A Busy November Update

I knew since a long time that I am going to have a busy November. I looked up to it with every ounce of excitement. You know why, right? Its the wedding season in India and that is kind of my favorite “festive” period. 😀

However, November turned out to be busier that I expected and it meant a truck load of work for me before I even get to the point of piling on Gol Gappas in Indian weddings.

I am going to write everything that down in November below. If it sounds like a lot on top of a full time job, that’s because it.

So, it started with my SIL’s family and MIL visiting us impromptu. Basically, they were on a trip to Rishikesh and Badrinath and we were asking them to take a halt while going back to Surat. They initially didn’t agree and eventually ended up making an impromptu halt. We were just back from a wedding right then and since my SIL was staying over properly for the first time, it was less of a chill family time at home and more of a tourist-y going around the city. Hence, it got a busy week.

Right when it ended, I had a business trip to Vietnam again. On my way back, I ended up missing my flight because of some fuck up and even my luggage didn’t arrive on time. It was truly a bad day, that i didn’t see coming at all. 😦 I was howling on the airport like an idiot.

To top it all, long ago I had decided to take over a fun but very time intensive task of hand painting a sari for my cousin who’s getting married in a few days from now on. Of course, I knew how happy I would be doing this task and how happy she would be too, but I so didn’t see it for the effort it requires. 😀 Also, I didn’t manage to even start on it until I came back from Vietnam. I had all these months I mean, but still. I am happy that I didn’t let this ambition die a slow death and did use my previous weekend entirely for doing this start to finish. There’s a sneak peek for you at the end.

I would also say I had a very fulfilling busy November, because as long as its not irritating or monotonous work making me busy, I am up for it sometimes. 😀

But what did I miss out on due to the busy November?

  1. I haven’t been reading at all, like at all since probably more than 2 months. This is what happens when I get into the loop of a boring book. Instead of pulling myself out with an alternative, I just continue being the phone addict that I am.
  2. With busyness comes the drive to avoid working out as much as possible and I have been successful in that. Not gonna see me in that jawline I wanted for the weddings I guess. 😀
  3. As expected, this blog suffered the most. I obviously didn’t do any of the planned posts in a long while, but more importantly, I am lagging behind in my book posts. Something I am going to regret the most if not done on time. It matters a lot to me that I get in all the book posts before the year ends.
  4. Getting a new outfit: Please don’t be too quick to judge that I am one of those tone deaf people who get a new outfit whenever they have an event to attend (I know I sound more judge-y than you :P). In fact, I have managed to take a lot of use out of my wedding trousseau but that’s also the reason why I had planned on getting a new outfit this time. I buy anything after a lot of thinking, so I had some specific ideas in mind. I didn’t get the time and frankly I was lazy. So, I am just going to re-wear a lot of outfits which I love, but I have been sort of bored with, since I have attended a lot of weddings and stuff since my own.

If you made it till here, give me your November update. 😀

A sneak peek of the hand-painted organza sari 😀

Happy Diwali | Diwablog 4

The final one in this year’s Diwablog series is a simple wish from my side to you. Wishing you all a very happy Diwali! A festival of prosperity, where people need to see that prosperity is not just by money, but rather by good health, contentment and happiness as well.

May all of our wishes come true and you get abundance and happiness in everything!

Less than 48 hours in Vietnam | First impressions | Diwablog 3

I recently went to Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon) on a quick work trip, literally less than 48 hours! Funny thing – Vietnam has been on my travel radar for a while now, but it fizzled out quite recently too. Maybe sometimes watching something over and over on social media does it. Anyhow, I’ll be making more trips to Vietnam and I am pretty sure I would love many things there. Here are some things I noticed on this first trip to Ho Chi Minh City that I am itching to share:

Women clothes appear awesome in local shops: This is the number 1 pattern I literally saw from afar in so many streets. Vietnam, like India, has lot of local shops around rather than just global brands. Whenever I was sitting in a cab or on a scooter, I just kept noticing that how many random shops have such amazingly beautiful clothes. I have such deep regret in not getting the time to go venture in. 😦 This is my must do activity when I go to Ho Chi Minh City next.

Street food vendors sit near their carts! In India also, street food is pretty big. However, vendors keep standing next to their carts. I don’t know why it never happened that anyone brought stools to sit next to their carts like folks in Vietnam do. My assumption is any of the below reasons:

  1. Vietnam is not as densely populated as India so its not like that the cart is having customers all the time without any breather and the vendor cannot do without standing.
  2. Indian street food requires a lot of live cooking, while Vietnam I guess has more of assembling. Hence, the vendor can just stand, serve and sit down again till the next customer comes.

It was a fun thing to observe and some vendors were even wearing the traditional Vietnamese hat (Google it if you don’t know).

I was shocked about the food! I expected to love Vietnamese food since I thought there will be many readily available vegetarian options. Especially since I read online that Vietnam has a lot of Buddhist population who eat vegetarian food on certain days. Anyhow, Ho Chi Minh offers a lot of varied international cuisines but what I meant was vegetarian food was not mainstream at all. That was quite a shocker and I didn’t like the taste as much as I like Vietnamese food in Indian Vietnamese restaurants! Hahaha.

Ao Dai is so pretty & so easy to get made! Its a traditional dress for Women and I found the modern, minimal version quite pretty. It can actually be styled in various ways I feel and it accentuates people’s body structure it seems. However, what made me sit back and take notice is that there were a lot of tailor shops which means its pretty easy to get one made as per your desired customizations!

I think this post has turned more interesting than I imagined. I hope the readers also feel the same. 🙂 Would love to hear from you!

Book 9 of 2022 | Gunahon ka Devta by Dharamvir Bharati (Hindi Novel) | Diwablog 2

Okay, you may have noticed that I am trying to do a Diwablog series for Diwali, just like loads end up doing Blogmas for Christmas (including me). I thought why not use this opportunity to also work in some long pending book opinions!

A short note on reading habit before the actual review: Remember this post? A lot of you appreciated it and while I barely continued this practice, at least it initiated me into reading articles more mindfully. As for books, I already used to savor what I read but I mostly forget what I read. Hence, going forward, you will see a structure to my book opinions. I also maintain a book journal for my notes now and I love doing that. You’ll also see me writing why I chose to read a book. It will sort of help me take a mental picture of the time I was reading that book in. I want to clarify here that I don’t read for ROI (not that that’s a bad thing) but the note-taking may sound like tedious to some of you and that’s totally understandable, but I do it to savor the book reading experience. Goes without saying that I only do it when I like to.

And now, here are my thoughts on Dharamvir Bharati’s famed novel, Gunahon ka Devta, which also recently got its English translation as Chander & Sudha (I’ll link all books at the end).

Why I chose this book?

Dharamvir Bharati had been an extremely revered Hindi novelist of his time, i.e. the 60s and the 70s. His romantic novel – Gunahon ka Devta – turned out to be a cult classic and I have been meaning to read something from him. So, i thought i’ll start with his most famed.

What I liked:

To be honest, I didn’t like most of it. I wanted to like it so badly because most of the Hindi literature that I like is from this period or slightly before. Not really from today. And i wanted to be known as someone who has read his stuff and loves it. Vain, I know. Still, if I had to pick a few things that I liked, they would be:

1. The old world charm of the Hindi hinterland since it’s based in that part of India.

2. I liked how all the women characters in the book had something strong and unique going on for them. I know many people think that the women characters were stereotypical but I don’t agree with this completely. They may be stereotypical but they all had a characteristic that stood out. Be it Binti, the side-kick cousin or her bitter & orthodox mom or even the super stereotypical Pammi, who is shown as the vamp character by showing her Anglo Indian and ‘easy’. Even the protagonist, she was unique in her own ways.

Oh wait, i should have mentioned what the book is about. It’s essentially a friendship turned love story turned sacrificial love between Chander and Sudha. Chander is a student prodigy of Sudha’s father who is a college professor. He trusts Chander blindly with anything in life and family matters (and that’s how Chander and his daughter are ‘allowed to’ be friends) but there’s not even a possibility of considering him as a perspective groom because of caste differences which was a pretty big deal back then and continues to be in many parts still, especially that area where this is based.

What I didn’t like:

A lot. First of all, I am not a big fan of the sacrificial kind of love stories. Most of the ones that I have read never seem to have a good enough reason for it, so I basically find it difficult to relate to protagonists’ problems. To top it off, I felt that both the protagonists, i.e. Chander and Sudha, had very annoying personalities. Chander is kind of self centred and despite being someone older and well-read in the equation, he exhibits really toxic man-child behavior around Sudha and when not ‘catered to’, he exhibits self-harming behavior. It’s really annoying and I could hardly garner any sympathy. If i was supposed to look for a deeper meaning in Chander’s personality, I failed. Sudha, while definitely seemed a better character than Chander, was just not good enough for me. I cannot place a finger on why I found her annoying, since I may have liked her character in another novel setting. I just didn’t like the fact that she caved in too quickly to Chander’s whims.

That’s really it. I actually really wanted to like it but i didn’t . Below are the links even though I haven’t made a good case for it:

Actual Book

English Translation

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My Skin Care & Makeup Hits of 2022 | Diwablog 1

Sounds like an year end post, but let’s take it as a mid-year taking stock, shall we? I am going to dive right into it, please tell me your skin care & makeup hits in the comments! I would love to know yours.

Also, go till the end to see the star of this post!

Shesha Ayurveda Rose Water: Admittedly, I haven’t used a wide variety of rose waters, but this is a way purer upgrade than the widely popular Dabur Gulabari. Now, to be honest, I consider this also expensive for something as frivolous as rose water, but considering people are into buying rose water from way more expensive brands in India, I would consider this a sweet spot – pure as well as not super expensive. I wholeheartedly recommend.

Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia: I have already talked about it in my favorites here. Jo Malone fragrances are love. Nothing more to be said. As I am exploring more fragrances by them, its becoming increasingly difficult to choose just one as the most favorite.

Earth Rhythm Sunscreen: Its difficult to explain my love for this one. I basically started using this brand for supporting a cause. Have written about it here. I have lately started to feel that it doesn’t stand for that anymore. However, like I have mentioned in the post as well, I use some of their products for the feel good factor and that’s where this sunscreen comes in. I’ll stop using this the moment I find a better alternative but here’s why I love it – extremely comfortable on skin, no white cast, some people say it makes my face glow. As for helping with tanning, I don’t know. I have never felt with any sunscreen that they help me with strong sun rays.

Aroma Magic Sunscreen Cucumber: This was a fun product to use – what I mean is this brand has been in our lives since a long time, probably when our parents were kids but it has evolved over time to suit the customer demands, be it in terms of products or packaging. I admire them for it, their jazzy packaging is always appreciable and for this one, I loved both the fragrance and feel of the sunscreen on my face. Not to mention this product is extremely cheap!

Disguise Cosmetics Eyeshadow Palette: This is one of those eco-conscious, new-age, hipster cosmetics brands in India and I just happened to try it randomly. To be honest, the eyeshadows are very basic, nothing amazing and nothing bad but they still feature on my favorites purely and purely for the packaging. I mean look at it!

Fashion Color Makeup Spray: The star of this post. Here’s the story on how I ended up using and loving this completely local, unknown makeup spray that I seem to love more than the Benefit Super Setter. There, I said it. I basically was at a local cosmetics shop near my home a couple of days before my wedding to get a few jewelry pieces rented that we didn’t get made as part of my customized gold and diamond polki set (examples) (those were things like headpieces which don’t get used later on). In India, its pretty common for some local cosmetics shops to have these things as well. So, I was there for that and my mom and I just happened to discuss that I am going to buy a makeup setting spray. This woman at the counter overheard us and she literally forced me to buy this particular makeup setting spray. I was not keen as it was an unheard of brand but I went along since there was no reason why she would force as buying another brand would have meant more money for her. Its one of the best makeup products I have used over the years in terms of ‘getting the job done’. I don’t know if its available outside India, but I have linked it so that you can see how it looks and purchase it whenever you see it!

That’s it from my side, now its your turn! 🙂

Work Day Blues

I have been having a severe case of Monday blues, and not just today. I feel like I have been stuck with this since a long time. You know there are days when you just feel like blah at work, but those days have been pretty regular. I am honestly a little embarrassed to share how I feel about work days (and dread if any office folks happen to read it), but I have decided to go ahead anyway:

  1. Just for context – I like the work that I do and I am happy with the profile/domain etc that I work. Throughout my working lifecycle, I have always worked in Consulting, so all my points are based on that experience only.
  2. I am not a fan of most things a typical workday, especially for consultants like me, holds:
    • I dislike the fact that we don’t have a strong sense of belonging with our team or office junta. We usually work in different teams across the organization depending on the project we are on and, therefore, its difficult to forge genuine relationships. Add to this the fact that I usually don’t look forward to the social interactions that are specifically put to make the team interact, because those seem very surface level. I then get to observe how these dynamics work in my client offices – a non-consulting or what we call, an “industry” environment – and I see that people have groups they hang out with, people they hate, office politics etc. very clearly defined. Not saying whether its a good or bad thing, but it definitely provides them with some sort of sense of belonging. Weirdly enough, I have made some genuine friends whom I know from work, something I never expected to happen but it did.
    • Thing that I hate the most is the unsustainable working style – consultants usually are not just chasing a single KPI, or business objective, but rather responsible for either delivering a particular assignment or crafting the strategy for it CLUBBED WITH any additional department level responsibilities. Its not about the actual amount of hours that it may take (although that is the bigger pain point), but about the work expectations that you are expected to meet/exceed (not these terminologies again!) to “grow up the ladder” (not again!).
    • I will obviously feel a whole lot better about all the issues I raised, if I knew that I need to do it only for a fixed number of hours at a fixed time (4 days a week instead of 5 would be a nice touch, but let’s not go there).
  3. I am seeing a lot of trendy “toxic work culture” related terms thrown around these days, and I want to call them out for the kind of BS they promote. There are literally two extremes – quiet quitting and hustle harder and I hate both of them fervently. If you don’t know what they are, you are lucky as hell, but please Google them to understand what I am saying. 😀 Well, for quiet quitting, I honestly don’t know much, except that I hate the term itself. It means people who do the bare minimum at a job to make it work. How is this “quitting” at all? Like, at all? You are doing something out of a need (for yourself as well as the org), how can this be termed as quitting? Also, this glorification BS of “you need to love your job” really needs to stop. Not everyone is privileged enough to have that, and not everyone has the capacity to hunt for what YOU think is the right want. So, f*ck this glorification really. The other term, hustle, is downright annoying and I hate the kind of popularity this term is garnering these days. This is basically people who say that unless you want to fail in life, you need to work an unhealthy and ungodly no. of hours and do all sorts of things that hamper your lifestyle to make yourself succeed. This is the most bullshit concept that I find difficult to digest. Please understand that I am not saying that working extra hours is a bad thing always. There can be two scenarios for it – 1) you are passionate about something and are putting in your blood and sweat into it, 2) you are made to work like this because of any objectives you may or may not care about. The first one is a dream many want, but if you are shoving your dream down to other people’s throats and also giving lectures about how its necessary to succeed, then you are just promoting an unhealthy working style. To some people, their job may just be a means to make money and be compensated accordingly. If somebody wanted to hustle harder, they simply would, even without all these motivational gurus, who really seem to be on crack, telling them to do so.
  4. I was quite bored and done with working when I started this post, but I think its important I call out the goods in my own job too –
    • We mostly work from client offices rather than our own, so a lot of exposure.
    • And a lot of travel opportunities
    • Best thing I like: When we are not working from the client offices, we get to work from home. This is not something just due to the pandemic, but has always been the case for consulting folks

This was quite an emotional writing for me. Therefore, it may seem a bit incoherent. If you came till hear, I would love to hear your thoughts. Also, feel free to correct me on anything you find not sitting too well. 🙂

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