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Pandemic Year 2 — Review of 2021

When I wrote the 2020's review and thought about the upcoming year, I was pretty hopeful. I expected that we would have a breakthrough with Covid-19, and things would go back to normal at some point.

But now, while I am writing this year's review, we are looking at an almost identical situation to last year. The number of cases is worryingly increasing again, caused by a new virus variant. The numbers are scary; Christmas and New Year might end up really, really bad. We have vaccines now, but we might need another one to cope with the mutations or at least get a third shot.

For me, the most significant change to last year is that I've somewhat accepted the situation. While the Delta variant gave me a new wave of anxiety that I had to deal with for the entire of 2021, this new variant doesn't scare me too much. All I can do is protect myself and the others around me. And that's something I've been doing all year round so far.

This change in how I cope with Covid-19 is also reflected in my achievements this year. Let's look at what I had in mind and what I am looking at now.

Becoming an Engineering Manager

At the end of 2020, I told my manager and me that my goal was to become an engineering manager in 2021. We both agreed that it would be possible to work towards that goal. But the pandemic once again destroyed the plans here.

At Hussle, I grew from my Senior Front-End Engineer role into an Engineering Team Lead in April. But the situation didn't allow to develop further. I am not an Engineering Manager, not yet.

In November, I left my role at Hussle to take some time and relax, explore London and recover. And after a little longer than a month, I am about to start a new role this month that I believe is an excellent opportunity to learn, grow and reach my goal.

RIP Maxout — With one caveat

In April 2020, I started a fitness app as a side project, but in 2021 I closed it down a lot earlier than I had planned. Let me tell you, B2C online fitness is not the easiest market to play around on the side (I should have known this from Kernwerk)

So I shut down Maxout, as you can read in a detailed blog post. Those who used the app might remember how I built the UI with the iOS human interface guidelines in mind. I have started playing around with SwiftUI, Swift, and iOS development, recreating the same app interface. Who would have thought a few years ago that I would shift away from UWP apps to iOS? (Yeah, go ahead and google UWP apps).

Maxout Explore UI

Write regularly

If you look at this year's blog list, you will notice that I've published four posts, including this one. That's not a lot. However, that doesn't mean that I didn't write regularly.

Struggling with mental health, I couldn't write many well-researched articles. Instead, I regularly wrote random snippets of fiction that I had in my mind. My notion has like 15 different stories that I could pick up.

For example, I wrote a snippet to introduce a female James Bond for the next movie. Her name was Mathilde Bond. Another writing is about a diaspora Tamil man who goes back to Eelam and tries to solve a mystery in his home village. That's the first fiction piece ever that I wrote in Tamil.

On top of this, I finally finished the Learn Tamil grammar book. I promised it for the end of 2019, but I turned dead silent after some complications with publishers. But I think I am back in the game now.

In 2022, I'll have to apologize to my subscribers and make sure that the book finally reaches them. And now that the book is written, I want to take some time to research and write about various topics that interest me: fitness, nutrition, cooking, writing, psychology, languages and history.

I said yes — twice

The biggest project I announced last year was that I would marry the best woman that this world has ever seen. And we did it. Since we didn't like it the easy way, we married twice. The civil wedding took place in Germany, while the Hindu ceremony happened in London.

Full credit to my wife at this stage. Since I don't believe in Hindu traditions, I left Priyangka to plan the entire Hindu wedding herself. She succeeded big time, even though I had many opinions despite saying not to have any. That's how amazing she is.

With the wedding, she also moved in with me into the new flat that we both chose. Greetings to you all from the 10th floor in the Canary Wharf area! Probably the best place to live in London as a couple!

Hindu and Civil Wedding

More (not so) little achievements

Apart from my planned goals, I had a few other wins that are worth being celebrated:

Reading

Last year, I struggled with reading. This year, I made up for it by reading 15 books so far (and reading another one actively at the moment to finish it before 2022 starts). 12 books in 12 months are my target, so 16 books are big for me. Go to "About me" and look at what I've read this year.

For next year, I already have a few must-reads:

As always, the goal will be 12 in 12. Just because I managed to do more this year doesn't mean that I have to increase the target.

RIP Aheenam UG (haftungsbeschränkt)

Together with Maxout, I also closed my business in Germany. It wasn't making any profits anymore, and doing the taxes and legal stuff just became more difficult living in the UK. It's an achievement because it was hard to say goodbye to the company, but it was also hard to get rid of it. Try travelling to Germany and get an appointment at the notary in the middle of a pandemic. And yes, I had to be there in person; it's Germany after all.

I will reopen the business here in the UK at some point, but I am not sure yet when this will happen.

Speaking of legal things: I also wrapped up everything related to my time in Ghent. The last taxes are done and some more minor things about the flat. All done!

1000km

This one is probably the most exciting achievement. At the beginning of my year, I set a target to run 1000km in 2021. Looking at my Strava profile now, I've done 927.5km so far, and I am pretty confident of finishing the remaining distance before Christmas.

I have to admit that I have neglected proper exercising in the last couple of months to get this far with the running, but to be honest, it was worth it!

おなまえはなんですか

Another achievement, even though it's still a work in progress, is that I started picking up Japanese again. It's a slow approach this time, and I can only invest a few hours a month on it, but I am making progress. The book "Japanese from Zero" helps a lot here.

The sentence above says "Onamae wa nan desu ka" and means "What is your name".

Photography

One last thing worth mentioning is that I finally bought a camera. I've been talking about this for years, but I never did it as I couldn't think of buying something this expensive being worth it. But this year, I had an idea of what kind of pictures I wanted to shoot, so I invested a few hundred pounds in buying a used Sony A6000 with three different lenses: The Sony 1.8/50mm, the Sony 3.5-5.6/16-50mm and the Sony 4.5-6.3/55-210mm.

I am still in the process of learning, but hopefully, you will see a few things next year. Make sure to follow @tamizhographer on Instagram — that's me, follow me!

Sony A6000 & Lenses

Onwards to 2022 — Pandemic Year 3

I hope to make similar progress as this year when it comes to the upcoming year. I want to keep up with the things I care about most.

The goal of becoming an Engineering Manager still stands, but it's not a rush. In my new role, I'll have the opportunity to learn a lot from really talented people, the same way I learned from my ex-colleagues at Hussle. I want to absorb as much knowledge as possible and naturally grow into the role of a manager.

12-in-12 — For reading and writing

This year, I managed to pass the 12 books target. As mentioned earlier in this post, I don't want to increase the target but try to repeat this. Again, I'll try to have a decent balance between fiction and non-fiction.

When I think about writing, the first goal is to get the Tamil Book out. It's a matter of editing it and getting a publishable copy. And then, similar to the reading goal, I want to publish one blog post every month, making it another 12-in-12 target.

Learning photography, learning Japanese

I want to continue both things that I started learning this year in 2022. While I was more in an "explore"-mode this year, I want to structure how and what I will learn.

I know that I want to hold basic conversations for the Japanese learning goal by the end of this year. And when it comes to photography, I want to understand my camera better and understand how I can achieve the style of photography that I have in mind.

Not 1000km again

The fitness part will see the most significant change. This year's focus has been running. But this also meant that I lost some muscles and dropped in body weight back to <60kg.

The target for 2022 is to come back to 65kg while maintaining the ~13% body fat percentage. This goal means there won't be any unplanned long runs but more workouts instead.

I know that I don't put on weight by adding fat. I could have a KFC bucket each for lunch and dinner, and I would still lose weight.

I gain weight by growing my muscles and getting stronger. And that is done by a good cycle of damage and repair. This cycle of growth is what I want to work on this year.

I want to optimize the workouts, nutrition and recovery. I will replace my Apple Watch 6 with Whoop to bring this optimization idea to another level. I'm expecting to analyze more information about myself and improve things more.


Apart from this continuation of what went well this year, I am not expecting to achieve more. At least, I'm not going to pressure myself to get more done.

It will be another year highly influenced by Covid-19 so staying mentally and physically healthy is already a big task.

If I find time and energy to do something more, you'll read about it on Twitter or see it on Instagram. Or at least read it in the 2022 review.

Cheers


Photo by Amin Salehi on Unsplash

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