Phew what a year! It started off as a normal year with new year celebrations in Mumbai with the family, before we took a flight back on January 4th through Beijing – not knowing that we were spending 6 hours close to the origins of the pandemic! We spent the first couple of months of the year house hunting while we stayed in Sausalito. Ayaan and I celebrated a special day on his 5th Birthday as we took the ferry to the city and rented a Go car – Ayaan loved it and was my navigator. That same day we found the house of our dreams and put an offer. Things got a bit crazy and wild starting early March as the Coronavirus epidemic became a pandemic, my work trip to Spain got cancelled, we were suddenly working from home and preschool closed down. None of us knew what was happening until everyone was placed under shelter in place on March 16th when we realized the gravity of the situation. Amid this chaos and with the markets swinging wildly we closed on our new home in Tiburon on March 24th!
The 2.5 months we were locked in until June 1st felt a little bit like our sabbatical – we spent a lot of quality time with the kids and once again they adapted seamlessly to the new situation. We made the most of simple pleasures like going on a walk, watching pictures from our sabbatical, Zoom calls with the family, playing games and doing activity books. The major difference was we were stuck at home instead of traveling the world. Anjali was figuring out how to re-open AutoCamp properties with a new operating model while I was trying to scale up our video business at Twilio with major tailwinds. We moved into our new place amid the lockdown and instantly fell in love with the home with Blackies pasture and Ring Mountain steps away.
June 1st brought a new phase with outdoor dining and hotels reopening. The next 6 months were a mix of road trips, trying to balance hectic work with balancing kids schedules that changed every single day, and trying to make the most of living close to wine country. Ayaan started Kindergarten at Reed in August and we are so proud of him adapting to a mix of Zoom and in person classes. Ariana loved Ross Academy preschool singing songs all the time. This time was stressful and full of anxiety with cancelled trips, wildfires, orange skies, elections, virus scares and COVID tests. Our travel highlights during this time included a week long trip to Santa Barbara, Monterey and Tahoe: another drive up the coast to Oregon and the beautiful town of Bend with its amazing parks; and a trip to Yosemite and Tahoe where the kids enjoyed in the snow and Ayaan took his first ski lessons! We also sprinkled in weekend trips to Carmel Valley Ranch, Autocamp and Napa. Without these we might not have gotten through the year.
As we end the year we are locked down again forcing us to have our first ever staycation over the holidays. The kids loved it decorating the house with lights and truly enjoying the holiday season. Ariana and Ayaan have become best friends with playtime ending with the occasional fight. We are grateful that through this difficult year our family has remained healthy and safe and we’ve been able to create memories and find a home we love. We’re lucky to have work that is relevant and growing in these times and that the kids have been getting a good education, albeit partially remote. We look forward to getting on a plane again in 2021 and seeing our extended family in India and abroad. 2020 will go down in memory forever and we’re glad we survived!
Before Anjali started her new job full time, we decided to getaway for a few days to sunny Arizona, away from rainy and cold Sausalito. We knew this is likely our last flight together as a family until the summer when we go celebrate Dada-Dadi’s 50th Anniversary in Europe with the entire family. The kids were very excited to be on a plane again. We had the most amazing luck during our journey across 4 continents that all our flights were on time, no lost baggage etc. It came to an end when our flight was a couple of hours late and slightly messed up our plans since we were driving straight to Sedona that day. The kids did well on the short plane ride and had a nice nap. We rented a Jeep and drove 2 hours to Sedona that evening arriving to our hotel at night, a little past their bed time (Arizona is 1 hour ahead). Ayaan has gotten to the age where every few minutes he’ll ask “how much time left to reach?” It makes us wonder how we ever did our 10000+ miles of driving! (Luckily he only started on this trip). We stayed at the Sedona Pine Ridge resort that turned out to be super kid friendly and had a nice small cottage for us.
Kids didn’t sleep great though and Ayaan woke us up in the wee hours (he’s awake at sunrise). We ate some yummy Mexican breakfast and started our day hiking in Sedona. Weather was wonderful in the mid 60s and sunny, and we all enjoyed hiking the red rock Cathedral trail. I took the carrier, but I was very proud that both Ariana and Ayaan wanted and were able to hike themselves with little help. Ariana on the way back told me “I am having a lot of fun doing this with you daddy”. They are so attuned to the outdoors and travel at this point. We did another short trail to the bell, before grabbing some Tamales for lunch. The kids were quite tired so we headed back to the resort for a dip in the heated pool and hot tub. That got Ariana exhausted and she had a nice nap. I had to do some project work, so Anjali took Ayaan to the park and to play mini golf in the resort. They also went and bought some groceries so we could BBQ outside the room (inspired by our neighboring cottage who helped us set up) and have a chill night. Our last morning in Sedona, it was overcast and started pouring before lunch so we drove around, went to the Chapel of the holy cross and had some chai and listened to live music at the arts and crafts market.
Done with the rain, we drove to warm Scottsdale while the kids had a nice long nap for the entire time. We checked into the Westin Kierland resort and spent the afternoon in the lazy river and pool. Ayaan made a friend who had a water gun and Ariana befriended a couple of older girls that kept her smiling. The resort was kid friendly once again as we sat outdoors to grab dinner while listening to bagpipes first and then a live singer. A huge surprise was awaiting Ayaan, as they had S’mores – his absolute favorite! Anjali and I spent some together on the balcony of our 11th floor hotel room overlooking the Sedona area and the golf course, while enjoying the live music downstairs and discussing career decisions for me. I’ve been a bit stressed this trip as I decide amongst a few options. Our final full day in Scottsdale started with story time for kids at the resort. We then took them to Macdonalds ranch nearby. It was a super unique experience for us visiting a traditional western ranch with a petting zoo, pony rides and western games. The kids loved every bit of it. We ate Vietnamese for lunch and Ayaan was so happy to get Vietnamese crepes – his favorite from the entire journey over the last few months. After a nap, we spent more time doing the same as yesterday – pool time and live music.
It was a great short getaway and family time before we truly end our full time travel and start full time work.
We’ve now been back to the Bay Area for a month and everyone asks us how it feels to be back to the real world. It’s honestly been wonderful to be back in the Bay Area – we’ve traveled all over the world to 20 countries during our journey, but the Bay Area holds its own in terms of beauty, weather (even though it’s been cold and rainy), food and drive. If anything, we appreciate it even more than we did before. It’s been nice to not have to rush back to work that was waiting for us, and slowly transition back to normalcy. Anjali did a fantastic job in taking the lead to make sure our transition was smooth by getting us a very nice, home-like serviced condo in Corte Madera on a creek overlooking Mt. Tamalpais. It feels like so much space even though it’s small, since we’ve either been in hotel rooms or at our parents’ place. We put the kids back in the same school as earlier in Sausalito, and they were excited to be reunited (Ariana never did go to school before our sabbatical but she went to drop off and pick up Ayaan that made her very familiar). We drove Ayaan through our old home and he burst out laughing as memories rushed to him. With the kids in school, Anjali and I got some “us time” to have a romantic lunch, hike the headlands or do an adult-trip to wine country. It’s been fantastic to reconnect with good friends who’ve helped us out by keeping our car or storing our stuff. For the kids, reconnecting with memories at the BADM museum and local parks has been amazing to watch.
Most importantly, Anjali was able to secure a job she feels extremely passionate about in SF at a company called Autocamp that focuses on outdoor luxury camping. With that we are super excited that we’ll be staying in the bay area and in fact ironically will land back in Sausalito at a similar home to the one he had earlier. I love Sausalito and couldn’t be happier than to spend another year in this amazing quaint town. Things are coming together well and I can now focus my search on finding something I feel passionate about.
Even though our international travels came to an end when we arrived in the bay, we’ve continued to sneak in short getaways to enjoy what Northern California has to offer. We spent MLK at the Westin in Napa on a rainy day as we visited our favorite Duckhorn and Paraduxx wineries with good friends and ate at my beloved Bottega. Honig was new for us but the kid friendliness made the experience fantastic. Since our travels were optimized so it was summer the entire time, we drove up to Tahoe for a night and stayed at the amazing Ritz Carlton to have the kids experience snow for the first time. They absolutely loved it making snowmen, snow angels, throwing snow balls, ice skating and taking the gondola (another unusual word added to Ariana’s vocabulary). The heated pool was very relaxing and even though we forgot their floats, the kids really enjoyed it and even made a new friend called Tessa. For Presidents’ Day, we drove up to Anderson Valley to our all-time favorite Goldeneye and enjoyed some indoor pool and hot tub time with the kids. California is just so fantastic!
It’s been nostalgic, tiring and exciting the last few days as we moved out of our beautiful home into a 10×14 storage, sold one of our cars and gave another to a close friend (thanks for helping out), stored our wine collection and some important items with another friend (thanks). I wrapped up work on Friday and it was bittersweet since I really loved it. But we are so looking forward to spending time with our monsters.
As we moved into a hotel after moving out so we could get our house ready for sale, it’s been amazing seeing the kids adapt so quickly and embrace our new lifestyle. It completely validates our decision.
Today is a big day as we leave on our journey to create new memories and a stronger bond while seeing the world. And we’re embarking with 1 and 1/2 suitcases, 2 small backpacks, a double umbrella stroller and 2 car seats. Ciao! – Gaurav
‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.’ – Mark Twain
It was with this mantra that we embarked on our journey! Our boxes are packed and the movers arrive in a few days. We’ll be putting the best of our belongings into storage and leaving our home on 6/13 to check-in to the relatively new Springhill Suites in Belmont. While it’s a bit sad to be leaving our beautiful home in Sausalito where we brought our two children into the world, we’re excited for what lies ahead. We have a one-way ticket to Porto departing on 6/16!