5 The Moments

A week or two back, K and I had been to Duxton Hill for a Mexican refill (more about it later) and then walked down to Tanjong Pagar in search of a dessert that would call out to us. In no way did we think we would stumble upon a beautiful film photography cafe that now houses ice-creams and other desserts with coffee! I have to give this to K, amidst all the distraction on the street, he spotted this and said, “Let’s try this out”. I know we will be going back again.

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The shots are all taken in the night and pretty half-heartedly because really, all I wanted to do was drink coffee and stuff my face with waffles. Also, I have tried my best to cut off faces from the photos. Now that am done with my lame excuse for bad photography, let me tell you more about the place and what we had.

A play on the phrase, “find the moments”, this cafe has beautiful photos on the walls and a very  grey-meets white meets blue vintage feel that I totally dig. also, some of the tables were apparently sewing machines that were converted to serve a different function altogether. Fascinating, no? I absolutely loved the metal chairs that went so well with the decor. I admit some can be a bit(a wee bit) uncomfortable to sit but hey, sometimes prettiness comes at a price.

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Can you see all the vintage camera on display? I love how it feels a regular kopi-shop and yet takes it to an altogether different level. These little art pieces from different parts of the world added to the charm and somehow felt totally in place and not overdone.

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We were sitting right next to this pretty sight. I don’t know what caused it, but these days am a huge huge fan of white backgrounds with minimal art against it. I follow pretty much every instagram account that has such photography and so much that I photograph every little thing against my white kitchen platform.

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Too bad that I don’t like ice cream. This cafe had super unique flavours panetella, dark truffle, ebony (!) and what not. I will make a note of those names when I go next. They keep changing the flavours and source the key ingredients from across the world. K (as usual) had a classic vanilla scoop and loved it – not too sweet, creamy and just perfect, he said. Well, I had grand plans. I went with the buttermilk waffles with a drizzle of chocolate sauce. I like waffles with maple syrup or vanilla sauce but they had neither, so chocolate sauce it was.

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Crispy on the exterior, soft on the inside and a very faint flavour of butter – perfetto! I loved every bite of it. I don’t like my waffles too sweet and this waffle seemed to be made for my palate. K and I also tried a bit of this waffle with vanilla ice-cream and it was really good though I much prefer the version sans ice-cream. We noticed people queuing to get a seat and so like good kids, decided to come for coffee another time and let the others “find their moments”.

I must confess. I am a cafe junkie. If there is one place where I can be studious, poetic, lost, happy, tranquil, in love, lonely – it has to be a cafe. I can spend days in a cafe. There have been instances where I have accompanied K on his business trip and spent entire days cafe- hopping while he works. This cafe by virtue of its location in CBD is not going to be a quiet place but rather vibrant, artsy and inspiring in its own way. And I am glad to have found this gem that tickles my love for art, tucked away in one of the busiest streets of Singapore.

You can find the cafe here:

Closed every Monday
Address: 73 Tanjong Pagar Road, Singapore 088494
Tel: +65 6222 5336
Email: 5themoments@gmail.com

Little and not-so-little pleasures :)

I have been falling back on the Na Blo Po Mo and I am really sorry that I haven’t written everyday. But I will try and make up for it.  Even though the main motive is to write everyday, I will atleast try my best to write as often as I can.

I had a pretty nice weekend and just looking back on it now, on a Sunday night, I thought I’d share some snippets here.

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After dilly-dallying for a while now, I got an iPhone 7 in rose gold for myself. Well, K gifted this to me now a fortnight before our wedding anniversary. I absolutely love it. I am a huge instagram junkie and I do hope to make more of this blog and go beyond what am writing now, so having a nice phone camera is a great addition to my DSLR. I had a huge Samsung Note before that went kaput. So I had been  using  a smaller Samsung phones. After getting used to bigger screens, I was finding it difficult to type or do one of those absolutely unnecessary activities on the small phone. And, I love Apple. Atleast that is the justification I have for this insanely pricey indulgence.

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We were in Little India today, at Mustafa to buy some lentils and atta when I spotted this Kurkure. Kurkure and I share a long history. After coming back from school, my brother and I would sometimes have a small packet of this each followed by a packet of cream milk bikis (the ones with smiley faces where the cream came out of the eyes and mouth, does anyone know what am talking about?). This snack was one of our favourite snacks after schools. And we used to lick our fingers dry and then try to get whatever spice was left inside the packet and repeat the procedure much to ma‘s amusement. Grand times. So anyway, today I had a snack like old times although alone. The cover has undergone so much change and yet it is all the same once you bite into it.

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It helped that the weather was like this, what with clouds unable to decide on being  magenta, orange, grey or white – it was a beautiful sky. When B sent me this picture from the lab, I immediately rushed out and this picture doesn’t do justice to how the sky looked this evening.

Hope you had a nice weekend🙂

Notes from my room

I missed a day, I will make up for it but there was no way I could write coherent sentences yesterday.  I don’t know if it just me or whether I have company (fingers and toes crossed) – I feel like I am not writing to my satisfaction at all. In my aim to not give up on a challenge that I have voluntarily undertaken, I want to keep writing and going on, day after day without a gap (broke that already with yesterday). I do have a lot to say but then at the back of my mind I am like, “But wait, let me get done with some of these things before I write about it.” Know what I mean?

There is always this dilemma that goes on inside me – should I honour my commitment or should I do justice to my work? Ofcourse, honouring the commitment with your best effort is how it should be. But sometimes it doesn’t happen. Especially not with cool “fall” feels like now. Singapore does not have seasons but the minute I hear the rains or feel the drizzle, “then my heart with pleasure fills”.

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I love this season. In Singapore, with every passing year, I feel like Christmas starts earlier. When I came first in 2011, November end would be when it felt like X’massy. Now October is as early as it all starts – Malls and streets adorn a beautiful gold, red, green and silver look with mistletoes, Christmas trees, cinnamon and vanilla scented candles, Christmas sales, bright-lit shops, exclusive seasonal flavoured coffee at Starbucks, red and golden nail colours, more cheerful people, happier children, Halloween stalls, spiced apple body butter, doors in university housing with a small ornament, bath bombs that smell of Christmas and the list goes on. I am a huge huge body butter, shower gel junkie; actually I am a junkie for anything that smells like the season and especially the seasonal coffee flavours and hot drinks in general. I think it is because we miss seasons in Singapore so much that we go overboard in trying to make up for it through our olfactory, gustatory and visual senses. And well, most of the senses have to be inevitably appeased through a very popular form of therapy called retail therapy (window retail therapy is definitely included).

We love living in the university campus for these reasons – there is sort of cheer and positive energy everywhere. the undergrads especially need no reason to celebrate at all, so imagine my joy when I get invited to a Halloween party and a Diwali celebration next week. I was like, “Wait, didn’t we already do that? “, only to realise that this celebration is from the student housing and the earlier one was from the university in general. Well, you cannot complain much no?

I have to get back to work. Much as I want to write more now that I started, I have to end as abruptly as the beginning. I have been missing out on reading all blogs but I think December will be full of reading blogs that had signed up for the marathon.

 

Busy becoming a God-Mother and Chithi

Yesterday was one big day – one of my closest friends S, here in Singapore gave birth to a beautiful girl. I  cannot tell you how happy and overwhelmed I am. We have been waiting for this day and yet it caught us unawares. Just a normal Monday, S started clearing her annual leave and I was in the lab working on something when she texts me saying she was so excited about the baby and was just adding little ornaments in the baby’s room. 2 hours later, she is on her way to the hospital. I rushed immediately, sab chod-chaadke and there she was clicking selfies of herself. After 8 hours of waiting and 45 minutes of pushing  we welcomed the little princess at 10:46 PM. I am too overwhelmed, too ecstatic and a wee bit sleepy-but-cannot-sleep right now. I got home around 3 AM and will go back to the hospital in a couple of hours. I don’t know if I can post in-time today but I will post by US time for sure.

Such an amazing feeling. She (S) went through much and just watching that little nose, that beautiful pair of eyes and rosy lips and teeny fingers and toes chokes me. Welcome to the world little one, you have such beautiful moments waiting for you to make them happen🙂

Chithi in Tamizh is aunt (mother’s younger sister)

Chod-Chaadke in Hindi is leave everything as it is and dash for it!

A new week, a new skill.

Hi everyone,

How is your Sunday? I have been on Skillshare for a while now and have been using it to learn little tips and tricks. But only recently after a few posts on Social Media, I realised I must use it to learn simple art and try small lessons, one every fortnight or week, as time permits🙂

So this week, this what I did. I watched “Drawing Cute” by Vivika Vaina.  It is just 11 minutes long and absolutely lovely! Ofcourse you don’t need to be “good at drawing” to do this. And I thought it would make a wonderful way to spend holidays with kids or just even churning out dozens of elephants or pandas from your table when bored or maybe make your own prints or greeting cards or bookmarks or illustrations on little post-its for your friends – your imagination is the limit!

Anyway, I did it because I haven’t been doodling or drawing for over a couple of months now. It isn’t just therapeutic for me but rather a way to come up with solutions to challenges and just totally relax my mind, as I want. I started with this class this morning and have already finished 30% of my to-do list now. I hope this doesn’t become a cheat post because I really did want to share. Even if one of you finds this interesting and gives it a go, then I consider this useful.

Just to tempt you further this is what I did as the class went on, so I spent like 15-20 minutes in all including colouring it🙂

Which one would you adopt?🙂

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Class credit and all illustration ideas: Vivika Vaina, Skillshare.

The dry-fruits box ritual.

For some reason today, I am reminded of the little ritual of filling the boxes wit dry fruits. Every month, Pa used to bring home 200 grams of anjeer, raisins, cashews, almonds, dates and pistachios from a local store at the market. He’d announce his arrival with a “Tan-ta-daaa, look what I have got!” and we always knew. We always knew that this meant only one thing – filling up the boxes with dry fruits. After getting refreshed, we would all go to the kitchen, get the almost empty boxes of dry fruits and then carefully set them on the dining table. We’d huddle together around Pa. Meticulously he’d open the packet of anjeer, they always went in first, those rings stacked around a fibrous cord. This was followed by the raisins and every time he would take extra care while opening the packet of raisins always tsk-ing away at why they staple these packets and how one has to be very careful lest the pins get mixed with the raisins. And we’d chorus, “We will eat them one by one and not stuff them in our mouth at once,” because that was what we were always told and we knew when we had to give him that reassurance. It was a joy watching him struggle with pins because he had such short nails that it was impossible to say if he had ever had them any other way. Finally, he’d manage to get the pin out (always stubborn to use his fingers). The dates, almonds and cashews followed. What always excited us were the pistachios. Somehow they were the most enticing of nuts, the one that gaped through the gaps waiting for the shell to be broken. The pistachios were always eaten 6 at a time. We did not want to finish them soon. It did not really matter a lot if we did, I am sure Pa would have bought more, but somehow that was how we wanted to pace ourselves always. Once the boxes were all filled, we helped Pa carry them to the kitchen and place them on the rack – the second row from the top, just about the right height for us to reach for it if I tip-toed or stood on one of the chairs from the dining table. 

For some reason, I thought of this and it made me smile and also sad at the same time. I can imagine Pa’s smile as he filled each jar with a small announcement and it was and is easily one of the happiest moments we have had together. 

P.S. Am a bit late for Day 5, but let us assume I am posting from Seattle.

Friday fodder

Psst. I have written this post in spurts through the day. I had no idea where I was going with all this (and still don’t) but these were some thoughts running in my head at some point.

We came to apply for a visa to Australia today. Our appointment was at 1 PM, so once we were done with that, K and I had some lunch together. If you are interested, we had kadhi pakora, kadhai paneer and rice. We were so hungry and it was absolutely delicious. Since K has work for another 2 hours, I decided to wait at Starbucks and work here and then we can ride back together. So, well, here I am.

Let me order a latte because I cannot apparently sit in the cafe and write a post without ordering something. Wait for me, will you?

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Got one. Now, where were we? Clearly, this is going to be a ramble. I have no clue what to write today. It is only the fourth so it kind of gets scary. I want to say so much but then I am not in a mood to write about them. Does it happen to you ? I mean, we all have so many stories to tell but somehow they will be told only when “the moment” comes. I am not talking of writing blocks, that happens. I mean like topic-specific inspiration. Let us say I want to share the story of my summer holidays. I cannot do it until I get all nostalgic or am really in that zone. And when I force myself to despite it, the words never say what I want them to say. Sometimes, I read some of my own letters or posts and then I think, “Wait, I couldn’t have said that better!” or “What am I saying?” So that bout of inspiration and mood that people talk about exists.

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I got an invite to a party at a Professor’s place. The rule of the party – “No small talk is allowed” But of course! One thing I can never get myself to do is indulge in small talks.  I have always sucked at small talk. I can talk for hours but never small talk. Even if I have, I doit very very unwillingly because someone has initiated it. Sometimes, small talk can take the guise of being important talk and that’s when I dislike it more. I really really think that if people gave up on small talk, conversations would be richer and relationships would last longer. Agreed, everyone cannot dive into a rich conversation. But we don’t need to reach for the low hanging safe fruit a.k.a non-controversial, least opposed or rather uncomfortable topic, right? I can be kind but I don’t really care much for what you think of the mall by the street atleast not until why you think so, where those feelings came from and what makes you so opinionated about it. But the problem is nobody talks that strongly. Correction. Not many want to. If we know someone closely, sure we discuss things more freely and more openly. But when you are in a newer group, there is a tendency to pick a relatively pleasant topic (which is still fine) but then just talk at the surface level never wanting to be too strong in your words even if you absolutely disagree with your conversation partner’s  point of view, right from your gut. One just doesn’t want be off-putting. Which is sad because it is only when you scratch the surface, you really know people better and then can decide if you want to spend time with them or not. I think it should be some kind of a rule. People should be banned from it and then maybe they can talk about whether small talk being banned is a good idea or not.

Which brings me to J, one of the people I adore in my lab. J is from Spain and he asks the most random of questions to people around him, no matter how familiar (or not) he is with them. I remember one of the first questions he asked me was when we were queueing (I hope I got that spelling right, lazy to google) for a buffet lunch at a talk. It was my second day at university and he was right before me in the queue. All of a sudden he goes, “Hey toffee! If I tell you that I have forgotten my favourite pen upstairs and I want it, will you give up your position in the queue and get it for me?”. Now I must give you some context. I was deep in a conversation with someone when he tapped my shoulder and asked hurriedly. I was like, “Ya ya, tell me! What do you want?” Then he goes, “No no, I just wanted to know what you’d do. So tell me, one day you wake up in the middle of the night and you realise that K has turned into a horse. Would you still stay married to him?” I know I tease J, but I love love the way he can ask the most deep of questions and the silliest of them with the same eagerness in his eyes and yet not intimidate the other person. Like a week back, we had the monthly Friday tea party in one of the departments. J, a couple of others and I were chatting away when a post-doc fellow we haven’t met walked over to us and just introduced herself and was like, “Hi, I am L. I am working with …. ” And the first thing J does is, “Hi, I am J. Can I ask you one thing?” and L was like, “Sure sure!” J goes, “Tell me, are you truly happy? ” L was a super sport and said, “Umm yeah, I am happy. I like to think am happy. Are you?” and J was like, “Umm depends. What makes you happy?” Such conversations are for another day. I love J for this. While some of the questions he asks have no semblance of sanity, I love them for that very reason, their insanity. It is so refreshing, so endearing and so honest especially because you can immediately know that he isn’t judging. It is just his way to knowing you better. No “Where are you working? Who is your advisor? How long have you been in Singapore? Oh, this cheese tastes a bit funny or is it my tongue?” None of that. I want to say so much about him but I have to go now.

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It is 10:33 PM in Singapore now. I had a nice day, a really nice one. K and I decided to go to try out a new Mexican place for dinner at Duxton Hill called Lucha Loco. I shall definitely write about it with some photos. We then walked around a fair bit and spotted a supremely cute cafe where I had waffles (no ice-cream please I had to specify) and K had ice-cream. This guy, he and his vanilla ice-cream. I think he would choose vanilla scoops over me anyday. Ah but he makes up for it by being extremely patient while I dilly-dally, push my food from one corner to another (when am full but don’t want to waste), so all if forgiven. I am home now and had to post whatever little I had written. Somehow, I seem to get so many ideas to write when I am driving or taking a ride, so I tried something new today. I just recorded my ideas as a voice message in my phone. It will be fun listening to it tomorrow and see what I make of it. I know I would totally sound like Random Rangamma.

Okay, am calling it a night and hitting publish. If you have stayed with me through all this, I salute your patience. Wish you all a lovely weekend and hope you have the best one yet. what do you plan to do?🙂

Stay awesome!

 

 

 

 

Sunday Blues at East Coast Park

Unlike some of them, K and I don’t have much of weekend rituals. Sometimes, we feel like we should have a ritual, like something that would signal a Saturday for us. Maybe like pancakes in the morning or bisibelebath for lunch? Erm, I don’t know for we clearly have none. Some weekends we like to sleep in until noon and go for brunch, we work sometimes, watch movies, travel, hike, meet friends or just spend the entire day fighting who gets to be what character in a game. It keeps changing. For the last one month, we have been cycling in the East Coast Park(ECP) every Sunday.One of Singapore most popular beaches, ECP is the easiest weekend urban getaway with diverse sporting, dining and recreational opportunities. It is open to people of all age groups. There are several barbecue pits along the beach and one can just have a weekend barbecue and camp along the beach as well.  

Really, what we love about the ECP is how it feels like a different place altogether, away from the air conditioned malls, high rise buildings and clean streets of Singapore. It is one of those places that remind us that we are indeed on an island.  An island! That is all I wanted to be on when I started reading Famous Five by Enid Blyton. I think George has her own island (tell me if I am wrong!) and I was like, “I want an island of my own!” Well, Singapore is not my island (that I wish it was is another matter), but atleast I am on an island. It is way different from how I pictured an island to be – I imagined sleeping on sand, gathering fruits from the tree and being smart enough to know the right berries from the poisonous ones, where I can take a book to and where I sing songs in harmony with the waves. I can go on and on. But, I digress.

So yes, for the past few weeks we have been spending Sunday mornings at ECP. After snoozing the alarm for like 10 times from 5 AM, we wake up at 6:30, get ready and start off like 7 AM and take a cab to ECP. We start by renting cycles for like a couple of hours. We go all around the park, stop in between to take pictures, complain about having fat butts for tiny seats, race each other (doesn’t look like one given our speeds anyway), sometimes chat or sometimes just cycle away on our own. We also sometimes unknowingly stray into the joggers’ lane and then sheepishly find the nearest way out after stupidly grinning at the joggers. Then, after cycling, we return our cycles, walk along the beach a bit and then go stuff our faces with a continental brunch or Thai food always followed by mango and sticky rice. Always.But don’t mistake the cycling to be the exercise-to-earn-your-calories. Definitely not. We just cycle because well, it feels nice and breezy and somehow makes us forget that we are in a bustling city. We also enjoy watching others take their dogs for walks and then dream about how we will immediately adopt a pet once we move out of the university campus. It just feels wonderful doing this on a Sunday and somehow feels like a befitting end to the week and sets the tone for the next week.  Let me show you a sneak peak.

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I don’t know if this can be called a ritual. It is for now and until we find something else, someplace else, this vast blue expanse will be our go-to. If Sunday blues can be like this, we aren’t complaining.

So tell me, do you have a weekend ritual? What do you do?

A pleasant surprise

I have been blogging on and off for a few years now. I had a domain previously on blogspot when I was an undergrad student and have been blogging on wordpress since I moved to Singapore. You know those times where we would award each other? Sunshine Blog and so on. I cannot even remember some names. It used to make me mad with joy, just knowing that someone somewhere felt that your blog was special in a way. And tags. I mean, I used to feel ecstatic when I was tagged by people. I don’t know if that happens now, but as a newbie, I loved them!

I was on a hiatus since early 2015 until a month ago or so. And guess what happens when I come back to write a post after so long? Not only do I still find some lovely readers who still pop by this space but Blogadda decides to pick one of my posts for Spicy Saturday and then I win a cool pair of sun-glasses even! I was so mad with joy because even when I was a regular blogger, I have never had any of my posts on Spicy Saturday or Tangy Tuesday ever! I see these badges like everywhere but never had one myself. I am human and have wished mine would someday get selected as well. But that was long back. Now, when I come back with least expectations, this happened. Thank you Blogadda, for making my day and for reinforcing my motivation to blog. While the blog and the posts themselves are very much driven by intrinsic motivation, long gaps can sort of affect the drive. That’s when rewards and such surprises can work magic!

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I requested BlogAdda to ship them to my address in India to my parents. Needless to say, they were happy to receive it! Parents – they always find a reason to feel proud🙂

 

 

 

The one where I talk about my fear

It is weird that am starting my NaBloPoMo with my fear. To make matters worse, it is a “paradoxical” fear. Does such a term exist? Maybe not. But then, I just made it up. So yup, it does exist. Atleast in my head and really that is as real as it gets. The thoughts in your head, I mean.

Have you ever told someone you are scared of something and then they say, “Oh! But it is all in your head! Don’t worry.” I cannot roll my eyes enough and one of these days, my eyeballs will pop out. Because, dudette/dude! That is what fear is. It exists in your head and that is as close and real as it gets. It is with you and within you. It becomes a part of you. And it never exists without a reason. The reason maybe known or unknown, can be worded or not. But it is there. The intensity may vary. But it is very much there and next time you want to tell me that it is all in my head. think twice and don’t say it. Because, I sort of know that and it doesn’t help me.

I fear flying. It is sort of weird because I don’t know when I developed this. My first flight (to Singapore)  5 years ago was one where I didn’t even know that one could be scared of flights or flying or altitude. I remember, when I was on the plane, it was so still that I wondered if we were even moving. Now in hindsight, I know that it was perfect weather. The occasional movements I felt were what I looked forward to and could actually feel that we were moving. Again, in hindsight, this was turbulence and something that scares the hell out of me now. I have travelled so much alone and with K but I seem to have this fear of flights more s0 especially for the last one year. What makes it weird is that I love travelling and I love love going on long distance trips. My PhD brings with it good opportunities to travel for conferences. Somehow it doesn’t scare me when I am booking the flight (as much as it does when am checking-in). The result: I never can enjoy a flight journey and some of my happiest moments from the trip are when we land and our seat belts come off.

I am not writing this to make someone who fears flying, more anxious. Neither am I going to describe how I panic. I am writing this to say you are not alone. Also, I don’t talk about this all the time (hardly except with a few close friends) because talking too much about it makes me sort of anxious about it. And really, I don’t want any more anxiety with flights. But I have been trying different ways to feel more calm on flights. No, I don’t take melatonin. I never take any sort of medicines/ relaxants. I sit through the flight praying, reading and just really wide-awake and maybe sleep for wee bits if it is a long haul.

What I have started doing more is educating myself. Learning more facts about how a pilot undergoes a lot of training, how flights now are way better than flights say a couple of decades back -interms of design, reduced scope for error and so on. I also read statistics and try to tell myself, look, there are a million people flying safely in and out and that works in my favour.

But damn, the human mind is clever. It knows that statistics and all this education may only talk about the majority. What if am a part of the smaller unfortunate faction? What if the odds are against me this time? I don’t know. But I know this. The moments of heightened pleasure that follow the landing is worth every bit of my attempt to overcome my fear. I have walked through some shrines in Bangkok, stood atop a cliff temple in Bali, walked through the snowy scenic streets of Luca during Christmas, shared childhood stories along the Seine and then gotten so overwhelmed, that I told myself how dumb I could have been to not do this just because I feared the travel. Standing in front of the Palace of Versailles, the  Colosseum in Rome and getting lost in streets of Venice, I have been so moved that I still can remember these emotions. And they are enough to push me to travel more, see more and learn more.

And most importantly, K tells me, “What has to happen will happen”. And this, has been my biggest source of comfort somehow. There is so much unpredictability in this but it still tells me that I have to go on, no matter what because what has to happen will happen. This for me is somehow powerful knowledge and it comforts me a lot. There is no science I can offer because this perhaps even sounds lame to you. But just knowing that fear doesn’t stop something from happening makes it feel pointless. And sometimes (those rare times), my emotions do listen to this advice. There are things under your control (somewhat) and some not. Being positive and having good thoughts definitely goes a long way in making these journeys  a little less daunting for me.

I have a long way to go, I don’t know when I will get over them. Perhaps one day I will wake up and it will be gone. Or maybe, I will travel so much that it becomes a part of me and I won’t even feel it. Or maybe, I will continue to feel anxious but continue to travel because once am there, everything will be worth it. For now, I want to try. For I know that when we drive along the mountains, amidst the clouds lost in the music playing in our heads or when we fall right into the sea on a banana boat ride and then float back up victoriously without knowing how to swim or when we meet that chatty native on a bus ride who tells us secrets we never imagined, it will all be worth it. And with that, I book my flights to Tasmania.