Bruges, Belgium

Walking the quaint stone paved streets of ancient Bruges, across delightful bridges set over meandering rivers, we came to an open-air market that was just about closing down for the day. Apparently, the people really know how to live life, starting the market at six in the morning and closing at noon!

There was only one artist still selling, although she too just seemed to be there, to chill with her friends. She spoke funny, looked just out of a bad production of Cats, but she tried to sell bigger paintings with passion, even opening up the ones already packed for the day.

Such was her charm, that we decided to get this really odd shaped, vertical painting that showed the steeped roofs of the charming belfry that dominates the old town skyline of Bruges.

Split, Croatia

Up until now, it’s the only black and white portrait we have from our travels. We were on a whirlwind trip of Split, having reached the city, late morning from Zagreb and knowing that the next day we had a five-hour early morning bus ride to reach our next destination.

In the midst of this chaos, we came across this tiny shop with hand drawn pictures hanging on the door. The one we selected, as told by the owner, who also was the artist, was that it was one of the most famous alleys of the old town of Split.

Unfortunately, we never did find the time to locate this alley, but hopefully that day will come soon.

Neuschwanstein, Germany

The picturesque fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein took our breath away. So did the crowds that were piled up to see this Gothic monument. We had reached the castle with enough time to spare, for our inside walking tour, that we decided to get out of the heat and head towards Marienbrucke or Marien Bridge, to take the ‘classic’ shot of the building from afar.

Standing in line for the viewing on the hilly slopes that led to the bridge that is suspended over a ravine, we spied the artist at work, creating this masterpiece that you see below.

We weren’t even looking for someone painting in the middle of what could probably be described as a non-touristy place in the middle of the jungle!

Brussels, Belgium

If there is one thing, we collect on our trips it is hand painted pictures depicting the city square or a monument from that city and fridge magnets. While on our trip to Belgium, magnets were not an issue, but since the trip happen in late summer, when the days tended to get cooler and rain heavier, getting a hand painted picture was proving to be a task.

We scoured the city center and its myriad of alleys, keeping on eye out for the elusive street artists that we had glimpsed while on our walking tour on the first day. We had almost lost hope, when on our last day in Brussels, we finally managed to find not one but three street artists clustered close together.

The one we picked from one of them, captured the city center or Grote Markt, as it is called in the local language.

Rainy Sunday Mornings — Chronicles of an overthinker

An urban, monsoon running blog that captures not only the flavor of the season but the love of running, also. A must read for adventure junkies and rain lovers!!

Nature and running are two of the best mood boosters for me. More often than not with my brain being muddled with ruminating clouds of thoughts, I turn to one or the other. Feeling mentally knackered after a particularly trying week, despite the pitter patter and the skies looking ready to burst, we decided to […]

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Viennese Tales — Chronicles of an overthinker

After reading Christina’s descriptive blog, you will surely plan a trip to this wonderful city (and country). Worth spending ten minutes reading…

July 3, 2017 (Day 1) – Vienna, Austria Despite our late arrival the previous night, we wake up at 7.00 in the morning, and are enthused to explore Vienna, Austria. The streets are completely empty (unlike Mumbai, which at this hour would be thronging with honking cars, and bustling people). The windows of our Airbnb […]

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The Endgame is near

This weekend I caught the latest Marvel adventure – Captain Marvel. A legend among superheroes and a formidable force, Captain Marvel achieved what it set out to attain – a place for the new super woman hero in our hearts. But I won’t get into how the story line has tried to incorporate and tie up all the loose ends of the Marvel Universe and let out any spoilers for those of you who haven’t watched the film yet. I would however, want to sit back and applaud the brains behind this massive franchise – the writers. And while, we might acknowledge a few of the known names that we have been exposed to, I am sure that the team behind these names have played a significant part in bringing these graphic characters to life and infusing them with their own brand of humour, fear, shortfalls and achievements.

The journey began in 2008 with Iron man and Hulk (the only standalone Hulk movie till date) where there were references to the Infinity stones and the Tesseract. What followed was Thor and Captain America two years later. Obviously, this was all a build up to 2012’s The Avengers which if you think about it was a build up to Thanos wiping out half of the planet’s population. This is where I applaud the writers for their 10 year forward thinking plan and build up of characters across movies. Every movie was written with this end in mind – the coming together of the Infinity stones and the story line post Thanos becoming the most powerful man in the Universe.

Each of the Avengers has had at least two of their own outings – except Bruce Banner aka the Hulk (while he has played side kick to Thor) and Black Widow (who has played a sidekick to Captain America). These solo movies have set out to establish the superheroes as being part humane in their approach to life and the wars that they have fought. Even Dr. Strange who is normally associated with amongst mind bending powers, the ability to keep a straight face in the print version, was injected with his own sarcastic brand of humour, making the movie much lighter for audiences.

It’s a mind-boggling task to create an avatar just right enough to be adapted and portrayed flawlessly on screen. That too for not just one or two, but at least ten major characters till date. And while they might have had the graphic novels to assist them, what works on screen is completely different from what is portrayed in print, that too you need to remember that the novels were written in the 1960’s!

Now that the writers of the Marvel Universe have made these superheroes into household names, Marvel fans are now waiting for two revelations – will Thanos be defeated and killed and if killed then how will that happen? And the second bigger question – What is the future of our much-loved superheroes beyond Endgame?

While we know that Spiderman, Captain Marvel and a host of the newly introduced superheroes, will have solo adventures of their own, what will the original Avengers – Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye (who has not had his own solo adventure till date) and Black Widow do?

Retirement? Don’t think the Marvel writers are out of ideas to force these crowd favourites off the big screen.

Only time will tell.

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And until then we wait with bated breath for the newest superhero to join the fun!

Watch Captain Marvel, while she still rules the big screen.

The Hygge Life

In our fast paced life we tend to forget the things that make us truly happy. Once in while we need to stop, take a deep breath, smell and absorb nature for a total refresh of the senses.

Chronicles of an overthinker

March 1, 2019 – Mumbai, India

A while ago, I stumbled across the concept of “hygge” (pronounced “huggah”) on social media, and decided to do a thorough analysis of the concept, and chanced upon Meik Weiking’s book “the little book of hygge”.

What is “hygge”? To quote, Meik Weiking, from his book, The little book of Hygge: The Danish way to live well, ““Hygge” has been called everything from “the art of creating intimacy,” “coziness of the soul,” and “the absence of annoyance,” to “taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things,” “cozy togetherness,” and my personal favorite, “cocoa by candlelight”.

For me, “hygge” is taking it easy, being in the presence of loved ones, enjoying the moment with laughter, friends, and simple living. It is being comfortable with who I am, in my small cozy flat, surrounded by my plants reading on my bean bag, staying at…

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Rural escape.. — Chronicles of an overthinker

An awesome account of how city dwellers crave open spaces. Worth a read.

 

February 2 and 3, 2019 – Karjat, Mumbai Needing to get out of the beginning of the year funk, after the crazy December weekends, we decided we needed to get into nature again. We found this pretty little homestay in Karjat, which a friend had also recommended, and where we had been wanting to go […]

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Those 3 endangered words – Work Life balance

21:30 hours – 40% of the office is still working hard, burning the midnight oil. Do you think the balance 60% not sitting in office are the lucky ones?

Wrong! Chances are that half of those at home would be working or coordinating work from home, while another 10-15% would be giving commands or negotiating deals over the phone to other unfortunate people. On one hand we keep saying that we need a work life balance, but on the other hand money and designation always win over family, friends, and hobbies. We work to fill our stomach’s, but we can neither find the time to sit and peacefully have a decent meal (even dinner or breakfast) or have accumulated so much money that we can feed an entire 20 storied building for a month, however, we just don’t quit.

Numerous colleagues over the years have cribbed about the work they do, their bosses, their co-workers, stating that they will quit in a months’ time. However, they do not have the drive to quit or have just fallen in love with their so called ‘work life’. It’s not clients that are to be blamed as much as the fault also lies with the top level management. In their quest to take the organization upwards, they often push their teams to meeting unreasonable deadlines and giving everything on a platter to clients. They only have one ambition, one hobby in life. Work. Or should I say two – work and making money.

Little do they realize that at the first opportunity the company that they work so hard and with such dedication, would not hesitate to cut off all ties with them if it would suit them. To the company all that you are is a money making machine. The moment the cash flow reduces or stops, you are not seen as being productive in the eyes of the top management.

Wouldn’t it be great if one would, in addition to working the mandatory 8-hour time lines, also hone a skill, nurture a hobby, or find the time to spend with those near and dear? Wouldn’t it help if they would let their careers take a back seat for 3 months (a paid sabbatical as most place now do have) and concentrate on looking at the natural color of the flowers, the white puffs of clouds moving across an azure blue sky or smell the Earth hit by the first rain showers?

No one stops us, but ourselves and our love for making more money than necessary.

With spouses (mostly the women of the family in traditional households) at home to do the house work, Indian men seem to be hell bent on raking up money and accolades by the truckload. And this doesn’t help those that want to have a life beyond the cubicle. But again money is the ugly monster that all want to tame, making sure that you must work to pay the bills, splurge a bit, and most importantly save for the future (since no government since Independence has ever rewarded the tax player).

In Japan, there have been instances of people dying at their work desks, with people so busy that they don’t even know the person next to them or realize that the person sitting next to them have left this world. In India we well be heading towards this work culture with people being evaluated with the amount of work that they get done, over the quality or creative content of that work.

So while our bank balances might get larger, our office space bigger and time spent outside the climate controlled glass structures lesser, our creative bent of mind is being suppressed each day, to the point of being killed. And we still don’t realize this, until we are at the ripe old age of sixty (if we live until then) and then crib about what we might have done differently if we only knew that money was not the answer to living life.

There have been times during my career in media, that clients pressurize the agency with unreasonable deadlines, stating that the outcome of the project is very critical. So I asked myself, what made this project achieve code red criticality, overnight? Didn’t the client know that there was a long weekend coming up? Or maybe he forgot that Republic Day falls in 26th January in India? Or, if the ad for the new fridge didn’t go up by Tuesday, instead of Thursday, consumer would not only switch to buying the competition, but never buy my client’s product ever again!

A wise professor in my college, once stated that even when you copy in an exam, put some thought to it. Just because the person ahead of you writes black as the answer, even if you are sure that it is the wrong answer, do not follow that person blindly. Alas, when we get confined to our glass enclosures, we forget this rule and blindly follow or adopt the strategy that the competitors put up, without thought that the strategy should be vetted first or if it works for the brand.

The result?

Within six months or less its back to the drawing board, the long nights on the agency and client end wasted without anything constructive drawn up.

If only our clients had a little patience, a little faith in their teams both internal and external; if only our bosses would not just be ‘yes’ men, but professionals who had the power to turn down meaningless work and put their team members first, then perhaps work life balance would become a reality and attrition rates at an all-time low.

But alas! We live in a world where the person next to you is willing to work at half the pay and double the hours, where weekends are just another two days to get work done and sleep can be caught up once you are dead. It’s this vicious cycle that is slowly putting work life balance on the endangered list.

Can we do something to stop it from going extinct?

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