Freedom for a Global Citizen

We were fortunate to visit Hong Kong for a week in Oct 2019. Our trip was peaceful and we realized how much media spreads fear. The protests were at night for that week and yes, there was vandalism for the metro, but people are living their own lives. They are fighting for their freedom. And it made me wonder when I got back to San Francisco, what is freedom in today’s world, where we are all connected in the digital era.

What does FREEDOM mean to me?

We are not fighting for our independence but fighting for our rights every day — the right to live on our own terms.

Who am I?

  • An Indian millennial who has lived in San Francisco for the past decade, and exploring the world around the corner.
  • A global citizen not limited by boundaries (with 4 Indian passports issued since I was a baby), lucky to travel to 30 countries and 75 cities (as of 2019), hoping to experience the culture and culinary delicacies of every city. Food and flavors transcend boundaries and bring us all together in ways we cannot imagine.

I had spent my baby years in Libya, but I don’t remember many memories other than a few photos. Due to the gulf war, we went back to our home to Calicut, Kerala and spent childhood years in my grandmother’s adorable home. Then we moved to Saudi Arabia where I spent a decade and made friends around the globe in the International Indian School (IISR). These friendships are one I will cherish forever as they taught us that life for girls is not limited to the four walls and allowed us to think even in Saudi Arabia.

Beyond the Four Walls

Then when I moved back to India for the final 2 school years in 2000, I found a new definition of freedom. I could go anywhere without my dad or brother, and that opened a new world for me. Freedom was beyond the four walls of home and school. My undergraduate/graduate years in South India opened up the world of technology and the city of dreams Bangalore for me.

Then I when I got the opportunity to travel to the USA for my research project in 2008, the freedom found a new dimension — I could be anywhere at any time. I realized my opportunity to travel the world and life found a new meaning. Minneapolis, the first US city that I fell in love in August with the fall colors. This was heaven for someone who lived in the desert for a decade. Then came the winter and my first snow and my excitement lasted for a month and I was done with the cold. Then came back in 2009 for my MBA to sunny California and love it every day: that’s my home away from home.

We love to travel and curate our collection of places that we visit and a proud Google Local Guide with 16K photos and 65M views which started in 2016 with our Europe trip (10 countries, 22 cities). Now in love with Polar Steps as we are traveling South America (Peru and Chile) and hoping to share our experiences with the world.

Around the world, through the lens of Div Manickam
Around the world, through the lens of Div Manickam
Around the world, through the lens of Div Manickam

Freedom of Speech and Global Change

I am fortunate to be in this world where freedom of speech leads to global change and we have a voice that matters. Thankful to be born in this era as a true global citizen, living life to the best and focused on what matters.

I always have four digital clocks on my phone - that’s how we live, connected beyond time and space: New York, Delhi, London, Sydney. This world is much bigger, brighter and better than we can ever imagine in our own little bubble in Silicon Valley. Let’s explore and see it for ourselves.

There are countries fighting for their freedom, global citizens fighting for climate change. It’s up to us to help shape the world of tomorrow. Recently, I decided to become a vegan for health reasons and I am hoping to help save the planet, one meal at a time.

Cherish Every Moment, Breath and Pulse

Our millennial generation is really good at staying busy, but at what cost. We will always have a million reasons to not do this or that. I believe that all we need is just one reason to do this. We always think about the past, present, and future. We cannot change the past, and cannot predict the future, so let’s enjoy the present — there is a reason it’s called the present, it’s the gift of a lifetime. Hindsight is always 20:20, so let’s not worry about what we cannot control. Enjoy and cherish every moment today.

Cherish every moment —
Cherish every moment —
Cherish every moment!

I believe in today and I am passionate about what I do and try to take time for myself to hit refresh and start a new decade with clarity and focus. We can work long days, and there will always be work waiting for us, the next day. Work never ends and I am always on to the next project. We need to remember to take time with family and friends and live life to the fullest. Time is the only thing we can never get back.

Inspire | Influence | Impact

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