Monday, September 30, 2013

Days 264 - 273: Summit, Fitness Blender, Snake & Ladder, Discoveries!

Clearly, blogging has taken a backseat.

But that's because I have been THAT busy.

Just a month into my new assignment and I was given the opportunity (a very good one, I must add) to lead a summit that involved well... a LOT of people... and that was meant to answer a LOT of critical questions.

And that meant a LOT of work. I was hitting work at 7am pretty much every single day of the week and getting back home well past any normal hours.

But the good news is that the summit - which happened over 26th & 27th, was a great success! At least that's what those who attended it told me.

So, as of now, I am on top of the world! It was back breaking work but with grin inducing results. Plus I must also add that the food that was catered for the two days of the summit was mindblowing. Probably the best catered food I've had at any meeting or training in my office!

Now, of course I am happy that the summit got good feedback. But what was most interesting was that even when I was putting in those insane hours into work, I think I was actually having fun! Because I didn't catch myself grumbling over it... not even once. That's rather strange but very welcome. And I hope this new found enthusiasm and passion is here to stay!

In other news, I chanced upon this website called Fitness Blender that has the best list of workout videos ever! And they are absolutely free too! Am having a great time trying out one workout after the other from their endless list. I also got myself an exercise ball because it was required for quite a few different routines and its only then I realized how fun exercise balls are! Really loving this new discovery!

Speaking of discoveries, we also happened to discover two new restaurants. One was a neighbourhood restaurant called "Old School Delights". We have passed by it so many times but never stepped into it until now. The menu featured typical Singaporean dishes like Mee Siam, Curry Chicken and Laksa but what was fascinating was how, true to its name, it was dedicated to Singapore's good old heritage. The Coke came in glass bottles instead of cans, there were several antiques like old cameras, cassettes, iron fans and such, and they even had the old school board games like snake & ladder. It was adorable! Of course, the hubby and I engaged ourselves in a fiery game of Snake & Ladder and I lost miserably. But of course, it was a really lovely experience. This is definitely one place I will go back to. Oh, and I just discovered their website too... which is yet another adorable part of them!

The other discovery was Rang Mahal. Well, this is technically not a discovery because both of us have been here before but mainly with other friends or colleagues and that too a long time ago. But somehow it had never occurred to the hubby and I to add this to our regular hangouts. Once the bill came, it was pretty clear that there is no way this will become a regular hangout, but I have to give their amazing starter of Jumbo Prawns filled with Crabmeat, a special mention. Because, even at that hefty price, that's one think I could go back for. It was simply out of this world!

Last but not the least, it's simply fascinating to watch the little one grow! She has moved on from ignoring or sitting up and clapping every time I sing a lullaby, to actually sing along with me. And when I stop, she continues to sing anyway and falls asleep on her own! Adorable! And these days, she has also mastered this routine of cuddling up, tucking her head into my neck or my arms, and lying there as if it's the most perfect place in the world. My heart immediately turns into a gooey mess when she does that. I was also completely amazed to see that she slides down the slide in the playground and then crawls back up to it to slide again, all on her own! I didn't even know 10 month olds could do that! This motherhood thing is a real journey of discovery, I have to admit!

So yes, it's been a few good days. Busy but happy. And those are always the best kind! 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 255 - 263: Ideas, Messages, Films and Personal Records!

13 - 21 September, 2013

When I had started to write this blog, my aim was to complete at least 1 blog per week. Clearly, that's not happening. Not because I am not getting enough good stuff to talk about every single day, but because I am up until my nose with things to do. Work's super hectic, am trying to squeeze in as many days of exercise and as much time with the little one as possible and she, even in her tenth month of existence, refuses to sleep through a night without getting up at least four times, which is tiring me out! So when I get back home after work, all I want to do is catch up as much on sleep as possible.

But there's been progress in my life over the past few days and am going to do a quick summary of highlights:

1) I have broken my own personal record for the number of days I exercise. In my very obsessive, compulsive manner, I have been counting the number of days I exercise in a year, right from 2010. The highest so far was 126 days in 2011. This includes yoga, walking, dancing, cycling, swimming, jogging, DVD workouts, anything of the sort. Now am super proud to announce that as of today, I have exercised 132 days in total for this year and we are still only in September! I must also note that this is way higher than the 100 days I had as part of my 2013 resolutions. SO awesome!

2) It is probably all that exercise but it looks like I am no longer at my heaviest nor my largest. It is still a long way to go until pre-pregnancy levels but am very happy with the progress.

3) I have struck upon an idea for a sitcom in Malayalam, and am pretty excited about that. I have a name, a theme, character outlines and even the storyline for a couple of episodes. I shared the thought with a friend, who is also one of my regular actors, and he was pretty excited about the whole thing too! This could be my next project, maybe, but what's exciting is this stage of being struck by a brand new idea and developing it in my head!

4) Interestingly enough, I have also struck upon an idea for another short film. Maybe I will write this one out soon and it can be added on to my pile of will-make-it-some-time-in-the-future scripts.

5) A few lovely people, unrelated to each other and unknown to me until now, wrote me rather nice messages. Few, after watching Mausams, and the others after reading these blogs. I always feel pretty thankful when people take the trouble to do that and of course, getting any kind of encouragement for these things is one of the key reasons why I can keep up the drive to continue making films or continue writing this blog. So thank you folks, it is very much appreciated!

6) Work is getting more and more hectic by the day and surprisingly enough, am still enjoying it! That's always a good thing!

7) I have also managed to meditate more number of days than I thought I would. It is still not everyday...for some reason I get rather sleepy by the time the little one hits the bed at night (which is already well past ten or in many cases, even 11) and end up not meditating. But I do hope to make it even more frequent and turn it into a habit, even. But so far, so good.

8) We have also resumed rehearsals of Aravindum Aarumughamum after a gap of a month. We have had a couple of rehearsals so far and I am happy to see that it is coming together very nicely. Slowly but steadily!

9) Last but not the least, Inganeyum Oru Katha has managed to cross 150,000 views on Youtube! Who would've thought!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Day 254: Another Level of Romantic Talk!

The hubby never fails to amaze me.

Just when I was thinking that he is completely sliding down the being-romantic graph, he took it to a whole different level.

It all started with a conversation over dinner about how to manage stress levels. Usually during such conversations between the two of us, I do most of the talking because well... I do think am better at managing stress as well as handling general life questions, plus I like to give advice.

So yes, there I was, eloquently articulating my philosophies on these matters and there he was,  listening intently. ``

Towards the end, I finished it off with a humble, "At least that's what I think", and looked at him, anticipating some awe and appreciation of my wisdom.

I expected him to say, "Thank you. That's such an inspiration", or "You are so awesome, how well you think these things through", or at least a "You are right. I agree with you."

Instead he said.............., "You are my dialysis machine."


Maybe he was expecting me to totally get the profoundness of that statement but seeing that I clearly didn't, he continued, "You know... you cleanse me up from the inside."

Wow. Really now.

While I processed this in my head, he looked pretty smug. I could tell that he thinks he has totally cracked it. His eyes gleamed, indicating that in his head, the statement encapsulated key dimensions of a conversation with your wife - romance, philosophy, wisdom.

I was at a loss on how to react. So I simply asked him, "Can I please put this on my blog?"

"No", came the reply.

OK then.

I love you too, dear husband.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Day 253: The Glorious 5-Minute Welcome Back Home!

This was my first business trip post pregnancy and the first time away from the little one. So I was rather curious to see her reaction when I get back home. Apparently she was pretty alright in my absence and there was no sign of separation anxiety. OK, that's good but I hoped that she would still be mighty pleased to see me back and would give me a grand welcome.

As I entered the house, there she was, playing with our helper. She looked up and saw me.

Her first reaction was that of...well... utter puzzlement. It was almost like she just realized that I was actually not around for the last few days and has somehow managed to appear now.

This realization was soon followed by a great insistence of wanting to be picked up. That was enough for my heart to start melting. I dropped all the luggage instantly and rushed to pick her up.

The joy was evident. She laughed heartily and throatily, in her usual style, and started to give me her version of a "kissie" all over my face.

My heart had, by now, turned into gooey, fully melted butter.

She then repeated for a few times, her version of "hide and seek" by burying her face into my neck first and then revealing it with her toothless grin.

"Oh... how sweet....this must be what they mean by mother-child bond", I exclaimed.

I was probably just at the end of that sentence when, just like that, she lost interest in hiding and seeking and insisted on being put back down.

Erm.. OK.

I put her down and she immediately turned her attention to her favourite Lego pieces and for probably the umpteenth time in the day, picked each piece up and threw it in a random direction.

All of the above lasted for about a little more than 4 minutes. But for convenience sake, let's round it up to 5.

So yes... I had 5 minutes of the most glorious welcome back home!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Day 252: Chinese Consumers and Chinese Indian!

Today was another super hectic day. The morning was spent on marathon meetings - debrief from yesterday's store visits, one-on-ones with my Chinese counterparts, sharing sessions between our teams, etc.

Post the meetings and a quick rather disappointing wrap for lunch from Starbucks, we set of for what is usually my most favourite part in any market visit - meeting with our consumers!

We went to meet two consumers - girls in their early 20s - in their homes. This meant long drives through Guangzhou's various mostly concrete landscapes, sighting buildings of all shapes and sizes (there was one that is exactly like a doughnut - a circular building with a hole in between!), bridges, rivers, and what not. China's infrastructure never fails to amaze me.

It was enlightening to be in the consumers' homes and talking to them. I always find it fascinating when they open up to us, complete strangers, and share their dreams, aspirations, expectations and so on.

After that fulfilling experiences, we decided to hit a highly recommended Indian restaurant "Tandoor", which was a 15 minute drive away from our hotel. The wait for the taxi in Guangzhou's still and polluted evening air, the waiting time, the nerve-wrecking taxi drive, none of them were pleasant. And I really wondered whether "Tandoor" would be worth all that trouble.

Well, it was. In fact, "Tandoor" was more than worth all that trouble! I don't think I had such good North Indian food in a long time! Both their vegetarian and non-vegetarian cuisine were mindblowingly awesome! The only disappointment was the watered down masala chai, but I was willing to forgive them for that. I must also mention that they had a very unique decor in their restaurant and also a beautifully written concept on the menu. Nett, I left "Tandoor" a very happy person! Never expected any Indian food in China to taste this good!

Day two in China thus came to an end and tomorrow we make our way back to Singapore! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Day 251: Chinese Vegetarian, Chinese Metro, Chinese Shops and Such Chinese Experiences!

Yesterday I took off on my first business trip post pregnancy - to Guangzhou, in China!

Given that this involved my first flight with no baby tagging along, ever since the little one came by, I had made up my mind to enjoy it thoroughly.

And I did too - I enjoyed the Indian Vegetarian food that was served, I enjoyed the movie I watched - a Bollywood flick called "Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana", I enjoyed reading my book "The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken - A Vish Puri Mystery" (I had SO missed buying books from the airport during business trips, which was something of a routine!), I enjoyed the cab ride from the Guangzhou airport to Westin where I was put up...enjoying the sights around Guangzhou on my way there, I enjoyed my check in to the hotel and feeling so happy to be inside a 5-star business hotel once again, I enjoyed tucking away into that super comfortable bed, I enjoyed it all!

Today, the first day in Guangzhou, turned out to be packed with a lot of authentic Chinese experiences.

a) Enjoyed the buffet breakfast which had the regular continental and american breakfast items, but also the Chinese fare like noodles and dim sum!

b) Walked through the streets of Guangzhou, as if I were a part of the regular office going crowd in that massive Chinese city, to get to the P&G office which about 800metres away.

c) Attended a few interesting meetings learning about the Chinese retail channel as well as eCommerce landscape, all of which were rather eye opening.

d) Had one of the best meals ever at a.. believe it or not... 100% vegetarian Chinese restaurant, right in the same building as that of the P&G office! There was all sorts of mock meat - mock pork, mock chicken, mock beef, mock fish and they had managed to make them all taste as close to the real deal. We, my team and I, ordered quite a vast variety of dishes and even the hard core vegetarian in the group agreed that the food was mind-blowing!

e) Sat in a Chinese taxi with a Chinese taxi driver who drove his taxi in a way that the Indians of India would be pretty proud of. It is nothing short of a miracle that we didn't bang into something. But all's well that ends well and I am still in one piece.

f) Walked around a ton of different kind of shops that sell beauty products, as part of our "store research". The weather was hot and humid and the polluted air didn't help, but we strived on with determination and were on our feet for about 4 hours. Four extremely productive and insightful hours, I must say! It was an inspiring market research indeed and at the end of it, I was totally spent but felt good about the whole thing.

g) Almost got lost in a Chinese Metro and got completely jammed into a mass of humans inside one. It was a fascinating experience! Here is the full story - Due to the unavailability of cabs, we decided to take the metro back to our hotels after the store visit. Great idea but just that I wasn't prepared for the huge wave of humans that I would get caught in. All of us got our tickets and made our way to the train that had just stopped at the station. This one was relatively empty, so I got in. Only to turn around and realize that the door closed behind me, leaving the rest of my colleagues outside! But no, I didn't panic. I just told them, in sign language of course, that I will wait in the next stop. I got down in the next stop and waited, and when the train came by, it was jam packed... and I mean JAM PACKED... .with humans. I couldn't spot a single familiar face. But after a few seconds, all of them toppled out of a compartment, one after the other. I was relieved. We decided to take the next train, since we had to go further down the line, but there was no way we could all get back into this train now. So we waited and the next train came by. This one too was packed to the brim. And by that I mean that the few who get to stand next to the door, are actually plastered on the glass doors. It's a rather unsettling sights to see human beings looking like 2D stickers against a glass door. But we managed to squeeze ourselves in this time and in the process might have looked like 2D stickers ourselves, from the outside. After a few more stops we reached our destination. Getting out of this brimmed-to-the-doors train, was an equally exciting challenge and I was most certain that I might not end up getting out of the train in time. Thankfully one of my colleagues decided that she will need to ensure that I get out this time and not carry on with the train. So she held my hand and pulled me out with all her might,  regardless of what that meant to my fellow commuters. And all of sudden, I was out... safe and sound... fully intact... and able to breathe.

The first day in Chinese thus came to an end. It was chaotic, fascinating, educational and super fun!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Days 247 - 250: Compliments, Mallu Movies, Background Scores and Shot Breakdowns!

5 - 8 September, 2013

So it is pretty clear that work has picked up... a LOT.. and looks like it is here to stay. My days pass by in a snap; am rushing from one meeting to another, writing emails after emails, preparing documents after documents and seriously giving that good old brain a real workout.

But it is all good. Am enjoying myself because I find the work scope challenging and fun!

And what's even more feel-good is that am managing to squeeze a few other things into my schedule as well. If I were to pick one highlight from each of the last four days, they would ....

a) On Thursday, I hit yoga and had a really good class. What was awesome about it was that the teacher, post the class, told me that I look "lovely". According to her I have "toned up a fair bit". Of course, am always all for compliments and I told her that I love her.

b) On Friday, I caught a Malayalam movie in the theatre. This is a rare event. These days, there are more Malayalam movies releasing here in Singapore but I don't get to go for any, due to other priorities like baby-time, hubby-time, total-family-time, exercise-time, filmmaking-time, sleeping-time and other such important times. In fact, I believe this is the first time I managed to catch a Malayalam movie at the theatre, post pregnancy. The movie was highly forgettable but the experience wasn't. I had a great time thanks to the two good friends who had tagged along with me!

c) On Saturday, the music director for Aravindum Aarumughamum sent across the very, very draft reference of the background score he was working on for the film. This, I feel, is one of the most exciting parts of making any film. When the music comes in! It was beautiful and I immediately started to visualize all the frames in my head! Super awesome a feel that is!

d) On Sunday, I managed to complete the shot breakdowns for Aaravindum Aarumughamum. I had started on this before the cruise trip, but had gotten through only 50% of it. This could be the most challenging project I have ever done, in terms of direction complexity. So thinking through each shot was a tedious and time consuming process. But as of this morning, it's all done and ready! Exciting!

So yes, it's been four pretty exciting days!

And now am off for my first ever business trip post pregnancy - to China!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Days 239 - 246: A Great Post-Holiday Phase!

27 Aug - 4 Sep 2013

The holiday seems to have given a new lease of energy and determination. Ever since I got back I have been extremely busy but productive.

Things went pretty much like this:

Got back to Singapore (after a good flight in which the little one co-operated really well).


Wrote all the detailed blogs from the trip (and there were a lot of those!)

Uploaded the holiday pictures.

Caught up with everything at work and made some good progress too.

Exercised 6 out of the 8 days since I got back.

Managed to get a "that's a very lovely post" for camel pose at yoga class.

Caught up with friends at work and outside.

Started meditating every night before going off to bed.

Got to watch the little one learn new tricks like picking up toys and placing them on my palm when I tell her "Give", imitating me when I cough, playing her new favourite game of collapsing on the bed at the count of three, trying to say "this" and "that" even though that's not what she means when she says it... etc. etc.

Caught two good films - a lovely Malayalam film called "English" and an interesting independent film called "Good Morning, Good Night".

Got excited about the new found muscles on my arms! The workouts are working!

Did some more planning on the next big holiday, this time with both the set of parents!

Had a discussion with a friend who got inspired by the script of Aravindum Aaarumughamum and has thought through a way to use the film to raise funds for a particular social cause. How awesome is that! More details on this coming over the next few months.

Discovered a whole new hangout area in Singapore. It all happened when the hubby and I were out of ideas for a new place to take the little one out to for our routine Sunday outing. I resorted to Google and we got several recommendations on kids friendly cafes in Singapore, all around this area called Robertson Quay. We had been there before but what we didnt realize that beyond the restaurant we have been to, there is an extremely long strip of cafes and restaurants and bars lining the river, connecting Great World City mall to Clarke Quay and beyond! That was such an awesome discovery because there were dozens of cafes to choose from. We had a good brunch at one and walked more than 5kms up and down the strip. It was an evening spent extremely well!

So there. That's all that's been happening. It's a lot. But it's all good. I am glad that instead of lazing out after the holiday, I have been able to bounce right back!