How Are Your New Years Resolutions Holding Up? A Check-In!

We’re almost at the end of the first month of 2019 (WHAT!!!). All of the carefully thought out goals, ambitions and resolutions are well underway. As part of this year’s first N-N-1, we’re checking in with our favourite bloggers from around the world to see how they’re faring.

READ: The N-N-1 Collaboration


Sparking Joy – A Splash Of My Life

One fine day in the first week of January 2019, a little Japanese doll-like lady with a quiet demeanor and a calm force, came into my life. Marie Kondo in her Netflix special ‘Tidying Up’. Within the next few days, I had watched every possible #KonMarimethod video on YouTube and had printed out a checklist on how to follow her de-cluttering method. Last weekend, the closet and the dressers looked like a hurricane passed through them. But by Sunday evening, things that ‘sparked joy’ were hung in the right place and stashed with a higher level of organization. There were two bags of clothes to be trashed and three to be donated. Time to move to the next categories!

I may not have fancy resolutions, but now I know how to fold my clothes like Sushi. 

© January 2019 Colonialist

A Solution Filtered Through – Colonialist’s Blog

When comes the New Year is when I
Get energy renewed;
With launching into DIY
Ambition am imbued

This year I sought a filter that
On pool replaces one
That just a lot of use is, fat,
To get sand-filt’ring done.

The two-bag jobs expensive are,
And, new, beyond my means,
So, looked at ads both near and far
On internet-type scenes.

And on the nineteenth jumped for joy —
Just what I wanted traced!
But, oh, how it did me annoy,
That it had gone in haste.

I asked that I be notified
If that deal should fall through …
Next day, such duly was apprised,
And hope flared up anew!

The distance there was quite a way,
But I drove there at speed;
To dig it out took half a day,
But I got what I need!

This filter and all twiddly-bits
Have safely been brought back,
So now I start on fitting fits —
Filtration I won’t lack!

TBR 2019 – Classical Gasbag

Even I, a person who tries to lower expectations, think this is a ho-hum picture. But it is the physical embodiment of my goal for 2019. Goal because no one keeps their New Year’s resolutions. Goals, however, are achievable.

What is this goal? This bookcase holds most of my To-Be-Read (TBR) books. They are books that I’ve picked up over the past few years, along with a few that were gifts, and some that I want to re-read. I have felt constrained and unable to make a serious dent in the TBR accumulation, rightly or wrongly by my annual reading challenge. But this year I am concentrating on this bookcase. Oh yes. I said that it holds most of my TBR. I have another shelf worth of books that I will also be drawing from, but this is the main source.

Wow! Long explanation. The goal is to read at least 1 ½ shelves worth of my TBR.

When Cindy read the description of this N-N-1, she immediately asked me if my goal was a specific goal that she had in mind for me. No. That isn’t the way personal goals work. But, honey, I’m working on that one too.

One of the things I resolve to do, this year and forever, is speak my truth and resist lies.

Speaking My Truth – The View From A Drawbridge

This was a very special day for me. I got to participate in the annual Seattle Womxn’s March for the first time, and although it was not as big as it was the day after Trump’s inauguration, it was still impressive to me. 10,000 people, speaking their truths about women’s rights, creates powerful energy. But for me, quite often, it’s the little things that matter most. Like this 4 year old girl who made her very own sign, and was proudly carrying it. Start them off early, Mom. There will always be work to do and marches to march.

The moments in January I enjoyed mindfully – a snowy sunrise, my niece discovering bubbles, geese, Easter egg displays in January, a winter sunset, and a ransom cat in our garden.

Enjoying A Memory As It Is Being Created – This Labyrinth I Roam

I have lived a very unstable life, moving four countries in four years. Part of that is a severe case of wanderlust, but mostly it has been us trying to make a relationship work in different countries because our home countries haven’t allowed us to be together without a marriage certificate or a job that pays CEO level salaries. What happened, in the process, was that every adventure was severely tainted by behind-the-scenes stress and worry. What this meant was that I didn’t enjoy a memory as I was making it. It’s only in retrospect that I saw what a wonderful time it was, what an opportunity, what an adventure!

And so, my 2019 resolution was born. I had to face the fact that my life was never going to be normal. However, what I did have control over was how I experienced my day-to-day. 2019 is going to be the year I live more mindfully – even when my day is filled with stress about making a paycheck last the month, even when I worry about visas and border control and jobs, I will enjoy the sound of my niece’s laughter, I will enjoy the crisp winter air, I will let my soul swim with the geese as I take a walk in the park. And so far, I have managed to do just that.

Mecca Of Bountiful Ideas – Wild Rivers Runs South

Too much time on the Little Elbow River,
Not enough time on the dusty backroads
Of my home state.

Too much time tending bar.
Not enough exploring new taverns
In Nebraska hamlets.

Too many days of wordless thoughts
Have dried my creative juices
Into crusty, scabby flakes of stammers
In my once lubricious brain.

When spring arrives, I’ll flee the confines
Of this once and future, but not present
Mecca of bountiful ideas.
That feels like a bumpety-bump great idea.



Keep a lookout for more N-N-1 announcements so you can participate the next time, and join our global collective in capturing memories at a set date and time. You could even host this event on your own blogs. Feel free to write to me at labyrinthiroam@gmail.com if you have ideas, if you want to host the next one, if you just want to say hi!

Until next time!

Thai Spirit Houses

No I don’t mean bars or breweries although there are plenty of both here. While it is tempting to hit one to deal with the stresses of everyday corporate life (CORPORATES ARE EVIL!), I am talking more about a little cultural phenomenon I almost overlooked. It is so easy in the daily grind to forget that I am actually living in a foreign country and while I have moved here for work, 90% of the appeal of moving to Bangkok was the opportunity to travel and explore more of a culture that is alien to me.

One of the little discoveries are Thai Spirit Houses. Every building – house, mall, giant condo, market – has a miniature house-like structure that is draped in flowers and surrounded by incense. You will know these to be Spirit Houses when you see a couple of fruits and opened bottles of cola with straws lain in front of the mini building. Inside the building, you will sometimes spot statuettes, figurines of humans, dancers and gods. I just assumed they were little external prayer houses.

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Curiosity getting the better of me, I soon found out that Spirit houses aren’t Buddhist tradition as I originally thought. The practice goes back to pre-Buddhist times when people believed that all land is occupied by spirits of our ancestors. In encroaching their land and building your own structures, you are rendering them homeless and as such, are probably bringing bad luck to yourself.

To counter this, everyone builds a miniature home for the spirits in the corner of the property so that the Spirits can continue to live on the land but also have proper shelter to spend their days in comfort. The house is built on a prominent spot and a lot of people build it so that the shadow of whatever structure would soon occupy the land will not fall on the Spirit house. In addition to this, people leave the spirits food offerings. If the cola bottles are anything to go by, the Spirits seem to have an affinity for Strawberry Fanta!

When the room land-mates of the Spirit House decide to build a new mini-house, a colourful ceremony is conducted so that the Spirits may travel to the new house peacefully. At the end of the ceremony, the old house is discarded near a temple.

There is just something about this simple tradition that has really captured my imagination. If I ever settle down in one place and own a house someday, I might have a Spirit House of my own. Would you?

 

Adios 2015

I’m a little late to the party, I know. But ever since I put it out into the universe that I wanted to create and put out a novel, work got extremely work like and dumped me with more tasks than time in the day. Needless to say, I failed that particular task miserably. However, the whole of 2015 was not a failure. Instead of tempting fate and starting an another ambitious novel titled ‘What Happened To Me in 2015’ or the less ambitious version of ‘How Everything Can Change In a Year‘, I created a picture collage of my 12 highlights of the last year!

2015 Photo Snapshot Cupitonians
Click on the image for a full size view!

And here is a list – since I can’t help myself!

  1. I attended a music festival in Bangalore and the headline band was Alt-J, one of my most favourite bands of all time. This is big because growing up we never got to go to concerts (part of the reason being that not many artists came to India). I attended it with people I love and there just is something about hearing your favourite music live while swaying in the rain to the rhythms that move you.
  2. The boy moved countries for me, yes. But I love the fact that over the year he has gotten to know my family better to the extent of having inside jokes with them. I’ve always wanted to be with someone like that and watching them cuss out identically during family sports night just fills me with so much happiness. It really is the little things.
  3. We watched a lot of sports. I don’t get to do it too much now that I have moved countries but Bangalore gave us the opportunity to watch our cricket team and football team in action. So what if there was a little (okay, fine, it was a lot) monsoon!
  4. The third image is us watching the finals with Bangalore Football Club (BFC) and the fourth image is of us at a Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) match
  5. As a going away present, my colleagues and dear, dear friends gifted me a Kindle. It is such a blessing because I love reading so much but have had to leave all my books behind because of the move. Thanks to the Kindle, I can now read anywhere and it weighs next to nothing despite having a billion billion books.
  6. We moved to Bangkok for a lot of reasons. The Erawan Shrine became a big landmark for us because I work next to it and it was bombed shortly after we moved. It is a symbol of how resilient we are as humans when it comes to disaster and ultimately, what it is that makes us humans
  7. Bangkok is a BIG city in the true sense of the word. I share a love-hate relationship with it. But every time I get down about it, a breathtaking market pops up. I’m not much of a shopper, but the markets here have been such a delight!
  8. Part of why I love being in this part of the world is all the travel opportunities – I have so far been to two coastal areas and one beautiful island. Bangkok is another gem that we still haven’t explored fully. In the photo here is the lovely island of Koh Samet.
  9. Photo of the pier at Pattaya (Which reminds me that maybe I should write more travel journals!)
  10. The Bangkok river side and Asiatique
  11. I have always wanted to travel for work. I realise that the idea of travelling for work is much more romantic than it really is, now that I am leaving behind someone. However, while previous travel for work experiences were limited to one end of Bangalore to another, 2015 took me to Malaysia and one of the most beautiful office spaces I have ever seen.
  12. December saw Star Wars (Weeeee!), a new love for BB8. It also included an unplanned trip back to Bangalore for Christmas with family.

The most important event was the chance to meet and spend time with my niece. I am forbidden from posting her photos on online platforms (her parents have a thing about it I can’t really explain!). However, I never thought it possible to love someone so truly without actually knowing much about the person but I am truly in love with that little munchkin.

Can’t wait for what 2016 will unfold!

Ko Samet, Rayong

We had our first visitor this month, my broseph’s girlfriend. It gave me a chance to be my obsessive-compulsive self about hosting. I’ve also always loved showing people around – watching their awestruck faces. There aren’t enough words to describe just how much I love it. My ideal job would be to own a bed and breakfast, a cafe with a library and a tour company that will prepare your itinerary for you and then show you around all the good sights. While I’m waiting for that dream to become a reality, I had the chance to visit my first island in Thailand.

Thaisland?

Okay, Okay. I’ll stop.

The island we visited is called Koh Samed. There is surprisingly little information about how easy it is to get there. So I decided to note these things down on the off chance that it will help someone. First thing to do is go to BTS Ekkamai and the Easter Bus Terminal which is 2 minutes away from the station. Then take your pick of the myriad of bus options available. We picked the 293baht return journey. What you get is a 2 way open ticket that’s valid for a year. A YEAR!

Anyway, they tell you which stand to go to. The bus leaves exactly on time and since there are seat numbers allotted, you don’t need to fight over the good seats. This, you have to understand, is new to an Indian person such as myself. We will push people down if we have to – anything for a good seat. The bus ticket wins you a free bottle of water (YAY!) but it is a 4 hour drive to the pier so bring plenty of snacks.

Once you are at the pier, you will need to buy a ferry ticket to Ko Samet. If you have a work permit, you pay the Thai price for the tickets (50 Baht). If not, you pay the farang price (100 Baht) which is all normal (we have this sort of disproportionate costs in India as well). 40 minutes later, you are on the island. You could also opt for the speed boat option (200 Baht) but you are there in 10 minutes. Personally, I prefer taking the ferry. I enjoy being out at sea. I enjoy the sight of the beaches coming closer and closer. There’s something so thrilling about it.

While in Samed, you can get an AC Dorm for about 250 baht. There are also fancy sea side beaches for a more romantic/private setting. And now, to let the photos do the talking for me – 😀

Ban Phe Pier
Ban Phe Pier

Nan Dan Pier, Ko Samet
Nan Dan Pier, Ko Samet

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Views from the Samet Pier

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Beach Side Dining at Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet

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Secluded Beach at Ko Samet National Park

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Another view of the secret National Park Beach

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Panorama shot from abandoned national park pier

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Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet

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Ko Samet National Park Beach

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Sai Kaew Beach, Ko Samet

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The Mermaid of Ko Samet. Beats the scary one that greeted us at the pier!

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A reflection of me just chilling out on the beach! Check out my ‘on point’ eyebrows!

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I still can’t get over the fact that what most people consider a honeymoon destination is just a weekend’s trip for me. Gotta love life!

Books on Trains – The Bangkok BTS!

I have been used to spending a minimum of 3 hours on the road from my university days. And this is not in the good ‘stare out in a melancholic stupor while the rain makes pretty patterns on the window’ sort of commute. It was hell on the road, breathing in carbon fumes,cigarette smoke and the stench of sewage mixed with sweat and breathing out the most innovative curse words known to man. Riding the scooter is not as fun as the Italian movies make it out to be.

Scootering
Damn you Vespas!

Sometimes the nightmare scenes would have music playing through earphones. This was cut short because of how unpredictable traffic was in Bangalore and how quickly people move from the right of the “lane” on to the footpaths. That’s not to say that all of my life’s commuting was nightmarish. There have been moments of great enlightenment. Still, you can imagine that traffic in Bangalore is the 7th level of hell! It really is!

Traffic on the BTS
The only kind of traffic I have to deal with in Bangkok

Since moving to Bangkok though, I’ve rediscovered a love of letting someone else do the driving. They have an elaborate Sky Train and Metro service that connects you to almost all of Bangkok. The BTS is the skytrain system and the MRT is the underground metro system and they teach you a thing of two about life. Having travelled extensively on the London Underground, I find the Bangkok Mass Transit system to be more … laid back.

BTS ChidLom
With views like this, who can resist!

You don’t have men in suits cursing at you if you accidentally stood on the left instead of the right (OH MY GOD IT IS THE END OF THE WORLD) and everyone seems to walk at their own pace so that the heat doesn’t smudge their makeup. I’m all for leisurely strolling and zen like stances so this is a big plus in my book (except when you’re in a rush and are likely to knock down 25 petite women on your way). And while you get crushed in due to the morning rush, you are taller than most people and so can read your book at leisure.

YES, I CAN READ WHILE TRAVELLING. FWORD YEAH!

Doing the dance non-stop!
Doing the dance non-stop!

I cannot understate how amazing it is to be able to carry a book into an air-conditioned carriage and zone out for 20 minutes while you get pulled in to a spectacular story. In London, sight seeing (aka subtly watching Hot Dudes Reading on Trains) was my pastime. Here, the sights are so few (if you count out all the sexy legs strutting around) that you can actually get into reading. I have read more books in the two months I’ve been here than I have in the months coming up to my move!

The Inheritors, William Golding
Current BTS read

I am winning at life!

Okay, enough showing off. What have you been reading lately?

Also, if you have time, check out The Girl Who Wasn’t There and Other Poems on Amazon and give a shout out to my friend Kevin Morris from New Author Online.