidding goodbye to the few things I held dear to me in Bangalore. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t miss Bangalore much.

And I was right. All I missed of Bangalore (and how!) were my two tail-wagging angels, one whose angel I was, the dear brother and the lush-lush greens and lovely colours of my lovely (rented) house garden. Trust me, nothing more. I’ll get to that later.

Though I say these were all I missed, these were the very essence of my life, and leaving them behind was not easy. Uprooting yourselves from a place you’ve called ‘home’ for  over 8 years–and a country you’ve lived your entire life until then–to move to a new place for a new job and a new way of life can’t ever be easy.

It was not. Especially not in a place like Kuwait.

What can I say about Kuwait? Well, perhaps the same thing I keep telling people who ask me how I like it. That it’s not a bad place at all. That in fact, it is quite nice (contrary to the many stories I was ‘warned’ with, prior to my accepting the offer and moving over).

Just that it isn’t a place you want to be alone in. So, what’s there to like?

  1. Well to start with, there is a beach around almost every corner. How many times have I gone to one in the past 365 days? Once.
  2. This is a foodie’s paradise. Name any cuisine and you have authentic and spurious versions of both, across all price ranges. How many have I tried? Well, very few (those too, only as part of my job).
  3. This is a fashion lover’s heaven. Brands I’ve only read of in books/seen in movies, I see all over the place here. Clothes, shoes, bags, accessories… How many have I walked into? Very few, and for obvious reasons.
  4. There are quite a few “places to see”, which can keep you busy for at least a month, if you were to do one every day. How many have I done? Perhaps five.

These obvious stuff apart, if you have the will and the time, there is A LOT that Kuwait offers to keep you occupied and interested.

There’s theatre, there’s music, there’s art, there’s all kinds of community clubs and events, there’s a variety of sports, there are many museums, there are frequent concerts, there are shows and cultural/food festivals…there’s  just a lot one can do. And for the travel lover, great connectivity (and affordable travel) to a plethora of places, especially to several that are on top of my list!

Yet, so far, I’ve only done the music. Because while time is all I’ve had aplenty, I have not yet had the will. Don’t ask me why.

I spent a good part of the past year deliberating on whether or not I’m here to stay. Well, when I decided to move here, I’d come with a three-year plan. But within a few weeks of being here, I was very tempted to covert the 3-year to a 3-month plan 😀 But now, all that’s about to change. And for the good, I hope. The three-year plan is back…and is probably now a 5-year one.

And that will mark the end of my “life” in Bangalore, leaving me with absolutely nothing to miss about Bangalore anymore. Not the traffic; not the pollution; not the roads; not the fiery lakes; not (some of) the most horrible people I’ve come across in life. It was a place I first saw around the turn of the Y2K (anyone even remember that whole end-of-the-world is here phase? :P) It was a place I then went back to in 2005 and realised I was still in love with. It was a place I permanently moved to in 2007 and then hated for the next few years…and then when all else seemed lost, started liking again in 2012. It’s a place that I began looking at sadly as a classic example of “how to destroy an awesome city.”

It will always be a familiar place…a place where some of the best and worst things of my life happened. I hope, with Kuwait, that order reverses. I started off here in the wake of the worst year of my life 😛 About time it all became the best, and with no turning back.

About time I saw Kuwait with a whole new pair of eyes and a whole new heart! Oh, and two very happy tails!

Can’t wait! ❤

 

Day 30: You’ve not lived today until…

You’ve not lived today until you have done something
for someone who can never repay you!
John Bunyanjohn-bunyan

I found the words tremendously meaningful…
…because, we can never say for sure someone can never repay us (not even after either of our times is up, because the impact of some good things are felt long after it is done) and that means we continue trying to do something to that effect for as long as we live. How better can then your life be, if you persist to do something amazing everyday? 🙂

…and the image immensely touching
because, it speaks not just a thousand words, but a million emotions as well!

I am glad I came across this today,
to be able to make this my closing post for NaBloPoMo 2016!
.

THANK YOU
Swaram.
And all the lovely ladies, for a month of amazing reads.
This was fabulous!

Day 21: The weather today…

is so good, all I want to do is be home, amidst all my (imaginary) plants, looking out on to the (imaginary) greenery from my bedroom.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, enjoying the silence, before I plug in this song (which has been playing on loop since the morning) and go on a long, long stroll along the paved walkway, bordered on both sides by (imaginary) tall green trees!

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, lie on my (imaginary) lawn, resting my head on (imaginary) Pumbaa, reading Go Set A Watchman again.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, sit in my (imaginary) balcony and watch the lovely (imaginary) birds and beautiful (imaginary) butterflies playing dancing in the cool breeze.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is be home, sit on the (imaginary) steps at my door, held in a warm hug by the (imaginary) love of my life.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is play some of my forever favourite songs on the (imaginary) sound system, singing along and feeling content.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is cook those things I love cooking in my big, airy (imaginary) kitchen.

The weather today is so good, all I want to do is chatter non-stop with my (imaginary) Amma, as I sip on hot tea and munch on the amazing (imaginary) pazhamporis she keeps serving hot.

The weather today is so good, all I want is to be really home, in a place that is truly home.

The weather today is so good…and all I’ve got is Kuwait! 🙄 Everything else is just truly imaginary and in two faraway places: one a haven in Bangalore, the other a heaven in Trivandrum! 🙂 Sigh.

Day 18: The one that stuck to the plan

Once up on a time, there were two little girls who met in school. They sat next to each other on the front bench in class. Both of them did not know what prompted it, but neither thought twice about starting a friendship.

One was studious, the other didn’t care. One was sober and soft-spoken, the other was a rebel. One was a total girl, the other wasn’t. Yet, none of these ever came in the way of their friendship. Because there was a common love that ruled over everything else. The love for books, and the shared joy from reading the same ones. Together, they devoured the books in the school’s tiny library. Most weeks, once the library hour was over, the librarian had to shoo them out to make way for the next batch! So, they went to public libraries and devoured more books. They discussed their reading list and constantly exchanged books and experiences.

As the months went by, in one of the conversations, they both decided they would grow up to be a writer and and a published author! This, then, remained a constant through the rest of their days together. “When I become an author…” was a frequent way to start one of their never-ending discussions.

A whole year went by. And then one moved away to a new city, when her father was transferred there. The friendship continued, strong as ever…for both were aspiring writers, and write they did! Long letters, written neatly and laboriously over many pages, kept them both updated on what the other was up to. In time, however, other friends walked into their lives. Priorities and situations changed, and the letters became far and few between.

Till one day, three years later, a letter arrived from the one who moved away: she was moving back into town, and joining back at the same school! Much joy and anticipation, till school began after the long summer break! Only, there were now other friends in the picture, and they were no longer even in the same class, forget sitting next to each other. The bond had evolved over time, into one that would remain, but not as close as it once was. The only thing that did not change: love for books, and the promise to be an author one day.

Both completed school and went their separate ways again, entering the job market. One was thrilled with the designation at her first job, and jumped it joy when she got her first visiting card that said she was a “Writer.” She remembered her friend and wondered what she’d say to this. The other went on to become an Engineer.

Many year passed.

The one that began her career as a writer, did not stay writer for too long, except dabble on her blog, even today. The one that became an engineer, although also dabbled with blogging, stuck to the plan. And is a published author today! 🙂

ramya

So proud of you, girl! 🙂

In her own words…

There is no feeling quite like seeing your name in print for the first time- It is a queer mixture of pride, disbelief and elation! Writing has been a long journey of learning and self-discovery, and as I finally take the leap from being a writer to being a published author, I have only my lovely family, friends and awesome readers to thank!

Day 11: The insides of a Ghost

…are amazing. It will make you feel like you’re floating, that you’re surrounded with awesomeness, that you’re “above” everyone else. It will make you feel like you’re being held and comforted by hands that do not really touch you, yet you feel the cozyness so well that it makes you want to hold on for ever. It will suck you up into an alter world and when it is time to leave, make you want to cling on and never get back to reality.

The insides of a Ghost are beyond awesome: a feeling I do not have enough words to express.

I grew up with boys. Till I was about 6-7, I was constantly in the company of my brother, and whenever we cousins got together, it was all boys. Then I moved with parents and brother to Guruvayur, which then turned out to be the BEST TWO formative years of my childhood. And there as well, all my friends were my brother’s friends.

We played cricket and 7 stones and all sorts of boyish (and sometimes quite violent :P) games. When we came back to Trivandrum, though I did make some girlfriends, most of my “everyday” company were my brother’s friends. When my favourite cousins came from Qatar once a year, the “games” were mostly re-enacting “the WWF”. And they took it rather seriously (that it was all staged on TV wasn’t something we figured too easily).

Therefore, I was always a tomboy. A big part of me still am and always will. A few dear friends of mine will vociferously vouch for this fact (and that’s a while other post!) I still remember the highpoint of tomboyness — going to UB City, Bangalore, once…and while the friends were going crazy window shopping at Louis Vuittons and the likes, I was in the basement parking, going gaga at all the awesome cars parked there 😛

Which probably is why, when we once went for a wedding reception at the Royal Orchid Hotel in Bangalore, in 2010, while Amma was ogling at the grandeur of the place and sparkle of the event (read dresses, saris, jewellery, shoes, etc.) that the other pretty women turned up in, I was ogling at a Rolls-Royce Phantom parked proudly outside. I had to then be physically shepherded inside by Amma (it was her best friend’s son’s wedding). I made a mental note to take a pic on the way back.

I’m not the kind with the patience for weddings and those elaborate parties, yet I deliberately delayed leaving the wedding hall, to make sure there will be as much space and calm around the Phantom when we leave. I had great hopes. I was already imagining sharing that photo with a few of my friends and the subsequent conversations after that. Needless to say, none of that worked out the way it should have!

On the way out, I gave the camera to Achan and asked him to click a few awesome shots. I made a bee line to the Phantom (did not even lean on it like it was mine – bah!) and turned around just in time to see one watchman shaking his head and spewing random Kannada syllables to Achan. Another one was walking straight toward me. He shooed me away. Literally. He said “Shooo…(blah blah blah in Kannada) go…no no no“. Ugh. I made another (highly improbable) mental note of someday going back and taking that pic!

Last month, Achan called me up and said a close friend of his from the good old “Lions Club” days of Trivandrum is in Kuwait. He gave me the phone number and told me to reconnect.

Wilson Uncle was someone I saw once a month till I was about 4 years old, I guess. I had a very vague memory of him being this bespectacled man who used to joke that I’m his girlfriend and that he was going to marry me 😛 I was always terrified of him and potently shy! He was 23 at that time. Every time I saw him, I would shriek and flee! And now, nearly 30 years later, I was meeting him again. And what a meeting that was. I had expected there to be awkward silences and nothing much to talk about, but I had a fabulous few hours!

And the highlight of the meeting: He is the one who introduced me to the insides of a Ghost!

Before picking me up, when he told me to watch for a “blue and white car”, I expected anything but a Rolls-Royce Ghost, of the most amazing blue! My jaw hit floor, and then once I got my bearings back, I hop, skipped and jumped across the road and got inside the most amazing car! 😀 Needless to say, I was too overjoyed to maintain any kind of social behaviour that will fall in the “appropriate” category. I became a complete “jolly villager” and went “Is this your car!? Oooh!” 😀 And when he nodded in the affirmative, went further ahead asking “Your own car, or company car?” He had the most amused expression before he said “own car alright”. 😀 When we stopped for lunch and he switched off the engine, the Spirit of Ecstasy retracted into the bonnet, and I even went “Oh where did that thing go!? 😮” Fine – I didn’t know it worked like that, ok! 🙄

When I got off the car after a rather amazing ride, I was reminded of the watchman who shooed me off from near the Phantom. And here I was, feeling giddy after having sat in another version of the  after-world beings. In your face, Mr Security. In. Your. Face! Ha!

With age comes maturity, and therefore I took no pics. Errr fine – I already told you I was on jolly villager mode. I have a crappy phone, which would do no justice to the photo (plus I am completely camera allergic and I am yet to find a camera that will like what it sees!)

Therefore, the only pics I took were with my eyes. And they’re uploaded on to a special folder in my brain. No share option there. Sad, I know. I’m secretly hoping he will offer to meet again, and come in the Ghost. I will make sure I have a pic of myself behind the wheel 😉

It was an amazing feeling, and I thanked my Achan profusely (but only after duly pulling his leg about where is an Alto and where is a Rolls-Royce) for making a dream like that come true. This is totally why he is the awesomestestest! 😉

insidesofaghost

The insides of a Ghost…as spectacular as its outsides!

Day 4: How dreams work…

…is really bizarre. Just when you either forget your dream, or you think it’s never going to happen, pop it comes to life!

Back in 2014, a few months after I joined Accenture, I was catching up with a friend from college. He had been a long-time Accenture employee, and after I got the offer letter from Accenture, I was planning on hunting him down on Lync (now Skype for Business) and saying “Huha!”

Only, I joined, and promptly forgot all about him. A good two months later, he pinged me on WhatsApp asking “You work at Accenture?! And you never told me!” Took me a good while to convince him that I had been just too busy. He kept going, “Busy? So soon after joining? Aaaand you expect me to believe that!?” Let me be honest, I did try to find out what team he was part of, that did not have to work like mine did.  He gave me the name of the team, and I promptly forgot that as well.

So anyway, we got to talking about life at Accenture…and he asked me how I’m liking it. I told him I could not be happier. That’s when he said he is not just happy for me, but also rather proud of me for having achieved my dream. “Eh, what dream?” I went. He chuckled and told me about how, while in college, I was totally gung-ho about Accenture and totally confident that “I will work in Accenture someday”. I was stunned when I heard that.

And it all came rushing back. Those days of the Tiger Woods advertisements — which signed off with “High performance. Delivered”, convincing me every time that this is where I should be working some day. Those days of “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” and I always had the same answer: Accenture. Those days of going “Accenturrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre” every now and then. I could not believe I forgot about all that, or that he remembered! In fact, he went on to tell me that when he got his offer letter four years before I did, he was apparently reminded of me!

Those were the closing days of college life. Also a reality-hits-you-whack-on-the-face period when you realize that dreams aren’t always enough — and that Accenture isn’t quite at the next corner, waiting to frisk you off. Somewhere between end of college and a wrong placement and “God, why me!?” moments, the “accent” on my dream seemed to have lost way.

I do not quite remember when exactly the thought of becoming a copywriter in an advertising agency popped into my head. And once an idea pops, there is no turning away.  There was a period of job-hunt, where agency after agency turned me down for having “no relevant work experience”. I still remember how I got so exasperated at a big-shot advertising agency (I shall spare the name) during the interview, looked furiously at the Creative Director and said “Unless one of you give me the damn job, how will I get this damn experience you’re looking for!?” Needless to say, that interview wrapped up very quickly and I did not get the job!

Well-meaning friends and relatives asked me to take a shot at BPO firms. “What! How can you even suggest that to me!” Why there was an aversion, I do not know. No one in my family ever worked in a BPO firm. None of my close friends did. There was really no first-hand information about how life would be in a BPO firm. For some strange reason, I had this terrible picture in mind of being a BPO employee. Never; a BPO firm is one place where you will never find me, I swore to no one in particular.

Well, persistence paid off…and I finally got into advertising and became a copywriter. I enjoyed it so much, I think I subconsciously washed away all “IT companies” off my must-work-at wishlist, wanting only to be in a highly creative, buzzing advertising agency. I worked at that boutique agency for over two years. On most days, I saw stars, constellations and many galaxies, all at the same time. It was grueling, like how (but there is nothing I’m more grateful to in life today than my “orientation” and tenure there)!

Anyway, I moved on from there into the digital/online marketing space. And then I changed track from pure “copywriting” to “marketing writing”, and then to “business writing”…which lead me into the world of technology companies. After a point, I’d written so much about complex technologies and servers and storage and hardware and software, I just could not call myself “technologically challenged” any longer!  Fact remained that I still did not remember the “Accenture” dream!

Somewhere, I always hoped I could get back into the world of fun and frolic and endless work that’s the standard recipe in an advertising agency. I wanted to once again be part of a highly creative, buzzing place: where work could drive you crazy and the lack of it could drive you crazier!

Let me tell you dear people…the last place I expected to find a place like that, was in an “IT company”, in its BPO vertical! In Accenture, my once-up-on-a-time dream company. Aaaaand, in a highly creative, buzzing advertising agency snugly cocooned in a corporate setup! If that’s not the coolest, what is!?

Dreams — one that was forgotten and one that was fervently wished for — both came true together! Woohooo! This is where I say: life’s been good!

I suppose when the sleep’s been had well, even the best of dreams comes to an end. Only to make way for the next night’s sleep, and a new dream. 

So it happened. Another dream I’d tucked away into the “never going to happen” box sprang to life. The one of moving out of India. I had been nurturing a long-time dream of moving to the Europe. Or Australia. Or Canada. I guess if you’re not clear about specifics, the dream decides where it wants to take you.

So, while the route map didn’t work as well as I thought it would, I still realized half of that dream. It landed me in Kuwait. No worries. I’ll just ask Google to re-route me. I’ll be on my way soon. As for how I’m liking it in Kuwait, that’s a whole (number of) other post(s)!

Now, there is just one more in the list. If that one comes true, life in its entirety will be a dream! Hope, hope, soooooo hope!

How dreams work…really is bizarre. Ever had any of yours come true so without warning like these?