Thursday, 31 December 2020

Learnings from 2020 - Year in Review (Part 5)


Hello Readers!! After telling you all about my 2020 Goals, 2020 Books, 2020 Web Series & Top 10 Posts of 2020, here I am on the most important one! While 2020 was the most rollercoaster of a year for all of us, it was also a year we learnt to count our blessings & learnt to being happy with what we have. Yes, it was a very dark year, but it also gave us a reality check to live outside of our own bubble. It may have been one of my most productive years, but it came with a lot of challenges. My learnings from 2020 are immense but so are the things that I missed this year.

I realized that every situation is multifold. Even if we like one aspect of a change, there are always other few aspects that we dislike. This is why, it was a year of confusion & loss. On one side, you are safe staying indoors, but on the other side you miss the breath of fresh air. (Even though it’s more of a breath of polluted & contagious air.) Instead of telling you guys what I learnt & what I missed separately, I am just going to tell it to you together. Because one aspect has multiple impacts, which is definitely true for me.

 

~~MY OWN PERSON~~

I feel like I grew up more in this year alone than in the last 2 years combined. You really understand what your priorities are when there is so much ambiguity & heartbreak in the world. You understand who are the people you care about the most & also who cares about you. You are happy with having a job, a roof, simple food & people around you. The year has just flown by taking with it a lot of our beloved people. It has shown us who the real superheroes are! I believe it has made us all more humble, kinder & just more human. I am immensely thankful & grateful for my life, my parents & family, my friends, my job, my blog & you readers!

While 2020 made us more human, it also gave us a super-human strength & will power. I became more optimistic because having just one more day is a blessing. I now have the confidence of rising out of the deepest pit & climbing the tallest metaphorical mountain & surviving through the long dark winter. Okay, I might be getting into a Game of Thrones zone. Anyway, you know what I mean. Because, I know you have the same feeling! Despite seeing each other’s faces only through screens & social distanced meet-ups, we have somehow grown even closer to our people. If we can do that, we can do anything!


~~PHYSICAL & MENTAL WELL-BEING~~

In the first few months of the lockdown, I was lazier than a tortoise. I ONLY read books, ate food, watched TV Shows & took naps. At the time, I needed just that because it had been a tough year at work with a lot of stress. It was the much-needed stay-at-home-cation. But, then even after 3 months, I continued the same laxness. And, soon I realized that while vegging out was necessary for my mental health in April, it was actually harming my mental health in June. So, then, I started working out & taking walks & helping mom in the kitchen & also doing some chores. Staying active not only helped my body but also my brain.

I think what I am trying to say is one solution can be a solution for one part of time, but might not be a solution for another part of time. Only YOU can assess what your body & mind needs. Listen to yourself & you will know what it is. The answer in most cases is right in front of you. You just have to focus on it, instead of letting it get all blurry. It takes time to understand this, but once you do, you must keep yourself in the driver’s seat & make yourself a priority.

 

~~FAMILY TIME & LONG-DISTANCE FRIENDSHIPS~~

I live with my parents & younger brother anyway, so the lockdown did not change that at all. We had to help out at home more, which was natural. We also had these little post-dinner chats every once in a while. I got to learn just HOW MUCH WORK my mom has to do. She also taught me to make a lot of recipes & most importantly how to make chapatis. All of us also watched our favourite old movies, which was a lot of fun. I think at one point, my brother’s hair was longer than mine! If only he had given me the chance to chop his hair, we would have had another hilarious memory for the year! Honestly though, the year went as smoothly as it did for me only because of my mom, dad & brother! Thank you, fam!

While my family was with me, my friends weren’t. I met my best friends on 19th March which was my birthday & after that directly after 6 months! We did a few video calls & texted each other a lot, so that made up for not meeting. I anyway used to meet a few of them only once in 3 months or so. But the impending restrictions made it worse. But, when we met after such a long time or even talked, it was just like before. Glad to have them – Suruchi, Aishwarya, Divya, Sukanksha, Mrinalini & Poonam! Thank you, friends!



~~EMBRACING AMBIGUITY~~

In the initial months of the lockdown, it was all so new to us. We had never lived through something like this before & had little to no idea what would happen the day after. It’s a good thing, we don’t have hoarders in our area, which is why we were able to buy necessities once a week without any major issues. We were extra cautious & didn’t go out at all. Only my dad went to get groceries once a week. I think I didn’t step out of the house for 3 months! And, unfortunately, the only reason I had to go out in a pandemic was for dental reasons, which was scarier than I can admit. Imagine being in that dentist’s chair without a mask with your mouth open & foreign objects being put in there. Cannot get horrific than that. I had all my defenses down. The year was chaotic and confusing with so many uncertainties. And yet, here we are taking our own insights from all the darkness & rising higher!


~~WORK FROM HOME~~

The first 3 months of the year were quite normal. And then, I was in my office on 18th March, applying for a leave for my birthday the next day when I realized it would be a LONG TIME till I returned to the place. I liked going to the office & interacting with everyone in our little room. Taking those tea breaks or going for a stroll within the campus in the evening or making small talk with that one friendly housekeeping staff lady or waiting for 10 minutes for the elevator. Thinking back to these little things now makes me nostalgic of that PERFECT OFFICE! I am not going to lie. I have enjoyed working from home a lot more than some people. Many were irritated just in a couple of months, but now even after 9 months of WFH, I am completely okay with the situation. My Team was already a Virtual Team, so there wasn’t any major change work-wise. Whatever minor changes came up, it was easy to resolve them & work smoothly from home. This is probably one of the major learnings for everyone this year.

My office is only 20 minutes from my home & I used to commute on my Activa. And, those blissful 40 minutes of the day were like meditation for me. I was so used to it, that I didn’t need to think twice about the route. It was second nature. Especially, when I left office for home, it was a quiet & peaceful ride home. I cannot state how much I miss those Activa rides. Also, Fridays at work are WAY BETTER than Fridays at home. My colleagues & I used to go to eat pani-puri on some Fridays & there was no joy better than that carefree hour spent with them. I miss eating street food & sure as hell miss TGIFs at the office!


~~FOOD~~

For a family of foodies who used to order food or eat out often, the pandemic was a big change. There would be a gap of maybe one month, but this year there was a gap of almost 6+ months of no outside food. While I missed that luxury, it also taught me the importance & value of money & more importantly of the even more delicious home-made food.

Whichever food items I missed eating, I just learnt how to make them at home! Mainly I tried my hand at desserts because everyone in my family has a bit of a sweet tooth. I made Chocolate Cake, Mango Cheesecake, Oreo Cake, Coffee Walnut Cake, Brownies & Caramel Custard. I think I can make a perfect chocolate cake & brownies now, after making them at least 3 times in a 4 months’ span! I also learnt a few snack-time food items, like Cheese Chilli Toast, Garlic Bread & Rava Dhokla. I also made Pizza & Burger, almost end to end! Because we made all these amazing things at home, I got an unreal feel of independence! So, even though I missed Burger King’s Whopper, I now know that it takes 5 HOURS to make them fresh!


~~SHOPPING & SAVINGS~~

I LOVE shopping. Be it clothes or books or footwear or makeup or socks! The pandemic really put into perspective the fact that we don’t even need that much to go on. I have endured the whole year with 2 pajama sets! If I decide for a minimal living, I can very easily achieve it. The only thing is I really don’t want to.

In this aspect, there are 2 very different parts. There is part one from April to August, where I didn’t buy anything & saved almost all of my income. And then there is part two, from September to December where I bought not only non-essentials but also stuff that one need not buy at all in their whole lifetime. Yep, so that’s that. There are still 2 parcels yet to arrive! All the memes supporting this Shopping Habit do not help at all, but only encourage me to order more bamboo toothbrushes!

 

I know that this was a super long post, but 2020 called for it! With all these infinite learnings from 2020, lets step into the new year with new hope, courage & optimism! Happy New Year!!


Until next time,



Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Top Posts of 2020 - Year in Review (Part 4)

 

Hello Readers! I wasn’t entirely sure if I should write a ‘Top 10 Posts of 2020’ post, because I already did a similar post on Mindscape in Words’ 6th Blogoversary! But, it is amazing how a few posts have double page views only in a mere 4 months! And also, if you haven’t read the earlier 3 Parts, here they are for you – 2020 Goals, 2020 Books & 2020 Web Series! Writing these posts is the most fun activity of the year! Just adds to the holiday cheer!

 

Without further ado, check out Mindscape in Words’ TOP 10 POSTS of 2020! I have added an image with a quote from that particular book below each of the post. Click on the image if you want to read the post. Enjoy!


~~WHAT I LEARNT FROM GLENNON DOYLE’S UNTAMED~~



~~2020 READING CHALLENGE~~



~~MY TOP 10 ALL-TIME FAVOURITE BOOKS~~



~~A LITTLE LIFE – TO READ OR NOT TO READ?~~



~~THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO BOOK REVIEW~~



~~CHAOS WALKING TRILOGY REVIEW~~



~~THE GUEST LIST BOOK REVIEW~~



~~AND THE MOUNTAINS ECHOED BOOK REVIEW~~



~~MY TOP 5 FAVOURITE AUTHORS~~



~~PRETTY THINGS BOOK REVIEW~~



 

I really hope you are enjoying these posts with some blast from the past links attached to it for you to read more. Ending this one on a fun note, because the next post is real talk. It is straight from my heart where I am opening up about my Learnings from 2020!


Until next time,



Tuesday, 29 December 2020

Web Series I Watched in 2020 - Year in Review (Part 3)

Hi Guys! We are nearing the year end & I am already enjoying sharing a post with you every day. And, this is going to go on till the 2nd January 2021! FUN, right? Before you head into this one, go and check the first post about 2020 Goals & second post about 2020 Reading Challenge! Turns out I watched A LOT of series this year. FIFTY FIVE, to be exact! I don’t even remember watching some of these. I have only got vague ideas about the plot, random guesses on who the actors were in it. But, the good thing is out of these 55, I really liked about 40 of them! Isn’t that something?

Just as I read the most books in May, I also watched the most shows in May – TEN! I will never ever forget those early lockdown months. They were probably even better than my Tenth standard vacations! Because the world outside was so scary & fearsome, I completely retreated into myself & did all the things I loved to keep me sane. I know there are millions of people who died because of COVID-19. But, on a personal level, I did all the things I enjoy just to stay sane. I am sure you did those too. It’s okay to feel okay at times even when the world is falling apart. It’s okay.

So, anyway, check out my accomplishment in binge-watching this year!


Now, I didn’t want to bore you with words, especially while talking about web series. Instead, I made these images! Check out the Top 30 Web Series I watched this year!!






While looking over this list, I realized how problematic it was that MOST of these are related to Crime, Mystery & Thriller. Of course, I love this genre because it is almost impossible to make garbage shows in this genre, unlike you know, in Romance. I also have watched quite a few Sitcoms & Comedy Dramas. I guess that evens it out! To top it off, I also rewatched a lot of shows because they are like my best friends!

FRIENDS

The Office

Schitt’s Creek

Grey’s Anatomy

This is Us

Dark

Brooklyn-99

Modern Family

Check out all the genres I watched this year. I’d say it is pretty much a sane person’s list. Don’t you think?



 

Initially I was also planning on a similar post about movies. Turns out I watched about a 100 movies & MOST of them were pathetic. Only Enola Holmes & a couple of others made the list. So, I just skipped that. Having said that, please send me good movie recommendations in exchange of my brilliant Top 30 web series list?

I will be back tomorrow with the TOP 10 Posts you guys liked on Mindscape in Words this year.

 


Until next time,


Monday, 28 December 2020

Books I Read in 2020 - Year in Review (Part 2)



Hello Readers! As much as I love blogging about literally anything, I also love blogging about these year-end review posts! Have you checked out the first one? So, this is the second post reviewing the books I read this year! It’s going to be a little different, because why not? I have become quite obsessive about analytics, which is why you are going to see some FUN stats on this blog! It’s quite basic, but I promise I will improve on this by next year!

So, this is going to be a long post, because BOOKS obviously! Most of you know that my 2020 Reading Challenge was to read 52 Books in 52 Weeks from 52 specific categories! While it was quite intimidating at the beginning, it actually was a slippery slope of fun, which made me increase my target to 75 BOOKS! So, I kept the 52 original categories & rest of the books were all random which gave me the freedom to pick up & read anything! According to Goodreads, I read 25106 pages this year! And, the average book length was 334 pages, which I feel is pretty good. Now, I know a lot of you loved my 2020 Reading Challenge, so I thought of editing that main image to tell you which books I read against each of those 52 categories! Check it out below!


Given the pandemic & subsequent lockdowns, I got a lot of time to read. You can clearly see that from this graph! I read the maximum number of books in May & June. The lowest has been in December because there is a lot of workload now & just about one hour’s time to read, if at all. I am truly blessed to have all these amazing people in my life because of whom I was able to dedicate so much time to reading in those early months of the lockdown! Thanks y’all! You know who you are!


~~BEST BOOKS OF 2020~~

Typically, I don’t fixate on reading ONLY the books published in the same year. I just go about reading whatever I want, new or old. Because of those 52 categories, I read a lot of books which I otherwise might not have. I also started to be more active on Goodreads, and this has heavily impacted my reading choices. You see one book on your timeline over & over with so many people rating it highly & naturally it makes you want to read it. And, in 99% of the cases, it is always a book published in the current year. I believe this was the primary factor how I ended up reading a lot of books published in 2020 & why I have a lot of those still on my TBR! These are the few books which I read this year which were also published this year!

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Home Body by Rupi Kaur

Some books which were published in 2020 which are on my TBR are Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Luster by Raven Leilani, The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel, A Burning by Megha Majumdar, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi & just SO SO SO MANY MORE!! Which were your favourites?

 

Before moving on to tell you about my ratings, check out this interesting statistic! 33 of those 75 books that I read were on e-book! I knew I read a lot of e-books, but I sure was shocked that the number was this HIGH! Well, one small action toward the climate crises! I still imagine the aesthetic of what could have been a 75-book pile photograph of all these books.



~~BOOKS I RATED AT 4.5 OR 5 IN 2020~~

I think ALL of you know that I am a picky reader & reviewer. My 5 star ratings are rare & almost endangered, while my 1 star rating are always on the rise. Well, not to sound more like a news reporter, I was SO GLAD that I rated TWELVE BOOKS at either 4.5/5 or 5/5 this year! Check out this sacred list!

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Untamed by Glennon Doyle

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Alboom

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Light Filters In by Caroline Kaufman

 

Super proud of this list & I am hoping to read more 5-star worthy books in the next year. My absolute favourite from this list is of course A Little Life. I still cannot stop thinking about it or talk about it to every person I meet, over & over! I also read some books by authors I haven’t read before & really liked their writing, such as Kristin Hannah, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jodi Picoult & Hanya Yanagihara!

 

~~BOOKS I RATED 1 OR 2 IN 2020~~

As much as I hate reading bad books, I giddily ENJOY writing critical book reviews of them! I hold back nothing & it’s the only way I can imagine myself as a straight up assassin. Come to think of it, it is kind of my guilty pleasure! So even if the book is good or bad, I technically win! If any of the below books are your favourites, please feel free to reach out to me to have a full-on debate on it! Written debate though, because let’s face it, we are all introverts.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami

A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar

The Rhythm Section by Mark Burnell

Miguel Street by V.S. Naipaul

House of the Sleeping Beauties and Other Stories by Yasunari Kawabata

If You're Not Yet Like Me by Edan Lepucki

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

 

I said what I said! Isn’t it weirdly funny that this list is longer than the one above it?

 

Well, according to Goodreads, my average rating is 3.5/5, which seems perfectly plausible. Check out a detailed version of how I rated all these 75 books!

Another change in reading this year was that I read a lot of award-winning books. Be it the Pulitzer Prize or Booker Prize or JCB Literature Award or Goodreads Choice Award! I liked a majority of those, but also didn’t like a few, which is to be expected. I have about 25 unread books in my bookshelf which are going to be my priority to read in the new year! 

And finally, as if the post wasn't long enough in itself, here is a small book photoshoot with my 42 copies of books I read this year!






 

Until next time,



Sunday, 27 December 2020

8 Things To Do In 2020 - Year in Review (Part 1)


Hello Readers! We are now toward the end of the year! I feel like both ‘where did the year go?’ and ‘how is it possible that it happened this year? It was ages ago’ to be extremely normal. It is especially suitable for the year 2020! I constantly feel like some of the books I read this year, I had actually read years ago! While being mentally stuck in March, physically we are in December. Given how crazy the year was, I completely understand that it is only human for me to not have completed my 2020 Goals.

I started the year with ’20 Things to do in 2020’ & then amended it to only ‘8 Things to do in 2020’! So, here is a gentle reminder that it is perfectly okay if you did not achieve the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Here’s to all of us because we survived the year! 2020 struck with all its confusion, ambiguity, fear, stress, anxiety, but it also gave us time, opportunities, faith, lessons & infinite strength to cope with everything that life has to throw at us! Here’s to all of us!


Having said that, I am super proud of myself this year. I achieved 7 out of my 8 Goals! Because I had a lot of time, I used it to read books & write book reviews. This is why, I had no anxiety on achieving 2 of my goals which were to Read 75 Books & Write 50 Blog Posts! Also, with that time, I took to the kitchen & finally learnt some basic & some fancy meals to prepare! While I can now bake a cake, I can also make Chapatis! I also set a low bar for doodling this year, which was to doodle twice a month. I may not have done it every month, but I have 24 doodles! Means do not always need to justify the end, right?

Moving on to one of the more interesting things : Taking a photo every day! I still can’t quite believe how I managed to do this with being stuck at home for 9 months! This sure helped to access the creative side in me & also kept me entertained throughout the year!

I also started doing chores on a regular basis! For a 26-year old, it should be second nature, but still proud of this! And, I also achieved 2 of my personal goals this year, of which 1 I had removed, but somehow that worked out for me! Yay!

And now moving to the one thing I did not do : Writing 2 short stories. I sure had the time, but I used it to read something already written, instead of writing something of my own. But, that’s okay. There’s always tomorrow! Only happy vibes in December!


So, this is me starting the first post of the ‘2020 Year in Review’ posts! Stay tuned to know the best books, best web series, top posts of the year & finally a concluding post straight from my heart!



Until next time,



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