On New Year Resolutions

Photo by camera_trails

I have thought long and hard about this. I analysed the promises I made to myself last year and did not keep. I also analysed the ones I was able to make good progress on.

As a result, this year, I decided to keep it simple. I made three categories in my life that I wanted to either see a change or growth in. Here are my main goals for this year:

1. Career: take one huge risk in my career. I am okay to fail just as long as I dared to dream. In my life so far, my career is something that has happened to me rather than something I actively went out to seek. As a result, even though I am in a very fast growing career and doing well in it, I can never tell if this is something I actually want to do for the rest of my life. So, there is a risk waiting to be taken

2. Arts: Master Gouache as a medium and get comfortable with painting realistic looking portraits. I have had no formal training in arts and hard as it is to admit, I am just not as good at executing my creative ideas as someone who has had a proper training. As a result a LOT of my ideas remain un-executed. However, I have also come to realise there is no dearth of resources out there. And I really cannot use the lack of professional training as a crutch anymore

3. Environment: Reduce 2 things – number of Uber/Auto rides I take and number of clothes I buy. There are at least thousand other things that I want to do. But we have to start somewhere and this is where I am taking my stand for this year.

I hope to make progress in each of these goals every month, I will keep this blog posted with the progress I have made each month.

What resolutions have been haunting you this year? Let me know in the comments!

Letter to my BFF on her wedding day

Illustration by thepreetidas

Dear S & I,

Congratulations on your wedding!

After this much sought after and very hard  earned achievement, you must take out some time to relax and really enjoy it. Visit us in Bangalore if you need a break 🙂

After being married for nearly 5 days, we feel qualified enough to give you guys marriage advice. Our advice is this – smile and nod, do all your poojas and be glad that you won’t have to do it again!

On a serious note, I really love how you guys bring out best in each other and use humour to navigate difficult situations. We (R&P) have never had to struggle to keep our relationship, but should a situation arise I hope we show same strength and determination as you guys! You faith in each other is the stuff love stories are made of.

I really missed out  on being there to witness your relationship begin. I hope to be there to see you guys really grow into a family!

Here is wishing you a life time of love and happiness. Take good care of each other. Laugh often, for – “a day couldn’t possibly be a waste if you have made each other laugh”. Don’t laugh at each other because as R has to constantly reminds me that’s not nice.

Lots of love,
P & R

Is being polite making me fat?

Throwback to nearly 10 years ago when I joined college. I was living, for the first time ever, in a hostel. This however, was no ordinary hostel. This was not a hostel where you could chill, drink with your buddies and chat all night long. It was not a hostel where you could spend all your time studying either – there were certain activities from 7-8 pm that you compulsorily had to attend. This was not even the hostel where you could call up your family in case you got home-sick. Phones were not allowed. This was a very strict hostel and rules were there to be followed.

One of the rules, as I discovered on my very first day when I was made to eat two spoonfuls of poisonously sweet jams, was that you simply could not waste food. The rule in itself was not bad. It actually made a lot of sense. Lots of kids were likely to take a lot of food and after discovering that it was inedible (as it always was) waste it. It was of course a better habit to take less and later if you discovered you wanted to eat more, get a second helping.

This rule actually did a lot more for me that it seemed on the surface initially. The habit repeated over the course of 4 years became a lifelong one. To this day I cannot leave any food on my plate without feeling excessively guilty about. I feel guilty irrespective of the fact that the food was uncooked, expired or that I am too full to eat. And so, I eat until my plate is clean. This habit combined with my politeness, I now realise has got me into a lot of trouble.

When I go to anyone’s home and they offer me a second helping of anything, I say no. Then they insist and to be polite I accept. After having accepted, do I polish the food off my plate? You bet. Does this prompt them to offer me another helping? You bet. You see where this is going?

When I go to a restaurant and order something new, do you think I finish it even though it is the worst thing I have ever eaten? When the portion sizes are too big, do you think there is anything leftover on my plate? You see where this is going?

When I go to Starbucks and order almond milk coffee and they instead get me too sugary regular milk coffee, do you think I finish it?You see where this is going?

To top everything off, do you know exactly when my weight gain problem began? Shockingly, in college.

So, these days I am trying to eat better. I do my best to not get into situations where I have to eat things I don’t want to. I leave food on my plate (and feel guilty about it). I eat at home most of the time and I take smaller portions. If I order a cup of tea and it is bad, I do not drink it.

And while I am doing all of these, I realise that all my friends who do not struggle with weight gain problem have been doing this for ages. They say no to servings when they are full or if it is something they don’t like. They constantly leave food on their plates and drinks in their glasses. All this time, I thought it made them rude but when in reality it was just keeping them thin!

PS: I know politeness is not the leading cause of my weight gain problems, but it is a persistent one.

The Magic of Midnight Pyjamas

Illustrated by Thepreetidas

There is something to be said about a guy who calls you up late at night and says – ‘Come downstairs, let’s go for some ice-cream’. To me, this has always been one of the most romantic things anyone can ever do.

I had always felt that this was the best possible way anyone could express their love for me. It is a very sweet, a very ‘come be my best friend’ kind of gesture. It says so many things:

‘I got your back.’

‘I know you well enough to know that this won’t make you mad.’

‘I really like your company.’

‘Isn’t this what best friends do?’

‘Let’s sneak away and chat.’

‘I don’t care how you look, just come.’

I really love these vibes.

So, one day in June this year, when this exact same thing happened to me it really blew my mind and I began wondering if my then boyfriend could possibly and truly be the endgame. Four months later, we are five days away from getting married. It couldn’t have played out better.

While we are on the topic of midnight, can we also talk about the magic of getting out of your house late at night in your pyjamas and just – go out? Especially in a car with a guy you trust? It feels like all the world is in your favour and the city is your home. Another feeling I never experienced before.

I have to say, this midnight pyjama outing made be feel like a cool girl. The kind who just do things without worrying too much about the consequences. It was quite very liberating to feel that way.

Anyway, here is wishing myself some more good luck!

Who are the nicest people on the roads of Bangalore?

By thepreetidas

Auto-rickshaw wallahs!

I know this to be a very unpopular opinion. Had you told me this few months ago, I would have called you naïve and possibly crazy. But then something changed 3 months ago.

3 months ago, I decided to stop waking up early in the mornings.

I was tired of having to get up at 7 am and get ready for office in less than 20 minutes (I can be really efficient when needed). I was done with rushed mornings offering me no time to day-dream.

This decision, however, was quite pricey. You see, I was getting up at 7 so that I could take the office cab at 7:20 am. If I don’t take the office cab, I need to Uber or Ola. Both of which are quite expensive to begin with and consistently get more expensive as peak traffic hours approach. At this point luckily, I discovered that Ola Autos don’t have aggressive peak pricing and the autos are frequently available. This made my life much easier.

So, for the past 3 months, I have taken an auto to work 4 days a week. I have observed many different Auto-wallahs and have been frequently surprised by them and their behavior.

My limited experience with them in the past have not been very pleasant. This is mostly because when you try to hire them on the go (as opposed to book from an app), they quote high prices and you need to negotiate (expertly, which I cannot do) to get a fair deal. Negotiating with them (or anyone) emotionally exhausts me and so I tend to avoid it as much as I can. As a result, I often felt cheated out of my money. Since that is not a problem with app based auto bookings, this time I was able to come out of my self pity party and notice my surroundings.

In due course, I witnessed many of my auto drivers perform several acts of kindness.Two of the most remarkable incidents are occurred as follows.

One morning, on a flyover, my auto-driver stopped by to see if he could help one of the fellow drivers who was looking quite helpless. They had a very short chat, decided on something and both of them got back into their autos. And before I know it my auto-driver was sitting in his own driver seat sticking his left leg out and resting it at the back of the other auto. By doing so he was able to push it using the force from his auto. Quite the ‘Jugaad’, if you will. He drove like that for at least 10 minutes till we reached a repair shop. After which with a gentle wave of their hands both the drivers went off on their own merry ways.

Another morning, during peak hours, we (me and my auto-driver) witnessed a motorbike passenger drop his phone on the road. It was a busy road and there was a very good chance that someone would run over the phone before anyone realizes what happened. Not on my auto-driver’s watch, though. He immediately went into action mode (while driving the auto), he put out his right hand to stop a tractor from running the phone over, stopped next to the phone, leaned out to pick it up and then drove to the point where the bike and it’s riders had stopped after realizing that they dropped the phone. He tried to give the phone to the passenger who had dropped it, but the passenger in his panic, paid him no heed and continued running towards the place where he had dropped the phone. The rider, however, accepted the phone with a relief and a thank you. My auto-driver with a nod and a wave continued on his way to drop me.

I have also seen several of my auto-drivers stop over to help people with directions, help manage traffic situations, help out people who got into minor accidents and scold them for being reckless, go out of their way to ensure change is available for me when I pay them in cash, never say no to my office trips just because they are so far away, be considerate enough to let me know they are taking a detour for gas and many other things.

It is a nice thing to imagine, that every day on the roads of Bangalore there is at least one act of selfless kindness being performed by one of the many Auto-wallahs. Perhaps, we should also learn from them and be kinder to each other on the road especially at times when it is easier to not be.

Flowers, Dear!

Photo by camera_trails

One Saturday afternoon, I was rudely woken up by my mother. To my surprise, there was no emergency to report. Instead, she was smiling the all-knowing smile. She was also carrying a bouquet of flowers. Intrigued by the mystery, I decided to wake up after all.

She didn’t know who the flowers were from and there was no card. There was something that resembled a card, but upon inspection turned out only to be food for the flowers. Fair enough.

I mentally went through the list of people who would send me flowers, only one name came to mind. I was very excited and fairly happy. I decided I would arrange the flowers, send them a photo and say thanks.

This bubble of excitement and happiness lasted only till I remembered signing up for a weekly flowers delivery service a couple of weeks ago. Mystery solved. The flowers were from me. To me.

This, reasonably, made me quite sad, until I realised that I could now spend my entire week looking forward to flowers next Saturday.

Saturday is now my favourite day of the week.

Also, I now wake up early on Saturdays.

Book review: Pyjamas are forgiving by Twinkle Khanna

Pyjamas may be forgiving, but poor plot, truly is not. This was not Twinkle Khanna’s best work. Please do not make this the first book of hers you read. You would walk away with the feeling that she is an average writer, but she is not. She is a good one, just not with this book. I suppose, we should allow for some variance in the quality of writing for all authors.

Overall, the book started somewhat promising, then went the way of Chetan Bhagat (read terribly unoriginal) and then at the end managed to redeem itself – but only just so. The only good thing about this book is the protagonist. I, as a woman, could not fully relate to her, but I was very much aware this was a real woman. She is insecure, full of mistakes and unable to let go of her naivette, irrespective of how many chances fate provides her with (plenty). She is real because I know women like her exist. Also, I have been her at one point in my life (and may still be in the future).

*Spoiler alert*

Except for the brilliant portrayal of the protagonist, there is not much else that is going on for this book. The most annoying thing about the book is the ending, where the protagonist blindly and naively (surprise!) trusts a ‘male’ doctor to be the hero and tell her truth instead of becoming a heroine herself. This is especially disappointing because the whole book has been about her journey towards the realisation that she has been blindly trusting (wrong) men her whole life.

However, I suppose this ending is also inherently true to her character. Perhaps, people can never change, no matter the circumstances or the efforts.

Overall, not a bad book. There are better books from Twinkle Khanna that I would recommend instead of this one. Mrs. Funnybone and Legend of Laxmi Prasad were both much better and should be read if you want to know the author’s true potential as a writer.

Am I secretly happy?

Art by thepreetidas

What does love feel like? I mean outside of poetry, prose, songs and movies? What does an ‘everyday love’ feel like?

How does it feel, really? When you have got everything you ever wished for? When you are no longer heartbroken? When you are not pining after anyone or anything?

How do you get to feel all the feelings when you can no longer relate to sad songs? When you still appreciate a ‘broken hearted’ song but can no longer picture yourself in it?

Is the absence of sadness – happiness? Am I secretly happy? Do you really have to feel all the feelings? Is it possible to have lived a full and happy life when you never (not even once) felt the need to go on your rooftop and shout to the world – “I am happy”?

How can anyone be sure that a happy person who is constantly talking about being happy, is actually happy? Could they be trying to convince others and more importantly, themselves, that they are happy? Are they still happy if they need to be convinced that they are happy?

Is being content same as being happy? Can being content be also a way of not living your life to its full potential? Could it be settling for less? And just how do you know that you have reached your potential and can now simply enjoy its benefits?

Is there ever anything like a peak potential for a person? Can it change from time to time? Could you reach your peak and then stumble on to another peak? Can there be people who overshoot their potential? Are those people happy? Could people overshoot their potential and still be unhappy? Are there people whose potential is not a peak but a decline? Can potential be a valley?

Is there a handbook to life?

Book Review: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

Photo by camera_trails

Every once in a while you come across a book that you never imagined you would be sad to see end – especially when it is fifteen hundred pages long. For perspective, none of the Harry Potters were that long!

Some books are liked because they are situational based, some because the author is the flavour of the season. Then there are books which are simply timeless. This is one such book – fifteen hundred pages of pure joy and discovery!

This was my second time reading it. I last read it nearly five years ago. I wanted to read it again to see if my opinions about which boy was actually ‘suitable’ had changed (spoiler: it had not). However, this reading did make me realise ways in which I have changed – which was surprising and great to know just the same.

The first time I loved it for its characters and the plot. The book slowly walks you into the lives of its characters until they feel like family. The opening scene which is a wedding will now always remind me of my sister’s. There are so many lovable and not so lovable characters, if you wanted a fun game you could try to map them to yourself and the people you know in your lives! 

This time, I love it because it inspired in me an irresistible urge to know more about the history of my country. It spurned me to know more about politics. I can honestly say I am quite out of my depth in these two subjects. It also made me realise that, I now firmly believe, there can be two sides to a story and both can be equally true – though (of course) not always.

I am now beginning to wonder – can I really be the great lover of books that I claim to be when I don’t even know anything about these two topics? Can I truly criticise literature without any understanding of the context (history) and potential defiances/allegiance (politics) that could, in a lot of cases, change the narrative of the story? 

Well, I am just going to have to improve my history and politics knowledge and give this book another go in the next five years.

Also, if this book were to be made into a movie, Varun Dhawan would be such an excellent character to play Maan. I just really had to get that out there on the internet.

I would definitely recommend reading this book if you are in the mood to question your knowledge and competence. I would also recommend it if you are in the mood to experience a slow romance and heartbreak unfold. If you are a history and politics enthusiast – you would love this book despite all the romantic nonsense. If you are up for a challenge, if you want to improve your patience, if you want to brag about a big book you read, if you believe there is no good Indian author in this world (why would anyone think that) – by all means, this is the book for you!

If you read it or have read it, let me know what this book meant to you in the comments below!

8 Fun things about me!

My best photo till date. Taken by a friend.

Hello World,

Before you start wondering about the purpose of existence, here are some fun things about me. I am, on good days, some of the following and on bad days, all of the following:

  • Electrical Engineer who cannot fix your electrical problems, cannnot even fix my own problems!
  • Obnoxiously overwhelmed with prolonged exposure to people. Wait, not obnoxious, just overwhelmed.
  • Do not like being in the kitchen, especially when there are people bossing me about how what I am doing is obviously wrong. Folks, please be telling me something I don’t know!
  • Great starter of things. The only things I ever ended was my career as an electric engineer and others’ appetite by cooking.
  • Jack of many trades, master of none, is better than being master of just one – true story.
  • Not a multitasker, can NOT do two things at once. Eternally jealous of people who can read a book while sipping tea. Also of people who can read in moving vehicles. Teach me your ways!
  • Forever creating and forever deprieved of sleep as my bed is overflowing with art stuff and mind with ideas that can not go anywhere else.
  • Would dearly love to have a friend who can take as good photos of me as I take of my friends – if not better.