{O} An ode to an ordinary life

“Buy this dress!” “Go on this holiday!” “Look at this shiny new gadget that will change your life!

Buy these things, the advertisements tell us, and you’ll be breaking out of the ordinary.

But, what’s so bad with ordinary anyway?

Look behind those screaming advertisements. There’s a case to be made for an ordinary life. A life filled with love, laughter, companionship. A life where you have the time and energy to be present with your loved ones. Where people matter more than material objects. It’s a life filled with contentment, love, play, friends, family.Continue reading

{M} The non-manifesto manifesto

I was introduced to the concept of a personal mission statement at a corporate training years ago. At the time, I tried really hard to come up with a mission statement for my life. I failed.

Over the years, I’ve given it a try a couple of times. I’ve always failed.

Then I came across some awesome manifestos (like my personal favorite, the Holstein manifesto). While I found some of them inspiring, I never could come up with one that was ME.

This inability to come up with a manifesto for my life has made me feel like a failure of sorts.

It took a very wise man – the husband, in fact – to show (or rather tell) me why I have always failed at it.

The reason is simple. So simple that I feel like a fool for not seeing it for myself. Continue reading

{F} Finding Nemo: 4 tips to help you find yourself

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle

Growing up, I was a rather reflective, introspective kinda gal.  I used to spend long hours curled up under the window with some music in the background, letting my mind wander…or writing in my journal…or just day dreaming idly.

Then, life happened. Thrust into the work place with all its associated pressures, adjusting to a life away from home, marriage, changing states, adjusting to new cultures…all of it took a toll, and that introspective girl got lost along the way.

As things settled down I took a moment to look at my life and realized I love it and am grateful for it. But at the same time, I realized that I’ve been running for so long that I’ve lost touch with … me. And so I set off on a quest to find myself. As I worked through it I gathered a lot of tools to self-discovery along the way.Continue reading

{C} You have the power to choose

“If you choose to not deal with an issue, then you give up your right of control over the issue and it will select the path of least resistance.”
Susan Del Gatto

Choices – we are confronted with them on a daily basis. We can choose how we spend our day, how we react to situations around us, how we spend our free time. The easiest path may be the path of least resistance. Just do what’s easiest and ignore the hard tasks. Sometimes we choose to stay numb, to shut out the thoughts and emotions that we fear, to not examine our life or relationships.

But that’s a powerless attitude – and you are not powerless! You have the power to choose to move forward, to come unstuck.Continue reading

The Kindness Revolution

Have you ever stopped and noticed the amount of negativity we are surrounded by? It’s in the media, movies, television…sometimes it comes from our family and friends…and of course, there’s all the negative self-talk in our heads. It’s crazy and chaotic, it tells you that what you have is not enough, that you need to try just a little harder, work a little bit longer, look better than your best…run, run, run….harder, faster, more!

Continue reading

Forget bucket lists, try a before I die list instead

Death. It’s inevitable. But still, it’s the one topic no one wants to talk about. When we hear of tragedy, we are thankful that it didn’t happen to us. We spend a major portion of our lives convinced about our own immortality. And still, death strikes. And when it strikes close to home, it forces us to look at death head-on.

So why is death such a scary monster? Is it because we are scared of leaving those we love behind, or because we don’t know exactly how long we have left on earth? Or is it because it’s the great unknown – after all, no one’s returned from the dead (and here I’m discounting near-death experiences) to tell us exactly what happens next. Or could it be because we still have so much more that we want to do…things that we’ve been putting off for a “later” that never comes?

Maybe that explains the popularity of bucket lists. But if you’re like me and want to do so many damn things that you know one lifetime would never be enough to do them, and that leaves you paralyzed wondering where to start, this TED Talk by Candy Chang may show you the path.Continue reading

Year-end Wrap-Up: Top 10 lessons I learnt in 2012

Image courtesy: Jamie Oliver

1. I enjoy cooking! Not everyday cooking, but trying out new, interesting recipes that make people’s jaw drop in awe. 😉 This was a year when I tried some great new dishes, and  all of them turned out really well. So well, in fact, that it can serve as an alternate career! From yummy pastas to baked fish and roast chicken, I served it all on the table with elan.

2. I’ve got no head for finances, or rather, for tracking investments. I’ve let things slide too long, though. Next year, I’m going to work on changing that for sure.Continue reading

An Ode to the Forgotten Art of Letter Writing

When was the last time you wrote a letter? Or received one?

I received two in the span of two weeks. The first was from @raghavmodi along with a book that I won at the end of The Sunday Book Club Twitter chat. (More details on the chat to come soon, so watch this space for more!) The second was from Random House India, with a really cute jute bag they sent me.

An ode to the forgotten art of letter writingAnd both times, I felt an irrational urge to sit down with paper and pen and write a letter back. But in this digital age, when I’m connected with everyone “real time” through email, What’s App, Facebook and Twitter, there’s no real need to write anymore.

Lost are the joys of receiving letters…of watching out for the mailman to drop the mail off…of sitting down with a pen poised over a blank sheet of paper, gathering my thoughts before I begin to draft a response. Now things are immediate. As soon as something of note happens, my sister in New York knows about it through What’s App, my parents in Pune are given all the details breathlessly over the phone or via SMS, and friends get updates through Facebook and Twitter.

In a few years more, letter writing may indeed be a lost art. And wouldn’t that be a shame?

But there are some noteworthy initiatives out there. Like the Daily Rumpus’ Letters in the Mail, through which subscribers get letters from famous people three to four times a month for a fee. Some of the letters were typed, others handwritten. Some include illustrations, all were signed. They are then photo-copied and sent to subscribers.

The real nostalgia that I feel is for actual letter exchanges. The ones where you can see where the writer hesitated, where they crossed out an unformed thought, where their pen ran out of ink, or leaked out and blotted the paper. Spots where tears were shed or water was spilled. Little flourishes like a quick sketch or a trellis decorating the margins.

In my nostalgia, I sat down and went through the letters I exchanged with my boyfriend (now the husband) when we were dating. I was in Mumbai he was in Delhi and those letters were our primary way of keeping in touch – along with phone calls and emails – but the letters were still diligently written. Each one was sent with something – a pressed flower, a card, small mementos such as key chains and once even a box of potpourri.

Then there were the letters I used to write to my father, a Chief Engineer in the merchant navy. Little girl’s letters, young teen’s letters, young adult’s letters, until finally these were also replaced by emails.

Then there were pen pals. People I met on my travels abroad who were fascinated with the little girl from India. A few letters were exchanged. Some friendships were forged and then forgotten in the sands of time and due to the faulty Indian postal system.

But now I can’t remember the last time I wrote a letter or received one. Until I got these two notes after a gap of years and years and years.

What about you – do you still write and receive letters? Or do you, like me, sometimes feel nostalgic for old fashioned, hand written letters?

I wish someone told me…

I wish someone told me…
That the sun and moon wouldn’t really rise with his smile
That life isn’t really a dream that you dream with the one you love
That just believing I could wouldn’t help me to fly
That a hero doesn’t always lie in me, there is a coward lurking in there too…

This post is dedicated to those incurable romantics, who believe the songs and the movies and the books…who believe that what is sung and shown and written is literal…and are heartbroken when they realize that it isn’t.

Come on! How can you think that love would be so all-consuming that it would seem like a utopian dream from which you’d never wake up, or that just a smile from the person you love would light up your life, never mind their words and their actions? If it really was like that, life would be so exhausting! You wouldn’t be able to get anything done, because you’d just be melting into the other person. Not to mention that you would lose your identity – lose YOU. And seriously, that isn’t healthy. A relationship requires hard work. There are nasty fights and heartbreaks along the way. If you’re going to breakdown at the first sign of disagreement you’re going to be a mess!

Replace that narrative with this empowering thought:

Couples that are meant to be together

Can you really be so naive as to believe that just thinking is going to attract what you want into your life? Really now! The Secret may be great and all, but it’s very simplistic. Thoughts turn into things, sure, but it’s not magic. A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes. You cannot just think yourself into a new job, for instance. You need to create or update your CV, send it out to multiple people, attend interviews, and only then might you find yourself with a job. And given the economy in most parts of the world, that isn’t even guaranteed! What thoughts do is help you focus on what you want, and give you the necessary inspiration to put in the hard work required to “attract” it into your life.

Replace that narrative with this empowering piece of advice, given to me by my teacher at school:

Luck is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration

Do you believe that you will eventually find the hero within you? That you can always rise to every challenge thrown at you? That you can face anything and everything that comes your way? Listen to the lyrics carefully – all of them. To those lovely lyrics, I’d like to add this: It takes a great deal of courage… and before you can find the hero within you, you have to confront the coward lurking in you. Your fears and anxieties. You need to calm that coward down and reason with it. At times, you just have to downright ignore it. That is hard. Very hard. To listen to the fears and insecurities and go ahead anyway. Not everyone can do it all of the time and in all circumstances. And that’s OK, too. Instead, learn your limitations. Work on what you can, accept what you cannot, and take your decisions accordingly.

Replace the thought of always wanting to be the hero and beating yourself up when you aren’t with this little gem:

I'm strong becauseI've been weak

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

The prompt brought to mind my role as agony aunt with a friend who believes everything you tell her – literally – including these things I’ve listed above! If this helps you or someone you know, if you agree with the thoughts I’ve shared here, please feel free to share this post with your friends.

Now, it’s your turn. What do you wish someone had told you?

Summer, oh, how I hate you summer!

I hate despise detest hate really really hate don’t like summer – never have, never will. At least as long as I live in Delhi and have to endure 45 degrees of heat with gusts of hot wind thrown in for free.

But as much as I may hate summer, there are barely any a few moments I’d can stand like to revisit.

Like a friend’s impulsive decision to gift herself a puppy on her birthday, which falls in April, right at the beginning of summer, before the fear of being roasted alive in the heat becomes a reality. That impulsive decision led to an impromptu lunch plan that allowed me to meet her adorable golden retriever as a pup before he became big and huge and all dog-ey. I’m not a huge dog fan, as I suppose you can guess. Pups though, I love.

golden_retreiver_puppy

As the mercury rose and it became impossible to even stick my hand out on the balcony (don’t ask me why I would want to that, I’m sure I won’t have an answer!), I spent all my weekends laid up in bed or curled up on the sofa with the air conditioning on, reading like there was an imminent ban on books. I must have read about 25 books between April and July, and then I wonder how come I have nothing to blog about except book reviews and, let’s see, even more book reviews!

summer_reading

The other thing I really like about summer is ice cream. There’s nothing like a large scoop of the delectably creamy, cold, sweet, flavorful stuff to cool you from the inside-out on a hot, sticky summer night.

And when the heat became too much to bear, this year, I switched loyalties to roasted corn on the cob. Why, you ask? Because a friend told me that she was eating one every day hoping to please the Rain Gods. What’s the connection? Damned if I know! If eating an ice cream everyday would make it rain, I’d do that too, and to hell with my waist line!
(Note: it doesn’t work – monsoon didn’t start in earnest until last week, and we’ve been stuffing our faces with corn since about a month.)
roasted_corn_on_the_cob (bhutta)

When all else fails, I just hightail it out of Delhi. Last year, I took off to New York, and I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with this vibrant, energetic, crazy city.

central_park_new_york

This year…

I evidently went nowhere. Which is what leads to a totally snarky, bitchy blog post.

Enough said!

Linking up, yet again, with:

Mama’s Losin’ It