22 Mar 2015

10 things that make me insanely happy

This International Day of Happiness, let’s be thankful to all the things that make us happy. My list is a special bunch of things that matters to me. What’s on yours?

1) Stories through verses: I've long since dabbled in poetry. As a young girl, I've written childish poetry, often varying from nature to poetry with comparisons to everyday life. I've loved the way the words melted and twirled in my tongue when I spoke them. I believe in the perfection in poetry, the symmetry, the rhythmic style; written in a continuous stream of single thought that magnifies the verses and weaves them into a story.

2) The company of few good people: if you are a fellow introvert, you’d know just how precious those few people are. In my life, there are a handful of people that I cherish.

3) A well-written book: a kindle story, a pdf doc or a paperback – doesn't matter what the package is;  a good read is a decadent craving fulfilled.

4) A hot cuppa: anyone who has met me would know it isn't blood that runs through my veins, it is
coffee. A good cup of coffee is guaranteed to cheer me up anytime. ‘Nuff said.

5) Writing: I sometimes wish that I could be transported to the 1800s so I can feel the crisp air through a castle window, pick up a quill, dip it in the ink kept on the ornate desk and become a creator in the Romantic era.

6) Spring: I don't like too much cold, but the snuggle-weather of spring is good. It is the only time I actually don't mind going for walks. My face clears up and my skin glows like clockwork every spring.

7) The big picture: Circumstances weave around you and you weave out of them. Not the other way around. Everyone's approval is not paramount; neither do you have to please everyone.

8) Being selfish: Indulgence is not always bad!

9) Dreams: not the metaphorical ones (though those are important as well), but the actual ones that reveal a whole lot what my subconscious has registered that I missed. It is a look into my ‘sixth sense’. Interpreting your dreams doesn’t involve a fat Freud book and looking up meanings of clouds or chasing or whatever. It means listening to what you might've missed consciously. Your brain is a sponge of information – picking up the signals it sends me from my dreams is something that gives me the pleasure of a job well done.

10) Acceptance: something that I struggle with, but when I finally reach that state, I’m giddy with joy. To each, their own and acceptance beyond question has been my constant strive to achieve when I'm dealing with people of any kind.

Coke’s tagline ‘Open Happiness’ has a lot of great ads in the series for International Day of Happiness. Check out their latest one:

Optimism is a way of life

I've been in the company of cynics lately. The ones at work at particularly disheartening, not just because they don’t have a single good word about anyone, but also because their outlook is gloomy and bleak. It crushes my optimism. I fervently believe in the good in people and being around THAT much toxicity bugs me to no end.

My constant search for a blend of what I love and ambitiousness spurs me into all the things that I try. I can deal with cynics usually, meet raised eyebrows with one of my own. It’s the pessimists I’m baffled by. Their negativity is not only palpable; it is a quality I’d rather not stay too close to. These are the ones that believe that “settling” is a way of life. Settling for mediocrity and compromise has been my fear ever since I learnt to say a resolute ‘no’ when my parents wanted me to do engineering. It astonishes me how many people want to settle for something less, for something ‘okay’ and for something that they don’t even care about.

The question you ask yourself is “What's more advantageous to you – a 9 to 5 job that makes you crawl into your bed every night, wishing you were doing something worthwhile, or the satisfaction that you get by doing something that you love – every single day?”

It saddens me each time I meet a pessimist. The grey comes off from them in waves. Distinct and intimidating. It makes me want to stand up and tell them that there’s a reason successful people are how they are. It is not because they kissed their boss’ ass, were ‘politically correct’ or wrapped themselves in a pretty package and sold themselves to hierarchy. It’s because they never stopped believing in themselves and their abilities. They never stopped dreaming about the next thing that they want once they had achieved something. The successful do not have a magic personality. They are good at what they do because they love doing it. Their dreams follow because they wouldn't allow it any other way.

At times like these, I go back and remember the 2005 graduation commencement speech by Steve Jobs that my professor had shown us on the last day of his class. It has everything a conventional “inspirational” speech had – life experiences, rags to riches stories, the never say die attitude. It helps me look past the cynics and negativity around me. Steve speaks of doing what you love and being good at what you do because you love it and not because it’s your “job”. Inspiring stuff, that.
We start at the same level. We get the same education – some formally, some from the surroundings and few, not at all. Yet, the thing that holds a person together is not how intelligent they are or how creative they are. It is what they do with it. Whether if what your dream is to cure cancer or if it is to come back home early to your kid to play lego with them every evening. Visit Housing.com if you need some optimistic inspiration in the murky world of real estate. 

If someone were to ask me at my bleakest moment, what my outlook looks like, I manage a smile and say “It’s all going to work out.” I’m sunshine and rainbows and colors and everything in between and I wouldn't trade that for anything.

15 Mar 2015

Burnt dinners are the best!

Valentine’s day is overrated.

These are the words you sometimes tell yourself when you’re lonely. On one such Valentine’s Day, I sought out the two girls who make the duller days of work fun. One had no plans and the other had a dinner at home with her husband. The two of us waved away our married friend and decided to go for a nice dinner. While we were driving out of office, the car felt weirdly empty without our friend and we called her to ask how dinner was going. Her husband answered the phone and proudly declared that he was making chicken biryani for the two of them. Now, this was a feat because he can barely boil eggs. Taking the phone from him and chortling with laughter, our friend said that it is giant mess in the kitchen and he completely miscalculated the amount of rice needed and that there was enough for 8 people! Howling with laughter now, we asked her to save some for us for lunch the next day.

Her husband came back on the line and said “Why don’t you join us?” Our friend joined in and yelled in affirmative. We made a split second decision to head to their place. We entered a chaotic living room and a half-burning kitchen. As I sat down on the bean bag, with a chilled Bailey’s Irish, the other one rolled up her sleeves and went to help in the kitchen. We managed to salvage the dish to an extent and settled down to eat it from one big plate in the living room. It tasted a little off, probably missing some spices, maybe the chicken was overcooked, but to us, it was the best goddamn biryani we ever tasted.

Sitting in the living room in a messy sofa, we sipped the cool and crisp drinks by our side and breathed in the slightly burned air. We played Nintendo WII after dinner, dancing to retro (corny) 90’s songs and singing Karaoke at the top of our lungs. We sat with ‘Poo’ – a card game where the players are monkeys and can fling poo at each other – no really. Poo! We giggled for no reason at all and hooted at our own dance moves.

Our friend and her husband confided that dinner seemed like a boring way to spend the evening and they realized that company could be just the thing they needed to make their time memorable. Whoever said that Valentine’s Day is just celebrating love in clich├ęd ways like a candlelight dinner in a posh little restaurant? It can be just as fun in a messy house, burnt dinner and dancing to have a good time. Speaking of, visit Housing.com to lookup the perfect one that you can have fun times in. 

The dishes lay forgotten amidst banter, to be returned to when the remnants of the evening will linger only as an aftertaste. In the cutthroat instances of peer rivalry, petty politics and momentary alliances, the three of us found what few people really do – trust and friendship. 

10 Mar 2015

Why Lookup is the 'Now'

After nearly a decade of living away from home, adaptability has become my middle name. It didn’t start out that way though. As a determined, fresh-faced 20 year old, barely a month out of college, I fought my first fight for my dream – to join a company that inspired me and to experience another city on my own. Both these statements were live-wire declarations to my parents, who opposed it firmly. I stubbornly, yet quietly, gave them reasons why I should be allowed to go.

It wasn’t an easy fight. Emotional battles seldom are. The one thing that kept me going was the absolute belief that I wasn’t going to find my way through the world living a sheltered life with my parents. Belief that made me apply for jobs that weren’t in my home city and that led me to
find the one that I prized. With a tangible offer letter, my parents finally saw that it wasn’t a pipe dream, but a real one – the one I was trying to build on my own, stumbling over the first blocks.

Hyderabad, the city of Nawabs, was the first city I moved to. My training wheels were finally off. With two suitcases full of my stuff and temporary living accommodations for a month, I was firm about two things – finding the ideal flatmate and finding a great living space I can call home. I learnt quickly that compatible flatmates are the exceptions, not the norm and pictures from newspaper ads were a big letdown! ‘Cozy’ was synonymous with a space resembling a dungeon, ‘established’ with an old, rotting house with moldy walls and don’t even get me started about specifications that come with being a single girl looking for a house (one landlady asked me not to hang my bras in the balcony because she had grown sons!)

Suddenly, a month seemed like no time at all to find a house! I was scrounging newspapers for classifieds, putting ads in company’s intranet site and proceeded to carry out the time-honored tradition of going from one building to another, asking the security guards if there were any apartments to-let. The sites online were mostly filled with ads by brokers, who demanded unreasonable commissions and I was left wanting something that allowed me a transparent transaction – an impossibility at the time.

Three cities and six houses later, I’m now much better at scoping for locations, cutting through landlord claims and looking for houses without too much of a hassle. I always appreciate developments in the impersonal world of real estate, especially the ones focused on transparency. As a result, while looking for potential properties to invest in, I came across Housing.com, a site that was a fresh and different from all the other real estate sites I’ve seen so far.

I was admiring of their clean digital interface, ease of search and the realistic photographs of the houses (unlike stock imagery). I love their maps feature which shows me the neighborhood of where I’m searching for and the exact location of the houses/apartments and the mobile app that
alerts me when there are new properties in the location I’m interested in. Sure, there are several real-estate specific sites, but this one stood out for its impressive execution that focuses on the user. 

Watch their ‘Meet the new Housing’ video to know what I’m talking about. 

Happy house-hunting!