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.

Writing everyday… blah

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I truly have nothing to write about today. What will writing everyday achieve? Not even a week into the resolution am already losing momentum.

Life is moving slowly. Too slowly. Strange because that hasn’t happened in a while. I can’t wait to fast forward to 6 months later and see how things have changed. Professionally and personally.

Maybe it is because of the lack of goals. I am not completely clear on the expectations at work. As for fitness, it will take another month to get somewhere. Starting from the basics sucks. Starting all over again sucks more.

Next few days will be a struggle. Goodbye, privacy. Goodbye, television. Hello, long working hours. Hello, late nights at the gym.

At the gym am focusing on functional movements. Anything that will make me move better. Instead of being static and lifting weights for each body part, am doing circuits of 5-7 workouts which are for the entire body. It is a more efficient way of working out. Less than an hour at the gym and the burn is immense. Animal flow and kettlebells are the new fad and am jumping onboard as soon as I can. Basically, as soon as I am fit enough.

I guess, writing makes me think for 15 minutes everyday and there is some merit in doing this.


Stuff I think about a lot but rarely bore people with. Except for today.

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The resolution to write everyday is getting tougher and tougher. What the hell am I supposed to write about on a normal weekday?

I assumed every person has a certain management style. Atleast that is what I remember reading during my B school days. But then again, I never took any of the course books seriously so my version is unreliable and probably inaccurate.

I realize now that management style has to adapt to the team you lead. It differs basis the work environment too. Example, it is easier to be flexible and give a certain amount of freedom and independence when your team has senior people who are good at their job. They thrive in such a work environment. You can rely on them to figure out how to complete assigned tasks and be completely hands off. You just have to keep them motivated and provide resources to make their job easier.

But when you have a team with fairly junior people and know their job much better than them, you may have to be authoritative. They will appreciate the hand holding and guidance. That is the hope.

A team which is struggling with execution will never be able to think strategy. Everyone has to climb the ladder one step at a time. Miss one step and the chances of toppling over increase.

For one minute I would like to stop thinking about work. But going by past experience I know that isn’t going to happen for another 6 months.

If am not work, am talking about it and when am not talking about it, am definitely thinking about it.


Paranormal activity

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So, remember this post about my 3-5 am insomnia? When I mentioned it to KC, he told me how that has been happening to him since he moved into the house. And last night his friend who is bunking with us this week also woke up at 4 am.

That was the topic of discussion at the lunch table with a colleague who believes in supernatural presences (also called ghosts in layman terms). According to her, the time till 3 am is unsafe but after that we are safe. She also asked me to be extra vigilant about strange sounds and any weird goings on.

Of course, whatever be the reason for our insomnia, am not moving out of this house. Now I understand all those horror movies like Paranormal Activity (only part 1 which made me shit my pants. The rest are quite blah) where the residents would rather brave the supernatural rather than move out of the flat. I have put in too much effort to set up this place to consider moving out because it may be haunted. We will have to learn to co-exist in peace.

By the way, incase you don’t see a post on social media tomorrow morning, please do check if am alive. Sure, this post, the blog and my social media accounts will go viral and there will be movies made about me but is that the price I want to pay for fame? Ok, maybe THIS is the price am willing to pay because fame in this lifetime seems impossible right now.

MIL is arriving tomorrow and if she starts wandering around the house at 3/4 am, we know it isn’t a coincidence. (Please follow me on Twitter for my series – MIL diaries. I promise to be funny, like always).

Maybe I should start googling exorcism from now itself. But all movies have this Christianity angle. What do non believers do? There is nothing remotely religious in the house for an exorcist to use. Ugh!!! I haven’t budgeted for additional expenses this month. I am certain KC will refuse to split these expenses because he has been comfortable and has no issues with any invisible beings. I am the one with the problem so the onus lies with me.