Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy, Positive and/or energetic

So going forward, as often as I can, I am going to put down 6 things here that have made me happy, positive and/or energetic that day.

Idea is to ensure that the feel good hormones flow through your body and make you feel happy, positive and energetic even if you are not feeling that way when you start to write these down. Smart, eh? ;)

If you are reading this (that’s a lame thing to say, because obviously you are reading this), feel free to do the same. Mail me the links or put them in the comments section because as they say, positive hormones are infectious ( I did not make that up. Okay, I did) Lets share the good things , even if they are simple and tiny :)

So here I go:

1. So when i get out at my station, there is a guy who sells newspapers. We always smile at each other even though i never buy his newspaper.  It was nice to see him again today after such a long time.
2. Tried on shoes of a colleague. Loved them!

3. Met people in office after a long time as I was on leave and it was nice to see the familiar faces and catch up

4. We have ready made puris that mom in law cooked for us so that means that I don’t have to bother about cooking tonight!

5. I used my brand new Milton thermos flask today! Yay!

6. Got some compliments about my brand new, snazzy haircut! Double yay!



PS: Very shallow points but who cares ;)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kids are mean! -Part 1

I must have been 10-11 then and having recently shifted to a new house, I was busy making new friends. Amongst these recently acquired friends were two girls, sisters, both younger to me. Lets call them Ruhi and Yana.

The 'chatt' of our house, littered with stuff that only the 'chatt' of a newly contrscuted house can be littered with was a child's heaven. It was more often than not our playground and we would spend hours and hours playing make believe games as the monsoons lashed around us.

Sometimes we would use the cement mounds that had caked, that odd piece of wood or iron that the labourers had left would be used. For us they were pricessless. And were vehicles of imagination that could take us on flights of fantasy.

Ruhi, (who rather adorably referred to 'chewing gum' as 'chingum'), maybe 7 at that time, was the youngest amongst all of us and therefore the most gullible to ragging and leg pulling.

This one day, Bhai (or someone else) came up with a brain wave. Hurried wispers later, the strategy had been formulated and without wasting any more we sent Bhai away and beckoned Ruhi to come to us.

'Didi!' she yelped as she happily skipped across the 'chatt' towards us.

' What didi?' one of us said ' say hello to bhaiyya also' I said pointing to the air between Yana and me.

'Bhaiyya?' said  Ruhi puzzled.

Yana looked at the air between herself and me as if listening to some one. On cue both of us laughed.

Ruhi stared at us.

'What are you laughing at?' she said her face drawn with worry now.

'Bhaiyya just said that maybe he was invisble to you' said Yana. I laughed again as if Bhai's comment was still tickling me.

'I...I....' stammered poor Ruhi as i struggled to not burst into laughter 'cant see him'

'You are such a scream!' hooted Yana.

'No...really i cannot' said Ruhi.

'Oh my God' i said slapping my forehead and looking intently at the air between Yana and me ' she really cant see you'

'Oh my God' added Yana rather unoriginally and slapped her forhead.

'So' i said now pacing as if in deep thought ' you cannot see bhai'

She shook her head and extended a hand towards the air space next to Yana in an attempt to feel bhai.

'Oh dear, you cant feel him either, can you?' i asked my face registering shock and worry.

She shook her head now almost ready to cry.

'Listen, now dont worry...i can get to the bottom of this' i said my face grave. Yana and ruhi looked expectantly at me.

'So you are saying that you cannot see him waving at you?' i asked eye brows raised. Ruhi shook her head.
'And now....he is jumping in his place...can you see him now?' i asked again. Ruhi shook her head.
'Yana' i said now turnging to face her elder sister ' can you see bhai?'
'Yes ofcourse...he is looking very worried now' she said.

I nodded my head.
'Ofcourse, we have reason to worry' i said.

Yana looked at me and i looked at Yana. Ruhi, teary eyed stared first at me and then at Yana.

'Yana' i said my voice serious ' do you think this is what i think it is?'

Yana, a good actress, breathed deep.

'Yes, didi....i am worried...'

'What is wrong' wailed Ruhi.

I dramatically tunred around to face Ruhi.

'Ruhi...there is this disease that is doing the rounds in schools these days...teachers are not telling pupils about it as it may scare them....but...but...we think you have it...the symptoms are the same'

'what is happening to me?' she asked.

I breathed deep and inched closer towards her.

'I think' i now paused for effect as Yana struggled to keep a straight face ' that you are going mad'

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jhatakas and Matkas

I spent 25 years in India and have been in London for the last 2.5. (Oh wait, did i just give away my age? *horror, horror* in case you did not calculate it, please note that i will turn 16. Year after next.)

So now that I am in the UK, I have , for the first time in my life, joined dance classes.  No ordinary dance class, mind you. Bollywood dance class. In Londond. (I refused to touch dance classes with a bargepole when I was in India. Back home children are told stories of this one girl who waged war against her parents who wanted her to continue dancing but more on that later someday when i am more inclined towards embaressing myself)

Since a career, a house to manage, a book in the market, another as a manuscript I am working on, friends, movies, travelling and then just generally living life was not enough, I have joined dance classes as well.

My love for Bollywood is not something I try to hide. (The three line 'about me' at the back of my book talks about how much i love Bollywood. Sheesh, it is that bad)

Each time I walk out of a movie, I tell myself that i will make a movie one day. I almost always say that to myself. so while it seems increasingly unlikely that i will make a movie (ever!), I thought it best to do the second best thing. Bollywood dance.

So every Tuesday and Thursday, I haul up my yoga mat and trudge my way to the dance studio so that i can soon enough give the Sri devis and the madhuris of Bollywood a run for their money.

Only, unfortunately, i dont think i am that good.
Any good.

But then, does that matter? :)

And in my defense i am getting better by the second.

The jhatakas and the matkas come more naturally to me now. I  can finally do something that resembles bhangra- my version of a bhangra-ish jiggle, I can finally follow about 10% of the instructions and I can do most steps without blatantly staring at people around me to copy their movements. (and i can stretch my legs and make my head touch the floor! Yay!)

I love the two hours i spend dancing each week. I look at the watch when we start the class. 7:30 pm and when i look up at the clock again, it is already past 8:30.
Where did the hour vanish, i say to myself, amazed each time.

By the time I finish the class I am on some endorphin induced super-duper high that refuses to go away for the next 30-40 minutes. I simply cannot sit still.

So the next time you are in a tube in London and see that girl carrying a pink yoga mat in her cloth bag, standing by the door of the train because she has too much energy to sit down , doing mini versions of dance steps- yeah, that's me.

And yes, i highly recommend dance classes. Join one if you can.

Have a great week ahead.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Barfi! - A review

*some spoilers ahead, in fact I write this presuming that my readers have already watched the movie!*

Before Barfi Anurag Basu made 'Kites'.  While Kites was probably more Roshan than Basu ( I liked Kites as well though, very commercial yes, but nicely put together), it is difficult to believe that the same man was at the helm of Barfi.

I always feel that the movie speaks a lot about its director. For example, while I have never met Raju Hirani, (and probably never will) I like him as a person. I really really like him as a person. This is because I believe that a work of art speaks volumes about the creator. By that logic, Anurag basu is very very likable.

Barfi is a sensitive, warm, fuzzy film. When you set out to make a movie that depicts romance between a differently abled couple the easiest thing to do is to try and make the audience cry. Basu's brilliance is that he does not want his audience to go there.  He took the more difficult road- and has tried to make you smile. Not laugh ( though i did a couple of times) but mostly you will find yourself smiling, your heart all warm and fuzzy as you watch this movie. In fact it is one of those rare movies that make you smile even before the first shot appears on screen! ( Was not that little ditty super cute?). However, being the tissue wielding fan of Indian cinema that i am, i could not see a movie like Barfi and not shed a few tears. There is this scene in the movie when Barfi is at his death bed and Shruti has come to bid him a good bye. Jhilmil pats Shruti's arm and cheeks to comfort her. There was something about the autistic, touch phobic Jhilmil  comforting a fully abled Shruti that touched me.

ANyway, i digress. Lets go to the beginning and not jump times like Anurag Basu has in the movie.

When the first shot materialised on the screen-the hills of darjeeling- it was nothing spectacular really but it all looked so beautifully put together that every cell the creatively sensitive me was delighted. Ravi Varman, kudos to you for creating a believable 1970s (no, i was not on the planet in 1970 and have never been to either Darjeeling or Calcutta then but i believe you when you tell me how it all looked then).  I breathed a happy sigh and settled in comfortably expecting a lot. 

Thankfully i was not disappointed.

Barfi is a fable, a river, that meanders in a valley and you move with the flow of water taking in the subtle beauty that meets you at every turn.

The actors (lead and supporting) are excellent. Ranbir Kapoor can pat his back, he has truly arrived. While i am a true blue Khan fan but i have to say that Ranbir leaves all the three khans and the Kumars and the Roshans far behind.  He delights with the flick of his ponytail and he charms when leads the local policeman on Chplin-esque chases. He warms the cockles of your heart when he pretends to gobble up Priyanka Chopra's hand made aate ke toys. And does all of this without speaking a word.

(He does speak two lines, one is English and one in Hindi before the movie begins. 'Dhoomrapan karna swasthya ke liye hanikarak hota hai. Isse kark rog ho sakta hai  ie Smoking is injurious to health. Smoking can cause cancer)

Saurabh Shukla who plays the police officer is superlative.

I don't do reviews because sitting on my sofa , the fact that i watch most Indian movies does not give me the right to critique work done by people who have invested time, energy , skill, heart and soul into it. However, nothing is perfect. And the same can be said about Barfi.

The strength and weakness of the movie is the plot.  While the love story, whether Shruti and Barfi's or Jhilmil and barfi's- is a delight, the whodunit that crops out of nowhere was not needed. It confused me but i was very indulgent towards Anurag Basu because the rest of the movie was superb.

Priyanka Chopra excels. I do not know enough about autistic people to comment on how authentic she looked but i believed her. And that is all that i, as a movie goer who has spent x number of pounds for a ticket, really ask of an actor. Jhilmil as she doggedly follows Barfi who wants to get rid of her is endearing to say the least.And what is equally endearing is when Emraan Hashmi and his heroine would have kissed for 20 minutes, Barfi and Jhilmil just stand close, smiling, forehead to forehead.

Ileana, with her impressively large, eye liner rimmed eyes is expressive and confident in what she is doing. The portrays the conflict many of us identify with very well. There is this scene towards the end of the movie when Barfi has come hunting for Jhilmil. Not able to find her he is about to leave when jhilmil materialises behind him and shouts his name repeatedly. Barfi, obviously cannot hear and is walking away dejected but Shruti (Ileana can). Without saying a word he expression tells speaks of her dilemma. She could just continue walking and Barfi would never know. She could stop and Barfi would never be hers. It is a beautifully done scene.

The movie is made intelligently, each shot put together with love, care and attention to detail. There are a couple of scenes that stayed with me long after the movie finished (and that is very rare, given the number of movies i watch). In particular, the one where at first it seems that Ranbir is making a portrait of Illeana made me laugh loudly for a long time, then the way Ranbir topples over and stays like that for some moments when he realises that he has kissed the hottest girl in town was hilarious, frustration written large on ranbir's face when he sees a man leer at Priyanka's bare legs was a classic and finally my favourite moment in the was movie when Rabir meets Jhilmil who has seemingly disappeared. All is hunky dory till Illeana materialises, the way in which Jhilimil comes and stands infront of Ranbir protectively keeping him away from Illeana, who she perceives to be a threat is touching in its own way.

The movie as you can see, stole my heart.

Barfi, in my opinion is a must watch.Watch Barfi if you love a good story, if you enjoy a master story teller weave his web around you, if you want to believe in love. All over again.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paris :)

(written many months ago :)  )

It was going to be a flying visit to the capital city of France. We were to reach Saturday morning and leave Sunday night. When Sid asked me what i wanted to do, my answer was simple.

‘Walk around Paris' I said.

This was my second trip to Paris. I had gone there first about 2 years ago with some great friends. While the company was fantastic, the problem was the weather. It was dark and damp and raining the whole while. Even then I had told sid that I wanted to come back to Paris in better weather and that is what we did.

Highlights of the trip
Let me start with the lowlights :)

• So we were sitting in the Eurostar train as a group of 4 well dressed, fashionable young women came and sat next to us. A little later a potbellied Indian (Asian for sure) uncle walked past with a camera in his hand. He stopped short when he saw the attractive women, pointed the camera towards one of them and said ‘One picture?’. The girl was visibly shocked. ‘No!’ she said. ‘What no?’ he said slyly as he focussed his camera. The girl then hid her face behind her hands as the Uncle jee clicked the picture. As he left I could see the women roll their eyes at each other. I felt acutely embarrassed by his behaviour. And hence this request to all of us who go about of the country- please enjoy yourselves as much as you want to, but also please respect other tourists and women.

• Made my way to the metro ticket counter in Paris when an elderly man pointed to my bag and asked me to keep an eye on it. Apparently some young men were eyeing it. Not a great start, I thought but how wrong was I.

• You can kill me for it but I don’t find the Eiffel tower beautiful. Majestic, yes, but beautiful no. There is very little in it that appeals to my innate sense beauty. Yet as we stood the Trocadero, with the Eiffel in the background, Tibetan musicians playing a haunting melody as the sun set- the hair on my hands stood up- it was just so beautiful. And around me was life. People were milling about. I stared for hours at a couple who were trying to take a picture of themselves kissing the sides of the Eiffel tower ( in the background). Each click would be followed by them hopefully turning around the camera to have look at the picture and then they would burst out laughing. The looked like they were so much in love. I saw this young family with a little daughter. The father hoisted his daughter high above as the child gurgled with laughter and extended her hand. The mother grabbed the photo op and clicker ferociously as the daughter lunged forward for the camera. Twins wearing identical clothes and hopping around…

• We walked for hours and hours and hours (reached Paris at 11 and walked till 4 when we reached our hotel, left again at 7 and walked till12 on day one. Day two we started out at 12 and walked till 7!) and discovered parts of the city we did not even know about. And that truly is the joy of walking the city on foot.

• At eleven in the night we reached the Louvre. I have been inside the museum before and all I wanted to do was to stare at the building at night. And what a sight it was. The warm yellow from inside the pyramid and the understated elegance of the museum building. I highly recommend going there at night!

• We were entertained by skaters who performed stunts for the tourists next to the Cathedral of Notre Dame

• I bought handmade paintings (tiny ones) from an artist in Paris. They are gorgeous and will add to my collection of handmade paintings by street artists from my travels

• Paris and London are a lot like each other. Yet there are massive differences. The biggest one was music. Parisians sing and play instruments so much more than the Londoners do. So there was this group of Moroccans sitting in the gardens below the Eiffel Towers singing in a group seemingly having the time of their lives. The trocedaro- people has gathered in groups are were playing instruments and singing along…

• River Siene that runs through the city is gorgeous. Particularly around central Paris. The day was sunny and the night was warm. As we strolled, we spotted hundereds of people sitting on the banks, their guitars in tow singing, laughing and having a great time. Everyone was relaxed and happy and it was so nice to be there!

• Our hotel was close to the Eiffel Tower but that was not the best part about it (for as you already know I am not a big fan of the Tower). The hotel was bang in the midle of a criss cross of lanes that had beautiful cafes and restaurants all over. I had a great time exploring the streets, eating in the cafes, inhaling the smell of freshly baked bread….amazing!

• Shopping- in Paris you have to shop. Now generally I can flit in and out of shos for hours and hours and not find a single thing. Very rarely, and it does happen once in a while, I just manage to find a whole lot of stuff that I really like. And that, my dear friends happened in Paris. Quick and clean- I had bought about 6 dresses in one hour flat. Obviously one of the highlights of the my trip

In love with Paris!


Thursday, August 02, 2012

Down the memory lane

I tried very hard today to think of the earliest memory I have of my brother but nothing came to me. I thought harder but still nothing...there were blurry, long forgotten scenes from our childhood that flashed before my eyes but I dismissed every one of them. I was thinking these thoughts when it hit me.

I do not know or recognise life without my brother. He has always been there and i mean it literally.I was all of a year and a day old when he came into the world making me, at the tender age of one, an elder child.

One of the most distinct memories i have is of us sitting on the verandah overlooking the huge, lush, green garden and chatting. We must have been 5-6 or maybe younger, i don't know..

I stared at him playing with something in his hand and asked him ' What do you think of when you are not doing anything?' ( Yes, I used to ask such questions)
'Nothing' he said shrugging his shoulders.
I remember being blown away by that answer as in my head a mishmash of thoughts and ideas are perpetually running amuck. To imagine a mind that thought of nothing was so amazing. And so simple. And so relaxing...

We looked a LOT like each other when we were young (yes, things changed when he grew a moustache and beard, thank God for that!). So much so that a lot of friends at my all girls school often asked me about my twin. I have to add, that though we look like each other and share the same gene pool, it is amazing how similar you can be and yet how much better looking one can be compared to the other. He wins the 'Better looking sibling' crown hands down!

Ma tells me how she used to call me 'didi' so that Bhai would learn to call me that. Of course what then happened was that the little me began to think that my name was 'Didi' but more on that later sometime :) What also happened was that all his friends call me 'Didi' which was really funny because some of them were actually older to me!

We would sit in the clothes cupboard, he would be the shopkeeper and i would be the customer. We would take our cycles out and race as the monsoons lashed around us. We spent hours playing with the white gate (yes, don't ask me what joy we got out of standing on the gate and sashaying on it) I picked peas out of his rice pulao and he dropped me to my school before he went to his own when he got his bike. He tried to teach me to ride a bike once which was nothing short of a disaster...soon cycles and bikes gave way to cars and we would drive around the city catching up over hurriedly bought ice cream. He devours everything i cook and he is the only person i get to boss around.

When Ma would not allow me to go for that party, he would work on my case. Being a man, and hence not in the favour of using more words than are absolutely necessary, I have , over the years adopted the role of his PA in our family. When Ma asked him about what is happening in his life, he is reported to have told her to speak to me. (Yes! and this happened last month!)

He is also the funniest man i know. And how can you not love someone who makes you laugh at the drop of a hat?

I on the other hand believe in bawling my head off at suitable occasions.

I bawled my eyes out when he left for med school and was such a pathetic mess each time he was to go back to med school after holidays that i never (and i repeat never) went to the station/ airport to drop him off. At my vidai  I guessed it right, bawling my head off again as i hugged everyone around me one last time before i left. Tears streaming down my red face and barely able to manage my saree,l hugged Bhai. And what did he do? Pretending to pat me comfortingly he smacked me hard on the shoulder.
'Ouch!' i said indignantly to him the tears forgotten.
With that characteristic slow smile on his face he whispered into my ear ' Dharti pe bojh, now go terrorise Sid!'

Though we have had our fair share of wars over the remote control/ computer / cycle etc, compared to other siblings I  know of we never really fight much. Sitting here, i cannot recall the last time we had a fight. I have also realised how well we work as a team. I gave multiple interviews when my first book came out and one of the most common questions was around how the well the book was marketed online. Which agency had i hired, asked a journalist once.
'My brother' i said to him smiling.

Even though he is younger by only a year (and one day), he is and will always be my younger brother. I am ever ready to pounce on anyone who dares say a word against (funnily enough if the same person was to say the same for me, i would not even be bothered). I have never seen him hit a child (even when he was much younger) or speak rudely to an elderly person which is why i repeat what i said about him in the acknowledgement on my book.
He is the nicest, kindest, funniest man I know. And he is my brother.

So today i recited a long winded sentence telling him how i wished and prayed for rosy health, continued happiness and greater success for him this year and forever.He paused for a minute.
'Same to you' he said.

I could not help but smile.
Happy Rakhee, Bhai.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


It was raining and i did not have an umbrella.I had my iphone open in one hand and blackberry in the other as I tried to take an address from my calendar in the blackberry and stick it on the map on my iPhone. I had just realised that i had walked 15 minutes in the opposite direction. I also knew that I was 20 minutes late already. Sid was waiting for me. I would have taken a cab, had i any cash on myself. In short, I was a mess.

That is when i heard him walking on the sidewalk next to me.

'Country? country?' he said looking at me. In his early twenties, he was thin with a little beard on his face.

I made a face at him and pretended to not notice. I walked as fast as my heels permitted.

'Country? country?' he repeated walking faster to keep pace with me as the rains lashed on.

'India' I said.

A moment's silence.

'I can give you my number' he said after a pause.

I mentally LOL-ed.

'And what would i use that for?' i said unable to stop myself.

'You can call me' he said in a matter of fact voice.

I must have still looked questioningly for he felt the need to explain further.

'You can be my friend, you know' he said benignly.

I made a face at him.

'I am a manager' he said ' a big, big manager' he said as if that would definitely make me change my mind.

I looked at him both the phones in my two hands ringing as the rain pelted down.

'I am married' i said to him.

He stared at me for a moment, blinked once or twice and then without a word about turned and walked away.


Monday, July 16, 2012

The problem

The problem is that while we all know that we will die one day,since we do not know when that day will be, we don't think too much about it. This is the present and we think and live in it. Death is but a distant event.

That, I have realized, is the problem.

Because if we were very aware (and by aware I mean really, totally, every-cell-of-my-body aware) that there was only limited time on the planet would not you and I have used 'today' better?



Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Twenty seconds with a legendary batsman

So there I was, late evening , at the Heathrow airport ready to fly to India for a 4 day trip (it royally messes with the body clock , by the way, to travel to india for a 4 day holiday but more on that later) when i saw him.

Busy day at work, followed by frantic packing and then a hurried cab ride to the airport- I was fairly tired and all that i wanted to do was to get on the plane and doze off .(No, as luck would have it, I did not sleep even one bit on the plane)

So, well, there was the man who had just caught my attention. He seemed oddly familiar.

It took me a few seconds to realise that the slight man standing but a few feet from me filling out some form could be the legendary batsman, Mr Sunil Gavaskar. Sid and I walked past him but we were still not sure.

I went back to grab a sandwich and spotted him again. This time i saw a random Asian guy pass by, come back to him and touch his feet. Maybe it was him, after all, i thought.

What i did not want was to do was to gallop happily to a man who was not Mr Gavsakar.

So this is what I did.

I walked back and when face to face with Mr Gavaskar, I in my politest voice, said this to him:

'Excuse me Sir, but do you just happen to look a lot like Mr Gavaskar or are you indeed Mr Gavaskar?'

His eyes grew bigger with mirth as the man standing next to him started smiling as well.

'Well' he said ' You know, I am always being confused with Mr Gavaskar! Always' he said seemingly quite stricken.

By now he was laughing as was the man with him.

I extended my hand towards him ' It is a pleasure meeting you, Sir' i said politely and shook hands with him.

He smiled, nodded his head and walked off.

I then did what any self respecting woman of the 21st century should do at such occasions. I updated Facebook ;)


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Fourteen random things about me

  1. I am a dreamer and am almost always in a dreamland. While walking to the tube station, cooking, cleaning.....I am almost always dreaming. The only time i am not dreaming is when i am writing which is when i am putting to words all that happens in my dreamland
  2. If you and i are walking together you will always be on my right. I cannot , CANNOT  walk/talk with anyone on my left. You might be the President of the US of A but i will have to politely ask you to walk on my right. Yes, I am a freak that way.
  3. People tell me their stories. I think i get that from my Mum because I grew up seeing a lot of people pour out their hearts to her.
  4. My cleaner who is Polish and i work very well together. The main reason is that I dont undertsand a word of Polish and she does not understand a word of English.
  5. A collegaue's two year old son (lovely looking chap with blonde hair and blue eyes) S and I have discovered that we like and enjoy the same things. Dinosaurs, soap bubbles and leaves - S has to fight for his stuff when i am there. Muhahaha.
  6. When having trouble sleeping all i need to do is hug a book to fall asleep in a matter of minutes
  7. I have to speak to Mum each day. Ever since i left home, there has not been a single day when i have not spoken to her. Not a single day and i am not exaggerating
  8. Sid spent half of our recent trip to Paris trying to convince me that a Louis Vuitton bag will be a good purchase and that i should have an LV bag. The only thing i bought was a necklace which has for a pendant a white stupid looking owl. It was bought from a flea market and it cost a total of 5 euros. I have never been happier with any buy.
  9. A British colleague asked me to teach him a line in Hindi. I taught him how to say 'Mera deemag kharab ho raha hai'. We high five each time he says it right.
  10. Watching 'Bade achche lagte hain' and 'Indian Idol' makes me miss India a little less.
  11.  I can now finally make aloo ke paranthes that are not as thick as a slice of bread. I have realised the hard way to never underestimate the aloo.
  12. We are contemplating going for the 4:45 am (yes, am) show of 'The Dark Knight Rises' at iMax. I am not sure why because neither of us is really a big fan.
  13. We are going to meet a few friends today for Teri Meri kahani. Sid always yawns before saying the name of the movie. it is almost like the name of the movie is Yawn Teri Meri Kahani.
  14. I can speak 3 full sentences in French and a spattering of words that can come in quite handy. These are'I am very busy today', 'I love you' and 'I am very good at French'. French people tell me that my accent is very good. *smug smile*
If you blog about 14 random facts about yourself, please leave the link to your post in the comment section. I would love to read!


Monday, June 04, 2012

I am nature's biggest Fan

I can safely say that I am well travelled. When i look back and think of the times I have truly felt alive and by alive i mean really truly completely alive- each cell of my body alive- it has always been when witnessing the beauty of nature. The last I felt like that was when we went to see the Niagara falls. Mystical, magical and magnificent- they captured my imagination like nothing else ever had.  To read the hastily written post on the Niagara falls while i was in New York- please click on the link below : Niagra Falls

Hence, when today, some of our friends thought of trekking along the southern coast of England where they promised me natural scenes of stunning beauty, even though I have been down with some muscle pain, I decided to go.

Side note: For those who think i bunk work and head off to the coast and the cliffs, please note that thanks to the Golden Jubilee of the Queen, we are off work today and tomorrow.

Coming back: Sid and I, along with our friends, boarded the 11:23 from Tower Bridge to Hastings, a borough in East Sussex, on the south east coast of England and started our trek soon after (incorrect really because we were almost an hour late as we were not able to find a toilet but less on that!).

We 'conquered' (yes, it was an uphill battle, pun intended) 3 hills and walked a total of 14 kilometres of incline. It was a fairly tough trek, I must say but the scenes around us were stunning. Sometimes we trekked through the woods, at other occasions we walked along the cliffs and looked down into the sea.

The woods- green and verdant. So full of life. The brown and the green. I would close my eyes and take in the sounds and the smells.

The rolling meadows and hills- dotted with wild flowers. The green of the grass and the yellow/ purple of the flowers. The sheep and the cows. The sun shinning on the grass. The vitality and beauty of the English countryside.

We climbed some pretty steep stairs (about 100 i think) to reach the open meadow below. 

I loved the red/brown in the picture below. Some of up there has a great sense of color.

 The coast and the Sea- As the sun shone and the sea shimmered in different shades of blue I shook my head in disbelief. I turned to Sid and said ' The world is a really beautiful place, Sid. I hope together we can see more of it'. The sea was our companion for most of the trek. In the pic below you can see a low hills we trekked across.

And the pic below is my favourite picture from the day. The many shade of the sea, the shimmer from the Sun is barely visible in the far right of the pic and the wild pink flowers on the top of the cliff. This was breathtakingly beautiful and my fairly poor photography skills do little or no justice.

Look at how the skies seem to kiss the grass in the pic below :):

  And we walked along paths like the one shown below ( i have very few pics of the steep bits and i now realise that that is because i was so busy huffing and puffing my way up!)

The weather was predictable in being unpredictable. So we had clouds, bright sunshine and a quick drizzle in that time. And as everyone huddled under the tree being the bollywood heroine that i am, i insisted on standing in the rain. Sid tried his best to reason with me and asked me to stand with them, but i stoutly refused- i was having too much fun, on top of a hill, the green trees around me the rain falling on me to listen to him. I now think i have fever. Sigh.

The sights around us were stunning and well worth the sore legs i know i will have tomorrow. Occasionally we met other trekkers too. Unlike Londoners, most said their hellos and this was a pleasant surprise and change. The entire trek was dotted with wooden chairs dedicated to people who have lived in the area- with a little sentence about them.

I want be like Mick.

We trekked hard. The pic below is atop another hill with the sea below. It was one of the few times we rested. I sat on the grass and then lay on it for sometime, lost in the beauty of the sea and the cliffs..the grass and the flowers doing their happy dance beside me as the wind blew gently.

I am now back in London and am steadily sinking deeper into the duvet as i type this. My legs are already sore and I am exhausted (very glad that we have a day off tomorrow, i will certainly need more time to rest my legs). But I know one thing for sure. The world is a truly beautiful place. See it :)


PS- Next up: Post on my recent trip to Paris. The post is mostly done, i just need to put in the pics. Keep watching this space!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


There was a time not so long ago, when i firmly believed that old people were all 30 years old.
In a couple of years(yes years!), I will turn thirty and while i agree that age is but a number and with a few years still to go there is no need to panic, i am ..well...panicing.

Yes, i am in panic mode. I don't know when the teens turned into early twenties which turned into mid twenties and lo and behold, before we know it, I am in what can best be described as late-ish twenties ( no, i am not 29 yet!). I have been so so so busy grabbing the degrees, the jobs, the medals, the you-know-whats that i don't know where all the years vanished.

Coming to London, where something called a work life balance actually exists has been an eye opener.

Sometimes, these days I feel an incredible urge to live each moment. To not let any time go to waste. This heady feeling can be triggered by anything- Thames, trees, people...Queen Elizabeth...

Another thing that I have done in the recent past is that i have cut out negative people from my life. I have closed chapters that symbolised people who had agendas, who had insecurities that were plain wrong, who were too complicated for no reason. I realised that i have very little patience and energy for those who do not value their association with me or are...well..simply not very nice people. I don't fight; that way i am very non confrontational but i have learnt to stop investing in such people.

At the same time, I have met some people whose friendship I value deeply.

I also do more yoga.

Surya Namaskaras are turning out to be my latest crush. (ANd yes, this is turning out to be a totally random post too!) I love the way, each muscle in my ody feels happily stretched after i do a couple of sets of this fantastic exercise :)

I have also recently developed great love for walking. I put on my Uggs or my pumps and set out. i prefer to walk (rather than take the bus/tube) whenever i can. it is generally overcast, it is safe , men are not leering at the hemline of your skirt, roads are clean, cars stop when you cross the road- in short it is a joy to explore the city on foot. The cobbled streets, the pubs, the sounds of music, laughter....

And I have some travelling to look forward to again! Yay!
The next weekend will be spent in Paris and end of the first week in June will see us in Spain. Looking forward to both trips and hope to update my blog this time with stories of my travels soon :)

Till then, be good :)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Why dont we speak in Hindi?

Year 2011, train from Nice to Antibe, France.
As the train sped along the Mediterranean Sea and i watched the blue of the water with amazement, two women walked in to sit next to me. Obviously French, the women chatted non stop. Not a word was spoken in English, just quick paced French that i could make nothing of. That memory has stayed with me.....i think mainly because it was a very happy day. The sea does something to me, and speeding in a train towards it i could feel that excitement mount inside me...

Year 2011, Lucknow Railways Station.
As i stepped inside the railway carriage having just bid a tearful adieu to my parents, lips quivering and ready to burst into tears any time now ( I cry and bawl my head off like a two year old each time I leave my parents. Yes, even now. Stop rolling your eyes!) I saw two women who seemed to be friends occupy the birth opposite to me. They chatted the whole night. Very little of the conversation was in Hindi. The few words they spoke in Hindi made it very clear to me that they were fluent in Hindi but chose to converse only in English. That memory has also stayed with me, because i noted that the women did not converse in Hindi at all.

These are not isolated incidents. When i travel outside of UK, particularly in Europe, I see people embracing their own language. They speak and write in their language and are proud to use it as much as is possible.
In India however, it is the in thing to speak in English. It is almost as if conversing in English labels you as someone who is high class maybe, sophisticated....i don't know. I know I was probably part of this while I was living in India, but being outside has given me perspective and appreciation of our culture. And hence this post.

I have also seen how proud other nationalities are of their culture and with our culture being so much richer than most others it is a shame that we do not become champions of it.

More aware of this, when i travel to India now, i make it a point to speak in Hindi as much as possible. So what then  sometimes happens is a conversation in two languages. I speak in Hindi and the person in front of me replies in English.

I wish that would change. While i do not think I that i would do justice to writing a book in Hindia, maybe when i go back to India next, i will pick up a book written in Hindi.

It is time to give my language more credit :) 

Monday, April 09, 2012

How TIB got its publisher

I know finding the right publisher is a big challenge. The biggest one, i would say. And the most important. Remember, if someone asks you for money to print your book, it is vanity publishing which is really best avoided. A good book should be able to find a publisher who has faith in it and is ready to put in the money required.

This is the story of how TIB got published.
When I finished putting together TIB which was then titled 'Happily Ever After',the next issue that cropped up was to find a suitable publisher.

Sitting half way across the world, in London, hunting for publishers who are nototriously absent online was always going to be difficult. There were a couple of documents i had prepared. First was a bio sketch- almost like a CV but more about how you would come across as an author.  The second things was a synopsis. I will probably write a small post about what i think the ideal synopsis should look like, but that will come later someday. For the time being, just google for it :)

And the third thing was a cover letter. It had to be catchy, it had to be something that would stand out in the pile of emails most publishers get. I must say my writing skills were already being tested.

I also googled a lot of authors who had books in the genre I was going to write in and sent them emails asking for help and advice. Unfortunatley, not a single person replied. Yes, not one. Which is why, I am doing all this- leaving bits of my experience for would be authors to get some help from.

Once the three documents were ready, I started firing off emails to every address i could find online. It was a tedious task and the wait was difficult, very difficult. I had heard and read of horror stories so i really did not know what to expect.

I actually recall that day very clearly. I was in Lucknow and Sid and Bhai were sitting with me talking about something. Bhai was showing Sid a magazine, Forbes India. One of the articles that that magazine carried was called 'Rupa, the paper Tiger'.

'Have you emailed your MS to Rupa?' Sid asked me. By that time I was already in conversation with a much smaller publisher.

I had not emailed my MS to Rupa not sure why they would be interested in a newbie like me but Sid asked me the question expecting me to say yes. Maybe i should have, i thought to myself. And here is the biggets bit of advice i would like to give to anyone who wants to publish his/her book- have faith in what you have written. The amount of confidence you have in it will probably determine its fate.

'Errr...i....i think i did...should have...' i fuimbled.

'Why dont you email right away?' said Sid. I had the laptop with me, I picked out an email i had sent to another publisher and simply forwarded it to Rupa with the author bio and synopsis.

We left Lucknow that day for London, and on reaching London , as the cab pulled out of Heathrow Airport, I flicked open my Iphone. There was a reply from Rupa. They would like to read the whole manuscript.

The whole way back home it was all i could think of.

In the next couple of days, i proof read TIB and emailed it to Bhai who printed it and posted the manuscript to the publishers.

And in the next 10-15 days, that fine morning, groggy and still half asleep, i yet againg flicked open my iphone to see another email from the publisher.

They were happy to sign me on, said the email, could i read the contract and if all was okay, sign it? the email said.

Sitting on my bed, in payjamas that had elephants made on it I remember i stared at my phone. A publisher was ready to publish my book. That was unbelievable.

At the moment Sid walked in.
'They said Yes!!!' i screamed.

I did not need to explain what 'they said yes' meant. He knew :)


PS in the dedication the first line reads ' For Sid, who read about the Tiger', now you know what that means and refers to ;-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

For those who want to write a book

I get a lot of emails from people who aske me for tips. The questions are the same almost always, so i thought i will put my experiences here. So for the first time, here we go:

Be patient.
You need to be patient.. You will take months to write the novel, months to get the right publisher and months to get it into the market.Okay it might not be as bad but nevertheless you need bucket fulls of patience.

Be ready for criticism
TIB has been on the best seller list of the most reputed newspaper in the country for the last 7 months. It is really unbelievable. And all i can say is that I am very grateful for that. However all things are not as rosy.

They cant be.

You might have put in your all in your book but there will be people who will trash it completely. But then you cannot please everyone,so you will have to tell yourself that it is okay. Develop a thick skin. When TIB came out, all i heard were great reviews so much so that it was unbelievable. But ofcourse, there will be bad ones too and when those came in i was so very very dejected. I told my husband that i will never write another book. Ever. But ofcourse, those were just meaningless tantrums that Sid had to put up with. Now if i read a bad review, I look at it very objectively. See, if i can take away anything from it and move on. I am also very grateful to the readers who come back with positive reviews, as they really make my day even now.

Know who you are wiritng for.
I know that i write for one person. That one person is typing this. :)

Develop your own style of writing.
I know of people who have the entire story etched out in their heads even before they start writing the first word. For them writing a book involves a lot of planning. I know of authors who use excel sheets!

My work involves a lot of planning, if i were to plan a book too, i would probably never write it! Infact that has already happened to me. About 3 months back, done with about 40 pages of book 2, I sat down one day to set the story in cement. I spent the next week meticuoulsy figuring out the plot and all the sub plots. And never wrote the story! The 40 pages still reisde in some folder on some laptop and will probably never see the light of the day.

I like the magic of weaving the story as i write it. I enjoy not knowing the plot. I dont think i can ever write a book knowing fully well what the detailed plot is all about...however, I am essentially a dreamer and this is my style. You need to find out yours and stick with it, no matter what other people tell you.

Develop a network of people who will have faith in you and will stand by you.
This is more difficult than it sounds. Trust me. Friends People will walk away, friends will stay. :) Treasure them.

Read as much as you can. I have spent atleast 1/4th or maybe even 1/2 of my life with books. More often than not, i cannot sleep without reading. When i travel, my hand bag always has a book. Only when you enjoy being with books, can you write a book.

Get some one to proof read your book.
I have two people roped in to proof read my next whenever that is ready. I am very very glad that they are people whose judgemnet (and command over english grammar) I trust.

Always save the word doc!
And make sure you save in the right format. Keep emailing updated bits to your own email ID. Really, trust me on this one. A few weeks back, i lost about 9k words. I am still reeling.

Finally, the last bit of advice is to not listen to any advice.
No, not even mine. there is no formula. Trust me on that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Magazines Galore

So while my book came out in September, and it has now been a good 7 months, the media coverage still continues and I am very grateful to everyone who has given me the opportunity and invested time and energy into my book and me.

Sometimes when i read about myself on websites, in magazines, in newspapers I wonder if it is really me. Sitting, half way across the world ensures I am a little distanced from it all. That is good and bad. Here in London, I do not even speak much about it.

I get a lot of comments from friends who say things like ' Oh, now you are a celeb!'. I laugh it off and happily tell them how i have just done the dishes or the washing or the cooking (or probably all three).

A lot of people also tell me that i should be proud of myself. I should be proud that I have a book. I agree with them, but i really do not feel any such thing. What i do feel nice about it the fact that I am able to manage so many things at the same time. A full time job, a book out in the markets, another being written, a home to take care of, friends, family.....but in all fairness, while i do work very hard, all this is not possible unless you have help and support. Since the only family i have here in London, is my husband, Sid, a lot of credit goes to him too. Mum, Dad and Bhai back in India are indispensable. They listen to me patiently as i tell them the plot, nod their heads sagely when i discuss strategies with them, push me hard to do things the way they should be done and listen to me when I am exhausted and just need to crib it all out of my system.

Of late a couple of things have appeared in leading magazines.  Doing the interviews or the stories - its has all been so much fun! I am so glad for these opportunities!

In the last 2-3 months the following have been published:
Interview in Good House Keeping Magazine.
Yes! I am so excited about this!
We started work on this, I think, in December, and it was such a lovely experience! The interview was done by a school friend of mine whom I had not spoken in like 10 years! It was just so lovely to catch up with her. The interview is very well written and put together.

You can buy the March edition of Good Housekeeping and read it there.  Otherwise here is the attached pdf.

Interview in the Air India inflight magazine
I have received so so many emails and calls about this one!

Apparently a lot of us travel by Air India and a surprisingly high number of us read the inflight magazines! Also I think the half page close up shot of yours truly and pink flowers did help ;) It was one of the easiest interviews I have done and I had a lot of fun working on this one. I sent a note to the lady who interviewed me thanking her for her help and enthusiasm. Really, it can be such a pleasure to work with someone who enjoys and loves her work!
For those that asked, the picture was clicked on my second wedding anniversary with flowers gifted to me by Sid.

This picture was posted on my FB page by a friend who was pleasantly surprised to my interview in in flight magazine!

Three part story in Femina.
I write in long haul flights. I just love it then. I wrap myself warm and cozy, request the air hostess for a juice, set up my laptop, plug in some music and as the lights are dimmed and people around me fall asleep, i lose myself in words.

It all started because i find it very difficult to sleep in flights. I keep getting up with a start so much that I simply don't even try to sleep now. And i hate wasting time. So the perfect solution then was to just open your laptop and start typing. 8 hours of interrupted time and voila! you have a story!

I started penning down this story when travelling from Delhi to London in November. It was a difficult story to pen as this is mature story. Plus, I had the constraints of the number of words. As the author of a book, i generally have the luxury of using up to 70,000 words...limiting myself to 2000 was not an easy task.  But I thoroughly enjoyed doing this!

Overall, it is an honour to be given space in the leading women’s magazine in India and I am very grateful for the opportunity. Here are pdf shots of the three part story.

Part I

The copies attached here and not great to read and I apologise for that. I am travelling to India soon and will try and get more readable versions :)

Till then,
Take care.


Saturday, February 25, 2012

Wink Wink

So this happened yesterday.

It was Friday morning and I was on my way to work. Work has, of late been very demanding. I had a lot of work pending and was feeling very stressed as I started the long day ahead.

I generally have to take the tube to work but I was running late and needed to be on a conference call so i hopped on the bus to work.

So there i was, sitting sullen in the bus, not at all looking forward to the day that stretched unending in front of me. The bus trudged along slowly manouvering London's weekday 8 am traffic. I was lost in thought. Stressed and unhappy.

Sitting in the bus, I suddenly caught the eye of a young and might I add a very good looking, handsome man sitting in a on coming Mercedes. The traffic was slow and the two of us stared at each for a few seconds.

And then he gestured.

He used his hands to pull the sides of his lips downwards in an inverted 'U'. A sad face. Then he jiggled his hands to say that that is not good. He then smiled widely. A happy face. Then he gestured that that is really good.
As meaning dawned on me, unkown to me, i was alreay smiling.

He smiled.

And winked.

My bus and his car moved on leaving me smiling. :)

Sometimes little gestures mean so much. We are always looking for a validation of our existence. To be acknowledged, to be made to feel important in even a small insignificant way. Thank you, Stranger in the Mercedes. You made my day.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I am surrounded with people making decisions that will potentially change their lives. I know most of us are deciding something or the other every moment but this is different.

So of late, I find myself discussing Decision A with person A, then discussing decision 2 with person B and Decision C with person C and so on....they are all big decisions and a lot rides on them...

These people I refer to are worried and tense and that is making me feel the same too.... I wish they all decide what they need to decide quickly and more importantly, make the correct decisions.

All three decisions, however boil down to a simple choice. The heart versus the mind. The heart wills one and the mind dictates the other. What choice the three people will go with depends largely on the type of person they are..

And yes, this is birthday week! A year older and hopefully a year wiser :)


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Bhag, Bhag!

London has taught me to love running. And it is a lesson I wish to not forget because I absolutely LOVE it!

When I came to London first, and was job hunting, I used spend the major part of my days sitting in the lobby by the window over looking the Thames. I would sit there with my lap top and spend many not so happy hours looking for the elusive job in recession hit London (and also writing TIB! Only then I did not know that i was penning down something that would one day get published). I loved sitting there. Someone or the other was always running and since i was alone at home most of the time, it was the only way i could see people around me.

I would observe the runners closely and wonder why anyone would want to  wear shorts and run in the snow in sub zero temperatures. It perplexed me and I did not quite get it.

Two years later, I can now safely say that I absolutely adore running.

I was never the athletic sorts while in India (and am not now either), and I was as surprised as anyone else, as I slowly started running. Before I knew it, I was in love with it.

I now try and run at least twice a week and love every bit of it.

For the most part, I run along the Thames up to Tower Bridge (the gorgeous, super gorgeous bridge) which is a known landmark of this remarkable city.

 Source: google

Running for me is me time. I run till I can run no further, do some stretches, if the sun is out- absorb the warmth, breathe in deep, think positive thoughts and come back fully refreshed. I go out for a run when I am stressed, when  I need to think something through and when I am feeling low. For me it is the cure for all ills :)

Today, we went to Hyde Park for a run. It was supposed to be sunny but, well apparently bbc is not too reliable when it comes to weather ;)

So there we were running as the rain lashed against our faces and the winds howled loud in our ears. But I absolutely totally and entirely loved it. I love to feel the wind in my hair, I love the all in compassing feeling of liberation, of being able to break free- it is just so exhilarating.

The picture you see below is interesting :P.

The dog owner, having put on special gloves is hunting for dog poop ( you can see the dog too)She spent so much time hunting for it that Sid and I doubled up laughing. Finally, the poor lady managed to find it and happily deposited it in the bin before sauntering off with her dog and child. This is one thing I like about the Brits. They follow rules even when no one is watching. The follow rules simply because they should be followed.

The bare trees and the lovely benches. Pic clicked while running,  not bad eh?

 Hyde Park smells heavenly in bits. Like this place where you can see purple Flowers (don't know which ones these are, unfortunately).

Pigeons and ducks in the Serpentine, my second most favourite part of Hyde Park. This is when it had just started drizzling
And finally a picture of yours truly. I had finished my run and was just staring at the green of the trees and the brown of the trunks and barrenness of the branches when Sid clicked this.

I am not sure that I believe in New Year resolutions but at the start of this year, I promised myself that I will try and run more. I love it, I enjoy it and i recommend it. Now, get off the couch and do some exercise! :D


PS: TIB continues to be on 'The Hindu's' Bestseller list even 4 months after its release. Those of you who have not bought a copy yet, here is the link:)