2013: The Year in Review

Christmas Tree in the Hilton lobby in Johannesburg, South Africa

It’s Christmas Eve, the time for holidays and excitement. Looking back at 2013, I have to admit that it was another great year. As of today, I’ve been an Investment Banker for over four and half years, in London for over three and a half years, married for nearly two years.

The Day Job

I got promoted to Associate last October but this year was really the first year in a role with more responsibility and more exposure. It’s been tough but it’s been fun. And, I’ve finally started to get some decent work-life balance (as decent as an Investment Banker can).

Travel

Ashwina and I have made full advantage of our base in London and have chosen to explore the UK. We had initially planned a long trip to Mumbai in February. But, I ended up needing to go there on work and she came along with me for a few days. With Mumbai out of the picture, we decided to focus our attention to Dunwich Heath. Although the weather was frightful, the place was delightful.

Our next holiday was this September to Cornwall, or more specifically Boscastle and the surrounding areas. The bright sunshine, the beautiful sea, some mountains and the beach and no mobile connectivity. Every holiday should be like this.

I also managed to spend a few days in Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa few weeks back, although this wasn’t a holiday.

We’ll be closing the year with a trip to India. Am looking forward to visiting home properly after nearly two years!

WordPress

In October, this blog turned 10 years! I’ve been using WordPress for over ten years and I don’t think many people in the world can claim that!

I attended my first WordCamp, the first in London and met some really cool people. I’m hoping to catch the London one again if it happens this year and possibly other meet ups if my schedule permits it.

I’ve submitted my first patch to JetPack and contributed to the Inline Docs for WordPress. Hopefully, they find their way into core sometime…

My two top plugins Contextual Related Posts and Top 10 have had a great run this year. As of this post, CRP is currently has over 325,000 downloads and Top 10 has over 130,000 downloads. I’m happy that the plugins have been accepted so openly by the WordPress Community. If you’ve been using my plugins, a big thank you!

Others

I’ve watched a lot of movies this year, got more active on Twitter, played the piano and picked up on some reading. We also bought an exercise bike and tried to put in a bit of exercise.

Looking forward to 2014

Mario hits the nail in the head with his wish for 2014 and I agree totally with him

My only real wish is for health and prosperity to my family, friends, colleagues and fellows around. It’s the only important thing out there and it’s the base of everything else.

On personal goals. I usually tend to set a few and hope to make them.

  • Make a long haul trip either to Canada or India. And, definitely another holiday in the UK
  • Release pro versions of Contextual Related Posts and Top 10. I’ve had this on the charts for a long time, but am yet to make significant progress on them
  • Visit at least another WordCamp
  • Learn WordPress, PHP and mySQL better. There is always scope for improvement!
  • Contribute more to WordPress and other plugins / themes
  • Eat healthier and exercise at least thrice a week. Ashwina will be happy to read this one…
  • Write more movie reviews. I’ve watched a lot more movies than the reviews I’ve written
  • Read more. Thanks to my wife and Amazon Kindle, I’ve picked up on my long forgotten hobby. There is so much more to read!
Christmas Tree in the Hilton lobby in Johannesburg, South Africa

Christmas Tree in the Hilton lobby in Johannesburg, South Africa

Merry Christmas to all of you and have a great New Year! I hope you have a good holiday week. Thank you for reading Ajay – On the Road called Life.

Movie review: Chennai Express

Chennai Express

I am not the greatest fan of Sharukh Khan, but Ashwina is and so we decided to go watch his latest movie Chennai Express.

Chennai Express is a 2013 Indian romantic action comedy film directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by Gauri Khan under the banner Red Chillies Entertainment. It is the story of 40 something Rahul who lands up on an unexpected train journey where he meets Meena and discovers true love

This is the second movie with Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone after the 2007 blockbuster Om Shanti Om. Unlike the crazy story line of Om Shanti Om, Chennai Express attempts to bring a more believable story line (Although some parts of it are just unbelievable).

Shahrukh reminds audiences why they love him. He has his share of overacting, but this perfectly fits the filming style of Rohit Shetty (as my wife assures me).

Deepika impressed me. Her style of speaking broken Hindi with a Tamil accent is commendable (She is of Mangalorean descent and speaks Konkani at home).

Chennai Express is an entertaining movie. It has several entertaining moments like enacting the final scene from DDLJ, some antakshari moments of made up songs, funky stunts and even a final fight scene.

The movie has some good songs. If you understand Tamil, you’d probably be in a better position than me. Unless it has a Hindi version as below. And, it does give you an idea that he sure can dance!

I will be the first to admit that I enjoyed Chennai Express. It’s a good one time watch and if you’re watching it with subtitles, do try to read them while you listen to the audio!

An outing to Decathlon

Decathlon at Surrey Quays

Investment banking is a job that might kill you. The only way to avoid it is to control the number of hours you work, something that I’ve been actively trying to manage over the past few years. But, what the job will do is make you fat. If you look at some of my photographs a few years back vs. today, you’ll note how true this is!

Ashwina and I decided that it is time to make a more serious commitment to reducing the waistline and we decided to invest in a cross trainer. A few years back I registered for the Reebok gym that is a short walk from my house with the hope that I get myself in shape. Needless to say to get into shape you actually need to go to the gym…

A few weeks back we had visited Decathlon at Surrey Quays. Decathlon is a major French sporting goods chain store, with stores located throughout the world. It started with a shop near Lille, France in 1976. It expanded to Germany in 1986, Spain in 1992 and the United Kingdom in 1999. (Wikipedia)

Decathlon at Surrey Quays

© Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

The only other time I had visited Surrey Quays, or more particularly Canada Water was several years back when Vincent and I got lost trying to find our way from Brick Lane midst “planned engineering works”.

The Decathlon store is huge as you can see in the photo above. It consists of two buildings. The one on the right that is in focus in the photo houses most of their sports goods including shoes, tents, clothing, etc. The building on the left has the exercise equipment including treadmills, cross trainers, bikes, etc.

During our last visit we picked up a pair of hiking shoes for me in preparation for a whole lot of walking that Ashwina has planned for our holiday in Cornwall. We also picked up several other goods, some of which we exchanged today. We ended up picking up a pair of hiking boots for Ashwina as well some really cool socks. I’m almost set for this holiday. Not sure if my body is!

We also purchased a Domyos VE710 elliptical cross trainer. The plan is to exercise every morning before I get ready for work. Am looking forward to receiving this either next week or after the holiday.

VE710 elliptical cross trainer

DOMYOS VE710 elliptical cross trainer

Have you ever bought any exercise equipment to use at home? What was the result?