Who teaches you to come back?

Travel—it’s a common theme these days. So many of the inspirational posts doing the rounds these days are about letting go of the vagaries of life and travelling.

Travel to your heart’s content. Travel until your feet can’t move anymore. Travel until your heart expands to fit the whole world in. And then, travel some more, they say.

It’s a beautiful concept. And travel one must.

But who will teach you to come back home?

Home with it’s chores and daily schedules. Who will remind you of their urgencies and the reason why you withstood the painpoints?

Home with it’s shackles and binds, heating your skin up that was, until a split second ago, cold from the breeze blowing against you on the tall cliff.

Home with it’s dull grey skies and polluted city centres, where only the young and foolish think they’re free. Wasn’t it not too long ago until you were one of those?

Home, where the parties have come to an end and the after-parties only rise and ebb in the chorus of the sonorous snores.

Home, where the 5.00 am alarm rings you, and you don’t jump out, excited about chasing the sun rise from the east. No, instead you drag your feet to the bathroom and drape yourself in the anonymity of dreary clothes.

Where all texts you get are from colleagues and a handful of friends left in the drainage pipe, ready to ride away the time train. Not, from friends made a few minutes back, making excited plans to discover a pristine hidden beach or get up close to a tall mountain peak.

No. How do you get back?

When all you’re faced with is the list of compromises you made to stabilize reality. When you have to relive the decisions—the friends cut off, the people you retain; the habits newly formed at the behest of old ones gone. Everything that formed the new skin you sew for yourself over time, shedding bits and pieces of the old one again and again, minutes and hours at a time.

Will you agree with each of those?

Would you take the time to mourn what you left behind long before you travelled? But adhere to what’s left?

Or will you rethink your life, change the compromise that’s no more comfortable, and chase after what you decided to leave behind?

How do you answer all your questions about yourself, the people and the world around you, when all you’re expected to do is be normal…again?

And so, you escape. You relive your travels again and again in your mind, avoiding the realities unfolding before your eyes. You forget the life you’re living, and love the past, holding onto it with a desperate vigour, all the while being painfully aware that those memories are fading.

Going, going…. Gone.

There. Now you’re back to reality.

Or are you?

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Thank the butterflies

Many years back, I watched this movie called The Butterfly Effect. It was quite captivating. The premise of the movie is that, the smallest of the changes in time can cause cascading effects. Many movies and books have dealt with this aspect of time travel.

And every day, I wonder what my actions have led to or what actions of others has led to the reality as I lived it. It’s quite fascinating. I wonder if some alien is looking at the myriad permutations and combinations of events like the scene in Men In Black 3.

Of course, even if there is one, it could very well be a figment of my imagination. But what I have noticed are things that may not have happened if the event preceding hadn’t shaped up the way it was.

And boy were there many such combinations of coincidences that happened during my trip.

For example: Had my flight to Brussels not been delayed by 4 hours, I wouldn’t have been so tired in the first few days of my trip.

This tiredness got carried forward to my second stop in San Sebastian. Then, I wouldn’t have been laid back on the first evening.

As a result, I may not have bumped into two lovely ladies from UK or spent the night chatting away to glory. Nor would they have told me about the lovely free city walking tour. And had I not gone on it, my day may not have turned out the way it did—long, tiring but fulfilling.

Then, I may have woken up earlier the next morning and not faced a series of delays and missed buses/trains as I toured across the Basque County.

And if I had not missed the buses, I may not have seen as much of the county as I really did. I certainly would not have taken the bus that took the coastal route and went through many small towns and villages. The beautiful video I did capture wouldn’t have happened. Thank God!

(YouTube link here: https://youtu.be/8_lsphOCub0)

Neither would I have gone to the end of this cliff:

Oh, this series continues forward.I may have then reached the Picos earlier in the night or been less tired.

Thus, I may have woken up earlier the next morning in Picos de Europa. I may have then taken the longer trail over the Carres George as I had intended too, instead of the smaller one I took.

And I would have never met the lovely Australian gentleman, who’s now turned into a beloved pen pal (through email, though).

Barcelona would have been a different experience too, without the debilitating knee injury caused by the hike. But then, I would’ve exerted and roamed around more—making the trip more hectic.

Instead, the series of misadventures helped me slow down and take easier breaths. Quality, thus, trumped quantity.

Similarly, when I got to know Sierra Nevada would be deserted, I had to make a choice of staying back or moving on to another location. I chose to stay back.

That one decision opened the door to meeting and learning from this lovely Barista, who was originally from Morocco.

I spent the next two days with the lady. She opened up to me about her story, teaching me so many lessons about life and living. Not to mention, the wonderful hospitality that she offered.

On the second day, she directed me to another branch for better food. There, I met this beautiful Swedish couple and a German cyclist.

One thing led to another, and the next day, I found myself with the Swedish couple heading to Costa del Sol, which was my next destination. Thanks to them, I saw one extra city, got to see more of the sunny coast AND reached much earlier than I otherwise would have.

Lovely, isn’t it?!

Many such coincidences happened over the course of my travels. Not all of them were palatable. Many were most definitely not great. I’m sure quite a few people would’ve let these ruin their mood or given up.

But that’s the thing. What seems negative may just be so on the face of it. For all you know, it could be a blessing in disguise. It could be the reason you ended up with the happy opportunities. Who knows.

What I do know is this: I don’t jump the moment something seems to go off. Think, there could be another way. And this could just be an opportunity in the making.

Like the little butterfly that has to suffer and break through the shell of her cocoon to strength her muscles.

My friend calls this the Chaos theory. I call it my secret ingredient for happines. It’s easier to live and love the moment when it’s not a means to an end.

When it’s just a single moment, and you can bind many such moments to form a beautiful necklace of the jewels of memory.

When hungry, eat fear

Stop two and three of my solo sojourn in Spain have been in the Basque country and the Asturias. And it’s everything that San Sebastian was not.
You see, San Sebastian is a beautiful European city that’s full of arts, history and culture. It’s very friendly, open and relaxing. You walk by yourself all you want. Sit wherever you want. Eat in any place you favour. For a city dweller, living here comes easily.

But the moment you step out of the city, you’re all alone with nature. The Basque country is dotted with charming little towns along the coast. But a hidden treasure is Zumaia and its Flysch. And I’m proud to have found it in my research. The Geoparkea, which runs tours in the area, had a 3-hour hiking and boat tour at 10.30 in the morning. Now the only problem was, the tour was only available for the 26th, which ate into a day in the Picos de Europa–another little gem, this time, a suggestion of a friend.

Had sanity prevailed, I would have given up Zumaia and headed straight to the Picos, which in itself wasn’t a straightforward route. I had to change buses and then catch a cab to cover the remaining 30-40 minutes of the journey.

But, the very fact that I’m writing this should indicate that sanity did not prevail. 

Headstrong I was. My heart was set on the Flysch. And on I went, deciding to reach the Picos late in the night. Fear point 1. Or so I thought.

That morning, I woke a little early by vacation standards—at 8. Quickly packed and left by 9. The train station was only 5-10 minutes away. So I thought, hey, I have enough time to reach by 10.30. It was just about 35 minutes away, after all.

What I didn’t check was the train schedule. I missed the train at 8.50. Instead, I had to catch the one at 9.45! I prayed hard that I don’t miss the tour. Even practically scrambled from the train station through the circular and confusing streets. Gmaps, wrong as often is, suggested taking the highway! But, as you can expect, I ended up missing the tour.

Of course, when you travel, missed connections are often good. Turns out, it was a Spanish tour and my payment did not go through. Plus, the lady at the tourist centre was kind enough to explain the whole tour, and enabled me with three-four maps so I could do the whole thing myself. I explained about my tight schedule and she even helped work a way around it. Yay! Happily, I set off.

First, I armed myself with knowledge at the museum so I don’t look dumb at the actual site. Then I set off to the Flysch. 

Now, this post is not about the Flysch and its geological phenomenon. But here’s a quick look at the site. 

The real story begins on the top of these hills near the small church. Here:

See the ridge that extends towards the ocean? Now, that’s a small hike. It’s fairly flat and easy. 

But, here’s the thing. I realised I am a little bit prone to Vertigo, especially considering how I have two left feet while walking. Plus, it was a narrow ridge, which frankly, made me rethink if I should go. Also, it didn’t help that I wasn’t dressed correctly, and was alone and physically unfit for any hiking excursions. Fear point 2. (Or 1, if you want to follow the correct chronology)

But, as it turns out, this was just a trailer. And the trailer ended here:

This was the easy part.

Again, I realised I overshot my time. Ran back some how to the train station to miss my express bus by 2 minutes. This meant, I would reach just 15 minutes before my first bus to the Picos. Oh boy! Never before have I tried to run so fast carrying my large, heavy haversack! Unfortunately, even though I reached on time, I had to wait in a long queue to book my tickets. Aaannnnnd the bus left. Fear point 2!

Then, I did a little bit of research (yay, internet!) and found that my second bus from Bilbao originated in San Sebastian! And that was about an hour or so later. So quickly, I booked a ticket, got the same seats and lo behold, was on my way there.

Now wasn’t that seamless! 

The tricky part came at the end of that long bus ride, that ended at 21.30—there were no taxis! How do I go from Llanes to the mountain town of Arenas de Cabrales, I wondered. I knew there weren’t any buses too. Fear point 3!

Thankfully, there was a sweet boy at the station who was originally from Mexico. He asked the locals for taxi stands and offered to walk me there. Boy, am I glad to have accepted his offer as the taxi operator was shut. We moved around a bit, asked a few more locals, until finally a lady offered to call a cabbie friend who happened to be going in the same direction. Muchas gracias, senorita!

Finally, at 10.30 in the night, I reached my hotel, tired but very much entertained by Salsa, Bachata and Kizomba music on the way.

The next day, I got ready for the mountains after lazying in the cold bed, warm bathtub, and over a hot coffee. The sweet lady at the hotel helped me narrow my list of hikes/trails that suited my time limits and fitness levels; booked me a taxi to reach the starting point, and bid me Buenos dias. I conveniently chose one that wasn’t too long or too hard. 

Or so I thought. 

The kind cab driver (whom I shall meet again, btw) explained that there’s a view point separate from the trail. And it’s ‘just’ about 1 kilometer. So I decided to start there. 

It seemed easy. It was not. Turns out, I can walk 23,000 steps seamlessly. But I can’t walk even one kilometer if it involved fighting gravity! 

It was beautiful, though. And after yesterday’s scares and consequent victory, I pushed myself to slowly climb the six zig-zag curves. One break at a time. One curve at a time. 

I think I managed about four U-bends before my mind started playing games. “What if you go back? Can you really make it? Your lungs are killing you. Please give up,” it kept whispering to me. 

And then entered my biker knight. He saw me slowly walking on and stopped to offer a lift. I look at his Ducati and my heart soared! How perfect. I really missed biking along mountain slopes and so I gladly hoped on. Within 5 minutes, we reached. 

To be honest, though, it was a little bit of a bummer. There wasn’t much of a view that I didn’t get already. So, we went back. I asked him if I could tag along with him, my heart greedy for more motorcycle ride, and less walking. He was happy with how good a pillion I was (puhlease! I am experienced enough. Pffff) and agreed. 
After a certain point, we reached the start of the trail. 

Let’s now introduce fear point 4!

Let me tell you something. I have never gone trekking. Nor did I think I’m fit enough to go on one. Especially after the climb earlier. I huff and puff even on one flight of stairs. Forget about what looked like a steep hike. It was nowhere close to the easy walk I expected!

Thankfully, J, my biker saviour, decided to go on the same route. I swallowed my fear and told myself, “you can do this!” It helped that he expected more flatter surfaces further ahead.

And finally we set on, with lovely camaraderie and intelligent conversation. What followed is history. I’ll let the pictures tell you the rest of the story. 

And here’s the Ducati I climbed on as well as it’s rider. 

(BTW, can you find the goat in the background? It may not be easy!)  

———– x ———–

When I started writing this piece, I had finished the trail and was grabbing a break at a nearby hotel. I needed sustenance before I began my return journey, safe in the knowledge that I’ll get a cab back home. Guess what happened next? 

Nope, no taxis around! 

I waited for a bit. But there was barely a soul around. So I started walking back to my hotel—about 4-8kms away. 

To be honest, I was more scared of this than any of the previous experiences. Imagine waking on a highway-like road, alone, without a path to walk on! There were a few blind bends. And a car driving past may not have seen me in time to veer away. But I had no choice. 

So I walk on, initially trying to rewire my brain into thinking of it as an adventure. 

And then, I remembered the countless movies where bagpackers point their thumbs backwards, asking for a lift. Hitchhiking! 

Never done it before. Never needed to. Until I had to. 

Few cars went by. One car offered a finger. Two scooters said sorry. Then, one couple was kind enough to stop. It was barely a fifteen minute ride. And then, thankfully, I reached the hotel. Got a cab booked for the bus stop. And met my old cabbie again. This time, he was warmer and stopped at various places to let me click pictures. He also jabbered on a bit about fields and farming. Then, he realised I haven’t seen Llanes and it’s beautiful beach. So, he took me on a mini tour free of charge to the look around in Llanes.

Here’s my now-favourite taxi driver:

In all my life, I’ve seen my parents accept fear a handful of times. And even on those few occasions, I’ve seen them eat their fear, light a fire in their bellies, and move on. Come what may, they’ve not cowered. So all I did was tear a page from their book. 

I realised today, courage is not about a lack of fear. It’s about what you do with it that counts. 

And sometimes, I guess, it also includes asking for help and support. Anything but stop and pull back!

Call me racist

I can’t help it. I love it when they’re light in colour. Call them fair or anything you want, but I can unabashedly say that I prefer that over their darker, brownish counterparts.

And before you take up arms to write me down in the comments section, let me clarify. I’m talking about the water.

There’s just something about a blue-green ocean that calls out to me. Like Moana. Especially if there’s the vivid green of a grass or a set of trees to contradict the blues of the sky and the water. 

I mean who can deny the attraction to this:

Or this:

Or for that matter, this. The island in the middle just makes it all the more moving. 

Naturally, I’ve been sitting here for god-knows how long while the sun plays hide and seek with the clouds, leaving me alone with the incessant waves for company. But I’m alright. I find that time moves a little more invisibly when you’re near the shore. It feels like time rides the waves. Initially, you’re aware of each wave that lashes at the rocks near the shore. But then, over time, one wave seamlessly merges into the next one, giving enough space for time to pass away, hidden from your consciousness. Of course, it could also be that you’re simply lost in the way the green water slowly and steadily turns blue, the transition stretching all the way to the distant horizon. 

That I love it would be an understatement. I’ve come to accept wholly that I’m a water bum. Funnily, it wasn’t until a friend pointed it out that I realised my penchant for water. Yet, I find it hard to answer the ‘beach versus mountain terrain’ question. Why do they have to be mutually exclusive? Give me a mountain beside a sea, and I’d gladly spend my days staring out at nothing. 

Note, how I’m avoiding phrases like ‘forever’ or ‘spend my whole life there’. That’s a conscious choice. For what I love, I love it and live it today. Only today. But I can’t say if it’s what I want forever. The weight of a lifetime is not something I can carry. Nor do I want to. 

Time couldn’t even last long enough for the beach and the island to be together. They had to be separated, each craving for the other… Waiting for the day when the ocean will devour the last few rocks in the island and the beach, for them to be lost in eternity—but together, at last. 

But enough musings for this poor bench. The earth’s gravity is calling out to the liquid building within me! 😛 

P. S. Location is San Sebastian, Spain

Bonus pictures:

A Bed of Memories

Memories. We collect them all our lives like roses from a bed of flowers. Like shells from the sea floor.
Usually, they bring a smile on our face. As we relive those moments, often innocuous and barely noteworthy. Yet, they are the ones that manage to fill our hearts up with emotion.
Sometimes, these very memories leave a bitter taste in our mouths.


Memories. We collect them all our lives like roses from a bed of flowers. Like shells from the sea floor.
Usually, they bring a smile on our face. As we relive those moments, often innocuous and barely noteworthy. Yet, they are the ones that manage to fill our hearts up with emotion.
Sometimes, these very memories leave a bitter taste in our mouths. We go to great lengths to avoid some memories. Even the good ones. Those hurt more.
They make you feel the magnificence of time. Throw the differences in sharp relief.
It never ceases to amaze me.
Last year, I would’ve celebrated memories with my friend or some loved one. Today, in their absence, the very same memory chokes me and fills my heart with longing and sorrow.
It’s a never ending circle.
I had mistakenly believed that it was an error on my part to make myself vulnerable with people who I knew were not trustworthy. I thought guards would safeguard me from any pain and suffering.
Today, I realised that guards only jail you inside the confines of your mind. You are never really free. And it is not about being trustworthy; it is simply a passage of time. What comes has to go.
Just because people don’t remain doesn’t mean they never were loyal, trustworthy and truthful. Their time was up. That’s all. In my life, that is.
That shouldn’t stop me from opening up, being vulnerable and making memories.
After all, when I am 80 years old, a frail lady, these memories will serve me company. They will be the stories I could tell kids and grandkids.
And thus, life goes on.

The 100-happy-day saga

Image

As a kid, I remember having a long list of wants in my life; things that would make me happy. I also remember feeling dejected and disappointed if I didn’t get it/them. However, I was not one to wallow in disappointment. I moved on — quite easily.

Today, I realise happiness lies in things I already have. Yes, I am never short of wants. But, I am happy and content with my situation in life.

I recently took the 100-day challenge. At the start, I wondered if I would finish it. Slowly, it became a habit. Today, when I re-read the posts, the comments and the conversations — not just mine, but others too — I feel blessed.

If Death took me tonight, I would say what Vito Corleone said with this last breath — “Life is beautiful”.

Anyway, I have painstakingly collated the posts and I want to share it to the world. I have nothing to hide. I don’t mean to be in your face and gloat. I simply want to share and shine like a beacon.

Also, apologies for the unedited content.

Here we go:


 

Day 1     Happiness is… your bestfriend’s mom calling her up and praising you.

Day 2     Happiness is … hearing a loud, exuberant “excellent” from your editor after reading your article.

Day 3     Happiness is… a heart-to-heart conversation after a long time.

Day 4     Happiness is.. your blog post getting 20 likes..

Day 5     Happiness is.. A cup of filter kaappiii after a week-and-a-half!

Day 6     Happiness is.. your train crossing serene waters lapping onto shores covered with mangroves early in the foggy morning, with a cloud-covered red-hued sun overseeing nature’s bounty.

Day 7     Happiness is… a mini reunion at home after nearly two weeks with a cup of hot filter kaapi.

Day 8     Happiness is.. A cool workplace and even cooler colleagues/bosses, where you can take a half hour break to go to the nearby Starbucks for a cuppa.

Day 9     Happiness is.. waking up to a genuine compliment about your writing, followed by another compliment when you enter your office premises. Nothing like a good start to the day and work.

Day 10   Happiness is… a new exciting story in your head that keeps you up until two in the night and even the next day, and more importantly, getting positive feedback on the idea.

Day 11   Happiness is… getting a permission easily for something you really really wanted, when you were all prepared to beg if not convince.

Day 12   Happiness is.. dancing away to glory without shoes.

Day 13   Happiness… sometimes does not require a reason Even a productive day can add to the overall sense of satisfaction.

Day 14   Happiness is.. a very good day at work despite a debilitating headache.

Day 15   Happiness is… A much needed afternoon nap..

Day 16   Happiness is.. after a long conversation with a Rickshaw driver you have known for years, you discover that broad-mindedness is not limited to those who are educated.

Day 17   Happiness is.. waking up to a significant reduction in your seemingly perpetual headache… oh and blueberry muffin! YUM!

Day 18   Happiness is … a good news after a worrying wait

Day 19   Happiness is.. Having a great day — being woken up by one of your fav people, but managing to sleep again, followed by awesome salsa class where you are complimented for dancing well, and then chilling with friends in the evening.

Day 20   Happiness is.. a heart-to-heart with two of your friends across borders and towns after what seems like ages.

Day 21   Happiness is.. a heartfelt confession and a sweet response…

Day 22   Happiness is… a good mood on a beautiful morning, which is contagious enough to improve others’ moods

Day 23   Happiness is… Not always easy. It is a state of mind. Sometimes it is finding solace even in hard situations. Solace from the support system that friends and family can be. Solace from the chance given by fate to spend some quality times before bidding adieu. Solace that the end is not full of regrets, but one that leaves at least a little scope for closure. Happiness… sometimes needs courage and grit.

Day 24   Happiness is.. Sleeping blissfully!

Day 25   Happiness is… Leisurely watch people hurry around you, while you lounge in your seat with a burger to munch on. Weekend bliss!

Day 26   Happiness is.. Often in the small things — finishing your quota of sleep, a yummy cup of strong tea, sitting idle and staring at the sky, cold weather, friends showing they care (even if it was about your hair), and the knowledge that you will be dancing in a while.

Day 27   Happiness is.. not having to go home on time… and giggling like mad over the absurd direction a conversation had taken with your friend.

Day 28   Happiness is.. waking up with a big smile (albeit late)

Day 29   Happiness is.. sincere appreciation and the excitement of travel planning..

Day 30   Happiness is… shooting an arrow in the dark, and then discovering it struck gold.

Day 31   Happiness is… A day spent by yourself, with yourself, for yourself. Who says solitude is only lonely, sometimes it is rejuvenating, and much needed for the soul. Happiness is… Being one with yourself in silence.

Day 32   Happiness is.. spending time with the ones you love and cherish.

Day 33   Happiness is… the lack of Monday blues after a well-rested weekend. Oh.. and also the news that your cousin has bought you two sexy tops ‪#‎girlpleasure                Happiness is (also)… Reliving your childhood by watching your favourite cartoon movie — The Lion King.

Day 34   Happiness is.. Doing what you love and loving what you do.. Happiness is also.. Reading some of your old works and feeling awestruck that it was written by the same person reading it… Happiness lies in you. Addition: Happiness is also listening to your friends sing and perform. Venkat Iyer Archanaa Jayaraman

Day 35   Happiness is.. getting reader’s mails..

Day 36   Happiness is.. a day-long romantic date with your bed and an extra long shower, headaches notwithstanding.

Day 37   Happiness is.. working from home while the TV plays 90s Govinda’s dance tracks like “Goriya churana mera jiya” and “Hero No. 1” that you used to dance to as a child. What thumkas and beats!

Day 38   Happiness is.. gossiping with your parents after they return from a fortnight-long holiday. Also… the weekend!

Day 39   Happiness is.. Doing the thumkas and jhatkas in front of the tv spewing cheesy club numbers. ‪#‎partyallnightandmorning

Day 40   Happiness is.. picking up a book to read after what seems like ages, and reading while travelling.

Day 41   Happiness is.. A good day. Sharing a few laughs and great camaraderie with your boss.. A great poetry session, where you meet people old and new.. Also, a good meeting, which gives hope that things will turn out well to help you achieve your dreams..

Day 42   Happiness is… a good deed. It is also excited planning for an upcoming trip.

Day 43   Happiness is.. Warm companionship in the train amongst strangers during peak hours!

Day 44   Happiness is.. simple, pure, unadulterated joy. It is a marine drive tour early in the morning. It is getting what you want. It is also in some simple words that people unconsciously shower you with. It is in singing like a tape-recorder during lunch. It is in a lot of things Ah, the small joys of life!

Day 45   Happiness is.. Alternatively curling up, stretching and being eagle-spread on a bed the whole day with a book that enchants your imagination. Weekend wonders!

Day 46   Happiness is.. a sexy bike ride!

Day 47   Happiness is.. Satisfying your bloodlust on the screen through 300! “This is spartaaaa” <insert air-kick>

Day 48   Happiness is.. when you have one more page filled up on your passport

Day 49   Happiness is.. Mind-blowing pasta!

Day 50   Happiness is.. A surprise pizza order.

Day 51   Happiness is.. When strangers play a prank to ease your tension, or bless you in a foreign tongue, or better yet, find you when you are lost and tired. Life is beautiful!

Day 52   Happiness is… Bobbing up and down on a boat sailing on pristine blue-green waters while staring at jelly fishes floating all around.. It is also soaking in a new culture..

Day 53   Happiness is trekking to a cave high up on a hill amidst strong wind, occasional droplets of rain and sand..

Day 54   Happiness is.. Making new friends from the other part of the world..

Day 55   Happiness is.. Admiring the beauty of mother earth’s mountains and blue green sea from over 100 feet in the sky, that too in total silence and with the only company of the wind blowing in your ear. #Paragliding

Day 56   Happiness is.. Being embraced by the bluest sky amidst a line of snow-glad or green mountains, all the while listening to songs by Eric Clapton, Mohd Rafi, ACDC, John Mayer, Guns n Roses, etc and slowly letting go of the hurts and wounds of the past. Shedding old skin and scabs. Happiness is getting lost in travel and finding yourself in the least unlikely of places.

Day 57   Happiness is a near perfect day.

Day 58   Happiness is.. A road trip on unknown lanes and landscapes, a private yacht ride, swimming for the first time in the middle of a huge sea and most importantly, cutting a surprise cake for your (Indian) star birthday. Happiness is when you couldn’t wipe the smile off your face the whole day.

Day 59   Happiness is.. Knowing you have a bunch of ppl who are like a family away from home.

Day 60   Today, my skin is sun burnt, my lips are chapped, my hair is in shambles, I am two shades darker, muscles all over my body hurt, and I possibly need one whole day’s sleep to rejuvenate. But, I am happy. Happy that I am going back home with a wealth of experience, a bunch of new friends and a heart full of gratitude for being blessed to have a wonderful life. Happiness is… Travel, humanity, nature. Happiness is life!

Day 61   Happiness is.. Sharing a hearty laugh after trading funny stories…

Day 62   Happiness is giving gifts and more importantly, seeing that they are warmly received and loved.

Day 63   Happiness is the simple joy of hanging out and laughing with friends.. Especially after a long time!

Day 64   Happiness is.. Sharing and day dreaming, while wearing a big smile on your face..

Day 65   Happiness is.. hitting the bed directly after reaching home from work.

Day 66   Happiness is.. the weekend! It is studying while listening to music on sexad Bose headphones!! It is also the build-up of anticipation for a dance night after oh-so-long!

Day 67   Happiness is.. sleeping for half a day. The pleasures of a weekend! It is also being happy for your brother and his friends’ TV debut. Sudarshan Varadarajan and Velmurugan Sekar

Day 68   Happiness is.. Sugarcane juice and a nice walk in the balmy weather. (Repeat: Day 68) Happiness is a new desktop computer at home!

Day 69   Happiness is… a surprise blood donation at work! Edit: Happiness is also eating Franki and not spilling it (FINALLY) on your white white dress! Mini-jig

Day 70   Happiness is.. Amazing breakfast in the morning, and an equally awesome bike ride in the evening followed by sexad cutting!

Day 71   Happiness is.. this video! Can’t stop gushing about those adorable babies.. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/03/baby-animals-take-first-steps-walking-video_n_5085520.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

Day 72   Happiness is.. Shopping after ages.. It is also the knowledge that you will (finally) finish one CFA subject tomorrow. Fingers crossed

Day 73   Happiness is.. Dancing!

Day 74   Happiness is.. finishing a subject!

Day 75   Happiness is.. a premature birthday gift!!!

Day 76   Happiness is.. Getting exactly what you need even before you realise it.. It is also spending some quiet me-time with yourself..

Day 77   Happiness is a good deed — yours as well as your friend’s.

Day 78   Happiness is.. A birthday celebration and gifts!!! Thank you Rajas Kelkar, Namika Giddi Dhruti Shukla Veerpal Zala Amit Kaushal Dipakk Srivastava

Day 79   Happiness is… celebrating the joy of life and birth on your birthday with friends, colleagues and loved ones who make your day oh-so-special. It is being kidnapped (after you have given your permission :P) and blindfolded and taken on a hour-long bike ride at 1 in the night to be given another amazing surprise! Oh and all the lovely gifts! Time to count blessings

Day 80   Happiness is a quiet Sunday.

Day 81   Happiness is.. A day well spent.

Day 82   Happiness is.. A sumptuous Vishu feast.. Yum!

Day 83   Happiness is.. Eating six idlis for breakfast, lots of dog videos in the day and dressing up for a sangeet in the evening.

Day 84   Happiness is.. A surprise birthday gift!

Day 85   Happiness is.. enjoying simple daal chawal.. that you made

Day 86   Happiness is.. Finishing another subject..

Day 87   Happiness is.. getting published.. again even though it is just a tiny inconsequential piece. It is also a looong nice heart-to-heart with your friend.. Happiness is overlooking the tiny things and feeling happy about the overall goodness of life

Day 88   Happiness is.. The new Santacruz-Chembur link road. No traffic in Sion! It can actually feel Mumbai’s roads heave a little sigh of relief.

Day 89   Happiness is.. an awesome chat over a glass of cutting!

Day 90   Happiness is.. listening to music while working. It is also being reassured about the warmth in an old friendship

Day 91   Happiness is… singing in the office.. to this Youtube mix!

Day 92   Happiness is.. laughing crazily with your friends on old jokes…

Day 93   Happiness is… starting the preparations for a dance performance! excited

Day 94   Happiness is.. Being happy for your friend and riding the high..

Day 95   Happiness is… A nice afternoon nap!

Day 96   Happiness is.. Fun moments in the office.

Day 97   Happiness is… Meeting your dear friend after ages and laughing at nothing like old times.. Happiness is an amazing day

Day 98   Happiness is… Picking up the guitar after ages and strumming for yourself.. Happiness is also a Friday evening in your own company.

Day 99   Happiness is.. watching Dr House again.

Day 100 Happiness is… the sheer joy of penning down your thoughts. It is also dancing a new form — something you have wanted your whole life! What a way to end the 100-day happy saga (May 4)

Extras:

May 6: Happiness is.. Gorging on amazing food the whole day! Rajma, tindli, pasta, pizza, mangoes, daal and what not!

May 7: Happiness is.. Feeling satisfied with yourself at the end of the day!

May 12: Happiness is.. reading your ‪#‎happydays‬ posts and reliving the beautiful memories. #happydays ‪#everyday‬