7th January 2023 – the first week of the year has already gone by! Life is indeed whizzing past and last two weeks were a complete whirlwind of fun and family! And right now my mind is just wrapping itself around the fact that an awesome vacation has just ended and with that a whole year as well! As I sit in my (now) empty house, it’s finally time to revisit the last year.
As I look back, 2022 was a packed year – both personally and professionally. I started a lot of new initiatives, took on projects in new and unfamiliar areas, pushed the envelope and moved out of my comfort zone yet again. And enjoyed it. And also came to the conclusion that for your own growth, personal or professional, it is important to keep pushing your boundaries and expanding your circle of knowledge and influence. Even taking small steps towards a desired destination takes your forward and you never know which one of them might open a door.
And secondly, for me, this year was about people. After having spent the last two years under the shadow of Covid-19, this year seemed like a return towards normalcy. Travel began, people got more comfortable arranging meets and events and we moved from online to hybrid and offline events. I met friends I had not met in years, I met colleagues I had never met at all. And after two years I felt better connected to people.
And lastly, I believe both are interconnected. Achieving your dreams and personal growth are interlinked with your relationships with people – your family, your friends, your colleagues, your acquaintances and even people you don’t know yet. These relationships give us the cushion we need, the push we may require, the encouragement we often want as well as guidance and new opportunities. Stay with me as I delve into the year I had and how people, relationships and growth intertwined to give me a sense of fulfilment.
Family first and foremost
If I talk about people in my life, first is family. They are the ones who you can fall back on. Your cushion, your springboard. I just feel very very grateful for having a family that I know has my back.
We have always celebrated the new year with family, and I have many fond memories over the years. Childhood memories of dancing into the year along with my uncle’s family and cousins remain fresh and close to my heart. For the past 5-6 years we have been visiting my sister’s home in Bombay to welcome the new year. It has become a tradition of sorts and I am happy that we managed to follow it even through the Covid years to an extent. These have been precious times.
What we couldn’t manage though due to Covid was having my sister’s family visit us in Almaty despite having moved here in 2019. So, when visa rules eased this year, we jumped at the opportunity. Twice. They visited us earlier this year in April-May and we had an amazing time. Little cousins played and fought and bonded with each other and so did the adults!
It was a few weeks of pure joy and fun and we all enjoyed so much that soon enough the next visit to Almaty was planned! They saw Almaty in spring/summer and it was time now to visit in the winters. And what best time than the new year holidays. And we rang in the new year, as a family, under a sky lit with fireworks and while snow fell on us thick and fast! A truly magical time!
My only regret though has been that we have not been able to meet my brother-in-law’s family for a while and hopefully we will be able to remedy that this year! Amen to that 😊
The year 2022 also marked 25 years of the end of our school lives. We had flown the nest in 1997 and are now settled all across the globe. Thanks to technology, many of us have been connected over Whatsapp for the last few years, and it has not felt like we have been completely out of touch. But nothing like meeting friends in person after all these years.
So, when earlier this year some batch mates started talking about a 25 year reunion, I was totally delighted and elated as the dates for the reunion coincided with my visit to India. As we all planned for the big event, excitement completely took hold and each of us started to dig into our respective photograph treasures and soon our whatsapp chat was flooded with pictures of our younger selves. A manhunt was made for friends who were not part of the group and they were brought in. Those in Jaipur, were busy making arrangements and those of us outside helped in the planning and other work. All teachers were contacted, invited personally and they sent us warm video messages. Anticipation continued to build and finally the D-Day arrived! More than 60 of us converged in Jaipur with our families.
And what followed next were two days of complete enjoyment, getting reacquainted and catching up with each other and reminiscing our younger days together. Walking corridors of the building I probably spent the most days of my life in, brought back not only memories, but also reminded me of the innocence, the dreams and the ideals we all carried within ourselves then. There is a certain level of comfort meeting people who you grew up with and spent 12 years of your formative years with. And I am happy to have carried that warm fuzzy feeling back with me.
Mixing work and pleasure
In the last two years, many things changed at my workplace. New people joined my project team in different countries. Due to a reorganization, many of us became part of a new team. And with Covid restrictions in place, it meant that we continued to work together for months and years without having seen each other! Luckily that changed this year! It was great to finally put faces to names. Not exactly faces though – we did see each other on video calls. But it was indeed great to meet in person and talk without a screen between us for a change!
Team dynamics change after you meet people in person and there is definitely more warmth and camaraderie. Having fun together is very important for working well together. It helps build better trusting relationships and improves teamwork. It is not surprising when people say that relationships are built not over team discussions but during the tea/coffee breaks.
It was amazing to meet colleagues I had never met and also to renew relationships with those I had not met for a while. We all came back from these meets with more vigour as well as new ideas and opportunities we could work together on.
Working on my passions and forging new acquaintances
This was also a year when I undertook some new initiatives driven by issues I feel for and am passionate about. And on that journey, it was exhilarating to find others who are like-minded and driven by the same passion.
2022 started with an unpleasant news – that of a crime of hate against women of a particular community. From a very young age, I have felt strongly about gender inequality and all the injustices that come along with it. We have had more gender-based crimes in this country than we can count, and this incident moved me to action. I reached out to my fellow women alumni, and we decided to start a signature campaign to voice our angst. Some of us got together to draft the letter and soon enough we had a number of signatures from alumni from my own alma mater and then we reached out to alumni of other institutions. The initiative gathered steam and we also got good coverage in the press and media. To me, this was an experience with many meanings. It reaffirmed my belief that everything starts with one small step – I had just shared my angst with fellow alumni and the idea to draft a letter. It reaffirmed my belief that it takes people and relationships to carry something forward – the letter would have neither gained the momentum, nor the coverage had it not been for the like minded people that came together. And finally, it reminded me that it is important to voice your opinions, your beliefs, your dissent. You do not know what your singular voice might lead to – even if it encourages another singular voice to speak up, it matters. Because from voice to voice, thought to thought, person to person – change comes about. It is the butterfly effect.
The second initiative I undertook, encouraged by the first, was to gather a group of bloggers to talk about gender inequality and patriarchy. Seventeen women bloggers came together to voice their views on how to #breakthebias and celebrated the International Women’s Day in this unique way. This was the first blog hop I had arranged, where a group of bloggers come together to write about a topic and read and comment on and share each other’s posts, thereby sharing different perspectives on that topic with the world.
A third initiative I began but could not finish, was participation in a daily blogging challenge. I had wanted to continue my writing on gender and was hoping to write 26 posts on the topic in April. Unfortunately, I could only get to the first ten posts, before work priorities took over. However, I do hope I will still be able to write more on this, time and work permitting, and I am glad that I at least started the work, even though I was unable to finish.
My other passion where I hope to be able to contribute in a significant way at some point in my life is disability and inclusion. Having Anvay and being a caregiver to him made me realise the many dimensions of disability and the exclusion faced by the disabled and their caregivers. It led to the birth of my blog and I have often tried to write about my and others’ personal experiences to raise awareness.
Encouraged by the previous blog hop I had arranged, I decided to organize another one to commemorate the International Day of Persons with Disability. Organising a blog hop takes time and is labour intensive – and this was coming in December, a very busy time at my work. However, I pushed through, not wanting to miss this window. So starting from talking with collaborators and participants from airports to drafting posts and developing creatives for the blog hop sitting at the airport lounge over long layovers to staying up late at night to share the post of the day, it was both exhausting and fulfilling and once again reminded me that if you are passionate about something, you make time for it.
It was a super rewarding experience and 25 people got together to share their perspectives and experiences on disability and inclusion. Not only did it widen my perspective on disability and inclusion, the blog hop also gave me the encouragement to continue to work on this. In the process I met some fabulous people and forged some great relationships as well. From the 3rd to the 27th of December we explored a new experience or point of view on this theme and with that, my year ended with a high. Read all posts from the blog hop here.
Hopes for the new year
I hope to continue working on topics and issues I feel strongly about, both at work and in my personal life. I am exploring many new ideas at work and have many aspirations – hopefully some of them would bear fruit this year. I also hope to continue to write meaningful and engaging content and perhaps will get better at placing it on social media as well! And yes, I also seriously hope that I am able to bring out my second book this year. The last two years have been busy, and this year looks no different – but I will definitely try to push the limit and then hope for the best!
So, as you can see, I am starting the new year on a high note with lots of hopes, plans and aspirations. Please do send your silent wishes my way!
And I wish you the best of yourself (as my dad used to say) – may you reach farther than where you are, push yourself more than you ever have, find your inspiration and live with all your spirit! Have a lovely and fulfilling 2023!
This blog post is part of the Let’s Say Hello 2023 Blogging Activity hosted by Swarnali Nath
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