Category Archives: Life

Wanderlusting blind?

In my last blog post I asked you a question – do you prefer your travels to be meticulously planned or be a blind adventure?  I am still deciding which one suits me more – plucking out memories from earlier trips, deciding which lessons are worth being learnt and which were just flukes of the hour.

I recall a trip to Udupi, a quaint temple town, nestled by the beaches lining the Arabian Sea, in the Western Ghats – a trip I had researched, Googled about, interviewed earlier travellers and jotted down an itinerary to the extent of having even decided the breakfast to be ordered at Woody’s! Yeah, called me obsessed but I was really excited about that particular trip, not that I recall the reasons now, but it could have something to do with beaches! I am a beach baby who fears the seas, after all. Take that for irony! Guess where that led me? The moment I set foot on one of their islands, St. Mary’s, I began looking for that particular patch of lagoon where my friend said he’d played volleyball with his friends and how picturesque the location was. I set foot on the island with someone else’s idea of beauty rather than making up my own mind about what I felt about the island. I led myself to see through someone else’s eyes and thoughts. Not a moment of rest to the mind, not a pause to stand and absorb, feel and think, a constant rush to check the next sight off the list, not standing long enough to even breathe.

But. There’s a but.

Last month, I visited Hampi, known for its ruins of the Vijayangara empire, hippie style of living, a bed of rocks that transports you to an era a few hundred years ago – possibly the heat that plays with your mind. Circumstances made me procrastinate planning for a trip I had sincerely vowed to. Such desperate were the times, that despite three attempts to map out the route of our visits, technology failed to help us chart a plan. So we were left to hang dry with no map references, no lists of ‘Top 10 places to visit in Hampi’, ‘7 things you should do in Hampi’, ‘5 must-try restaurants in Hampi’ and so on! “Oh chuck it,” I thought when a man tried to sell me a ‘Tourist’s Guide to Hampi’. I’ll go in blind this time, I thought. And you know what I ended up missing?

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THIS! I MISSED THIS!

I walked away from this detailed, breathtaking, mind-blazing, still mostly intact ruin from within fifteen metres of it, after reading the sign that spelled out its presence! For freaking Heaven’s sake, this is the third image result that pops up when looking up Hampi and I did not visit it! Such a bummer. But well, we did manage to do a lot of other crazy stuff that cannot make it to the blog for want of keeping your faith in my sanity intact.

So what do you say? Guess I need to find a little balance? And pray, how do I do that?

Graciously Yours!

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Setting Sun.

I looked up from my Kindle and out the window. The air turbulence was distracting. I wanted to stretch my legs that were getting cramped in the narrow leg space provided these days by airlines. Just a few minutes ago, the view from the window had been drab – blues of the lightest kind with fluffs of white cloud in the foreground. Or was it more than a few minutes ago? I wouldn’t know. My phone was on flight mode and my mind grappling with an Agatha Christie whodunit. Keener observation of the clouds would allow the brain to identify patterns. Sometimes it would be a horse’s head, other times a trophy and then a flock of sheep. But right now? Right now provided a view that would make it to Instagram stories, photography contests and lure amateurs towards professional photography. But I sat there watching unperturbed, unhurried. I was flight bound to home. The Sun was going home for the day too – home being the horizon. My eyes went in and out of focus, the portrait mode some call it, others name it bokeh. In an expanse of white, to the far right, soft hues of orange meshed with lighter yellows which faded into whites of the clouds. The mixed streaks seemed painted, with the flourish of pulled brush strokes. The center was a deeper, brighter, concentrated shade of orange, like the Sun itself was shining out – but you knew this was an illusion – more science than mere fabrication. The Sun was closer it to its home than it let on – this was simply a delayed telecast you were viewing. Closer to my window, making way for the scene were the clouds – bigger clouds, fog-like, misty, as if dewy-eyed at the beauty out my window. And then came the window – double paned, corners curved, waiting to be flapped down; a hole at the bottom edge of the outer window, scratches on the outer pane, whether flying bird wings or key marks, no one knows. And then I return to my Kindle, back to Christie, because I know, no matter how good the camera, it wouldn’t capture the scene my bare eyes saw. But I hope my words did.

Graciously Yours!

Hope.

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What keeps you going on the less happy days? What keeps you from letting one night turn into yet another morning? What pushes you to breathe one more time even though it pains every time? The belief in God – whatever your religion may be, wherever your faith lies? Or is it destiny? Or karma – that you will get what you give around. Or are you one of those who believe in the power of humans and the ability to conquer the world – the rising supporters of humanism?

Me? For me, hope keeps me going – the hope that one of these days, I’ll figure myself out again. Someday the sun will be brighter, the world more colorful and the day happier. The hope that this too shall pass and l will survive it like I have all these years. Hope. It’s important not to lose hope.

Graciously yours!

Of trails and travails.

Every once in a while, the city closes in upon you and you choose to run after the sereneness of the outskirts, the hill stations, the backwaters, the mountains, don’t you? I almost managed to do the same. I say managed because we had failed to acknowledge how many more would also be looking for sereneness there! I visited Dehradun and Mussoorie recently, and if you think this post is about how pretty the landscape is and quiet the hills are, you couldn’t be more wrong.

Ruskin Bond’s books were my mates while growing up and the writer is famed for basing his stories around these few towns in Uttarakhand. I was obviously excited about the trip on that account too – to find myself facing those shops, houses, to walk in the trails of woods and the warmth of the people he’s written about. But I’d forgotten about the two big words – commercialisation and globalisation. With the ease of access to the towns, better roads and influx of tourists, Dehradun no longer is the regular hill station – there’s nothing hilly about it, all flat land and roads marked by McDonald’s and Bengali sweet shops, malls and Park Avenue stores. We picked up drinks from a Tibetan township thinking it’s a concoction they’d brewed at their place only to find it spread all across shops later on. So much for trying to experience something local. Well, at least, I sort of learnt to use chopsticks from one of the diner owners in the Tibetan township. Sort of.

Mussoorie has a dual face though! It’s got the ups and downs of a hill station, the roads which allow vehicles but has no space to fit two of them side by side, a mall road – typical of hill stations, which seemed commercially successful and now stretches for almost 3 km with people flocking it all times, even as late as 10:30 pm at night. The mall road boasts of eateries, brands, shops selling insignia for surrounding hill stations to be carried back as mementos of the visit and countless shops selling the same clothes! But if you take a diversion from the mall road, you’ll find the cobbled roads intact, men and women silently going about their lives, no tourists in sight and the clamour of the mall road light years away! The peace, though short-lived, I was hoping for. I also found the quaint coffee shops that take you back 50 years ago at Landour, where Bond is supposed to reside currently. On further observation, I realise the town was being redecorated to capture the old world charm by Dharma Productions for a film. Well, at least this commercialisation is pleasant to the eye!

Oh and don’t even get me started on the waterfalls! They’re no longer natural. They’ve been cemented and structured to flow the way man wants them to, with water rides, fun activities, shops, tea stalls, changing rooms set close to the rock bed of the fall. Ain’t saying it’s bad, au contraire, it’s brilliant for the people who live there. It’s just not what Ruskin Bond had written about. And no longer the spot for a getaway for me.

I came away from the hills renewed, of course, but disappointed with what we had done to places remote and almost preserved naturally till a few years ago. The human touch, we should call it.

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While trekking in Mussoorie – away from Mall Road. The irony is that the trail led us to shops at the top of the trail.
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Dharma Productions crew at work.
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Yes, that’s a waterfall. It ain’t a swimming pool.
Graciously Yours!

Writing.

You’d think the words come easy – that to write was second nature. You set deadlines, timelines, daily word challenges, look up picture prompts only to make sure the words keep flowing. You’re afraid that if you stop writing, you won’t be able to start again. You’re also afraid that if you keep at it, soon your life, your thoughts, your fears, your dreams will all be on paper to read. Nothing will remain sacred, nothing will remain your own. The tension remains – to do or not to do. It’s an addiction you want to lose to. You look into the eyes of the people who read your words and you see them contemplating how much of what you’ve written is fiction. You are afraid they’ll see you for what you really are. And on other days they take you to be what you’re not.

You’re only the medium for the ink to make sense on the paper. What do you do?

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Graciously Yours!

TedX Adventures!

I was probably in school when I first heard of Ted talks from a relative. I didn’t pay much attention, after all you only retain about 20% of what you hear. (Research says so, not me. I’d peg it down to even much lower, considering how my requests at a certain workplace almost always fall on deaf ears.) I heard of a Ted talk next when I had to deal with understanding how a brain stroke had affected my father. After that, it felt like I was possessed. A window into a new realm had opened up for me. I could hear people talk about their experiences, learning, conventional thoughts, unconventional theories, the changes they’d made around them, the changes they’d undergone in themselves.

Two years ago, I attended my first TedX conference and it left me inspired for a couple of months, itching to do something different with my life. After that I started writing regularly, trying to be better at the one thing I enjoyed doing most – writing! Today, I am working on the last edits of my novel and look at the timing! Tomorrow I am attending my second TedX conference. The venue is the same, the organisers same but everything else’s changed. I am so much closer to realising my dream, my book might see the light of the day in just a few more weeks, or maybe months! Who knows? But I know it’ll happen. It has to.

Last week, A and I attended the TedX adventures lined up pre-event. A workshop on RJing and another on acting. Such eye-openers they were. Or if I were to be honest, they simply confirmed my suspicions! I’ve always loved the radio. It has been a constant for the past years in my life, through new stations, new RJs, even new cities. I have always admired the quips my favorite RJ comes up with but in the workshop I understood the creativity and work that goes on behind it, exciting to say the least! He needs to be making a point each time he’s on air and that is a tough ask. Considering how well, he does it, leaves me all the more impressed.

Oh and the acting workshop! Oh my! A has always been interested in movies and acting so it was meant to be the one for him. But me? Oh I can do the amateur dramatics required for April Fools and emotional blackmails but emoting on cue? I suck at it! There was a point when the mentor was pushing me to be angry and I tried so hard that I ended up laughing. A was standing across the hall from me and he later told me my face was blank at that instant, in place of anger. But people who’ve seen me angry know that it shows on my face. Just not on cue. After my two seconds of embarrassment, even the mentor realized he’d better spend time working on others. And I will only say this once, but maybe I should stop calling out which of the Bollywood stars can act and can’t. They sure do a better job than I would have.

I guess I could always write the scripts for the actors. Someone needs to do that too, eh!

More updates on TedX adventures coming soon!

Graciously Yours!

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A Blocked 2018. (As Yet)

It happened! It was inevitable. Some day or the other I was bound to be in its clutches. Now I know when my friend says she’s zoned out or that she can’t put pen to paper.

I have the the writer’s block! I can’t seem to get to writing. But I wanted to take a break from taking a break at the blog now! So here I am blabbering about a blocked me. At least, you’d know I am still alive and well, which I am.

Anyone knows how to get rid of the writer’s block?

All help is appreciated!

Graciously Yours!

Leave it in 2017.

Inspired by a video John Green put up last week on his channel Vlogbrothers, where he lists out changes he would want to see in himself in the upcoming year, a public list where he recounts all that could have been better in 2017, I thought of inking my mandatory year end post on the same lines. What would I want to leave behind in 2017?

First things first, I want to leave behind my erratic schedules so that I get enough sleep and can finally work out on a regular basis! It requires so much determination and discipline to ensure that your sleeping pattern is not disturbed. Though I’ve had wild nights involving movie marathons, long talks varying from about love, belongingness, work, family and even food, lot of leg pulling, the day after is spent sleeping in bed with a headache and the week often seems dull.

Cut down on online shopping! Retail therapy might sound good but at the end of the day you forget to keep a tab of all that you’ve bought and shouldn’t have. Until I don’t wear all the new clothes I’ve bought in a while, I’m not spending a penny on another set of clothes. Unless, there’s a mind boggling sale on Marks and Spencers! But, no. Control, Adi, control! Anyone with me on this?

Social media too. It is such a drab on most days and Facebook has nothing on my timelines except “Tag your such and such friend” and short films endorsing brands I don’t even think I’ll ever put to use. Their algorithms have failed to do the one thing they were supposed to do – hold my attention.

Workout! I so need to let go of the irregularity of my workouts. My body has to every couple of months bear the pain of a new workout session that begins at my whims and fancies and ends in a couple of days, citing the same pain. Unfair. So unfair. So the choice is – either workout regularly, or not at all. What say?

Oh but what is that one thing, apart from super awesome family and friends, that I would like to not leave back in 2017 at all?

My WRITING! This year has been extremely successful when it comes to writing and this is when I choose to tell you all that I have almost completed the manuscript of my novel and any day now I will request you to please help me with publishers! Be ready!

And meanwhile, welcome the new year with a smile, hoping it’ll harbour better times for all of us. Except, maybe Trump. Because his better would be worse for a lot of us. You too, Kim Jong.

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Wishing you a fabulous end to 2017,

Graciously Yours!

From home to away.

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A week off from work means going home and then away from home again. Home always is special but the day, when thanks to tech advancement, you are in both cities on the same day, when you leave home in the morning and are away by evening in another city, is the day the stark contrast between both hits you hard.

Back at home, I stayed 100 metres away from the kitchen and Mother was more than happy to feed me! Our domestic help whipped up my favourites, bringing food to the table for me every couple of hours. Her sole motto was to not let me feel even the slightest pang of hunger. Even on insistence to cook, Mother refused to let me enter the kitchen. Away though was a different scene altogether! Within two hours of stepping into our rented flat, I was cleaning the refrigerator with soap water and then stocking freshly bought vegetables in them. Our cook wasn’t turning up for the night and my flatmate, S and I were too tired to bother about even cooking Maggi!

Back home, well fed and humidity affected, we were ready to sleep by 9:30 PM itself, though I never did, because when else do you get to have late night chats snuggled beside the younger sister? On two occasions though, she’d slept off while I was recounting my stories! Wake up time was 7 AM, thanks to the Sun, Father, and my favourite radio jockey, RJ Praveen’s morning show. Away though, by 9:30 PM, dinner isn’t even ready, let alone thinking of sleep! Oh, but wake up time still is at 7 AM because someone’s gotta let the cook into the house.

Back at home, Dad knows I love fruits. So fruits are myriad and spread across the table to be eaten at different times of the day – sometimes even freshly cut. Fruits, here, however mean apples and bananas, which are few and far between, that too if we buy them on a one-off day. Oh and avocado on some days!

And considering I went home for Diwali, the spring cleaning time for the whole of India, there was a lot of cleaning, fixing and repairing to do, obviously! My mother made me a handyman, or a handywoman to be politically correct, where I sandpapered, primered and painted to complete pending repair on walls. Whereas here, even dusting once in a fortnight seems so tedious that we learn to live with the dust!

Back home, there’s family and friends too. Here, away from home, there’re friends who became family. Home or away – there’s none which is better or worse.

Graciously Yours!

Idea Courtesy : Ishita.

Why ‘Outspoken’?

The word that is doing the rounds in most of my social media accounts and now here too – ‘Outspoken’! The name of our team’s in-house public speaking forum at work.

Three weeks of effort, bonding with friends over brain wrecking sessions, hours of script editing, listening to audio recordings of speech practices at the oddest hours, reaching work early, leaving for home late – it became a habit.

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Oh shoot. Why did we begin this? Breathe, breathe.

The fright of the stage, fear of performing sub par, worrying about being a nerve wreck – not for myself, but for others. All of it so that the other people I know also feel the rush of confidence on the stage I’d once felt.

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Who’s backing out now? Will anyone even come?

Last week, I wrote about the event (a meeting for an audience of more than 80 people – we wanted bigger, better, grander) coming up. This week we are done with it. Not only did we manage to create joyous ripples of success but even five days after the event, mention of it creeps up in conversations.

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We didn’t know either we’d be so good, but thanks!

I’ve been thinking for a while now about why the event mattered so much to me. It took a lot of space on my already full plate. My manuscript editing got hampered, my work hours stretched into my sleep hours, I forgot to eat on time, I was hardly being able to compartmentalize and prioritize and these are all things that really matter to me! Then why? I thought about it – a lot. I tried explaining myself to people in a lot of fancy ways. But it is time to come clean. I have always been afraid of public speaking. I still am. I still fear I will fall short of content, or blabber too much, mostly about Elon Musk, or if I will have cold hands. Thankfully, shaking knees got chucked out of the window over the months. So yes, this is me. But I took my chances. I got pushed by a couple of people, they know well who they are, and I realized I could be less nervous and more confident. It dawned on me that with time, I could be the one addressing an audience. And I wanted the others to see, know, feel and acknowledge exactly what they and I had been missing out on for most part of our lives – the chance to let go of the fear.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of people around me. This lets me make a difference in mine through theirs. With you, I too get better. With you, I laugh. With you, I cry. With you, I walk the talk.

And that is exactly why I did it.

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Can’t stop dancing the happy dance!

Graciously Yours!