A normal Sunday

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Just in case someone would like to accuse me of not making the best use of the opportunity to be back in Gurgaon, here is everything I accomplished in one day:

  • Long run at Lodi Gardens. My most reliable mood booster.
  • Breakfast at All American Diner. We got a table!!!!!!!!!!
  • Books surfing at Full Circle bookstore. Hanging around at Khan Market on Sunday mornings is a favourite activity. Amazon’s book recommendations aren’t half as great as those in a bookstore like Full Circle. I have to stop myself from spending the entire salary here. Someday I will be rich enough to own a room full of books and still be able to buy more without a shred of guilt.
  • Watched a brilliant movie that was screened at MAMI. Who wants to pay crazy amounts of money to watch crap in the theatre anymore? Not me.
  • Joined Climbing 101 at Delhi Rock. This was on my bucket list since the classes started. I am looking forward to their outdoor rock climbing sessions in Delhi. I will be raving about Delhi Rock a LOT so please bear with me.
  • Tried baking two desserts yesterday. Both turned out to be a mess. But am going to get atleast one of them right today.

Happy to be back even though it’s Monday and I have to spend 8 hours in a super shitty place.

Weddings Part 1

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I don’t do weddings. Which means, apart from having attended my own wedding very reluctantly, I have spent the last few years avoiding every wedding I have been invited to. I will spare you the reasons for my dislike for weddings and marriage as a concept. It isn’t a rebellious streak, there is a genuine repulsion from within my soul for this patriarchal, social norm.

Stuff I say to avoid a wedding invitation:


“Hey, am getting married. You have to be there”

“Why? You didn’t turn up for my wedding. Am not attending yours. That is the rule”

“But, we didn’t even know each other then”

“Not my problem. If you weren’t there for mine, I can’t make the effort to be at yours”

True story. My wedding was tiny and only 3 close friends, 1 friend and 1 acquaintance attended. True to my word, I attended weddings of these 3 close friends.

This rule has gotten me out of so many social events.


“Hey. Am getting married. You have to be there”

“I think am going to pass this one and try and attend your 2nd one”

I can’t promise you will get invited to the 2nd wedding after this, though.


“Hey. Am getting married. You have to be there”

“Yaar… it is a North Indian wedding. By the time the baraat enters the door, it will be waaaayyyy past my bedtime. I am too old to be up beyond 11 pm”


My new absolute favourite excuse

“Do you want to come to Jaipur tomorrow for the wedding?”

“Since you didn’t plan the itinerary in advance, I don’t have a blouse for the saree. Unless you want me to do an Elizabeth Hurley with my nipples popping through the saree, I can’t make it”

But, sometimes people don’t give up.

“Wear anything”

“Are you serious? It is a North Indian wedding. Stop being such a Mumbaiker”.

Who knew switching between the adopted identities of snobbish Gurgaonites and the naturally down-to-earth Mumbaikers would require so much finesse and skill. Not everyone is up for it.

But there are times when none of the excuses work. The person getting married has stayed at our house (such a rare occurrence when am around), the wedding is 15 mins away from where am staying and since it’s a Maharashtrian wedding, the Indian dress code isn’t mandatory.

I mean, it is as hard to be overdressed in Mumbai as it is to be undressed in Delhi.

To be continued in Weddings Part 2


Over the hill but not under it

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As soon as you cross 30 years of age, restful sleep at night is the single most important thing. Whether you spend the next day feeling hungover with every small problem becoming magnified a 100 times or get through it with unbridled enthusiasm, depends on the number of hours you sleep at night.

The reason for my sleeplessness is so ridiculous that am going to take the secret to my grave. Also, I really should stop cracking jokes about death and graves. When KC walked in at 3 am, I sighed in relief and fell asleep promptly.

It has been a day when I wish I had PMS so bingeing on air fried french fries and samosas could be justified. Air fried so less oil and mutton kheema samosas so protein.

I spent an hour thinking about a task today and wondering what is the best solution to the problem. Technically, it is not part of my job. But right now the shadow of anything that crosses my desk is my job. Because if I don’t do it, nobody else will. Or worse, they will screw it up. And if God is my witness, there is no way in hell am going to let someone make things worse than what they already are. The only way we are going from here is up. That’s what she said

Since am not working for money or fame or designation or networking, there is a naive hope that things will get better and we will be back to the good not-so-old days.

I scrolled through my contact list wondering who I should call for help. A colleague or an ex colleague? I called X and told him the problem. Even though he works in a different office and different department, he promptly cleared his schedule for me. We brainstormed for 45 mins and came up with an innovative but practical solution.

How do you express your gratefulness to a colleague? We have expectations from friends but the rapport with a colleague is a unique relationship altogether. A whole year of sharing a desk with someone, which is as intimate you can (or should) get with a work buddy; but never knowing what is behind that facade. Sometimes, when you are travelling together and have time to kill after work and before a flight/train, secrets may come spilling out. You may get a glimpse of the person behind the armour and while those moments are rare, they do form a life long bond. Did X go out of his way to help because he is still emotionally connected to his earlier team or because he was bored with his current task and needed a break or was it because I asked him for help and he wouldn’t turn me down? The reasons don’t matter.

I have spent 4-5 years in the current organization and there are certain people I can bank on. I may not keep in touch with them everyday or call for general chit chat but am sure they won’t turn down any request I make. The bond is formed over projects accomplished together and strengthened through mutual respect for similar work ethics.

Anyway, I was touched with X’s support. The day ended with another person asking me how am doing. He spent 30 mins giving me advice on what and how I should do things. While I do suspect his motives, this small bit of kindness left me feeling lonely and missing my workplace in Mumbai.

Just as I was ready to pack my bags, rush home and tuck myself in bed, I had to spend 30 mins trying to mollify somebody. My number is on the speed dial of people who I have spoken to once or twice in the last 2 years. I am worried a year down the line, I will stop reacting to anything and everything.

Who knew the path to Nirvana is through listening to people rant about inconsequential stuff that has zero impact on their lives.

Adios, if I don’t sleep tonight there will be more emotional posts coming your way. Now we wouldn’t want too many of those, do we?

8 hours vs 16 hours

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Few days back KC and I were arguing about something. Since am not plug and play, the transition to my old life hasn’t been smooth.

He admonished me for putting too much pressure on myself when it comes to my career.

“You claim you don’t care about the rat race. Since when has it become important?”

I realised that he is right. Moving up the ladder has never been a focus and a priority. Challenging myself, improving as a professional, trying to do good work has been the endeavour year after year. Any opportunities for growth in career have been a consequence of this. Why should this change now? Maybe I will move up. Maybe I won’t. Either way, I will deal. And either way, it won’t change what I do in the balance 16 hours that I am not at work. Why should the daily 8 hours have an impact on the rest of the 16 hours? Every 2-3 years when I have become bored with a role, something new has come my way. That will continue.

The only person I am competing against is myself.

Am I better professional than who I was 5 or 10 years back? Definitely.

Am I proud of the work I have done? Of course.

Have some of my work relationships translated into life long friendships? Undoubtedly. Despite extra ordinary efforts at my end to draw a thick boundary between work and life.

Have I left a role better than what it was when it was handed to me? Always.

For the next 1 year, I need to buckle down and focus on the task at hand without worrying about where it will lead. The 8 hours at work are not my life’s only challenges. The other 16 hours include my goals at fitness, reading goals, writing goals, relationship goals, cooking goal and picking up new skills.

In the long run, the latter will make my life better and bring me happiness. The former are just 8 hours which make me treasure the 16 hours much, much more.

Coincidence or a hint from the universe

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Yesterday I watched the movie ‘The Wailing’. It is a South Korean horror movie which was screened at MAMI. KC walked out as soon as the movie started and I was on my own for 2 hrs 36 mins. The movie is about a village in South Korea where strange things start happening when a Japanese man moves into a secluded hut in the forest. People are killed by their own families and the killers die a few days later. The policeman who is investigating the crimes has a daughter who becomes possessed. There is a shaman, a young woman and the Japanese man. Till the end, it isn’t revealed who is the cause of the killings.

The movie isn’t scary but I didn’t know that till it ended. I kept expecting the next scene to bring the scares. The director hasn’t shown how the victims are killed so the audience is spared the grossness. Everything is in your own imagination and that makes it scary.

Meanwhile KC read about the movie online (because that isn’t psycho behaviour at all) and spent rest of the day cracking jokes about the Japanese man as revenge. He decided to start travelling so I would be alone at home with the imaginary Japanese man.

Me – Leave me alone with imaginary ghosts but please don’t leave me alone with your mom.

Last night at 11 pm, while putting the final touches to my workout plan, the AC turned off on it’s own.

KC rushed into the room and asked “Did you say something?”

“No, I didn’t. Why?”

“I thought I heard you call me”

I ignored it as a prank, shut the doors of my burgeoning imagination and fell asleep.

Today morning was quite pleasant. The endorphins from the interval run erased any thoughts of ghostly Japanese men. As I waited for the lift, the doors opened and a Japanese man walked out. Our neighbour. The person I have heard about but hadn’t seen even once. We have been living in this flat for a year and I have travelled to the city atleast once every month since then but never spotted him. In the last 20 days in Gurgaon, I haven’t bumped into the neighbour. But today, of all days, I bump into him. Of course. OF COURSE.

Is this a coincidence or a hint from the universe?

Is this why am not allowed to watch horror movies?

Shitty week 2

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It has been a shitty week and I would rather not talk about it.

Of course, all my goals and plans went down the drain. Everyday was a struggle. Believe it or not, work was the only solace. Atleast I didn’t turn to food for emotional support.

Recap of goals for week 3:

  • IF everyday. This is on track.
  • Read everyday. Reading has suffered due to the movies I have been watching. But then again, it doesn’t matter in what form quality content is consumed. Right?
  • Eat eggs everyday. The simplest way is to add an egg to my pre or post workout smoothie and carry it to work.
  • Workout morning and evening. This is still a struggle. I end up doing either one or the other even though I have time for both. Sure, I have been spending longer hours at work and maybe I should scale back.
  • No junk food this week. Junk food consumption last week was low. So this is not an issue. I enjoy eating home cooked meals and don’t crave variety.
  • Call all friends. Erm, haven’t had time for this. Hopefully, this week.
  • Try two new recipes – dessert and main course. Need to find good recipes of the latter.
  • Write everyday. Maintain a journal. Got to work harder on this one.

Whew. So much to do. So much motivation required.

Blogging vs journaling

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There is a new resolution – no more discussing work after work hours. I tried it today. Everytime I wanted to tell KC what happened at work or how my day was, I distracted myself with something. Distraction isn’t hard right now. A job is just a means to earn money to fund a lifestyle and hobbies. Because we are a privileged lot. Sure, I give it my all during working hours but am not paid for thinking about work after hours. Invest in people but selling candies (or shampoos or other such useless things) can be taken seriously only upto a certain point. But here I go… talking about work again.

I tried journaling last night and it is so hard. Why do we document the dark and unhappy thoughts only? It just makes me morose. Who the hell wants to know what is festering underneath the scab? The only way to lead a happy life is by pretending to be happy. Denial is better therapy than digging deep. The more you scratch the wound, the longer it takes to heal. Leave it alone and viola, one fine day you realise it has disappeared. Maybe leaving a battle scar here and there.

Blogging, on the other hand, is tricky. There is an audience and you have to balance how much you want to reveal against how much you want to hide. You can never be completely honest. Does 100% honesty even exist? I guess it is a mask that we put on. Some parts of the face are visible and others hidden. But you will never get a complete picture. Every blogpost is a new mask which distorts the perception created by the previous one.

Blogging requires more skill than journaling. The question is where do I write and express better? In a journal where I have to confront myself or on a blog writing about trivial things in denial of the real issues?

Small town chutiyaap

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The new house help walked in today morning and within 30 mins wanted to know who is the woman at home I call “aunty”. “Whoa”, I thought, “does she read my blog?”

(Ha ha ha. Social media whore 24/7).

Before she jumped to the topic of my childlessness because are you even an Indian if you haven’t questioned a 30+ years old woman what’s inside or not inside her uterus; I gave her the same reply I give my colleagues “Let’s keep this strictly professional. You are here for a specific task, focus on that and don’t let other things distract you”.

I don’t blame her. The information will be peddled to her employers who are jobless and sitting at home judging other people’s lives.

Few months back when I was locked out of the house, I bumped into my neighbour. I was shocked. There were other people on the same floor? Except for the Japanese across from us (who I haven’t seen yet but know he is alive by his stash of beer bottles in the garbage), I assumed the entire floor was empty. The lady was VERY friendly (in my books, it is defined as ‘creepy’) and aware that I live in Mumbai while KC lives here. We share a common cook so she had gossiped about me. I wish my own friends and family were this interested in my life.

I have interacted with the cook for 15 days and she has never gossiped about anyone. All we talk about is food. Nothing more, nothing less. Which made me realise that maybe she isn’t the gossip but the neighbour is. You have to encourage such discussions for people to talk about random strangers.

In this country, you can live in a high end apartment building in a cosmopolitan area (Dwarkaites, do NOT laugh. Gurgaon is more cosmopolitan than Delhi, no doubt about it) but can’t escape the small town chutiyaap.

Recap of the week

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Highlights of last week:

  • Only ate home cooked food. Making up for all the meals I’ve eaten outside in the last 6 months. Which was, everyday, every meal.
  • 16 hrs IF. I love intermittent fasting. I have to worry about one meal less everyday.
  • Wrote everyday. Except last night. The hits on this blog this week have been the highest in the last year. Extra TLC for the blog to make up for neglecting it for months.
  • Worked out almost everyday. Skipped on days when I was sore and needed the sleep. Worked out twice on some days.
  • Stayed in touch with friends. But must make more time to call people.
  • De-cluttered and re-arranged the kitchen. The biggest task in the house. Whew!!!

Goals for week 2:

  • 16 hrs IF everyday
  • Eat eggs everyday
  • Workout morning and evening. Gearing up for 100 days of running so this is important
  • Write everyday. Maintain a journal (tough)
  • No junk food this week
  • Wake up at 6 am every morning
  • Call all friends, harass them till they pick up the phone 🙂
  • Try two new recipes – dessert and main course
  • Read 10-15 pages of the book everyday. Else, will have to bid goodbye to reading as a hobby.

In-laws are not parents

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Any normal, logical and practical person realises that it is not possible to adopt a new set of parents at 25+ years of age. But if this person is Indian, logic is replaced by high quotient of pretend emotionality.

Refusing to call your in laws “mom” and “dad” is met with shocked faces and gasps of horror. My logic is simple. I have one set of parents who are quite a handful and don’t need another set. Also, married men are treated like “sons in law” but married women are considered “daughters”. What this means is that Indian in-laws want someone to fit their idea of a “daughter”. They expect her to change her first name (a Sindhi wedding custom), her last name, dressing sense, food habits, lifestyle. Basically, everything about her.

(My in-laws expected me to live with them, change my last name, wear sarees, mangalsutra, quit non veg etc etc. To be fair, so did my parents. They refused to believe I was married since I didn’t change my last name. I had to courier them the marriage certificate. They thought I was in a live in relationship and lying. #truestory).

Please don’t be that asshole who goes “that didn’t happen to me so it doesn’t happen to anyone else”. If you were spared this torture, good for you. For the rest of us, it is a battle we fought and it took 10 years for MIL to stop trying to force puranpuli (ewwww) down my throat. My last resort to pressure tactics is puking. I have had the special power of puking at will since I was a kid and I used it frequently on my mother when she tried to force ayurveda churan on me. Works like magic.

There is no escape for women who go through the arranged marriage route. The whole process is designed in favour of men. Men who can’t find a women willing to fuck them have to ask mummy and daddy to be their pimp. These men only want women who will fit into their life conveniently. The objective is never to build a life together but instead for someone to be their whore, maid, cook, nanny, mother – all rolled into one. Actually, most Indian men expect that from their wives but atleast when you select your own partner you have the power to say “No”. But financial independence plays a big role in the power equation in a relationship.

(I’d rather be crude than a prude. And no, there is no in between).

But I digress. All I am trying to say is that I don’t call my in-laws “mom” and “dad”. Never have and never will. And I was clear with my parents that they shouldn’t have any such expectations from KC. We keep our families at a distance and their involvement in our life is minimal. Because good fences make good neighbours.