of mistakes, snapchat and 2015


It’s here. As weird as it feels, 2015 is coming to a close and I’m looking back at the year with a mix of feelings. It’s incredibly exciting to be moving into a new year soon, but as with the past couple of years, it seems to be that I need to visualize more how I want 2016 to play out. 2015 was a journey of indulgence – of relishing in life and its energy. But as with any good thing, too much can be too much, and 2016 has to temper it.

I normally spend the last week of the year writing multiple blog posts, individually thanking important people in my life for being there and adding value. Given that this year has seen a tremendous explosion in the activities I’ve participated in as well as amount of relationships I’ve built and developed, I am modifying the way I approach my annual thanksgiving. Instead, this year, I will condense everything into one post, and attempt to make sense of the year past and the year ahead.

Perhaps most significant this year was the vast number of cities I visited. More than 35 cities and 9 countries, I’ve been blessed to see the likes of Budapest, Beijing and Banff. The goal was to understand each culture and have a better feel of the world I’m living in. Yet, as I continued to travel, I began to realize how much more I had to learn. I made numerous friends, so much so that i struggled to find a way to keep in touch with all of them.

More excitingly, probably due to the self-selecting bias of the nature of my friends, my Facebook feeds get filled with pictures and stories of people on their own travels, encouraging me to make more journeys. Enter Snapchat , a magical  application that allows you to vicariously live through others moments in other countries and cultures. People think I’m addicted to Snapchat. I’m honestly not, I’m addicted to the stories that you get to see and interact with . In one day, I can go through a full timeline of life in Singapore, Israel, Milan and San Francisco because of my friends that I’ve made. It’s in a form of reciprocation that I try to put up as much interesting content as possible, on all forms of social media especially Snapchat in its rawest form, to ensure I contribute to the boiling pot of stories that makes life so rich. It bridges that gap I struggle with, where I want to continue communicating with my friends around the world, but require an easy medium to do so.

In it entirety, 2015 was served on a golden platter. It’s difficult for me to understand how I’m so blessed, given I never grew up extremely privileged. I was as middle class as it got – I acknowledge the innate privilege in that – and was a minority in my country, but it was likely that the lack of privilege made me hungry to earn my own place in this world. 2015 showed me I had made a long way from where I first started and I’m grateful for the shoulders I stood on to get here. I believe I made the most sincere relationships of any year this year. I made lasting impact in the domains I had an influence in. I engaged in issues I was concerned about. Yet there were things I wish I did better. I would call them mistakes , maybe missteps, because I was aware at the time of the right decision and yet in my own fault took the other path. When my paternal grandfather passed away, it took me longer than it should have to mourn, because I was afraid to confront his mortality. There were numerous times when I should have expressed my honest feelings to people and missed out on the opportunity to do so. But perhaps most severe of all was that I let myself go to waste this year.

I remember giving speeches to youth about the difference between being busy and having meaning. Being busy meant always doing things , inclusive of things that had to be done for the continuation of life as usual. Having meaning dictated doing things that mattered to who you were as a person, and to the improvement of life as we know it. In a trap of its own, the success of 2015 inhibited me from engaging with the projects I dreamt of or the causes I cared about. I had fun, I saw the world, I made lots of friends and I partied a ton – but I was empty from the same sense of fulfillment I felt day to day when I ran The Hidden Good. College is a honeymoon, they say. Perhaps it’s the age, or perhaps it’s the erosion of the sugar tooth, but I want to live a life of meaning again. 2016 will be that year for me.

There must be love with ambition, heart with head, and most importantly humanity with bravery. 2015 was a year right by any standards, full of good things and yet with gaps to focus on for the next year. I must therefore acknowledge that good in my life, that which has made living an adventure for me – my family and friends.

My Mom and Dad – for being some of my better friends and mentors in this stage in my life. For being confidantes in the tougher times and for being the first people I want to share my joyous moments with. Ronak and Rovina – for reminding me of my youth and the greater values of compassion and joy respectively , values I see manifest richly in you.

My Fraternity – for being a home away from home and a source of strength in the jungle that is college. For making the stories with me I will tell my grandkids, and for keeping me standing when I feel like falling. For reminding me everyday what it means to share the bond of loyalty that is so lacking in this day of age.

The Stooges –  the circle of sanity I know I can trust. Thanks for being true, for being honest and for being fierce. We don’t let each other down, and we’ll choke before we let any one of us let ourselves down. Our timely chats are crucial in reminding me that we must persist in maintaining the grandiose visions we have. That there is a future we are seizing.

The Hidden Good – for carrying the legacy. For reminding me I did one good thing in my lifetime. I’ve been so happy I was able to give this platform to the world, and let you, the youth of today shape the future that is tomorrow. For believing in something better, and for reminding everyone in the world that there is hope, there is a good waiting to be uncovered. We must believe.

My Friends, old and new – for my friends who have been with me since the beginning, who I made this year, who I met on my travels, and who I’ve had the pleasure of having a significant conversation with, thank you for simply being there. For adding value to my life in one way or another , and you can trust I do not forget. This soul has been forgotten a few times enough to know never to let the same feeling be felt by anyone else because of me. You can trust that friendship and loyalty are akin to gems to me, precious and worth holding on to.

Doctor Who has some of the most timeless lines in the TV-verse. It gives so much perspective into life, and how to live it. This quote has always stuck by me, and its meaning rings truer now more than ever.

“We all change, when you think about it. We’re all different people all through our lives. And that’s okay, that’s good, you’ve got to keep moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be” – Eleventh Doctor

Thank you 2015 for being what you were. For being nothing short of an adventure. 2016, just you wait. Things will heal, and I will be strong. I will do good this year.



take my youth, take my memories


It was the day of the big reveal. Tiffany locked the door as she walked into the gallery. It’s a different feeling having the whole place to yourself , just you and your work.  She saw her soul here , a portion of it at least, laid out for the world to see. It was weird to her how one’s soul can live outside of their conscience.

The first picture was when she was 17 and had her first kiss. She was gleaming, her smile spread cheek to cheek. The summer camp they were at could be seen in the background, and the low quality of the photo taken on her friend’s phone was obvious through the noise all over. She remembered the thrill of the kiss, and then the immediate confusion that followed. What was going on, she had asked herself. I never knew he liked me… but he is kinda cute.  They had stopped once she realized her friends were giggling by the side. They simply walked away and went somewhere else to continue the snog. Whatever happened to him, she thought. They never saw each other past that summer camp.

It didn’t really matter all that much. Her mom had told her before “Your first kiss will be the most magical thing in the world.” She didn’t think so. Every subsequent kiss with Rick had only gotten more magical, and he was definitely not her first kiss. She looked back at the picture again, and smiled at the innocence of her youth.

She walked a couple of pictures down and stopped at a small one. It was a postcard she had written to her best friend that got bounced back. He had decided to travel to Europe and had invited her along. She remembered the day at the airport, giving him his farewell hug. “You sure you don’t want to do this? This small town isn’t big enough for our dreams” he had said. I’m not sure if that life’s for me, she had replied. That was the last she saw of him. They had exchanged postcards for a year, his stories of adventures in the Greek Isles and Swiss Alps and her stories of getting her first job and learning to cook. Her adventures were no less worthwhile, but he was right. Her first job taught her that she was too full of ideas to be locked behind a desk. She sent him the final postcard, asking to join him, if only for a month or so. It never reached him, and she never found out why. Where are you Buzz, she muttered to the postcard. Come back soon, I miss you. Bring the adventure here. She imagined him sitting in a villa in the Croatian countryside , with a beautiful wife and a backyard of opportunity . He’s probably happy wherever he is, she thought.

It was 15 minutes to opening time. She took another lap around the gallery, making sure everything was in place. She smiled at some of her photos, laughed at others. As she neared the middle of the route, she stopped at a portrait that had been drawn of her. Her face was long, her brows furious and her lips curt. This happened 10 years ago and yet so much has changed , she saw. She had been dating Rick for a year, and things were starting to get serious. ‘I’m going to break up with him’ she told Amy, her sister. ‘I’m not sure if I’m ready to be this serious’ she had insisted.

‘Let’s hit the pause button’ she said. ‘We decide our lives, and it’s seems like at this point, you need to know more about yourself before you make any more decisions’

‘Alright’ she said, thinking of Morty and his Croatian villa. They took a year to travel around Asia. From fighting pythons in the jungles to waking up in the middle of the Mekong, her world was changed. It was after the first month, on the streets of Bombay that she had made her first call to give up. Amy had looked at her straight in the eye and said ‘We can go back right now, but let me ask you something first. Have you answered your question?’

She had known the answer wasn’t true. That was when Amy drew the first portrait of her. Every month since, Amy would sit her down and sketch her look. The gallery had them laid out in sequence. As Tiffany continued walking down, she found the one that excited her the most. For the first time, on the last portrait, she had smiled profusely. It looked better than her smile of innocence at the beginning of the gallery. This was confident, proud in fact. You could see a sparkle in her eye, she was happy regardless of the situation. She had just traversed the Three Gorges in China and was overlooking the Bund in Shanghai. She looked back at Amy and smiled. “Hold that” she had said, and took a picture of her that she proceeded to copy into sketch.

“I know the answer now” Tiffany said. I know what this life means for me.

The last picture in they gallery showed Tiffany finally sitting on a bench in Central Park, New York. She was reading a book and smiling to herself again. Rick had taken that picture when she wasn’t looking. Below the picture was a quote she had placed. “When you decide happiness is completely in your hands, you’re probably ready to grow up”

She smiled again. It was time to open up.