Posting here from Monday-Monday. []

In the winter of 2011, as we sat around yet another sparsely furnished, freshly painted Gurgaon house, the conversation turned to music. A little argument broke out between an old aunt and her niece over the latter’s choice of music- a new age, conventional band. When the conversation moved to guitar riffs, and drummers of a kind, and bassist of choice- I paled. A foolish jumble of words later, I was an utterly uncool musical novice, in their eyes and mine. I had managed to mumble my way through a subject I was utterly passionate about, yet again…

Which is not to say I know my music well. I don’t know lead singers, and band origins, and entire discographies- and yet I spend all day with the Beatles, and the Eagles, and Queen, and the Traveling Wilburys, and Lifehouse, and so on.

I just know my music differently. I remember people by their stories rather than their names, books by how they broke my heart rather than their chronology, music by lyrics rather than their singers, and places by memories than their geography.

That day, and the months that followed I cursed myself over losing the right words, in the wrong time over and over again. I was at my then-boyfriend’s aunt’s place, and needed desperately to come off as cool.

But even in a Wodehouse-reading, Floyd-listening, English-speaking crowd of eccentrics I couldn’t quite belong.

This theme of un-belong has stayed with me a better part of my life. I read books but dog-ear them much to book-lovers’ dismay, devour cuisine but know so little of its origin, work in advertising without the slobbering mess of an every-day-drunk.

Just shy of twenty-seven now, I think maybe I ought to embrace my un-belong? Maybe I need to find my sense of belong in the many contradictions that take me from my love for poetry to none of the stereotypes of poets? And, my love for love, and yet my desperate need to not be bound by it?

I think I ought to embrace my un-belong. It’s okay. It’s okay to know the history but forget the facts, to be a manager but not know how to get into business school, to love the guitar without the scales.

…To run a race without wanting to win it. To run a race without anybody in it.


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Maybe I WAS more alone than anyone in the whole wild world.

Maybe that was okay.” Cheryl Strayed

If you haven’t already,  you must pick up a copy of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail.

I am very inspired by this book, and by Cheryl herself, who is candid and innately human, and yet extraordinary.

Cheryl’s story could be one of ours- a relationship, job, phase of life that crumbled our very being. I have been there too. Life circumstances that are so depleting you are not sure how to carry on.

There are two choices there. One is the ‘Why Me’ lament which is tempting, and depressing. Yes, we are all a little messed up…but I am so messed up…WHY ME? This is a spiraling tunnel of despair.

The other is using it to truly discover yourself. So many of us pass our lives without using this opportunity- but if you get it don’t let it go.

There’s a joy in being alone as there is in being with someone else.

And, when you have that alone time- use it all greedily- to read, and watch, listen and love…yourself.

The you that you ‘find’ is startling- and everything that follows then on, will always be okay.


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Don’t be so nice

India is among the 5 most dangerous countries for women in the world. It ranks highest in sexual crimes violating children, and  has witnessed an 873% growth in rape and other sexual crimes in the last 3 years. Not only is this saddening, it’s deplorable. We are a nation crumbling under our age-old perception of the weaker sex.

Even still, it’s heartening to see a group of us from different walks of life gather at a dual-language women empowerment workshop at work. We discuss intimate details like protecting our children from sexual abuse by teaching them the touch that is wrong, and that which is acceptable. We mock up different attack situations and find ways to escape.

The solution however is always to escape. As lighter, weaker beings we will hardly be able to empower vindictive men, will we? Sadly, that is the truth of it.

Our speaker for the day encourages us to use our minds, and not our bodies…to channel our wisdom and not our anger…

And, most of all to not be so nice. Don’t run into the arms of he who proclaims he loves you, don’t rush to the friendly neighbour for help, don’t trust an acquaintance’s smile.

Be guarded, and be skeptical. Be measured, and be not so nice, before you are nice.


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So long, and Happy Birthday

The clock has struck twelve, and my heart drifts back to a time and place when this hour on this day, was a gust of thirty candles on biscuit pudding, and many friends, and a quiet kiss, and plates and plates of your favourite food.

They say you seldom find love, but I say you seldom forget it.  Even when there is none of it left but quiet memory, you remember it- and in that brief moment of remembrance- you are all love.

So here’s to you, for now you are just past-love, mere memory. Here’s to all that was good in you, for all ill is forgiven. Here’s to all happiness for you, for time is if nothing, a great mellower. Here’s to the moments when everybody, and you and me, believed we had the perfect love. And most of all, here’s to the turn of the year.

It hails a new beginning.

So long.

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I think it’s time that I reveal it
‘Cause I believe it
It’s better. ~ Better

I don’t know if I have ever told you this-  but I want the world. I want my hair to fall in perfect layers of color over a size 8. I want to fight for young women to be better women, I want to stand for women for change. I want to teach for a better world. I want  to find the perfect love, and keep the crazier friends. I want to run a marathon. I want to be on TV. Write a book. Buy a house. Travel the world. Gaze at stars as if they are endless. Lead at work. Watch every movie that ought to be watched. Read dusty old libraries out of their books, and swim for hours and hours.

It is maddening. It is the sweet torture of never enough. It is a sly promise of getting there. The unending despair of never there. It is quiet, and fervent, and evermore…

It can end ever so achingly in the disarray of the perfect mechanics of a flight landing. It can end ever so slowly- but gloriously in a fairy tale.

Each day is con-fuddling.

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Walk on

There are no empty days. There are no days so idle- dreams are only half begun. There are days, and dreams interlaced: the beautiful despair of a dream mid-way..hoga ya nahi hoga? You wind the clock again, and again- and you believe the dream is done. The dream is here. The dream is now.

I meet a girl in a hotel room, we were once in a house in Sushant Lok making merry over adrak chai and pasta. I no longer make pasta, and she can no longer make me adrak chai. But, like in all good friendships: circumstances are the only thing that change.

I watch a movie: Lincoln. I am inspired by the greatness of this man, the dream, the desire. Good things have got to happen, and there is no certain choice.

I curl into a pillow, and sleep to gentle night music on Vh1. I wake up to pancakes drowned in maple syrup, served in silence. I am beginning to enjoy my own company: there is no better heaven.

I win a little something at work, and I pause:

In the end, it has been one year since you asked, and then you didn’t. As the saying goes, he who walks has everything to forget, and he who stays, has everything to remember. So I remember this day, without resentment, and without anger, and mostly at the person it has made me, and laughingly at the person it has made you.

You get what you give, and this I am allowed.


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Where have I been?

I have been rather enjoying December and January in Bombay, and Poona, and Delhi, and Gurgaon, back in Bombay again. Life has been a whirlwind of weddings, and friends, and celebrations, and travel, and work…work…more work.

I can’t say I don’t enjoy it- when I throw away all the politics of it- I love what I do- and I am doing what I love.

I had the opportunity to meet with some really fascinating women through the month- and I was amazed at all of these women putting themselves out there, to the things they love, and building bigger dreams.

They inspire to meet mine.

And, so while I’m still at the building blocks- I mull over the good of the last 2 months- cold milk and muesli at business hotel breakfasts, cameras and animals at shoot day #2, books and movies and coffee mugs, kaliras and pink hats and promises of love, and giving it my all on the stair master, and in combat, and a late night on a presentation.

Sometimes life isn’t about catching your breath- but participating. And, the only way I know how to do it – is running.


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Bombay Sunday Mornings

Because I like to sleep my mornings in, and because Sunday mornings aren’t the kind you would opt to spend out of bed, sun in your hair, today was a rare occurrence. The Bambai sun in my hair, the slow December winter, the kala-peela taxi-cab, the growl of an empty stomach: for who has time to cook breakfast on an early Sunday morning?

I am naïve. The city is bustling, and not the usual smell of fish markets and newspaper vendors that take up Bombay Sundays. There is a soapbox race, a cycling race, a Christmas carnival, horseracing day, cars and runners, lovers and loners, dreamers and doers, families and feuds, and even the dose of Bombay Bollywood en route.

At TEDx, where I am headed, there are thousands of people; eager and digging into boiled egg sandwiches, hanging on to words from the remarkable around the world.

One man, with Cyborg vision comes to stage. He was once colour blind, now he can see colour through sound, that is, he hears colour now.  He can sing the colour of a woman’s face, and compose a song of a painting. He can also tell you the dominant city colour by its sounds, and he tells us: Bombay is blue.

This revelation is so true, it is extraordinary.

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Death is a funny thing.

Death is a funny thing. How does death pick its fate, and time, and manner…and how does it decide whether to gently knock, or barge right in? Why are old men lying for days in ICUs with not as much as a sound, machines struggling to keep them alive- and why are young children rolled out to the morgue, their parents weeping? Why does one girl die on a Bombay road attempting to cross the maze of traffic, and another live on in a hospital room- without will.

We cannot account all coming and going to God’s will, now, can we: for that cannot explain the cruelty of delayed demise, or of early death.

I have spent many hours mulling over the bewildering nature of life outside ICUs and hospital rooms, this year. Every now and then- an intensely happy or sad moment- takes me back to those hurried, strained moments:

Frantically calling the doctor, rolling the bed out to the intensive care unit, rushing to the oxygen supply, waiting the night out to know if morning will come?

I could have done so many things wrong. Fate could have so many other choices.

We can never know why, and perhaps, never understand how.

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At six am, the Bombay train station is dull and unhurried- languid, really- men still lie on sheets of cardboard, inches from the train that rolls in. I enjoy the pace at which, the young and old alike, clamber in; as though the day is long, and we have all of it. I take my seat by the window.

I feel none of the familiar excitement that travel brings, none of the sleeplessness that accompanied me months earlier in Delhi, at the Old Delhi Railway Station. I am quiet like the couple in front of me that needs no words, and smile every sixty minutes.

Poona is at peace. Save an advertisement that asks us if we would rather be in London, the dip in temperature, friendly auto wallah, and smell of warm Kayani’s Shrewsberry is welcoming. I am not certain what to do in Poona. Order a beer in a Poona Club room, eat at Darios- because it overlooks the Osho ashram, and sing along at Arc Asia? Perhaps, but live music saddens me, like not much else.

I go to a nightclub then. For the first time in twenty-six years, I’m on a public dance floor, like sardines in a can, grinding to popular music, downing a tequila at the bar. I swipe my card at the entrance, take the entry stamp, and follow the crowd right to the centre of ogling men and angry women. Stomping feet, and caressing thighs and hands in mid-air.

When I take the train back home, still savoring the Thai lunch from Malaka Spice, I take to my neglected paperback with a vengeance.

I know who I am, but I wish I had forgotten.

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