Grateful Geek: The Smashing Pumpkins

One of my favorite bands when I was a teenager in the 1990s was The Smashing Pumpkins.

“Monuments to an Elegy” album cover.

I have very fond (and semi-embarrassing) memories of blasting their albums, Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, on my old Sony stereo while singing along loudly and pretending I was a master guitarist. (In my defense, I was a moody teenager!)

I still very proudly listen to my ’90s rock, including the Pumpkins, but I’ve been woefully out of touch with what they’ve been up to.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that the Pumpkins put out a new album this week called Monuments to an Elegy. And it’s quite good! Lead singer Billy Corgan sounds as good as ever — mature and soulful — and the music is reminiscent of their ’90s roots without sounding dated.

Not exactly Christmas carols, but it nonetheless puts me in good spirits that good music still exists by musicians I grew up with.

This week, I’m lovin':

Rebranding exercises and honing in on my brand vision + business accountability + cheetah print + fresh-cut pineapple + trailers for Inside Out and Le Petit Prince + Chang-Rae Lee + my mom’s, comfort food-inspired lunch + an impromptu viewing of Pride and Prejudice (one of my all-time favorites) + evening phone chats + amazingly helpful and kind building staff + Chipotle burrito bowls with my brother + online shopping with my mom and laughing with my dad + my superhuman hubby

Grateful Geek: Pamper Time

(This GG post comes a couple of days late, but better late than never!)

Essie Headmistress

When the weather chills you to the bone and end-of-the-year task lists pile up, there’s nothing better than carving out a little pamper time.

Y’know, to do something fun and indulgent that keeps you smiling. For me, that was giving myself a pedicure at home and drinking a generous mug of soy hot cocoa.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, I think!

This week, I’m also lovin':

#GivingTuesday + Cyber Monday and completed holiday shopping! + Christmas tree-lined streets + half-workdays at home with a good friend + T-Mobile + Into the Woods and Emily Blunt + croissant bread pudding + a provocative title and thoughtful read + the perfect red nail polish for the holidays + an indulgent pine-scented candle + Todd Chrisley’s hysterical one-liners + the Lady Gaga-Tony Bennett pairing + “Lilyhammer” + update texts from my globetrotting hubby

Grateful Geek: Thanksgiving Special

I hope you and your loved ones had an amazing Thanksgiving!

Charlie Brown and friends celebrating Thanksgiving to the fullest.

Yesterday was all about soaking up quality time with loved ones, mouth-watering food and explosions of gratitude. I celebrate gratitude every single day, so Thanksgiving feels no different…except that it does.

As the year draws to a near close, I like this pause to reflect — more than usual — and take stock of all the good people and things in my life. And it should come as no surprise that the most precious gems in my life, what I’m most intensely grateful for and what makes me feel more blessed than not, are my family and friends. They are my world, and I can’t imagine this life or any other without them.

I gotta face it: I’m hopelessly in love with the people in my life. They bring me endless amounts of joy, comfort, security, encouragement, and most of all, love love love.

So even though Thanksgiving Day is over, I hope that you too feel super blessed every single day. I hope that you’re able to see how wonderful life is and how much more it can become if you just practice gratitude and let that be your north star.

This week, I’m also lovin':

Thoughtful notes + 2015 planning + “The Underground Girls of Kabul” + nearly a week’s worth of my hubby’s culinary delights + Sonix + nonstop thrills with Homeland + fresh pink blooms + midnight blue velvet and a place to sit + a smiling moon + dozing off and uninterrupted, restful, blissful sleep + family dinners and mini cupcakes + late morning starts with my hubby

Grateful Geek: Watch the Traffic

You know that saying “stop and smell the roses”?

I do love it, but I think since winter is basically here and I’m a city girl, it needs to be adapted for greater relevance.

Watching traffic snake up third avenue from our freezing balcony
Watching traffic streaking up Third Avenue. Photo credit: Nisha Kumar Kulkarni.

So let’s change it to “watch the traffic.”

I mean, I hate traffic as much as the next person. (After all, I may be one of the world’s top 10 most impatient people.)

But the other evening, as I was experimenting with my DSLR on our freezing cold balcony, I couldn’t help but pause and notice how pretty traffic can be. (From a distance, of course.)

I think taking that moment to watch the traffic, to appreciate the color and movement and how its apart of the city just as much as the heart-stopping skyline, can be just as refreshing — and gorgeous — as stopping to smell the roses.

Don’t believe me? Give it a try.

This week, I’m also lovin':

Creative sparks + an email backlog — and not beating myself up over it + photography + Alan Cumming + an encore presentation of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower and everything related to it + hot chocolate and Jello pudding + “Shark Tank” reruns + #missadventure in “The Waiting Game” + tempering perspectives + a bigger, actually better new iPhone + reconnecting with friends + impatient iMessaging while on long airport security-like queues + afternoon hang-time with my brother + giving my body room to rest and recuperate + my hubby’s happy laugh in the early morning

Write-able Moments

Getting reacquainted with an old friend: my Canon 1000D
My Canon selfie: getting reacquainted with an old friend

When I was in high school, I used to snap photos all the time. My dad gave me his old Nikon F3 and I’d take it with me everywhere. I loved that camera.

I still have piles of old photographs I developed in my high school darkroom. Some of them good; some of them just meh. I guess I never thought much of it because don’t all girls go through an experimental photography phase?

But over the years, I harbored a secret love for photography. Maybe I’m not as talented or consistent as my father, uncle and brother — all talented photographers — but I’ve always been aware of special moments. Maybe it’s the writer in me: I see write-able moments everywhere and I want to photograph them too — so I can remember them just right.

That’s why my iPhone is full of random photos I refuse to delete.

Earlier tonight, some little voice in me told me to pull my DSLR out of the closet. And though it’s freezing cold outside, I couldn’t help but take photos of the NYC skyline and streets on our little balcony.

And it felt brilliant.

I don’t know if the photos are any good, but all I know is that I feel a warmth and joy at tapping into my creative side, whatever form it may take. Photography is no exception.

So, conclusion: I think I should take more photos. With my actual camera. Capture more of those write-able moments.

Grateful Geek: Mom’s Mashed Potatoes

I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like, but nothing in this life — or the next — could possibly beat my mom’s creamy, dreamy mashed potatoes.

Mary Poppins touts a spoonful of sugar… I disagree! A spoonful (or several) of mashed potatoes makes everything better.

Mashed potatoes equate comfort, warmth, love — and when they’re extra tasty, that’s extra doses of love.

This week, after another round of oral surgery (don’t ask), my mom’s love-soaked mashed potatoes also equate ease and healing while be surrounded by family who keep you laughing.

Thanksgiving may just be two short weeks away, but I’m already so full of gratitude for mashed potatoes…and everything they represent.

This week, I’m also lovin':

A graceful response + getting over it and powering through + Banks + a clean, warm apartment + a powerful start to the final season of The Newsroom + “Dear Daughter” and a long list of good reads to dive into + dark chocolate chip cookies + the first holiday lights + iMessage conversations + hot malt Ovaltine + mini-cakes and Veuve Clicquot + my amazing family and BFFs + five years of wedded bliss with my hubby…and the fact that he can still surprise me with so much love and thoughtfulness

Grateful Geek: Unplugged

While I was traveling the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a sometimes intended, sometimes unintended Internet hiatus.

The result?

I didn’t miss it as much as I thought.

From Unsplash. Photo credit: Lee Scott.

Don’t get me wrong: there were moments when I was so frustrated with my lack of ‘net access, I could’ve screamed.

But after the first couple of days without, I found my mind eerily quiet. Still. Calm.

And I realized how refreshing it felt — and how important — it is to #unplug.

I’m back home now, but even this week, I’ve felt the residual pull to stay unplugged for a bit longer…or to at least take the time to be unplugged for some time every day.

This week, I’m also lovin':

List-making + so many story snippets + organizing and reorganizing + the November chill + gingerbread lattes and cups of homemade chai + early morning strolls and a late afternoon shower + color-clashing bouquets of roses + business class + my families in India + dropping in on my parents just because I can + weekday lunch with my bro and hubby + home sweet home

My Mumbai Story

An oldie but goodie: holiday lights going up during my first Diwali in Mumbai, 2010.
An oldie but goodie: holiday lights going up during my first Diwali in Mumbai, 2010.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been in India.

This marked my first trip back since I returned to NYC early last year.

It felt momentous.

I spent the majority of this trip in Pune, my hubby’s birthplace and home to his family. We went to celebrate the tail-end of India’s holiday season, ringing in Diwali (think of it as Indian Christmas and New Year’s) with ritual pujas and firecrackers.

It’s a beautiful time to be in India with all the festival lights, family-bonding and holiday cheer.

And though it was lovely to be in Pune and spend time with my in-laws, that’s only one version of India to me.

When I think of my India, I think of Mumbai.

After all, the “maximum city,” as it’s known, was my home for nearly three years.

After almost two years away from my life in Mumbai, returning was nothing less than surreal. Just like when I first moved there in 2010, I didn’t quite know what to expect from this visit.

I only had a few brief days in Mumbai, but in the little time I had, this well of emotion bloomed in the center of my chest as we drove through familiar places and explored old haunts.

One late night — the only free night we had while in town — while walking the streets of our old neighborhood, me and my hubby couldn’t help but look around in quiet amazement, only breaking the silence to say that our Mumbai chapter feels like it was another life.

Another life.

It’s still hard to accurately describe the experience I had while living in Mumbai. I hope that one day, I’ll be able to tell that story well. All I can say now is that it was just as colorful, complex and unexpected as the city itself.

The life I lead there is foreign to me; it couldn’t be more different than how I now live in NYC, my forever home.

It’s like like snippets of a dream I can’t quite recall in specific detail. Only certain details are crystal-clear, so sharp that they could’ve happened yesterday.

That’s why the emotion I felt while there this time caught me by surprise.

Seeing Mumbai, especially during Diwali-time and at night (when I think every nook and cranny of the city is at its most beautiful), was like running into an old friend.

A friend who’s a great storyteller and always showing me secret, colorful life in ways and shapes I couldn’t otherwise imagine.

That’s the thing about Mumbai: it awakens your imagination, turning you onto so much beauty and so much ugliness that live side-by-side.

I believe that every person has a different version of Mumbai they live in, but everyone, without exception, has a love-hate (in equal, strong measure) relationship with the city.

That’s how the city inspires and pushes you.

And once it gets under your skin, Mumbai stays there permanently, like a once vibrant tattoo that gives you a deep hit of nostalgia every time you catch a glimpse of it.

Even if you never go back, you can’t ever shake it off.

Grateful Geek: Interior Design

As I pore over interior design magazines, books and blogs, Pinterest boards and store catalogues, I have a whole new appreciation for interior design and realize how I’m exercising a new creative muscle.

My new #workspace. Photo credit: nishaksquared.
My new #workspace. My desktop wallpaper appropriately reads: “Flourish your creativity.” Photo credit: nishaksquared.

Interior design is all about curating the lifestyle and experience you want and aspire for. What could be more special for yourself and whomever you share your home with?

Creating a home space is such a process. This is mine and my hubby’s third home together, but for some reason, this feels like the most important. The most special. This feels like the space that’s meant to be the truest expression of our life as adults, as individuals and as a couple.

There’s so much thought that goes into each detail, especially if you’re Type A like myself. I don’t want to settle for less than the vision I — <<ahem>> we — have. <<wink wink>>

And as each detail is realized, slowly but surely, I feel a fierce pride and joy. I love how it’s all coming together.

This week, I’m also lovin':

Behind-the-scenes work + the Chef soundtrack + Saturday nights at home and bright Sunday mornings + Homeland on-demand and Reign marathons on Netflix + polka dot mugs + Thug Kitchen and the cookbook section at Barnes & Noble + cleanliness that’s next to godliness + Jo Nesbo + dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds + brunch reunion with my BFF + listening to my hubby mindlessly sing while he works