Memory Keeping: My Reasons

January 19, 2015

Memory Keeping

Memory Keeping

I am an inconsistent memory keeper at best. I have more unfinished projects than finished ones. You know how that goes. I am sure you’ve been there at some stage in your memory keeping experience.

And yet, I keep at it. Despite the unfinished albums. Despite the incomplete journal entries. Despite the unsorted ephemera. Despite the time commitment it requires. I keep at it, because I want to record the moments, the memories, the stories.

We are human. Which means we will forget things. Sooner or later, the edges of the memories stored in our brain will start to chip away. Whenever that happens, I would still want to be able to remember all the big and the small moments. I want to be able to relive a hopefully well-lived life.

Each day we do, see, read, hear things that will contribute to our future selves. To record those things is to record a proof of life. In the simplest of words, memory keeping to me is proof that “I was there”.

I was there in that moment when as kids we would scramble up to our building’s rooftop to dance in the rain.

I was there in that moment when my brother somehow got his ankle hurt so bad on the merry-go-round that he had to get stitches.

I was there in the moment when I cried like a baby after watching Titanic.

I was there in the moment when we played Holi in our hostel compound with mud (yes!).

I was there in the moment when Ankur and I spoke for the very first time.

I was there in the moment when I surprised my parents with a short visit home for Diwali.

I was there in the moment when I totally surprised Ankur on Valentine’s Day (it was a good one!).

I was there in the moment when I started my incomplete Project 365.

I was there in that moment when our families showered us with flowers after we got married.

I was there in that moment when I discovered this tiny little record shop in a tiny little lane in North Beach in San Francisco.

I was there in the moment when Ankur and I woke up to a magical rainbow on the day of our first anniversary.

I was there in the moment when a group of 14 (or was it 15?) people went to see Gone Girl one Saturday night.

I was there in the moment when my girlfriends and I had marathon chats discussing upcoming wedding plans.

I was there in the moment when I celebrated my birthday with both my parents and my parents-in-law present.

I was there in the moment when my brother showed me his apartment on Skype.

I was there in all these moments and more, and I have lived all these moments and more.

I capture these moments because I live, because I experience life. Because I want to remember my story and relive the moments, the life. And because Dr. Who says it best, “We are all stories, in the end.”

Image by Death to the Stock Photo. Edit and type by me.

Recapping a Holiday: Florence

January 16, 2015

Travel

There are no two ways about it – Florence is a magical city. We stayed there for the shortest duration on our trip, but it was long enough for me to fall in love with the place. In fact, I am looking forward to being able to visit Florence again and explore the Tuscan countryside sometime.

Apartment EntranceApartment Living Room

We rented an AirBnB flat during our stay there (our first experience with AirBnB). The apartment was great and all, but just as an aside – if you want to book something on AirBnB make sure you check about elevators and stuff. This flat was on the 5th floor, and did not have a functional elevator at that time. Not cool, having to drag heavy luggage up 5 floors.

Opera

Our first evening there, we went to the opera at St. Mark’s English Church. It wasn’t one of those grand ones, but set inside the church, it had a beautiful, cozy ambiance. And it was too beautiful for words. It was my first time at an opera, and I was blown away by the performance.

Estorio Santo Spirito

If you do visit Florence, you should definitely eat at the Estoria Santo Spirito. You guys, the food there was fabulous. The bruschetta there remains the best that I have had to date. Anywhere. And they had seating out in the open, under the twinkly lights. What can I say, they had me at the twinkly lights! The Santo Spirito area in general has a very “locals” vibe and was buzzing with activity even way past midnight.

ArchitectureFrom the DuomoView From the Top

The next morning, we wandered into the city center, walked around random book shops, and finally found ourselves at the Duomo. Yes, we did walk up the 400-odd steps to the top. It was a long walk but so worth it. The unhindered views of Florence and the rolling mountains in the distance is a sight for sore eyes.

San Lorenzo MarketCipolla Rossa Osteria

Around early afternoon, we spent some time walking around the San Lorenzo market and at lunchtime, stumbled upon Cipolla Rossa Osteria. We were way too hungry to really care about where we were eating, but the food there was exceptional. The rosemary roasted potatoes was sheer perfection, and the ravioli was tasteful beyond words.

Basillica Maria Novella

With some time to kill before our scheduled slot at the Uffizi, we fit in a visit to the Basilica Santa Maria Novella and were awed by the beautiful stained glass windows and the surreal frescos.

Outside Uffizi

We took the tour of the Uffizi with the help of an audio-guide (a quick aside on museum visits – it helps to book tickets online, otherwise you could end up spending hours in the queue at the venue), and while I am a novice at all things art and paintings, the collection there was absolutely amazing. A lot of paintings that you read and hear about were right there in front of our eyes and made me want to pinch myself a million times to make myself believe that I was really there. Many years ago, I could never have imagined that I would have such opportunities to explore the world. And there I was. I have so much to be thankful for. Anyway…

Riviera

The evening was meant for having strawberry & cream and desserts at Cafe Rivoire. Great spot for people watching, and also feeling insignificant. I mean, the buildings around us, the sculptures surrounding us were built hundreds of years ago, and they were still standing strong, basking in the glory of their history. It made me question that what was I doing about my life that would stand the test of time, that would contribute to the world in some meaningful way. But then here I go again, digressing!

SunsetMichelangelo Plaza

Just a little before sunset, we walked all the way up to Piazzale Michelangelo. That sunset was magical. And to share it my best friend (and husband) was the best feeling in the world. No matter how cliched and touristy it sounds, but you shouldn’t give this a miss on a trip to Florence. It’s a part of the magic that is Florence, and trust me, after a long day of walking around, you would love to soak in the beauty of a magical sunset.

Carousel

We loitered around Ponte Vechhio some bit and took tons of silly photos and spent the rest of evening aimlessly wandering around Piazza della Repubblica. When our tired feet could walk no more, with a heavy heart we trooped back to our apartment. I don’t know how many days are essential to truly absorb the magic of Florence, but I do know that even a single day spent in the city will leave an indelible imprint in your heart and soul.

The next morning we left for Rome with some magical memories and a promise to return again. It’s been over eighteen months. Maybe I should remind the husband about this.

Read more about our Italian sojourn here: Venice

From My Journal

January 15, 2015

Journal

Life stories 2Sometime last year, when Pink Ronnie explained her reasons for switching over to The Shoemaker’s Daughter, I was moved to start recording my story and that of my family. In the last 2-3 years, I’ve had aspects of my life documented through Project Life and some photo books, but a lot of the older memories and stories have never been out of my brain’s memory box. So, I fired up a new Word document and just started typing things out. Nothing fancy-schmancy there.

I don’t really have a plan for this journal that I am calling “Life Stories”. I am currently only dumping childhood memories into this journal. I’ll see how it shapes up over time.

These are just some snapshots from the stories that I have recorded so far.

*** *** *** *** ***

I remember feeling a sense of relief. A sigh of exhaustion. Of a sweet sense of escape. After 3.5 years of busting my ass at work, I was finally free. It was such a liberating feeling.

Many people have told me that I handled myself during the phase very well. I just tell them that I really had no reason to complain. I really had the best support system in the world and it was literally a new lease of life for me.

*** *** *** *** ***

I don’t remember any screaming or shouting from either Maa or Baba. What I do remember is all four of us going out for a walk after that, to that small shop by the complex where we used to get the orange and cola candies.

Most of all, I remember one of us really messing up and Mumma-Baba not berating us for that.

*** *** *** *** ***

The rains in Kumardhubi were never the way rains in Bombay are. On that occasional weekend or so, when it would rain, often all four of us would run upstairs and just dance in the rain. With abandon. With pleasure. With happiness. Happiness at the rain. Happiness at the togetherness.

*** *** *** *** ***

More / Less – 2015 Edition

January 9, 2015

Life, etc.

More - LessI’ve admitted this before – I am a chronic list maker. Sure there are plenty of lists where I haven’t crossed off even a single item, but more often than not, the things that I do end up completing are the ones that are on a list!

So, in keeping with my usual style, I’ve got plenty of lists floating around in my “My Documents” folder. 30 before 30. Resolutions. Things I plan to do with my OLW (more on that in the next couple of weeks)… You get the drift. This list below is a subset and a combination of a couple of other lists, but is super relevant in the context of a new year.

I intend to make this year B-I-G for myself, and not the least because this is the one where I hit the 3-0 mark. I was less than stellar in 2014, and I do not want 2015 to be a repeat of that. Hence, I am starting with this simple list to remind myself to focus more on the good stuff, and let go of the various toxic stuff in my life.

In 2015, I commit to More:

  1. Experiences
  2. Get togethers dear friends and family
  3. Gratitude
  4. Trust, faith and empathy
  5. Journaling / documenting
  6. Travel
  7. Photography
  8. Cooking and good food
  9. Movies and documentaries
  10. Learning and discovery
  11. Doing what’s good for the soul
  12. Active and fruitful weekends
  13. Planning and doing
  14. Systematic saving
  15. Handwritten notes and letters

In 2015, I commit to Less:

  1. Procrastination
  2. Self-doubt
  3. Holding on to grudges
  4. Being judgmental
  5. Avoiding confrontations
  6. Junk (both physical and emotional)
  7. Negative self-image
  8. Impulsive splurging
  9. Toxic over-thinking

I would love to hear – What’s on your “More/Less” list? Have you figured out your goals for the year? What are the things that you hope to achieve this year? Go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image by Death to the Stock Photo. Edit and type by me.

Reflections + Random Ramblings

January 7, 2015

Life, etc.

Reflections

In my last post, I admitted that 2014 was not my best year. In fact, I was more than glad to file that one into the archives. Now, I don’t want to give you an impression that my year was a series of bad events or circumstances. Far from it, really. However, at the end of it all, despite the many positives, my heart just didn’t feel happy. I ended the year feeling something amiss within me, within my soul. Hence, I am more than delighted for new beginnings, even if it really is just a random calendar transition.

Before you read further, let me warn you that this post is more like a brain dump… but it’s something that I want to do, to set a better tone for the year ahead.

** From my experience over the last couple of years, I know that closing a year with some time spent reflecting on what made a year great or not so great allows you to learn from your mistakes, appreciate the good even more and most importantly, move ahead in a positive direction. I guess it becomes even more meaningful when the year gone by hasn’t been the best.

** For me, a very useful resource for reflection and moving ahead has been the Unraveling workbook by Susannah Conway. I did this in 2012 and 2013, and I always learn so much about myself from this little exercise. I wanted to complete this in December itself, but between falling sick and general “holiday season” unproductiveness, I never did get around to do. But better late than never. I have the workbook printed out, and am hoping to tackle it in the next week or so.

** Sometime in October last year, I created my “30 before 30” list. That list currently lies somewhere in my laptop’s hard drive. I don’t even have the completed version put together in one place. Now that I have some 10 odd months till I am 30, let’s just say that I really need to get cracking on that list!

** Ever since we moved houses last July last year, I have become rather mindful of my possessions. I’ve purged my clothes many times over (and still intend to do further edits to my wardrobe). I’ve been trying hard to get into the habit of not buying every single thing that I like in a store (or online). My paper / stationery / memory keeping stash can certainly use a thorough cleaning. I don’t view consumerism as an evil, but want to make “quality over quantity” my motto, and not just in the clothes department, but rather all spheres of my life.

** I am taking part in Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop for the third year in a row. And for the first time in three years, I intend to finally make use of that workshop. My word for 2015 is “Experience”, and for a change, even without starting on the workshop, I have made big plans for/with my OLW in 2015.

** I am carrying over some incredible work opportunities into the new year. It really is up to me to make the best of them and deliver on these opportunities. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes from last year, and I definitely do not want to over think the situations. I am going to execute and deliver – that is my work motto for the year ahead.

** Lastly, I am hoping to be more intentional with this blog. I want to give it an honest shot, and see where it takes me.

So how was 2014 for you? Are you like me glad that the year is over? Are you looking forward to 2015? Come back on Friday to see a slightly more concrete list of my intentions for 2015.