Hurricane Fun and Play

Expect the unexpected and be prepared for the rest. This is exactly what I experienced last year. After many years of deliberation, I finally decided to step a little out of myself and meet old friends. Friends with whom I spoke to daily and the friendship lasting longer than I can recall. The only difference was we were not in the same city so meeting every now and then was not an option. I gathered my laptop, pulled out the calendar, scheduled my time off from work, and booked the flight tickets. And now I was visiting not one but two of my close friends in a span of couple of months. I was excited.

First up – Colorado. I land there with the intention of vacationing for 4 days which extended to three weeks. How does that happen? The next day after I landed in Colorado I received texts from my manager of a possible hurricane in Texas. We were advised to make sure that we had a working connection to log in remotely if need be. And upon hearing this I thought to myself, there goes another dramatized precautionary weather alert. I certainly did not take it seriously at first. However, soon after, texts after texts started pouring in and I realized the severity of the situation.

From here on, an onset of ordeal began for which I was not at all prepared.

First, since I thought I was going on such a short vacation I wanted to disconnect myself from work. Hence, I did not carry my laptop with me. So the question? How would I work now? I informed my team that I didn’t have a computer with me to work remotely. And to my surprise, I was told I could log in from any computer. I asked my friend at whose house I was staying at and she gladly offered me her laptop. And now, I was able to work as normal. I soon called my friend and her husband my foster parents and I was their foster child. The amount of love and care that was showered on me during my stay there was unconditional. It was made sure that I was well fed and was not interrupted during my work. Till date, I am grateful to my friends for the immense positive energy that they showered me with that I was able to overcome some of the worry. I was constantly checking news, contacting my friends back home, and office to get updates on how the city looked. I was told over and over again that I was lucky that I was away from the flood scene. But in that moment I couldn’t stop dwelling over the condition of car and apartment.

Next, as the situation worsened and the rain kept pouring. The City had announced that the flood gates would be opened. This meant that the water from the dam would be released and the bayou’s would be overflown. Guess what? My apartment was right next to a bayou. Now, my stress level just shot up. My family listening to this news was equally stressed or more. They told me not to go back to Houston until the situation was under control and I kept saying I would go if the flights were flying into the city. It was a big tussle between me against the rest. Eventually, my leasing office informed the tenants that the complex had been severely damaged due to the floods. Water had entered into the units and we had to vacate the apartment.

Furthermore, now that I knew I was not able to return back to Houston until further notice, I flew from my friends place to my sisters. My family was happy to have me with them. Funnily enough they thought I would run off to Houston despite the severity of the situation. Truly, when it rains it pours. This was a natural calamity that none of us were prepared for. Hence, everyone over reacted with emotions beyond control. I continued to monitor the news and stayed in touch with friends back home. Soon, after three weeks of being away from home, I was informed that the apartment complex was accessible and we could take our belongings and vacate within five days. That seemed like a very short time. However, when you are faced with time sensitive matters there is little time to procrastinate. I looked for an apartment from California. Booked the movers. Booked a flight ticket and off I was to Houston.

As the flight flew over Houston, I did not know what to expect. I was thinking that the city would look submerged in water but was pleasantly surprised to see the trees bright and green from up above. Upon arriving at the airport my hope was that my car should be working that way I could jump right into the moving preparations and be able to get from one place to another quickly. Well, expect the unexpected. I reached my car and guess what? It was not working. Of course the car was flooded and could see the waterline on it. I had informed a friend to stay on standby in case I was needed to be picked up and sure they did. While I was waiting to be picked up I completed all the formalities for my car to be towed to the dealership. My friend arrived and we left to take care of few other tasks for the move. After that we went over to their place. They were gracious enough not only to shelter me at their place but also, provided me with a car till I got a rental vehicle.

Next day, few of my other friends willingly came with me to assist me with the move. Only when I reached my old apartment did I realize that the city had gone through a catastrophic event. The area looked like a hurricane went through it because it really had. Muddy cars, foul smell, debris, cop cars, movers, tow trucks, volunteer officers, and tenants in high spirits. I did not know what to expect next. We were not made aware of beforehand as to which units were affected and which were not. I spent all these days wondering if my unit had faced water damage or not. We reached the apartment, opened the door, and sighed a breath of relief. I was thankful that the place was intact. However, now came the real task. Packing! I did not know where to begin from. Had it not been for my friends who took in charge and control of the situation, I would have been completely lost. Together the three of us packed boxes after boxes and in no time we were wrapped up. The movers arrived the next day and I moved to the new place. And again, I stood lost. Because I moved from a larger space to smaller it was a challenge organizing the things. Sure enough, I had a friend who came to my rescue and helped me unpack like an expert. Now, I had a habitable place of my own to live under.

Next up was to address the car issue. The rental agencies were out of cars because they too were affected. I was on wait list on several places recommended by my insurance company. However, I could wait no longer and went with the first available rental that was available to me. And I finally received one. Now came the task of finding a new car. Car shopping has been an overwhelming experience as it was not as easy as shopping for a shoe. For a week while I was at work or home I was looking for cars online, visiting dealership after dealership, and test driving till I found a car I liked instantly.

Now, came the task of completing the paperwork with the bank and other formality. Meanwhile, I was still driving the rental and just a couple of days before I was going to receive my new car I got into an accident. Luckily, it was a fender-bender. However, in the moment of stress, I was not looking forward to another addition in my to do list. Gladly, the accident occurred close to the rental agency and I could easily exchange to another rental. Claim was filed and both the parties did their investigation and I was hoping there would be no financial implication. I was dealing between claims adjuster, rental company, dealership, and the bank to sort the respective issues of buying a new car, claim settlement on the flooded car, and the accident case. I hadn’t heard from the rental company for several days so I assumed all was settled without any penalty. However, just on the day of my birthday I received a call for the damages I was responsible for. What a birthday gift! Well on the brighter side I was fit and fine to celebrate my 30th with an amazing group of friends who stood by me in the most trying times.

I had finally received my new car, for the record, this was my fourth in the last 5 years. It just so happened and further more on those details another time. Finally, everything was settling in. I was off to shake of the stress and attended a longtime friend’s wedding. I was thrilled to be seeing him after a decade. Oh boy, time flies! I had a great time with a mixed bag of emotions. Oh well, by now you should have figured out that there must be something more to this. Yes, of course! I was looking forward to attending my favorite Coldplay’s concert but I missed it even though I was there. On the flip side, I was happy that I was able to enjoy my time off and meet old and new friends.

I am now back to Houston and settled down. I will be forever grateful for the moral support and a lending hand that everyone provided me during the trying times. I was mentally, emotionally, and physically shaken up. Time and tide waits for no one. Life goes on. But it is only when you are affected yourself is when things start to look challenging. You can lose everything or gain a lot at once. I truly realized that materialistic possessions are temporary. Invest in yourself and create memories. Be present in the moment. Make it easy on yourself, if tomorrow you had to unexpectedly move, your first thought shouldn’t be how will I, with all the accumulated things around me. But what is the next adventure I can march upon immediately. A divine force took care of me and removed me from all the obstacles graciously and brought me back when I had enough strength in me to be able to orchestrate a plan of action. So be present and create memories for life is passing by.

Be present.

Cheers

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Be You!

Hello Friends,

I am so glad to be writing today after a long break. It’s not that I didn’t have time to write. But I had so many thoughts racing through my mind that I did not know which one I wanted to write about more. However, today I had a wonderful experience. “Meditation”. I am no expert at it. But I had a chance to attend a meet and greet and learn more about the experiences that others have had through their spiritual journey. I kept an open mind to hear a different perspective. Personally, I began meditating (I am still in search of a synonym until I fully understand what “meditation” means) to de-stress from the hustle and bustle of life. To overcome setbacks. There have been constant noises in my head telling me do this, or do that, should have been this or that and so on and so forth. Seeking answers!

Expectation vs reality. I was getting drowned trying to fight this battle of how my life should have been but instead this is what it is. I realized by engulfing in this dark cloud I was only suffocating myself. I have been making a constant effort to accept the reality. Otherwise I would only be pulling myself down. There may be hundreds and thousands out there to pull you down already. Why be one of them! Do yourself a favor and be kind to yourself. Every time K says, “Love you”…my spontaneous reply is “Love Me”. I don’t know what that means but I know if I don’t look after myself I won’t be a better self to others. It’s a way to build an army of own – drawing courage from within – to find a way to tackle the opponent – various facets of my life. It’s complicated! It truly is. When asked, “What next?”. I don’t have a socially acceptable answer, but just one convincing enough for me or so I think!

Its funny that when I meet people successful or not. Again success is relative. However, they are comfortable in their own skin. Comfortable with who they are. What they are. At least that’s the impression I get. On the contrary, I have never ever ever felt that way. I am sailing through life without knowing where I belong. And that confusion arises from the very first thing that you would want to know about someone – The Question?! Where are you from? From the outside if someone saw me they would immediately think oh she looks like the rest of them from that part of the world so she must be from there. I don’t deny it. I am from that part of the world. However, I am also from various other parts of the world too – Global citizen! Because I have lived in various other places that have shaped me as a person. Certainly, I may not look or sound different but the way I feel inside sets me apart. Looks don’t define a person. What you see outside is just the tip of the iceberg. I honestly feel I am a misfit! But that’s fine! I am trying to accept my reality. However, as I am cruising through life I am on a mission to find peace and grounding from within because there are many challenges ahead that needs to be tackled. I don’t know what is in my destiny and what tomorrow holds. I am honestly living one day at a time. I have only 24 hours in a day and I can’t plan a future just based off that. Life is more than 24 hours! It is larger than us. Live it now and start afresh another 24 tomorrow! Learn to accept yourself! With that being said it doesn’t mean that you don’t strive to get better but at least once you have accepted yourself you will no longer be bothered by others rather be inspired! To be honest with you I keep asking myself if I had a bigger house, faster car, higher salary etc etc…all materialistic things but important for survival and social status. Would it make me happy?! And scarily I find myself leaning towards an answer that’s against myself – I find myself saying, “No, it will not make me happy!” This has been scarying me. I worry! What is wrong with me? (Mental note – I will answer this question at a later point in life when I find an answer. Stay tuned!)

Solitude is realization! We are so used to being dependent on everyone else but us. We forget life is moving fast and so are others. You are ultimately just an icing on the cake. Cake will still taste delicious without the icing. Icing will only enhance the flavor. Flavors can be changed. Life can still go on without you for the rest. At the end of the day we should retreat in our happy place. Learn to rely on yourself more. Have faith. Continue to keep on going! Keep moving. Don’t seek happiness from others derive it from within – certainly very hard to accept. What was once may not be again! It’s better to derive the best out of solitary than to feel alone in a crowd. I will leave you with a motto – Be the change for yourself or for the world without harming either. Choice is yours!

Cheers!

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Pocket Full Of Surprises

I am so excited to share my experience with you. So let’s cut to the chase.

A few months ago, on a bright sunny day, I was on my way to meet my sister and her family. I was thrilled to see my two little munchkins (my nephew and niece). I was excitedly waiting at the terminal gate to board my flight…And I  waited. Then, I started to look for the plane since I did not see any sort of flight information on the screen where i was seated. And the wait felt even longer. Soon, I thought to myself since the wait had extended a bit too long I better inquire the status of my flight. I looked at the watch and it was past due the original flight time. So, I rushed to the nearby counter and to my dismay I was told that the flight had already taken off. I was in an absolute state of shock. Then, I was in a panic mode. I didn’t know what to do. My first thought was what about my bag that had nicely wrapped gifts in it for the kids. I was informed that the luggage was on its way to the destination. Then, I tried to reason with the personnel on the other side of the counter that how could the flight have taken off without me. In my mind, I probably was thinking that someone should have personally invited me to board the flight. I was told that several announcements were made in my name. How could I have not heard it?! Till date, I have no clue how that had happened. It was the first time I had ever missed a flight. So after all the panicking I called my sister and told her the unthinkable that the flight had gone without me.

And obviously  the first thing I was asked how did I miss it? I did not have a good answer because I didn’t know it myself how it could have happened. I was holding back tears. I never thought that missing a flight would be so heart breaking but yes! it did make me upset. So I told my sister if I should cancel my plan of visiting them and of course my sister wouldn’t have said no. Instead, she started looking for flights and found the next available flight which was in a couple of hours.

Now here is the twist, the flight was from a different airport and would also land at another airport. Great! So now I had to rush from Airport A to Airport B which was a 40 mins drive. I hailed a cab and was on a mission to make it to my next flight. Sure enough, my luggage was already in air, my car was at Airport A, and here I am on Airport B. Wonderful! And there is my sister collecting my bag from the original arrival destination first and then the troop was on its way to pick me up at the other airport. Alas! I reached and of course everyone’s curiosity grew even more when they saw me that how did I miss the flight. By now even my parents and brother who were in other parts of the world knew about my ordeal. I reached my destination much later than originally planned. I truly traveled like a royalty with my luggage arriving before herself. Not bad!

I had a great one week with my sister and her family. I bid them adieu and was back to my crib. Days, weeks, and months passed by and I had settled into the mundane routine only to keep thinking of going on vacation or even a change of scenery. Very unexpectedly, just when it was the most hectic time of the year at work, a good friend called me and insisted that I go see my sister. She offered me an open ticket ready to be used with no hidden conditions. It had to be used within 3 days or else it would expire. Of course my first reaction should have been Yes! I will most definitely go. Of course not! I was indecisive. I was thinking about my work, how I will manage to pack, if my sister would be free. So I asked my colleague and sister. They both said go and come respectively. So finally I told my friend I will use the ticket. I informed my boss that I had to go since I hardly get to see my family. My friend handed me the ticket at my office that day. I worked from home the next day. Took the flight that night. I left on Friday night and returned back on Sunday.

I had a wonderful weekend with my family. I had a good time playing with my nephew and niece. Catching up over a glass of wine with my sister and brother in law. It was certainly a good change of scenery in the midst of lush green mountains. My weekend getaway was truly beautiful and I am glad that I could go. Once again, when it was time to return, the kids reminded me that “Aunty, do not miss the flight”. It is the cutest thing to hear from them and their concern for me.Well, yes even the little ones are much aware of Aunty’s tendencies. Life is good and I am already looking forward to meeting them again.

However, this entire experience has certainly got me thinking deeply. Life is a rat race and everyone wants to finish in the First place. Also, in the shortest amount of time. But not everyone can take the First spot at the same time. We forget that sometimes even the slow and steady wins the race. Life does come to a full circle. If you have lost some before you will eventually get it twofold.When other’s have won their life’s race and you are still lagging behind, only to be celebrating their victory. Just know one thing! When your turn finally arrives, your celebration will be new and fresh while the rest of theirs would have faded away in time. It is more important that you stay focused on your race and arrive at your final destination despite the setbacks. There is light at the end of tunnel. You too shall succeed!

Cheers to you!

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Waiting to Pop…

Couple of years ago K and I were running our usual errands and we decided to buy a bottle of Champagne. The bottle till date is unopened. It has been around for 3 years now. Many occasions came and went..Birthdays, Anniversary, New Years, Graduation, New Job. However, the celebration with a toast of Champagne still awaits.

You may wonder why the bottle is still enclosed. The reason is that K and I were together when we purchased it but today we are apart. We are miles apart from each other but the bottle still stands tall in the same spot. It has become a symbol of hope for me. Every time I look at it I remember to live each day as it comes. Life is like a roller coaster ride.

It may be a rough time for us or perhaps it is one of the most challenging phases of my life. It is more difficult as I never foresaw that I would be in this turmoil. But then again, I have to rise above all the challenges. If life was everything that we expected it to be then it would lack adventure. Life is not a bed of roses. It is a journey and one that will evolve us to be greater individuals.

We often make the mistake of comparing ourselves to others but we forget that all that glitters is not gold. From the surface it may look like others are living the best possible life. Thriving career, loving family, best of materialistic pleasures so on and so forth. However, as good as it may be to have all of those things, we overlook the struggles that led them to achieve those aspects of their life.

We live in a very fast paced world. I cringe to think that we are constantly competing with one another on all facets of life…kids, spouses, wealth, health, career…the list may be longer. Yes, when I see my fellow friends, family, or colleagues reach a milestone I do wonder how them or why couldn’t I be that. We all wish to be successful but instead of being envious of others joy let’s be inspired by their victory and create our own story.

Yes, for some, things come easy. So what? We have many years to our life. Lets remember that age is just a number. Let us not freak out by the traditional time line. Don’t get engulfed in your biological clock. It is never too late to achieve your dream. Just because their journey to success began much earlier than yours, does not mean that you are incapable. It just means that your time hasn’t come yet but it is on the way. Continue doing what you are doing instead of getting deterred by others success.

Often times it happens that the idea of life that I had for myself, I see that happening with others. It makes me wonder when will my time come when can I freely smile without hiding any strings of worry behind my smile. I am waiting for my moment of celebration to arrive. Till then I am hanging on by hope, faith, and miracle. Continue to live each day and conquer your fears. I would like to quote, “Things are gonna get better. Hold your head up. God listens!”

Cheers to life!

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