2019 Recap - Part 2

After five 5-am mornings to work on this post before heading out to my actual day job and three evenings post, I'm happy to share my happier half of the year 2019 with you all.

July

15/07/19: First time in the year it was warm enough to have breakfast outdoors

I remember already feeling a lot lighter inside by the time this day rolled around. I'm almost certain that the summer evening when I told Shane that I was feeling like myself after four long months of being unbearably sad was before this day. It was probably the most important day of last year for me but I didn't make a note of the date or take a memorable picture that day. The only memory I have is of standing by the kitchen counter and saying it out loud.

And saying it out loud made it real. Later, as I later sat outside eating breakfast and reading my book, a little voice inside me (a good one this time) told me repeatedly that everything was going to be okay.

18/07/19: Kasha came to stay for three weeks

Our favourite dog in the world quite happily spent three weeks in our home, making it cosier than ever before. I'd also started the Couch to 5K challenge with Shane around this time so I've noticed I'm in workout clothes in all of my early morning pics with Kasha.

19/07/19: Felt betrayed by a friend

For a few years prior to 2019, I'd had a friend who often made me feel used and worthless at the same time. Hard to achieve, I know, but hindsight is 20/20 and now I see that them making feel bad about myself had nothing to do with me and everything to do with their own insecurities surrounding their incompetence. This is the same friendship that I'd decided to take a break from earlier that year.

Taking a step back from this friendship in January resulted in the most confusing 9-month break up of my life where they alternated between ignoring me and gaslighting me into doubting my sanity. On 19 July, they showed a level of disrespect (and a revealing window into their own soul and morality) that spurred me into immediate action and physically cut off all ties with them. It was yet another terrible and confusing day of 2019 but as I said, hindsight is 20/20. This was probably the day that contributed to my better mental health throughout the rest of the year so I'm grateful to them for showing me their true colours on this day.

23/07/19: First day in the park

This was probably the first time in all my years in Edinburgh that it was warm enough for me to spend an entire day outdoors AND in shorts. So we packed our picnic baskets full of fruits and snacks and headed down to the park with Kasha. And just like that, an ordinary day where we all woke up in the morning and headed off to work became one of the most memorable days of 2019.

26/07/19 - 28/07/19: An unexpected house party weekend

We'd invited two of our friends, Nam and Nandini, to dinner at our place on a Saturday which later coincided with the dates when two of our other friends, Anirudh and Kirti (who are well-known to the OG followers of this blog) were visiting Edinburgh (and staying at our place obviously) and since all the people involved knew and liked each other, Shane and I just shrugged and thought to ourselves, who the hell were we to stop this partayyyyyy from happening?

My friend Kirti and I were as always, the last women standing. Her husband Anirudh had passed out on our couch and Shane was nowhere to be seen beyond a certain point. Our other friend Nam would have very much liked to be one of the last women standing but she's also a very sensible girl who sobered up and got home completely aware of her surroundings.

It was at 3 am when Kirti and I were engaged in the most serious conversations about life and death when a car alarm went off about three consecutive times. This freaked Kasha out (yes, we were still dogsitting) and convinced us that someone's car was being stolen. So the three of us girls stepped out on to my balcony to figure out what going on and lo and behold, it was just two people having sex in a car. Right outside my house. Seeing this, Kirti and I crouched (in unison) behind my patio furniture which probably wasn't as subtle and graceful as we thought it to be because the dude in the backseat then got into the driver's seat and drove off angrily. Whether his anger was fuelled by the car alarm going off yet again or by the two drunk girls AND THEIR DOG watching him having sex from behind their patio furniture, only sober Ankita could tell you. Soz.

29/07/19: I interviewed for my current job

That's right, I went in for my interview right after this exciting weekend. I had the whole of Sunday to revise and get into the right headspace but contrary to my usual approach to life, I wasn't freaking out this time. I knew what I knew and was grateful to my friends for taking my mind off the stress before a big interview. Whether I'd prepped extra over the weekend or not, my answers would have all been the same anyway.

When I got into the building, I did something that I've never done before - I took photos.

Of the view of the Edinburgh Castle from every room in the building:

And of the University of Edinburgh branding:

They weren't great photos because I didn't want it to look obvious, but I took them anyway because something told me this was an important moment. A milestone. The beginning of something new and exciting.

That same day, after my interview, I went to help my goofball friend Joe shop for a kilt to wear to my other friend Louise's wedding that weekend:

Not that I shamed him for waiting till the last possible moment to get fitted or anything.

August

02/08/19: Off to Peebles for Louise and Rob's wedding

Where five of us friends rented an Airbnb with literal horses grazing in our backyard.

03/08/19: The Bayley-Boyd wedding

My first Scottish wedding and I doubt if anything will ever top this one. One of the most memorable weekends of 2019!

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#squadgoals #bayleyboydwedding

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07/08/19 (to 08/08/19, technically): The day I consider to be my last unlucky day of 2019

As you already know, despite all the wonderful memories I made in 2019 until this point, I still had numerous bad days where on top of being depressed and demotivated, hardly anything went according to plan. This day was the last and biggest of those unlucky days for me.

It started out with me arriving at the Edinburgh International airport at 13:00 to board a flight to Milan at 15:something. Due to typically terrible Scottish weather, my flight kept getting delayed until it was way past the time when I was not only supposed to land at Milan Malpensa but also commute all the way to my friend Priyanka a.k.a Madam Madan's house in the city centre.

By 10 pm Edinburgh time, the angry, loud, but kind Italians who were also waiting to board my flight told me that I should under no circumstances attempt to get public transport into Milan city centre after landing at stupid o'clock local time. Did I mention that this was my first international flight on my own?

Despite that terrible shit storm (literally, at least the storm part), when I look at this picture, an intense feeling of warmth washes over me.

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3:40 am After a 7 hour flight delay and 12 hours of travel time, I'm finally at my home away from home for some much needed TLC with the bestie. During my horrendous journey to Milan today (yesterday), I realized that this was my first ever solo international flight (I know, what a sheltered life!). Let's hope that with this first comes a last - the last time I'm stranded at an airport with a measly ยฃ6 refreshments voucher from @easyjet That said, every time I feel compelled to complain more, I remind myself of this woman (swipe โฌ…๏ธ). At least the only hunger pangs I had to nurse were my own ๐Ÿ™ Onwards! . . . . #travelhorrorstories #stranded #flightdelays #easyjet

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Because how lucky am I to have a best friend who stayed up till 4 am on a worknight to make sure I got to her place safely? To have the best holiday with her before starting a new chapter of my life (not that I knew this at the time)? To experience a proper Italian summer complete with lots of cheese, great wine, and sea salt in my hair?

08/08/19: The most memorable evening in Italy

After my horrendous journey into Milan, I slept in and spent the first half of the day exploring parts of the city I hadn't seen during my previous visit in October 2018. That evening, the plan for me and Priyanka to go to one of the public baths in Milan but two of her colleagues offered to drive us up to Lago di Monate, a lake in Varese. So instead, at 5 pm, we rushed to her place from two sides of the city and collected our swimming gear and other essentials for the drive. And just as we were getting ready to step out of the house, I got a call from a UK number that turned out to be from the University of Edinburgh, offering me the job I'd interviewed for (above). I gestured to Priyanka to get in the lift as I walked down eight flights of stairs myself so that I could absorb all the information about my new position. This role was tailored for me and I knew it. I just couldn't believe that I'd finally landed a job in the one institution I'd wanted to work for after my contract ended with the Google Garage.

That swim in the lake after receiving this news is one I'll never forget in this lifetime. Sometimes, you get lucky enough to observe all the pieces of your life falling into place one by one. When that happens, remember to take a deep breath, close your eyes and smile to yourself. It helps if you're taking a swim in the most beautiful lake you've ever seen with the backdrop of a stunning summer sunset but that part's optional.

09/08/19: First time exploring an Italian city on my own - Verona

I thought I'd document this milestone here as well, more so because it was so hot and I was so dehydrated that I thought I might faint on my way up the Torre dei Lamberti. It didn't help that I had a cocktail with my carb-rich lunch (as one does when in Italy) and that the entire city is covered in stone which makes it even warmer in the summer sun. Either way, I still feel all the warm fuzzy feelings when I look back on that experience.

10/08/19 - 12/08/19: Explored Genoa and more of Milan before returning to Edinburgh

14/08/19: First Ceilidh of the year

After nearly a month of silence, the "break-up friend" contacted me again on this date. As unpleasant as every contact with this person was getting at this point, and as anxious as this whole situation made me, we both needed a clean break from it. I decided to draft a letter to this effect but first, I needed to calm down and maybe even sleep on it. And what better way to get your mind off unpleasantness than with traditional Scottish dancing to Gaelic folk music at the pleasure palace of the Scottish monarchs?

15/08/19: I sent that letter

I chronologically listed all the events that led to my decision to end our friendship. I'll be honest, it was an angry letter where I basically called this person out on all their bullshit and said things like "you spat in our [mine and Shane's] faces" etc. But I sleep peacefully at night knowing that not even a single thing I said in that letter was untrue. I did not attack this person's character or wish them ill. I simply stated the facts. Facts that didn't make them look good for sure but that part was out of my control.

16/08/19 - 18/08/19: My cousin and his husband visited us in Edinburgh for the first time

We went to a show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, ate hearty meals and best of all, went to The Cauldron, a "potions making" cocktail experience in Edinburgh.

19/08/19 & 23/08/19: Went to two much-awaited shows at the Edinburgh Festival

This is Going to Hurt by Adam Kay (based on his book by the same title)

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This Is Going to Hurt (Secret diaries of a junior doctor) by Adam Kay was one of the best books I read in 2018. So I was jumping for joy when I bagged us seats to go watch him perform live at the Edinburgh Fringe this weekend ๐Ÿ’ƒ What a legend! Go read his book, watch his shows and support the @lullabytrust โ˜บ๏ธ . . . . . . . #edinburghfringe #edfringe #standupcomedy #standup #comedian #funny #comedians #edinburghfestival #comedy #thisisgoingtohurt #edinburgh #adamkay #comedyposts #comedynights #comedyclub #standupcomedian #jokes #makeyourfringe #comedynight #livecomedy #edinburghfringefestival #standupcomedyshow #comedylife #comedyshows #whatson #lullabytrust #edinburghplayhouse

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and 'Thrones! The Musical Parody!'

26/08/19: Virgin Money Fireworks Concert

Marking the end of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2019. Thanks to the prime location offered by Shane's office, we were able to get the best (free) views of the concert.

September

01/09/19: Shane left for Seattle...

...and I got my last piece of correspondence from the "break-up friend". I know. Break-up fatigue. Tell me about it. If just reading snippets of these incidents is making you groan in frustration, imagine what it was like to endure nine months of this shit. But I promise this is the last time I'll mention it because it was the last I heard from them.

In summary, their letter said something along the lines of,

'yeah, I did all those things because you know, you deserved it' and
'you suck, Ankita, you loser' and
'I'm so much better than you' and
'wait and watch as I prove it to you sometime in the future (oh, you just wait and watch) that I'm definitely better than you'.

I hope you read all of those statements in Donald Trump's voice because I did.

I'm not gonna pretend as if I didn't immediately resent them even more for this. And it didn't help that my Shane, my best friend and the one person I usually talk my feelings through with was flying over the Atlantic and was not due to check his phone for another twelve hours as this happened. So I opened up my laptop and wrote myself a letter instead. It was a pinky-promise I made with another friend, to write ourselves letters from the other side of depression, to remind ourselves that we've come out of it before and we can once more if the worst of it strikes again.

And I'm so proud to have been able to do that. To leave all that unpleasantness behind and have a genuinely good time by myself before starting my new job in exactly one week.

09/09/19: Career Milestone Unlocked

As I said, the University of Edinburgh was the one place I always dreamed of working at. Learning and Development was the one field I wanted to gain expertise in. And both these things happened for me on this day, when I started my new role as Systems Trainer for the biggest transformation project the university has ever undertaken. Every single day is challenging in a new and exciting way at this job and I love it!

13/09/19: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in Concert

Another bucket-list item โœ…

Although, if you just love the movies, you might end up getting engrossed in the plot again instead of paying attention to the music ๐Ÿ™ˆ

14/09/19: Another big hair change

Where I basically chopped off about 7-9 inches of my unmanageably long hair and in the process, allowed it to reflect how light and breezy I felt inside after hacking away at all the blueness and heaviness inside me. My hair, without even realising it, turned out to be a metaphor for my life and how I was doing in 2019.

This is my second favourite look of 2019 for the comfort and ease it brought me. I washed it more often because hey, look, it doesn't take hours to groom and style short hair! I think I might go back to this length over the summer once this year too.

21/09/19: Random spell of sunshine in late September

Which is very unusual in Scotland. And as luck would have it, this glorious day happened to be on a Saturday so we went on a picnic with Kasha and her mum again.

Later that evening, Shane and I tried our first ever Korean BBQ and learned that you can eat all you want and have a fun time at one of these things as long as you're not the one doing all the work (which we weren't, by the way).

24/09/19 - 27/09/19: Hosted my childhood family friends

And it was such an honour!

30/09/19: First Raclette dinner

Earlier that month, Shane's dad called us and said we needed to be in Kerala for Christmas. It had been two years since we'd been and we were sure that no matter what happened, the food in India would never disappoint. So we asked our fellow foodie friends if they'd like to join us this time and they obviously said yes.

On this day, we planned our India trip over raclettes, makgeolli and some good old-fashioned Indian soan papdi.

October

02/10/19: The Bromance's birthday

Which we celebrated by going to the fanciest dinner of our lives at The Kitchin and paid for with basically a fourth of my monthly salary.

Moreover, it was a set menu with wine pairing which meant I had about 7 glasses of wine on a weeknight. To say that the next morning at work was horrendous would be an understatement. I want to puke by just thinking about it. I was so slow at EVERYTHING that I actually googled if one can get dumber after just one night of heavy drinking. Turns out, not really. Also, a quick shout-out to my manager who, despite having known me for just a month at the time, didn't judge me for looking rough the next morning but instead, got me brownies and made sure I was hydrated throughout the day.

05/10/19: Finally reunited with Alex and Galatia again...

...after March when I thought I would never see them again. By now, Galatia was a month away from her final exams and Alex too was a month away from starting her new HIIT SBZ block in Edinburgh. I tried all kinds of workouts in the six months between these two meetings and nothing quite stuck like SBZ, which I've been going to religiously since November when the classes started again.

This was one of the most feel-good reunions of the year and I gifted them both Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life. That book is my bible and I knew that two of these badasses in my life would enjoy it.

11/10/19 - 14/10/19: Birthday weekend in Amsterdam with my mains

I've celebrated every one of my birthdays since 2016 with Shane and Priyanka, usually going on an adventure or exploring a new place. This time, we chose Amsterdam for its beautiful canib canals and museums and nightlife and food and absolutely nothing else.

These were four rainy days but apart from that one time I cried at the Van Gogh museum, learning about his life and deteriorating mental health towards the end of it (especially coming straight out of a nasty depressive episode myself), it never rained on my parade. Instead, on the rainiest, coziest evening of our trip, the three of us sat in our beautiful Airbnb apartment eating pizza, watching Main Hoon Nah, and doing absolutely nothing else. Which is why it was perfectly normal for us to rewind and watch back that scene where Zayed Khan acts the shit out of the two most epic minutes in the entire movie (and his career), eight times. Eight times, we watched him addresses the moon as his father, all the while believing that his real father was still alive. Eight times, we bent over backwards laughing at that silly little man and silly little us (me and Priyanka at least) who thought this was a genuinely good film when it came out in 2004. I live for moments like these with my people.

16/10/19: Actual birthday celebrated during the Edinburgh Cocktail Week

Because, DUH! Have you met me? I'm about 40% certain that the organisers read this blog and decided to host this event during my birthday week because they knew that this tiny lady with all the energy was going to visit every ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ single ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ stall ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿผ at the cocktail village #delusionalmuch

We started out with something FANCAY! - cocktail-themed English afternoon tea at the Waldorf Astoria with prosecco, of course.

We later hopped from one bar to the other all the way from the west end of the city to the east end. Finished the day off with some delicious Mexican dinner and some self-care to sate my inner 75-year-old.

And just like that, with homemade tea, my birthday came full circle :)

30/10/19: Delivered Facebook's Digital Skills training to 100 students at the Edinburgh Napier University

Without a mic, I might add. Another career milestone this year.

November

07/11/19 - 09/11/19: Rugby/Oxford/Birmingham

During this trip, I literally cried because of the love we experienced from our dearest friends Anirudh and Kirti. We went down there with gifts and goodies to celebrate their housewarming but returned with hearts full of memories and genuine disbelief at how we got so lucky.

The Saturday of their housewarming was spent entirely indoors in Rugby (as the four of us tend to do), prepping food, arranging flowers and just sitting around talking about LIFE! And we wouldn't change a thing about that entire day.

On the Sunday though, our friends helped us tick another box in our bucket list by arranging a day trip to Oxford. When I got there, I found out that Kirti had arranged for me to go on a tour of The Bodleian Library, the oldest library in Europe. This included a tour inside the Radcliffe Camera and it was in there, consumed and overpowered by the beauty surrounding me and the gratitude I felt for my friend who knew me so well, that I shed several silent tears.

Later, because we loved the food in one of the smallest wee Chinese restaurants in Birmingham called Peach Garden, Anirudh got all of us on a train from Oxford to Birmingham just to have a late lunch there before boarding our train back to Edinburgh.

It's in between all these big and small moments that we've slowly learned what family really means.

12/11/19: Decided to cut some people out of my life

Speaking of family, it's sometimes the people you're forced to interact with that you need to eliminate from your life for good. Something happened on this day that got me livid and raging, and what better way to deal with all those emotions than with a good old fashioned blog post?

16/11/19: First Salsa Dancing Workshop

And I wish I could have one every evening with the same group of people. I'm sure by now, even you'll be beginning to recognise some of these faces.

23/11/19: The wildest night of the year

My friend Lina had a classic "club" birthday bash by the end of which, I forgot where I lived. Definitely one to tell the grandchildren about. If I have any brain cells left by then, that is.

26/11/19: My first Christmas tree lighting at the University of Edinburgh

Where mulled wine and warm conversations kept us cozy despite the pouring rain :)

29/11/19 - 01/12/19: Explored Oban

In an attempt to go on a trip with The Bromance at least twice a year, we decided to explore the seafood capital of Scotland, Oban. It was unbelievable how sunny and nice the weather was that weekend, and things were extra cozy when we returned to our quaint little Airbnb flat to watch Christmas movies every evening :)

December

06/12/19 - 08/12/19: Bestie in Edinburgh

The morning of the 6th started with my work Christmas party. It was meant to start at noon with lunch but you know how these things go - everyone's either excitedly talking about it or starting to get ready by 10-ish so you're basically at work to respond to your emails and get excited for the party.

But I left early that evening to go home and cook for one of the loves of my life, my bestie Priyanka who was arriving later that evening.

I treated this weekend as her birthday weekend because I never get to spend her birthdays with her (she travels home to India for it every year). So we went to explore the Edinburgh Castle (something we'd never done in all our years in Edinburgh) and had boozy afternoon tea at the tea rooms of the castle. The next morning, we went to the Edinburgh Christmas market after which I was able to treat her to a Lush Spa experience. That evening, we went to the Royal Botanic Garden to see their magnificent light event with illuminated trails, hot chocolate and marshmallow roasting pits.

Coziness โœ…
Happiness โœ…
Love and friendship โœ…

14/12/19: Last hair change and Kasha's birthday

As my last hair "event" of 2019, I opted to go for something classic - almost like a chocolate swirl balayage achieved by mixing and alternating shades of mahogany and copper. I love how my hair looks and feels during these dark winter months.

That same evening, Kasha's parents celebrated her 14th birthday. Can't believe this precious senior pup is 14 now and although she struggles with a few health issues, she's still the happiest, most adorable dog in the world who fills my life with light and joy :)

20/12/19 - Landed in India

22/12/19: 10-year school reunion

We happened to be at the right place at the right time for our ten (TEN!) year school reunion and although I barely enjoyed my time at this school towards the end or even some of the "values" that were propagated there, it was...surreal. Amazing in a way to talk to people who studied with us after all these years and learn what they were up to these days.

Looking back as a working professional in the UK, this school beyond a doubt gave me a good education and more or less prepared me to hustle in the real world. Above all, it was the place where I met Shane although, never in those seven years did I even imagine that I'd fall in love with and marry that nerdy boy who was always found sleeping in the computer lab.

25/12/19: Christmas with a view

On Christmas Day, we went all the way up the Jatayu Rock in Chadayamangalam, Kerala with our friend Shameem and my in-laws. Apart from seeing the world's biggest bird sculpture and being screamed at for climbing on it like an ignorant bledy tourist, I also witnesed an amazing sunset 1200ft above sea level.

27/12/29: First time at a traditional Kerala Toddy Shop (เด•เดณเตเดณเต เดทเดพเดชเตเดชเต)

When I was growing up in Kerala, it wasn't common or acceptable for women and young girls to frequent one of these so I must say, I missed out on a big cultural element of this land of coconut trees. Decided to fix that this time with Shane's wee cousins who were practically babies when I first met them in 2013.

28/12/19: Trichur to see the girl tribe

Spent this day with allllll the women from my mother's side of the family - my maternal grandmother, aunt, cousin and her family. It was glorious.

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#โ™€๏ธ #mothersandsisters

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29/12/19: Reunion with the uni gang

We were such idiots back in 2009/10/11/12/13...well, for the longest time. I feel like Punchy and I are still a little bit cuckoo but the other two are much more respectable these days.

Ten years of unconditionally having each others' backs!

30/12/19: Nico and Shasta in Kerala!!!

With all their notes, research, planning and big (but small by Kerala standards) appetites!

31/12/19: New Year's eve exploring Trivandrum

Our friends weren't allowed to enter the famous Padmanabhaswamy temple because they were white. That was literally the only explanation anyone there could give me, except for the random person who explained that "Christians" weren't allowed in but he quickly scampered away when I tried to reason with him that my friends weren't Christians and had in fact, never even been baptised.

Note to the temple: please get some documentation ready and easily accessible for Malayalees like me who'd like to learn more about the threat posed by foreigners to our culture or whatever it is that you're shielding from them.

All said and done, there's a lot more to see (and eat) in Trivandrum and a good time was had by all.


Hellooo? Is anybody hooome?

This is definitely the longest post on this blog and the longest I've taken to write any post but it feels oh, so worth it. I didn't know if I wanted to include some details about my depression and the unpleasantness with that one friend in here but I rationalised with Shane that this is a journal. A space where I document parts of my life that I'll most likely forget in the next year or two.

I know that most of you might not have enjoyed reading such a long post as much as I did writing it, but I'm up at 5 am every morning and writing this year so do be back for the shorter blog posts coming soon :)


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