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A Look Back at 2022

··2357 words·12 mins

Summary #

What a year. At the start of the year, I thought I’d get more familiar with the Romanian language, and explore more of the country. Instead, I took the hard decision to leave Adobe and Romania. Before we left, we completed a Transylvania tour. I took a two-month break in between jobs and ended up doing yet another cross-continental move - this time to Sydney, joining The Trade Desk as a Staff Software Engineer. 

Towards the end of the year, I went back to Vegas for AWS re:Invent, picked up COVID-19 after all those years of dodging, and celebrated Christmas in Brisbane with family. In between this, I helped organize another CDK Day, gave a couple of talks for AWS User Group Kenya and AWS Community Day India, learnt Typescript and continued meeting Saurabh, Fossil, Cruise, Karthik, Ninad, Aman and more week on week, every week over our usual Discord weekly calls 😊 and we all started taking a closer look at the federated web/ActivityPub.

By the months #

Here’s what happened by the month:

January: January was pretty average. Romania’s restrictions and regulations on non-EU citizens got to us and I started thinking of moving out of Romania. Just as I was looking at open positions at The Trade Desk, Shantanu reached out to me, asking if I’m looking for a change I felt this was quite a coincidence and asked him to put me in touch with a recruiter. By the end of January, I had completed two rounds of the interview without having done any interview prep for the past 6 years. Happily, I cleared the two rounds and was told the next set of interviews would be a 4-round panel interview.

Snow, Bucharest

February: Russia started its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Being in Romania, things were tense, given Romania shares its border with Ukraine. Since we were down south in Bucharest, we felt little. The news about the Indian students being evacuated from Ukraine via Romania put Romania up in front and made a lot of friends/family back home realize where we were. We were thinking of vacationing up north in Maramureș but given the war, we had to rethink the plan. 

Palace of Parliament, Bucharest

March: March was a month of major changes. I turned towards the wrong side of the late 30s (lol). After 4+ rounds of interviews and talks, I got an offer from The Trade Desk. I was happy, but it was conditional on background check clearance and the Australian Department of Home Affairs approving my visa (TSS 482 class visa to be specific). Started working towards filling out the visa application. Spent a lot of time getting the documents done for the visa. The one that took the longest was the PCC (Police Clearance Certificate) from India, which took a leisurely 4 weeks (plus a video call with the cop who came to “visit” us to clear our file 🙄). I was also trying to determine if I should take the IELTS or other alternative English tests that are required for the visa but found out that I can get an exemption for this, provided I can prove that I have 5 years of study in secondary schooling with English as the medium of instruction. My dad got the certificates from my school/colleague and that let me skip the tests. I found it funny that I’ve written three books and yet I needed to prove that I “know” English.

With the Maramureș trip not possible, Jo & I did a guided tour of Transylvania instead. Check out this blog post for the plan and the series for the travelogue (WIP, I know…). It was probably one of the best tours we’d been on. Thanks to Florin Ionescu from who made the tour a really enjoyable one. We would highly recommend Florin if you’re thinking of doing a tour in Romania!

Corvin Castle, Hunedoara
Turda Salt Mines, Turda

April: Back from vacation and not much to do - finally picked up the last set of documents required to apply for my visa and submitted them, waiting for news of the approval.

Spring flowers, Bucharest

May: May was going ok till we got yet another big news - the Australian Department of Home Affairs had approved our visa! We were stunned - we didn’t expect the visa to be approved so fast. It was part jubilation, part omg wtf. We suddenly had so many things to do! Figure out what to pack, what to sell, and what to ship. We had to figure out till when we will be in Bucharest, and my notice period (and to my surprise, my manager essentially told me I’m free to choose my exit date). I was also helping out for CDK Day prep and thought of hosting one of the tracks, but Andra said she was interested in hosting - and fresh faces are always good. At work, we were about to start our quarterly compliance check stories, and didn’t want to leave my teammates before this was done, given how painful they can be. I decided to set the end of May as my last working day and mid-June as the date to leave Romania. 

Bucharest Fountain Show

June: Having signed off from work, we spent the first few days of June frantically packing up, preparing to leave, and finishing paperwork (for ex, closing bank accounts, etc). The Trade Desk had offered relocation support for our move, and when we contacted the relocation specialists, they suggested it’d be more cost-effective for us if we sold off inessential appliances/utensils and took what we want as excess baggage rather than shipping our goods. In fact, we got a quote for over $7000 for shipping our goods. Apparently, the Ukraine war and the resulting effects of the rising oil prices meant that shipping rates had shot up to ridiculous levels! We went via the excess baggage route and that meant more packing, weighing, and moving luggage around till we had distributed them evenly. Meanwhile, in the evening, we visited some places one last time before we left.

Walk around Herestrau Lake, Bucharest just before we left

Once back in India, we spent the first few days in Bangalore before heading home to Mangalore. We took a day trip to Jog falls with my parents. 

Tannirbavi Beach, Mangalore
Jog Falls, Shimoga

July: In July, we started preparing for moving to Sydney - we started looking at different suburbs, trying to figure out where to stay. We had planned for a Goa road trip in the monsoons (the last we did was in 2016), so drove over to Goa and stayed in Benaulim. I hadn’t driven my car since 2019, and felt great to be back at the steering wheel! It was also raining much heavier than I had expected, so I had to drive slower. Goa and the Konkan coast during the monsoons are just incredible. I would highly recommend doing a road trip to Goa during June-July if you can. 

Goa in Monsoons

After heading back to Mangalore, we spent a couple of days more with family and then took a taxi to Bangalore to prepare for our ultimate move. I tried to meet as many people as I could. Finally, after nearly two months of break, we moved to Sydney in the third week of July and I joined my new job. That weekend, we ended up visiting the Opera House.

Circular Quay, Sydney
Opera House, Sydney

August: August was the month of expenses - we had been staying at a temporary house that The Trade Desk had arranged for as part of the relocation and had to move out soon. Jo started looking for rental houses around Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Haymarket, and Ultimo. It might seem like a lot of areas, but we understood how mad the Sydney real estate and the rental scene were. Many of the houses listed would be gone in a few hours, even before the time for inspection. After visiting a few houses, Jo decided on a nice place in Surry Hills. It wasn’t our first choice, but had what we were looking for. The houses in Sydney are unfurnished (unlike in Bucharest - where most of the houses were fully furnished) and we had to buy all the appliances, furniture, utensils, etc. Another revelation was seeing firsthand how poor Sydney’s Internet scene is. I had read enough about it online, but it’s even worse given that some of the better ISPs not being present in the location you’re at. On the positive side, my application for a GoGet was approved - I could now use GoGet to rent a car by the hour (much like Zoomcar in India, etc). GoGet has been such a blessing to get some particularly heavy items from Ikea/Target etc or to rent a car and go for a road trip (I’ve done two of them already). We also used the Ferry to head over to the Northern beaches in Manly. Gorgeous area!

Manly Beach, Manly

September: September was another month of more purchases and house setup. We went over to the famous Bondi Beach, only for rain to play spoilsport. I also completed re-building my desktop with a new cabinet, PSU, CPU cooler, and the rest of the components that I carried from Bucharest. We set the event date for Barcamp Bangalore 2022 and started planning for it with Saurabh, Bibhas and Aditi. As usual, I took on the roles of DevOps, Sysadmin, content, social media, and planning for what we needed to do.

Bondi Beach, Bondi

October: October was a month of travel! I reconnected with a former colleague from 3i days and went over to his place, which was quite far away (approx 50km) from the city. Sydney’s train system meant we had reached there in about an hour, which is pretty decent. We had some good food at his place and visited Harris Park, a suburb that is more or less known as Little India. It was great to reconnect. We rented the GoGet again and did a road trip to Wollongong using the scenic Grand Pacific Drive via Royal National Park, Austinmer Beach, Sea Cliff Bridge, Nan Tien temple, and Wollongong Head Lighthouse. The drive was just awesome and no photographs can capture the beauty of the drive (although I did my best - see here for pics). We also had Jo’s cousin & her husband come over to Sydney from Brisbane along with her in-laws, so we spent another weekend with them, visiting the Opera House, The Taronga Zoo and even the Fish Market 😂 The Fish Market has some fresh seafood along with restaurants that cook them in a variety of ways. Had a blast eating with the gang, given that I don’t get to eat a lot of seafood because of Jo’s allergies.

Harbour Bridge, Sydney
Opera House, Sydney
Sharkey Beach, Wollongong
Main beach, Wollongong

November: November was an event-packed month. First, there was Barcamp Bangalore on Nov 5. I was pretty bummed the entire day that I couldn’t attend it in person, but I did my best to help with the planning and was eagerly hitting the refresh button for new tweets/pics. There was AWS Community Day India as well - I gave a talk on Enabling automated multi-region failover and failback using Route 53 and of course - a visit to Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent. 

Spring time

December: December started with a high and a low. Enjoyed my time at AWS re:Invent. Caught up with many Heroes, and many other members of the AWS Community. However, after 3 years of dodging COVID, I finally picked it up, possibly at re:Invent. And once I recovered, Jo got it from me. I felt so bad about that, especially hearing her cough and seeing how much she was struggling with the blocked nose. Thankfully, after about a week and a half, she started to recover. And by Dec 23, both of us had recovered, and tested negative twice over 48 hours - meaning we could get out of the house again! And off we went to Brisbane to celebrate Christmas! Spent 3 days just eating, sleeping, and relaxing in Brisbane, and the rest of the week, we rented a GoGet and did a road trip to Ballina & Byron Bay, returning home to Sydney on the last day of the year!

Pat Morton Lookout, Lennox Head
Main Beach, Brunswick Heads

How many days in each place? #

I created this Sankey Diagram of how many days we spent where - thought it was an interesting visualization. 

days in each city

Gaming #

This time, most of my gaming revolved around Civilization 6. For a couple of months after we left Bucharest and till we properly set up the house, I played on the Switch quite a lot, particularly Stardew Valley. Check out my previous post on the wrap-up of wrap-ups to see the full breakdown of what I played on Steam and Switch

The Video #

Thanks to Apple iCloud Photos for generating this

What’s for 2023? #

Towards the end of 2021, I was thinking of taking it slow for 2022 and scaling it back. While a cross-continental move isn’t quite taking it slow, I did actually spend a lot of time relaxing. For 2023, I hope to continue at the same pace - looking to travel and drive more, play more, and blog more. 

Wish you all the best of 2023!