That was the theme of 2021 for me. Almost every aspect of life worked on that principle. One might think it made me learn and adapt, but I continued to struggle. Lack of clarity and ongoing uncertainty took their toll. I couldn’t plan my career, wellbeing, travel, family visits, or day-to-day things. Of course, life continued to happen irrespective of how I felt. My only options were to either go with the flow or sit still. I chose the former because sitting still is usually not appealing or even possible.
# The year began on a rather unremarkable note. The Alpha variant had London on its knees. The city was in lockdown and we could only hear ambulances driving past. It was snowing, I was still out of work, and I was beyond desperate to meet my family that I hadn’t seen in over a year.
# I unwillingly agreed to a short-term work contract because being busy and getting paid was better for my mental health than any other thing at the time.
# That short term contract kept getting extended, I still couldn’t find another job that I liked enough, and by the end of the year it became a full-time role that also gave me a promotion. Is that what I hoped for in my career? No. Did it make me happy? Yes. Do I have imposter syndrome? Absolutely. Am I still looking for another job? Maybe.
# Along with this role came a few opportunities to be interviewed, speak at events, and get published. I enjoyed the attention while continuing to be awkward about it all.
# While we’re still talking about work – I learned so much about diversity and inclusion that it made me realise how unaware I used to be even when I thought I knew enough!
# AND I have a CEO I like. That’s the main reason why the answer to the question about looking for another job is a ‘maybe’ now.
# While we were still in lockdown, I decided it was time to visit Delhi. So I booked tickets four days in advance (any longer and the travel restrictions game would have changed its rules again), didn’t sleep those four nights because I was anxious about all the surfaces I’d touch and people I’d come in contact with between London and Delhi. But I made it home after a lot of sanitising, mask-changing, shield-wearing, PCR-testing, and pure waiting. The first week was spent locked in a room. During that time I spoke to the parents through a closed window and ate in disposable plates. What a time that was!
# The rest of the Delhi trip was spent cautiously at home (and at C’s home), working remotely, eating endlessly, talking to family, and watching shitty stuff on the telly. Delhi was buzzing like there was no pandemic and it was really hard for me to get my head around it because I’d gone there from a London that was in shambles.
# Suvvir and I played Holi (in advance) in our parking lot. That was so much fun!!
# I got some unique silver jewellery which always makes me super-happy.
# I returned when Delhi’s covid case numbers were barely beginning to rise. And then I watched in horror as Delta unfolded.
# London was starting to look and feel better by April – spring was in the air and covid was under control – but I didn’t feel any of the relief that all the non-Indians around me felt. We even shipped oxygen concentrators home in preparation for the worst – just before Amazon UK ran out of stock!
# And just like that, the first six months of the year were spent in constant, relentless, covid-led emotions. That family and friends emerged physically safe from Delta was a blessing! Watching many of them in poor mental health afterwards was something I wasn’t prepared for.
# I did make a small trip to Wales in May with C and Ruhi, and that was better than sitting at home, but it was a dull experience despite the natural beauty around us.
# I’d also organised an at-home, V-day afternoon tea special for C. Food indulgences were largely the only distractions and mood lifters of the time.
# A separate trip to Yorkshire Dales, which had long been on our list, was a good break. The weather decided to be kind every time we stepped outdoors. What a stunning place it was! Oh and their cheese is superb too.
# I started playing squash with C when the local government allowed indoor sports for members of the same household only. He taught patiently. I learned dilligently. The handful of games I won left me so so pumped!! I basically love winning.
# You could see that trend this year as well when I acted like a terribly sore loser in every session of online / board games with friends. I think I was borderline embarrassing.
# C and I spent a lot of evenings at Nehmat’s. Good conversations and nearly the same degree of caution with respect to covid allowed us to have a good time together!
# We did a few short countryside walks this year – the Jack & Jill windmills, Dunstable, Runnymede, Beaconsfield, Cotswolds, and Tring. I have now seen most of the areas up to two hours west and north of London because of where we live.
# I got my two vaccine shots and the booster. The first one was in a container-turned-vaccine centre. The second in a sports stadium. The third in a pharmacy. I’ve seen it all.
# I voted in the London mayoral elections. With age I am losing my belief in this process even though I strongly believe in it.
# I shamelessly talked about my love for Diljit Dosanjh on IG. Now everyone knows I love him. As they should. I even listened to his music while recovering from a procedure under sedation at a hospital.
# C and I did a road trip to Scotland. London to Glasgow isn’t the most exciting drive, but hey, all decisions this year were driven by none other than covid. We did that first leg on day 1, and then spent leisurely time in Scotland over the course of a week. We could not have had better weather (it was like Europe in summer), the landscapes were fabulous, the roads amazing, and the mountains…sigh! In all we drove 1600 miles between us. And Kaddu could not have been a better companion!
# Kayaking in Scotland was HARD WORK. It had long been on my list, but I was guided by my experience kayaking in Abu Dhabi, and the two could not have been further apart.
# That half-broken tooth I lived with last year was finally extracted this year. The extraction took 10 seconds but the pain afterwards was a total bitch!
# People from the past decided to reach out and express emotions of the past. That felt nice irrespective of timing.
# Some people continued to behave like shit and annoy me even though I should have learned by now to not expect any better from them.
# I played a lot of Scrabble with a friend online. It annoyed both our spouses. But I was winning until I abruptly stopped playing. #leavingonahigh etc 😀
# I started taking box-fit classes and restarted yoga classes. Box-fit turned out to be my golden find of the year! I LOVED it! The instructor, Ben was great and I felt great being a regular.
# Before these classes, I did some outdoor classes in the park that felt safe and totally kicked my ass that hadn’t exercised in several months!
# I got another bunch of roses in July and they also decided to freeze instead of wilt. So they joined the vase of fame with the roses from 2020.
# I saved my tree family. Still a proud moment.
# This year I didn’t cook as much as I’d have liked to. There was no energy, time or mind space for it. So I did the basics while C shone in the kitchen. He did some delicious baking and outdid himself!
# For the first time since I started using smartphones, I gave up on Samsung in favour of the smallest Android on the market. I couldn’t justify the Galaxy Z Flip’s price and my hands physically couldn’t handle any other phone, so Pixel it is.
# I also bought my first designer bag, a Coach. I then learned that Coach is only the beginner’s level of the world of designer things. It’s a truly endless spiral.
# I facilitated an in-person professional event after what felt like ages!
# More friends had babies.
# This year I didn’t get a real beach holiday with warm water. So I am itchy and that’s all I can think about!
# Actually, London didn’t get a real summer this year. We either had really cold days or hideously hot days. Summer as we know it and like it didn’t show up.
# I signed up on a really funky app called AllotMe. It tries to address the gap between people who have gardens but no time to look after them and those that have green fingers but no outdoor space. I nearly signed up for two gardens but both were in such bad shape that they needed months of work, not a few hours a week that I could have spent on them. So I had to pass on both, but hopefully 2022 will be different.
# I got certified as the official stalker after some people learned that I can find out information about strangers based on minimal clues.
# I bought and wore my first jumpsuit. I looked better than I ever imagined I could in one of those.
# I watched a day of India-England at Lord’s. I only went for the novelty value and the company. A few rounds of Pimms added more to that sunny day.
# I attended a party that had designer dinnerware. If my eyes could pop and fall to the floor, they would have! I didn’t even know Versace made plates. Did you?
# C and I went back to pick strawberries for the fourth year in a row. But the messed up spring and summer meant that the harvest wasn’t too great and there were limited berries and almost no vegetables when we went.
# I considered buying boyfriend jeans, which look comfortable from a distance, but figured they don’t necessarily look flattering enough when worn.
# For C’s birthday we spent a weekend at an old manor hotel not too far from London. We both loved it.
# For our (my) birthday, we threw a party in the park and I loved it.
# Ruhi and I went away for a girls’ weekend. It was nice but I was too distracted by thoughts of a potential surgery or other interventions.
# Van Gogh’s work is travelling the world in an immersive format at the moment. I managed to catch it before it left London and quite enjoyed it.
# Avan and I chatted endlessly. We brought each other hope, strength, perspective and entertainment through another tough year.
# C’s mom visited us in the autumn and it was nice to have her around, especially for Diwali.
# Ruhi and Patel continued to come over for a meal on Diwali. I am not sure if it’ll happen again in ’22.
# I did my own mehendi and think the art work was better than previous years’.
# I had a few months of someone shaping my eyebrows again. Perfect definition of a small joy. Of course it stopped when Omicron made an appearance.
# I bought the most colourful shoes ever!!! I had been eyeing them for over a year and I am so so excited about them. This also falls in the small joys category.
# A quiet weekend trip to Gloucestershire was squeezed in too!
# Pulkit visited after really long. I got to spend enough time with him, which always leaves me happy and content.
# I continued to be anxious and had a few panic attacks. No emergency visits to the hospital, but that was more than made up for by ‘routine’ hospital visits.
# Sep-Dec was largely about IVF. The investigations that started last year continued till early September this year. General slowness punctuated by covid disruptions meant everything took really long. New diagnoses, changing/evolving test results, less-intrusive medicines to painful procedures that couldn’t be completed – we saw it all. We also went from being told that no intervention gives us high enough probability to being told that the least intrusive measure could work well for us – with a surgery also thrown into the mix. After all that over several months, the final word was that IVF was our only option with a reasonable success rate. So we started it in September. Since then we’ve gone one day at time with all the medication and body’s responses because science has its limitations too. It’s been tough and frustrating on occasion – it would be nice to know what to anticipate without building too much hope that could easily crash and bring us down.
# Irrespective of every attempt at being rational, I’ve had multiple breakdowns in these past months. One of them led to me getting my hair cut randomly one Sunday (I loved my long curls more than I realised). I still don’t know how far we’ll get with IVF, so I don’t know what 2022 will be like. I feel like I won’t be able to do it again if it doesn’t work this time. But hey, the mind is just as fickle… it also changes one day at a time.
# At Christmas, I had school-like holidays for nearly two weeks. There was no agenda, the weather was crap, practically everyone around us was contracting covid, so it involved a lot of movie-watching at home. Christmas day involved some serious baking by both C and me – I made a lasagne and he made that thing I can never pronounce – potato dauphinoise. Together we cheered to each other and the afternoon saw little physical movement.
Happy new year. As in the past, I continue to wish for peace and good health for everyone.