“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
2018 has been the best year of my life so far. Not the best ever because I believe there is still time for that, as that's the kind of statement I'd like to make from my death bed.
"Remember 2058, Shane? That was a good year despite my bad hip - the best year ever."
That sorta thing.
But looking back at 2018, I can say with confidence that I haven't been this happy for an entire year in twenty-seven years of my life.
Here's a recap of everything that happened in the first half of the year:
My Dad Survived
I know it's quite grim putting it that way but December of 2017 was horrifying for us as a family. A part of me truly believed that I would lose my father to his nasty heart condition but his willpower and a truckload of luck prevailed. He hasn't stopped smiling (like he is in this picture) since his surgery on 18 Dec 2017 and has been making a steady recovery. In fact, this year, my parents have gone on holidays and dinner dates and done more things together than they did in close to three decades of their marriage. There's a renewed appreciation for life and all things beautiful in all of us and for that, I am grateful.
This is Aparna. I've known her since we were both nine and she's the first kid I spoke to in my new school in Trivandrum. While I'm not the biggest fan of the school or my experience there, Appu has been a constant part of the better experiences I've had in my formative years. I knew that she was getting married in Jan of 2018 but there was no way I was going to be a part of her big day as I'd just returned from India a few months before the wedding. Little did we know that I'd be back in India in just two months' time when my dad fell ill. Ever so grateful to have been able to witness her happiness on her big day :)
The Self-Care Resolution
Upon returning to the UK with this "renewed appreciation for life and all things beautiful", I resolved to set aside about an hour per month to get my nails done professionally. It's just a small thing that makes me very happy and has now become a big part of my self-care habit. I've been going to Buff Concept Store in Edinburgh since Jan 2018 and will be returning this Friday to get an all new mani :)
You can read all about the eighteen-month-long house hunt that preceded our moving into our new home here. On Jan 21st, we viewed this apartment and thought there must be something seriously wrong with it as it was way out of our league without being out of our budget. We sent in our application within an hour of the viewing and were pleased to be accepted that same week. It was especially perfect as it afforded us enough time to give prior notice to our previous letting agents, who, despite everything we did turned out to be utter and absolute cunts. Lots of lessons learned nevertheless and an amazing new home was gained in the process.
One Week of Shane
Shane turned twenty-six and I celebrated an entire "week of Shane" as his birthday falls on the seventh day after Valentine's Day. You can read an account of what we did on all seven days here. He was sufficiently horrified by all the love and attention he was receiving during that week (and has been deprived of since) and I was pretty content with the level at which I'd fucked with him. He has no idea what I've planned for this year but suffice it to say that it's going to be next level fuckwittage.
Beast From the East
A gust of cold winds of Siberia swept all across Europe around this time and I got to experience my first proper snow after arriving in this country a few winters ago. As someone who grew up in the tropics, snow and cozy cold weather is endlessly fascinating to me and I will always remember this first snow, for it marked the beginning of a lot of amazing things in the months to come.
From just being a blogger and podcaster, I went on to become a Training and Events Coordinator (Marketing) for an up and coming firm in Edinburgh. This was one of the first big confidence boosts I got this year as a lot of events and people in the previous year had lowered my self-esteem quite a bit. This burst of confidence led me to even better things throughout the year, and for this starting point, I am ever so grateful.
P.S. If you've been following me on Instagram for a while now, you might remember this cutesy colleague I had at this job:
She preferred to work from under my desk and I didn't mind in the least :)
Not sure if I've ever talked about this here but the first thing I bought Shane with my first traditional paycheck in the UK was this Kindle Oasis e-reader. Why this specific one? Oh, because he wanted to read in the shower and I asked no more questions. It had been his wishlist item for quite some time and I knew that he was never going to get it for himself. So I got it delivered to his work and arrived in time to capture the moment he opened the present. Very few things in life are as fulfilling as that smile :)
We booked our holiday to Wales with Madam Madan in January. Little did we know that it fell on the weekend immediately preceding our move-out date. This meant that we had to plan and pack all our belongings before leaving on holiday. It was stressful but it was done, and the bestest of holidays was had - not least because we climbed up and down the Snowdon peak during a blizzard in less than four hours. Oh, and we also went on the world's fastest and Europe's longest zipline.
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1 April 2018: Three monkeys casually tried out the world's fastest and Europe's longest Zip Line 🙈🙉🙊 . . . . #ziplinetour #penrhynquarry #ziplined #ziplinetime #ziplinelife #ziplineexperience #ziplineadventures #ziplineadventure #adventure #ziplinethroughparadise #zipline #wales #ziplineing #zıpline #ziplinefun #ziplines
We moved from our happy yet cold (oh, so cold) nest of almost three years and into what has so far been the most perfect home we could have wished for. Like I shared before, this moving day was eighteen months in the making and was genuinely one of my happiest days of 2018.
This move also meant that we were now neighbours with Kasha, Edinburgh's cutest and our favourite doggo. Immediately after moving into our new place (as in the very next day), we got to be her gaurdians as her parents went on holiday for three weeks.
Two of our closest friends and our biggest travel inspirations, Anirudh and Kirti, from the travel blog, Beyond Our Horizons, as well as Madam Madan stayed at our new place to help celebrate this happy milestone. The picture above captures the moment they gave me their housewarming present - a bag of potatoes as anyone who knows us well would describe me and Shane as couch potatoes. In fact, although I have an allocated desk and office space in this new home, I'm currently typing out this blog post from the comfort of this very same couch, with Shane sat next to me playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance.
This particular weekend in April in very dear to my heart as we were able to finally properly host some of our best friends in our home.
Desi Outsiders on TV
Another milestone as Meenal and I were able to make our first ever TV appearance. What made this day even more special was that it was our third wedding anniversary (mine and Shane's, in case I have managed to confuse anyone) and a great day was had overall :)
I've posted this photo on Instagram although, at the time, I wasn't allowed to say that I was interviewing with Google. This was my interview outfit on Monday the 14th of May, the first day of face-to-face interviews for us.
For anyone on my Instagram feed right now, this is the outfit I wore to Day 2 of the interviews, just a few days later:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The weekend after the interviews, the weekend Price Harry and Meghan Markle got married, I flew down to London to watch this play with Madam Madan, my childhood bestie that I'd grown up reading all the Harry Potter books with. We'd booked the tickets a year in advance and not even a Royal wedding could ever be as exciting as that Saturday was for us.
Awaz FM Glasgow
And the weekend after that, Meenal and I went on Awaz FM with Lehar Lagmani to talk about our podcast and the impact it had on the Desi community in the UK.
Google HQ in London
On May 29, my colleagues and I went to the Google HQ in London for an orientation. The Digital Garage project in Edinburgh was still a top secret and we weren't even told what the location of the garage would be. So it goes without saying that none of us could talk about the incredible experience it was to be in that building.
End of Training
Almost all of June was taken up by the rigourous training we went through in order to be able to do our jobs at the Google Digital Garage. But the end of training day on June 15 was especially important to me as that's the day I found out that I was made Team Leader at the Edinburgh Digital Garage. This was a pivotal point in my journey of improving my self-confidence and I still look back on this day with all the gratitude in my heart.
The Madans in Edinburgh
Madam Madan and her parents visited Edinburgh as her dad, who is an accomplished Cardiologist in Delhi, was being awarded another degree from the University of Edinburgh. Is it any wonder that my best friend is such a high achiever?
This was also the weekend we visited the Chihuahua cafe in Edinburgh.
Manchester Digital Garage
My first day on the job was on Thursday the 28th of June when a bunch of us went down to the Google Digital Garage in Manchester to see a fully functioning Digital Garage for the first time before our own Garage was set to launch in July. This was during the heatwave in England and I still regret wearing black jeans the whole day.
Sat there with me in the picture above is Misha, my co-team leader who's been with the Digital Garage from the very beginning. He's been extremely patient and kind as I've been learning the ropes of this job myself over the past six months :)
And that was just the first half of this year for me. We're already at 2000 words so if I'd continued writing about the rest of the year, most of you would have fallen asleep with your phones in your hands.
So kindly be patient, Part 2 will be up on this space very soon :)