I spent the last few weeks of 2020 feeling rather miserable. Close ones said it’s fine to feel that way because I’ve had a rough year. On the 31st, I even said nothing positive happened to me this year and if I’m honest I was hating on all those Instagram posts about people feeling great about all the things they learned through this time. I didn’t learn anything. I struggled to find peace. Of course it’s a lie that nothing positive happened. Having thought through this annual list of mine, I realise that I had some really nice days too. Not just materially nice, but there were also days when I managed to feel gratitude for having good health, good weather and not a worry about finances. What a life of privilege! All that’s missing is acceptance. Maybe I’m due some more kicks in the backside this year, or maybe it’ll happen so slow that I won’t realise. Time will tell. But here’s a blow-by-blow of my year, yet again giving me perspective more than anything else.
# I started the year with two wipe-out weeks of the flu.
# Spoke on a panel at an industry event and felt fancy.
# Kaddu, the car was our biggest partner and saviour through the pandemic – giving us mobility and variety safely through it all.
# I visited the north of Wales with a bunch of friends. The highlight was C and I finally climbing Mount Snowdon, which we first planned to for my 30th birthday in 2016.
# We also did a mini staycation in Oare, Wiltshire, which was literally a village in the middle of nowhere.
# I clicked some photos for a three-year-old’s birthday, and in return got sent a massive package of fruit and vegetables. That was one of the most thoughtful gifts I ever received.
# C and I painted an accent wall for our 5th wedding anniversary. That was a fun project. And then I conducted a self portrait photoshoot for us against that wall.
# The Co-existing in Corona Times diary, journaling C and my story through the first lockdown was another fun project, and I hope to be able to look back at it fondly in the future.
# I did some exciting work for a medicine to treat COVID. Much learning every hour.
# I sent some people greeting cards for no reason during the first lockdown. It felt nice.
# I cooked a lot, with some experiments conducted rather successfully.
# I tried my hand at learning the guitar, but gave up fairly quickly.
# Met Rupert, the dog a couple of times. He made me so happy!
# A trip to Cuckmere river and the seven sister white cliffs, where we first went on a wintry day before I moved to the UK was less romantic and more relaxed this time. Constant hand-sanitisation is not great when you want to eat on the move and not taste the poison.
# Kaddu helped us with quite a few day trips actually: a 14k hike in Leith Hill, a drive to Rutland Waters with some friends, and a couple of super-cold, pre-COVID days in Dedham Vale, Hucking and Goring Gap.
# Camber Sands, England’s best beach as far as I know happened to us on an #AnythingCanHappenWednesday. It was the best Wednesday ever with the weather being fabulous and C spontaneously (uncharacteristically) deciding that we were taking the day off work.
# This year I didn’t bring home plants with pretty flowers in the summer. Instead I bought a few evergreen ones. So I have some friends fighting the cold weather this time. And I unexpectedly got rewarded with several pansy flowers from an old, near-dead plant.
# Two more trips to the A&E – each one super scary, one with a stroke scare and the other with a brain bleed/tumour one. That brain scan at 1 am was not fun.
# As you know, I watched a lot of tv.
# Didn’t exercise enough and gained weight.
# I did some life coaching sessions and discovered what my core values were.
# Lost a job.
# Applied for scores of jobs to no avail.
# Attended a few weddings on zoom, including doing a dance performance.
# Sadly participated in a funeral on video too.
# Video calls also included work farewells.
# I got my most expensive haircut, and justified it with the fact that I now cut my hair only once a year. The salon treatment for curls felt so great!
# C made bhature on more than one occasion, and they are officially the biggest star highlight coming out of our kitchen.
# I learned the hard way that the UK grows wheat. We were on a hike when I spotted massive wheat fields, which soon triggered my asthma and orchestrated a dramatic few occasions of me struggling to breathe without an inhaler.
# This was the third year in a row that we made a trip to the strawberry fields and brought back a happy produce for home and for friends.
# Rakhi with Daksh was at a restaurant when COVID was at a relative low but I was still not having anyone come inside my home.
# Paula baked me a birthday cake! 😀
# I got guided through cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for something called generalised anxiety disorder. I wasn’t a big fan of the counsellor but I think I learned a couple of useful things like how to identify and classify my worries to manage my anxiety in turn.
# We travelled to Norfolk with Daksh and Nivedita. A Spanish pub there, Walpole Arms had some of the best food I’ve ever had. I even left a review for it on Google.
# I took a boat ride on a rather cold day (1 degree celsius and strong winds) to see seals and their babies in their natural habitat. Totally worth it.
# I also saw a meteor shower.
# I did more Ikea DIY for home storage. C has conveniently developed an allergy to wood dust so he can’t participate in the work.
# I chanced upon a kiwi tree in Hampstead, got fascinated by it because I didn’t know what it looked like, and brought home a mini kiwi as a souvenir. It’s still in my fruit basket after more than two months.
# Friends continued to pop babies, one of whom is my most favourite of all.
# C and I went for a chilly but sunny autumnal walk at Ashridge Forest.
# All the plants indoors got more attention from me and largely look happy. One came back from the dead and currently has a sixth leaf unfurling. 😀
# The whole family in India got ill with COVID – dad’s week in the hospital was the most harrowing time and I kept track of his life from the ‘last seen’ feature on WhatsApp.
# I got gifted a notebook with the cover saying “Future CEO”. A close colleague had remembered my ambitions while choosing my farewell present following the redundancy news. No ironies here at all.
# C, the man who only has tea and eggs for breakfast surprised me by making aloo paranthas one morning. I think it was because I was bummed the previous day due to three job rejections. He doesn’t admit that there was any correlation between the two things.
# Mom and Dad sent me a box of homemade besan laddoos and a mix of matthi / meethe paare that I ate every day for a month. Some kind of consolation for going more than a year without meeting them?
# I gave a lot of mind space to people who shouldn’t get it.
# I was an extremely sore loser at Monopoly and Ludo this year.
# I went through a long and tedious process (over six months) of getting an indefinite visa to continue staying here in the UK.
# I continued the Diwali tradition of having Ruhi and Patel over for a meal at home.
# Experienced monthly heartbreak and started investigating infertility.
# Nehmat moved to London!
# Ruhi managed to extend her stay in London!
# Zumba over video was nice for much of the year, but it was not as intense or fun as it could be.
# I hired a personal trainer for a few weeks (all I could afford) and really enjoyed my time with him. I was also pleased about overcoming some unconscious biases about race in the process. But how are these things so expensive?!
# A bunch of roses came home in February and they’ve stayed on all year.
# Did a late night drive through central London to see all the Christmas lights.
# While Avan and I have managed to reasonably sustain our relationship over the years, this year felt like we found more time for each other too.
# I did a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle and loved it!! No obsessive behaviour was demonstrated through that process.
# I lived with a broken wisdom tooth almost all year.
# I marvelled at how, many years ago, I used to be content with whatever life gave me, and entirely failed at finding that feeling in me this year.