- I never ever want to reproduce and bring to this planet a progeny with my family’s genes. There is nothing good that will come out of it.
- I am not obsessed with reproduction because I don’t think am anyone special and hence, don’t expect to give birth to Einstein or a Nobel peace prize winner. At best, he/she will end up being a corporate rat and we can all agree there are too many of those already. I mean, if I could give birth to a dog or dolphin or tiger or something, I would do that. We need more animals over humans on this planet.
- You can know someone for years and years through work and not make a real connection. Till one day, you both end at the same workplace and living in the same building and realise how much you have in common.
- Nothing warms my heart than meeting another woman who does not give a fuck. Very few of those exist.
- “You are not going to desert me in the family WhatsApp group. Remember how all the mistakes I made in my life have made you the person you are today. You owe this to me. Nobody is leaving the family WhatsApp group. Not under my watch (admin)”; the new age emotional blackmail.
- I saw my sister getting bullied and manipulated by family members all her life. She was always softer, nicer and the compassionate one; like all elder siblings. That made me determined to never ever let anyone bully or manipulate me. No matter what. It taught me to put myself first over anyone else. Friends, parents, siblings, hubby, everyone. It protected me from hurt and pain, at home, in relationships and at work. But it has also made me selfish, unapproachable and impatient with bullshit.
- Today was a good day. Good food, good conversations, plans of more conversations, good run, good weather.
- My biggest support system are people I know through work. People who call me to rant on a bad workday. And people I call to rant about my workday. Right connections happen in the right situations. Timing is everything.
- Right now, I don’t regret any decisions I made in the recent past. I don’t think I would turn back time and change a bloody thing. That feeling is everything.
- Good music makes everything better. I should tell myself this everyday.
Tashkent Files is a movie that was tanked by most critics but is still playing in some theatres in its 6th week. Quite an achievement. So when KC suggested we watch the movie in the theatre, I didn’t hesitate. The movie started with the credits and it has been directed and produced by Vivek Agnihotri, a rabid Right Wing Troll on Twitter who is also a filmmaker. Uh oh.
“Maybe, am biased. Maybe, I should watch it with an open mind. After all, Congress and BJP are two sides of the same coin. Ok, ok, that is not right. BJP is vile through and through and there is nothing good or right or positive about it.”
The movie is about India’s 2nd PM, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death in mysterious circumstances. He is supposed to have died of a heart attack in Tashkent, the day after the war with Pakistan formally ended. Not everyone is convinced that the death was by heart attack since there are many unresolved questions surrounding it.
A very interesting topic and one which hasn’t been explored before. “The movie has to be good, after all the material is so good”, I naively thought.
The movie starts with a journalist, Raagini (Shweta Basu Prasad) who does not believe in ethics and is on thin ice with the editor for her article which turned out to be fake news. She has less than 10 days to come up with a scoop. An unknown caller gives her an insight into Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death and she decides to pursue the story. The news is big enough to make the current Home Minister (Naseeruddin Shah) insecure when his opposition (Mithun) declares a fast till LBS’s death is not investigated. A committee is formed whose members are a historian (Pallavi Joshi), a social worker (Mandira Bedi), an ex RAW agent (Prakash Belawadi), a retired judge, a youth politician, a few others (Pankaj Tripathi) and the journalist Raagini.
As all government formed committees go, this is a farce too except Raagini takes it seriously. Her perfectly straightened hair, nice dressing sense, perfectly kohl lined eyes take a beating as she delves deeper and deeper into the mystery. By the end of the movie, she has stopped combing her hair, her clothes haven’t been washed in weeks and there isn’t a speck of makeup on her. How do they let her move around in Delhi without any makeup on? Ugh, these Mumbaikers!!! They come to our city and refuse to follow the rules like hippies. No chappals in Khan Market, bright fuschia/deep red lipstick in all malls, hair that takes an hour to blow dry and clothes that are either from Sarojini or a high end mall, most times the former looking more fashionable than the latter. How difficult is it!!!
She also does this weird jogging across Rashtrapati Bhavan. Morning runners either run towards or away from RB, I haven’t seen anyone crossing it from left to right and nobody runs on the grass at India Gate. Mumbaikers!!!
Anyway, Raagini suddenly cares about LBS and his death and can’t believe nobody else seems to give a shit about another PM who died when in power. (I mean, the ones who really deserve to die are electioneering for a 2nd term. How unfair!!!) The last scene is when Vivek’s Right Wing conspiracy theory is all out and he isn’t even subtle about it. Congress got LBS killed because they wanted to come to power. There is no proof because all the characters in the movie are straight out of Twitter. He probably took his entire Twitter/fb timeline, the rabid comments from both sides of the debate and just pasted them here. No dialogue writer needed. After all, if Buzzfeed can do it, why can’t Vivek.
I left the theatre with tears rolling out of my eyes. I couldn’t stop laughing all the way home in the cab. I thanked KC for picking this comedy movie over the play I was suggesting. It has been a while since I laughed like a hyena. All thanks to a Right Wing Troll. I should start following some of them on Twitter too.
Please go watch it if you are having a bad day. Then take note of all the people sitting around you because this is what Right Wingers without a brain cell look like.
I have stopped blogging.
On some days it feels like a transition to adulthood when you lose the best parts of yourself to become someone society approves of.
On other days, the void is too large to fill.
Sometimes I asked myself, who cares, who is even reading the blog, does its existence even matter. I could just delete years and years of writing in a few clicks and end the guilt.
But, someone DOES care. I care. Something about putting thoughts into words is cathartic. Something about its disappearance would feel like the death of a parent.
(I don’t know what the death of a parent feels like but I do know what the absence of parents from your life feels like).
Lately, the journey of life feels futile. Ok, ok, it always felt futile but now there seems to be absolutely no meaning to it at all. What I have realised is that it is ok to pause for a bit, block other people’s judgement and opinions from my head and do what FEELS right instead of doing what is supposed to be politically correct.
In the movie, Dear Zindagi, SRK’s character tells Alia’s character that just because the journey seems harder does not mean it is the only way to do it. It is ok to take the easy way out. It is ok to take a longer route to get somewhere. And it is ok to take the time to become the person you are supposed to be when you reach the destination. The destination is not the end, there is more. And am I prepared for what comes next?
By the way, all of the above does have a context.
Let’s talk about something fun. How many people are still liking Game of Thrones? If you didn’t raise your hand, please unfollow. I am so tired of all the criticism thrown its way. It is a TV show. It is fantasy. When have the dots ever connected that you expect them to do so now? The books are massive with so much detailing and so many storylines that the show could compete with Kabhi Saas bhi bahu thi. Bringing everything together is going to feel rushed. Just chill and enjoy it.
Hello. It has been a while. But I have been trying to make time for important things in life and atleast one ball was going to be dropped. It was this blog. There has been no time to write. Or maybe there has but I have procrastinated. There is so much discipline required these days. More so than yester years. We didn’t have a device with a million entertainment options earlier and finding time for 1-2 hobbies was easy. In fact, there was abundance of time and less activities to fill it up with.
Like, in my initial years in Mumbai I would spend the weekend taking care of the household chores and hanging out at the mall. I didn’t strive for more. I didn’t even know if the city had more to offer. Now trying to find a middle ground between a relaxing weekend and an activity which broadens your horizons makes me hyperventilate. Folding laundry while watching Netflix or reading is how I find balance. What Netflix and “chill” means when you are 35.
A new job is always stressful. Specially when you spent 5 years in the previous one. From everyone knowing you and always having someone to talk to, to eating lunch alone is an adjustment. And the higher you move, the lonelier it gets. People at a higher level eat lunch at their desks which is quite sad, if you ask me. One of the best people I reported to, wouldn’t join us for casual team outings. Because he liked to reach home on time and he wanted us to bond without the awarkednes of having a boss around. Very few seniors are that confident and secure in their positions.
Yesterday I was working on the incentive plan for my team. My manager kept throwing ideas at me. In that moment, I thought “this is why I quit and joined a new job”. So I could learn something new. You can either be groomed for the next level and get promoted when the organization considers you fit for the next level. Or you can quit, take the plunge and hope you will learn the ropes as soon as possible. The former is the ideal situation but rarely happens. Organizations and people are so insecure they don’t build talent or skills.
Everyday I go to work and tell myself that though things are less than ideal, if I want to continue the upward career graph, dealing with different kind of situations, people, work cultures etc is important. I will either succeed or fail. The former will make me overconfident about my skills and the latter will make me humble.
Some incidents push you out of your comfort zone and make you realise how complacent you’ve been. You are forced to change direction and move forward.
Sometimes you know it’s the end of the road. Every morning you wake up and groan, getting out of bed has become harder. Instead of becoming a better professional, you are stagnating and regressing. The only option is to leave. And fast.
Sometimes opportunities knock at your door and you take them. At other times, you have to shut one door and start searching for an opportunity behind the other doors.
After our trip to Turkey, KC accepted an excellent job offer in Mumbai. It was more financially viable for me to quit my job in Gurgaon and look for a job in Mumbai. Despite everyone’s advice about quitting without another offer in hand, I was sure this was the right move. The 3 months of uncertainty when I spent my days applying for jobs, contacting people in my network, preparing for interviews, getting rejected or moving forward were excruciating. KC was a rock, supporting me through the ups and downs. Manita and Tanuj tried to cheer me up when things got tough. Mishka (their dog) was my therapist through the lowest lows.
It was a difficult time but transitions are never easy. When you know your life is changing (for better or worse), things are bound to get bumpy.
I wanted to type this post once things were settled and I was in a good frame of mind.
I will type out a post about challenges of searching for a job in today’s times.
Apologies for the silence. First, there was no time in Istanbul. Then, I was glued to a fantastic book. And now, I am trying to plod through Boys over Flowers one episode at a time.
(“Plod” because it makes Ekta Kapoor series look like an art movie and at 1 hour, each episode is one hour long with lots and lots of unnecessary flashbacks and songs).
This part of the itinerary was most confusing for me. To go or not to go to Pamukkale? If yes, to visit Ephesus or not. To stay at Izmir or Selcuk or Ephesus or Denizli? To take the flight to Denizli or Izmir? Or an overnight bus from Cappadocia? To stop for a day at Istanbul or continue directly to Pamukkale?
Finally, I decided to skip Ephesus and on a friend’s recommendation only add Pamukkale to the itinerary. We took a flight from Neveshir (near Cappadoccia) to Izmir with a change of planes at Istanbul. From Izmir airport, we took a bus to the bus stand and then a 4 hours journey to Denizli on the bus. Denizli is 20 mins from Pamukkale. It was a 12 hours journey and we spent a whole day in transit. I wasn’t confident about the overnight buses from Cappadoccia though they would have cost far, far lesser.
Pamukkale is known for it’s thermal springs. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is a small mountain with limestone and flowing water giving it a surreal quality. There are pools of water shaped like an infinity pool. When you reach the site, you have to take off your footwear and walk barefeet. When you reach the top, there are ruins of the ancient Roman city Hierapolis.
We spent a few hours at Pamukkale and then headed back to Denizli. While Pamukkale is amazing and a destination like no other, it wasn’t worth one day’s journey and the amount we spent on travelling to and fro. Maybe including Ephesus would have made more sense.
The next day we took a flight back to Istanbul in the morning. And again, the hotel tried to charge a bomb for the cab to the airport. Finally, we googled online and found a shuttle which charges 15% of what the cabbie was demanding. The hotel staff feigned ignorance about the shuttle service when we enquired.
Coming up – the last leg of the trip in Istanbul.
Some destinations are overhyped and overpriced. Cappadocia is not that destination. The main attraction in this area is the hot air balloon ride and as gimmicky as it sounds, the ride was fabulous. The lowest price for a ride is 150 Euros, if you pay in cash. And one ride has 20 people. Cappadocia has the lowest prices for hot air balloon rides in the world and least number of cancellations due to weather conditions. Large areas of flat plains make it easier to land the balloon and the views of the fairy chimneys are very unique.
Due to volcanic eruptions, erosion and extreme weather conditions over centuries, Cappadocia has chimneys, valleys, rocks with honey comb formations and a topography which is unlike anywhere else.
We planned a 2 days stay at Cappadocia. The main town is Goreme but we stayed at Cavusin. It doesn’t matter where you stay because all tours pick up and drop off tourists at the hotel. But staying in Goreme would be most convenient because it has many good restaurants and places to hang out.
We booked our balloon ride for day 1 early morning and took a flight from Istanbul previous evening. We stayed at Jacob’s cave suites which is one of the many hotels with a cave-like room. Though it is 3 km from Goreme, the hotel would call a cab whenever we wanted to go to Goreme and there was a great restaurant at walking distance. Cauvsin is mostly deserted and many houses in the town are abandoned. It was eerie how silent the area is. It took a while to get used to.
We were picked up by Voyager Balloons staff at 5.30 am from the hotel. They took us to their office where we had breakfast and then onward to the site of take off. Watching balloons get filled with gas and take off is an amazing experience itself and watching the sunrise in the clouds is once-in-a-lifetime experience. After 60 mins in the clouds, we landed to champagne and a toast.
Everything else in Cappadocia is a filler after the balloon ride. You can go on one of the tours or hike by yourself in the valleys or just chill in the hotel. After the ride, we headed to Goreme and visited the Open Air Museum but it was a waste of time and money. The museum has 14 churches which were of no interest to me and entry cost a bomb. I will rant separately about the Chinese tourists whose only interest was clicking Instagram worthy pictures to show off.
On day 2, we woke up early to see the balloons crossing our hotel. It is better to stay in Cappadocia for 2 days because if your ride gets cancelled on the first day due to weather conditions, you can reschedule it for the 2nd day. Also, watching the balloons from below is an exciting activity too. There are 2 tours in Cappadocia- red tour and green tour. Each of them roughly costs 30 Euro which is quite steep but entry charges are a bomb and many places are at long distances. If we had tried visiting all these sites ourselves, it would have cost much more. So, either skip sightseeing or join a tour. We visited the underground city, pigeon valley, Ihlara valley and Nar lake.
2 days are more than sufficient in Cappadocia but it is a destination that should be visited in Turkey. You could add a 3rd day if you are interested in hikes through the valleys. There are options of renting a car or scooter, if you have an international driving license. Or renting a bicycle, mountain bikes or ATV bikes to explore the areas. But please avoid the peak periods when Chinese tourists throng this destination.
I am unable to post pics because wordpress is quite a bitch. Maybe I will repost with pics on Medium once am back. Until then, head to my Instagram for pics.
An itinerary to Turkey generally has Istanbul and Cappadocia. For longer trips, Antalya, Ankara, Euphesus and Pamukkale can be included. Travelling between these cities isn’t very convenient so it is best to use Istanbul as a transit point.
This is the first time we aren’t staying in an airbnb and have booked hotels. Mainly, because I couldn’t find anything good in Istanbul and Cappadocia only has tourists. I prefer airbnb over hotels because you get a glimpse in the life of a resident, local recommendations and nobody is trying to up sell.
One major issue in Turkey is that some places charge in Euros and others in Turkish Lira. 1 TL is equivalent to Rs 12 so wherever we are paying in Lira, it is most affordable. Euro is the bitch. In most cases, there is a cheaper option to payment in Euro. Example, when we inquired from the hotel about a pickup from the airport they quoted 40 Euros (Rs 3600) but we managed to book an Uber for 60 TL (Rs 720). Or when they recommended a Bosphorus cruise for 40 Euros per person with night show and dinner but we managed to take a cruise for 15 TL per person without the added frills.
Though in some cases there is no option. We paid for the airport pickup in Cappadocia, hot air balloon ride and sightseeing tour in Euros.
Istanbul’s weather is perfect right now. There is a slight chill in the air with a drizzle few times in the day. Mixed with the smells from the carts roasting kestane (chestnuts) and corn and cigarettes smoke, it is the perfect combination. As much as I hate smokers, I love the smell of cigarettes in the winter. It is the only time in the year I wish I was an occasional smoker.
The plan for day 1 was to explore the neighbourhood of Sultanahmet where we stayed. We had a great lunch at a place recommended by Tripadvisor, walked down the numerous lanes and took in the sights and sounds of the Bosphorus. Though the plan was to walk along the water to the European side of the city, we walked onto a boat for a cruise. It was simply amazing. There were seagulls, castles and cafes along the banks, a dolphin splashing around, sunset and the most beautiful colours of the sky.
The next day we explored Spice Bazaar. This covered market has shops selling Turkish delight, baklava, dry fruits, jewellery, spices, lamps etc. The prices are lower outside so this is a good market only for window shopping. Thereafter we headed to the airport for our flight to Neveshir for the trip to Cappadocia.
This time the hotel was kind enough to help us with a cab which charges TL instead of Euros.
3 years back we had taken a Turkish Airlines flight from India to Rome with a change of planes at Istanbul. On the flight they served us a Turkish sweet. I loved it so much we decided our next international trip would be to Turkey. As things panned out, there were bomb blasts in Turkey and it has been in political and economic turmoil ever since.
There is a conservative government at the centre and the number of Western tourists has declined sharply. Even Indians use it as a transit point while travelling to Greece. Travelling for a vacation to Turkey is an anomaly. And I did try building an itinerary which combined Turkey and Greece but 10 days aren’t enough for both. We prefer to explore one country at a time. The trip must have the perfect combination of touristy excursions, enough time to use public transport and getting lost while walking down numerous lanes.
This was a very last minute planned trip even though the destination was decided months back. A month back I suggested we approach a travel agent who can make our bookings. I was lost, confused and procrastinating. But one lonely Friday night, I forced myself to get it done. Viola, the itinerary and bookings were completed in a week. KC’s contribution was making me run around till the last week for the Visa.
So glad my Gemini sign has a Taurus descendant. How would we get anything done otherwise.
As always, a daily blog on the trip will be published so please stick around.
My parents came over for the weekend for the first time in 10+ years. My objective for their trip was for KC to understand the source of my weirdness. I can now shrug and say “The fault in my genes”. I am sure he is glad am a toned down version of their quirkiness.
- I realised WA groups are a big part of the lives of senior citizens. My parents are part of many, many groups and receive forwards all day. They read each forward and pass it forward. They may even call someone to laugh over some forward. That is how they kill time when alone at home. It is a good replacement for kids who have moved out and don’t have time to even speak to them everyday.
- They had to leave for the airport at 5.30 am but dad was already dressed by 5 am. Then he nagged me about calling the Uber guy and reaching on time. I kept my fingers crossed hoping the driver wouldn’t ditch. Do you know what is worse than a spouse who nags you at 5.30 am? Parents who nag at 5.30 am. Way, way worse.
- On Sunday I took them for breakfast to IHOP. They love IHOP in New York, where my sister lives, and were very excited about trying out the Gurgaon outlet. The plan was to have breakfast at 8 am so I woke up at 7 am, brushed my teeth, changed into comfortable clothes and headed for the door. Dad was horrified that I was leaving the house without a bath. What kind of a person does that!!!
- Indian mothers have a special affinity to washed clothes. I got tips on drying clothes correctly. My MIL is more passive aggressive. She changes the drying position of every clothing item on the rack once I leave home.
- Mom also wanted to re-arrange the entire kitchen and keep things in their proper place. I made sure they spent all day outdoors and were too tired once back for such sheninangans.
- My dad, brother and I are the introverts of the family while my mother and sister are the extroverts. If you think the 3:2 ratio works, you are an extrovert because you have no idea how difficult life as an introvert is.
All in all, like a friend said to me… small things give a fresh start.
And yet, does it matter if you get what you wanted when you stopped wanting it and could live without it?
What is the point of dreams getting fulfilled when they stopped meaning anything?
I only have questions, never the answers.