Dec 28, 2016

2016 in review

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One of the productive years is coming to an end. It has now become an annual ritual to jot down a review of the year gone by. It serves mainly as a personal reference to look back after a few years. 

The year started off with planning my first food stall at a community event. It was a memorable and a unique experience, given that I have never done something like this before. The success of the food stall motivated me to kick-start a healthy and traditional food catering service in my apartment. There were hardly any takers in the initial couple of months but I persisted at it over the weekends. I'm extremely grateful for the handful of supporters who appreciate my food. I also extended my product line by offering a range of spice powders (podis). The whole experience has been phenomenal, from a learning perspective. 

Two key insights on food preferences that I discovered during this phase:
- Vegetarians are a teeny tiny minority group
- Most of us have adopted/switched over to global cuisines from a variety/taste/health point of view but reluctant to try out and explore regional cuisines of our own country. This could be due to biases, preconceived notions, past experiences, limited choices provided by restaurants etc

Early this year, I also started looking for flexible consulting opportunities on product management / marketing. I reached out to some of my contacts and found an opportunity with Flipkart. Initially I started off with going to office on a daily basis while my daughter was settling into a daycare. The traffic was horrible and I was wasting nearly 90 minutes in commute everyday. My daughter wasn't feeling happy going to the daycare in the afternoons. So I worked out a work-from-home option with my manager and was managing work and my little one (in the afternoons without a babysitter or family support). On some days, my daughter would be very supportive and let me work / take conf calls. But there were also days when she would be constantly demanding my attention. I would feel terribly guilty to switch on the TV in order to take a conf call but there wasn't any other option. My role demanded a lot of coordination with various team members, which was a challenge with working remotely. On evaluating these issues, I decided to step down and I'm now in my last week at Flipkart, wrapping up my work. It was an interesting 9 months, working as part of the seller side of marketplace team. I especially liked the conversations with various sellers, understanding their issues, challenges and perspectives of e-commerce.

In a scene from the Tamil movie "Kalki" directed by late Mr. K Balachandar (one of my favorite directors), there is an image of a sculptor sculpting herself. That image made a lasting impression on me when I saw the movie years ago. Over the last few years, I have been consciously taking steps towards improving myself - health, fitness, habits, thoughts and actions. This tweet reiterates the same point.

I continued with Yoga in 2016 and it has brought a lot of positive change towards my stamina, strength and flexibility. It has also resulted in more energy, calmness and clarity. I'm blessed to have a teacher who is the perfect "Goldilocks" when it comes to pushing me on a daily basis - not more, not less, just right ! :-)

Healthy eating continued with more rigor - millets are a regular feature in my diet. So are veg salads and fruits. I have also been diligently sharing the pictures of my plates in Instagram and FB, which motivates me to prepare healthy meals and share ideas. If atleast 5 people switched to millets or chose home-cooked fresh breakfast over packaged cereals, my purpose is achieved :-) I have stopped buying white sugar this year and switched to other healthy sweeteners such as cane sugar and jaggery. This year, I took over the complete responsibility of cooking at home without any help. I spent most of my mornings after Yoga in cooking breakfast, lunch and packing our lunch boxes. I'm glad that I took control over an important aspect of our lives (food, what else?), without outsourcing to an external help. Organizations don't outsource their critical business functions. Same logic applies to our personal lives as well.

BTW, I have lost 3 kgs this year, thanks to these steps although weight loss was never my goal. I wrote about this stubborn 3 kgs, way back in 2012(See, how the yearly review helps in retrospect!)

My other keen interest is writing and I had set a goal to hit 50 blogposts this year. I sprinted towards this goal and achieved it right on time in Dec :-) I have also moved to my own domain which was one of my goals for 2016. 

My food blog also saw some activity this year with 25 new recipes. Though I love Cucumbertown, it is sad that they have shut shop and I'm now forced to migrate to another blogging platform early next year. 

Similar to previous 2 years, I had set myself a goal of speaking in atleast one public event this year too. I checked off this goal when I signed up for the opportunity to speak at Unpluggd in Nov. The feedback shared by one of the attendees made the 2-week effort of preparing for the talk amidst other priorities all worth it.

Given the busy daily schedule of Yoga, cooking, work, playing with my daughter, writing and weekend catering, my reading suffered a lot this year. I read just a handful of books (listed below). I have also switched to Kindle this year and been reading many e-books, thanks to Kindle Unlimited plan. I don't mind reading fiction from Kindle but I prefer a physical book when it comes to non-fiction. 
  1. The great Indian diet by Shilpa Shetty
  2. Inippu by Senthamizhan (Tamil)
  3. The wedding photographer by Sakshama Puri Dhariwal
  4. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
  5. Faster, Smarter, Higher by Utkarsh Rai
  6. It doesn't hurt to be nice by Amisha Sethi
  7. The cozy life by Pia Edberg
  8. Nalla Soaru by Rajamurugan (Tamil)
  9. Skyfire by Aroon Raman
  10. PCOD Thyroid handbook by Rujuta Diwekar
  11. The bestseller she wrote by Ravi Subramanian
  12. Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
With my husband's busy job at a startup, we couldn't travel as much as we'd love to. We did a short 3-day trip to Sakleshpur and a 4-day trip to Marari Beach Resort. That's it for the year :-(

The many firsts I'm jotting down so that I can look back after few years. Some are outright silly ;-)
- Learnt to change the gas cylinder by myself. Don't ask me why it took me this long to learn something so simple.
- Traveled with my daughter in a train without hubby dear accompanying us. Both my daughter and I share the love for train journeys!
- Conquered the fear of oil blast by making murukku and ribbon pakoda for Diwali.....yes, I've been cooking for 12+ years but tried these traditional deep fried snacks for the first time :-)
- Rode a cycle along the paddy fields and coconut groves in a lonely village route (during my Marari Beach trip). The experience reinforced how much I love cycling and villages. One of the few times when I experienced and felt true "joy". 
- Talked to a just-met friend for nearly 4 hours about books, life, kids, women-centric issues at work, career, tech, ecommerce and everything. I don't recall the last time when I chatted with someone for this long. I thought that I'm not so good with spoken words in a group and I'm happy to just listen to the conversation. But I guess I can open up a lot more if I find the right person to converse with, who has similar interests.

I'm starting off 2017 on a clean slate, with a few goals/focus areas identified and written down.

Wish you a happy and joyful new year! Dream on, keep sculpting yourself.

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