2. I'm in Mumbai after 4 days in Kanha. We had a sleek and powerful leopard saunter out in front of our jeep just as we were giving up hope of seeing any animals on our first 6am Safari. A 2 minute walk just ahead of us. Magic.
3. The next day's 6am safari was turning out to be disappointing when suddenly, on our left, just outside my jeep window we passed a majestic Tigress standing still as a statue. After considering us for about 45 seconds she turned and crossed behind our jeep and wandered at a leisurely pace through the grassland and into the dense forest.
4. The journey to Kanha was pretty painful with a driver who lied about knowing the way and drove us around for a few extra hours. And that's an understatement. We subsequently did two early morning safaris and ate dust in the open air jeeps, following the mud tracks and stopping to exchange news with other jeeps on their sightings. Despite long showers our ears remain clogged with dust. But the majesty of wild animals from both Cats to Barahsinghas and blue-singed peacock to the many others made up for all the drama of the journey. The forest was beautiful; dense and very green. The hotel was wonderful and the hospitality just amazing. Every person we met seemed to care deeply about it and told us personal stories of their own brushes with animals and of the many conservation efforts and the delicate balance between the man and wilderness. Such passion was entirely endearing.
5. After leaving behind the 3 beautiful German Shepard dogs (Cheetah, Maya and Punch) at the hotel we are back in Mumbai to ring in the New Year before we scatter off to different places. Kid and I to Dilli meri jaan, V to another year at his desk job and the Cousin and his parents to Singers for school and work. We leave behind Another brother and his wife and Girl Cousin who are playing wonderful hosts to our hosts of suitcases and laundry and general small children clutter.
6. It was a big year for me. Even though only about 2.5 of you bothered to wish me (yes I am still M.a.d) time marched on and in mid July I turned the big 4-0. It was a return to the scene of my childhood and a visit to the apartment complex we lived in in Bangkok. New memories with the Kid and Cousin and all 4 adults in a city so old and yet so new. I loved every minute of the trip; from leisurely meals at some of the finest restaurants (the celebrated Gaggan which everyone raves about but didn't quite do it for me and Nahm for a Thai meal I will not forget in a hurry), to river side jaunts, the reverence and beauty of the reclining Buddha and the frantic bustle of Chatuchak.
7. Turning 40 is a big deal. Yes it's just a number and all my peers are turning it too but I've been working my way up to it and reminding myself daily (for many years) that I would soon be 40in2015. I found something of a piece of myself and peace within myself this year. I am not one for the mumbo jumbo of soul searching but I felt that in the run up to it I found a lot of clarity in my life. A big part of this was letting go of angst and control over actions of others and my own feelings towards people and situations that I had no power to change. I feel like I am in a calmer space now. I live under no illusion of youth and fully accept that I am well into middle age and frankly it's a wonderful place to be. And so dear readers, happy birthday to me!
8. We made some important life decisions this year. Both inadvertently and purposefully (and not without some trepidation). One of those big decisions involved moving countries and leaving behind Cousin and aunt/ uncle, a school we adored and many friends we had grown close to in Singapore. In hindsight, and in spite of the teething difficulties of any move, it has been good for us. It was the right decision from many angles and it has brought to the forefront that despite the distance the boys remain close as brothers can be and that is something we can continue to foster with ease. I think my greatest lesson was about how a positive attitude can mean that difficult decisions often have surprisingly good outcomes.
9. One of the most surprising outcomes has been how much I love Hong Kong. I only ever really noticed the mid levels and Central and Causeway Bay till we actually decided to move. And to me they were a cleaner version of busy Mumbai; a jumble of buildings and people packed densely into an important centre of Commerce. I wasn't too keen, although I'm always up for an adventure. I decided we should give it a shot, adventures are the adrenaline of life and that I could learn to love it as I once had cold London. Surprisingly, (only to me) once here I quickly fell in love with how that Centre is but a snap shot of the city. It is predominantly lush and green, an interesting mix of history and modern day drama, wonderfully complex beneath the sharp edges of a bustling commercial Centre. I'm loving all the exploring and new facets to the city at each turn.
10. The health report is mixed. My approaching 40 body decided to give my sloth like brain some shaking. As my mind grew lighter, more sure, more settled it was my body that began collapsing around it. A number of health issues crept up this year but they have been swiftly dealt with and now I am nearly back to an even keel.
11. This years introspection has brought to the fore an entirely new appreciation for how vivid and complex life is. From the refugee crisis to pollution and poverty to continued Gender inequality, there were many things to ponder, act upon and preach on behalf off. The adage every drop helps to make an ocean has never been truer. And while I try and live the best possible life I can and teach my child to go at the world gently and with kindness I find myself looking for practical solutions, everyday things that can be my 'drops'. So so many have been imbibed and learnt this year. I'm hoping 2016 is going to be a continuation, an education and enhancement to this way of life. Of one thing I am sure - there is far more good than evil, far more kindness than anger and far more people rooting for peace than strife. Now if only more people would see how their individual efforts could bring change, 2016 and the years beyond are bound to be safer, brighter and more peaceful.
12. All that remains is to say that Christmas Day marked 14 years of marriage for V and I. It has been a wonderful journey and even in its rare moments of mild strife I have never for an instant regretted this life choice. In fact this year we have reveled in It and found a balance that bears marking. Unlike our London days with our bunches of tulips, homemade Pizza, bottle of wine and walk in the cold sunshine we celebrated by landing in Mumbai at 5am (many many hours late). We had a day of family and I had but a moment all day to reflect on how I did miss that old quiet life but equally loved this new laughter and love family-filled one. All that remains is to wish you and yours a wonderful and safe New Year celebration and a year of interesting and enjoyable experiences. Be kind and see you on the other side!