Saturday, March 29, 2014

I am now part of their story!

Today was sunny and on sunny days London blossoms into a stunning, gorgeous beauty, much like a woman  under the admiring gaze of the man she loves. On such days, I often find myself in our little balcony, staring not only at the river that glistens in the sun, but also at the families that troop by laughing, talking and enjoying the day.

Sid had gone out for a run and i was about to start my 40 minute yoga session when my eyes fell on a couple by the river.

I often see couples by the river but the moment I set eyes on them, I knew something soecial was going on. It took me but a few seconds to figure out that the man had just proposed. The girl, taken aback but visibly over the moon with joy, obviously had said yes and was laughing and crying as they stared at the new ring on her finger. I tried hard to not stare. The couple kissed about 200 times in a matter of ten minutes. The  man wiped tears off the girl's face and then a little later i saw the girl wipe tears off the man's face. He kissed her on her lips and when that did not seem enough, he planted tender kisses on her forehead. He held her and hugged her. She wrapped her arms around his neck and smiled and cried. Together they stared at her hand admiring the ring that i have no doubt shone in the Sun. Even from a distance I could make out her expression, i could imagine her tears and i could sense her happiness.

Like, i said, i tried hard to not stare yet i stared for the moment was so beautiful and the couple was so much in love that i found it impossible to peel my eyes away. It was a private and a very special moment and I felt like an outsider (which I obviously was, but who cares!!)

And , in this day and age what do you do when something special happens around you?

You whisk out your iphone and click pictures and that is what i did. I clicked a few pictures and tried to forget about the couple. Afterall, it was their moment!

Only i could not, they were still there , staring intermittently at the ring on the girls finger and the river, still mumbling sweet nothings to one another. I flicked through the pictures and knew in that moment that were i that girl, i would love to have those pictures.

Of course going over to the couple to give them the pictures seemed weird. No one does that in London. We all pretend that we do not have eyes.

I decided to wait for 5 minutes. If the couple were still there, i would go them.

As i readied for yoga, i kept an eye out on the couple. They stood there, talking and laughing. They tried taking selfies which the girl seemed dissatisfied with. Then they asked another man with a baby in a pram to click a picture of them. Then they took pictures of each other. And i stared at what i felt was a beautiful picture of them on my phone and felt my heart bleed.

In london you do not interfere with what others are doing, a voice in my head said warningly.

'WHat the heck, I am Indian!' said the other part of my brain.

I threw on a coat, put on slippers and dashed out of the house. I ran to the startled couple and said ' Excuse me, I live in the house there' pointing to my house ' and was in the balcony taking pictures of the sunny day when i witnessed something special. I have some pictures of the two of you, would you like to have them?'

'Oh my God' the girl squealed, her eyes already wet as she stared at the pics on my phone.
'This is so special, this is so special' she kept mumbling.

I was so excited for the couple that i seemed to be taking ages to send a simple email to the man's ID with the pictures as attachment. I finally handed my phone to the guy who, as men generally are, seemed to be the only with his wits about him (I certainly did not :) )  They both thanked me profusely and I congratulated the couple.

I leave you with two of those pictures. I think they are beautiful mainly because that the two of them were madly in love was obvious even from a distance. And love can make life extra ordinary. Let alone a picture.

My heart felt very full, still does even though the incident happened a couple of hours ago. The Sun shone in all its glory; the Thames sparkled as if jewels were strew all across it; and the two of them stood there wrapped in love...

It was a special day for them and a special day for me too! I wish them all the happiness in their life together :)


Sunday, March 02, 2014


The fun bit about no longer being 16 is that you can pretend to be all wise and talk about how life has taught you stuff. Here are some things I try and NOT do. I am sharing some of them here, for your benefit and mine

Read on to see if you find takeaways ( I hope you do!)

  1. Don't judge people. They all have stories and some of them are more horrific that yours ever will be.
  2. Don't ignore your soul. Ever since I was small, I have been aware of how my body is different from my soul. We all do so much for our body- the medical check ups, the vitamin tablets, the exercise. We forget that we have a soul that needs attention and nourishment. When I stop outside of the tube station and stare at the flowers, I am feeding my soul. When I open my hair on a windy day and let the winds play with it, I do it for my soul. When I sit back and embroider a flower, I do it for my soul...When I write, I do it for my soul. When I act with grace and not scream at the random man on the tube who is being rude, I do it for my soul.
  3. Don't forget that there are other people around you. Whenever I am feeling sorry for myself, I get up and do something for someone else that makes them feel special. Nothing big, but  maybe bake someone a cake, give someone a well deserved compliment or even something as small as calling someone up and asking them about their new house or new baby or new job. Everyone is looking for affirmation of their existence and in validating others you uplift your own mood and soul.
  4. I try hard to not say mean, discouraging things. To anyone. I firmly believe that words have a lot of power and they should be used only to uplift yourself and those around you.
  5. Do not be jealous. When something nice happens to you, don't you wish people would congratulate you and mean it? Be that person.
  6. Don't try too hard to be friends. If it is not working out or if you finish each conversation with a bad taste in your mouth, just let them be. You guys are not meant to be friends; accept that.
  7. Don't be negative. By being negative you are telling the universe to send all its negative energies towards you. Also, no one will want to be around you because we all naturally gravitate towards happy, life affirming energies.
  8. Don't betray yourself. My biggest responsibility , and I think that it is true for everyone, is to bring out the best in me. No one else has that responsibility and I owe it to myself to become the best person I can be. 
  9. Don't ignore your mental health. It is as , if not more, important than physical health. Surround yourself with well meaning people who encourage you and see you in a positive light.
  10. Don't fear. Fear cripples. Fear weakens. Fear gnaws at your soul. Fear stops you from becoming the person are meant to be. So don't fear anything. Whatever is meant to happen will and if it is something bad you will face it, battle it and come out of it shinning.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Every once in a while it is okay to...

To not make every moment count. To not live every moment. To not be alive every moment. To just let time be.
To not hurry. to not catch up. To not run. To not chase. To just walk. 
To not shout. To not holler. To not be heard. To just listen.
To not shine. To not outshine. To just applaud.
To not measure. To not want. To not want more. To just breathe.
To not create. To not critique. To not improvise. To just appreciate.
To not get. To not receive. To not ask. To just not bother.
To not do better. to not improve. To just be bad.
To not achieve. To not do. To not do more. To observe.
To not wonder. To not think. To not overthink. To be at peace.

Every once in a while, it is okay to just be.
Every once in a while, it is okay to just be.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Times Table

Recently, while in India, I had to live through (could not find a better word) about 10 minutes of extreme anxiety.

How I dealt with that time surprised me.

From somewhere deep within, as my  mind grew more and more anxious, the brain devised a solution for itself.

I spent the better part of the ten minutes doing mental maths.

I calculated the times table from 16 to 23. I am quite good with maths and as my brain voluntarily occupied itself with the complexities of multiplying 17 by 8 (136, by the way, comes instantly to mind and I am not showing off here), my body relaxed as if someone had done some magic.

Before I resorted to mental maths I had tried deep breathing, visualising etc etc. All had failed in seconds. Mental maths took me through till the end :)

It is funny, is not it, the things that your mind can find comforting.

I was wondering if others have had similar experiences and if so what finally worked?



Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Twenty Thirteen: The year in a post!

To be honest, I never liked the sound of 2013; there was a bad ring to it. So for that reason alone, I am glad it is over. What i learnt about life and myself in the last year: (Lessons learnt from 2012 in this post, and highlights from 2011 in this post)

  • I like to keep challenging myself. I do it quietly, hesitatingly, all the while questioning my ability on the inside but i do it with a weird sense of confidence that is latent but very potent.
  • This yoga class i attended a few weeks back and a chance comment from the instructor that stayed with me- she said: 'Injuries are very clever, they let you know your weaknesses; make them your friends and respect them'. I was so blown away by that sentence that i almost let go of the lizard pose she had us all in and went and gave her a hug. Injuries; physical, emotional and psychological- they all tell you what the chink in your armor is and it never hurts to know that and work on it. 
  • The weirdest experience happened outside of office when a man stopped me and 1) said things about my past that were absolutely true and b) predicted my future. 
  • I think life should be documented, what else is it if not a string of easily forgettable moments? This blog is one way of doing it but of course there is only this much that you can mention on a public blog. I have taken Ma's advice and have started sending emails to myself about the funny things, the compliments, the heart warming little incidents that one tends to forget..
  • Its funny  you know; how you live life scared of some things and then the things that actually happen- you would have never even imagined that that would happen to you! I struggled massively with some issues this year and in trying to get over them, i tried so many new things, understood so much about myself that i think i evolved as a person more in this year than in any other. I learnt to be very optimistic and enthusiastic about everything in general. 
  • Africa. Visit it. It calls me again and again. (The Africa Diaries here)
  • Travelling is one of the greatest joys of life. I think it was this year that i truly realized how much i love to travel. My advice: If you can afford it, travel. If you cannot afford it, travel. So this year I traveled to India (of course), Lanzarote (Canary Islands),Mombasa (Kenya), Salzbourg (Austria), Istanbul (Turkey), road trip in Scotland, Amsterdam (again), Stockholm (Sweden), and Dubrovnik (Croatia). 
  • Life can be perfectly fabulous without certain people in it. Don't take $%^& from people. If you are even vaguely/ remotely successful a lot of people will behave the way they do because they are jealous of you. Ignore, move on. 
  • I performed on stage for the first time in ages. I danced to a Bollywood song in London. Here is a post with the details and some pictures.
  • I discovered the immense joys of baking! Pictures of some stuff i baked here.
  • I changed roles at work and am now doing something i never thought i would/ could. This change in role also meant that I pretty much smashed the before-i-turn-30 salary target i had set for myself. I am very thankful for this opportunity and work my hardest.
  • I have realized that my biggest strengths are hard work and a good sense of humor. There was an email from my doctor that began ' Dear R, I must say your email made me giggle...'  To be honest, his email made ME giggle :)
  • I made a lot of friends. 
  • I have become an expert at throwing parties. I cook for 10 people without batting an eye lid and zero stress. 
  • I got back to exercising and am loving it. Here is a post on my love for yoga.
  • I painted, baked and embroidered.
  • I realised that being Indian is a very big part of my identity. I tried very hard to not let Holi, Diwali, Karwa Chauth be just ordinary days; i called up people, cooked or got them to cook, and actually celebrated the festivals. For holi, we had colour, for diwali we had patake and for Karwa we had the channi and fasting. And for all these, we had a lot of people. My house feels like a home when all this happens and I like that feeling.
  • I have made a ritual out of Sid's birthday. I cook a day in advance, invite his closest friends and make him feel all special :) We have also almost made a ritual of travelling for mine.
  • My brother decided to get  married to a girl I am extremely fond of and the thought of them being man and wife just fills my heart with immense, pure joy.
  • I realised that we might be scared, vulnerable and fearful. I also learnt that with wisdom, we can overcome such negative emotions.
  • this was one of the most eye opening and oddly enough, spiritual experiences of my life.
  • I watched all the episodes of Big Boss. Yes, kill me now.
  • This year I finished writing two books. Maybe some day i will talk in detail about the first one but suffice to say right now that the first one is very close to my heart- I breathed and lived it for 1.5 years; for the first time the story completely overtook every aspect of my life. I would actually sort out the nitty gritties of the plot in my dreams, so obsessed was my being with it. Eating, drinking, sitting in the tube- the story would do its rounds in my head. However, no respectable publisher thought it would sell in the Indian market. That was a tough blow. I learnt to not give up. Picked myself up and wrote another one. Harper Collins has kindly agreed to publish it. (Whoop whopp, hurraaaayyy). I learnt, very simply, to not give up on my dreams. If you dream often enough and work hard enough, it generally, does happen :) And that is why, yet again, life taught me how important it is to keep at it. Simply keep at it.

I think, all in all, I became more active, learnt to massively multi task, struggled, succeeded, threw tantrums, cried my heart out, laughed, made others laugh a lot, stood by friends, fought with people i am close to, spoke my mind, grew in confidence, felt incredibly vulnerable, was horrible and absolutely lovely in equal bits. That pretty much sums up 2013.

To a fabulous 2014 to all of us!


Monday, December 30, 2013


'Are you a person or a museum or probably 3-4 people in one and should be put in a museum?' my Scottish manager asked me a few hours ago, laughing.

I get that a lot these days; people who share my life with me asking me how i do the many things i do and honestly, the question takes me by surprise because i do not know how to live any different. 
I wish i did, but i do not.

I have a high pressure, full time, B2B sales job with targets and customers spread across UK, rest of Europe, Russia etc.

I have one book in the market and another i have signed the contract for and am finalizing the details for.

Yesterday I baked and iced a cake for a lunch party i threw for my husband's birthday and this is not the first time I baked and cooked for someone's birthday. 

Today i will hopefully complete an embroidery project that i have been working on for quite some time.

I was a little indulgent (and very tired from the last few days ) and hence decided to not do any exercise today and i do not like the feeling.. I typically do some core strength exercises or a nice 40 minute cardio session or go for a 40 minute walk atleast 4-5 times a week. Close friends have been witness to my biceps and triceps which i have been proudly showing off to anyone who will bother. 

I have a BIG circle of friends in London most of whom wish to spend time with me. 

I traveled last month to Croatia, am travelling to India in Jan and to Iceland in Feb and still itch to travel more.

I am ALWAYS reading. I am extremely listless without a book.

I HAVE to speak to my Mum atleast once a day.

And I typically have a LOT of time on my hands. So much time that sometimes i wonder what is missing...

So, to answer the question, i understand that this is probably not normal but i do not know how or why i do it. 


Monday, December 09, 2013


 2009. Induction meeting in Delhi for MBA graduates who were to be part of the fast track management trainee program of one of India’s largest telecom companies. Lots of us excited MBA graduates ready to set the corporate world on fire and all that higgledy-pigglidy.

A casual first meeting, I suppose; one that I cannot even recall now. Another face in the crowd, probably…Five of us were going to be based out of the same city and he was one of them.

Half a decade and half way across the world later he is one of my closest friends.
When? How? Really?

Friendships. It is interesting to see how the important ones began. You allow yourself a little smile when you go back into time and see for yourself in a little self-directed movie how it all panned out.

Nik and I were together in the same company for a grand total of 3 months in 2009. Remarkably,that was the only time we have spent around each other. The five of us were a big, tight group, the tacit promise of helping each other see through the horrors of the internship ensuring that we had much to talk about, share and laugh at.

A finance role in a telecom company was never going to keep him for long, and he left soon after to join an investment banking firm, to do things he really, truly wanted to do. I stayed on in the company for another three months and then moved to London.

Since then, I got married, wrote a book, wrote another, then another and then ANOTHER! (Not all of them will be printed s don't freak out about the number of books I have in the pipeline )

Every author has a friend who reads the books they write as they write it. Typically, its their closest friend. For me, my Dad and Nik do that. We have spent hours discussing the characters, the plot and why he thinks what I have written is great/ ok/ utter rubbish.  He was also the brain behind the title of the first one and he will name my second.

Today is his birthday.

Last year, towards the end of December, it struck me that the entire year had passed and I had not wished him a happy birthday. Had I missed it, I asked him innocently, as I paced my garden back at home in India.

The answer, of course, was that I had indeed and he had been waiting for me to realize that I had!

I still mentally LOL when I think of that conversation.

Good friends are precious, very precious. And while my behavior hardly shows that I hold that thought dear, I dooooo!

Nikhil is one of the very few people who understands me even when I do not say anything (and I mean this literally). He is also one of the very few people in front of whom I can be me without fear of being judged. And I count that as a luxury.

Along the years, we have helped each other take some of the biggest decisions we have taken. Often not by giving advice but mostly by just hearing the other one out.

As you get older  As Nik gets older, I, of course, stay 16, you tend to value  such friendships a lot more than you did when you were younger.

And, so, on this august day of Nik’s birthday, (;) ;) ) I would like to wish him a world full of happiness.

Happy birthday, Nik.

You simply rock J