Of Hope And Disappointment

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Dealing with disappointments is clearly not my forte. And over the years I’ve realised, it isn’t the actual bad news that kills you, what’s really brutal is all the hope that’s built up right before it.

It’s perhaps one of the reasons I’ve turned into such a cynical person.

If there is no hope, there can’t really be any disappointment, now can there?

But what kind of a life is that to live, really? One where there’s no wonder or hope or joy. One where you aren’t looking forward to things just because you might not be able to handle it if they don’t happen the way you had expected them to?

And yet, I’ve realised, that joy-less, hope-less, cynical life is an act of self preservation, one where my world doesn’t come crashing down, one where I don’t find myself struggling to hold back tears or to pretend to continue with my day like all my hopes and dreams haven’t just been shattered.

Yeah, I don’t really like that feeling, do you?

Brene Brown and her books on vulnerability don’t really tell you how to deal with this now, do they, before they encourage you to step out into the arena and get your ass kicked?

So make sure you have an iron-armoured ass. Because there’s definitely a lot of kicking.

And it hurts.

Self Care vs. Selfishness

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Yup, this is a serious one, you guys.

I was at a bit of a loss in terms of what to make of my #AWordAWeek this time – care. And the more I think about it, the more of this keeps coming up. A realisation I had in a session recently.

For starters, I was completely sure that self care is one of those terms I didn’t relate to at all. Every time I’m asked to think about ‘self care’ I conjure up all these images of people advising others to love yourself, to discover your own joys, or just overall massive lectures on how to live and think. In fact, I’ve done this too to a lot of friends, but somehow I just couldn’t relate to it in a positive way. And even worse are all those self care practitioners who seem to think it’s all about treating yourself to a facial and pedicure in the name of self care. Self care is a beautiful and simple concept, and yet somewhere down the Instagram route, it’s become preachy and, dare I say it, almost fake.

So no, I declared, the term ‘self care’ is something I can’t relate to at all.

But then we talked more. And more. And came up with multiple instances in life where I had taken decisions for self preservation. Quitting a high paying corporate job that went against my core principles to save myself from a complete mental burnout. Refusing to fall to society’s expectations of having a child. Doing what I knew was right for me in multiple circumstances, even if it wasn’t right for others. And guess what came up as the term for it in my head – selfishness.

That’s when I realised that the world has a funny way of making you feel bad about taking care of yourself. So what if something is good for you. YOU are never their highest priority. And if YOU are your own highest priority, then how dare you be so selfish.

This might seem obvious as you read this, but when this hit me, it hit me hard. Because the amount of guilt and trauma latching onto each supposed ‘selfish’ act is enough to drown you at any point of time. I felt a sudden release inside me, of yet another label I was letting go.

So the next time someone calls you selfish, before you take it to your heart and register in your head, take a deep breath, sit back and think. Is it, really?

The Murderous Household of A & I

A & I are notoriously bad at taking care of plants. Give us a cat, and that thing will get pampered more than first born babies. But give us a plant, and we both forget about its existence for multiple days at a time.

Needless to say, plants do not thrive well in our household.

Last year on my birthday, my aunt sent me a plant, and I vowed I’ll take good care of it. In fact it grew exponentially those first few months, encouraging me to think, we can totally do this, this one won’t be tortured and sent to plant heaven. That reduction in photosynthesis will not be on my hands.

But life happened. The usual, always running to try and make it to office type life. Where you remember some days, get angry at A for never remembering at all, and simply move on. I’m not proud of this.

We almost killed Planty, again.

Yes, I named it. And not a very innovative name. But it’s a start, okay?

And for the last one week, as I try to exercise more mindfulness in my day, getting up a little earlier so I have more time to do things I want to do (and not just exercising and rushing to make breakfast and then make it to my work desk), I’m adding this step into my routine.

Watering Planty. You’d think it shouldn’t be that difficult. I even spritz it with some water and talk soothingly.

Guilt can make you do so much.

So here’s saying a little prayer, that Planty makes it. He almost hasn’t. Some parts of him collapsed and a lot of him is still browning. But I’m convinced that this time I can do it.

Who knows, maybe I’ll soon be adding more to Planty’s family.

So many more to kill.

Okay, where did that voice come from? Wtf brain?

An Introvert’s Guide To The Galaxy

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Yes, I know, just yesterday I declared that I was in fact an ambivert. But the more I think about it, the more I realise that I’m somewhere in between the in-between.

There’s a reason I hate labels.

But whatever you are, you figure out your own weird ways to navigate this uber-social (pre-pandemic) world. Here are some of mine.

  1. Cellphones can be your knights in shining armour. Sure, they’re your access to social media, news and all those distractions that are so much easier than having actual meaningful human interactions. But more than anything else, they’re super useful for ‘pretend’ calls, to walk out from awkward social situations with your head held high (and the phone stuck to your ear).
  2. Embrace being called a snob. When you’re too shy to go up to people and start conversations, even if you’d really like to, people assume you think you’re too good for them. You can try explaining your situation to them to change their mind, but then for that, you would have to talk to them first. So just get used to it. Revel in it. There really isn’t much choice.
  3. Learn to switch personalities. Unless you’re one of those lucky ones whose job involves sitting behind a laptop with limited humans, at some point you’ll have to figure out how to put on a mask and just get out there.
  4. Learn to tune out. This I’ve perfected, without ever having meant to. But being stuck in big groups that I don’t necessarily care about – this has been a life skill that I’ve come to love more than others. Talk all you want, you babbling humans, I have warm bubble bath taking place in my head instead.
  5. Keep your fridge and book shelf stocked. Because nothing beats curling up in bed with comfort food and an interesting read. All the zoom calls of the world don’t compare to this.
  6. Love yourself. Because at the end of the day, the only person who has to accept you is you – who you are, who you want to be. If you love being an introvert, great! If you don’t, pick up that phone and actually call someone new. Take up a challenging job. Go try a sales pitch. It’ll be fun (once you get over your initial apprehension), and if it isn’t, well you’ll know yourself just a little better.

Nine out of ten times, I don’t manage to push myself. I don’t speak to new people at parties. I don’t exude more energy than I actually feel. But that one time I do get out and be social, I have a great time. And mostly, I’m okay with that statistic.

P.S. Of course with the way things are currently, being an introvert has been a blessing – I’ve been more at home than most, with very little adjustments. How have you coped?

Of Floating and Nothingness

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During the daily family call this morning, there was a bit of awkward silence, where we reached a point where nobody had anything new to add. We had exhausted our discussion on what content to watch on which streaming platform, even our bit of Bollywood gossip (as a family, this is probably our least talked about topic).

And when Mum asked us what’s new, we said nothing.


That’s how life’s events are being characterised right now.

Life has become monotonous to the extent that adding a walk in the evening is a ‘something new’ to talk about. Sure, I’m too scared to step out most days, and finally only do so when I feel like I’ve used up all the oxygen in our tiny house and could do with some fresh supply (I’d say this happens once in two weeks).

What we cooked, workout challenges, new deals converted, old books I never got around to – this is what the day’s update looks like now.

And maybe that’s okay.

Sure, there isn’t any office gossip anymore, no more Uber mishaps (really do NOT miss that), no lovely new cafe’s to describe, and definitely no vacations to look forward to.

And of course, we miss that.

But maybe it’s okay to not have updates. Maybe it’s okay to try and spend a few days with nothingness. Of just being. Because if there isn’t monotony, is there really ever a need to do something new?

P.S. I’m not sure if I believe in what I’ve written above. Monotony scares me. Being stuck in one place is one of my biggest fears. Not moving forward, not doing more. And 2020 has been a massive lesson in how to deal with plans crashing down, without having the ability to plan further to deal with it. So whether I’m imparting hard earned wisdom, or trying to convince myself – well, for once, your guess is as good as mine!

Things That Scare Me Now

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Anxiety and fears have a way of creeping up on you when you least expect it. Specially these days. Yup, not a fun post.

  1. Falling sick. This is probably a universal fear at the moment. But a lot of us in office were continuously sick since Oct’19. And you’d think we’d be used to it by now. But even the slightest feeling of a scratchy throat now sends me running for green tea with honey (probably the only thing that sends me running for green tea).
  2. Wondering what pajamas do to self esteem. Remember those times you dressed up and felt good about yourself? Remember when that last happened?!
  3. Updates of people stepping out and hanging out with other people. I know, I know. Live and let live. Except I’m not sure if the letting live here is actually endangering lives.
  4. Being far from family. Times like this make you question your life choices more than anything else. And I constantly find myself imagining worst case scenarios. Yup, cheerful place, my head.
  5. The fact that time isn’t actually standing still. That we can’t just cancel 2020. That when the jokes die down, we are in fact growing older, losing opportunities, and the clock is still ticking.
  6. The fact that I have to stay away from news to maintain sanity. And then half panic about not knowing what’s happening in the world. And look up the news. And then panic about what’s actually happening in the world (or our country for that matter. India makes up for 99% of panic / frustrated mode on most days).
  7. Lizards. This is just a constant. What’s worse than being stuck at home? Being stuck at home with a creepy crawly.

Things Laziness Has Taught Me This Lockdown

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It helps to be lazy, sometimes.

  1. Roti / Chapatis have no real reason to be round. They phoolo / taste just as good if they’re square or look like the map of India. Making them round is just some unrealistic expectation put on people to make them feel inadequate their entire lives. (So what if you’re a CXO, can you make round rotis? What will you do when you get married?)
  2. The house doesn’t need to be cleaned every day. Or even every alternate day. Twice a week works. Or even *cough* once *cough* a week. Wear slippers so your feet don’t make you realise just how dirty the floor is. Or don’t have white tiled floors. Or well, limit your eyesight to the upper half of the rooms.
  3. Somedays, the bed is just fine to work from. We’re all allowed our can’t-get-out-of-bed days, okay?
  4. Khichri doesn’t get enough credit. I feel bad for all the times I made a face as a kid when khichri was served. Now, it’s turned into our lockdown savior.
  5. Maggi is over-rated. There’s really only so much of it you can have, beyond a point.
  6. You actually only need a total of 5 t-shirts and 2 shorts / pajamas. Lesser if you’re diligent with washing.
  7. Zoom calls don’t need to be video calls. You don’t HAVE to look good. Messy hair, torn clothes, minimal grooming, no differentiation between night / day. The camera on your phone / laptop doesn’t HAVE to work *wink* *wink*
  8. It pays to join the society Whatsapp group. We’ve been here 6.5 years. We joined this group now. Because for the first time in our lives, we realised we need to know what’s happening in the society. When the vegetable vendor is coming. When we turned into a containment zone. We also end up privy to a lot of uncle-aunty talk that’s hilarious at best, and downright family-group material at worst. Either way, it’s part of our minimal lockdown entertainment. (I’ve witnessed more fights on this group than on Splitsvilla).

A Non-Mumbaikar’s Guide to Mumbai Monsoons

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I’ve had a love-hate relationship with Mumbai Monsoons. And anyone who knows me at all, would know it’s a little more skewed towards hate than love.

I guess I’m lucky then that it only lasts almost half the year.


But with each year in this city, came more learnings – of what to expect, and how to deal with it, and how to feel confident that you can get through this (even if that confidence was shattered the very next day). Buckle in, this is gonna be a long one.

  1. Don’t put off your to-do list waiting for the rain to stop. This might sound obvious to a Mumbaikar, but back in Delhi, everything used to come to a halt when it rained. Like literally. Two-wheelers would wait under flyovers. You’d wait inside your houses. Because of one simple fact – there, the rain would, in fact, stop.
  2. Don’t fall for the tiny folding umbrellas. They’re cute and they fit in your purse. They also get blown upside down in two minutes of a windy rainy day. Go for the big ones. They’re ugly and uncomfortable as fuck, but they’ll do the job.
  3. Everything that can catch fungus, will catch fungus. Specially if you’re living in an old construction. You may not always see it, but you’ll surely be able to smell it. We once came back from a two week vacation, to find every surface in our house covered with fungus. From our clothes, to our mattresses, pillows and the dining table. I’ve had friends cars grow fungus on the steering wheels and car seats.
  4. Your clothes will never feel completely dry. That’s it. Get used to it.
  5. Invest in a good pair of rain-shoes. In my first year I lost a good pair of sandals. And my flip flops. Then I bought these plastic shoes full of holes in them. I have no clue what the purpose of the holes was, except to ensure that all the water that gets in, goes out. But why did it need to get in to begin with?! Two years back I graduated to gumboots. And it’s been the best investment ever. No icky water, no slipping off the feet. I felt pretty invincible. So of course monsoons made me wade through knee deep water instead, so my gumboots filled up with water and became like these buckets I had to drag along. But 99% of the time, they’re still a great investment!
  6. If the city is flooding (which it will), stay put. I know the instinct is to run for the safety of your home. But the truth is, you’re probably safer where you are. We made this mistake a few years back, and drove back home. It took us over 5 hours. Our car filled up with water multiple times. It fought like a brave soldier and got us home, but never started again. All this could’ve been avoided by us camping at work that night instead.
  7. Know that rickshaw-walas will reject you, and cars will splash you. There’s no getting away from this. Unless you have your own transport that takes you from point to point, you WILL go through a mucky season full of rejection and wading. Just remember, that at the end of the day, you’re waterproof. And nobody can really see your tears in the rain.
  8. BUT if you’re lucky enough to be spending monsoons indoors, settle down next to your window / balcony and enjoy it. It’s the one good thing to come out of this stupid pandemic. For the first time, I’m enjoying this season from the safety of my home. Rainy drives to Lonavala or Marine Drive were never this magical. I’m very aware of this privilege, and don’t want to waste a minute of it. I hope you don’t either.

How Well Do You Really Know Yourself?

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No, this isn’t a quiz where the score at the end will say, ‘Congratulations, you are a know-it-all when it comes to yourself!’. It’s also something that sounds super obvious, doesn’t it? Of all the people in the world, the one person we definitely know well is ourselves, right?

A recent self-exploration session made me rethink that. To some extent.

The more we talked about me, what’s important to me, my values, my needs – certain things kept coming up, things that I hadn’t thought about for a long time. Yet they were things that I knew I’d spent most of my teenage years and early 20s fighting for.

It seemed it was as important to me now, if not more.

And yet, somewhere I’d stopped fighting for it.

When I visualised the person I’d like to be, I realised it was the person I used to be.

At what point did I manage to lose myself?

When did I tell myself to start living up to people’s expectations from me, instead of living up to my own expectations from myself?

How do we take the mask off? The one that’s now glued on so tight that you’re no longer sure where the plastic ends and the skin starts?

How do we turn back time, and become ourselves, again?

P.S. If there’s one thing this session made me realise, it’s the importance of having some time to myself. And it’s the one thing I’d suggest to everyone around me. Take advantage of the lovely rains and maybe just sit somewhere comfortable, with your cup of tea / coffee / water, and nothing else. No blue screens. No distractions. Just you and your thoughts. And remember, who you really are.

Maybe, you’d be pleasantly surprised.

7 Reasons to Adopt a Cat (Maybe instead of having a baby)

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Yeah I know I’m going to get flak for this one.

Take it with a pinch of salt, okay?

And maybe with a kitten.

  1. Cats pee & poop in one designated spot. No crazy diaper messes. No clean up emergencies. And the waste disposal is definitely more eco-friendly.
  2. They literally clean themselves. Of course you should bathe them once in a while, but for the most part, they need you and your bucket of water to stay the hell away.
  3. You don’t need a babysitter for them during the day. Just leave enough food and places for them to sleep. They might not even miss you. Daycare? What’s that?
  4. You can feed them the same two flavours of cat food every day, and they’ll still scream for more. No tantrums about not having khichri or veggies. Just a lot of big-eyed-I’m-so-hungry-even-though-you-literally-just-fed-me meowing cuteness.
  5. No rebellious teenage stage. You know all those worries of what your kid is up to outside the house? All those lectures against drugs and alcohol and unprotected sex? Your cat… blissfully asleep on your lap through it all. (Though, please do get them sterilized for their own health’s sake).
  6. They’re much more economical. You don’t need to pay for their education. Or their expensive destination weddings. Or bail them out of jail.
  7. They shower you with purrs. This isn’t a comparison to a baby. It’s just one of those beautiful things that you look forward to every day with cats. It’s such a common misconception that cats don’t show love. After fostering more than 15 cats over the years, I can tell you for a fact, they shower more love on you than you can ever imagine.

P.S. Jokes apart, have as many babies as you want (because who cares about our population issue, or impact on the climate or… okay, I’ll shut up). But if you find it in you, give animals a chance as well. Monsoons have started, and it’ll soon be raining rescued cats & dogs. Open your homes, and see your lives transform.