7 months. 10 pictures.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. There you go then, 10,000 words coming right  up!

1. What’s meant to be will find a way!

Going back to the start...

Going back to the start…

2. Teach For All Conference on Systemic Impact, Santiago, Chile – April 2014

Neruda’s home – Chile. :) That was my first thought when I saw the invitation to this conference. Roaming around on the streets of Santiago, I could feel the mesmerizing Spanish influence and romanticism that inspired Nerdua’s poetry.

“If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt this sadness of never understanding ourselves and of threatening ourselves with death Perhaps the world can teach us as when everything seems dead but later proves to be alive.” ― Pablo Neruda

Aboard Santiago to Rio Flight : A view of the majestic Andes

Aboard Santiago to Rio Flight : A view of the majestic Andes

3. A beautiful night walking through Bella Vista and feeling the warmth of Chilean hospitality!

I must have said this a million times on this blog that travel is a truly educative experience. Eight Chileans, two Indian’s connected by the most unimaginable networks got together to spend a splendid evening in Santiago. So many questions asked, anecdotes exchanged, stories swapped, perspectives offered – it was an exhilarating night because of the free-flowing conversations.

Santiago : A memorable Latin American dinner!

Santiago : A memorable Latin American dinner!

4. Happy Birthday Maa! :)

My dad’s currently posted in Jabalpur. I hadn’t visited them ever since they moved there. My Mom’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to pop by. Birthdays in our family have always been warm and beautiful. My dad and I have always very diligently planned for mom’s birthday – making posters, selecting the gift and waking her up in the morning with a cake full of candles. For years, Dad and I gifted mom cassettes and CDs – all the greats (Mohd. Rafi (her favorite singer), Kishore Kumar, Lata Mangeshkar and so on). Ever since I was little, it was me drawing up the plans and to-do list for all birthdays and their anniversary, at least I thought I was in-charge. :)

But this year, my Dad took the lead and how! It was brilliant – he arranged for my move (Pune-Jabalpur) and kept it a big hush-hush secret {You’d appreciate this a lot more if you knew how incredibly hard it is for him to keep secrets from my mom and how incredibly persuasive my mom can be once she sniffs a secret plan}, he created an artwork especially for her birthday {A huge, vibrant framed piece that took him over a month to create}, ordered an HP laptop for my mom {she’s taken to the internet and writing off late and is loving it}, pre-ordered a hand embroidered Parsi saree to be created from scratch over 3 months in Kolkata and planned an evening full of balloons, cake and celebrations! My own contribution this time was below poor and all I did was manage time and get there. I don’t intend to take it away away from Dad in anyway, but the look on my mom’s face when I arrived in the afternoon was priceless. :) So I guess, in a very narcissistic way, I could assume that I was the best gift of the day.{logic and rationale tossed outta window here :)} I spent three blissful days with my parents and it brought me happiness that I cannot even being to articulate in words.

As I started to get older and began to somewhat understand the complex nature of relationships, I began to admire my parents marriage more and more. In fact, the older I get I seem to find their relationship more inspiring.  My parents got married in the 80’s, a time where each gender had professional, emotional, behavioral stereotypes attached to them. But somehow for as long as I can remember, I’ve always seen a very equal partnership in their marriage and I think that’s what I admired most about it. As partners, they know each others shortcomings and strengths and use it to work well as a team. I’ve seen a lot of respect, honesty, generosity and boundless affection in their 29 years of marriage.  It’s not because of the gifts and the big birthday celebrations, that I landed up in a contemplative mood about my parents. It’s because I find it heart-warming to see that even after 30 years, you care about someone and you care enough to show it. My father has always cared and very deeply so. It may not have been always big expensive gifts like this year and some years it was just an audio cassette and a card or maybe just flowers, but consistently as long as I’ve seen them – my father has expressed his love and care for his family in the most gentlest of ways.

It’s not just my dad I’m appreciating here. My mom, if I were to write about her, I’d probably be glued to the keyboard for weeks and it still wouldn’t be enough to articulate how incredibly blessed I feel to have had her as my mother. But I’m talking about my dad here because he came from a generation where he could have made a conventional choice about what kind of equation he wanted to have with his wife – a very male ego dominant one but he chose otherwise. He shunned status quo and chose a different path. That choice he made led to the equal partnership my parents have had for close to 30 years now, and I don’t know if I’ve ever told them this but it has influenced my life in many powerful ways.

They didn’t raise me to be perfect, they raised me to be able to handle all my imperfections and the ones that life throws your way.

You don’t get to choose your parents. So by a stroke of sheer brilliance and luck, I landed these two amazing people as my parents and very often these days, I thank God for that.

Beda Ghat, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

Beda Ghat, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh

5. Hello again, Thailand!

Ann Thong Marine National Park, Koh Samui

Ann Thong Marine National Park, Koh Samui

6. Endings and Beginnings

I was sitting in the audience just about two years ago, graduating from my fellowship as a thousands thoughts zipped across my mind as the event progressed at ASB Auditorium in Mumbai. And here I was, addressing the graduating cohort of 2012 in Pune and sharing my experiences on the post-fellowship journey as an alum! It was one of my least prepared for and most candid talks in recent times. I enjoyed it thoroughly and knowing myself, I can say this about very few social gatherings.

TFI Graduation Ceremony, 2012 Cohort

TFI Graduation Ceremony, 2012 Cohort

7. Understanding sustainability and corporate shared value from the Swedish perspective.

Kick Off : SIMP 2014 in Delhi

Kick Off : SIMP 2014 in Delhi

8. Brought on-board the second batch of municipal teachers to undergo a year long professional development program.

With renewed enthusiasm and strengthened convictions, we brought in the second batch of teachers to our program. I look back at the roller coaster that last year was and wonder how it all fell into place. I guess, sometimes the best thing to do is to keep your head down and keep going.

Orientation. Leadership Institute For Teachers 2014-15

Orientation. Leadership Institute For Teachers 2014-15

9. Moonsoon treks bring a joy that only a few experiences can measure up to. Beautiful walk from Bhorgiri to Bhimashankar.

As always sitting in the bus at 5:30 AM, I questioned myself as to why the hell am I up at an ungodly hour like this on a Sunday morning. I cursed myself for the decision to forgo sleep. And this always happens, until I reach somewhere around the middle of the trek and I see a view that truly startles and amazes me. It reminds me of why I loved trekking once and why I want to keep doing it. There was fog all around, and the freshest shades of green adorning the mountains and the moist, cool breeze all around. It was pure bliss! Monsoon treks always are! Everyone has their form of meditation, trekking is as close as I’ve gotten to a meditative state. You keep walking at your own pace, a pace that suits you and helps your breathing normalize, for meters there is no one ahead or behind you and you are alone with your thoughts. It’s beautiful in a way that can’t really defined.

Bhorgiri to Bhimashankar Trek

Bhorgiri to Bhimashankar Trek

10. My first attempt at baking.

Turned out quite edible!

Attempt # 1 : One bowl chocolate cake!

Attempt # 1 : One bowl chocolate cake!

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